The art work to “Time Out of Mind”

by Patrick Roefflaer

A list of previous articles in this series is given at the foot of this piece.

Time out of mind…

  • Released                        September 30, 1997
  • Photographers                Daniel Lanois, Mark Seliger, Susie Q., K. Dalka
  • Art-director                     Geoff Gans

Geoff Gans

Since the late Nineties, nearly all of Dylan’s album and book packaging, archival reissues and tour graphics up until today have been the work of art director Geoff Gans.

And if you were a music fan in the Eighties, there’s a big chance you have at least one piece of music in your collection on which you can hear Geoff Gans.

R.E.M. was in L.A. in May 1987 to mix their Document album at Master Control in Burbank, when a benefit for Texas Record was organized in McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, on May 24.

There were two shows planned that evening: one at 8pm followed by a 10:30pm Show. As Peter Buck hadn’t arrived yet, Geoff Gans picked up an acoustic guitar to accompany Michael Stipe on a new song: ‘This One Goes Out’. Geoff was present as the art department boss at I.R.S. Records. Prior to establishing himself in graphics, he had played guitar with local bands in L.A.

Peter Buck arrived while Michael and Geoff were performing, and he took over for the rest of the show. So, it was the only song on which Gans participated. While Buck did play on the second version recorded later that evening, the version with Geoff was chosen to be released as the b-side of ‘The One I Love’, as the song was retitled later.

Later, Gans did the artwork for the R.EM. compilation Eponymous (1988), before he made the switch to Rhino Records, where he specialized in packaging high-end boxed sets and other luxury publications. That made him the perfect choice for Dylan first collection of drawings and sketches: the Drawn Blank book (November 1994).

Around that time Kim Gaucher was doing the art work for Dylan’s albums: Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 3 (November 1994) and MTV Unplugged (May 1995). But as Time Out of Mind was Dylan’s first album with original material since Under the Red Sky in 1990, Geoff Gans was chosen to take care of the cover design.

For his first album assignment, Dylan gives him a blurry photo to work with. On the picture taken by Daniel Lanois, the producer of the album, the singer sits in the control room of a studio with an acoustic guitar in his hands. There’s someone that looks like a ghostly figure behind the console. The location is most probably the Criteria Recording Studios in Miami. What attracted Dylan in this image is probably that he looks like an old folk-blues guy sitting uncomfortably inside a fortress of technology.

Gans adds a brown band at the top, in which the title is saved in white letters, while the name of the singer is added in black letters. Nice detail is the drop “OUT” in the title.

On the back side of the sleeve, a portrait in color is used. It was made by Rolling Stone’s Chief Photographer Mark Seliger. In this function, he shot over 175 covers for the magazine, between 1992 and 2002.

As Bob is wearing exactly the same shirt as on the photograph ‘Bob Dylan with a Bicycle’ dated “ca. 1995”, it might be that the singer wasn’t available for a new shoot, as he had been in hospital at the time, with a life-threatening illness.


Three more photos are shown on the inner sleeves of the vinyl records. (The fourth side doesn’t have an illustration, just white song titles on a black background.) All these are black & white photographs.  The first picture is full page, the other two are printed half page. One picture doesn’t have any persons involved, just instruments inside the studio.

But the other two show a seated Dylan. The full page one shows Bob sitting in front of a table, one hand resting on a walking stick. He is wearing a black suit and white shirt, in sharp contrast with the two men sitting at the other side of the table, who wear ordinary clothes. One is laughing and gives a thumbs up, while the other man looks rather angry. On the first pressings there were only three photographers credited, while later a fourth was added: K. Dalka. As there is no info to be found about this photographer, your guess is as good as mine.

On the last picture of Dylan (above) Bob is in a living room, sitting wide-legged next to a lamp. There’s a story that Gans faxed Dylan one of the photos for the album and Dylan preferred the fax to the actual photo. That’s probably this picture.  It might be the one taken by Suzie Pullen, Bob’s longtime aide/assistant and dresser/stylist.

Mavis Staples once referred to her as “the girl that’s with him all the time”.
Beneath the photograph are the credits (musicians, studios, photographers…).

There’s one thing that every portrait used on Time Out of Mind have in common, and that is that Bob Dylan looks directly in the camera, as if to say: “Hey, I’m still here, you know.”

Footnote: On the booklet with the CD version, there’s an extra photo added. This color photo is also blurry and Bob looking straight in the lens again. The photographer is uncredited.



The articles from this series, in alphabetical order


  1. Notwithstanding the Time Out of Mind cover (good) everything else Geoff Gans has touched to do with Bob is poor. Lousy typography, sloppy proof reading, poor picture editing, bad preparation of photos for printing… I could go on.

  2. The ‘lumberjack’ motif – the plaid-shirted guy at the table – harks way-back to the Quest CBC-TV show …coincides with the checkerboard floor design.

  3. The camera also captures an image of a ghost playing a guitar
    in the background …over the shoulder of the man in plaid.

  4. The front sleeve photo was taken at the Teatro in Oxnard, with the control desk set out in a half-circle behind. Apart from anything else, the bottom of one of the large globe-shaped lights that were hanging from the ceiling can be seen under the word “TIME” on the front sleeve/insert.

    The seated Dylan with the walking stick photo is a bit less certain but looks to be in the same location with him facing the other way round. You can see the few cinema seats that were left in place after Mark Howard and Wayne (“the Brain”) had converted ithe old cinema into a recording space.

    The one with the instruments looks to be at the Teatro, too. The top of the console can be seen and the rectangular sheets behind the console are likely to be “the two huge white paper panels ……. on each side of the console, fifteen feet wide and extending from floor to ceiling”, which were put up to show “footage of a boxing match”.

    This footage was run during the mixing session and Dylan apparently, at times, watched it when listening to the mixes. I therefore guess these photos were all taken during the mixing sessions in winter/spring 1997.

    PS: TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE included a photograph taken by Josef Koudelka? Is it possible that “K.Dalka” was a mishearing of Josef’s name? Since the TIME OUT OF MIND artwork does not include one of his photographs, maybe one was originally being considered for the earlier album but got dropped. Or maybe Koudelka’s photos were in Dylan’s mind when he chose the images for the TIME OUT OF MIND artwork.

  5. Ooops! Mea culpa.

    I did, of course, mean the photo of Dylan and the lamp, not the ‘walking stick’ photo.

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