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Art Vinyl's sleeves of 2008

Graphic Design, Photography

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 6 January 2009, 10:55    Permalink    Comments (25)

1st place: Fleet Foxes' Fleet Foxes. Design: Dusty Summers, Sasha Barr and Robin Pecknold (original painting: Netherlandish Proverbs by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559)

Art Vinyl, the London-based gallery (and purveyor of the Play and Display sleeve frame), has revealed the results of their competition to find the best vinyl sleeve of 2008. With all online votes counted, Fleet Foxes' debut album emerged as the winner. Interestingly, both it and third placer, Coldplay's Viva la Vida, make use of historic paintings. Click through for highlights from AV's list and a few of our favourites that didn't quite make their top 20...

2nd place: Roots Manuva's Slime & Reason. Design: Oscar & Ewan. Photography: Pelle Crepin

3rd place: Coldplay's Viva la Vida. Design: Tappin Gofton (original painting: Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix, 1830)

4th place: Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree. Design: Mat Maitland and Alison Goldfrapp. Photography: Serge Leblon

8th place: Low Motion Disco's Keep It Slow. Design: Chris Bolton (original image by Pascal Mira Tschäni and Michael Husmann Tschäni)

9th place: Santogold's Santogold. Design: Isabelle Lumpkin

13th place: Black Devil Disco Club's Eight O Eight. Design: Non-Format

19th place: Foals' Antidotes. Illustration: Tinhead. Design: Tourist (thanks to Tinhead and Ian C for the tip)

20th place: Liquid Liquid's Slip In & Out Of The Phenomenon. Design: Richard McGuire

Some other sleeves from Art Vinyl's list of nominations that didn't make their final top twenty, included these four CR favourites:

Nominated: Douglas Armour's The Light Of A Golden Day, The Arms Of The Night. Design: Rich Zerbo and Douglas Armour

Nominated: Figurines' Hey Girl. Design: John Gilsenan at I Want

Nominated: The Accidental's There Were Wolves. Design: Supermundane

No Age's Nouns. Design: Brian Roettinger at Hand Held Heart
From 5 January the best Art Vinyl 2008 winners will feature in exhibitions at Rough Trade East in London, Snap Galleries in Birmingham, Fishmarket Gallery in Northampton and the Perfect Pad Gallery in Norwich (all details below).

Rough Trade East / 15 January - 18 February
Dray Walk
Old Truman Brewery
91 Brick Lane
E1 6QL
Tel: 0207 392 7788

Snap Galleries / 5 January - 18 February
Fort Dunlop
Fort Parkway
Birmingham B24 9FD
Tel: 0121 748 3408

The Fishmarket Gallery / 5 January – 17 January
Bradshaw St
Tel: 01604 639090

The Perfect Pad Gallery / 5 January - 18 February
15-15a Lower Goat Lane
Norwich Lanes
Norwich NR2 1EL
Tel: 01603 765766

The full Art Vinyl 2008 Top 50:

1. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
2. Roots Manuva - Slime & Reason
3. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
4. Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree
5. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
6. Metallica - Death Magnetic
7. Bloc Party - Intimacy
8. Low Motion Disco - Keep it Slow
9. Santogold - Santogold
10. Zombie Zombie - Dog Walker
11. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement
12. Alter Ego - Jolly Joker Remixes
13. Black Devil Disco Club - Eight O Eight
14. Underground Railroad - Sticks and Stones
15. London Elektricity - Syncopated City
16. Flying Lotus - Los Angeles EP 2/3
17. Bon Iver - For Emma Forever Ago
18. Nancy Elizabeth - Battle & Victory
19. Foals - Antidotes
20. Liquid Liquid - Slip in & Out of the Phenomenon
21. The Notwist - The Devil, You + Me
22. GAS - GAS
23. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
24. Hauschka - Ferndorf
25. Fuck Buttons - Colours Move
26. Douglas Armour - The Light of a Golden Day, The Arms of The Night
27. Siriusmo - All the Girls
28. High Places - High Places
29. Yult Koldmane - Opposite Influence
30. Cat Power - Jukebox
31. Born Ruffians - Red Yellow and Blue
32. Micah P. Hinson - And the Red Empire Orchestra
33. Bomb the Bass - Future Chaos
34. No Age - Nouns
35. White Denim - Workout Holiday
36. Primal Scream - Beautiful Future
37. Stereolab - Chemical Chords
38. The Whip - X Marks Destination
39. Death Set - Worldwide
40. Hercules & Love Affair - Blind
41. Grovesnor - Drive Your Car
42. Figurines - Hey Girl
43. Laurent Garnier - Back to my Roots
44. Tame Impala - Tame Impala
45. The Courteeners - St Jude
46. Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
47. Glasvegas - Glasvegas
48. The Accidental - There were Wolves
49. Ladyhawk - Shots
50. Kings of Leon - Only by the Night


Que? I don't get it - isn't using historic paintings sort of cheating? Instills an instant sense of gravitas without actually saying anything? Both FF and Coldplay covers don't really seem to have any context to them... Surely using 'Liberty Leading the People' with a Spanish phrase - none of which really relate to the album content - is like slapping 'Hello Kitty'in Japanese on the Mona Lisa for a Miley Cyrus CD? I would've put the Roots Manuva one upfront. Or can I nominate myself? Probably not. Go fig.

- FB
2009-01-06 11:50:46

I love the Santogold and Black Devil Disco Club covers, but otherwise it's a pretty underwhelming list - shame given the parlous state of physical media. My favourites of the year were:

Scorch Trio, Brolt
Red Snapper, Pale Blue Dot
Journal of Popular Noise
Autechre, Quaristice
Spiritualized, A&E
colin at Hard Format
2009-01-06 12:27:29

I think Foals’ Antidotes was by Tourist
Ian C
2009-01-06 12:34:49

@Colin/Hard Format

Thanks for the links Colin! I love that Autechre DR work and Farrow's A&E extravaganza.

@Ian C.

Cheers Ian. Good spot
CR Mark Sinclair
2009-01-06 12:42:34

These are great to see. With so much music downloading these days you rarely see the artwork.
creativedge - logo design
2009-01-06 16:05:25

hello, i did the foals artwork, i do all of it! tourist are a graphic design company that lay my illustrations out on a grid. please amend this.


2009-01-06 16:17:16

Congrats to Oscar & Ewan from an old college mate.
Thorbjørn Ankerstjerne
2009-01-06 18:42:39

santogold is best.
as for the fleet foxes, thats so shameless: all they did was paste some new fonts onto an old canvas. shame shame shame. poor bruegel
dies irae
2009-01-06 20:53:41

Great stuff.

Now all I need to do to win a contest is find a historical painting, crop it, insert some white out copy and it's a masterpiece.


If I'd have known this I could have avoided all those wasted college years. Is anyone else feeling that Dusty Summers, Sasha Barr and Robin Pecknold 'work' is possibly cheating? Also what the hell did they all do? I mean how many people does it take to pick the picture and set the type. Sheesh!
Michael Preston
2009-01-07 09:37:08

I don't necessarily see it as cheating using a historical painting, i guess it's the same principal as using stock photography. It would be great to always commission an artist, illustrator or photographer but if the right image is already available then there's not much point.

I don't personally think Fleet Foxes artwork is all that special anyway, but thats a matter of opinion. I'm disappointed not to see Julian House' work for Oasis' 'Dig Out Your Soul' in the top 50.
Ian C
2009-01-07 11:45:34

"I’m disappointed not to see Julian House’ work for Oasis’ ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ "

Matthew Ingram
2009-01-08 16:14:03

I agree - I don't think anyone was 'cheating' by just whacking an existing artwork up there so they could be done with it and skive for the day.

It's just a case of appropriation being the idea (whether or not it is a good one or not is your opinion) We designers and artists are constantly pushed to create create, be original, be new - however I think the re-contextualising of existing ideas, creates new ones, and can be really effective communication.

Artists like Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger are icons in appropriation and very successful visual communicators.
2009-01-08 16:15:16

oh my heart sinks... some good stuff here but Fleet Foxes (good album), Colplay and Goldfrapp suggest that it's more to do with status than great sleeve design. These look like the corporate kids got there hands on the budget. Mind you it's easy to hark back to great sleeves from the past, the reality was that for all the memorable sleeves, there were far more bad ones. So it's probably just another average year at the office...
2009-01-08 16:20:08

Interesting that 2 of the top 10 were in Pitchforks worst covers of the year list...
(Doves and Santogold)
2009-01-08 16:54:19

sorry Elbow..!
2009-01-08 16:54:57

For a list proclaiming to detail "the best vinyl sleeve of 2008" it's a shame to *seemingly* be concentrating on the front cover only. The lovely thing about vinyl is not only the size, but the varying sleeve styles - the gatefolds, the inserts, the extra packaging offering further and more interesting space for artwork, used in so many different ways. We bemoan the decline of vinyl in highstreet shops because it's these things we miss and love about the classic old format. This list seems to ignore the intricities of the vinyl sleeve concentrating on just the cover - much like you'd get with an MP3 in iTunes - which is a little backwards. I'd like to see more of the format if it's going to be titled as such and if not, just call it the MP3 icon art list.
2009-01-09 12:21:28

You assume that the people who voted for FF or Coldplay were even aware that they were looking at Brueghel and Delacroix. Unlikely I suppose but possible. I can't see anything wrong with reappropriating art in this way, although I think the FF take on it works better than Coldplay's. Somehow Brueghel seems to fit their hermit pop sound quite nicely.
I like the Silver Jews' most recent album cover which does a similar thing but just with less well-known art work:
2009-01-12 18:32:13

As for the Fleet Foxes cover, type in Black Sabbath's Greatest Hits into Google images and you'll see the same idea done before. In this case it was 1977.
2009-01-13 11:28:01

Thanks for that. Here's Pieter Breugel the Elder's Triumph of Death painting as used on the Sabbath cover:

and the Greatest Hits cover itself, where the image was reversed:
CR Mark Sinclair
2009-01-13 11:52:30


Thanks for that. Pieter Breugel is really amazing. Good to be reminded about it.
action man
2009-01-13 13:46:18

Hey. Breugel is pretty amazing. In the painting all the little scenes correspond to different Dutch proverbs which are a study of human stupidity, i.e to shit on the world (top left) means to despise everything.

The image came from our website There are about 146 pictures by Brueghel if you want to check more out.
2009-01-15 11:26:34

I thought that Los Campesino's self titled album would have featiured higher, considering the current trend towards bright cartoon style characters. The whole thing is well presented, tidy and eye catching.
Adam Parker
2009-01-18 13:46:53

neon neon- stainless style.
2009-01-19 21:13:41

It's lovely to see some covers. You rarely do these days (unless it's the postage stamp sized on on the ipod).

Not sure many of the ones here really merit debate or huge recognition though. I can't say much there would catch my eye, communicate a purpose, or even visually interest me that much... but I'm just one man amongst many.
Gavin Martin
2009-01-23 15:59:07

Fleet Foxes probably told the designer what art to use. The vast majority of music packaging is dictated by whatever shitty whim the particular band decides they feel like using. The reality is that many bands see themselves as visual artists too (or at least want complete creative control of their project) and they only come to a designer for lack of functional knowledge of software. The designer is probably mortified by it.

My bigger comment is that most all of these records are mega-release indie pop on marginally-major labels if not majors. A ton of incredible design is being made in the 300-500 edition vinyl only/experimental/noise/avant-jazz/cassette scene. I havent been impressed by a Death Cab album (audio or visual) since like 2001... maybe people who actually listen to music, not just what's on the cover of Blender/Spin/etc, should be nominating albums?
Aaron Winters
2009-01-29 18:30:59

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