Tuesday, 11 January 2011
One of the best presents I have ever been bought are 'Art Vinyl' frames for album sleeves. They were bought for me by my wife Claire approximately four or five years ago.
They currently reside just outside my studio door on the landing directly opposite our bathroom door. I probably look at these more than any other picture we have on the walls in our house. These frames tie together the two biggest obsessions of my life: music and graphic design. In fact, like many graphic designers, if it wasn't for record sleeves, I may not have ever got into graphic design in the first place.
When I still had my vinyl collection in our front room, Claire used to despair with the regularity I would change the sleeves in the frames. She would also curse the day she bought them because of the lengths I would go to to decide which albums to display. I'd pull sleeves out considering whether I picked a designer theme, a music theme, an image theme, a typographic theme or a tonal theme? That's the trouble with having three of something, they've either got to work together in some way, or be completely different from each other. There is also the dilemma of whether to display albums with great artwork but where the actual music may be somewhat suspect.
Now that we've relocated all my vinyl to the loft, I now change the artwork less regularly, but am known to disappear on a whim to hunt through the 1000+ records nesting amongst dusty sheep wool insulation. And sometimes I'm never happy with my first choice, often getting out the loft ladder two hours after a change in order to select a suitable companion for two sleeves after I've visually rejected the third.
Themes have included over the years; records with the track listing appearing on the front; an Iggy theme; an Iggy, Bowie, Lou Reed theme; a Barney Bubbles theme; a Peter Saville theme; a spelling mistake theme; a dub theme; a 2 Tone theme; a Wire theme; a Big Black theme; an abstract theme—I could continue, but I won't.
What can be really frustrating is when I find two sleeves that go together really well, but the third that would complete the triptych is not in my collection. I have been known to buy vinyl from Ebay, even though I don't have a record player any more, just so it could appear in these frames. I also haunt charity shop vinyl for the rare moment I might come across a rare Barney Bubbles or find the vinyl of More Specials I've been lusting after for years. I recently bought the 12" of Wire's 154 for £10, despite having it already on CD.
So, dear reader, I've decided I'm going to share with you my choices, as and when they happen. And first up is this little threesome I've selected for January. Chosen for their tonal similarities, typographic treatments and the fact they are all great albums.
Left to right they are:
Surfer Rosa by the Pixies. Design by Vaughan Oliver at 23 Envelope.
The Correct Use of Soap by Magazine. Design by Malcolm Garrett.
Bring The Couchie by Niney the Observer and Friends. Design by Intro, London.
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You forgot to mention the time I launched a guerilla attack and substituted your choice for three stylish Marillion sleeves - rock on!
A sin against design and music in one fell swoop.
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