Saturday, May 08, 2021

Roger Dean


William Roger Dean (born 31 August 1944), known as Roger Dean, is an English artist, designer, and publisher. He is best known for his work on posters and album covers for musicians, which he began painting in the late 1960s. The artists for whom he did the most art are English rock bands Yes and Asia.

The covers often feature exotic fantasy landscapes. His work has sold more than 150 million copies

worldwide. William Roger Dean was born on 31 August 1944 in Ashford, Kent. His mother studied dress design at Canterbury School of Art before her marriage and his father was an engineer in the British Army. He has three siblings, brother Martyn and sisters Penny and Philippa. Much of Dean's childhood was spent in Greece, Cyprus, and, from age 12 to 15, Hong Kong, so his father could carry out army duties.

Dean was very keen on natural history as a child, and Chinese landscape art and feng shui became particular influences on him during his time in Hong Kong. He has cited landscape, "and the pathways through it", as his greatest influence and source of inspiration.

In 1959, after the family had returned to England, Dean attended Ashford Grammar School followed by his entry in 1961 to the Canterbury College of Art studying silversmithing and furniture design and graduated with a National Diploma in Design.

He was removed from a life drawing class by the principal for being "young and impressionable", and was informed he could not take it due to maths and physics being his other subjects, leading a switch to studying industrial design.

As the school was trying to become accredited in the subject, Dean bypassed its foundation level course but disliked the way the subject was taught and questioned the teachers as to why people had to live in "boxes" and their response in that "form follows function".

Towards the end of the course at Canterbury, Dean was faced with the option of pursuing either architecture or industrial design; one of his tutors thought neither were for him, and recommended that Dean study at the Royal College of Art in London. He enrolled at the college in 1965 to study furniture design and became a student of Professor David Pye.

Among his research was the "psychology of architecture" and what made people feel comfortable in buildings. He did a thesis about "producing a sense of tranquillity in domestic architecture". He graduated from the college in 1968 with a masters first degree honours, and won a silver medal for "work of special distinction"

Dean began to pick up work where he could, including covers for various jazz artists for Vertigo Records which he disliked, calling them "austere exercises" and too restrictive for the ideas he wished to convey. Dean designed the logo to the independent label Fly Records in 1970.

This led to Dean working on a single for their musician Marc Bolan which involved typesetting the liner notes and lyrics, but Dean had not done the technique before and completed them by hand with the assistance of a graphic designer, in order to show the printing staff where the typesets were to be placed.
By 1971, Dean's desire to produce artwork for rock bands had grown though he continued to pursue architecture and headed a small exhibition of his work in Florence. Following discussions with A&R man David Howells, who had assigned Dean the sleeve for The Gun, Dean agreed to work on the cover of Osibisa (1971) by afrobeat band Osibisa.

In mid-1971, during his search for work affiliated with rock bands, Dean sent a portfolio to numerous executives including Phil Carson, the European General Manager of Atlantic Records. Carson took an interest in using Dean for one of his rock acts, Yes, and hired Dean for the cover of Yes's fourth album, Fragile (1971), which marked the beginning of an association with the band to the present day.

During his work for Yessongs (1973), Dean and his printers Tinsley Robor secured a patent for "a way of going from gatefold to any number of pages, folded out of one piece of card". For Yes's album Relayer (1974), he painted the sleeve in pencil and coloured it with dirty water.

In 1981, Dean and his brother Martyn had their collaborative design, the Tectonic House, a futuristic and economic home built to last, displayed at the annual International Ideal Home Exhibition in Birmingham.

In 2004, Dean worked on his "Homes for Life" architectural idea, designing affordable futuristic homes that can be mass-produced in factories and customised to the user's tastes. The design is curved based and without right angles.

In 2013, Dean filed a legal action in U.S. District Court New York claiming that film director James Cameron was inspired by 14 of his original images in the making the 2009 blockbuster film Avatar. Dean sought damages of $50m. Although the filmmakers admitted in court to being influenced by the artist's work, Dean's case was dismissed in 2014.

In 2013, Dean received a Gold Badge of Merit from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Known primarily for the dreamy, other-worldly scenes he has created for Yes, Asia, Budgie, Uriah Heep, Gentle Giant, Atomic Rooster, Babe Ruth, Third Ear Band, Greenslade, Rare Earth, Gun and other bands, Dean has described himself primarily as a landscape painter. Characteristic landscapes show graceful stone arches (as shown in Arches Mist) or floating islands, while many paintings portray organic-seeming habitats, such as on the cover of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe.

Though he primarily works with watercolour paints, many of his paintings make use of multiple media, including gouache, ink, enamel, crayon and collage. In addition to his cover paintings, Dean is respected for his calligraphic work, designing logos and titles to go with his paintings.

Dean was friends with album cover designer Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis and the two lived in the same building after leaving university. He is internationally renowned for his album cover designs, posters, books, and his extensive work in video games and publishing.With more than 100 million copies of Roger Dean’s images having been sold around the world.

He is also famous for his eco architectural, furniture and stage designs, along with his typefaces, logos and legendary designs for the computer games company Psygnosis, as well as his logo work for Virgin Records, Tetris and Yes. His recent apparel design collaboration with The Mens Spring Summer 2020 show with Valentino proves that Roger is continuously pushing the envelope with his creative expression.

His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, including the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal College of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the New York Culture Center and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London.

In 2002 Dean was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and in 2009 Arts University Bournemouth made him an Honorary Fellow. He received a Gold Badge of Merit from BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) in 2013.


  1. I had a high school art teacher who had a book of his artwork and it completely did a number on me - an extremely talented man.