Approximately 40,000 new tracks are uploaded daily, to Spotify alone which means that roughly 40,000 pieces of cover artwork are also uploaded daily. For the creatives, makers, artists, and photographers who supply this artwork, it’s brilliant, however when was the last time you heard who was actually involved with the creative production of an album or single? Yes, artists are often credited on the back or inside cover, and not all musicians ‘forget’ to give public thanks, but in my experience, I rarely see accreditation. Especially now most music is listened to via streaming platforms, it results in only a small percentage of listeners holding a physical copy and getting the chance to see the names of the other artists involved. I’ve also spent hours sifting through the endless copy and paste articles and reviews of albums, to find no mention of an album’s cover artwork or artist, other than the odd: “Oh, the album art is nice too”.
So where am I going with this?
Every month I will be doing a round-up of album drops, where I will discuss the album itself but mainly the artist(s) responsible for the artwork. I will attempt to keep the genres and styles of music covered as varied as possible, hopefully resulting in a wide range of art and design styles from creatives in different scenes and circles. And, of course, every artist featured will have a link to their work.
First up: Lana Del Ray is back with her sixth album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, produced by Jack Antonoff, known for his work with Taylor Swift, St Vincent and Lorde. In an interview with Zane Lowe, Lana covers the origin of the album name: “So the title track is called ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ and it’s kind of about this guy who is such a genius artist but he thinks he’s the shit and he knows it and he, like, won’t shut up talking about it. So often I ended up with these creative types or whatever, and you know, they just go on and on about themselves, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But there’s a little bit of merit to it also. They are so good. I just like the title track so much that I was like, ‘OK, I definitely want the record to also be called that.’”
The album cover was shot by Chuck Grant, better known online as ‘Your Girl Chuck’. Or, to die hard Del Ray fans, she may be known as Lana’s younger sister. Chuck and Lana grew up in Lake Placid, New York, where Chuck began taking pictures of Lana from a young age. As Lana’s music career began taking shape, Chuck was there shooting Lana from day one, essentially becoming her personal photographer. As she has been taking photos of Lana since her youth, Chuck has amassed a large collection of portraits, album covers and promotional shots of her sister, which can be found on her site at www.yourgirlchuck.com or on the Lana Del Ray Wiki. Here are some of my personal favourites:
April 2nd, 2010
Location: Chuck's apartment, New York City
Shot for: Tropico
Location: Los Angeles
Shot for: Music To Watch Boys To
Bon Ivor released their fourth album, i,i, on August 30th. The thirteen new songs on i,i complete a cycle: from the winter of For Emma, Forever Agocame the frenetic spring of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, and the unhinged summer of 22, A Million. Now, autumn arrives early with i,i.
i,i’s album artwork was created by Eric Timothy Carlson using photography from Graham Tolbert. Carlson has been working with Bon Iver creator Justin Vernon, on and off, for a number of years. This cover is rather different from his previous work, for Bon Iver’s – 22, A Million, the 2016 album cover was made up from dozens of iconography/symbolic sketches that Carlson conjured up whilst spending time at the studio with Justin. This time round Carlson went for a mixed-media collage piece, using a photo from Graham Tolbert. This collage style wasn’t new to Carlson, as he has been developing this aesthetic for a while, as shown through some of his previous work (pictured below).
Friendly Fires are back with their first album in eight years, their third LP is titled ‘Inflorescent’. Producers of the album include, Disclosure, James Ford and Mark Ralph, recorded over 18 months across numerous London studios.
The piece for the album cover was created by Ali Rigby, a Leeds/London based designer. With art direction from Go De Jong, a creative direction and design studio based in New York and photography by Kalpesh Lathigra. Ali Rigby’s work often touches themes such as vaporwave, acid graphics, and internet art. Here’s some of Ali’s previous work: