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 artvinyl.com 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 bestartvinyl.com and at Malmaison Hotels in London, Oxford, Birmingham and Liverpool from today until 31 January (malmaison.com). The winners will be announced on 3 January 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Tate Modern chief Chris Dercon, who will be leaving to run a Berlin theatre company
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Tasos: 'I rarely refuse an offer to be photographed'
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Girls on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Florence Pugh and Maisie Williams star in 'The Falling'
Film
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence