XL Design

Design company formed by one Tom Watkins and a friend in 1983. They designed record covers for such artists as Nik Kershaw, Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Kim Wilde’s 1984 album Teases & Dares, and the singles from that album. Kim later commented that she didn’t like the way the image she was subjected to reflected on her work.
XL design went on to design for the Pet Shop Boys. In 1987 XL went bankrupt. Tom Watkins bought a management company and has done management work since then.

Kim about XL Design

When I came to MCA, someone said, “look, meet XL, they’re really interesting and they’ve got lots of good ideas. I was interested in having someone look at me in an objective way, and I liked that. What we came up with was very much inspired by XL, but we discussed it all the time. There was a lot of time taken and a lot of attention given to detail.” (1)

At the time 1 thought ‘Oh yes! It’s quite wonderful.’ I had all these people around me saying ‘Hey! Great! This is a great idea!’ This, that and three bags full, and going ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!’ I mean, I’ll try anything. I’m like that, I’m game for a laugh, which can be a bit lethal. If someone comes up and says ‘How about this?’, I’ll say ‘Alright then’ and land myself in a situation where I think ‘MY GOD! What am I doing here?’ But at least I throw myself in. Some people never even give it a try. (2)

I got involved with them in a very high-visual image type project. It was a sort of cartoon-like, Barbarella-ish image, quite sexy and strong, but it didn’t actually turn out quite right. You see it was only meant to be for one single, but my record company decided to put the shots on the album cover, and it just confused the public. It backfired really. (3)

Interview sources

(1) Kim Wilde: back and daring to tease. Debut (UK), November/December 1984
(2) “Iā€™m game for a laugh!” Smash Hits (UK), 24 April 1985
(3) “When things started going wrong I thought I would miss the fame terribly” : …but now it’s all going right again for Kim Wilde No. 1 (UK), 15 November 1986