Album Covers of the Year 2014 Interviews

Mixed Media & Collage Album Covers

Absolutely Free. – Absolutely Free. (Lefse Records)

Artwork by Absolutely Free.

Applescal – Mirage EP (Atomnation)

Artwork by Hessel Stuut
Sounds by Applescal

“The briefing was to make something that was kind of a revelation, like returning to some sort of core/soul and realising that is somehow a bit darker then expected. I took [Pascal Terstappen’s] words loosely and tried to make something darkish and kind of sacred. The whole idea was based on a series of drawings I made for the singles released before the Mirage EP. All drawings are impressions of each track, based on the title and the darkish/spiritual vibe from the samples Pascal used on the EP. The final cover is a collage of all drawings, almost like an island appearing as a mirage.

All drawings for the singles were placed on the background pattern, black horizon and a circle — a halo that is always in the background, almost like some sort of surrounding consciousness in which the different landscapes appear. The use of black and white is something I do often, and in this case suited the initial idea Pascal had. I also really like the aesthetic quality of pen drawings accompanied by a minimal amount of colour in typography or other elements. As we both fancy old scientific drawings, I found some inspiration in those, as well as in some Japanese pen drawings.” – Hessel Stuut, Artist

Fun Fact: “After making all drawings, I got a mild form of carpal tunnel syndrome, actually not really a fun fact. But I really enjoyed Pascal’s story on how he tried getting over his carpel tunnel syndrome by making a mouse by attaching his mouse with tape and wire to his feet and managed to get the RSI in his feet. Haha.” – Hessel Stuut, Artist

The Cosmic Dead – EasterFaust (Sound of Cobra)

Artwork by Bryan Olson
Additional Artwork by Henri Claudel
Sounds by The Cosmic Dead

Lewis Cook (The Cosmic Dead):
The artwork for EasterFaust was created independently of the music by an American artist, Bryan Olson. It’s unknown to us exactly what inspired or guided the original creation of the image but we’re happy for that to remain a mystery.

Julian from the band, who is also an artist, brought Bryan’s work to our attention when we were working on mixing EasterFaust and considering artwork. I think they had been in touch previously, sharing appreciation. When we saw the image which we used for the artwork, we all agreed it would work perfectly. Interestingly, I don’t get the impression that Bryan had any intention of his work being used this way until we contacted him about it…

Initially, it seemed the choice was purely aesthetic in that the imagery tickled our minds in the right way enough to work well with the music, but on reflection, there seems to be a resonance which transcends that initial reaction. In the image, the micro meets the macro where the obvious sense of perspective is confused — something we try to achieve in our music as well. Similarly, the collage technique resonates with our methods of practice on the sonic realm. Where found sounds and segments are included in the production.

Deaf Wish – St. Vincent’s (Sub Pop Records)

Artwork by Tony Garifilakis
Design by Carl Breitkreuz
Sounds by Deaf Wish

“I asked [Tony Garifilakis] if we could use a work from his most recent series at Art Gallery of NSW, but instead, he invited me to his studio to see newer works, and I picked one out… With Deaf Wish, the artwork is usually appropriated rather than made specifically for the release.”
– Jensen Tjhung, Guitarist and Vocalist of Deaf Wish

Dear Criminals – Crave EP (Self-Released)

Artwork by Erin Case
Sounds by Dear Criminals

Dear Criminals
“We were fans of Erin Case’s work we had discovered randomly through a blog last year. From the technique and her style to the textures and colors, we felt like her work could easily represent our sound and the mood we try to set. We asked Erin if we could use this particular image for our EP Crave, not only because it felt close to the themes found in our songs, but also for its provocative/subjective yet soft feel.”
Erin Case (Artist): Over a few emails, we pinpointed the feeling they were going for and finally decided on using “TVP”, which was a pre-existing piece… I can’t say what the symbolism of the work is to Dear Criminals, but I think that the symbolism of the piece works really well with the haunting, vulnerable female vocals and the introspective vibe of the album.
Fun Fact: “Our first, EPWeapons, was designed by Charles’ (the singer) 8-year-old son. Our second EP, Crave by Erin Case, has an image of a woman masturbating. This extreme makes it always kind of awkward at the merch table.” – Dear Criminals

Devon Williams – Gilding The Lily (Slumberland Records)

Artwork by Joel Galvin of Ventral Is Golden
Sounds by Devon Williams

“The name of the album, Gilding the Lily was the basis of the visual idea: to resist the temptation of visual tautology and unnecessarily making an ornament of the thing being communicated.”
– Joel Galvin, Artist
Devon Williams:
I had seen collage work by Ventral is Golden, and I got in touch. I told him Gilding the Lily was the name of the album and wanted to follow the theme of perfecting beyond necessity. But I really left it up to him. His first pass of the cover is what became the final cover. For me, it was an exercise of trust. I loved his artwork, so I had to take a step back. We agreed that whatever the cover was it had to have purpose. Something strictly aesthetic to me is 100% useless.
Joel Galvin (Artist):
I felt there was an interesting relationship between how we use language in terms of analogy to make sense of the world, words as stepping stones towards human possibility or feeling, and the images we strive to create. For me, it is the disconnect that occurs in between language and meaning where ideas can become most lucid – when attention is not focused on making your way from one side of the stream to the other, but instead on the flow of the stream itself.When we look to communicate, we look towards the conclusion as opposed to enjoying the act. I’m not sure if this comes across in the imagery, but if not, that’s okay too.

Devon gave me a lot of freedom with this piece in terms of visually interpreting the music. However, there was a concept within the music that Devon expressed before the design process began, which helped to gently guide the artistic direction. It was a well-balanced, reciprocal process.

Doprah – Doprah (Arch Hill Recordings)

Artwork by Ryan Achten
Sounds by Doprah

Ryan has been a long-time friend of the band, and there is a lot of mutual creative appreciation between us. It seemed like an organic pairing, and we’re really stoked with how the final product turned out. There was really no collaboration between us and Ryan on the cover. As fans of his art, it made sense for him to have free creative reign.

Ryan Achten (Artist):
This project was done quite a while ago so I’m pretty vague on the whole process. The conceptual aspect to the project probably began when listening to an early version of Doprah’s upcoming album at the end of last year. The overall theme is intended to reflect the way I interpreted Doprah’s music. I got a pretty psychedelic impression when listening to these guys so I guess that’s how I approached the artwork.

The imagery in Doprah’s artwork was largely derived from lyrical cues within Doprah’s music. I remember the children for the subject matter was a decision made while listening to the track “San Pedro” – particularly the opening line, “Mother turn off the light…” The woodcut, “Dreams” by M.C. Escher (right), also helped sculpt the composition.

Fun Fact: “Turning the image upside down reveals a totally different perspective.” – Doprah

DoublePlusGood – You Can Master Life (SoHiTek Records)

Artwork by Andy Carlson
Sounds by DoublePlusGood

“There is definitely a lot of symbolism in the artwork. I sampled an image from a 17th century anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus, of a skeleton standing in a classic contrapposto pose. To me, this represents the irony of perfecting one’s stance in life only to die. His face is covered so he could represent any one of us. I also used a lot of triangles and circles in the design because they often are synonymous with perfection in design.” – Andy Carlson, Artist
Erik Carlson (DoublePlusGood):
When talking with Andy Carlson, I kept talking about the tone of the record being somewhat sarcastic. We had the idea of collage, and we had some sorta sci-fi inspired pictures. The name of the record comes from an old self help book, and the title sounds so flippant and nonchalant (“You Can Master Life”), we wanted and image that inspired some humor.I think we were sold on the skeleton from the get-go. The artwork was presented to us nearly finished, and we were thrilled with it right away. I think just the juxtaposition of a title like You Can Master Life with this skeleton in this sorta pensive pose hit the right chord… The skeleton seemed to be something that resonated with a lot of people. Our friend Amy Kuttab animated a video for the song “Words Fall Asleep” where skeletons also make an appearance. Cool coincidence.

Andy Carlson (Artist):
Erik Carlson put together an art board of visuals he liked, and I drew from them. Specifically, the color palette, historic feel, and photo collage-based compositions. The music also has vibes from the ’80s so I wanted to incorporate that. From there, I just went on my way and didn’t present the work to the band until I felt like it was “done”.

Gentle Friendly – KAUA’I O’O A’A (Fat Cat Records)

Artwork by Lloyd Bowen
Sounds by Gentle Friendly

“Lloyd Bowen made the artwork for the record; we are long-time fans of his art so he was the first person we thought of. We had a few ideas for what we wanted but he came up with something 1000 times better, so we will hand over to him!”
– David Maurice and Richard Manber, Gentle Friendly

Lloyd Bowen (Artist):
I’ve known David Maurice from GF my whole life and I’d made a couple of videos for songs from their last few records. DM had an idea for the cover based on something he’d seen in a short film, a stack of amps in the middle of a forest, and he’d thought it could look good put together as a collage. I had a go at making that and it looked pretty bad. I had a few other ideas but they didn’t turn out very well. We went on holiday to a cottage in the countryside where the first GF album was recorded and some of the things I was talking about there with David and my girlfriend tied in with things I was getting from listening to their new album. I thought of some pictures I had hoarded away in the stuff I use for making collages and how they could represent what we’d been talking about. Also, the man in blue underwear looks like how I image Rich from GF looks in his pants, so that seemed like a fitting image to use.

The cassettes not only seemed like a nice way to present the idea, they’re also a tribute to the way David’s recorded most of his music since he was about 13, and the two sides to a tape fitted with this idea of there being two sides you need to find a balance between that we’d been discussing. I made a vine for each track on the album, based on a one-or-two second loop DM sent me for each song and we put those up online in the run-up to the album getting released. I thought they’d loop more seamlessly than they actually do so the idea didn’t really work, but it gave me a chance to build on the concept behind the artwork and to find ways of using stuff that didn’t seem right for the cover.

I keep going on about this concept without actually saying what it is, but that’s because I’d prefer for anyone who gets the album or watches the vines to be able to put their own spin on what they see. For example, after watching one of the vines, my brother asked me ‘Do you have sexual problems?’ Of course I do, but these manifest themselves outside of the stuff I make. I sent the tapes off with an explanation of how I thought the record should be laid out, so it kind of has two ‘front’ covers rather than a front and a back, and Dave Thomas at Fat Cat Records sorted out the layout, hand-printed the text and photographed it. I should also say thanks to Andy, from the band Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, who helped me out with photography stuff when I had to send some examples of how I thought it should look to the band. Good work everybody!

Hundred Visions – Spite (Pau Wau Records)

Artwork by Jaime Zuverza
Sounds by Hundred Visions

Ben Maddox (Hundred Visions):
Our current record SPITE needed a cover, and I knew Jaime Zuverza was the best man for the job. I had always been a huge fan of the show flyers he’d made for our shows and others and I thought his aesthetic would be the perfect match for the overall theme of the record — kinda dark and funny at the same time. He came up with this design based on a flyer he made for one of our shows.

It’s kind of hard to get deep about a picture of a bloody eyeball but it’s also hard not to get deep about it. The initial idea for the cover came from the expression “cutting off the nose to spite the face”, which is used to describe an act of revenge that ends up hurting you more than the object of your displeasure. The first draft showed the disengaged eye as a cherry on top of a scoop of chocolate ice cream which was presented as a spiteful gift to the offender, but we thought it would be more interesting if we took the scoop out. This left the image more open to interpretation. Did the vindictive person get proper revenge or did they succumb to self-destruction? Who did the eye belong to? Who or what is this resentment directed toward? Maybe it didn’t have to be a person, maybe it could be directed at a god figure or power structure.

An all-seeing eye that has been gouged out and deposed can be a comforting thought to some people since life under the scrutiny of a watcher generally sucks. But even non-operational eyes can exert their influence just like a fake surveillance camera can curb misconduct, like an eyespot on an animal can fool a predator, or like an illusory enemy can be used by a government to create fear. The all-seeing eye can be seen as one of totalitarian oneness, so it’s nice to think that one day it will experience a hundred visions, a hundred epiphanies, and a hundred regrets and leap from the top of the pyramid down 13 stories to its death splat. But this might be wishful thinking because balls are notoriously good at bouncing. If you’ve ever seen pictures of someone’s head squashed under the wheel of a bus or an unrecognizable mound of flesh you’ll know that the eye has the remarkable ability to retain its semblance. Maybe its weasely nature can be owed to its slippery shape and its constant state of lubrication. Maybe it’s best to be in a constant state of lubrication.
– Jaime Zuverza, Artist

The Intelligence – Boredom and Terror Reissue (In The Red Recordings)

Artwork by Erin Sullivan
Photography & Writing by Laura Sullivan Cassidy
Layout by Jun Ohnuki
Sounds by The Intelligence

Lars Finberg (The Intelligence):
“When the original CD came out ten years ago the computer was just barely invented, so the art was crudely scanned by Luddites. With the reissuem Jun Ohnuki photographed the original artwork (as well as extra pieces that couldn’t fit in the original budget CD) so glue/shadows/bends/acne really shine. Our photo historian, Laura Sullivan Cassidy, made a collage from the band members and times from that era, kind of a high school yearbook for dropouts.”
Erin Sullivan (Artist):
I just followed Lars lead on the theme: suburbs, graveyards and government weirdos, boredom and terror. I was living in New York that summer and walked past Ground Zero every day; it was just a big hole at that point. Typographically speaking, I only like generic Helvetica; a poor workman blames his font.I spent that summer collaging in my apartment in New York. We picked up books and magazines we thought were cool; something about these pictures worked for me, and I did a bunch of different images. I always like black and white the best, and… the theme and crude style just seemed to fit with the record perfectly.

Fun Facts: “The E running out of room at the end of intelligence was kinda on purpose, I thought that was hilarious but it’s probably not that funny I guess.” – Erin Sullivan, Artist

Mansions – Doom Loop (Clifton Motel Records)

Artwork by Jesse Treece

Nick Hakim – Where Will We Go, Pt. 1 & 2 (Earseed Records)

Artwork by Nick Scott
Photography & Creative Direction by Terence Nance
Sounds by Nick Hakim

“It might be different for Nick than it was for me, but I wanted to do something that alluded to Nick’s real life and his personality. So at some point, he showed me these figurines that he keeps around when he makes music. Somehow, that prompted me to think about creating a world or a world that was created for these spirits, gods, muses, etc. The world creation impulse is what predicated the idea to make a diorama of these spirits on a kind of journey through a desolate, cold, land which is kind of what listening to the album feels like to me… We spent basically a whole day making and photographing that diorama and then threw it away at the end of the day, which was kind of painful.”
– Terence Nance, Photographer
Nick Hakim:
Nick Scott came into the whole picture after Terence Nance and I, who live up the street from one another, created this world for these little figurines that I’ve collected and keep around when I make stuff… It was a collaborative exchange of ideas between everyone involved and everyone had an opportunity to bring their own touch.
Nick Scott (Artist):
Nick Hakim came to me with photographs that he and Terrence had constructed, and I decided to mimic the feel of the music by looping and distorting and submerging this diorama inside itself and within a galaxy.


Noah Wall – Print The Legend (Driftless Recordings)

Artwork & Sounds by Noah Wall

“The collage is made of 3D printing models taken from a primarily open source library. I wanted to use enough models that the individual pieces started to lose their identity, sort of a Wild West depiction of the 3D printing landscape. Also many types. Toys, tools, weapons, organs, plants, naked people, animals, lawn gnomes. Utilities and recreations. I got my head 3D scanned, so that’s in there too. I think the whole thing is beautiful and much like a giant pile of garbage painted blue too. The music is rather varied genre and instrumentation-wise, so I think it fits.” – Noah Wall

Fun Fact: “I also made an animated series of album teasers with models and “characters” from the cover art; 16 seconds each for Instagram. There are 11 of them and they are all here:; they are pretty silly!” – Noah Wall

Peaking Lights – Cosmic Logic (Weird World)

Artwork by Rob Carmichael of SEEN Studio
Sounds by Peaking Lights

“The idea was to capture a sense of flow, a continuousness. And to try and portray a landscape where the music would have its home.” – Rob Carmichael, Artist

Rob Carmichael (Artist):
We’ve known each other for a while — mostly through social stuff, playdates with the kids, etc., so working together felt pretty natural. We collaborated very closely; they have very strong ideas about the visual direction of their albums, so there was a lot of sitting in the same room and hashing it out, sketching ideas out on paper in real time.
I think it’s pretty fair to say that the artwork is pretty much 100% made up of stuff that has symbolic importance, in one way or another.

Most folks who buy the digital miss out on the back cover and inner gatefold image, which both resolve the complexity of the front cover and add another (inter-) dimensionality to the world we created.

She Keeps Bees – Eight Houses (Future Gods Records)

Artwork by Romain Bardot
Sounds by She Keeps Bees

“A lot of my work is based on vintage pictures that I could find in my family or friends attics. More than their vintage aesthetic, I’m interested in their story and sincerity. The fact [that they] were not taken by a “photographer” or thought to be artistic, people in these pictures are not models playing a role. When Andy and Jess showed me these series of pictures, I could directly connect it to their music. It’s pure, honest and nostalgic. The title of the album is a reference to the Zodiac’s 8th house, which for me symbolizes passion, a driving force that can also be very destructive. The little girl on the cover symbolized this duality; it’s as if she will enter the adult world as soon as the bubble explodes, asking herself what kind of women she will be, which road she will choose.” – Romain Barbot, Artist

Jessica Larrabee (She Keeps Bees):
Andy and I found all the pictures in an old family photo album at a thrift store in Wisconsin. We fell in love with the girl with the bubblegum; you see her grow up through the photos. We love the idea of taking something old and forgotten and giving it new life. The back of the picture on the cover says “June, 1943”.

I’ve always loved collage. It’s how I made the art for all our previous albums, so Romain used my older work as a template. I told him elements of album involved inner power and how you direct it. I’ve been studying constellations and birth charts in astrology as well. He has such an eye for detail and beauty… We met in 2009 when he helped put a show together for us in Toulouse. We had the most magical time. We have been friends ever since.

Small Reactions – Similar Phantoms (Bear Kids Recordings)

Artwork by Guy Maddin
Sounds by Small Reactions

“We wanted artwork to represent the atmosphere of the record. For that, we knew we were going to have to lean towards something a little ethereal and a little spooky. And unique! Collage has a stylized look that goes hand in hand with fuzzed out guitar and organ. Guy Maddin, who is a Canadian silent filmmaker and artist, was incredibly helpful in letting us use whatever we wanted to. We had free reign. Local Atlanta French pop/Spaghetti Western musician Jeffrey Bützer introduced us to Guy and his work.” – Small Reactions

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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[…] spin. That dynamic is well supported by the album’s cover art, a collage Noah recently told Redefine […]


[…] an album cover he designed for the Philadelphia based band Cassavetes was as picked as part of Redefine Mags“best album covers of 2014”.  I thought it was aesthetically pleasing and not much else until I […]

8 years ago

Hey guys, l made that Mansions album art. Thanks for the inclusion! Can you add my name? – Jesse Treece

8 years ago
Reply to  jesseLT

yes’m! if you have any website or insight to include, feel free to e-mail!

8 years ago

Cover photo for “To The Top” by Twin Shadow is incredible, I believe Milan Zrnic is the photographer

8 years ago
Reply to  Qualifying

Indeed!!! An accidental one we forgot to include. Will make a note. Thank you!!

Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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