Category Archives: Street art

Street Art on Record Sleeves — A Good Investment.

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.

IRON – A Swedish Street Artist.

In 2020, just when the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting hardest my friend Romain Beltram invited me to show some of my paintings in his Triphopshop gallery in central Stockholm. He already showed some of Iron’s work and for a month from 9th September Iron was to have an exhibition of his work at restaurant Riche — one of Stockholm’s hip places. The exhibition, curated by Carl Carboni och Lars Liljendahl, was centred around Iron’s portrait of Chinese president Xi Jinping as Bat Man — playing on the theory that the Covid-19 pandemic that started in Wuhan, China, might have spread from bats. Thus Iron portryed Xi Jinping as the Bat Man.

However, the exhibition was rapidly closed after complaints from the Chinese Embassy in Stockholm, objecting to the portrayal of the country’s president in this manner. Iron became an instant hero!

Iron’s Bat Man portrait.

He has also satirised Ronald McDonald as the fast food chain has been accused of being resposible for the increase in obesity in recent decades. Iron has portrayed Ronald begging for forgiveness.

Iron’s Ronald McDonald “Forgive Me”

I have also a unique painting by Iron. He has reimagined the cover of John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy LP cover.

The Double Fantasy LP cover reimagined by IRON (2019).

I think the cover art is really striking and puts a “punk” feeling on the design, which I like.

Cover art for Madonna by Mr. Brainwash.

Street art has become mainstream. Street artists are increasingly in demand as commercial artists and recording artists are turning to these readily identifiable painters for cover art for their recordings. In America, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and  designed record covers in the eighties, and Shepard Fairey, Robert del Naja (aka 3D) and Banksy (the latter two in the UK) produced covers mainly from the nineties onwards.

Covers by Basquiat and Fairey‘s art covers are very collectible and many are currently very expensive as they were produced in limited editions. Vinyl covers with Banksy designs are also rare and command high prices. I was lucky enough to start collecting Banksy’s record cover art relatively early and have managed to collect what I consider to be a complete collection of his record cover art. Thierry Guetta–better known as Mr. Brainwash–is a more recent street artist to design record sleeves. So far I have only been able to identify three such covers; all for Madonna. He designed the cover for her 2009 compilation “Celebration” which was released on vinyl as a 4 LP set in a gatefold cover.

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“Celebration” 4LP cover.

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Rear cover of “Celebration” 4 LP set.

There is also a 12″ EP of “Celebration” remixes.

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The cover of the 12″ EP with remixes.

Then there are a variety of CD releases. The standard double CD uses the same Mr. Brainwash image as the LP set, but there is a slightly different (more anemic) variation also.

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Alternative CD cover art.

And the 12″ picture disc and CD singles hare the same artwork:

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12″ picture disc with Celebration remixes.

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The CD single of “Celebration”

A couple of other records turned up when I searched http://www.discogs.com for other cover art by Mr. Brainwash and I fell for one that I thought probably was by him–Travis Barker‘s “Give the Drummer Some“:

Unfortunately, this cover is NOT by Mr. Brainwash but is by Pushead (aka Brian Schroeder, who, according to Wikipedia, is a graphic designer and record label owner.) More of his designs may be seen here. Skulls seem to be his speciality!