ALBUM COVER HALL OF FAME’S ALBUM COVER NEWS RECAP FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY, 2018, WITH PREVIEWS FOR MARCH.
BY MIKE GOLDSTEIN, ALBUMCOVERHALLOFFAME.COM
As a follow up all of the award-based excitement that took place in January, February proved to be no slouch as a source of album cover/cover artist-based news , with more awards-focused activities in the form of the announcement of the nominations in the packaging categories for the annual Independent Music Awards (IMA) and the calls for submissions to two more album cover art competitions. In addition to the competition and exhibition that is taking place this month in Oak Park, IL (which I’m honored to be part of), a similarly-built project is taking place in Brooklyn, NY in the upcoming months, as it the judging and announcement of the winners of this year’s international A Design Awards. All in all, a lot of talent will be on display and album art fans will find a lot to like in any/all of these shows.
An update about the launch of my book project – If all goes according to plans, I should be announcing the launch of my Kickstarter project before the end of March (OMG!). It will run for 33 days (I tried to get it to run for 33-1/3 days, but couldn’t quite make that happen) and, if successful, it should provide me with everything needed to get the new book designed, printed and shipped (along with any special rewards you’ve opted for) before the end of the Summer. The site’s ready, as are the pages on the ACHOF site where you’ll be able to see the rewards that’ll be offered at the various levels of support, so I just have to finish the obligatory intro video and we’ll be ready for prime time. Of course, I’ll make a formal announcement as soon as I can, so wish me luck and we’ll get this going just as soon as possible.
February’s news cycle rewarded us with a nice selection of interesting things to read and see in all the categories I summarize, providing you with new articles on the 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, such as information on album art shows in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand; profiles on album art-makers including photographers Roe Etheridge and Ellen Von Unwerth and Pop Art master Andy Warhol; a pair of nice podcasts including one from GOLDMINE Magazine with rock art auction king Jacques Van Gool from Backstage Auctions and another with several of the judges from last year’s ALEX Awards (and the folks behind Record Store Day); an intro to a huge new book coming out soon by designer John Foster (titled ALBUM ART: NEW MUSIC GRAPHICS) that delivers an impressive collection of images, info and articles on the topic and, as always, a nice selection of articles on a wide range of topics such as the launch of a new album art database, what it’s like to work with your uncle – who also happens to be a noted comic book artist – on an album art project, a discussion about psychedelic album art and much, much more.
Of particular note was an article I found particularly uplifting involving a special fund-raising effort to help defray the immense medical costs incurred by noted Canadian album cover designer Michael Wrycraft as he battled an infectious disease that cost him his legs (but not his positive outlook on life).
As always, I ask that you please share this info with everyone you know who a re 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) The judging is done – let the show begin! After receiving dozens of submissions for their Artifact 33.3 original album art competition, the Oak Park Art League’s panel of judges (including yours truly) has selected what it feels are the best entries from artists proficient in many areas of design, painting and illustration and will announce the winners – which will all be put up on display in the OPAL gallery in Oak Park, IL on Friday, March 9th during the opening reception of this show – titled Artifact 33.3: National Exhibition of Record Cover Art.
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 being 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, I’d like to invite you back to the gallery on Thursday, March 22nd from 7-8:30pm as I’ll be 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 well-know album cover art prints – cover images for records by Supertramp, Aerosmith, the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa and many others – 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 – https://www.oakparkartleague.org/artifact-33-3
b) Scheduled to close in just a few days (March 3rd) is the comprehensive album cover art show that’s been on display at San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery since early January called Art & Vinyl: Artists & the Record Album from Picasso to the Present. As I’ve written previously about this show, curated by Antoine deBeaupre of Total Records fame, the 258 record covers in the Art & Vinyl collection look at covers that represent modern/contemporary art in all its 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 re-purposing 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).
If you haven’t had the chance to see the show in person, you can choose to either hop on over to the gallery between now and Wednesday or take a look at Taylor Dafoe’s nicely-written overview of the exhibition on the Artnet.com site – https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/art-vinyl-album-covers-1224242 In either case, enjoy the visit.
c) A vinyl collector’s passion for the recorded music products released by musical acts from his own country of New Zealand served as the basis of an exhibition of 90 album cover art prints currently on display at that collector’s music shop in Sydenham. The store – Penny Lane – is owned by ex-Londoner Dave Howard who, according to writer Warren Feeney’s article on the show on the Stuff.co.nz site, has built “an enviable collection from the mid-1950s to the present day” and organized the show, titled NZ Cover Versions, to display a collection of covers that “traces the evolution of local music through a history of design, illustration and fine arts”.
In a show that includes interesting examples of Kiwi album art, from Johnny Devlin’s first solo album, Johnny, released in 1959 to Motte’s 2017 album Strange Dreams, there’s certainly a lot of great imagery and now, via the miracle of the Interwebs, there’s a chance for those of us living thousands of miles away to see and learn more about them – https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/101721423/nz-cover-albums-a-celebration-of-where-art-meets-kiwi-music
2) Artist interviews/profile articles –
a) Loring from the very informative Cover Our Tracks web site sent me a link to a new post on the site that fans of album cover photography should really enjoy. Lara Kristin Herndon just contributed an interview she’s done with photographer Roe Ethridge, a commercial shooter who doesn’t have a large portfolio of album cover shots but, as you’ll see, has been responsible for several stand-outs, including one of the best-known shots from the early ‘aughts – that being the if-you-hit-me-I’ll-bleed cover photo found on Andrew W.K.’s 2001 release I Get Wet.
In addition to the I Get Wet cover, Ethridge has been responsible for an impressive portfolio of photos that have been included in shows and museum collections around the world, including institutions such as NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, LA’s MOCA, the ICA in Boston and London’s Tate Modern, as well as in publications ranging from VICE Magazine to the New York Times. Lara’s article takes advantage of her decades-long relationship with Ethridge and provides a degree of depth and intimacy we don’t see very often in articles like this.
b) CNN’s Style reporters have published a profile of prize-winning photographer/video director Ellen von Unwerth, perhaps best-known for her late 1980’s advertising and editorial works featuring the model Claudia Schiffer who then went on to create album covers and music videos for musical acts including Bananarama (Pop Life), Belinda Carlisle (A Woman & A Man), Janet Jackson (The Velvet Rope), Dido (Life For Rent), Britney Spears (Blackout), Christina Aguilera (Back To Basics) and Rihanna (Rated R), among others. A former fashion model herself, her talents behind the lens has kept her in-demand for commercial work for many years now, keeping clients including publications such as I-D, Interview, Vanity Fair and Vogue and companies including Clinique and Revlon enthralled with the works she’s produced.
Her works have been included in books and exhibitions all over the world, so I’d invite you all to spend a few minutes and enjoy watching this nice intro to a very talented shooter’s fashion work…
c) Inspired by a recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race show in which “the queens will be serving up looks inspired by the prince of pop art” Andy Warhol, Billboard’s Stephen Dow published an article online featuring a Billboard Pride compilation of ten instances during which Warhol “left his stamp on music” – https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8214697/andy-warhol-music-influence-rupauls-drag-race
The first several examples included in the article are ones that fans of album cover art should be quite familiar with – those being highlights of the album covers he created for musical acts such as the Rolling Stones (Sticky Fingers, as well as a Jagger solo record), Aretha Franklin and John Lennon – reminding us that Warhol’s initial success as a graphic designer came from his time spent creating dozens of jazz (and then rock) album covers. You’ll also learn a bit more about his time managing the Velvet Underground, his work as a music video director (“Hello Again” for The Cars) and the somewhat-ironic fact that, although Warhol hated the fact that David Bowie used Andy’s name as a song title, Bowie would go on to provide movie-goers with a great take on Warhol in his role as the artist in 1996’s Basquiat.
3) Sales/Auctions –
a) Goldmine Magazine’s podcast featuring Backstage Auction’s chief Jacques Van Gool about his latest memorabilia auction (titled Headliners & Legends, which was live February 16-25). In addition to talking about the autographed, artist-used guitars, RIAA-certified record awards and original Peter Max paintings that were available, Goldmine’s Pat Prince probes Jacques for more info on what might be included in some upcoming auctions (reminding us all about the fact that those running auction businesses must sometime be flexible with their schedules in order to take advantage of unique opportunities) featuring gig posters, the personal collections of music industry big-wigs, a heavy-metal (“Rock Gods & Metal Monsters”) themed auction and much more. As a collector myself (who has dropped more than a few dollars at Backstage-hosted auctions over the years), it’s always interesting to hear some tantalizing tidbits from the guy that manages to keep us all eager for the next opportunity to cover our walls with more great art and memorabilia – http://www.goldminemag.com/podcast/backstage-auctions-jacques-van-gool-guest-goldmine-magazine-podcast-episode-17
4) New Print/Book/Product RELEASES –
a) Due out in early March of this year is author John Foster’s book on album cover design/designers – ALBUM ART: NEW MUSIC GRAPHICS. What makes this book all the more interesting is that it’s been compiled and authored by an award-winning, working designer, with Foster serving as the principal of the MD-based design firm Bad People Good Things and in possession of a portfolio of notable album art credits including: Giant Sand – Provisions and Blurry Blue Mountain; Mission of Burma – Unsound; Bailter Space – Strobosphere and Trinine; Surf City – We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This and Jekyll Island; Mark Mulcahy – Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You; The Chills – The BBC Sessions and Silver Bullets; Wreckless Eric – Le Beat Groupe Electrique and America, among others. His commercial work has been lauded with kudos and awards from the Art Director’s Club and is featured in museums and galleries around the world. He’s also written a number of other design-oriented books included titles such as New Masters of Poster Design (Volumes 1 and 2), Paper and Ink Workshop and 1,000 Indie Posters, among others, and is an in-demand speaker at design industry conferences, so you know he knows his material through and through.
According to the book’s advance PR, this book “is the definitive guide to album cover design in the 21st Century”. In addition to the scores of examples of “innovative artworks by one-of-a-kind designers”, you’ll find interviews with designers Stefan Sagmeister, Art Chantry, Paula Scher and the dynamic duo of Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz (among others) and collections of work by a “who’s who” of past and current album cover design such as Jonathan Barnbrook, Susan Archie, Michael Cina, Brian Roettinger and dozens of others.
The 320 page book is being released in the UK on March 8th by the noted Thames and Hudson Ltd publishing house (currently, the only link I can give you to pre-order the book is one to the item on the Amazon.com UK site – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Album-Art-New-Music-Graphics/dp/0500294151), and if you’d like to see more of Foster’s work, I’d invite you to visit his company’s site at http://www.badpeoplegoodthings.com/?page_id=2
5) Other articles of interest –
a) Speaking of Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz – on Feb. 23rd, the two of them brought together a panel of vinyl LP lovers, including several judges from the recent ALEX Awards and the leader of the Record Store Day movement, to discuss a variety of topics – judging the major award shows, vinyl printing techniques and the momentum behind the growing vinyl record business, etc. – on the Drate/Holly Stephey-hosted web radio show called “The Vinyl Show”.
Those of you vinyl geeks who’d like to listen to the aforementioned industry experts, who were also joined by Bryan Ekus and Larry Jaffee – the producers of the “Making Vinyl” industry trade show and who announced that the next show will be held in Detroit later this year (October 1-2) and that there will also be a similar show in Europe (dates TBD) – can listen to a recording of the festivities via the following link – http://www.blogtalkradio.com/redvelvetmedia/2018/02/23/michael-kurtz-record-store-day–the-return-of-vinyl
Spencer was kind enough to send along a photo of the ALEX Award judging panel – quite the display of talent, I think you’ll agree….
ALEX Award Judges – Front Row, Left to Right: Spencer Drate, Judith Salavetz, Sylvia Reed, Gail Marowitz.
Back Row, Left to Right: Larry Jaffee (“Making Vinyl” show founder),Sean Mosher-Smith,Stefan Bucher, Craig Braun.
b) The nominees for the 16th IMAs in the design/packaging-related categories were announced on February 14th and, in keeping with this organization’s successful efforts to feature great examples of indie talent in the music, video and design industries, this year’s nominees include works from all over the world, in a variety of genres and styles. The winning projects will be selected by both judging panels of top recording artists (including Tom Waits, Slayer, Bakithi Kumalo, Michael W. Smith, Sepultura, Evanescence’s Amy Lee and many others) and influential press and talent buyers from the Americas, Europe and Pacific Rim and online fan voting in several categories (voting on the IMA site for the fan- selected Music, Video & Design winners begins on Tuesday, February 20th and runs through March 20th at https://fans.IndependentMusicAwards.com). Winners will be announced at a special event in NYC’s Lincoln Center on March 31st.
Nominees in the “Album Art/Photography” category include –
- Norwegian alt-rockers Soup’s latest release titled Remedies, with cover photos by Lasse Hoile and design/layout by Håvard Gjelseth;
- Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Stern’s Magic, featuring artwork by Laura Horrocks-Denis;
- Norwegian musician/painter Maren Ingeborg Gråblomst’s watercolor titled Madame Clamour is featured on her alt-rock duet Gråblomst’s 2017 release also titled Madame Clamour;
- Artist, model and singer Maxine Syjuco produced the cover for her Chicago-based experimental rock band Jack of None’s latest EP release titled The Tattle Tale Heart;
- The team at the Brighton, UK-based Simply Marvellous creative agency produced the artwork for the cover for Findlay Napier’s crowd-funded record titled Glasgow and
- Chicago-based artist, actor and playwright Tony Fitzpatrick created the cover art for the new record called Bye Bye Blackbird by the trio of tenor saxophonist Frank Catalano, Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and alto sax great David Sanborn.
Nominees in the “Album Packaging” category include –
- Cali, Columbia-based graphic design studio Cactus Taller crafted the packaging for the late Columbian Afro-Carribean star Magín Díaz’s final record – El Orisha de la Rosa (also winner of the recent 2018 Grammy Award and the 2017 Latin Grammy Award for “Best Recording Package”);
- Designer/illustrator Greg Carr & Chris Daniels collaborated to create the cover art for soul/blues group Chris Daniels & The Kings (with singer Freddi Gowdy) 2017 release Blues With Horns, Vol. 1;
- Lucidity Cultural Creative Design crafted the cover for the double CD set of Bhuddist music and chants from the Bliss and Wisdom Sangha & Dream Lotus Choir and Orchestra (on Wind Music) titled The Legend of the Sun King;
- Taipei, Taiwan-based graphic artist Ming Liu designed the cover and packaging for Pop singer and composer FANN’s We Are Who We Are and
- Vienese painter Katja Svejkovsky and her spouse, American producer puppy38 produced the cover art for p38 project hiroshimabend’s 2017 limited release ODP 048 – Rednow Gnir
In addition to the two packaging-related categories, awards are also handed out in other design-related areas such as Gig/Promo Posters, Publicity Photos, Live Performance Photos, Website Design and SWAG (AKA “merchandise), so if you’d like to see the rundown of all of the nominations in these categories, click on over to
c) Artists, designers, art directors, photographers and packaging experts in all related fields – here are two chances for you to show just how talented you are…The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC), is looking for submissions to a new album cover art-based show – titled In The Groove – that will feature cover art works for both real and imaginary music acts, with the selected works put on display in the organization’s Red Hook gallery from May 12th through October 28th of this year. According to the group’s promo info for this show, “the exhibition seeks to celebrate the mutually inspiring, creative relationship between music and art, and to recognize the profound cultural impact and influence of the art form itself, its trailblazing history and ever evolving visual and conceptual strategies.”
Submissions will be reviewed and judged by the “BWAC Selection Panel”, which includes Sal Cataldi (NYC-based musician and publicist, leader of the critically acclaimed Spaghetti Eastern Music and Founder and Creative Director of Cataldi Public Relations) and Wendi Gueorguiev, BWAC Performance Series Coordinator and Exhibiting Artist. All works will be submitted online, and a prospectus with the details and instructions available for download to interested artists via this link – http://bwac.org/2018/01/in-the-groove-national-print-exhibition-of-original-album-cover-artwork/
Questions can be directed to BWAC staffers via this email address – email@example.com
Wendi tells me that they’re hoping to show at least 50 different covers during the show, and with the non-for-profit’s gallery getting thousands of visitors each season, it’ll be a great opportunity to be seen on display in what’s Brooklyn’s largest artist-run organization. Best of luck to all entrants – eager to report on who’s included when the winners are notified on/around March 17th….
d) Just added an item to the ACHOF site’s “Resources” section about an album cover art database that should be of interest to anyone wanting to find out more about the imagery used on the covers of their favorite record albums. I recently read an article on the Openculture.com site about a project that combines the talents of the crews at MusicBrainz.com and the Internet Archive who, together, have created something called the Cover Art Archive and, by the looks of things, it’s a significant storehouse of imagery and data of the album cover variety. Currently packing over 800,000 covers (with more being added daily), the Archive is also looking for contributions, so if you don’t see something in their database that you feel should be included, they’ve provided a way for you to add your content and share it with all of the site’s visitors.
There are a number of ways to search and filter the data, so if you find yourself with a LOT of freetime and want to go on a hunting expedition for, for example, “all variations of Elton John covers from 1973” (there are currently 8 in the database), you’ve got the tools to do just that… Read the article at http://www.openculture.com/2018/02/enter-the-cover-art-archive.html and then click on over to the database at https://archive.org/details/coverartarchive&tab=collection
I’m hoping to learn more about the people behind this project and their plans for the future and, if I’m successful in that effort, I’ll share what I find with you ASAP.
e) It might seem to be an unfair advantage to some when you have an uncle who is one of the most-respected comic book artists of his time and said uncle is more than happy to contribute his talents to produce the cover art for one of your record releases but, as you’ll see in this article about the Carmine Infantino-created cover for the 2003 release by nephew Jim Infantino’s band – indie rockers Jim’s Big Ego – titled They’re Everywhere – it was the perfect image for a package that contained the song “The Ballad of Barry Allen”, as Barry Allen is the name of one of Uncle Carmine’s most-famous creations, that being “The Flash”…
f) Following a series of events – including a drug bust and the band’s rather-casual approach to record-making – that left them without a manager, the Rolling Stones took on the production of their 1967 album titled Their Satanic Majesties Request and, in doing so, they felt compelled to do all they could to stay in the forefront of their fans’ (and the Press’) minds after the huge impact of their rivals’ Sgt. Pepper’s release. One step in that effort was to hire the same photographer – Michael Cooper – who’d helped The Beatles create the cover image of their psychedelic masterpiece and now, 50 years later, we find ourselves revisiting both cover images, each showcasing something unique and compelling – one being Peter Blake’s design and the other the use of 3-D “Lenticular” photography and printing…
Jay Jay French writing for GOLDMINE Magazine, author Jay Jay French takes us through the details of both entries in this trippy, mind-altering “face-off” between the two records’ music and imagery – http://www.goldminemag.com/articles/great-psychedelic-face-off-sgt-pepper-vs-satanic-majesties
g) While some of us with backgrounds in production understand – and often roll with – the music industry’s tendency to relegate production credits, including those for art and packaging, to near the bottom of the list of “important things to do” when releasing the details of a new record, it is nice to see that some in the new music world are willing to go the extra mile to make sure that fans get a chance to see the names of all of the people who’ve worked so hard to deliver their favorite music products to them. Here’s an article by Lily Puckett on The Fader web site about how the Spotify Music service has now begun to include more production credit info, including packaging credits – https://www.thefader.com/2018/02/02/spotify-producer-songwriter-credits
Now, if we could only get some of the award shows to include details beyond the name of Art Director when lauding a particular cover…who am I fooling?
h) Sports/news reporters can be just as obsessive as those focused on the music business in their love for all of the trappings surrounding their favorite subject, so it’s nice – but not surprising – to see this recent article by Alberta, Canada-based writer Cole Parkinson, writing for the Taber Times/Vauxhall Advance papers and web site, regarding his opinions on what constitutes the coolest overall packaging designs he found in a recent tour through his own record collection – http://www.vauxhalladvance.com/blog/2018/02/08/dusting-off-the-vinyl-record-collection/ And while the five records he includes are mostly from the late 1990s/early 2000s, it is impressive to see how he analyses these record packages with the same passion and attention to detail that I’m sure is central to his writing about local news and issues.
i) Staying in the Great White North for our final story this month, I’d like to turn your attention to the recent publicity surrounding the group of people who got together and delivered great buckets of love and compassion when a friend of theirs suffered what would be, for most of us, a truly life-altering experience. After an operation last Summer during which noted, Juno Award-winning Canadian album cover designer Michael Wrycraft – whose hundreds of album art credits include covers such as Bruce Cockburn’s Bone On Bone, Breakfast In New Orleans/Dinner In Timbuktu and Slice O Life; David Clayton-Thomas’s Canadiana; Watermelon Slim’s Ringers; Ron Hynes’ Stealing Genius; Burton Cummings’ Up Close And Alone and others for John Cage, Ron Sexsmith, Cara Dillon and The Hillbenders (TOMMY: A Bluegrass Opera) – lost his legs to a bone infection known as osteomyelitis, his friends and admirers in the local music community came together to organize and produce a special fund-raising event that raised both money and the spirits of everyone involved.
Held at Toronto’s Hugh’s Room night club recently, “The Art of Music – A Celebration and Fundraiser for Michael Wrycraft” was put together by a team that included music producer/musician George Koller, Canadian Folk Music Awards co-founder Judith Laskin and artist/guitar-maker Grit Laskin and fetured a night of musicianship and story-telling from a number of Michael’s well-wishers and supporters.
The people running the CityNews section on the MSN site covered the event, which you can watch via this link – https://www.msn.com/en-ca/money/video/toronto-art-community-holds-fundraiser-for-legendary-album-cover-artist/vp-BBJAPm9
Although he’s been dealing with the changes in his life such a dramatic operation has brought upon him (as evidenced by the effort it took him to just get around the Hugh’s Room venue!), Michael’s spirit remains quite high and he continues to work on new projects for clients in Canada and elsewhere, including working with the archivists at McMaster University’s Mills Library in Hamilton, Ontario who are creating a “Man Called Wrycraft” archive of Wrycraft’s prodigious output of fine art and design.
“I’m not shaking my fists at the world,” he tells The Globe and Mail. “None of this affects the best part of me – my humour, my optimism.”
You can learn more about Michael and his career as an album cover designer via his web site at http://www.wrycraft.com/wrycraftrecentwork.html
That’s all for now – stay tuned and be on the lookout for timely news alerts on our news feed – https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – 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 AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All Rights Reserved. All of trade names mentioned in these summaries are the properties of their respective owners and are used for reference only.