As a collector of record cover art, I have tried to limit collecting to a manageable number of artists, and the ones I have chosen are those that have produced a collectible number of covers. I once set out to collect Alex Steinweiss covers but gave up after I had found about fifty as there were still about 2,450 still to collect. I similarly decided not to try to collect Anton Corbijn‘s record covers — he’s been responsible for far too many. As I have mentioned on a previous post I did have a nice collection of Vaughan Oliver‘s record cover art but in the end I couldn’t house it all so it had to go.
My collection of record covers by street artists is limited to only three. I have what seems to be an ever expanding collection of covers by the artist who calls himself Banksy and a few choice covers by Robert del Naja (a.k.a. 3D). However, a couple of years ago I had an exhibition of some of my paintings at a gallery in Stockholm and exchanged a couple of works for posters by the Swedish street artist Iron. At the same time I had begun to notice the appearance of paper deer stuck on hoardings surrounding building sites around town. These turned out to be the work of another Swedish street artist by the name of Hellstrom. Like Iron, he prefers to keep his identity secret but he has been interviewed in a recent book Hellstrom Street Art published in 2019.
The book gives a good overview of Hellstrom‘s work to date. One picture in particular, together with the cover image, struck a chord.
Hellstrom shares his name with the popular Swedish singer Håkan Hellström and it is Hellstrom‘s portrait on Hellström on the cover of the book. It transpires that Hellstrom (no dots over the “o”) stencilled this portrait on a limited edition of Håkan Hellström‘s (with the dotted “o”) 2019 album Illusioner in an edtion of 40 copies.
One day last August I popped into my favourite record shop in Stockholm and saw this album hanging on the wall. It was number 36/40 and it accompanied me home to be the sole representative of Hellstrom‘s (minus the dots) art in my record cover collection.
I went to a massive Cindy Sherman exhibition at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet entitled “Untiitled Horrors” in late 2013 and noted that Sherman had contributed to several record covers. I managed to find information and pictures of seven: 1. The Kitchen Presents “Two Moons July” — videodisc 2. Tellus #21 – Audio by Visual Artists — audio cassette. 3. Babes in Toyland’s album Fontanelle 4. Babes in Toyland’s album Painkillers 5. Cloudburst – Love – Lies – Bleeding,12″ EP 6. Athur Doyle – No More Crazy Woman.
… and just recently, I could add a seventh cover; Teddy and Jenni Do George and Tammy, a limited edition, four-track EP by Teddy Thompson (son of Richard and Linda Thompson) and Jenni Muldaur (daughter of Geoff and Maria Muldaur) who duet on two songs each by George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Apparently, Jenni and Cindy Sherman are pals and Cindy agreed to do the cover for this EP.
It transpires that thee cover of the videodisk while being advertised as beoing by Cindy Sherman actually isn’t, so I can cross that one off my list. I haven’t been able to find the Tellus #21 cassette but the other covers are relatively easy to find and make a nice collection by a famous photographer.
As Dave Haslam points out in his little book A Life in Thirty-five Boxes (subtitled How I Survived Selling my Record Collection), there are basically two classes of collector; the completist and the dilettante. The former strives to collect everything in his or her field of interest while the dilettante picks and chooses among items. A stamp collector might concentrate on collecting stamps with sports figures or butterflies and be happy with the most famous footballers or the prettiest butterflies. But being a completist in either of these fields would be nigh on impossible. The same, of course, applies to collectors of record cover art. The dilettante can pick and choose which record covers to collect. The completist wants every cover in a particular field of collecting.
My record collection started out as a library of popular music from the late fifties to today and grew to more than 5,000 records and CDs before I started to concentrate more on record cover design. The first designer I discovered and decided to collect was the late Vaughan Oliver and I collected a wonderful collection of his work before selling the majority of my collection almost ten years ago. I have now only one of the covers by his v23 design group — Pieter Nooten’s Sleeps With the Fishes, which is still one of my all-time favourite designs (by Chris Bigg).
When I sold the bulk of my collection, I kept my Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Klaus Voormann and Damien Hirst covers. These artists have only produced relatively limited numbers of covers; Andy Warhol produced about 65 covers during his lifetime, though many more have used his art since. There are only about thirty covers designed by Peter Blake and around eighty by Klaus Voorman and currently about seventy by Damien Hirst. And the artist I started collecting most recently is David Shrigley. Shrigley has designed a frisbee with the message “I collect records — I am obsessed by them”. Shrigley is a record collector and sometime DJ but his art seems seldom influenced by music. However, he has used his qirky writings on several record, cassette and CD covers. Thus far, he is responsible for about seventy covers, many very limited editions produced to accompany exhibitions of his art.
Then there’s Banksy. I started collecting Banksy’s record cover art around 2005 and collected almost fifty covers quite quickly. This is where I recognised that I am a completist. I wanted to include every cover in my collection.
There were several temporary “highs” when I thought I had completed a collection of one of my artist’s production only to find myself disappointed when someone found a cover that I had missed. I am responsible for reporting three previously unrecognised Andy Warhol covers and I can say I have a “pretty complete” collection of Warhol covers — note: not complete, but “pretty complete”. The same applies to my David Shrigley, Peter Blake and Damien Hirst collections and my Klaus Voormann collection (though I do lack two Voormann covers, but I know what they are.)
However, I am now beginning to realise that my collection of Banksy covers will never be complete as new discoveries are being made almost daily and my initial list of around fifty covers has now grown to almost one hundred and fifty, and still more covers are being recognised. Amazingly, many of these new “discoveries” were produced prior to 2010, when I thought I had found ALL of Banksy’s covers.
Banksy’s art is now so attractive to collectors and his early record covers, particularly his vinyl covers, have become prohibitively expensive. Most of the new “discoveries” are on CDs produced by relatively obscure bands, commonly punk or hiphop, in very limited numbers and are becoming impossible to find at reasonably prices as collectors compete for each available copy. There are a few nice vinyl covers, too and some more unscrupulous people are producing limíted edition vinyl 12-inchers with Banksy art covers simply to lure collectors. There are three recent releases in this category; two by a band called Boys in Blue — one using Banksy’s Rude Copper and one using his Strawberry Donut images, and another by Apes on Control that uses his Choose Your Weapon design. Unfortunately, I was taken in by the first Boys in Blue scam but have resisted the the others.
My collection of record sleeves with art by the artist klnown as Banksy needs no instroduction here.
There are two covers that Banksy handsprayed. The first was for John Stapleton’s Blowpop Records in 1999. Banksy sprayed 100 coovers for a promotional 12″ single by the Capoeira Twins.
And the second was for Röyksopp’s debut album Melody A.M. in 2002.
The Capoeira Twins 12″ costs around GBP 5,000 – 6,000 while the Melody A.M. double LP goes for araound GBP 8,000 – 10,000. Both are limited editions of 100 copies (only the Melody A.M. covers are numbered.)
Robert del Naja (a k a 3D) is closely related to Banksy — and a major early influence. Del Naja started as a streeet artist in Bristol in the early eighties. He stopped after being arrested one time too many and concentrated on music, though he still produces art both as paintings and limited edition prints that command high prices. He also designs record covers for his band Massive Attack and for other groups. His limited editon record covers for Massive Attack have increased in value. I have four covers by Del Naja/3D.
Prices of these covers have sky rocketed recently. The limited edtion 12″ Eps Splitting the Atom and Atlas Air can cost upwards of GBP 300.
I have tried not to wander off and collect other street artists covers, but somehow some manage to creep into my collection. The latest is by the anonymous Swedish street artist Hellström, who handsprayed a cover for Håkan Hellström’s 2018 Illusioner album.
Hellströms limited edition prints cost around SEK 40,000 – 60,000 (aprox €4,000 – 6,000) and are highly collectible. He made the cover to the Illusioner LP in an edition of 40 (mine is No. 36), considerably fewer than one of his print editions.
One of the most expensive street art record covers is Jean-Michel Basquiat’s cover for Rammelzee vs. K-Rob Beat Bop 12″ single originally released in 1983 (500 copies) and reissued several times. An original copy might sell for around USD 10,000. Even some reissues can be quite expensive. However, even the price of an original is far less than a Basquiat limited edition print.
Mr Brainwash designed the cover for Madonna’s 2009 Celebration four LP compilation and copies now can cost USD 1,000!
Shepard Fairey has designed several record covers, both as art works that do not contain records and as bona fide record sleeves. He knows his history of record cover design and produced a limited edition series of covers that I felt I had to reproduce for my collection.
This cover design harks back to Alex Steinweiss’ first picture cover ffor the Smash Hits by Rodgers and Hart 78 rpm album from 1940. As I have that album, I had yo make a reproduction of the Shepard Fairey cover. Once again, a Shepard Fairey record cover will cost far less that one of his limited edition prints.
These are the street artists I have in my collection. I hope that each will continue to increase in value.
It seems that record covers by estsablished “fine” artists are also considerably cheaper (or perhaps that should be “considerably less expensive”) that the artists’ limited edition prints. A current example is David Shrigley, a vinyl-lover and part-time DJ, who has produced many record sleeves in very limited editions. These are now quite expensive, but nowhere near the cost of his limited edition prints. Early covers by Andy Warhol are expensive — perhaps up to USD 2,000 – 3,000, while his limited edition prints cost one hundred times the cost of his record covers.
A record cover is a recod cover. Or is it? I’ve been intrigued by how the standard record cover can be enhanced, defaced, reproduced or simply disappear in a painting.
As a student in the sixties I had record covers and posters on my wall. Hapshash & The Coloured Coat’s album Featuring the Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids with the poster beside it and the Who’s The Who Sell Out with the poster that came with the very first pressings of the album (and which I lost somewhere along the line. I’ve been fascinated by record cover art ever since. And have collected record cover art sin ce the eighties — specialising in the work of the late, great Vaughan Oliver, Neville Brody, Alex Steinweiss and Andy Warhol. I’ve had to part with my collections of the first three of these byut have concentrated on Warhol, Peter Blake, Banksy, Klaus Voormann, David Shrigley and a few others.
In recent years I’ve been notiicing some new trends in record cover collecting. “Fine” artists like Mike and Doug Starn use montages of old LP covers as the “canvas” on which they paint their large-scale murals. Other artists take a record cover and embelish it as done by my friend Romain Beltrame.
In 2017 Bert Dijkstra (an art director) and Dick Van Dijk (owner of Concerto record store in Amsterdam) put togther an exhibiton of well-known record covers that they asked contemporary artists to re-imagine. The show featured over fifty covers re-invented by mainly Dutch graphic artists which were auctioned off for charity after the show. They also published a book called, naturally, Vinylize!
Of course I’ve made a few reproductions of record covers myself. I have made covers of unreleased or rare Andy Warhol designs including all five colour variations of his and Billy Klüver’s Giant Size $1.57 Each covers, as well as the unreleased Progressive Piano LP and seven-inch EP, and my most recent creations are the four variations of Warhol’s designs for an unreleased Billie Holiday album entitled Volume 3.
The first of the artists that I found who recreate vinyl records was Morgan Howell, a british painter who sspecialises in painting supersized seven-inch singles. Howell (aka @supersizeart) is based in St Albans, just outside London. His works have featured in gallery exhibitions and are for sale from his website. His singles are faithfully reproduced with their company paper sleeves showing signs of wear with creases and tears.
The next artist I call Mark 1. He’s Mark Wade, a British painter living in Windsor, who has specialized in recreating album covers, hand painting enlarged versions that measure 24 x 24 inches (61 x 61 cms). He uses acrylic paint on canvas and folds the canvas to be able to paint the record’s spine. His choice of which covers to paint seem quite eclectic. He has done several Blue Note covers, as well as soundtracks and rock and pop covers. His attention to detail is amazing always finishing the artwork to make the cover look lovingly used. Wade accepts commissions for covers. Here are two pictures from his @markwadeart Instagram flow.
The artist I call Mark 2 is photographer Mark Vessey, who has made a name photographing piles of records, books and magazines to show their spines. He has produced limited editions of photos of piles of soundtrack albums and albums by Prince, David Bowie, among others. Buyers of his photographs can choose what size their budget allows, from 80 x 80 cm to 150 x 150 cms in limited editions. The 80 x 80 cm edition is limited to 50 copies, while the larger prints are much more limited – the 150 x 150 cm edition comprises only 2 copies.
The fourth artist I’m celebrating is record collector extraordinaire, and cat lover, Laurie Cinotto (@teeny_tiny_vinyl), the only American in this trio, lives in Tacoma, Waashington, and, as far as I can see, the only amateur. She has recreated her music room in miniature, complete with hundreds (possibly thousands) of miniature record covers lovingly made. Each cover is two inches square and has its own plastic protective sleeve. She even reproduces the records on card to complete the reproduction. She has also made gatefold albums and box sets of records she loves. Here are a couple of pictures from her Instagram feed
As a maker of reproductions of record covers I am in awe of these people and especially the three who are able to make a career of their reproductions. Laurie Cimino deserves all respect för her dedication and obsessiveness to recreate her own miniature music would. I bet any music lover would like a doll’s house with Laurie’s record collection.
Note. All pictures are copyright of their respective owners.
Should I, Shouldn’t I? I always wonder if I should post information about new or future releases with cover art by graphic artists that I collect. But today I think I will.
First, a batch of new covers designed by Damien Hirst. Actually the first of them hasn’t yet been given a physical release, but is, at the time of writing, only available as a download.
This is DRAKE’s new album Certified Lover Boy with its cover art of pixelized pregnant dolls. So far, I’ve only managed to tear a couple of posters off walls to remind me of the cover art.
So let’s see if a physical copy does arrive.
The next collection to get a Hirst cover is the The Problem of Leisure — Gang of Four & Andy Gill Celebration double LP/CD. Released in August 2021. There are several variations of the cover art of this one. All have Hirst’s not so cuddly toy dog on the cover, but in a variety of colours – a limited, numbered version on red vinyl (red doggy) – yellow vinyl edition (yellow doggy) – black vinyl edition (green doggy) – CD with blue doggy – CD with brown doggy – cassette with purple doggy
The third Hirst cover belongs to the forthcoming Ed Sheeran album to be released on 29th October 2021 and here Hirst reverts to his images of butterflies.
That’s a lot of vinyl to add to my collection. I am still thinking whether or not to try to get all five colour variations of the The Problem of Leisure album.
I have a small collection of record cover art by Robert del Naja (a.k.a. 3D) and was intrigued to read that Martina Topley Bird is going to release an limited edition EP called Pure Heart in November 2021 with cover art by 3D. Bird has accompanied Massive Attack in concerts and so this collaboration seems entirely rational.
Once again a record cover turns up to prove that my previously “complete” collection of an artist’s record cover art isn’t complete.
I’m trying to write a discography of Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art and had produced a first draft when it occurred to me to do a search of Discogs’s database. Discogs logs credits to many (most?) of the records, CDs and cassettes catalogued there and users can easily choose to search for individual musicians, record producers or, indeed, graphic artists. My rather belated search turned up a surprise:
I had never seen this cover before but it certainly looks like a Peter Blake painting and the rear cover gives Peter Blake the credit. So I sent an email to Sir Peter’s gallery, the Waddington Custot Gallery in London, to enquire about the source of the painting. Unfortunately they had not handled a painting like this but assured me they would ask Sir Peter if and when an opportunity arose. I’m still waiting for a possible reply to that. It turns out that this is painting by Blake called Nadia, oil on hardboard (29.2 x 21.6 cm / 11.5 x 8.5 inches), painted in 1981. It was exhibited in the Peter Blake retrospective at the Tate Liverpool in 2007 and there’s a full page picture of Nadia on page 120 of the exhibition catalogue Peter Blake : a Retrospective, published by the Tate.
The Nadia painting is in the collection of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A., one of three paintings by Peter Blake in the museum’s collection. It was previously in the Richard Brown Baker collection of Postwar Art and was donated to the RISD in 1995 — thus after it was used on this record sleeve.
I just wonder how The Fall came to choose this as their record cover art. They do not credit the RISD Museum.
This U.S., 1990, four-track, promotional EP seems quite rare. I can’t quite understand how it managed to slip under my radar for so long, but I managed to find one on Discogs and it arrived this week (23 rd September) to “complete” my Peter Blake collection. I now eagerly await the next Peter Blake cover I have never seen. It’s bound to turn up soon.
Sometimes a record arrives that I’m really pleased to get hold of. I can’t claim to have found this rarity and I thank my friend Tasso von Haussen for finding it for me. Recognise the image?
TV-Age’s The Player EP was released in Germany as a numbered, limited edition 12″ in 2016. My copy is No. 56/100 (handwritten on the inside of the rear cover.) I know nothing about the group and have never seen the record before. The cover is a hand silkscreened image of Banksy’s Every Time I Make Love I Think of Someone Else, and is simply beautiful. The rear cover is blank. The discs are pink vinyl.
Even the B-side label has a reproduction of Banksy’s dripping heart. The images come from Banksy’s acrylic paintings from 2002. There are two versions of the paintings:
I have not seen this image on a record cover before, and to see it so beautifully reproduced is amazing.
Apparently, Jason Mraz took the title for his eighth album from a David Shrigley cartoon. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the cartoon, but I’ve found Mraz’s album and love the designs.
We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things was released in May 2008, preceeded by three limited edition CD singles, We Sing (No. 1), We Dance (No. 2) and We Steal Things (No. 3) that was only available in a bundle from Mraz’s site and is consequently rare. Initally released on CD, it was also released on limited edition double LP. The album was quickly re-released as a limited edition double CD with DVD. The first CD with two extra tracks and the second including all thwe tracks from the three limited edition singles that preceded the album’s release. And in 2011, the album was reissued on vinyl . Again as a lmited edition; the music on three sides and the fourth side engraved with Shrigley designs.
Even the record labels have been illustrated by Shrigley:
And the inner sleeves are a bit special:
One single, I’m Yours, was released as a seven-inch vinyl record.
Several others were issued on CD or CD-r. These include: two versions of Lucky, one sung in English, featuring Colbie Caillat, and a Spanish version featuring Ximena Sarina.
Other singles are the three limited editions that preceded the release of the fiull album:
The final three singles were Make it Mine, Butterfly and a digital only release of Coyotes.
I’m amazed that David Shrigley went to so much trouble to produce all this work. And kudos till Jason Mraz for commissioning it all. I will admit, though, that while I enjoy the artwork, I haven’t actually listened to the record yet.
I’m sorry that Romain Beltrame has had to close his Triphopshop — a combination record store and art gallery. Romain is a fan of hip hop, street art, and fashion, revamping tired jeans jackets by painting on them. Another of his specialties is re-imagining LP covers and I bought a couple from him last year. Now, as he is closing the gallery, I traded a couple of paintings for seven more of his re-imagined covers.
There are two David Bowie albums – Pinups and Diamond Dogs, The Doors’ Waiting for the Sun, Prince’s Parade, Grace Jones’s Living My Life, an album of religious Indian music called L’Inde and Madonna’s True Blue.
I think the Doors and L’Inde cover are the most successful, but I also like the others, too, especially the Pinups cover as it is one of my favourite Bowie ablums (I have a soft spot for cover albums.)