Last November, Grimes released one of the biggest albums of 2015 in ‘Art Angels’, for which she also designed the cover. It’s not the first time artists have dropped the instruments and picked up a paintbrush to design their own record sleeves. We’ve compiled some of the best and worst.
Grimes – Art Angels
The Canadian producer has a history of designing her own album artwork and gig fliers, but she's also designed comic book covers. Grimes has also put on exhibitions of her own work and previously in a television interview said: “I’ve always been a visual artist”.
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
Guitarist John Squire designed the cover of his band's debut album, taking inspiration from Jackson Pollock. The piece was influenced by the 1968 Paris Riots, says Squire: "Ian [Brown] had met this French man when he was hitching around Europe, this bloke had been in the riots, and he told Ian how lemons had been used as an antidote to tear gas.”
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Wayne Coyne brought this 2002 album's themes to life with his literal rendering of the album title. Ten years later in 2012, the imaginative album artwork instigated a musical adaptation of the concept-album, while Coyne turned his hand to comics with The Sun Is Sick in 2013.
John Lennon – Mind Games
The former art student handcrafted the sleeve for his fourth LP, which arrived at an uncertain time for Lennon: his US visa was being scrutinised and he was separated from Yoko Ono. Clearly influenced by the complicated times, Lennon hand cut the photos, symbolically placing himself facing away from Ono, who appears as a mountain in the background.
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
The singer-songwriter had begun her foray into music while she was studying at art school in Hobart, Australia. After picking up a gong for Best Cover Art at the Aria Awards in 2015. Barnett noted that she was shocked to win an award for artwork that she “drew with a felt-tip pen on a piece of printer paper”
Bob Dylan – Self Portrait
Itching to lose the ‘voice of a generation’ tag attributed to him in the '60s, Bob Dylan served up this half-arsed album and artwork. Critics considered ‘Self Portrait’ lazy and uninspired, both musically and artistically. Rolling Stone reviewer Greil Marcus begun his scathing review with the line; “What is this shit?”.
Graham Coxon – Love Travels at Illegal Speeds
The Blur guitarist provided the drawing for Blur’s album ‘13’, but his solo career has allowed Coxon to design all of his record sleeves. Coxon studied fine art at Goldsmiths College, where he met future Blur band mates. The cover for 2006 album ‘Love Travels At Illegal Speeds’ is his most creative and colourful to date.
Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
Fiona Apple’s fourth album proved to be her most successful so far. Apple hand-drew the complex and chaotic artwork herself, which reflects the intricate jazz sound on the album.
Gorillaz – Demon Days
Artist Jamie Hewlett has provided the eye-popping drawings for virtual pop-stars Gorillaz since their formation, and his visual role in the band is an equal to Damon Albarn's musical contribution. The artwork for ‘Demon Days’ nods to ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles, but Hewlett stamps his trademark cartoon twist onto the cover art.
Marilyn Manson – Lest We Forget
The shock-rocker designed the typically terrifying self-portrait on this compilation album. Manson had suggested prior to the album’s release that he wished to move into other non-musical ventures, with art being one of them. He never did quite leave the scene but the nightmare-inducing image confirmed his talents.
Muse – Muse
Before evolving into a stadium-conquering monster, the Teignmouth trio released their debut EP ‘Muse’ in 1998. Their debut release was a relatively humble affair, with drummer Dom Howard providing the EP’s artwork. Howard created this unnerving piece of art by photocopying his own face and later added colour to the collage.
Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song
Singer Hannah Hooper stated that a “lil weed” helped her develop the artwork for Grouplove’s debut. Hooper provides the artwork for all of Grouplove’s releases and told Nylon Mag “I don't even really understand exactly where my work comes from. I just know when it’s honest.”