Their art on your sleeve: The contenders for this year's Best Art Vinyl award include albums by Paul McCartney, Babyshambles and Daft Punk

With record sales rising, musicians are increasingly turning to big-name artists to show off their work, says Charlotte Cripps

We all know the bands and the singers who are Top of the Pops – but what about the record covers? Each year a shortlist of 50 record sleeves are nominated for the Best Art Vinyl award, now in its 9th year, by a panel of industry experts. The designs are exhibited across the UK and online at from today, where the public can vote for their favourite covers, with the winners announced in January 2014.

Last year's number one winning record sleeve was The Temper Trap's self-titled LP, a beautiful photographic artwork of a turquoise swirl by Italian artist Alberto Seveso, from his "high-speed photographs of a chemical disaster" series. This year the shortlist includes Damien Hirst's album artwork for Babyshambles' Sequel to the Prequel, which looks like one of his spin paintings, combined with photography of the band by Pennie Smith, who also photographed The Clash for the album London Calling. "This is back to the roots of great classic sleeve design," says Andrew Heeps, the founder of the awards and inventor of the first ever picture frame for vinyl record sleeves at Art Vinyl.

While some albums get the royal treatment, as in the case of Pete Doherty's Babyshambles, others this year have gone for the DIY approach. On Edywn Collins' eighth studio album Understated, the Scottish artist, formerly of the band Orange Juice, has illustrated the record with a big salmon. After two strokes in 2005 when he lost his memory and could only say a few words, part of his recovery process has been drawing and writing music again from scratch.

"The salmon – it's a lino-cut I did about 10 years ago. I did an eagle, a salmon and a roe deer. It was an experiment, I liked how they turned out. I draw a lot these days, birds and wildlife, but when I looked at the old salmon, it seemed perfect for my sleeve. And a very old drawing, I call it "Mixed Fish" for the inner sleeve," says Collins. "The other thing I did two years ago was to design a font. I do these things for my own pleasure, really, to help my dexterity, my recovery. So, I decided to put my font to good use. A lovely, shiny record sleeve, which satisfies me very much."

The Handsome Family's Rennie Sparks has designed her own album cover work for Wilderness, which looks like William Morris wallpaper but with creepy crawlies on it. The design perfectly coordinates with the album's alternative-country songs including "Flies", "Owls" and "Octopus". Sparks who started the band with her husband Brett Sparks, also gets commissioned to paint people's pets.

The striking horror-inspired album cover for Queens of the Stone Age's ...Like Clockwork of a black-cloaked couple kissing against a scarlet red backdrop is by the British illustrator Boneface. This underground artist from Liverpool, who creates art drawn from Eighties horror, game and comic culture, got an email out of the blue from QOTSA's management, asking if lead singer Josh Homme could get in touch. Boneface also illustrated the lyrics booklet with vivid themes and looks upon this project as his biggest yet.

The cover for Van Dyke Parks's Songs Cycled of a girl in a red bikini top on a bike was illustrated by LA artist Kenton Nelson, who paints figures, landscape, and architecture bathed in light. Artwork for the album's singles were also contributed by a variety of visual artists including pop artist Ed Ruscha, Klaus Voormann who did artwork for The Beatles, Frank Holmes who collaborated with The Beach Boys and the American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. While American artist Charles Ray created two huge sculptures of Parks for "Hold Back Time", which he calls "Side A" and "Side B". It doesn't have to cost the earth to hire big artists for your album artwork either; apparently Parks did not ask them to do it – they contributed the artwork for free.

Paul McCartney's neon-light cover for New, which loosely spells out "new" in nine tubes of light, was created by music video director Ben Ib and inspired by the work of sculptural artist Dan Flavin. Ib made the piece using a computer rendering program, with a logo and concept by Rebecca & Mike, and consultancy and design by YES, saying, "It was a great team to work with under Paul's guidance." Although this was his first-ever print work, he was a safe choice considering he had done lots of visual content for McCartney's songs before, including "Sing The Changes", featuring images of Barack Obama, which was used when McCartney headlined the Coachella Festival in 2009.

(Clockwise)‘The Way Things Fall’ by Adult; ‘Songs Cycled’ by Van Dyke Parks; ‘Understated’ by Edwyn Collins; and Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ (Clockwise)‘The Way Things Fall’ by Adult; ‘Songs Cycled’ by Van Dyke Parks; ‘Understated’ by Edwyn Collins; and Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’
French electronic duo Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo were heavily involved in the artwork on their 12 inch single, "Get Lucky'", one of the few singles to be added to the shortlist. The silhouette of a band performing behind a giant orange sunset makes a change from the usual image of the band who perform behind helmets of their robot alter egos. "It really captures the spirit of the song of the summer 2013," says Heeps.

White Lies decided upon an oil painting of a spaceman's head by artist Michael Kagan for their album Big TV. "White Lies were looking for original artwork for the Big TV album back last spring," says Kagan. "A mutual friend introduced them to my work. The guys reached out to me personally and discussed the feel of the album; they said upon seeing my work it was their first choice. We decided on four images of my paintings to be used. All choices were space-themed, with the painting Pilot 2 being the album cover and the additional images to be used inside the booklet and for the singles."

Lesser-known artists also make the grade; the Detroit electroclash band Adult – Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus – have adorned their bizarre album cover for The Way Things Fall with two faceless women in orange hard hats and blue dresses, one falling off a chair. It is a still from a sound-and-video installation they made before the album, which contains "seemingly disjointed fragments of non-thematic absurdist entertainment, unified through rhythm".

"When Best Art Vinyl was first launched in 2005, vinyl record sales were at an historic low," says Heeps. "By showcasing vinyl record covers as an art form, and celebrating the synergy between art and music, the award has been a major contributor to the vinyl revival, highlighting the benefits of a physical music format in a heavily digitally focused music era."

Andy Linehan, curator of popular music at the British Library, says: "In addition to the quality of sound, one of the major attractions of the vinyl LP is the sleeve art and it is great to see this being recognised in this way."

The 50 shortlisted record covers in Best Art Vinyl 2013 are available to view and vote for at and at Malmaison Hotels in London, Oxford, Birmingham and Liverpool from today until 31 January ( The winners will be announced on 3 January 2014

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Creep show: Tim Cockerill in ‘Spider House’

TVEnough to make ardent arachnophobes think twice

Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
tvThe Apprentice contestants take a battering from the business mogul
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Jewel in the crown: drawings from ‘The Letter for the King’, an adventure about a boy and his mission to save a medieval realm
Arts and Entertainment
Juergen Wolf won the Young Masters Art Prize 2014 with his mixed media painting on wood, 'Untitled'
Arts and Entertainment
Iron Man and Captain America in a scene from
filmThe upcoming 'Black Panther' film will feature a solo black male lead, while a female superhero will take centre stage in 'Captain Marvel'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Imperial War Museum, pictured, has campaigned to display copyrighted works during the First World War centenary
Arts and Entertainment
American Horror Story veteran Sarah Paulson plays conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler
tvReview: Yes, it’s depraved for the most part but strangely enough it has heart to it
Arts and Entertainment
The mind behind Game of Thrones George R. R. Martin

Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Dorothy in Return to Oz

film Unintentionally terrifying children's movies to get you howling (in fear, tears or laughter)
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Robert James-Collier as under-butler Thomas

TVLady Edith and Thomas show sad signs of the time
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
The Dad's Army cast hit the big screen

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning?
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

    "I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
    Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

    11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

    Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
    Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

    Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

    The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
    Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

    The school that means business

    Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
    10 best tablets

    The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

    They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
    Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

    Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

    The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
    Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

    Pete Jenson's a Different League

    Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
    John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
    The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

    The killer instinct

    Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
    Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

    Clothing the gap

    A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain