Published Jan 21, 2016Since his passing earlier this month, much has been made about the messages behind David Bowie's Blackstar, both musically and visually. Now, the Thin White Duke's longtime graphic design collaborator has revealed deeper meaning behind the record's simplistic cover art.
In an exclusive interview with architecture and design magazine Dezeen, designer Jonathan Barnbrook explained the symbolism behind the album artwork. "This was a man who was facing his own mortality," he said. "The Blackstar symbol [★], rather than writing 'Blackstar,' has as a sort of finality, a darkness, a simplicity, which is a representation of the music."
Barnbrook continued, "It's subsided a bit now, but a lot of people said it was a bullshit cover when it came out, that it took five minutes to design. But I think there is a misunderstanding about the simplicity."
Blackstar was the fifth Bowie record Barnbrook had designed the artwork for, having also been responsible for the covers of 2002's Heathen, 2003's Reality, 2013's The Next Day and last year's compilation album Nothing Has Changed.
"The idea of mortality is in there, and of course the idea of a black hole sucking in everything, the Big Bang, the start of the universe, if there is an end of the universe," the designer explained. "These are things that relate to mortality."
Additionally in the wake of Bowie's passing, audio of the icon impersonating other famous rock vocalists has appeared online. Uploaded by a producer who worked with Bowie to record the theme for the musical Absolute Beginners in 1985, the clip features the late star lampooning the vocal styles of Neil Young, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and more. Hear Bowie's imitations in the player below.