Trevor Key; photography’s best-kept secret - The Guardian April 2019

In April 2019 The Guardian published a compelling article on the career of Trevor Key which highlighted his status as an unsung hero of photography and design in the pre-Photoshop days of pop culture.

Hull 2017 UK City of Culture


Part of the Hull 2017 UK City of Culture celebrations was an exhibit called Trevor Key's Top 40 and a related article was published in Creative Review. The article is an excellent source of information about Trevor and his work.

Mike Oldfield 2013


In the 2013 BBC documentary for the 40th anniversary of the Tubular Bells release Mike Oldfield described how blown away he was when he first saw Trevor's image for the album cover. He went on to reveal how he deliberately chose the least noticeable typeface and colour he could find for the title and artist information on the front cover so as not to detract from the power of the image.

Brian Cooke 2013


Brian Cooke and Trevor Key formed Cooke Key Design in the 1970s and Brian has described their work in the early days of Virgin records.


The following are extracts from the on the Design Museum web site entry for Peter Saville which describe the role of Trevor Key in their joint projects.

".... he moved to London in 1979. There he met and befriended the photographer Trevor Key, and Brett Wickens, a young Canadian who joined Saville’s studio as an assistant but later became his business partner. Together they helped Saville push his work forward by experimenting with new techniques of photography, production and typography."

 "Inspired by The Void, a 1958 exhibition staged by the French artist Yves Klein, he and Trevor Key set about creating their own take on Klein’s concept of ‘nothingness’ using advanced photographic and printing techniques. This produced a beautiful series of sleek, silkscreen-style images for New Order’s 1989 album Technique."



In an appreciation of Joy Division's 'True Faith' cover, a Peter Saville/Trevor Key coproduction, London based artist Paul West describes how the genius of Trevor Key inspired him as a young graduate.


"Of course so much of Peter’s great ‘visual’ work is thanks to the genius of Trevor Key who had studio space next door. I remember watching the exploratory techniques Peter and Trevor were pioneering for 'Fine Time' and 'Technique' and thinking how great it was to be so progressive, it was incredibly inspirational for a 20 something graduate.

One day I was in Trevor’s studio talking to him about his work and looking through a massive pile of his old test polaroids (Including… X-Ray Spex “Germ Free Adolescents”) and I spied THE ORIGINAL polaroid of ‘True Faith’ in a whole pile of his earlier exposure tests. l had to ask: “Can I have it?”. “P*** off” came the blunt reply."





A very brief 'full' biographical description of Trevor and his work appears on the hypergallery web site where they sell copies of Peter Gabriel's 'So' album cover, which Trevor produced.


Emily King, PeTER Saville

In the 'Designed by Peter Saville' book edited by Emily King and published in 2003 by frieze Emily King says in the Preface ...

"Instead of being the last word on Saville and his associates, this book raises the possibility of many other publications. Two spring to mind immediately: a look at the ongoing contribution of Peter's long-term partner Brett Wickens and a proper assessment of the photography of the late Trevor Key. We hope the seeds of these projects are germinating in the following pages. Far from subsuming the work of co-designers and photographers, this book is a celebration of all involved."

"Peter Saville would like to thank Trevor Key and ......"

Trevor gets over 30 mentions in the index.

Patrick Burgoyne

In an April 2010 article in Creative Review about the designer David James, whose low profile rather mirrors that of Trevor's, Patrick Burgoyne highlights his collaborative relationship with Trevor.


"Like Peter Saville, James had a fruitful collaborative relationship with the late, great photographer Trevor Key. James's series of sleeves for dance act System 7 made full use of Key's in-camera expertise to produce painstaking effects on releases such as the 1992 mini-album Altitude. His sleeves, however, are not feted as those of Saville are, but that may have been partly due to the fact that they were designed for dance acts that have never achieved the lasting cultural resonance of, say, Joy Division."

The full article can be viewed here.  

John Varnum

Following Trevor's death John Varnum (JV), his Virgin Records contact during the 1970s, wrote this personal appreciation of him.

"Trevor had a theory: that all you needed was talent, which he had an embarrassment of. He began his professional life with this theory but in time it ceased to be a theory at all. Trevor was obliged to change its status. It was clear to him, it had been for some time, that sheer talent was not all you needed if it was conventional success you were interested in.

He would have debated with you endlessly about what success really meant - he would have enjoyed such a debate - and he would have wanted any definition to include personal integrity and an idea of proper behaviour. And he would have agreed that you didn't need sheer talent for that, as he would have happily agreed that many of the successful were plainly talentless.

So he discarded the theory. But he refused absolutely to discard the idea behind it. Instead, he elevated it to an Act Of Faith. It was Trevor's Act Of Faith that all you needed was sheer talent, despite what could be seen elsewhere, and so that is how he conducted himself. That was how Trevor made his effect on the world without really letting it make a deep effect upon him. He did so stubbornly. He absolutely went his own way, relentlessly following his not unimpressive nose."