Born in Manchester in 1955, Saville was brought up in the affluent suburb of Hale. Having been introduced to graphic design with his friend Malcolm Garrett by Peter Hancock, their sixth form art teacher, Saville decided to study graphics at Manchester Polytechnic, where he was soon joined by Garrett. At the time Saville was obsessed by bands like Kraftwerk and Roxy Music, but Garrett encouraged him to discover the work of early modern movement typographers such as Herbert Bayer and Jan Tschichold. He found their elegantly ordered aesthetic more appealing than the anarchic style of punk graphics.
Back in London, Saville ‘squatted’ at a desk in the studio of the Tomato design collective in Soho, then opened his own studio in a 1970s apartment block in Mayfair, which doubled as his home and the London office of the German advertising agency Meiré and Meiré. He embarked on corporate identity consultancies, for companies such as Mandarina Duck and SmartCar, which, he felt, were more appropriate to a graphic designer of his age. Then in his forties, Saville not not only felt uncomfortable designing youth oriented products, like albums and singles, but creatively frustrated by the limited canvas offered by compact discs.