All information on this site is through my own findings and is believed to be correct. Any corrections, errors or admissions that need to be made, or artists that would like to be involved in BOX=ART, please feel free to contact me.
BOX=ART copyright ©2013 Adam Gidney. All rights reserved. Hosted by Dathorn.
BOX=ART quick menus
BOX=ART is a site dedicated to the history of video game box art/ cover art and the artists responsible for them.
Box arts are profiled from a variety of angles using high quality scans and with the intention of acknowledging the men and women who have played such a major role in shaping our gaming experiences.
Not only for video game enthusiasts, BOX=ART is for all who enjoy quality artwork.
Founders Jonathan Ellis, Ian Hetherington and David Lawson set about building a studio with the high level of quality their previous company, Imagine had become known for. What they did with Psygnosis in 1984 until the mid - 00’s was to better Imagine, and a contributing reason for this were the quality box arts.
Famed fantasy and sci-fi painter Roger Dean, known for his Yes album covers, was brought on board and set about creating the companies famous owl and Psygnosis logos. He would go on to design their first box art, the excellent Brataccas, setting the tone and standard for many future covers.
His follow up Deep Space introduced the black box and thin coloured frame design used on most releases until the early 90’s. Roger would hit his Psygnosis creative peak with the exceptional Shadow of the beast I & II (1989, 1990). Both exuded a lofty level of box art craftsmanship unseen at that time.
Psygnosis realized they were on to something special and released both Beast games in large panoramic deluxe boxes. Not only would they show off Roger’s work to their fullest, but also provided the extra space needed for the much sought-after Dean designed Beast T-shirt.
By 1988 Psygnosis’ successes meant their work output had increased. One can only imagine the time it took Roger to complete his detailed works meant bringing other artists on board was needed. Instead of only commissioning new artworks, Psygnosis would license pre-existing high fantasy art and to some degree build the look of the game around each piece.
On the artist roster throughout this classic period of the late 80’s – the mid 90’s were some of the UK’s finest painters including Peter Andrew Jones (Stryx), Ian Craig (Menace), Ian Naylor (Armour-Geddon), John Harris (Awesome), Melvyn Grant (Baal), Richard Clifford-Dey (Ork) and David John Rowe (Shadow of the Beast III). Psygnosis had now pushed box art into new territories of excellence and shown the industry that quality art sold games.
Born from the ashes of ZX Spectrum developer Imagine, Psygnosis would go on to be one of Europe’s great developers and propagators of fine box arts.
Shadow of the Beast| By Roger Dean| 1989| Psygnosis| The companies first big hit game would see it published with one of the most impressive and enduringly original box arts in the industry. One could argue it the zenith of Dean’s box art career and a contender for the best Europe has produced.
In the early 90’s Psygnosis would achieve their greatest success with Lemmings by Adrian Powell. It’s cutesey-looking cover art would be in stark contrast with the high fantasy Psygnosis had become known for, and they would follow it up with more of the same, including; Bill’s Tomato Game (David John Rowe), Wiz n Liz and Puggsy (both Dave Pether), and the Lemmings sequels.
By the beginning of PlayStation era in 1994, the Amiga/ Atari ST period was all but over, and with it Psygnosis’ fine paintery box arts. The developer would reinvent its self for this new generation with WipEout, an early hit for the company at the 1995 PlayStation European launch.
The PlayStation heralded a new dawn for the industry, tapping into the young adults market. WipEout would appeal to them infusing all that was cool about the UK in the 90’s with a pumping clubland soundtrack and a cover art by The Designers Republic (TDR). Its simplicity, symbology and Japanese-flavored design would be a hit and inspire all WipEout follow ups. Psygnosis’ colaboration with TDR would be an early example of a publisher working with an external design agency in Europe.
Throughout the rest of the 90’s and until Sony’s merger in the early 2000’s Psygnosis would have further success’ with its Formula 1 licensed games and the Colony Wars series, but nothing would repeat the level of box art creativity seen in WipEout and its two sequels.
Updated - 29/10/16, by Adam Gidney
>Brataccas (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST, Macintosh. (RD)
>Deep Space (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST. (RD)
>Barbarian (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, ZX Spectrum. (RD)
>Terrorpods (EU) Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum. (RD)
>Baal (EU/ NA) Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS. (MG)
>Obliterator (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, DOS, ZX Spectrum. (RD)
>Blood Money (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST. (PAJ)
>Shadow of the Beast (worldwide) Atari Lynx, Mega CD, Amiga, Atari ST, Master System, PC Engine. (RD)
>Menace (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS. (IC)
>Stryx (EU/ NA) Amiga, Atari ST. (PAJ)
>Awesome (EU) Amiga. (JH)
>Spell Bound (EU) Amiga, Atari ST. (PAJ)
>Ballistix (worldwide) Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, PC Engine. (MG)
>Captain Fizz meets the Blaster-Trons (EU) Amiga, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum. (MG)
>Lemmings (worldwide) Acorn, Amiga, Amiga CD 32, Atari ST, CD-I, CDTV, Commodore 64, DOS, Game Boy, Game Gear, Mega Drive, Lynx, NES, Master 21System, PC-98, Sam Coupe, Super Famicom, Turbo Grafx, ZX Spectrum. (AP)
>Aquaventura (EU) Amiga. (RD)
>Cytron EU) Amiga. (PAJ)
>Shadow of the Beast III: Out of the Shadow (EU/ NA) Amiga. (DJR)
>Wipeout (EU/ JP) PlayStation, Saturn, Windows. (TDR)
>Wip3out (JP) PlayStation. (TDR)
Notable Psygnosis box artists
>Adrian Powell (AP)
>Dave Pether (DP)
>David John Rowe (DJR)
>The Designers Republic (TDR)
>Ian Craig (IC)
>Ian Naylor (IN)
>John Harris (JH)
Sources and further reading:
Related BOX=ART pages.
>Melvyn Grant (MG)
>Peter Andrew Jones (PAJ)
>Richard Clifford-Dey (RCD)
>Roger Dean (RD)
>Tim white (TW)
>Tony Roberts (TR)
Notable box arts published by Psygnosis.
Menace| By Ian Craig| 1988 | Psyclapse.
Awesome| By John Harris| 1990| Psygnosis| Available in both the panoramic or standard box sizes. Ballistix| By Melvyn Grant| 1991| Psygnosis| The famed artist behind Iron Maiden’s album covers would lend this art piece originally designed in the 1970’s. It is also one of the few original Psygnosis covers to be be used in in Japan (as above).
Brataccas| By Roger Dean| 1986| Minscape| Dean’s first box art and the debut for Psygnosis. It would exude a quality in art design unseen in Europe at the time. Available in above first edition ‘book’ style, or the later second edition ‘black box’ line of games with a revised logo.
Blood Money| By Peter Andrew Jones| 1989| Psygnosis| One of Jones’ most recognisable paint works, originally used on a sci-fi novel cover by Niven.
Shadow of the Beast III| By David John Rowe| 1992| Psygnosis| The third and final box art in the series saw the reigns passed to Rowe. It would end up a fitting entry and the artists personal favourite designed cover.
WipEout| 1995| Psygnosis| This landmark box art, by design studio The Designers Republic would help launch the PlayStation in Europe whilst aim to encapsulate the 90’s rave culture with video games.
Lemmings| By Adrian Powell| 1991| Psygnosis| By far Psygnosis’ most popular game and widely used box art finding home on just about every early 90’s format, including Japanese machines.