Art Vinyl, the east London-based maker of display frames for vinyl record sleeves, has just issued its annual list of the best album artwork of the past year. Leading the pack for 2011 is Bright Eyes’ The People’s Key (below), featuring a sleeve designed by Zack Nipper at the band’s longtime label Saddle Creek

It was Conor Oberst, the band’s singer and songwriter, who came up with the idea for the cover image – “a wall of fire”, Zack says. Appropriately, the artwork for the deluxe vinyl and CD releases was printed on iridescent foil.

Zack executed the design using cut paper, which also happens to be the technique he used for his very first Bright Eyes project, 1999’s Every Day and Every Night EP. “I thought it would be fitting to return to the original style of artwork I did for Bright Eyes, since at that time the word was that [The People’s Key] would be their final album.

“Packaging should be designed for vinyl first, then CD, and MP3 last, because that’s the order in which it matters,” Zack adds. “Listening to an LP while viewing jacket artwork is the ideal way to experience an album.”

The number two slot went to Cults’ eponymous debut (above), with third place awared to Bon Iver’s self-titled album (below) – featuring a painting by illustrator Gregory Euclide.

Other notable artworks in the top 10 include Guy Pouppez’s work on the cover of The Strokes’ Angles and Winston Chmielinkski's cover for The Pains of Being Pure of Heart’s Belong. Here's the full list from 4-10.


Washed Out - Within and Without


Kasabian - Velociraptor!


The Strokes - Angles


Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues


Cut/Copy - Zonoscope


Coldplay - Myloxyloto


The Pains of Being Pure of Heart - Belong