Best Album Art 2017: Nominees & past winners of Best Art Vinyl Awards to be exhibited

This year’s 50 Best Art Vinyl award nominees plus brilliant previous winners will be in an exhibition in the UK, Italy and Budapest.

One of our favourite annual awards – the Best Art Vinyl international awards – are back again, but this time with an international exhibition.

All of 2017’s nominees and brilliant previous winners will be showcased in the UK, Italy and Budapest.

Best Art Vinyl is entering its 12th year of celebrating record cover art, photography and graphic design among the modern music scene, especially appreciated with the resurgence of vinyl purchases. Many designers rose to fame by creating album artwork for high-profile bands, like Peter Saville for New Order and Joy Division or Stanley Donwood for Radiohead.

The awards ceremony is usually held in London, but this year the exhibition – Best Art Vinyl: 12 Years on 12 Inches – will showcase the sleeves simultaneously in Barnsley, Bologna and Budapest. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to vote for which record sleeve they think deserves to win the Best Art Vinyl award.

The exhibition is made up of all 50 award nominees for 2017 and the best from the last 12 years, including The Last Shadow Puppets (seen here), Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Radiohead’s Thom York, Sir Quentin Blake, David Hillier and iconic pop artist Sir Peter Blake.

Image: 2016 winner – The Last Shadow Puppets’ Everything You’ve Come to Expect by Mathew Cooper

Best Art Vinyl founder Andrew Heeps says it will be a “welcome return to the mainstream”.

“With so many household names now producing vinyl records, it feels like a true fan of the band would feel cheated if they didn’t get the full package in beautiful vinyl.”

The exhibition at Barnsley’s The Civic art gallery will also feature an in-depth look at 12 of the Yorkshire town’s own vinyl record covers by musicians either from or living in the UK town, including Saxon, Rolo Tomassi and The Black Lamps. A wall of records curated by visitors to the gallery will be the final part to the exhibition. Visitors to the gallery can frame their favourite vinyl record sleeves and leave a note describing what it means to them.

Best Art Vinyl: 12 Years on 12 Inches opens at The Civic on November 11 and closes on January 20. To book a visit click here.

The Best Art Vinyl awards 2016 were announced on January 5, 2017 in London. See the winners from 2016 and previous winners.

Image: Nominees for the Best Art Vinyl Awards 2016: Rihanna's Anti, White Lies' Friends, Underworld's Barbara, Barbara we Face a Shining Future and Explosions in the Sky's The Wilderness. 

Matthew Cooper

Illustrator and designer Matthew Cooper created the winning cover design for The Last Shadow Puppets’ second album. Matthew has designed album covers for iconic artists such as Paul McCartney, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and Noel Gallagher. 

The cover features a studio portrait of Tina Turner taken by Vogue photographer Jack Robinson in New York in 1969.

“The idea was to move the artwork on from the 60s feel of the first The Last Shadow Puppets album artwork, so here is Tina on the very cusp of the 1970s. Originally shot in Black and white, the tint was added to create an identifiable colour scheme and a warmer, more contemporary feel,” says Matthew.

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Jonathan Barnbrook

Blackstar was the late David Bowie’s last album. It’s been discovered that Jonathan Barnbrook’s design of the vinyl sleeve incorporates secret features that are only revealed over time.

If you expose the vinyl art to the light, it reveals the image of a galaxy, and as Jonathan explains to BBC Radio 6, there’s “one big thing which people haven’t discovered yet”. 

“Let’s just say, if people find it, they find it, and if they don’t, they don’t. And remember what Bowie said about not explaining everything,” he tells host Mary Ann Hobbs.

Jonathan’s creative studio Barnbrook also designed David Bowie’s The Next Day, his first album after a 10-year break.

Jonathan Zawada

Mark Pritchard’s solo album Under the Sun, released on Warp Records in May 2016, has been described to incorporate Africa HiTech rhythms, Harmonic 313 beats and traditional folk, incidental music. 

This ambience is translated through visual artist Jonathan’s stunning otherworldly CG landscape of sand, sea and mountains.

Now in it’s 12th year, the Best Vinyl Art Awards winners were chosen by more than 14,000 voting fans.

Founder Andrew Heeps says it’s a welcome return to the mainstream for the humble vinyl record.

“For so many Art Vinyl enthusiasts the format has always been the natural partner to the music.”

Last year’s winning design (as seen in this image) was created by the Hipgnosis design studio under the guidance of The Creative Corporation, art directed by Dave Stansbie. The 12-inch canvas featured a dramatic bird landscape for David Gilmour’s Rattle That Lock.

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Previous winners have included Klaxons’ Surfing the Void, Thom Yorke’s The Eraser from Radiohead contributor Stanley Donwood and work from the 16th century for The Fleet Foxes eponymous LP, from Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel.

The winners of this year will feature in an exhibition aptly named 12 Years on 12 Inches in London, Barnsley, Finland, Italy and Germany.

All of the designs will form a window installation at the Hari Hotel in London from January 5 to March 31. You can check out the 50 nominations here.

Image: Dan Hilier’s design for Royal Blood won the Best Vinyl Art Awards in 2014. Here are the winners from 2014.