You should know by now that I collect record cover art. I have twice in my life designed record covers. The first was when I bought a copy of the Rolling Stones’ bootleg Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be sometime in around 1970. The original cover was white with the title stamped on in black, and I thought it would benefit from a bit of colour.
As I was in poster-painting mode, I decide to “improve” the design:
The second cover, the one I designed myself, was for a student review called Tower Power at Guy’s Hospital in 1969:
Otherwise, the art on record covers has been sort of “holy”, to be appreciated and enjoyed, and not to be tampered with. However, I have begun to realise that not everyone shares this view.
Vinyl records have been recycled in various ways — made into wall clocks, melted into decorative bowls or other items or lazer cut into designs. But I thought the covers had escaped recycling until i saw the work of artists Mike and Doug Starn (see my post from 21 June 2019) who use record sleeves as the background for their, sometimes abstract, large-scale paintings.
Then I passed a little shop called Triphopshop that had three redesigned record covers (two Grace Jones and a David Bowie covers) in the window that I thought quite exciting. Then I read of a Dutch project that asked artists to rework record cover designs called Vinylize!, a cooperation between Bert Dijkstra (of Shop Around) and Dick van Dijk (owner of Concerto record store). They put on an exhibition of the reworked record covers together. I found out about this from an Album Cover Hall of Fame blog post and and learned that they had published a catologue of the exhibition. Of course, it’s now out of print, but I was lucky to find a copy on Amazon. It arrived yesterday!
Front and rear covers were shown in its 106 pages, with the rear covers altered to include a short biography of the artist who reimagined the cover with a list of that artist’s ten favourite albums. The artists include Bart Aalbers, Eric Huysen, Jillem, Typex (I just last week bought Typex’s book Andy – A Factual Fairytale. The Life and Times of Andy Warhol), Loudmouth, etc. Naturally, mainly Dutch artists, but all with a history of designing record covers. Olla Boku had reimagined Andy Warhol’s cover portrait of Billy Squier:
Eric Huysen had reimagined Barbra Streisand’s Guilty cover:
Jillem had a humourous turn on the Pink Floyd’s The Wall:
Having looked through the Vinylize! catalogue, I went back to Triphopshop and talked to owner and artist Romain Beltrame. He is into street art and sells clothes that he has embellished with his own paintings: many jeans jackets that he has redesigned. He also sells posters by other artists — much in the style of Blek le Rat or Banksy. But it’s his reworking of record covers that interest me.
Here are just some of the covers he has re-designed.
I am trying to work out how I feel about artists reworking cherished covers. Some of the covers pictured in Vinylize! are clever, others strike me as rather destructive. It could be a new field for collectors or amateur artists! But perhaps I’ll be tempted to buy some secondhand covers and try to remodel them myself, who knows? I have asked Romain to reinvent a couple of Andy Warhol covers — Aretha and Miguel Bosé’s Milano–Madrid. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.