Musicians Who Also Designed Album Covers – A List for Fans of Music and Art

Musicians that also design Album Covers – A Comprehensive List for Fans of Music and Art

by Mike Goldstein, curator,

originally posted March 15, 2013

There are many examples of musical artists who are also accomplished visual artists, displaying great talent in the fields of painting, illustration, photography, sculpture and product design. Scholars of rock musicians know that a number of well-known musical acts were founded by art students that met each other while attending art school. Examples include Pink Floyd (Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright all went to London’s Polytechnic College on Regent Street, while Syd Barrett studied at Camberwell), Talking Heads (David Byrne, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz all attended the Rhode Island School of Design), Devo (Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale studied at Kent State) and The Clash (Joe Strummer, Paul Simonon and Mick Jones). Other well-known musicians who studied art include Queen’s Freddie Mercury (who attended both Isleworth Polytechnic and Ealing College and who went on to design the famous “Queen Crest”), Eric Clapton (Kingston College of Art), Pete Townshend (another Ealing alumnus), Brian Eno (Winchester Art School), R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe (a U. of Georgia art major), Ray Davies of The Kinks (Hornsey College of Art in London ), Keith Richards (London’s Sidcup Art College) and Ron Wood (Ealing again) of The Rolling Stones and John Lennon (Liverpool College of Art). After studying art at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne under the tutelage of Richard Hamilton, Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry had a career as high school art instructor – specializing in ceramics and pottery – prior to forming the band in late 1970.

Whatever their motivations (Mick Jones of The Clash is quoted as saying that, although he felt that he had no real artistic talent, he went to art school to form a band as many of his musical influences – Lennon, Richards, Townshend, etc. – had gone to art school and then formed bands soon after), it is clear that right-brained, multi-talented individuals seem to have had an important influence on the development of both the aural and visual aspects of the pop music business.

The following are some examples of musicians who’ve also demonstrated their graphical skills in creating imagery used on some of their best-known album covers:

Name of Musician – Employed as – Album Cover Credits include/links to their art-related sites (if applicable)…. in alphabetical order:     

Joseph Arthur – singer/songwriter – RNDM and Fistful of Mercy – Joseph Arthur – Come to Where I’m From, Junkyard Hearts I-IV and Holding The Void  (Paintings)

Sam Beam – multi-instrumentalist – Iron & Wine – Iron & Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle, Kiss Each Other Clean and Around The Well (Paintings, Illustrations, Art Direction)

Tony Bennett – singer – Rosemary Clooney – Girl Singer; Tony Bennett – Perfectly Frank; Bill Evans – Blue In Green; Leonard Feather – Night Blooming (Paintings released under his given name, Anthony Benedetto)

David Byrne – singer/guitarist/songwriter – Talking Heads – Talking Heads – Talking Heads, Naked, Stop Making Sense, Speaking In Tongues, More Songs About Buildings And Food and Talking Heads 77; Fatboy Slim – Here Lies Love;  David Byrne – Forest and Big Love (Photography, Graphic Design)

Michael Cartellone – drummer, Lynyrd Skynyrd – Lynyrd Skynyrd – Lynyrd Skynyrd Greatest Hits (Paintings)

Wayne Coyne – singer/guitarist, The Flaming Lips – The Flaming Lips – Telepathic Surgery and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Paintings)

Bob Dylan – singer/songwriter – Bob Dylan – Self Portrait (Painting)

John Entwistle – bass guitarist, The Who – The Who – The Who By Numbers (Drawings)

John Foxx – composer/vocalist, Ultravox and numerous solo and band projects – John Foxx – Metamatic, The Garden, The Golden Section, Cathedral Oceans III and My Lost City; Porcupine Tree – Lightbulb Sun; John Foxx & Louis Gordon – The Pleasures of Electricity, Crash & Burn and A New Kind of Man; Blur – Midlife: A Beginner’s Guide to Blur; John Foxx & Juri Hulkkonen – European Splendour

Jerry Garcia – guitarist/vocalist, The Grateful Dead – Jerry Garcia – Very Best of Jerry Garcia and So What; The Grateful Dead – Infrared Roses  (Paintings)

Hugh Gilmour – bassist, Pig Iron – Iron Maiden – Live at Donnington; Tony Iommi – Fused; Black Sabbath – The Collection; Whitesnake – Box O’ Snakes; Pig Iron – Blues + Power = Destiny (Illustrations & Art Direction)

John Gourley – singer, Portugal. The Man – Portugal. The Man – The Satanic Satanist, American Ghetto and In The Mountain In The Cloud (Design/art direction – note – works alongside graphic designer Austin Sellers)

Regan Hagar – multi-instrumentalist – Mulfunktion, Satchel and Brad – Eddie Vedder – Ukelele Songs; Pearl Jam – Pearl Jam 20;  Brad – Interiors, Welcome To Discovery Park and Brad Vs Satchel; Satchel – Family, RNDM – Acts (Design, Photography, Artwork and/or Layout)

Bonus – here’s a link to the interview I conducted with Regan about his work on Eddie Vedder’s Ukelele Songs package –

Jamie Hewlett – artist/animator, Gorillaz – Gorillaz – Gorillaz and Demon Days; Mindless Self Indulgence – Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy

Mike Hrubovcak – singer, Divine Rapture and Monstrosity – Grave – Exhumed; Sinister – Legacy of Ashes and Carnage Ending; Mr. Death – Detached from Life

Bonus #2 – Here’s a link to the interview I did with Mike on the album cover work he created for Grave’s Exhumed album –—exhumed-by-grave-with-design-artwork-by-mike-hrubovcak.html

Mark Hudson – multi-instrumentalist/producer, Hudson Brothers – Ringo Starr – Ringorama and I Wanna Be Santa Claus (Illustrations)

Yusuf Islam (previously known as Cat Stevens) – singer/songwriter – Cat Stevens – Mone Bone Jakone, Tea For The Tillerman, Teaser And The Firecat and Buddha And The Chocolate Box (Design and Illustrations)

Daniel Johnston – singer/songwriter – Daniel Johnston – Hi, How Are You?, Fear Yourself and Is and Always Was (Illustrations)

Conrad Keely – singer/guitarist/drummer, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead – …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead – Worlds Apart, The Century of Self and Tao Of The Dead (Illustrations)

Curt and Chris Kirkwood – singers/guitarists, Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets – Huevos (Illustration), Meat Puppets, Meat Puppets II, Mirage, No Joke! and Ratfarm.

John Lennon – singer/guitarist/songwriter – The Beatles – John Lennon – Walls and Bridges and Come Together (Illustrations)

Marilyn Manson – singer/songwriter, Marilyn Manson – Marilyn Manson – Lest We Forget and Portrait of an American Family (Paintings)

Nick Mason – drummer, Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd – Relics

Linda McCartney – singer/keyboards, Wings – Paul McCartney – McCartney, Ram, London Town, Venus and Mars and Paul McCartney’s Standing Stone; Jimi Hendrix – Valleys of Neptune and Electric Ladyland (back cover); Wings – Wings at the Speed of Sound (Photographs)

Paul McCartney – singer/bass/keyboards, The Beatles and Wings – Paul McCartney – Ram (Paintings)

Joni Mitchell – singer/songwriter – Joni Mitchell – Clouds, Court and Spark, Turbulent Indigo, Dog Eat Dog, Dreamland, The Beginning of Survival, Taming The Tiger, Ladies Of The Canyon, and Song To A Seagull; David Rea – X7; Crosby Stills Nash & Young – So Far

Jimmy Page – guitarist/songwriter, Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin – IV (Art Direction)

Carlos Santana – guitarist/vocalist, Santana – Santana – Multi-Dimensional Warrior, Maria Maria, Supernatural, Viva Santana, Swing of Delight and Milagro/Sacred Fire (Art Direction), Havana Moon (Cover Art Concept)

John Squire – singer/guitarist – The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses – Made Of Stone, The Stone Roses, She Bangs The Drums, What The World Is Waiting For, I Wanna Be Adored and The Complete Stone Roses (Paintings)

Dean Torrence – singer/songwriter, Jan & Dean – Harry Nilsson – Skidoo/The Point!  and Aerial Pandemonium Ballet; The Beach Boys – 15 Big Ones, Summer in Paradise and Love You; Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue   (Designer): Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Alive/Rare Junk (Illustrations)

Klaus Voorman – bass guitarist/session player, The Beatles, Plastic Ono Band, George Harrison, Carly Simon and others – The Beatles – Revolver and Anthology I and II; Turbonegro – Scandinavian Leather (Illustrations and Art Direction)

Mason Williams – guitarist/comedy writer (The Smothers Brothers Show, Saturday Night Live and others) and music educator – Mason Williams & The Santa Fe Recital ‎– Fresh Fish; Mason Williams – Handmade, Sharepickers and Music (w/Ed Ruscha)

Ronnie Wood – guitarist, The Rolling Stones – Tim Ries – The Rolling Stones Project; The Jones Gang – Any Day Now; Ron Wood – Not For Beginners and Gimme Some Neck; Eric Clapton – Crossroads (Paintings)

Roy Wood – singer/Guitarist, The Move/ELO  – The Move – Message from the Country (Paintings); Annie Haslam – Annie in Wonderland; Roy Wood – Boulders and Mustard

Thom Yorke – guitarist/singer – Radiohead (in collaboration with artist Dan Rickwood AKA Stanley Donwood) – Radiohead – OK Computer and Kid A

While they don’t have any album cover credits, musicians Tico Torres (drummer for Bon Jovi), Ringo Starr (drummer for The Beatles), Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart (drummers for The Grateful Dead) and David Bowie have all staged exhibitions of their art work and produced art prints for sale through galleries around the world.

Additional Helpful Resources used:

Paste Magazine article 6/17/11 by Carey Hodges – “9 Musicians who create their own record art”

Talenthouse site article 5/29/12 by Michelle – “5 Musicians who double as Cover Artists”


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