Art Vinyl Announces The Winners Of The Best Record Cover Artwork Of 2021

Art Vinyl revealed the winners of the Best Art Vinyl 2021 Award, the annual art prize for the best record cover design of the year.

The public vote awarded first place to Brighton Artist Paul Phillips for his work on Villagers’ fifth studio album cover for Fever Dreams. Phillips receives the coveted designers’ prize at a presentation event this evening, held at the Hari in Belgravia London.

The work was chosen from a diverse and striking shortlist of 50 nominations of the very best in vinyl record cover art from 2021, chosen by a panel of illustrious artists, designers, and music industry experts. All 50 nominations form an incredible art installation in the window of the Hari, London from 27 Jan -17 Feb.

The winning Fever Dreams cover by Paul Phillips at True Spilt Milk Designs, sees a figure floating in a swimming pool, a Doe sleeping peacefully beside the pool, star light and dreams bouncing off the water, whilst seemingly growing from the surrounding trees, a giant sleeping bear hovers over the scene. Playing with the idea of scale, the image conveys Villagers’ singer/songwriter Conor O’Brien’s creative ideas of serenity juxtaposed with a feeling of threat and the Ursa Major constellation connection from the record. The artwork continues with a unique design concept of three more die-cut interchangeable sleeves by the artist, using images of a ‘fever dream’ of an Elk, Eagle and Snake that are also represented by constellations.

The artwork pipped Pop Legends, Duran Duran’s cover for their 15th studio album, Future Past, which in second place blends and brightens a pair of originally black and white images by Japanese photographer Daisuke Yokota. Using the ethos reflected on by keyboardist Nick Rhodes, “We obviously have quite a substantial past now, but we only ever look to the future.”

In third place was photographer Jason Joyce for his stunning and entirely un-touched final capture of the Singing Ringing Tree sculpture in Burnley for the English hard rock band Thunder’s thirteenth studio album All The Right Noises. The final picture used on the album cover was a result of a 24 hour, freezing cold shoot in different lights. The dawn shot is the one that made the final cover shot and takes its place in the Best Art Vinyl archives of winning sleeve art.

First place artist, Paul Philips explains the concepts behind his work, “I had the idea through my love of playing with scale, I like themes of beguilement and being overwhelmed as I’ve struggled over the years with my own mental health and the subjects of anxiety and being overwhelmed are prevalent in my work. I felt a giant sleeping bear was perfect for this concept, I added the man and the doe to hammer home the scale of the Bear and then the yellow dots are the dreams themselves. I liked the idea of all three being asleep as if the image is a dream itself..I liked the playful nature of this idea and felt it was a complete piece of work as it connects with the themes on the album in many ways.”

This is the 17th winner of the Best Art Vinyl Award, the unique contemporary art prize that celebrates record cover design by compiling the best in art, photography and graphic design in modern music culture.

Best Art Vinyl 2021 winners join an impressive Art Vinyl archive of celebrated visual artists. Notably including the Hipgnosis design studio, legendary classical Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel, as well as the many unknown, unsung heroes of the music industry, who use design to create modern-day visual icons. Full Archives Here.

Best Art Vinyl founder, Andrew Heeps comments, “We’re seeing vinyl records and vinyl culture keep on evolving to deliver an all-round artistic statement with Art and Music. This year’s winning sleeve art is built around a self-contained frame border, that allows the owner to swap and enjoy all four versions of the sleeve with each artwork produced in the same style and ongoing theme. The originality of offering the LP owner both quality and quantity of art in one tidy package, just demonstrates how the humble vinyl record holds few barriers as to where this everlasting music format can take the artists’ creativity with both music and visual artists working in a shared passion for their art.”

The Nominees and Winners of the Best Art Vinyl Award feature in numerous exhibitions in the UK and across Europe, and can be viewed on All of the designs will be displayed in the unique Art Vinyl Flip Frame which allows instant access to the music and additional inner sleeve designs.

The 50 nominated Best Art Vinyl 2021 records with designer credits can be viewed at

A full list of winners from each year is also available on

Last Updated on January 31, 2022 by retrofuturista

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