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Joni Mitchell
Asylum, 1976
Designer: Joni Mitchell
Photographers: Norman Seeff and Joel Bernstein

 was a painter first," says Joni Mitchell. "I trained as a commercial artist, as well as a fine artist. So when I began to record albums, I thought album art was a great way to keep both careers alive." Hejira may be her most haunting cover. "It represented the work pretty well," says Mitchell. Appropriately for an album whose title means "journey," the making of the cover was a long, strange trip. The front art was stripped together from a number of different photos, which resulted in what Mitchell calls "an incredibly difficult printing job." A studio portrait by Norman Seeff was combined with shots by Joel Bernstein taken on a frozen lake -- "a classic Hans Brinker," as Mitchell puts it.

"Norman used a very difficult and strange psychological process," says Mitchell. "He'd shoot forever and tried to get a shot of everyone he worked with crying. A lot of people cracked and didn't go back. He could be a cruel overlord, but he took great photographs.

"At that point my stock was up," Mitchell says. "They let me do all sorts of expensive things in terms of art. I think back now to an album like Hissing of Summer Lawns, when we did all this fancy embossing for the cover. Even Madonna couldn't get embossing these days."

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