The Best Art Vinyl Award has been running since 2005. Each year, it selects a shortlist of sleeve designs, with the overall winner decided by a public vote. Previous winners include Stanley Donwood’s cover for Thom Yorke album Erasure, Alberto Seveso and Boat Studios’ artwork for Temper Trap and Dan Hillier’s Victorian etching for Royal Blood.
50 album covers have been shortlisted this year, from Tony Hung’s brilliant design for Blur’s The Magic Whip (Hung designed a neon sign accompanied by Chinese characters reading Blur and Magic Whip, and had it made by a sign maker in East London, then photographed by Nick Wilson):
To Andrew Archer and Adult Art Club’s Johnny Costello’s artwork for Everything Everything’s Get To Heaven. The image draws on religious iconography (the album is inspired by religion, faith politics and extremism), and vocalist Jonathan Higgs told us the band wanted “a cover image that is impossible to ignore, even if you think it’s ugly as hell…Colourful, dynamic and aggressive, but with the underlying promise of light and hope.”
Jamie Smith and Phil Lee’s colourful design for Jamie xx’s In Colour has also been shortlisted:
Along with Stacey Rozich’s subversive artwork for Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear (the vinyl edition features a brilliantly gory pop-up scene with anthropomorphic creatures engaged in a fiery bar brawl):
Nick Relph and Matthew Cooper’s design for Hot Chip’s Why Make Sense?, which used variable printing to create hundreds of thousands of unique album covers, each with a slightly different pattern and colour variation:
M/M Paris’ futuristic work for Bjork’s Vulnicura, which features a portrait of the musician in a character design of her own creation (shot by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin) along with some tubular type:
Robert Beatty’s psychedelic cover art for Tame Impala’s currents, inspired by diagrams of vortex shedding, turbulent flow and the way liquid and air flows around objects, which were given to him by the band’s frontman Kevin Parker:
Battles’ breakfast-themed still life, designed by guitarist Dave Konopka:
And the powerful artwork for Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Lamar revealed in an interview with Mass Appeal earlier this year that the cover is him and his friends in front of the Whitehouse. “Everyone in that picture is family, friends, people I grew up with…a lot of the individuals that I talk about in [previous album] Good Kid, M.A.A.D City are on this cover,” he says. The white man lying on the ground is a judge.
“The one person that always represent their lives negatively is the judge. You look at these individuals and you look at them as bad people or a menace to society, but they’re actually good people, just a product of their environment. Only god can judge these individuals, not no-one with a gavel,” he explains.
Alex De Mora’s striking image for Blanck Mass album Dumb Flesh features an abstract close-up of flesh:
While the cover art for Stealing Sheep’s Not Real, a collaboration between photographer Charlotte Rutherford and collage artist Louise Mason, featured a tangled mass of arms and legs (an idea we’ve seen executed in a few covers this year).
Petit Noir and Purity Ring, also nominated, both feature levitating figures. Petit Noir’s was designed by fine artist Lina Viktor and depicts the artist (real name Yannick Ilunga) seemingly floating above malachite, a stone that Viktor says represents “transformation, love and change”:
While Purity Ring’s, shot by Renata Raksha, features vocalist Megan James floating beneath an illustration by Tallulah Fontaine:
Other contenders include Peter Saville’s design for New Order’s Music Complete, Glasgow design studio D8’s wartime-inspired artwork for Belle & Sebastian, Jade Downer’s image for Harmlessness’ The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and Icky Blossoms’ Mask, which comes with a pair of 3D glasses:
You can see the full shortlist and vote for your top three at artvinyl.com/vote. The overall winner will be announced on January 7, 2016 and shortlisted designs will be on show in a series of exhibitions across Europe in the new year.