Album Cover Artist And Art News Summary And Preview For January/February, 2018 News Logo







The first month of 2018 really delivered for fans of album cover artistry, with kudos for Best Record Packaging and Box Sets/Limited Edition packages handed out at the Grammy Awards on January 28th along with the top picks for the annual Best Art Vinyl awards – chosen by voters around the world – announced earlier in the month on January 9th. As you’ll see in my recaps way down in Section 5, there were plenty of surprises – including a TIE (!!) – and praise handed out to the very talented producers of this year’s top vote-getters, so to all those who complain that “album art is dead”, I think that you should take a look at all of the nominated works before backing that horse from this point forward…

Some good news also about my book – I’ve just had the proposed details for my project approved by the folks at Kickstarter so, with any luck, I should be able to share a link to my project page for your review (and, if you like what you see, your support) sometime in the next month or so. With any luck, I should be able to get the books designed, printed and shipped to you sometime this Summer – and let us all say, “it’s about damn time”.

As we begin the second month of 2018, I’d like my early Valentine’s Day presents to you all to be a) my just-published interview article in the March issue of GOLDMINE Magazine (page 50) about designer/photographer/pilot Bob Minkin’s work on the packaging for some of the fan favorite Dick’s Picks records released in the early 2000s by The Grateful Dead (my second article in this magazine this year, I’m proud to say), along with the following album cover artist news summary and preview. It will hopefully be just as nourishing and satisfying as a box of chocolates and one I think you’ll want to spend a few minutes reviewing and sharing with your friends. Besides the aforementioned award details, the past month was another one chock-full of news on this topic, delivering a trove of articles I know you’ll want to read, unearthing many new details about those folks who are actively producing impressive album cover art and packaging. In the summaries I’ve written and via the links provided, you’ll learn more about the latest exhibitions, new books, prints and products and several interesting interviews and artist profiles, along with other related reporting from sources providing these details around the world. With so much to read and see, you should be pleased that I’m not one of those Americans who promotes the notion that nobody else in the world is as talented and praise-worthy as we are – just take a look at the portfolios of record packages produced by some of the people featured in this month’s summary and I think you’ll agree that their works speak for themselves…

As always, I ask that you please share this info with everyone you know who are fans of great album cover-related talent and, of course, your comments and feedback are quite welcome.

1) Upcoming, recently-launched/currently running and just-closed show/exhibitions –

a) To promote the launch of his new book of photos taken from Robert M. Knight’s 50+ year career in the business, there was a book release party at the Mr. Musichead Gallery in Los Angeles on January 17th that also included the launch of a brief gallery show (through February 3rd) of prints of shots included in the book.

With a career that began in the late 1960s taking memorable shots of performances at The Fillmore in San Francisco – Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, The New Yardbirds (who would then morph into Led Zeppelin) and others, Rock Gods:50 Years of Rock Photography illustrates how Knight’s outgoing personality and quality photographic work endeared him to many of the stars he met, including Elton John, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Robert became very close with Stevie Ray, and is still haunted by his place in history as the photographer that took the last shots of the guitar ace shortly before his fateful helicopter crash outside of East Troy, Wisconsin in 1990.

Now based on the West Coast and working alongside his wife, photographer Maryanne Bilham, in a busy commercial photography business, Robert is now perhaps best-known for the impressive photographic murals found leading in to over 200 Guitar Center stores in the U.S. and the “Guitar Legend” photo archive. At the Mr. Musichead show, you’ll find a number of his best works on display (and for sale), along with his new book (he’s previously published several other notable books, including 50 Rock Guitarists (1995) and Hollywood’s RockWalk – The First Decade (1996) and was a contributor to the 1996 book Led Zeppelin – The Photographers.

There’s more info on Robert and this show on the gallery’s web site –

b) Curator/Author and die-hard record collector Antoine de Beaupre brought a selection from his epic Total Records album art show to San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery for a new show there called Art & Vinyl: Artists & the Record Album from Picasso to the Present which opened on January 4th. Featuring examples of album art produced since the 1940s, the exhibit treats visitors to (according to the gallery’s PR) “a staggering array of conceptual strategies, and sketch an idiosyncratic history of art from the mid-20th century to the present.”

After I’d written about this exciting show last month, I was able to get hold of the gallery’s press team and am now happy to share some additional details about what’s included in the display, which is available for viewing from now through March 3rd.

Included in the show are works by artists including Josef Albers, Tauba Auerbach, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joseph Beuys, Sophie Calle, Jean Dubuffet, Marlene Dumas, Richard Hamilton, Yves Klein, Barbara Kruger, Sol LeWitt, Christian Marclay, Chris Ofili, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, among others (quite the cast, no?). In addition to this impressive list of artists whose works are included in the show, I wanted to know more about the differences between what’s on display at the new show in San Francisco and what Antoine’s shown before in his previous Total Records exhibitions. Here’s what the gallery staff (Emily and Rebecca – thanks!) said…

“Your question about the difference between Total Records and our show is simple: Antoine created Total Records with a specific focus on photography and the album cover. This has been shown in numerous venues (and is currently on view in Barcelona until March). Total Records as a collection is over 700 albums.

Art & Vinyl, however, looks more broadly at modern and contemporary art in all forms. Antoine chose the records in this collection for a few reasons: they had to be created by the artist specifically for that album (no repurposing of images that is); the artists are all well known figures; and all of the albums are first editions. Antoine searched exhaustively for certain albums that were quite rare (the Warhol banana cover for The Velvet Underground, for example). Art & Vinyl as a collection is 258 records.

As for the artwork shown, certain albums contain unique artworks, like an original Richter painting, the Marclay unique prints and others. Original materials included in the albums, such as magazines, note cards, and other ephemera, do also appear in our show.

Antoine’s ultimate focus is in the album itself – not the music, and not the physical artwork, but the medium for which it was created (the album).”

Fans will be able to relive their visit with the help of a 464-page hardcover catalogue, available at the gallery or on its website (, and distributed internationally by D.A.P.

In a special article I’ll publish this month, I’ll also share the details of a brief Q&A session I had with the show’s curator, Mr.Antoine de Beaupre, via email. In the meantime, I’d invite you to visit the gallery’s site at for further details about this comprehensive look at some beautiful album cover packaging…

c) The judging has begun…the Oak Park Art League has received dozens of submissions from artists proficient in many areas of design, painting and illustration for their upcoming album cover art show (titled Artifact 33.3: National Exhibition of Record Cover Art), with results of this expert review being announced and put on display at the OPAL gallery in Oak Park, IL in early March.

As I have previously quoted the show’s organizers when asked to describe the motivations behind such a competition and exhibition, “The evolution of album cover art is as revolutionary as the music vinyl popularized, with iconic artists such as Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and others, merging the world of music with the visual arts, while catapulting musician identity and elevating jacket cover design to museum-worthy status. This 70th anniversary milestone and the renaissance of vinyl lends to this call for record cover art that express societal interests and global concerns – past, present and future. “

Artists were asked to submit original artwork for a fictional album by a fictional musical act and, after initial judging by the esteemed panel, a selection of these works are to be professionally printed and displayed in 12”x12” frames for the exhibition at OPAL’s historic Carriage House Gallery beginning March 9th. An additional selection of works will be included in an online exhibit on OPAL’s website.

If you happen to be or live in the Oak Park, IL area on Thursday, March 22nd, I’ll be at the Oak Park Art League from 7-8:30pm giving a presentation about some of the best-known album cover images and the people and stories behind them. I’ll be joined in this effort by some special guests who’ll be able to add their unique knowledge and opinions to the discussion…

I’m going to have a number of album cover art prints up on display during the show’s run and will be bringing others just for this lecture, so please take a look at the special FB event page that’s been created and let us know if you can join us for the festivities that night.

Hope to see you there – please share this with your friends in the area as well…
If you’d like to learn more about the competition and/or attending the show or panel talks, click on over to –

2) Artist interviews/profile articles –

a) Portugese art TV channel Canal180 has put together a nearly 17-minute video portrait of famed photographer Brian Griffin and, after I viewed it, I realized that while I knew that he’d garnered a well-deserved world-wide reputation for both his album cover work and his portraiture, I had not a clue as to his popularity overseas as both a film-maker and on-screen personality.

In this film, originally shot in 2016 by Joana Domingues, came into being because of his participation in a photography festival in Portugal called Encontros da Imagem. The film-maker asked the festival’s producers if they could film Brian there and, since then, have worked with him to gather additional materials, including shots he’d been gathering for inclusion in his recently-published photo book (titled Pop). The resulting film includes interviews, photos, experimental videos, behind-the-scenes footage and several clips from Brian’s appearances as a performer in the 1980s on the BBC.

This film is one of nearly a dozen made of photographers and other video makers that they call 180ID. According to Joanna, “Canal180 is the first Portuguese Open Source TV channel entirely dedicated to culture, arts and creativity. Following an ever-changing artistic agenda, the channel broadcasts innovative content, created by a new generation of artists. Canal 180 also exclusively produces and curates projects from around the world. We broadcast and are online as well.”

I do hope that you enjoy seeing this and are then inspired to take a look at the rest of the films available on their YouTube channel –

3) Sales/Auctions –

Nothing much to report on recently, but there looks to be some interesting auctions coming up in the next couple of months, so I’ll share more about these as the details become available.

4) New Print/Book/Product Releases –

a) Local photographer/gallery owner Lyle Waisman ( ) recently introduced me to a contact of his in the U.K. – Richard White, proprietor of the White Bank Fine Art publishing house and gallery in London – who then shared with me some of the details of a couple of new prints based on the images photographer Robert Dowling created in 1987 for Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason The original team from the Hipgnosis design firm that worked on this project – Storm Thorgerson (art director), Colin Elgie (design) and Robert doing the shooting – created the famous “beds on the beach” scene at the waterfront on the Saunton Sands in Devon, U.K.. Mr. White then forwarded me some additional info on the project’s production details that he received from Mr. Dowling (Editor’s note – it’s said that . this image was inspired by some lyrics from the song “Yet Another Movie” – “The sun that burned a fiery red…The vision of an empty bed”):

“Storm came to him with the idea of initially laying the beds out in a dry riverbed. But this approach wasn’t to be because they could not find the right location anywhere in Europe. Instead, the beds were laid out in the shape they were in order to represent this river, with the final image being Robert’s interpretation of Storm’s idea.”

Mr. White continues – “It was a 5 AM start in the summer of 1987. Five different cameras were used that day, Including a Hasselblad 6 x 6 and a  35mm Nikon.  Robert managed a crew of three assistants just for the photography, with a crew of about 50 persons first spray-painting, mounting the mattresses and bedding  and then laying out the 800 beds (of the 1000 originally spec’d) in a pattern that extended a half-mile down the beach. In terms of the shoot, it was more the timing of the tides on the day and getting everything wrapped up very quickly than the actual technicalities of the photography. This is partly why they had five different cameras, getting all different sorts of moods captured just right. When he had tested the idea the week before the shoot by leaving a bed there, he returned to find that it had been completely engulfed and swallowed by the sea. This would remain a worry, but further research on the tides led him to believe they would be less severe on the chosen day of the shoot (on that day, the tide did go under the beds at one point and left all the sand perfectly crisp again!).”

The total cost of the shoot that day was £60,000.

There are two different prints now available for sale – one titled Beds and the other Maid – with both prints available in two differently-sized, signed and numbered limited editions printed on Fuji Crystal Clear paper:




Copyright 2018 Robert Dowling/White Bank Fine Art – All Rights Reserved

Large – Image 43×27.4 inches; Paper 47×32.4 inches; Border of 2 inches top and sides, 3 inches on the bottom. Edition of 15 (plus 5 artist proofs) Priced at £3000 (approx. $4250.00)

Small – Image 28×17.9 inches; Paper 31x 21.4 inches; Border of 1.5 inches top and sides, 2 inches on the bottom. Edition of 40 (plus 10 artist proofs) Priced at £1200  (approx. $1700.00)

Interested parties can venture on over to the publisher’s site for more info and to see more by this and other well-known artists –

You’ll note that, on the original cover, the maid is just beginning to walk into the frame from the left. If you open the gatefold, you find her near the crease on the back of the record cover. The hang glider you see in the background was a reference to the song “Learning To Fly”, it is said, while the helicopter in the background of the “Maid” version was used to capture aerial footage of the shoot, which was then used on the band’s subsequent tour.

For more info on the making of this memorable cover, you can also read this 2015 article on the site –

And, for an artist’s-eye view on the project, with photographer Matt Sills talking with Dowling about this project, you’ll want to check out the following video –

b) When I last was in touch with photographer Drew Carolan a couple of years ago when I was beginning to gather information for my new book project, he told me that he was also working on a book tentatively titled MATINEE which would feature photos from his portfolio of pix he’d taken of the denizens of NYC’s Bowery area (near CBGBs) during the early-mid 1980s (during breaks in his job schedule – he was photo great Richard Avedon’s assistant at the time). I was intrigued and added this to my follow-up list which, if you’re like me, can sometimes get to be a bit too long to manage properly.

Fast-forward to several days ago, when a package arrived from a couple of old friends of ours from our days in Orange County, CA. They’re both talented designers and music fans and know that I’ve been paying close attention to the people who make album cover images, so when a friend and neighbor of theirs released a new photo book, they knew that I’d appreciate owning one and sent one to me as a gift (thanks again, Mark and Deb!). When I opened the package, a big smile appeared on my face as I saw that it was a copy of the recently-released MATINEE book, made even cooler by being personalized to my wife and I by the author himself. The note card that accompanied the book said that they thought I might like this, not knowing that I already knew the author as I’d interviewed him about his album cover work a number of years ago and had been keeping in touch (“it’s a small world after all”). So, not only was I surprised by the coincidental 3-way relationship, but I was also glad to see that the book had at last been published and, let me tell you, it’s a beauty!

While Drew’s best-known to album art fans for his great cover images for musical acts including Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (Tomorrow People), Eric B. and Rakim (Follow the Leader), Edie Brickell & New Bohemians (Ghost of a Dog), Tony Bennett (50 Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett) and Living Colour (Everything is Possible: The Very Best of Living Colour), among others (along with a long list of music video credits), this book shows another aspect of the world that Carolan had grown up in, having been raised on NYC’s Lower East Side, and the passion he has shown for depicting the strange-yet-wonderful people that made up the world he’d grown up in.

I do hope that you’ll take a look at the publisher’s page for this book – – which is available in both book-only form and in a limited-edition (500) deluxe package complete with a poster, an 8” x 10” print and a 7” record featuring live tracks of performances by musical acts from the era such as The Mob, Hellbent, Death Before Dishonor and several others.

Bonus video link – 10 years ago, Drew crafted a nearly 8-minute video of photos, interviews and other interesting tidbits from this hardcore era that gives you a nice intro to what’s included in MATINEE – take a look –

5) Other articles of interest –

a) Just another quick shout out to the winners of this year’s Grammy Awards in the packaging categories, awarded during the Premiere Ceremony that took place last Sunday evening at The Theater At Madison Square Garden in NYC. The winners were:

For “Best Recording Package” – OMG, it was a TIE! Honors were handed out to both the team behind Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) album – Sasha Barr, Ed Steed & Josh Tillman, art directors AND the folks that brought us the package for El Orisha de la Rosa for Magin Diaz – Carlos Dussan, Juliana Jaramillo, Juan Martinez & Claudio Roncoli, art directors

For “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package” – I’m very happy to say that the talented team that brought us The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition – Lawrence Azerrad, Timothy Daly & David Pescovitz, art directors – took home this year’s trophies.

A special round of applause goes out to the winner in the “Best Album Notes” category – writer Lynell George for Otis Redding’s Live At The Whisky A Go Go: The Complete Recordings

You can zip on over to the site via this link – for more info.

Of course, I’ll be working to get some comments from the winners to you ASAP but, in the meantime, I hope that you’ll send some congratulatory vibes in the direction of this year’s winners for jobs well done.

b) Also earlier last month, the folks that put on the annual “Best Art Vinyl” award show announced the top three winners in this year’s competition at a ceremony held January 9th at the Hari Hotel in London, and they were:

1) Run The Jewels 3 by rap duo Run The Jewels, with Art Direction & Photography by Timothy Saccenti and artwork by Nick Gazin;

2) Pure Comedy (Deluxe Edition) by folk artist Father John Misty, with Art Direction by Sasha Barr and Illustrations by noted cartoonist Ed Steed;

3) The Great Distraction by British electronic rock group Vessels, with Design by the Split design group.

Congratulations to the winners – I hope to have more in-depth information about the top designs soon but, until then, you can see all 50 nominated designs on the Best Art Vinyl site –…/

Bonus – here’s an article with some of the details about “the making of” the winning entry – Run The Jewels 3

c) “Best & Worst Album Covers of 2017” – January update – As I noted in my last monthly news summary, for the past five years I’ve worked to present you with a recap of the many articles published by art/music/design writers on the Best and Worst examples of album cover design used to package music products here and abroad. Taking the many “Top 10” lists that were proffered and then breaking them down to look for patterns and consistencies, I’d been able to present a fairly-scientific summary of those covers which had earned the most kudos or raspberries from this group of industry experts and observers.

Unfortunately, this year I’m unable to do this for you as the number of people writing on the topic has dropped precipitously, leaving me without the basis of a statistically-significant study. I suppose that I only have myself to blame as each year I have gone on record saying that it was a fool’s errand to create “best” and “worst” lists – “best” or “worst” in what way, following what criteria? It’s something I never would have the courage/expertise to do on my own, but I always felt that it was OK to summarize others’ attempts to do so (I mean, why not let them look like fools, as long as I could benefit from it – just joking, of course). In any case, there were a few such lists published, and while not supported by a LOT of data, I can say that there were several records that did appear more frequently on lists than others, such as Bjork’s Utopia, Thundercat’s Drunk and Tyler The Creator’s Flower Boy, to name just a few.

For now, to point you in the general direction of the newest articles I could find on the topic is the best I can do for you, so please don’t think any less of me, and enjoy this additional info –

d) With only those living underground in preparation for a nuclear holocaust unaware of the recent premiere of the latest installment of the Star Wars saga, I’d be silly not to also ride the crest of Lukemania and share an article with you that involves the combination of famous album covers with famous characters from the movie. As you’ll read in Morgan Shanahan’s recent posting on the BuzzFeed site – – a London-based graphic artist by the name of Stephen Lear ( has taken some time away from his busy work schedule to produce and share a series of expertly-crafted remakes of records from musical acts such as Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Taylor Swift (even the cast album from the hit show Hamilton!) that now feature the likenesses of Star Wars stars including Han Solo, Emperor Palpatine, Princess Leia and many others (I’m particularly fond of the artist’s simple-yet-elegant take on Dark Side of the Moon which he calls “Dark Side of That’s No Moon”).

Stephen has also taken one extra step and is making several of his designs available for purchase on t-shirts – – priced rather strangely at $27.22 (am I missing a Star Wars reference here, or is it simply the conversion from pounds to dollars?). In any case, it’s another fine example of how icons from different media can cross-pollinate to create something fun and desirable for us fans always looking for something that only we fully understand…

e) Album cover art lovers have certainly seen a lot of parodies of well-known cover images over the years (with many used as covers themselves), but once in a while we’re also treated to derivative works that are clever, thought-provoking and/or, as you’ll see in the works described by reporter Jessica Stewart in her recent article for the My Modern Met site, pretty darn funny. As you’ll see in the article and a subsequent search of Photoshop guru Igor Lipchanskiy’s Instagram site ( , many album covers treat us to only part of a much-larger scene, and it turns out that Igor himself has been cut out of many of your favorite album covers, too.

Did you know that the mischievous Igor was on hand to mess with Tom Petty’s tuning on the Damn The Torpedoes album, or clean up All Time Low’s Dirty Work, or put the fear of God in The Weeknd? Well, now you do –

f) Seems that each month we’re celebrating the Golden Anniversary of some classic rock act, album or music festival, but in the case of the Rolling Stones’ Satanic Majesties LP, we also get to think back fondly about the first time we saw the trippy album cover – created and produced as a “Lenticular 3-D” image – that was meant to help illustrate that The Beatles weren’t the only innovators in the psychedelic era. In this recent article on the GOLDMINE Magazine site by Dave Thompson, you’ll learn a lot more about this controversial album – controversial because it was the project that found the band separating themselves from several of the people who’d helped develop their sound and imagery up to that point: band manager and producer Andrew Oldham and photographer Gered Mankowitz, who was replaced by the band with Michael Cooper, who’d later go on to work with Sir Peter Blake on the memorable cover for Sgt. Peppers.

The gatefold package also included a maze and other mind-bending imagery on the inside, with “mind-bending” a key word used to describe the turmoil that surrounded the band’s in-studio ups and downs and the headline-making troubles they brought upon themselves due to their over-the-top affairs with the legal system (drug bust, anyone?) and their label/management. The article also describes the limited-edition 50th anniversary release of the record courtesy of the ABKCO label, which brings back all of the original packaging elements, including the 3-D image which had been stripped away after the original run of the record all those years ago due to cost over-runs and replaced with a plain-old photograph (cheap bastards) –

g) Providing some additional coverage of some of the album covers featured in the Art + Vinyl show I’d touched on earlier, VICE Magazine’s Emily Manning posted an article on album covers done by top Pop artists (Basquiat, Warhol, Pettibon, etc.) that I think you’ll enjoy. Nicely illustrated, Manning also talks with the show’s curator Antoine de Beaupre’ about some of the specifics of some of the rarer covers in the show, such as Warhol’s 1952 cover for a special record of a CBS Radio broadcast about the nation’s crime and drug problems (The Nation’s Nightmare:Traffic in Narcotics/Crime on the Waterfront), Raymond Pettibon’s funny-yet-disturbing cover for Black Flag’s 1982 record Jealous Again and a very rare (and racy) cover of a record by French artist Sous le Manteau featuring a cover photo shot by Nan Goldin –

h) Finally, just to illustrate how record cover artists have always been on the cutting edge of technology, here’s a link to any article on the site written by Abigail Cain that details a chance meeting between then-budding tech titan Steve Jobs and the always-looking-to-provoke artists/illustrators Andy Warhol and Keith Haring as the Apple Man was attending the 1984 birthday party of a mutual friend, little Sean Lennon. Bringing along a recently-introduced Macintosh computer along as a gift for Yoko’s son, Jobs had Lennon unwrap the gift in front of the party-goers and then proceeded to show them all how to create art with a mouse.

The encounter so intrigued Warhol that, later in 1985, Andy became a spokesperson for Apple’s primary competition in the home computer arena at the time – Commodore and their Amiga line of color PCs – and used their painting program to sketch Blondie singer Debbie Harry at the product’s launch party. Years later, evidence of Warhol’s experiments with computer-based art were unearthed and are now part of the archives of the Warhol Museum, and while now most budding young artists are fluent in computer-aided drawing/painting/image manipulation tools, it is cool to see examples of the beginning of the analog-to-digital transformation in the commercial art world –

That’s all for now – stay tuned and be on the lookout for timely news alerts on our news feed – – we’ll be back early next month with another monthly summary for you.

Unless otherwise noted, all text and images included in this article are Copyright 2018 Mike Goldstein and – All Rights Reserved. All of trade names mentioned in these summaries are the properties of their respective owners and are used for reference only.

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