Stanley Donwood reveals the creative process behind Radiohead's iconic artworks

OK Computer, digital composition, 1996 © Stanley Donwood

If you're a fan of Radiohead, you'll already be familiar with Stanley Donwood, regarded as one of the most important visual artists of his generation and the genius behind the band's iconic art.

From My Iron Lung in 1994 to the more recent A Moon Shaped Pool, Donwood has collaborated with Radiohead since he met frontman Thom Yorke at the University of Exeter.

Now, for the very first time, the graphic artist is revealing the creative process that has driven his career and earned him a cult reputation, spanning a quarter of a century, from music packaging to installations to printmaking.

His new book, There Will Be No Quiet, features personal notebooks, photographs, sketches and abandoned routes to Radiohead's most memorable album covers and promotional pieces. Arranged chronologically, chapters are each dedicated to a major work, presented as a step-by-step case study, from speculative ideas and sketches right through to Photoshop experiments and the finished piece.

In the book's preface, it reads: "It is not at all easy to become an artist and it's not something that I'd advise, even though from a distance it looks like a fairly relaxed course of action."

This opening line gives a hint at what's to come – the pain, the suffering and the frustration of creating art. Dig a little deeper and you discover intriguing stories by Donwood that explain the inspirations and ideas behind his work, all told with his typical razor-sharp humour and generosity of spirit. However, his insights aren't plucked from a journal; they are merely recollections, which Donwood admits might not be an accurate portrayal of events because he can't remember a lot from those days.

Of his album cover for KID A, he writes: "We had lots of versions of the front cover, all with different pictures and different titles in different typefaces. We couldn't work out which was the right one so we took them all downstairs and used tape to stick them to the cupboards and the fridge in the kitchen, hoping that in the morning the right cover and the right title would be obvious, And it was, and it was called KID A."

It's essential reading, and viewing, not just for fans of the band but anyone interested in the explosive mix of the art, music and creative originality. Stanley Donwood: There Will Be No Quiet is published by Thames & Hudson.

© Stanley Donwood

© Stanley Donwood

Special Sauce, 100 x 100 cm (393⁄8 x 393⁄8 in.), acrylic on canvas, 2003 © Stanley Donwood

Special Sauce, 100 x 100 cm (393⁄8 x 393⁄8 in.), acrylic on canvas, 2003 © Stanley Donwood

Nether, 150 x 150 cm (591⁄8 x 591⁄8 in.), acrylic on canvas, 2013 © Stanley Donwood

Nether, 150 x 150 cm (591⁄8 x 591⁄8 in.), acrylic on canvas, 2013 © Stanley Donwood

Lucky, digital composition, 1997 © Stanley Donwood

Lucky, digital composition, 1997 © Stanley Donwood

Lost Angeles (MOCA), approx. 30 x 30 cm (117⁄8 x 117⁄8 in.), linocut print, 2011 © Stanley Donwood

Lost Angeles (MOCA), approx. 30 x 30 cm (117⁄8 x 117⁄8 in.), linocut print, 2011 © Stanley Donwood

In the Maze, digital composition, 2001 © Stanley Donwood

In the Maze, digital composition, 2001 © Stanley Donwood

In Rainbows, digital composition, 2007 © Stanley Donwood

In Rainbows, digital composition, 2007 © Stanley Donwood