I had no intention of ever learning this much about Joy Division or pulsars, but because of my apt to be a law abiding citizen, I was forced to research the about the ubiquitous design made popular by the British band and artist Peter Saville for a t-shirt project I’m heading on SixPrizes.
In short, I thought it would be cool to make a spoof off this t-shirt:
However, I know from experience that you’ve got to be very careful when “borrowing” ideas from other people. In order to make sure the t-shirt parody project would get off without a hitch, I needed to make sure that I could get around the copyrights that Joy Division or Peter Saville may have on the design.
So I did the first thing anyone else would do… I checked ole trustworthy: Wikipedia. The free encyclopedia has a section about the packaging of the “Unknown Pleasures” album that gives the following information:
The front cover image comes from an edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy, and was originally drawn with black lines on a white background. It presents successive pulses from the first pulsar discovered, PSR B1919+21—often referred to in the context of this album by its older name, CP 1919. The image was suggested by drummer Stephen Morris and the cover design is credited to Joy Division, Peter Saville and Chris Mathan.
From this description, I assumed that the Saville took diagrams from the book and superimposed them on top of one another to make the cool looking image.
But upon further research, this page from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy surfaced:
He straight up used the exact image for their album cover! I guess you could say there is some artistic thought expressed by inverting the colors and choosing the positioning, but it’s the same exact image!
I was dumbfounded when I discovered this. Here I was all stressing about copyright infringement… but now it looks like the image itself might have been infringed upon already!
I had to do some more research to find out more about the pulsar to find its true origin…