2012: A Year in Vinyl
Despite the naysayers, it seems that 2012 was another great year for the vinyl record. According to the stats released by Nielsen Soundscan, sales of vinyl records hit another, modern-era record in 2012 with 4.6 million units.
For U.K. Vinyl fans, it was The xx’s second album, Co-Exist which topped sales, whilst Jack White’s solo effort, Blunderbuss headed up the U.S. charts.
What was YOUR vinyl record of the year for 2012?
In the Spotlight: Ryan McCardle
As an annual celebration of the best in record cover art, the Best Art Vinyl award has featured some of the biggest names working in the visual arts today. Alongside established artistic heavyweights, the lists of nominees and winners since the inception of the award in 2005 has also proudly championed designers who are only just embarking on their visual career. As a double 2012 nominee for his stunning work on Holograms self-titled LP and Wild Nothing’s ‘Nocturne’, designer Ryan McCardle deservedly takes his place amongst the likes of previous nominees Damien Hirst, Peter Blake and Anton Corbijn as one of the most exciting new voices in record sleeve design today.
“A crazy madman was decorating the walls of his secret dungeon with photos and drawings. It looked unidentified and somehow unreachable, it felt forbidden and even dangerous. Something was missing. Something that he would be obsessed with and that he would try to rebuild, so passionate but without success. Maybe he was intentionally creating a monster, a thing he thought was beautiful and real.”
Jesse Auersalo, sleeve designer 2012
Vote for Lorn, ‘Ask the Dust’ for the Best Art Vinyl 2012 award HERE
"The image is a rendering that depicts the connections in a human brain, the wiring diagram, if you will. These images are made from data collected on a MRI machine and are part of a large project to map the connections in humans. I can only say that the distance between art and science is often very small indeed and that the beauty and wonder of the human brain and its inner workings inspires all of us that work to discover it."
Arthur W. Toga at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, UCLA School of Medicine sheds some light on the captivating images which make up Muse’s ‘2nd Law’ release. See more of their amazing work here.
Inspiration for the sleeve initially started with a lighting set-up that Steve, the band’s long-serving lampy, had designed for a tour. The inverted triangle was sort of in our heads already when the band and myself sat down to discuss the direction for the album art, and we all jumped on the idea pretty quickly once we got started. There could easily have been a slip into ‘sci-fi’ territory with this idea… We originally discussed the triangle being Photoshopped into different situations… but the whole ‘floating over a cityscape’ idea got old quite fast and the talk turned to the idea of having the actual lighting itself set up in real life environments.
And so it came to pass that at 5am one morning, the band, the lights, generator and ace photographer Paul Blundell were packed into a van, and a several laps of St Albans and its environs were undertaken. The vinyl art was a shot taken at a car park as evening fell. Only one or two shots in this location actually came off before security turned up and everyone had to move off sharpish. Ultimately, everyone was overjoyed with the results of the day’s shooting. So much so, that a decision on which shot worked best could not be reached… hence CD and LP having different sleeves.
Band Manager Ian Johnsen on Enter Shikari’s stunning sleeve. See it and many more at www.bestartvinyl.com
Henrik Walse on Sleeve Design
Self-taught, self-employed art director and designer Henrik Walse has been focusing on design for the music industry since he started in 1998. Henrik has created multiple logos, album covers, and posters for some of Sweden’s hottest exports, including Sahara Hotnights, Danko Jones, The Hellacopters, and most recently, The Hives ‘Lex Hives’ which has been nominated for the Best Art Vinyl 2012 award.
I’d worked with Echo Lake on two music videos before I did the album artwork and they were pleased with the visuals I’d produced and we’d got to know each other quite well by then. Thom’s a big fan of prog rock record covers and they were really into sci-fi imagery and maintaining a 70s look, bold graphic style coupled with their existing ethereal colour schemes and lo-fi textures.
Linda had already amassed so much amazing band artwork that it meant I had a really solid basis to make something beautiful and fitting. It was also really nice that I got the opportunity to create the collage from photos I took at the same beach in Spain where I filmed their Buried at Sea video.
"The Map reads like the record collection we wish we had!" Ali Johnson on Saint Etienne
Want to know the story behind the art? Ali Johnson of Dorothy spoke to Art Vinyl about the making of Saint Etienne’s ‘Words and Music’ sleeve.
"Saint Etienne and Heavenly Recordings approached us in January 2012 after seeing our Original Song Map and asked if we’d like to create a new Map for the cover of the band’s upcoming albumn ‘Words and Music’ which is about how music affects your life. We jumped at the chance. Bob Stanley (a man with impeccable music taste) and the band choose the song titles for the Map (all the songs ‘mean’ something to them) and we loosely based the layout on Croydon which is where the band grew up. The Map reads like the record collection we wish we had!"
Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne explains the thinking behind the map used on the cover of the album: "The Song Map is a musical city. Whenever I walk down a street I have a song in my head. And plenty of songs have a visual counterpart, a snapshot in my mind - this could relate to where I first heard the song, or for no apparent reason. I hear the Monkees’ Headquarters album and I’m looking at the street below from the kitchen window of the flat we rented in Malmo while recording Good Humor. I hear Otis Redding’s Dock Of The Bay and I’m on the corner of Bartlett Street in South Croydon (no idea why). Glen Campbell’s By The Time I Get To Phoenix goes with the A23 in Hooley - probably not the image Jimmy webb had in mind when he wrote it. These images - street corners, alleyways, bus stops, shop fronts - are all attached to specific songs in my mind, like some odd version of synasthesia. The song map is as close to a visual version as we could get. I like the notion of all the journeys you can take on the map, with a different playlist each time. All the songs are ones we like (yes, even Leo Sayer’s Orchard Road), so it should always be a rewarding journey."
The Saint Etienne Song Map and the Original Song Map are both available to buy from Dorothy. Vote for your favourite sleeves of 2012 here.
Above, Cave Painting’s ‘Votive Life’ sleeve, designed by The Creative Corporation. Scott Jones, Creative Director, shares his thoughts on the sleeve:
"For Votive Life, Cave Painting approached us with a brief asking for a very simple and striking application of a diamond shape that they had been using as a symbol for while. It was proposed that we produce packages that had a refined but crafted feel to them, using paper engineering and japanese binding techniques for inspiration.
For the vinyl we continued this theme and produced a sleeve that simulated an animated effect when opened, and when closed uses the die-cut areas as textural elements to add another dimension to the sleeve.”
VOTE for Cave Painting and see the other 2012 nominees here!
Nick Phillips: Designer of Richard Hawley, ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’
"Having worked with Richard Hawley for the last 27 years we have a good understanding and have developed a successful process for the visual representation of his work. I get to listen to the music as it develops from simple recorded ideas to full production and have a copy of the lyrics. From these I make a list of all the imagery that comes to mind and develop ideas from these.
For ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ this process was even more important as this would be the first Richard Hawley release without an image of Richard on the cover. There were strong references to nature, woodland/trees which ran through the whole album and so I found myself concentrating on woodland imagery. I had also found some amazing natural light phenomena called Brocken Spectre which I really wanted to incorporate within the design.
I spent a number of days walking through the woodlands of Sheffield and the Peak District taking photographs of trees and skies. These became the key elements for the design along with blurred shots of water droplets on glass. I used multiple layers of images and colours. As the Brocken Spectre is a very rare event I recreated this with a simple graphic. I kept the font simple and light using Asenine text font. This method became the theme for the single releases from the album.”
Designer of Richard Hawley’s ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’ has been working in the music industry graphics production since 1985. See more of his work here, or vote for your favourite sleeve of 2012.