Another year of our favorites in Top Album Cover Artwork, and once again, we interview musicians and artists on the often-underappreciated work that goes into creating a product that not only tickles your ears, but speaks to your eyes and hearts. Album artwork, though often only viewed on tiny screens in this day and age, is indeed a long and laborious process that we love to give its due credit.

So read on, and choose your own artistic adventure:

> Digital & 3D Album Covers
> Fine Art & Illustration Album Covers
> Mixed Media & Collage Album Covers
> Photography & Digitally-Manipulated Album Covers


Mixed Media & Collage Album Covers of the Year 2015

Beat Connection – Product 3 (Self-Released)

Art Direction, Design & Layout by Reed Juenger of Beat Connection
Photography by Coco Foto


 

Botany – Dimming Awe / The Light Is Raw (Western Vinyl)

Artwork by Jared Bell of Botany

Jared Bell (Artist & Musician):
Botany creates rich psychological and emotional experiences dissolving the borders between psych, hip hop, free jazz and ambient influences. The artwork interprets this dense and complex musical mélange through geometric abstraction. I wanted to create a graphic, colorful and complex work, with overlapping layers and disjointed paths – something harmonious, but still slightly disorienting – like the music. Some initial visual references used for concepting: the Bauhaus abstractions of Anni Albers and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy; simple, reductive shapes of Ellsworth Kelly; monolithic blocks of Anne Truitt.

 

CFCF – The Colours of Life (1080p)

Design by Bobby Houlihan

“I found these paintings outside of a public school near me in Brooklyn (in the trash heap) right when I got the assignment, and it fit well to use them. They are (potato?) stampings of animals found all over the world, and the music is very much world music. I wanted to take the images into a grid – a taxonomy of forms which would speak to the organized manner in which the music is divided up. The music is very alive but also very tidy to be sure. The type is Optima, to honor Hermann Zapf, who died while we were putting the package together, and it fit cause it’s kind of a humanist type and that was in keeping with the whole Colours of Life idea. Corny but true, so fuck it. Nice to do a really analog and tangible art treatment amongst the otherwise digital stuff I usually do.”
– Bobby Houlihan, Artist & Designer

 

Coma – This Side Of Paradise (Kompakt)

 

Copout & Orlando Volcano – Relax And Rolex (Escape From Nature)

Art Direction & Design by Jessica Tsai

Orlando Volcano (Label Owner):
Jessica and I are friends, and I love her art. When I decided to set up the label, it made sense for her to take the role or Art Director. I love how she approaches the project in a direction of a fine artist. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be doing what she does. She’s one of my favorite artists, easily.
Jessica Tsai (Artist):
For Relax and Rolex, I wanted to design another interior environment, a continuing theme of the previous Escape from Nature covers. The image I had in mind was a structure, with hints of 1960s Italian architecture, that was both rigid and permeable, sort of like an Escher print; something surreal and just a little confusing visually, to reflect the soothing but odd atmospheric sound of the album. On the other EFN covers, I had worked 80% on the computer, digitally collaging paint strokes with some 3D modeling, but this time I wanted to physically build the environment without relying too much on digital work. Orlando let me take charge with this concept, and even though it seems at odds for a label that is interested in the possibilities of technology, I thought that creating a “futuristic” all computer-generated image would be too literal and that, above all, experimentation with different processes was more important for the cover. Obviously referencing Matisse in elements of design and in media, I built a diorama of three-dimensional paper structures and worked on top of them with pencil and paint, trying to add the illusion of space on top of real space like a trompe l’oiel. I thought that a paper version of [Constantin] Brancusi’s Bird in Space (left) sculpture would inhabit this abstract playhouse.