Graphic designFeature

The best album art of 2012

Cadence Weapon – Hope in Dirt City

 Cadence Weapon
Album Artwork: Cadence Weapon

Canadian rapper Rollie Pemberton, who performs under the name Cadence Weapon, was once the poet laureate of his hometown, Edmonton. The fragmented album art could be related to the vast range of musical influences on the record – or maybe he just thought it looked cool.

 

Teen Daze – All of Us, Together

 Teen Daze
Album Artwork: Teen Daze

Vancouver electro artist Teen Daze says his album is about interaction, and bringing people together, which this cover art evokes with its image of two friends leaping into a surreal space-scape together. He describes his music as “futuristic, but with a heart.”

 

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

 Sleigh Bells
Album Artwork: Sleigh Bells

These bloodied Keds, which belong to singer Alexis Krauss, are the result of guitarist Derek Miller smacking her on the head, by accident, during one of their chaotic gigs. Sleigh Bells are known for their lively, powerful live performances, and this photo is evidence of that energy.

DESIGNER VIEW

Derek Miller, Sleigh Bells “Some of that blood is real. I'm not gonna lie, we doctored it up. But I cracked her over the head with my guitar at a show, and we held onto the shoes. If Keds are a symbol of youth and purity, having them tainted can be seen as a loss of innocence; a lot of life has happened to me in a very, very short period of time. And the shoes are a reflection of Alexis as well. She wears Keds every night on stage. It's a ritual. So I feel like we're both present in that cover. Aside from all that, it also just works as a striking, badass image.”

 

Lone – Galaxy Garden

 Lone
Album Artwork: Lone

This striking image was designed by Tom Scholefield, also known as Konx-om-Pax, a Glaswegian animator and artist who has worked with, among others, Warp and Hyperdub. He also designed a trippy promo video in the same style, which you can watch below:

DESIGNER VIEW

Tom Scholefield, Artist “My visuals are the closet way I can reproduce what I see in my imagination. It’s a bendy reality: my one! I’m definitely on a mission to create a world of my own. I think I definitely try and capture a freeze frame of a moment of movement for stills I can never choose what frame to pick cause I love looking at the piece from all angles. I like picking a money shot from an animation and turning it into its own thing.”

 

Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

 Killer Mike
Album Artwork: Killer Mike

This cover image was painted by artist Fahamu Pecou for rapper Killer Mike’s sixth studio album. The artwork is reminiscent of hip-hop album design from the ‘90s, and the music itself has an old school vibe, but with challenging lyrics charged by modern politics.

 

Santigold – Master of My Make Believe

 Santigold
Album Artwork: Santigold

This unusual cover photograph is based on a painting by 18th Century English painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. It was shot by photographer Jason Schmidt, and you can watch a video of the session here. Santi ‘Santigold’ White says it shows her “as a ruler in my own reality”. Watch the making of video below:

 

My Best Fiend – In Ghostlike Fading

 My Best Fiend
Album Artwork: My Best Fiend

Warp Records are known for their stylish album artwork. This mirrored photograph, designed by artist Leif Podhajsky for My Best Fiend, looks like a surreal Rorschach test in the clouds. Podhajsky has also designed covers for Lykke Li, The Vines, and Tame Impala.

DESIGNER VIEW

“I want my work to transcend its medium, I don’t want the viewer to say “Oh that was done in Photoshop or digitally.” I try hard not to make them look like digital works and more forged from some unknown future craft from the cosmos!” – Leif Podhajsky

 

Laurel Halo – Quarantine

 Laurel Halo
Album Artwork: Laurel Halo

This cover image is by controversial Japanese artist Makoto Aida, and sees smiling schoolgirls killing themselves with samurai swords, or committing ‘harakiri’. It was an existing painting before Laurel Halo used it on the cover of her debut album.

DESIGNER VIEW

Makoto Aida, Artist “Harakiri School Girls is an allegory for the distorted mentality of Japanese youth at the time and the atmosphere of Japanese society. After the Bubble Economy collapsed, I felt that an air of pessimism was spreading through Japan like a virus.”

 

Battles – Dross Glop

 Battles
Album Artwork: Battles

The album art for Battles’ Gloss Drop album, and all of its singles and spin-offs, share the same theme: a big pile of stuff. For single Ice Cream it was a pile of ice cream; for single My Machines it was rusty scrap metal; and for this remix album, it’s glossy paint.

DESIGNER VIEW

Dave Konopka, Battles “The artwork is a sculpture that I did. I'm even reluctant to say sculpture. It's a sculpture that I made during the making of the album and, essentially, it's a big blob of nothing. I wanted to represent a solid document that would be the album, and also have something that is completely organic that you can't control.”

 

The Shins – Port of Morrow

 The Shins
Album Artwork: The Shins

Artist Jacob Escobedo desiged this cover image, and the typography, for The Shins’ latest album. He also designed the band’s tour posters, as well as the cover for singer James Mercer’s collaboration with producer Danger Mouse, Broken Bells.

DESIGNER VIEW

Jacob Escobedo, Artist “After working with James Mercer on his Broken Bells project, he came to me about this Shins album. He sent references of old Eastern European book covers with skulls and psychedelic faces. So I explored three different rounds of creative. Each time getting closer to what he was looking for. In the final round, I scanned a cross cut of a rock which formed that mountain and put this spirit made of feathers on top. He immediately loved it.”

Written by Andrew Kelly

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