Cover artwork

The sleeve of Lodger was designed by David Bowie and artist Derek Boshier, who later worked on the Let’s Dance artwork and an early, unused set design for the Serious Moonlight tour.

It was photographed by Brian Duffy, who had previously photographed Bowie on three occasions, including the famous Aladdin Sane cover shoot. The pair’s final collaboration was the sleeve of 1980’s Scary Monsters… And Super Creeps.

Duffy was a bit mysterious that day in 1979. He told me that he wanted me to meet someone, a friend of his, and because he said, ‘I think you two will really get on together’ and ‘You’re gonna love meeting this person’, I assumed he was fixing me up on a date.
Derek Boshier
GQ, December 2015

Duffy invited Boshier to a late-morning shoot at his studio in Swiss Cottage, north London. Beforehand, Boshier went to an art bookshop he regularly visited in Covent Garden, where the owner told him that Bowie had been spotted the previous day, looking for books and magazines featuring Boshier’s work.

I had been to an art book store in London, and someone said to me, ‘Do you know David Bowie?’ and I said, ‘Well I know of him.’ The person in the shop said, ‘Oh he’s just been in here asking if there were any books on you.’ Then I got to know him – he came to my openings in Paris and stuffµ – and he was such a good guy, so generous and good to be with.
Derek Boshier, 2017

Boshier failed to join the dots, and was surprised when Bowie turned up at Duffy’s studio a few days later. The pair soon developed a good friendship, and Bowie later became a collector of Boshier’s works.

So there was David. He had just finished recording an LP and wanted to collaborate with me and Duffy on the cover design. From that moment we got on like a house on fire.
Derek Boshier
GQ, December 2015

The Lodger shoot took place in February 1979 at Duffy’s London studio, with the photographer positioned in the roof rafters looking down.

The cover depicted Bowie apparently captured in mid-fall, but actually lying on a trestle table. Boshier’s postcard design echoed the album’s sense of travel and transition.

Make-up artist Antony Clavet applied prosthetics to Bowie’s face to suggest a broken nose, and nylon string was used to further contort his face. Bowie burnt his hand in a coffee spill on the first morning of the shoot, and his bandage added to the sense of dishevelment and drama.

The inner gatefold featured a life-and-death collage containing various images, including Bowie having make-up applied by Clavet and his assistant, as well as depictions of prone figures: a baby; Che Guevara’s corpse; a cadaver in a morgue underneath a sheet; and Andrea Mantegna’s 15th century painting Lamentation Over The Dead Christ . There were also two stock images of two Omega wristwatches, seemingly cut from a catalogue.

Just before I started the final artwork, I mentioned that we hadn’t talked about the design for the inner gatefold. David replied, ‘Do what you like’, so I chose the eternal themes: time, life and death.
Derek Boshier
GQ, December 2015

The background of the gatefold showed two of Duffy’s experimental sink images, of jets of water being shot into a basin. These were designed to disorientate and provide a confused perspective. The sink can be seen behind Bowie’s right foot on the Lodger cover. The original intention was to have one of the jets shooting into the basin, which was lying on the floor.

The cover for Lodger was a collaboration between David, the photographer Duffy, and myself. I loved this solution to the problem of David being photographed falling. Shooting him from above, on a specially made table built to match the falling form. The table was designed to be completely obscured by David’s body (you can see the table in the photograph right centre on the inside of the book-style cover). The wash hand basin was laid underneath the table on the floor.
Derek Boshier, 2003

Duffy’s original chosen image was treated with chemicals to give a distressed effect around the borders of the frame. It had various details which were unclear in the final version, including the comb held by Bowie, his string vest and patterned shirt, shoe and belt buckles, and the intricate prosthetics applied to his face.

In the end, however, Bowie decided to use one of Duffy’s low-resolution test Polaroid images, taken with a SX-70 camera. A higher-resolution image, complete with the water jet, can be seen on the inner gatefold of the 2017 Tony Visconti remix album, released as part of the 2017 box set A New Career In A New Town (1977-1982).

Alternative photo from David Bowie's Lodger cover shoot (image © Brian Duffy/ Duffy Archives)

Alternative photo from David Bowie’s Lodger cover shoot (image © Brian Duffy/ Duffy Archives)

Bowie was working to a tight deadline – the album was due for release in May 1979, three months after the photo shoot – and he invited Boshier to deliver the finished artwork at his home in Berlin. Bowie picked up Boshier at the airport and drove him back to Kreuzberg, the city’s Turkish quarter, where they reviewed the artwork in Bowie’s small kitchen.

It had an inside/outside feel, like being in the open air but in an enclosed environment. The walls were decorated with giant photo-murals of Alpine scenes, as if we were high up in a ski lodge.
Derek Boshier
GQ, December 2015
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