Carl Cox by Mark Vessey

On Saturday 20th July, Enter Gallery is bringing you a very exciting new release from Brighton’s own, Mark Vessey – a photographic artist with a unique approach to documenting and celebrating popular culture.

In his Collections series, Vessey celebrates the majesty of a collection, whether that’s books, bottles, or the seminal records that define musical genres. Recently, we’ve also seen the photographer cultivate an entirely new take on classic portraiture, providing an intimate glimpse at legendary DJs via the vinyl that ignited their passion for music and defines their careers.

Following successful collaborations with Fatboy Slim and Simon Dunmore of Defected Records, Vessey is now adding another iconic DJ to his series - the Three-Deck Wizard himself, Carl Cox.

Enter Gallery is delighted to be bringing you this slice of music history, and we hope you can join us on Saturday 20th July  to launch the print in style.



In today’s blog, we hear all about Vessey’s exciting collaboration with the most charming DJ in the business, and what was involved in whittling down his colossal record collection to create one of the most striking Mark Vessey prints to date…


The Three-Deck Wizard

If you’re not familiar with DJ Carl Cox then you must have been living under a big rock and wearing pretty decent headphones.

Multi-award winning, and with a career spanning four decades (with no signs of slowing), Cox is a pioneer of the British rave scene. He’s known for playing acid house and bouncy techno everywhere from infamous clubs like Shoom and The Hacienda, to Space Ibiza, Glastonbury and Berlin’s raucous Love Parade.

Alongside being the first person to DJ using three turntables, Cox is known for his eclectic musical taste, passionately incorporating influences from different genres and cultures into every performance and production.

In Vessey’s new piece, simply titled, Carl, we see that Cox’s musical loves span funk, soul, disco, rare groove, Rave, Detroit Techno, Hip Hop, Electro and last but by no means least, 80s pop.  

Making the Artwork

Given Cox’s passion for music and the fact he’s been accruing vinyl since the 60s, it’s no surprise his collection is a sight to behold, standing in excess of 150,000 records. So, how did Vessey approach distilling Cox’s entire life’s work into this new limited edition artwork?


“Carl lives in Australia, so when we were first chatting we did talk about shipping the vinyl over, but the selection of the records is such a key part of the process. It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity to be present while he selected the records that mean the most to him.”


Vessey travelled to Australia in January 2024, locking in just two days to select Cox’s records, and to capture the perfect image. He reveals:  


“I had to translate everything I usually do in my Brighton studio to the other side of the world. It was an amazing experience to go with just my camera, my kit, and a sense of the unknown. I took around 20 rolls of film to ensure I got the final piece. I guess that’s part of being a photographer – that obsession with getting the perfect shot.”


Grand Selection

We were fascinated to hear more about the selection process and how on earth they got through the whole collection in less than 24 hours. Vessey reveals:


“It’s quite an invasive experience really, someone coming round your house and rooting around in your collection. But Carl quickly relaxed and enjoyed the process. He was laughing and telling stories about the records, remembering where he was in the world when he heard the records for the first time, or when he played them on a particularly memorable night.

I get so excited with every record, pulling them out and looking at their spines. But I had to keep asking him for more, pushing him in a gentle way so that I could get him to work through his whole collection.

Carl is such a generous, big-hearted man and it was lovely to sit and listen to him talk. There’s a real vulnerability to this process, and Carl opening up his house and collection to me was a real privilege.”

The Final Cut

After just three rounds of edits, Cox’s collection of well-thumbed ‘absolute super star records’ was finalised. Those that made the cut include, Run DMC, Fleetwood Mac, Duran Duran, Lil Louis and Doug Lazy. Speaking of the records he selected, Carl Cox tells us:


“These records are not promos. I literally went to the record store and stood there and went through the music… this collection is the best of the best. Each record has a story behind it and it was very emotional choosing the records that helped shape my journey.”


Portrait of A Generation

As Cox suggests, Vessey’s music artworks are so much more than just album cover prints. They communicate each DJ’s unique story, and the generational influences that have shaped their musical universe.

International superstardom means that Cox is inundated with requests from people who want to take his photograph. But, what attracted him to working with Vessey was the concept of using the vinyl he loves to present himself and the story of his life.

Cox’s musical journey started when he was introduced to music via his father’s modest record collection, which incorporated Rhythm & Blues, Country & Western, Reggae, Soca and Jazz.

Since then, Cox has spent 40 years sharing his unique musical tastes and generational influences with the masses, from the people who were there in the golden days of rave, to their children who are snapping up tickets to Cox’s current headline gigs, dancing to the same records that once kept their parents up all night. Given his enduring influence, this cycle is sure to continue. Speaking of the experience of working with Vessey, Cox tell us:


“Watching Mark work really makes me understand how you can look deeper into art and it makes me realise what a privilege and responsibility I have when sharing my love of music with the dancefloor.”

Beyond the Records

Alongside the tracks chosen, another vital element that informs the final image is of course how the records look. 

Each record included in the piece has travelled the world with Cox and has been played hundreds of times. It’s this well-worn aesthetic that appeals to Vessey, and which he believes adds to the story infused within the piece. He explains:


“There’s something special about how these records have been used. An incredible life has been lived through these items. These records have been treasured but they have also been used and enjoyed and consumed. Carl has brought so much attention to music that perhaps people might not have known. He’s taking them and giving them to the world.

While we were there, Carl got three decks out and started playing. He was pulling out records, barely looking at them, mixing them and it all sounded incredible. It was so natural, like second nature. I like to think you can see how the records have been handled and loved in the artwork.

Carl also told me that his favourite colours are red, orange and black and white, and looking at the final artwork, these favourite colours really come through. It’s interesting to see how people’s objects take on the person because they’ve been used by them and played and carted around. I really feel like this piece really represents Carl. It’s him.

I’m so excited to show this piece to Brighton, because Brighton is important to me and to Carl. It will be a great celebration of a lovely human being.”


Carl by Mark Vessey launches on Saturday 20th July.