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If you are into visionary artwork, this is a must have - even more so if you have been impressed by Dean’s album covers.

Book Review: Dragon’s Dream By Roger Dean

Roger Dean is an English artist, designer, architect, and publisher. His work is wide ranging from his design of the Sea Urchin chair and the Retreat Pod chair (used in the movie A Clockwork Orange) to his best known work that stems from the album cover designs that he began painting in the 1960s.

In 1975, Roger Dean released Views to critical success. It was re-released in 2009 and reviewed in this column as well. This first book covered his work from his early work until the time of its publishing. In 1984 he released Magnetic Storm, which covered his work from the time of Views until 1984. He has now come out with his third volume, entitled Dragon’s Dream, which covers from 1985 through 2008. The book is 224 pages and contains eight chapters.

Chapter 1, “Psygnosis,” looks at the 1985 work Dean was commissioned to do for the Liverpool software company, Imagine. Along with creating a new visual identity for the company, he was to come up with a new name; Psygnosis. Over the course of time, he also designed packaging artwork for the technically advanced computer games they produced. You will explore these designs in this chapter.

Chapter 2, “Paintings & Album Covers,” notes that album covers start out as paintings. According to Dean, once the painting becomes an album cover, the name of the artist and title of the music must feature prominently. The typefaces he has created have become his trademark. Some of the album cover work examined here is from the bands Uriah Heep, Electric Sheep, Vermillion, Pink Floyd, Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe, and White.

Chapter 3, “Nearfest,” is a music festival held annually at Leigh High University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 2001, Dean was asked to design the logos for the festival. This short chapter is about the various designs he did for the years 2001 through 2007.

Chapter 4, “ASIA,” was the band formed in 1981 by Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer), John Wetton (King Crimson), Steve Howe (Yes), and Geoff Downs (Yes and Buggles). They chose Roger Dean to carve out a new identity for the band. This chapter covers the logo, as well as the paintings done for their albums.

Chapter 5, “YES,” has probably the most recognized work that Roger Dean has done. In the preface of this book, Rick Wakeman says, “I first came across Roger’s unique work way back in 1971 when Steve Howe introduced the rest of us to this unique artist…within weeks Roger had become the sixth member of Yes.” This chapter is a look at the paintings and graphics done for YES.

Chapter 6, “Bullet-Proof Software” is a game developer who created “Secret of the Black Onyx” in 1983. In 1986, the owner asked Dean to create a new box design for the game and a logo for his company. BPS also developed the game Tetris for which Dean also worked on the box art. All of these box designs and more are covered here.

Chapter 7, “Movies & Opera,” covers the artwork that has been used for both the movies as well as for the opera. Through these forms, Dean has been offered the greatest latitude to create whole worlds, characters, architecture, and landscapes based on the stories that are told.

Chapter 8, “Architecture,” introduces the architectural designs Dean has been commissioned to produce by both individuals and companies. These designs carefully address issues such as low environmental impact, the well being of the inhabitants, and energy conservation.

Dragon’s Dream is the first collection of Roger Dean’s work in over 20 years. As with his other books, it should prove to be a bestseller. While it provides us with a grand look at his artwork, it also provides a glimpse into the artist himself. Along with the full color artwork, Dragon’s Dream also illustrates the preliminary sketches he has done, as well giving a look at how his creations are formed.

Over the years, Roger Dean’s work has continued to evolve and grow. He has done everything from medium size watercolors and huge acrylic work to architecture and packaging. Bottom line, if you are into visionary artwork, this is a must have – even more so if you have only been exposed to his album covers. Dragon’s Dream will open a whole new world of his artistry. I highly recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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