Roger Dean, born 1944, is an English artist and designer who is best known for his work on posters and album covers for progressive rock bands like Yes, Asia and Uriah Heep.
After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1968, Dean became involved with the music industry when he was commissioned to design the album cover for the first Gun LP. Many other covers should follow until 1971, usually for progressive rock labels as Pegasus, Nephenta or Vertigo.
This early work varies in style and does not yet follow, what later on became Roger Dean's trademark theme: futuristic landscape paintings. Instead those early album covers were quite often very sophisticated in form and design, many had playful die-cut gimmick sleeves which would fold out into a poster or had some interactive features. Several of his early albums, like Dr. Strangely Strange's Heavy Petting, command a very high price on the collector's market today, mostly for their brilliant cover design.
The now classic Roger Dean landscape designs started with the Lighthouse album for Vertigo, his first work for Osibisa, and the Billy Cox album shown above. But especially his work for the progressive rock outfit Yes has established Dean as the legend he is today. Deans colour schemes and his images of floating mountains and fantasy creatures have inspired many other artists over the decades, and the imagery of James Cameron's Avatar film is strikingly similar to Dean's work.
Most of Roger Dean's classic album covers were released in gatefold sleeves with the artwork covering front, back and inside of the cover. Next to his work for Yes, and the Yes family solo projects, he is probably most famous for the artwork he created for the band Asia, but he also made designs for unlikely projects outside of the progressive rock genre, like a Motown Chartbusters compilation album.
Roger Dean keeps on designing cover art until today. One of his latest designs was for the tenth album of Dutch rock outfit Focus.