September 2010: Greensleeves

Producer, DJ and graphic designer Al Fingers has curated a selection of Greensleeves Records early illustrated covers

As a producer/DJ and graphic designer, I have always been obsessed with album cover artwork.

So when a mixtape I was putting together for clothing label Stüssy Deluxe – celebrating the music of Greensleeves Records – grew to also include a
T-shirt line and book, I suggested looking to early Greensleeves cover art for inspiration. From this came the book Greensleeves, The First 100 Covers, documenting the history and first one hundred album covers of the UK’s most important reggae label.

Nearly all Greensleeves designs are the work of one man, Tony McDermott, who has defined the label’s aesthetic almost since the day it began, launched in 1977 by Chris Sedgwick and Chris Cracknell in the back room of their Greensleeves shop in West London’s Shepherd’s Bush. I can only describe McDermott’s covers from that era, in particular his illustrative pieces, as stunning works of art that rank among my favourites of any music genre. Bringing together his experience as a comic book artist with a flair for hand-drawn typography, he created colourful, vibrant and original works that both complement and augment the music. To this day he has designed over 400 covers for Greensleeves, in addition to others for labels such as Ariwa and Jet Star.

In discussing the book with Creative Review, the opportunity came up to feature a selection of McDermott’s early illustrated covers in an edition of Monograph. I hope you enjoy them.

Al Fingers

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