Graphic designer Steve Averill speaks about his work in advertising and designing album covers U2.

Steve Averill of the award winning company The Creative Department started out working predominantly in advertising. However since the success of U2 and other Irish bands being singed, his work is now 80% music related and 20% advertising.

When designing for bands, Steve aims to produce something that is right for the band, but also elaborates on the music.

You work on kind of gut feeling from what you feel about the band and their music and what they tell you they want to achieve and what sort of area they go to.

One of Steve Averill's first jobs was to design a cover for the U2 debut album ‘Boy’ and he feels a single person image works best as a sleeve. A number of people on the cover

Dilutes the power of the image slightly.

The image of one particular person can reflect the music more dynamically than a shot of the whole band, and this formula has proven successful for Mike Scott, Bryan Ferry and David Bowie.

For the U2 album ‘The Joshua Tree’ the mood for the cover was worked out in advance and a desert location was planned. Photographer Anton Corbjin scouted for the locations in Death Valley in California ten days before shooting with the band.

Steve waited to see the resulting photos before designing ‘The Joshua Tree’ album sleeve. The cover photograph is so powerful he under-designed, as he did not want typography to detract from it.

Better off leaving the photograph in it’s simplest surroundings.

There is no denying that sleeves help to sell records and while Steve Averill has his own ideas he is mindful his work must appeal to the band, the record company and finally the record buyer.

Many Irish bands Steve works with do not want to look like U2 and he treats each one separately and would never use U2 style imagery with another band. 

That would be a mistake.

This episode of ‘Visual Eyes’ was broadcast on 14 August  1987. The reporter is Dave Fanning.