While Pink Floyd's music is inescapable, ubiquitous, a soundtrack, even, for a certain generation, the first time I remember seeing the band's album covers was not in a record store. I was in college visiting an ex-a musician living in a studio somewhere in a grimy corner of Hollywood-who had the famous Back Catalogue shot of six of the band's album covers painstakingly painted across six women's naked backs, displayed on the wall of his apartment. Later, like so many others, I remember being particularly struck by the album art of The Dark Side of the Moon-the simplicity, the clean lines, those colors.
On November 10, Pink Floyd will release their first album in 20 years. The Endless River is a studio album based on old "revisited" tracks, recorded during the production of 1994's The Division Bell. It's meant as a tribute to former keyboardist Rick Wright, who passed away in 2008 from cancer. Since Floyd is famed for its sometimes bluesy, psychedelic sound-after all, the band formed in the drug-laced crucible of London's 60s underground music scene-they needed artwork to match. The graphic artist behind all of the band's previous covers, Storm Thorgerson, passed away last year, so the band was forced to look elsewhere.
Pink Floyd's creative team scoured the internet, and while browsing digital artwork on the site behance.com, they found what they were looking for: Ahmed Emad Eldin, an 18-year-old Egyptian graphic designer.
His digital renderings display a sort of childlike, fantastic quality mixed with an unexpected darkness. In one, Schizophrenia, a half concealed woman's face with striking, scarlet lips emerges from behind a frontage of rock and seaweed. In another, Gaza Is Burning, soft orange balloons float against a background of firey explosions. His Gmail avatar-a pale, porcelain-masqued figure emerging from a nightmarish forest-wouldn't be out of place in one of Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasy films.
Pink Floyd's creative director Aubrey Powell picked a lighter and more dreamlike piece to grace the cover: a single man, his white shirt unbuttoned and blowing back in the wind, paddling a Thames skiff across a sea of clouds. It's ambiguous, hallucinatory, and strangely hopeful all at once. I interviewed Eldin via email to find out a little more about his work.
VICE: Are you in high school or college?
Ahmed Eldin: This is my first year attending university, and I'm planning to study pharmacy.
What did you want to be when you were younger? What was your dream job?
A doctor. I actually still want to be a doctor, but I want to continue to make art as well.
When did you start designing art?
I started when I was 13-seeing artwork on the internet motivated me to try it myself.
How did you first hear about Pink Floyd, and were you familiar with their album covers?
A friend first introduced me to Pink Floyd's music. Of course, especially The Dark Side of the Moon.
How did you find out that your art was going to be featured on their new album?
They saw my artwork on Behance.net and emailed me.
What inspired you to create the particular piece that's on the cover?
Every design has its own conditions. This one came to me after thinking about the intersection of life, nature, and what is beyond the world-what takes you to new limits.
What do you think of Pink Floyd's music?
It's really great!
What has been the reaction of family, friends, and classmates to the news?
For me, I never expected to reach this kind of success. My friends in Egypt and other countries were impressed and really, really happy for me. It was the greatest feeling ever.
Do you want to continue working with Pink Floyd?
It does not need to be questioned! For sure, it is an honor for anyone to work with such a great, legendary band.