David Bowie’s Toy

As it was the fifth anniversary of DB’s death last month (according to the Nu-Time of the sim we’re now in, at any rate), I was moved to fiddle with an old design idea for his unreleased 2001 album Toy. You can read some background detail on the project here.

I did a version of this cover concept back in 2005, actually six years before the full Toy bootleg leaked… we already had several of the tracks via 2002’s Heathen and its various B-sides. My earlier effort (which I can’t locate offhand) actually used the same source photo I’ve used here (taken by legendary photog Mick Rock circa 2001), but it was very amateurish. So I had a 2021 go at it.

There is a concept to this design, loosely. Because most of the album was new versions of 1960s songs, with just three original songs (two of which later appeared on Heathen), it seemed to me a mixture of retro and early noughties was the ticket. The retro is the slightly trippy feel—I decided the ball bearings David has up to his eyes are actually “Orbs of Insight” or somesuch, generating that trippy effect of past colliding with (then) present. The 2001 aesthetic comes from the overall simplicity—and it seems to me those orangey hues were quite popular at the time. Why, I don’t know. The font is a variant on Barnbrook’s title font for Heathen—Priori.

I hadn’t done any straight design work for ages, so it was fun, and I was happy with the result. For a change. See below also for Mick’s original foto for contrast.

David Bowie - Toy

David Bowie - Toy