VINYLIZE! — Art on Record Covers — Art on Art.

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.

Live'r_Than_You'll_Ever_Be_original
The rather uninspiring, unembellished cover for “Live’r Than You’ll Ever Be”

As I was in poster-painting mode, I decide to “improve” the design:

Liver than LP
My “improved” version of the cover.

The second cover, the one I designed myself, was for a student review called Tower Power at Guy’s Hospital in 1969:

Tower Power LP
The cover for the “Tower Power” LP.

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:

Vizualise-Guilty-fr

Eric Huysen had reimagined Barbra Streisand’s Guilty cover:

Vizualise-Wall-fr

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.

The Triphopshop on Rörstrandsgatan, Stockholm.

 

Romain Beltrame holding his reworked Diamond Dogs cover.

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.

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