Stanley Donwood: Radiohead's Artist Interview 

You can't judge a book by its cover but a good cover will leave a lasting impression, especially when you are talking about album covers. Abby Road anyone? Through the years an artform has emerged tied in with rock and a few artists' work have become synonymous with the bands they create the artwork for. Mention the name Derek Riggs and Iron Maiden fans will immediately know who you are talking about, the same goes for Stanley Donwood, the man that has given Radiohead a visual signature as distinct as their music. antiMUSIC was fortunate enough to conduct an email interview with Stanley recently to discuss his work for Radiohead, his writings and his new storefront where fans can buy high quality screens of some of his favorite works. We asked Stanley to give us the inside story on each piece of art and we got back an interview that demonstrates the quick wit behind the man that has created the unforgettable Radiohead art. (Several additions have been added to the storefront since we originally sent the interview to Stanley so not all of the pieces are covered here)

antiMUSIC: What first inspired you to become an artist?

Stanley: 'Artist' was just the most convenient way to describe myself on application forms for unemployment benefit. I'm not really sure if it describes what I spend my time doing. Obviously, on the forms I couldn't write 'loafer', 'lazy sod' or 'dole scum' or they would have refused my application. Looking back on the earlier years of my existence, I suppose it was wax crayons that inspired my decision to draw pictures.

antiMUSIC: How did you hook up with Radiohead?

Stanley: I think that my obsession with nuclear apocalypse, Ebola pandemics, global cataclysm and Radiohead's particular brand of unsettling melody have gone together quite well. How this came about I can no longer accurately recall, as I have children and bringing them up has rotted my brain.

antiMUSIC: What has been your personal favorite piece of art you've done for Radiohead (and also your favorite outside of Radiohead)?

Stanley: That is too hard a question for me. I've been pretty happy, on the whole, with all of the Radiohead work that I've done. Though maybe the long landscapes in the Kid A booklet could be a favourite. My personal non-Radiohead piece was a now-lost image which was composed of the advertising strapline, logo and blurb for a Ford car called the Probe. I replaced the picture of the car with a photo of a big erect cock. It was very popular, but the magazine that had commissioned the picture refused to print it.

antiMUSIC: You have a very distinct style that Radiohead fans have come to love. How much of the actual art is inspired by the music and how much by your personal vision?

Stanley: I don't know. When I've been listening to the music for a long time I can't work out where I end and they begin. So to speak.

antiMUSIC: The exciting news for fans of your work and the reason we're doing this interview is you recently opened up your online site to include a store front where fans can purchase prints of your work. Can you tell us how the store front came about?

Stanley: I've had a site called for ages, which has a lot of my written work on it; as I say, I used to make screenprints and I really like the process of printing and how the finished prints look. I've got so many pictures that no-one has seen, or only as a little CD-sized image, and I wanted to make f***ing great pictures that people can put on their walls. It's a way of getting pictures out in they way they should be seen; not as 4-colour litho on cheap paper, but as real pieces of artwork that have a much greater visual impact. 

antiMUSIC: Before we talk about the individual pieces can you fill the readers in a little bit about the prints you are selling. As far as size, material etc?

Stanley: The big ones are 970mm x 640mm, the smaller ones are half that. They're printed on the nicest paper I could find; 270gm archival-quality. Some of them are ten or eleven-colour prints; some are two-colour, some are five or six… and I'm doing some extremely limited runs - editions of ten prints - on black paper with silver inks.

antiMUSIC: Will you be adding more pieces as time goes on?

Stanley: Yep. I just can't get enough of the toxic solvents that are needed to clean the screens.

antiMUSIC: You've also published a few books. Can you tell us a little bit about those projects?

Stanley: The first one was called 'Slowly Downward', and it was originally published by a bloke I met in the pub. There were only 200 copies, printed on hemp paper using a half-defunct printing machine called a Risograph. That book is made up of about fifty very short stories, and it's just been republished by some other people who I didn't meet in the pub. The next book was written as a result of a bet, and it's called 'Catacombs of Terror!', and it's really bad. But it was meant to be bad, so that's okay. I read some real trash while I was researching how to do it; the idea was to write a pulp-style detective novel in one month… 

I'm putting a new book together, or at least I'm intending to. It's going to be called 'Household Worms'. Don't know who'll publish that though.

antiMUSIC: If you will be so kind to fill us in a little bit about art you are offering prints of on your site at the moment. Maybe a little bit about their inspiration, the environment in which they were created etc? 


Alarm & Escape
- These were put together recently from ingredients I used for the OK Computer project. They're sort of warnings; the graphic language is stolen from traffic signs, exit notices and so on. The 'against demons' hex on 'Alarm' is adapted from an old hobo sign that American tramps used to use. It used to get painted on the sides of barns and so on, about a hundred years ago.

Happy Family
- This was the cover for Radiohead's Karm Police single, again from OK Computer. The main image is of a father leading his family into a home-made nuclear fallout shelter, from a laughable pamphlet the UK Government put out in the 1980s, trying to persuade us that a nuclear holocaust wasn't such a big deal.

Such a Pretty House
- Oh, and such a pretty garden. This was the cover for No Surprises, and pretty much sums up how I feel about suburban living. Car-dependant, short-sighted, narrow-minded, deceitful and ultimately doomed.

Operation Phantom Fury
- "…thousands of residents fled into the desert, leaving a ghost town, as American warplanes, helicopters and tanks pounded houses that the US military said had been occupied by enemy fighters…"

antiMUSIC: Do you think there is enough appreciation for art in this day and age?

Stanley: Same as ever. I don't suppose there's any less appreciation for graffiti artists than there was for whoever painted cave walls thousands of years ago. I kind of dislike it when people over-analyze art or writing. It's okay when they do it at college or whatever, but it gets a bit annoying when you overhear people talking s***e in galleries.

antiMUSIC: What's next for Stanley Donwood?

Stanley: Could be anything. Avian flu, traffic accident.

To learn more about Stanley's art and writing and to purchase screens of the work discussed above (and more) click the official site link below. 

Visit the official homepage

tell a friend about this review




News Reports
Day in Rock:
Stone Temple Pilots Star Talks New Singer And Album- Judas Priest's Glenn Tipton Updates Fans On Parkinson's Battle- Roger Daltrey Streams Title Song To New Solo Album- more

Recap: Tool Share Big New About News Album With Fans- Bon Jovi Suffer Record Breaking Chart Drop- Five Finger Death Punch Announce Album and Summer Tour- Pearl Jam- more

Pearl Jam Dedicate New Song's Live Debut To School Shooting Survivors- Sleep Signals Lose Everything In Tour Van Explosion- Metallica Launching Auction For A Cause- more

Day in Pop:
Rihanna Slams Snapchat For Chris Brown 'Would You Rather' Promotion- American Idol Teen Did Not Like Katy Perry's On-Air Kiss- Drake Breaks Stream Record- more

Page Too Rewind: Brantley Gilbert's Tour Bus Burst Into Flames- Zayn Malik And Gigi Hadid Confirm Breakup Reports- Luke Bryan Releases 'Most People Are Good' Video- more

Dua Lipa Cancels Shows For Emergency Surgery- Jason Aldean Plots Homecoming Show With Special Guests- Justin Timberlake Launches 'Man of the Woods' Tour- more


• Passport: St. Patrick's Day Edition

• Travel News, Trips and Tips: St. Patrick's Day Special Edition

• Road Trip: St. Patrick's Day Edition - 8 Things To Do In Dublin, Ireland

• Root 66: John McCutcheon- Caroline Cotter- Raven and Red

• The Blues: Savoy Brown-Albert Castiglia- Peter Parcek

• The Best Films of 2017: A Different Point of View

• Road Trip: Las Vegas- The Mob Museum

• Downes Braide Association - Skyscraper Souls

• Root 66: Patrick Coman - Tree of Life

• Afrika Mamas - Iphupho

• Dinola - Up High

• Hot In The City: Pistoleros - Silver

• The Blues: Ladies Play the Blues

• RockPile: Vexes, Jay Katana and Perfect Defect

• Billion Dollar Babies - First Ever Live Show - Flint 1977

• TBT: Phil Vassar The New Piano Man

• Dolly Spartans - Time Sides With No One

• Saxon - Thunderbolt

• Channel Dark - El Wire Pacifier

• Straw Family - Family Matters

• Junkyardfieldtrip - Self-titled

• Joe Perry - Sweetzerland Manifesto

• Ten Ton Man - Dangerous Women & A Desperate Man • more

Rock News Stories
• Tool Share Big News About New Album With Fans (top story)

• Bon Jovi Suffer Record Breaking Chart Drop (top story)

• Five Finger Death Punch Announce Album and Summer Tour (top story)

• Pearl Jam Release Song From First New Album In Five Years (top story)

• Steven Adler Talks Guns N' Roses Appetite Anniversary Tour (top story)

• Iron Maiden Singer Announces 'Scream For Me Sarajevo' Screening Event (top story)

• Lamb Of God Announce U.S. Headline Tour Dates (top story)

• Imagine Dragons Release 'Next to Me' Short Film (top story)

• Stone Temple Pilots Star Talks New Singer And Album (top story)

• Judas Priest's Glenn Tipton Updates Fans On Parkinson's Battle (top story)

• Roger Daltrey Streams Title Song To New Solo Album (top story)

• Arcade Fire Release 'Money + Love' Short Film (top story)

• Singled Out: Angie Aparo's John The Baptist (top story)

• New York Dolls Box Set Filled With Rarities (top story)

• Documentary Being Filmed For Final Warped Tour (top story)

• Steven Page To Perform With The Barenaked Ladies, Launch UK Tour (top story)

• ZZ Top and John Fogerty Talk Upcoming Summer Tour (top story)

• The Doors Preview Their Upcoming Big TV Interview (top story)

• Die Hard 4-Year-Old Slayer Fan Denied By Father (top story)

• Foster The People Tribute Fans With 'Sit Next To Me' Video (top story)

• Beck Releases New 'Up All Night' Oliver Remix And Adds Dates (top story)

• Pearl Jam Dedicate New Song's Live Debut To School Shooting Survivors (top story)

• Sleep Signals Lose Everything In Tour Van Explosion (top story)

• Metallica Launching Auction For A Cause (top story)

• Aerosmith Guitarist Announces Joe Perry And Friends Shows (top story)

• Video From Judas Priest Tour Kick Off Goes Online (top story)

• Alice Cooper In 'Jesus Christ Superstar' Trailer (top story)

• Rolling Stones Add Dates To No Filter Summer Tour (top story)

• Arcade Fire Announce U.S. Summer Tour Dates (top story)

• The Who's Roger Daltrey Advises Fans To Wear Earplugs (top story)

• Willie Nelson Releases 'Me and You' Video (top story)

• David Byrne Releases Music Video Featuring Detroit Area Teens (top story)

• Echo Black Release Dawn Video and Announce U.S. Tour (top story)

• Kickstart Your Car With Classic Toto Hit (top story)

• Singled Out: Hero Jr.'s Jump Ship (top story)

• more

B-Side Stories
• Brantley Gilbert's Tour Bus Burst Into Flames (top story)

• Zayn Malik And Gigi Hadid Confirm Breakup Reports (top story)

• Luke Bryan Releases 'Most People Are Good' Video (top story)

• 21 Savage Backs Bank Account and Gives $21k To Kids' Charity On Ellen (top story)

• Selena Gomez Launching New Clothing Line (top story)

• Rihanna Slams Snapchat For Chris Brown 'Would You Rather' Promotion (top story)

• American Idol Teen Did Not Like Katy Perry's On-Air Kiss (top story)

• Drake Breaks Records With His Live Stream Gaming Debut (top story)

• Vince Staples Cancels His GoFundMe Retirement Campaign (top story)

• Elton John Getting All-Star Tribute Albums (top story)

• Lil Jon Releases Alive Video Featuring Offset and 2 Chainz (top story)

• Taylor Swift Goes Lavish For 'Reputation' Tour Invitations (top story)

• Charlie Puth Recruits Kehlani For New Track 'Done For Me' (top story)

• Carrie Underwood Looks Back Grand Ole Opry Invitation 10 Years Later (top story)

• Jennifer Lopez Says She Had 'Me Too' Moment With Film Director (top story)

• Jake Owen Shares 'Daddy Daughter Donut Day' Photos (top story)

• French Montana, Akon Lead Hurricane Maria Benefit Concert (top story)

• Singled Out: Ms. Mohammed's Pandora (top story)

• Dua Lipa Forced To Cancel Shows For Emergency Surgery (top story)

• Jason Aldean Announces Epic Homecoming Show With Special Guests (top story)

• Justin Timberlake Launches 'Man of the Woods' Tour (top story)

• Camila Cabello Releases Preview Video For 'Never Be The Same' Tour (top story)

• G-Eazy And Charlie Puth Release 'Sober' Video (top story)

• Taylor Swift Reveals How She Perfected Her 'Delicate' Dance Moves (top story)

• Miley Cyrus Shares Photos From Elton John Grammy Tribute (top story)

• Brian Eno Announces 'Music For Installations' Box Set (top story)

• Jack Johnson Duets With Stephen Colbert on 'The Late Show' (top story)

• BTS 'Burn The Stage' Wings Tour Documentary Series Coming (top story)

• Kanye West Hijacked Shia LaBeouf's Wardrobe? (top story)

• Singled Out: The County Well's Whiskey Before Noon (top story)

• more

Follow Us:

Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2016 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved.

Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.