Best Art Vinyl 2011

Zack Nipper’s design for The People’s Key LP by Bright Eyes has been awarded as the best cover design of 2011 in the Art Vinyl Awards.

The People's Key by Bright Eyes. Design by Zack Nipper
The People’s Key by Bright Eyes. Design by Zack Nipper

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.

Cults art directed by Dave Bett and Jeanette Kaczorowski
Cults art directed by Dave Bett and Jeanette Kaczorowski

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.

Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West. Design by Riccardo Tisci
Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West. Design by Riccardo Tisci

‘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.

Eye Contact by Gang Gang Dance. Design by Chris Bigg/V23
Eye Contact by Gang Gang Dance. Design by Chris Bigg/V23

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.

Bon Iver designed by Gregory Euclide
Bon Iver designed by Gregory Euclide

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.

Palaces of Montezuma by Grinderman. Art direction by Nick Cave and Tom Hingston Sudio. Illustration by Illinca Hoepfner
Palaces of Montezuma by Grinderman. Art direction by Nick Cave and Tom Hingston Sudio. Illustration by Illinca Hoepfner

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.

Drums Between The Bells by Brian Eno. Design by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson
Drums Between The Bells by Brian Eno. Design by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson

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.

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  • James. November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I personally really loved Jamie XX & Gil Scott Heron – We’re New Here record cover and box set. It was executed really well across both digital and analog media, and is pretty unique. It was also a good transition from The XX connection.

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