December 3, 2021
Sound and vision
Kicking off VF Magazine’s 2021 feature coverage of our favourite releases of the year, we begin by exploring artwork and packaging.
Over the past twelve months, the bounds of vinyl artwork continued to unfold in transfixing ways – with record sleeves, box sets, and picture discs that thrilled, mesmerised, and elated in equal measure.
With the power of cover artwork alone, artists’ utilised the medium of vinyl to portray the album’s inner life in full 12″x12″ glory: JASSSS’ eyes and mouth emerge witchlike from crimson moss; Lotic’s exultation is washed in blue; L’rain emerges from hazy, sepia waterfall.
Elsewhere, illustrators created their own worlds on their square cover canvas, transporting you to realms entirely of their own imagination – like Al White’s work for 12th Isle, and Bruxas’ aerobic introspection.
Some harnessed vinyl’s spinning substate to create dizzying art in motion, like Bambounou’s visual patterns which echo the looping electronics contained within.
And, as ever, artists explored the box set in all its glory, as best seen in Utter’s unfolding art box housing Lena Willikens & Sarah Szczesny’s Phantom Seance Ballett universe.
Showcasing the work of individuals and groups who let their visual panache shine in the format, these are our favourite vinyl artwork and packaging releases in 2021.
Photography: Matt Lambert | Design: Marwan Kaabour
A World Of Service
Artwork: Matt Lambert | Layout: Yusuf Etiman
Front cover photograph: Jason Omar Al-Taan | Design and layout: Bailey Elder
Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra
Artwork: Julie Mehretu
Changed for the Better
Artwork: Vasjen Katro
Artwork: Al White
Artwork: Stefan Glerum
Design: Dimitri Erhard
How much time it is between you and me?
Kofū II / 古風 II
Art Direction and Design: Ricks Ang
Design: Josh Abramovici | Illustration: Jes Sweat
Artwork: Alex McCullough
Lena Willikens & Sarah Szczesny
Phantom Seance Ballett
Artwork: Lena Willikens & Sarah Szczesny | Design: Till Sperrle
Neon Genesis: Soul Into Matter²
Photography: Kenstreet | Design: Jacob Wise
The Exaltics & Helena Hauff
Artwork: Godspill, Mehdi Rouchiche