While Chris Bigg’s name may not sound familiar, his style and the names he’s worked with certainly will: over the years he’s been credited with designs for Pixies, The Breeders, David Lynch and David Sylvain, along with countless other bands that grace the 4AD label.
4AD is best known for a couple of things, depending on who you talk to: one is the aforementioned Pixies, the other is the distinctive aesthetic of graphic designer Vaughan Oliver, who died in late 2019. Bigg had worked with Oliver. at v23, as a design partner after Nigel Grierson left what was once 23 Envelope in 1988. Throughout the late 80s and 90s, Oliver and Bigg became synonymous with 4AD, ultimately defining the brand aesthetic as dark, eerie, collage-heavy, and resolutely analog.
The duo have worked together on record covers for artists such as Lush, Throwing Muses, Cocteau Twins and, of course, Pixies – the reason we’re discussing now. Although they ostensibly split up in 1993, Pixies have released three albums since 2014. These new records were all engineered by Oliver, without Bigg’s involvement – nor, it should be noted, bassist Kim’s involvement. Deal (more on it later).
This September sees the release of Pixies’ new album, Doggerel. Since Oliver is sadly gone, Pixies management and frontman Charles Thompson IV (better known as Black Francis or Frank Black) – who knew Bigg from their 90s job – got in touch to see if he would be ready to face the conception. Obviously, it would be an emotional project, but it was one that felt right to me. “They got in touch and said, ‘It’s a bit tricky, but would you like to share some thoughts and see what you think?'” Bigg says. “I felt passionate about doing it, respecting [Oliver] I suppose.”