Professor George Hardie was born in 1944 and trained at St Martin’s and the Royal College of Art (RCA). A renowned graphic designer, illustrator and educator, he has received many international commissions from a wide variety of clients (from 14 countries to date). George Hardie became a Professor of Graphic Design in 1990. He currently teaches on postgraduate courses. He was elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale in 1994 and is now its International Secretary. In 2005 was elected a Royal Designer for Industry.

Whilst at the RCA, Hardie produced the artwork for Led Zeppelin’s debut album (1969). After graduation, as a partner at NTA Studios, he designed many iconic record covers with the design group Hipgnosis. He worked on the Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and Wish You Were Here (1975), 10cc’s How Dare You (1976), Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy (1976) and Led Zeppelin’s Presence (1976). His work has been exhibited extensively: with one-person retrospectives at Brighton, Barcelona and most recently in Ljublijana (2008) and exhibitions of his books at the Pentagram Gallery and in Nagoya. He has gained widespread notice through work for the Royal Mail. He won a D&AD silver award for his Millennium stamp, and designed the Channel Tunnel stamps for the Royal Mail and La Poste (1994) and the illustrations for the Magic stamps (2007).

George uses an inventive combination of mixed-media and collage techniques, experimenting with perspective and geometry, and is particularly respected for his ability to solve visual problems through careful observation and crafting of graphic solutions. His adaptability and success with both commissioned and non-commissioned work has also been remarked upon. His Manual (2005) is a limited edition work about hands, which acts as a handbook of batch production and ‘hand-made’ techniques.

George enjoys teaching at the University of Brighton where he has learnt only to set problems to which he doesn’t know the answer. His experience of teaching abroad has made him relish working in an educational system that is based on the premise that the teacher is always wrong.

Hardie’s research expertise involves graphic communication. His aspiration ‘to notice things and get things noticed’, which covers both making work and teaching, involves the telling of stories (Visual Narrative), disciplined gathering and categorisation of ideas and objects (Collecting as a design tool), understanding and inventing restrictions, involving audiences. (Rules and Games, Extended metaphors). In relation to rules and games, Hardie quotes Robert Frost; ”I’d as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down.”

He has been lucky in, and endlessly informed by, working for eighteen years on a course that is based on telling stories by any means: a course cleverly written by old friends and colleagues and excellently taught by new friends and colleagues. The University of Brighton has provided him with an academic home, and base for operations, for some 22 years.

A Retrospective

George Hardie offered the following list to the University of Brighton in 2009. He calls it - Owning up to having a bit of a history. The 70s revisited in the early Twenty-First Century.


  • Invited to participate in National Life Stories. The British Library Sound Archive
  • Typical of many such publications, large and small, over the years is The Observer Book of Rock and Pop (October) which places Dark Side of the Moon sixth in Ten of the Best Album Covers (credited Hipgnosis and Hardie)


  • I started enjoying making the point that the first Led Zeppelin cover (1969), the image was famous not for my creativity but because I dot-stippled an iconic photograph to avoid copyright and because my client later became world famous. It was not even the best phallic image I made in my second year at the RCA
  • Once admitted I passed this truth on to professional audiences in six Australian cities and an audience of over two thousand students and practitioners at AGIdeas in Melbourne. As the Australian Graphic Design Association 2006 International speaker I was described as an acclaimed illustrator, designer and teacher.
  • Only a few months later Parsons the New School of Design, New York suggested promoting me as a 'Veteran British Illustrator'. We settled for 'Legendary British Conceptual Illustrator'. At the Parsons symposium I spoke shortly after a keynote speech, Sarah Boxer on George Herriman, and decided to admit for the first time that my Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon stickers owed a huge debt to Krazy Kat


  • Ganzfeld 4 includes an article about designing the cover for Led Zeppelin, Presence. I was interviewed and the piece is larded with my comments and recollections. Ganzfeld 4. 'Art History. Under Hipgnosis', Oliver Broudy. 14 pages illustrated
  • Finn Nygaard exhibited my 'Pink Floyd at Knebworth' poster in Fynn Nygaard and Friends. Danske Kunstindustrimuseum, Copehagen. (Catalogue)


  • At 60 I realised I could no longer ignore the part of my youth wasted designing record sleeves
  • I included my sticker for Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here (hand related) in press releases for the exhibitions of Manual, and my stay as a visiting professor at Nagoya University of Arts. They politely said this image might remind people who I was
  • I used it thereafter as an example of my ‘going amateur’ projects; comparing the audience of some fifteen million (sticker) with the ninety nine possible Manual owners


  • In Designed by Peter Saville (2003) Saville included Bush Hollyhead and George Hardie amongst his graphic heroes in 1975
  • I was invited to represent the 70s on a panel for D&AD. ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll’ to an audience of eight hundred professionals at the Logan Hall, London. This light hearted anecdotal event made me realise that I ‘had a bit of a history’ and that I had perhaps underestimated its importance. (In spite of four 70s D&AD silver awards shared with Hipgnosis).
  • Instituto Universitario de Architettura, Venice insisted that I include music graphics in my lecture
  • For another ‘bit of a history’ read about NTA Studios (our studio in the 70s and 80s) in Eye 58 (2005), Varoom 04 (2007) - Ian Wright interview. Article on AOI covers
  • Open Manifesto 3 (2007) – George Hardie interview



Featured works and projects


A limited edition book and works about hands that acts as a handbook of batch-production and design techniques.

Centenary of the Magic Circle Commemorative Stamps

Five stamps for the Royal Mail illustrations and consultancy from George Hardie.

Illustration Today

The poster announced and invited attendance at 'Illustration Today: A Symposium on the State of the Art' at the New School for Design in New York

Metaphorical Measurements for a British Olympics

An illustrative reimagining of measurements involved in 30 of the Olympic and Paralympic sports

Owning up to having a bit of a history

Beginning with Hipgnosis and iconic album covers George Hardie became a Professor at the University of Brighton, and Royal Designer for Industry.

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