Best album cover art 2016: See the nominees of the Best Art Vinyl Awards

This year’s top 50 sleeve designs have been announced. Check out designs for David Bowie, Underworld, Rihanna & more.


The search for the most creative and well-designed record cover art is underway. Nominees for the 12th year of the Best Art Vinyl awards have been announced. The voted winner will sit alongside amazing designs by Dave Stansbie and Audrey Powell for David Gilmour’s 2015 album, and Dan Hilier’s design for Royal Blood in 2014.

Design experts and previous winners have curated a shortlist of 50 covers from 2016 for music artists including Rihanna, James Blake, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Underworld – not to mention the late music legends David Bowie and Leonard Cohen.

The pool of designers in this year’s nominees includes Jonathan Barnbrook, Quentin Blake, Paul Agar, Charlotte Delarue and Roy Nachum. Work spans design disciplines such as photography, illustration and graphic design.

Creative consultancy Big Active, winner of Best Art Vinyl 2013 for White Lies’ Big TV, is a nominee three times this year for their work and contribution to Nao’s For All We Know, Shura’s Nothing’s Real and White Lies’ Friends.

The public, as of today, can vote online or in participating venues to determine the final winners. They will be revealed in London early next year.

Founder Andrew Heeps began the awards in 2004 in the hope a new generation would continue to appreciate the format and artistic value of sleeve designs. With the love for vinyl more present than ever, Andrew hopes the annual awards will give prominence to fresh talent “bringing together those unsung heroes of the music industry”.

Winners will be announced on January 5 at the Hari Hotel. A winners exhibition aptly named 12 Years On 12 Inches will follow at The Civic in Barnsley from November 2017.

Check out last year’s top three winners plus some of our favourites, or the winners from 2014.

Image: Dave Stansbie & Audrey Powell won Best Album Cover 2015 for this design for David Gilmour's Rattle that Lock.


Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: David Bowie

Title: Blackstar

Design: Design by Jonathan Barnbrook

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Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: White Lies

Title: Friends

Design: Art Direction & Design by Markus Bagå at Big Active Design


Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: Rihanna

Title: Anti

Design: Design by Roy Nachum


Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: Arc Iris

Title: Moon Saloon

Design: Cover art by Julien Pacaud

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Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: Explosions in the Sky

Title: The Wilderness

Design: Jacob van Loon


Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: Solar Bears

Title: Advancement

Design: Artwork by Michael Robinson


Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: Underworld

Title: Barbara Barbara We Face a Shining Future

Design: Cover artwork by Tomato Design

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Best album cover art 2016: nominee

Artist: Suede

Title: Night Thoughts

Design: Art Direction by Paul Khera, Brett Anderson, Mat Osman, 
Neil Codling and Didz Hammond. 
Photography by Lucy Ray