Cults’ eponymous album, art directed by Dave Bett and Jeanette Kaczorowski at Sony Music Entertainment, took second place, followed by Bon Iver’s self-titled record dsigned by Gregory Euclide.
Nipper’s design was conceived by Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, who asked the designer for a ‘wall of fire’ as one of the main themes or images.
With this brief in mind, Nipper looked to execute a design that would work as an album package.
‘I couldn’t care less what something looks like as a tiny thumbnail on someone’s phone. At that point, does it even matter?
‘Music packaging should be designed for vinyl first, then CD and MP3 last, because that’s the order in which viewing matters,’ says Nipper.
While Nipper’s views might polarise, and seem to be at odds with the music industry’s requirements, the end of the year marked a 40 per cent rise in vinyl sales, according to Art Vinyl.
And, Nipper’s craft-come-digital approach is definitely from the modern. Using a paper-cut technique, first adopted by Nipper on Bright Eyes’ 1999 record Every Day and Every Night, the designer cut flames with a surgical scalpel and glued them onto a board, before scanning and editing in photoshop.
Art Vinyl’s exhibitions curator Sarah Reeve notes that this year has brought far more diversity with a broader range of styles, as established sleeve designers like Tom Hingston Studio (Palaces of Montezuma by Grinderman) and Vaughan Oliver (Hearts by I Break Horses) mixing with ‘new talent’ to make this year’s top 50.
Artist Damien Hirst reached number 16 for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ I’m With You, and fashion designer Riccardo Tisci made number 34 with his design for Watch The Throne by Jay-Z & Kanye West.
This was also the year that The Horrors designed their record Skying, working with Alison Fielding and photographer Neil Krug, Brian Eno produced artwork for his Drums Between the Bells record, working with designer Nick Robertson, and Nick Cave art directed alongside Tom Hingston Studio, working with illustrator Illinca Hoepfner for the Grinderman record.