The Best Art Vinyl Award for the most beautiful and creative album cover has been awarded for 2023 – marking the 18th consecutive year. The album cover for PJ Harvey’s “I Inside The Old Year Dying,” designed by Michelle Henning was honored with the award for 2023. This album not only managed to impress a significant number of critics musically, but also secured a place in numerous year-end best-of lists.
The cover features a leafless branch casting a shadow on a white background, likely representing a white sandy beach. It may seem unremarkable, but “simplicity” and “contemplation” are the two attributes that characterized this year’s winning designs, according to Andrew Heeps, the founder of Best Art Vinyl. Despite the simplicity of the motif, Michelle Henning took months to finalize the design – from initial experiments with composition and various photographs to waiting for perfect weather conditions.
Claiming the second spot was the artwork for the acclaimed debut album “Angels & Queens” by soul trio Gabriels, which I personally like way more than the winning design. It features an impressive black-and-white photograph of singer Jacob Lusk’s face, surrounded by hands with long fingernails, reminiscent of a baptism.
Mat Maitland secured the third place with the album cover for ‘Evolve,’ the fourth album by Sub Focus. Based on an illustration of a Nudibranch sea mollusc, a lens-shaped LP format is created, appearing to animate and evolve as the viewer moves it in their hands.
In total, 50 designs were shortlisted, selected by a panel of artists, designers, and representatives from the music industry. Artificial intelligence also played an increasingly significant role in this field, influencing the design of some album covers. Examples include Lil Yachty’s ‘Let’s Start Here’ and the latest album by Geese, where Dall-E, a software created by OpenAI that generates images from text descriptions using machine learning, was applied.
If you find yourself in London until January 28th, you can view the three winning designs along with the list of 50 nominations in an art installation at The Hari.