The aim is to spotlight the art, design, packaging and photography of the Zang Tuum Tumb label, with a specific focus on it’s first 5 years when it was distributed by Island from October 1983 until 1988 when it struck a new deal with Warner Brothers.
This era yielded a unique body of work that, hand in hand with the groundbreaking music of the label, stood it apart from many others operating in the pop world at the time. With a design aesthetic spearheaded by ex-NME journalist turned press agent, Paul Morley, a handful of designers – XL / Accident, The London Design Partnership – created the identity of its artists and gave the label a style and mystique that’s rarely been bettered.
This has largely been undervalued or ignored by the design community in general, partly I suspect to do with the anonymity of many of the designers responsible. This site aims to redress that by showcasing ZTT artwork and related ephemera ranging from sleeve art to promo items, print ads to photography, alongside interviews I’ve conducted with the people who made them.
Over the last decade I’ve revisited the ZTT of my past and begun tracking down the pieces and the people who played a part in the look of the label. This is what I found. All the imagery featured here will be from my collection unless otherwise stated and remains copyright of the label or the respective artists who I will endeavor to credit. I welcome input from anyone who has their own items – sleeve artwork, adverts, promo posters or photographs. The main criteria is that it must be an official piece associated with the label and I’m always on the look out for new items and information to add to the site.
Kevin Foakes aka DJ Food aka Strictly Kev aka Openmind.
I discovered ZTT upon hearing Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s ‘Relax’ on the radio in early 1984, it led me to the label and I was hooked by everything about it, collecting as much as I could find until the early 90’s when a change in the music scene turned my head elsewhere.
Along the way I taught myself to DJ and moved to London to study graphic design, not immediately realising that ZTT was one of the main inspirations behind the latter. Upon graduating I met Coldcut and joined the fledgling Ninja Tune label as both an artist (DJ Food) and their main label designer (as Openmind) but that’s another story…