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*What are 23 Envelope and v23?
*Have any of their designs been released separately?
*Are any of these designs collected in book form?
*Where can I obtain books and posters?
*Have v23 now left 4AD?
*What was "Is Minty a Man"?
*Who has collaborated with v23 and 23 Envelope? Have they had monographs published?
What are 23 Envelope and v23?
23 Envelope was the team of Vaughan Oliver (graphic design and typography) and Nigel Grierson (photography), who designed the artwork for almost all 4AD releases until 1987. After this point, Vaughan Oliver continued to work for 4AD as v23, collaborating with Chris Bigg, Simon Larbalestier and others.
Have any of their designs been released separately?
Yes, this often happens around November/December time. The following have been made commercially available in the past:
WAD 23
A set of posters released in 1986.

XAD 23
Another set of posters, from 1990.

PAD 23
A set of postcards (released in 1986, re-released in 1992)

PAD 905 / WAD 905
A set of eight Pixies postcards (PAD) and posters (WAD) of the photos from Doolittle.

XAD 0001
A 1990 calendar.

FAD 23
1993 poster set.

A 1993 calendar.

Minty 23
Modern calendar.

Also, two books: Exhibition/Exposition book (1991) and This Rimy River book (1993). There are many other posters. 4AD prints them for nearly every release. We have no guidelines or hints on where to find them. See eyesore for more information.
*eyesore catalogue

Are any of these designs collected in book form?
So far there are two books of 23 Envelope / v23 designs: Exhibition/Exposition (1991) and This Rimy River (1993). Each one corresponds to a gallery exhibition of the artworks: The former in Nantes, France (and later in Paris) and the latter in Los Angeles (during the All Virgos Are Mad festival.)

Exhibition/Exposition: 249 x 249 mm, 80 pages, 140 color pictures, with text in French and English (not very long, 5000 words or so, but very interesting). Includes interviews with bands. Sleeve in 4-color printing tracing paper. Note that the first edition is less comprehensive than the second.

Laurent Lapierre compares the two books: "I used to hear that the recent This Rimy River was far better, but it's only a part of the reality: I found too much color in This Rimy River - the style of Exhibition is sober, but some illustrations seem better printed - and This Rimy River shows nothing from before 1988."

The normal edition of This Rimy River contains Vaughan Oliver's graphic works spanning 88-94. It features lots of colour pictures on various 4AD sleeves that include: Pixies, Pale Saints, Breeders, Michael Brook, Heidi Berry, etc; as well as other designs made by Chris Bigg and Paul McMenamin who, together with Vaughan, are v23. The book also has short interviews with artists that comment their feelings and reactions to v23's work.

There's also a super-limited 400 copy edition; the artbooks site says "The original page designs have been overprinted with two new layers of artwork. The first overprint, in black, utilises enlarged details of archival artwork which virtually obliterate the existing illustrations and text. This, in turn, is overlaid with one large word per page, running bottom to top in a translucent bronze ink."

[This Rimy River -
Limited Edition]
This Rimy River - Limited Edition

Where can I obtain books and posters?
The first poster set is now very rare - you'll have difficulty fnding that one, although you might find the second and third ones secondhand. Posters are also sold off singularly quite regularly, although without the poster tube they can often be creased.

I believe the standard This Rimy River book is now out-of-print but can still be obtained ex-stock from some places: try amazon in the US and Dillons arts bookstore in Covent Garden, London, UK (8 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LH, +44 171 836 1359). Walzner Artbooks might have a good supply since they specialize in Shinro Otake. 4AD mailorder will also have copies (see Mail Addresses). Arcana Books in California keeps a nice supply of 4AD-related books (see Mail Addresses). First-hand copies are priced around £30 or $50. In London, Shipleys on Charring Cross Road might be worth trying.

The limited edition This Rimy River was been selling rather slowly; copies might be available firsthand for around $200. Try Artbooks or 4AD mail order for copies of this. Someone recently wanted to sell his secondhand copy for $400. However, he said he'd only ever looked at the book with rubber gloves on so that price may be worth it to all you SM'ers.

Exhibition/Exposition was available in two editions. Get the second edition if possible. No sources on that one, but again shouldn't be too difficult to find. I got mine for £20 but might be more expensive now.

Tokyo Salamander and other Shinro Ohtake books are available from artbooks. Price on application, but in November 1997 it was $180.



Have v23 now left 4AD?
Unlike 23 Envelope, v23 have always been "loosely linked" with 4AD, even if they did occupy the basement of the label's offices. In 1998 v23 moved into their new premises in Battersea, and it appears that they are taking on an increasing number of commissions from places other than 4AD. There was an article about v23's move from the basement of Alma Road to their own property; the article is from Computer Arts Issue 14, January 1998 and was located by Andrew Massey. A further article appeared in the same magazine in the August 1998 edition profiling some of the newer v23 work.

The offical line from 4AD's Richard Holtzman is that they "are simply moving into their own space. They will continue to work on 4AD material and they will continue to do their own outside work. Over the years as the popularity of v23 grew so has the amount of work they have done on the outside". But it's noticable that 4AD are increasingly working with other designers now, a trend that will probably continue.

The fantastic Creative Review magazine included the following paragraph in their December 1998 edition:

"Despite splitting from record label 4AD recently, Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg's V23 studio continues to create beautiful, ethereal CD covers: 12 Rounds' Pleasant Smell (shown) is due out at Christmas. Oliver and Bigg had to leave the in-house studio at 4AD after the company was forced to "downsize", although Oliver had always worked there on a freelance basis. Now set up on its own, V23 is working on books, CDs and, showing there's no hard feelings, a 4AD catalogue."

*computer arts: jan 98

*computer arts: aug 98

*leaves 4AD

What was "Is Minty a Man"?
Is Minty a Man inaugurated the 'Visual Arts UK 1996' year at the University gallery of Vaughan Oliver's alma mater, the Newcastle Polytechnic from Feb 24 to Mar 29, 1996. In some parts being based upon the 1994 LA predecessor this rimy river, the exhibition design incorporated Vaughan Oliver and v23 work from 1988 to 1996. It drew one of its main attractions from the first public presentation of the limited edition catalogue for 'this rimy river'. Later that year it toured Norwich gallery (May 3 to 25, 1996) and Manchester Cornerhouse (Aug 3 to Sep 25, 1996). The 23 steel buckets with melted LP's placed inside them decorating every corner of the showrooms have become legendary. One of these can be found as a symbol on t-shirts and two poster designs having been available at the newcastle show.

"A lot of words about the history of 23 envelope/v23 and the guys who work there and some interesting info about: 'Oliver's most recent venture, with the Los Angeles production company Satellite Films, has resulted in v23's first television commercials for clients Microsoft, Converse and Sony."

Who has collaborated with v23 and 23 Envelope? Have they had monographs published?
This section is rather patchy and needs expanding (anyone?).

Nigel Grierson
Was the photography half of the "23 Envelope" label with Vaughan Oliver; now works for see Tomboy Films as a director for corporate customers.

Beverley Carruthers
The photograph on the cover of His Name is Alive's Livonia. Aside from a few appearances in v23 calendars, her only other album cover is for Area's Agate Lines, an Italian best-of that was designed by Chris Biggs of v23. Andrew Massey said in May 1998: "I've found one article on her in a magazine called Image (I think) which is either the RPS (Royal Photographic Society) or George Eastman House magazine from years back. I can't remember which one it was - I think it was an RPS magazine but I know I read the only copy I managed to locate at George Eastman House (hence my confusion - I typically have to cross the Atlantic to read a British magazine). There was also a couple of pictures by her in Vogue many years ago too - Madonna with child pictures...but they are not up to the standard/quality of Livonia."

Kevin Westerberg

Gertrude Kasebier
[19th Century Photographer]

Melodie McDaniel

Michelle Turrani

Mike Folliot
Mojave 3 Ask me Tomorrow

Terry Dowling
Clan Of Xymox and Lonely as an Eyesore limited edition prints.

Shinro Ohtake
Throwing Muses House Tornado. Kristin Hersh's Hips and Makers. See artbooks for more information and articles on Shinro. He's also done a book with Vaughan Oliver called Toyko Salamander.

Simon Larbalestier
Simon Larbalestier took photographs for the Pixies covers; he's got a monograph called The Art and Craft of Collage. Simon sells his prints through his web site.

Jason Love
Breeders covers

Jim Friedman
Lush covers

*Tomboy films - directors

*artbooks - shinro ohtake

*Simon Larbalestier - The Art and Craft of Collage

*Simon Larbalestier - website

Comments and updates to please.
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