Ahmed Emad Eldin: Resonating with Pink Floyd
He wants to be a doctor and has just started his freshman year at med school, but a different path may be mapped out for 18-year-old Ahmed Emad Eldin. The Egyptian youngster shot to world fame after being asked to design the cover of the highly anticipated Pink Floyd album – the band’s first in over two decades.
Showcasing his graphic design work on a portfolio website landed Mr Eldin the commission coveted by nearly all the world’s best graphic artists. Pink Floyd’s creative director Aubrey Powell contacted Mr Eldin by email, asked for a few ideas, and received a bundle of exceptionally creative artwork in reply. “I got to thinking about the intersection of life, nature, and what is beyond the world — what takes you to new limits and creates millions of different amazing feelings,” says the unassuming artist whose work now graces the cover of The Endless River.
It is not unlikely that Mr Eldin’s artwork is destined to become as instantly recognisable as the cover of The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd’s 1973 album that established the band firmly at the pinnacle of progressive rock. With his design now splashed over billboards from Berlin, Paris, and London to New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, Mr Eldin has already become the hottest name in graphic design.
“It fits in seamlessly in the well-established Pink Floyd tradition of highly original and slightly mystical album covers. ‘The most amazing is perhaps that the surreal image of a lone man in a skiff punting his way across the clouds to the sunset masterfully sums up the music of the new album.’”
“When I first saw Ahmed Eldin’s design it had a direct Floydian resonance. It is enigmatic, yet open to interpretation,” explains Audrey Powell who knows, as few others do, what to look for in cover art. At the height of the swinging sixties, Mr Powell set up the Hipgnosis design studio in London that was to produce an impressive number of iconic album covers for many of the greatest bands of that golden era: Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra, 10cc, Paul McCartney & Wings, Yes, etc.
Hipgnosis is now defunct. The studio fell victim to the digital era in which demand for premier cover artwork collapsed as CDs offered but limited printable real estate. Its cofounder Storm Thorgerson – of The Dark Side of the Moon fame – passed away in 2013. Still, Mr Powell felt the need to rescue the studio’s legendary fame one last time for the release of a new Pink Floyd album, an event as momentous as there will ever be on the music scene.
As if on cue, Ahmed Eldin’s design came to the rescue. It fits in seamlessly in the well-established Pink Floyd tradition of highly original and slightly mystical album covers. “The most amazing is perhaps that the surreal image of a lone man in a skiff punting his way across the clouds to the sunset masterfully sums up the music of the new album. Pink Floyd album covers have always contained a subtle message. This one does too. But the main thing is people can read what they want into it. There is no need to spell it out,” said Mr Powel on BBC Radio 6 Music.
Meanwhile in Egypt, Mr Eldin continues his medical studies, shying away from the limelight. In a rare interview with Vice Magazine, the young artist admitted to being slightly overwhelmed: “It is an honour for anyone to work with such a great, legendary band. However, I still want to be a doctor, but I’d like to continue to make art as well.”
Ahmed Eldin said he first started dabbling in graphic design five years ago, at age 13: “Seeing artwork on the Internet motivated me to try this for myself.” Mr Eldin’s sudden rise to fame stands as a testament not just to the power of the web, but also to the vast reservoir of talent available outside the Berlin-Paris-New York corridor, waiting to be tapped.