Norfolk artist Terry Pastor opens up about his iconic work with David Bowie

Terry Pastor

Terry Pastor - Credit: Archant

Years after his famous David Bowie designs, for both the Ziggy Stardust album and 1971's Hunky Dory, Mr Pastor's work is being displayed around the world.

The Ziggy Stardust album cover, designed by Terry Pastor.

The Ziggy Stardust album cover, designed by Terry Pastor. - Credit: Archant

On a rainy night in London in 1972, David Bowie was shooting the album cover for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Terry Pastor, the now 70-year-old Norfolk artist who created the glam rock-inspired cover, had an insider's view into why the final image – of Bowie standing under a yellow lighted 'K. West' sign with his guitar slung over his chest – happened the way it did.

'We were in the photographer's studio and his band mates, you know Trevor Bolder, Mick Ronson, and Woody, the drummer, didn't want to go outside in the rain. That's why only David went outside in the alley for the photo. Sometimes I have David Bowie fans call me and ask what little things in the photo mean, or what something symbolizes, but it was as simple as that.'

Mr Pastor, originally from Surrey, moved north to Swanton Morley, near Dereham, where he lived for 18 years. He now lives in Lavenham.

His artwork over the years, self-described as 'more Disney than Da Vinci', has spanned mediums from traditional airbrush to graphic illustrations to, most recently, fine art.

The back cover of David Bowie's album "Ziggie Stardust," created by Terry Pastor

The back cover of David Bowie's album "Ziggie Stardust," created by Terry Pastor - Credit: Archant


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Years after his famous David Bowie designs, for both the Ziggy Stardust album and 1971's Hunky Dory, Mr Pastor's work is being displayed around the world, including at a small exhibition in Reepham at NUMBER 21 gallery/antique shop in October.

The shop's owner Marion Stiefel has exhibited Mr Pastor's work before, but said the art took on new meaning now.

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'Terry has very unique pieces. Especially with David Bowie's tragic death in January, this kind of art is coming to the forefront.

'I was quite enamoured with what Terry could produce, he's quite skilful and a really unassuming person.'

Terry Pastor is an award-winning artist whose creations have been featured on the cover of David Bow

Terry Pastor is an award-winning artist whose creations have been featured on the cover of David Bowie's albums - Credit: Archant

The commercial art world has changed significantly from the 1970s and Mr Pastor is feeling the change. Hand-illustrated print ads, signs and graphic designs have largely been replaced by digital airbrushing and photoshop techniques.

'In the 70s and 80s having illustrators design your album covers was popular: now you don't see illustrations on albums or book jackets anymore.

'I actually never put the Bowie album covers in my portfolio. It wasn't until Bowie became a legend in recent years that I realized, wow, people really appreciate this.'

Similar to the progression of his own craft, Mr Pastor was in the right place at the right time to see Bowie's career evolve.

'He said to me in the beginning that he wasn't sure where his career would go, and I wouldn't say that he was struggling, but it was very early on. A few months after the Ziggy Stardust album cover, he just became a mega-star, I think partly because of the music and partly because of his look.

'I saw him a fair bit while I was doing the album covers; he'd drop into my studio in Covent Garden in London and see how it was going. I'd go down to the pub with him and Angie, his wife at the time, and he'd be completely unknown.'

What led Bowie and his team to Mr Pastor must have been the artist's signature style, his unique artwork that is harder to find today.

He said: 'With style, subconsciously I guess I've thought: 'What's the point of trying to emulate someone else?' There's a symbiotic link between the David Bowie covers and the music. It makes it one complete thing.'

The free exhibition is at NUMBER 21, Church Hill, Reepham, NR10 4JW from October 15 to 21 from 10am-4pm.

Terry Pastor's Award-winning Career

From an early age, Mr Pastor was fascinated by illustrations of Dan Dare by Frank Hampson in the Eagle comic, graphic art in National Geographic magazine and 1950's and 60's rock.

While he wasn't the traditional kind of artist that employed paint and canvas for his pieces, Mr Pastor carved a niche for himself within the world of graphic illustration. His first job at age 15 was in a commercial art studio in Fleet Street, but he was sacked in 1964 for having long hair.

'My background in advertising and graphic illustrations led me to be attracted to that sort of image you see on the David Bowie covers - what influences me wouldn't work in a painting. I'm a motorhead, so mechanical stuff, tin-plate toys, the space race during the 60's, those all end up in my art,' he said.

Mr Pastor opened his own studio in Covent Garden below the Royal Opera House in the late 60's and quickly drew in clientele. David Bowie wasn't the only musician he interacted with - Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart were also on the list of household names Mr Pastor got to know.

He also created book covers for authors including Arthur C Clark, Jeffrey Archer, Len Deighton, Brian Aldiss and many others. He has won two prestigious Art Director of America awards. His work has been hung alongside paintings by Francis Bacon and Peter Blake, and some of his pieces are in the collections of Roman Polanski, Status Quo, and the late John Pee.

Mr Pastor's style of art has changed with technology, but now he's has branched into a new art form that he hadn't previously considered.

'I like doing fine art with a small 'f.' When you're doing commercial work an advertising agency would spend the clients' money, and pay big money, but it was a hard-nosed business and you there wouldn't be any thanks or even criticisms. With an individual, they're spending their own money, you get feedback from them and you're creating a more unique piece,' he said.

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