Roger Dean (artist)

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Roger Dean
Roger Dean, DragonCon 2008.jpg
Roger Dean, DragonCon 2008.
Born(1944-08-31) 31 August 1944 (age 70)
Ashford, Kent
Known forArtist, designer, architect and publisher
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For other people named Roger Dean, see Roger Dean (disambiguation).
Roger Dean
Roger Dean, DragonCon 2008.jpg
Roger Dean, DragonCon 2008.
Born(1944-08-31) 31 August 1944 (age 70)
Ashford, Kent
Known forArtist, designer, architect and publisher
Roger Dean logo
Freyja's Castle (1987), showing Dean's characteristic landscapes, with organic-looking constructions.

William Roger Dean (born 31 August 1944), better known as Roger Dean, is an English artist, designer and publisher. He is best known for his work on posters and album covers for musicians, which he began painting in the late 1960s. The artists he did the most art for are English rock bands Yes and Asia.

The covers often feature exotic, fantasy landscapes. His work has sold more than sixty million copies worldwide.

Life and work[edit]

Dean was born in Ashford, Kent, but he spent most of his childhood moving around the world with his British Army father. The family returned to England in 1959 where he was educated at Ashford Grammar School. He later earned a National Diploma of Design from the Canterbury College of Art (now the University for the Creative Arts). In 1968, he graduated from the Royal College of Art in London where he was a student of Professor David Pye. His Master's thesis was on 'The psychology of the built environment'.[citation needed] He has lived in East Sussex since 1972.

Invention vs design[edit]

Beginning in the field of design, he preferred to distinguish between design (the reworking of existing models), and invention (making something new). One of his inventions was the "sea urchin chair." It was a foam chair, which, though appearing spherical, would conform to the sitter, who could obtain a seated position of varying angles. Later, he was asked to design a "landscape" of similar seating for a club belonging to Ronnie Scott.[1] His "retreat pod" chair design was featured in the film A Clockwork Orange.

Album covers[edit]

His first album cover work was in 1968 for The Gun. He also did the artwork for Atomic Rooster's album In Hearing of... This album cover hinted at the inimitable style for which he would later become famous. In the same year Dean produced the cover for the first album by the African/Caribbean band Osibisa, which featured a hybrid insect/elephant. This was much closer to Dean's work as we came to know it and it attracted widespread attention. Later that year, he began the partnership with the progressive rock bands Yes (and Asia) for which he is best known. His first design for Yes was for their album Fragile. Dean designed the now-classic Yes "bubble" logo, which first appeared on the album Close to the Edge, and continued to create covers for the band until as recently as 2014 (Heaven & Earth). Yes guitarist Steve Howe said, "There is a pretty tight bond between our sound and Roger's art." In addition to their album covers, Dean also contributed to his brother Martyn Dean's stage set designs for the band.[2]

Known primarily for the dreamy, other-worldly scenes he has created for Yes, Budgie, Uriah Heep, Gentle Giant and other bands, Dean has said, "I don't really think of myself as a fantasy artist but as a landscape painter." Characteristic landscapes show graceful stone arches (as shown in Arches Mist, below) or floating islands, while many paintings show organic appearing habitats (such as shown in the cover for Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe). Though he primarily works with watercolour paints, many of his paintings make use of multiple media, including gouache, ink, enamel, crayon and collage. In addition to his cover paintings, Dean is respected for his calligraphic work, designing logos and titles to go with his paintings.

Video game art[edit]

Beginning in 1985 with the software company Psygnosis, Dean has been responsible for the cover artwork for several video games, including Shadow of the Beast, Tetris Worlds as well as a redesign of the Tetris logo.[3]


Three compilations of his work have been published, including Views (1975)[1] (the success of which led him to form publishing house Paper Tiger Books), Magnetic Storm (1984),[2] and Dragon's Dream (2008). In addition, his architectural and furniture work have been exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum and in the Royal Academy.

Legal case against James Cameron[edit]

In 2013, Dean filed a legal action in U.S. District Court New York claiming that film director James Cameron was inspired by 14 of his original images in the making the 2009 blockbuster film Avatar. Dean sought damages of $50m.[4] Although the filmakers admitted in court to being influenced by the artist's work, Dean's case was dismissed in 2014.[5]


Arches Mist, 1996. Another characteristic image, a moody landscape, showing fantastic natural features.
Cover artwork for the 1972 Budgie album Squawk.

Album covers[edit]

1968Gun, TheThe GunGun
1969Earth and FireEarth and Fire
1970NucleusElastic Rock
1970LighthouseOne Fine Morning
1970Dr. Strangely StrangeHeavy Petting
1970Clear Blue SkyClear Blue Sky
1971Midnight SunMidnight Sun
1971Tippett Group, KeithKeith Tippett GroupDedicated to You but You Weren't Listening
1971RamasesSpace Hymns
1971Mike AbsalomMike Absalom[6]
1971Cox, BillyBilly CoxNitro Function
1971Dello and Friends, PetePete Dello and FriendsInto Your Ears
1971Atomic RoosterIn Hearing of Atomic Rooster
1972John Dummer BandBlue
1972Gracious!This Is...Gracious!!
1972YesClose to the Edge
1972Uriah HeepDemons and Wizards
1972Gentle GiantOctopus
1972Babe RuthFirst Base
1972Midnight SunWalking Circles
1972Third Ear BandMusic from Macbeth
1972Uriah HeepThe Magician's Birthday
1972VariousMotown Chartbusters Vol. Six
1973Magna CartaLord of the Ages
1973BudgieNever Turn Your Back on a Friend
1973YesTales from Topographic Oceans
1973McKendree SpringSpring Suite
1973Del RichardsonPieces of a Jigsaw
1973BadgerOne Live Badger
1973GreensladeBedside Manners Are Extra
1974Gravy TrainStaircase to the Day
1975Howe, SteveSteve HoweBeginnings
1976Greenslade, DaveDave GreensladeCactus Choir
1977Lodge, JohnJohn LodgeNatural Avenue
1979Howe, SteveSteve HoweThe Steve Howe Album
1981YesClassic Yes
1983Devlin, BarryBarry DevlinBreaking Starcodes
1984NightwingMy Kingdom Come
1989It BitesEat Me in St. Louis
1989Anderson Bruford Wakeman HoweAnderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
1990AsiaThen & Now
1991Howe, SteveSteve HoweTurbulence
1993Anderson Bruford Wakeman HoweAn Evening of Yes Music Plus
1993Symphonic Music of Yes
1993Wakeman, RickRick WakemanRick Wakeman's Greatest Hits
1994Howe, SteveSteve HoweNot Necessarily Acoustic
1995Uriah HeepSea of Light
1995Various artistsTales from Yesterday
1996Various artistsSupernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Rock Era
1996YesKeys to Ascension
1996BudgieAn Ecstasy of Fumbling - The Definitive Anthology
1997London Philharmonic Orchestra, TheThe London Philharmonic OrchestraUs and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd
1997Space NeedleThe Moray Eels Eat The Space Needle
1997YesKeys to Ascension 2
1997YesOpen Your Eyes
1997London Symphony Orchestra, TheThe London Symphony OrchestraSymphonic Rock: American Classics
1997London Symphony Orchestra, TheThe London Symphony OrchestraSymphonic Rock: The British Invasion, Vol. 1
1998London Symphony Orchestra, TheThe London Symphony OrchestraSymphonic Rock: The British Invasion, Vol. 2
1998Ad InfinitumAd Infinitum
1998Various artistsYes, Friends and Relatives
1998YesKeys to Ascension Volumes 1 and 2
1999YesThe Ladder
1999Wakeman, RickRick WakemanReturn to the Centre of the Earth
2000Various artistsYes, Friends and Relatives Volume 2
2000YesHouse of Yes: Live from House of Blues
2000TM NetworkMajor Turn-Round
2001Uriah HeepAcoustically Driven
2001Uriah HeepRemasters: The Official Anthology
2001Atomic RoosterResurrection
2002YesIn a Word: Yes (1969–)
2002VermilionFlattening Mountains and Creating Empires
2003Birdsongs of the MesozoicThe Iridium Controversy
2003Howe, SteveSteve HoweElements
2004YesThe Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection
2005Glass HammerThe Inconsolable Secret
2005YesThe Word Is Live
2006White, AlanAlan WhiteWhite
−2006Electric SheepSweep
2010Various artistWondrous Stories – A Complete Introduction To Progressive Rock
2010Various artistWondrous Stories – 34 Artist That Shaped The Prog Rock Era
2011YesFly from Here
2011Ben CravenGreat & Terrible Potions
2011YesIn the Present - Live from Lyon
2012FocusFocus X
2014YesHeaven & Earth

Video game covers[edit]



  1. ^ a b Roger Dean (1975). Views. Reissue: Pomegranate (1993): ISBN 1-56640-448-7
  2. ^ a b Roger Dean (1984). Magnetic Storm. Reissue: Pomegranate (1993): ISBN 1-56640-449-5.
  3. ^ Roger Dean's profile at MobyGames. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  4. ^ "James Cameron sued by artist Roger Dean over Avatar". BBC News. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Couch, Aaron. James Cameron Wins Avatar Idea Theft Lawsuit Against Artist", Hollywood Reporter, September 17, 2014
  6. ^ "Mike Absalom Music Shop". Retrieved 9 February 2012. 

External links[edit]