Music is the Message: Vinyl Cover Art

With SXSW around the corner, everyone is talking about the “Vinyl Revival”.  Vinyl sales have steady been on the rise for the last 10 years, accounting for 24% of all music revenue and moving over 12 million units in 2015.  For many of us this isn’t a trend, it’s always been there as part of our lives. Vinyl has withstood the test of time, and with that the art of the vinyl cover, too. In fact, we can even say that vinyl art is the message to a certain degree.

From gatefolds to Japanese 45 picture sleeves, vinyl cover art stood on its own. Unlike CDs, tapes and digital downloads, the vinyl cover is something to be cherished, placed on display, even framed and hung; not merely tossed into a bin in your garage or storage unit.  Vinyl cover art leaves an impression on you.  After hours of digging in dusty record stores or flea market crates, you come across that one album, you know it has some gems on it but even more importantly, visually it hits you like ton of bricks.  Suddenly it’s all worth it.

Vinyl cover art tells a story, not just about the music, but also about the era in which it was conceived.  It speaks of culture, fashion, the socio-political climate, and emotions of the time.  From the sensual, sexy covers of the Ohio Players to the colorful psychedelics of Eddie Hazel and Jimi Hendrix to the politically driven covers of Fela Kuti, each piece gives a glimpse into what was happening in the world. 

Our Creative Director had the pleasure of curating an in depth visual exploration of vinyl cover art through the ages.  Above are several excerpts from that exhibition.  The curation is based on themes and that becomes obvious as you delve in to the images.