With each passing year, vinyl records have been gaining more and more audiences. Musicians have added more and more vinyl versions every music release which hints at the state of the vinyl record market.
With an increase in vinyl record supply, artists have begun doing more creative stuff for their own.
They customized their vinyl records more and even did some upgrades with their packaging to attract more people to buy them.
Want to get inspiration for your vinyl release?
Here is a list of 20 of the coolest vinyl records that were nominated in the Grammy’s for best record packaging.
Table of Contents
#1. UNDEROATH – VOYEURIST
Underoath’s Voyeurist was released on the 22nd of January last year and it’s been nominated for this year’s Grammys.
The packaging’s actually super dope, and we have Joel Cook, Brandon Rike, and Nate Utesch to thank for it.
The vinyl record has an animated deluxe edition that includes a plastic o-card sleeve. It’s the magical sleeve that activates the playback of the interlaced video imagery printed on the jacket.
As you move the jacket inside the special sleeve, you get to watch parts of the album art play in real time.
#2. SOPORUS – DIVERS
Another nominated album is a creation by William Stitcher, the Divers by the musical duo Soporus. The standard black vinyl record is packaged into a sliding printed outer sleeve.
When it’s pulled out, it reveals different parts of the artwork underneath. Letters from the words “DIVERS” and “SOPORUS” are pressed vertically on the outer sleeve and the inner artworks.
So, when the inner artworks are pulled halfway out, the two words will be completed.
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#3. MATT BERNINGER – SERPENTINE PRISON
Matt Berninger’s 2020 album Serpentine Prison was another nominee, this time, for the 2022 Grammys.
It’s not that grand at all, but it exudes that creative feeling that just draws people in with the artwork that comes with the vinyl record.
The album has a blue-dominated color scheme which sets the melancholic mood of the album.
Another thing adding to the charm of its packaging is the plastic slipcase it has which has a snakeskin pattern on it.
#4. NICK CAVE & WARREN ELLIS – CARNAGE
The Carnage album from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is one of the best albums of 2021.
Not only is the music “a brutal but very beautiful record” speaking of themes like isolation and displacement it also has artwork reflecting these themes.
Everything about the album packaging came from the genius minds of Nick Cave and Tom Hingston.
The fragmented way of spelling the title that employs a softening of the brutal word, the rearranging of how the letters were placed around the cover to show change, and the white blank background that shows emptiness.
It’s such a perfect representation of the album’s theme.
#5. RECKLESS KELLY – AMERICAN JACKPOT/AMERICAN GIRLS
Another nominee is Texas-based American band Reckless Kelly’s 11th and 12th studio albums, American Jackpot and American Girls.
The albums have a combined artwork packaging that caught people’s attention.
Both vinyl jackets feature the Statue of Liberty though they have contrasting moods.
American Jackpot has a grayscale version of the artwork with a little bit of red splatter while American Girls has the more vibrant one with the statue colored in gold.
#6. CASPIAN – ON CIRCLES
On Circles is an album from the rock band Caspian which showcases one of the most organic writing and recording sessions they had in their 18-year music career.
It has two 12-inch vinyl records with a total of 8 songs pressed on them.
The album’s artwork for the jacket might seem like a simple drawing of an open white door. It however, is more than that as it creates a feeling of mystery.
Additionally, if you inspect it closely, there are words letterpressed in circular formation in the open door.
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#7. HEALER – GROUPLOVE
Grouplove’s Healer album may just be one of the most interactive vinyl record packaging.
The artwork is a creation of member Hannah Hooper and designer Julian Gross which was put on a total of 10 interchangeable inserts.
The hand-painted portraits come together to create a piece of contemporary art. Since they are interchangeable the fans can create their very own album cover from it.
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#8. LIL WAYNE – FUNERAL
The album Funeral by Lil Wayne is a continuation of his 2010 album Rebirth.
The vinyl record jacket as well as the vinyl records themselves are dominated by the color white, unlike the color-filled Rebirth album.
What makes this a great addition to your vinyl records with great packaging is the calligraphic text on the front cover drawing every attention to it.
It’s an ambigram that reads “funeral” when it’s right side up and “Lil Wayne” when upside down.
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#9. COLDPLAY – EVERYDAY LIFE
Coldplay’s eighth studio album has a packaging and vinyl record design that’s a great representation of almost everyone’s life.
The packaging is in black and white representing the downs while the vinyl record is colored golden yellow representing the ups.
You might also notice how the record packaging also looks silvery at first glance.
#10. Intellexual – Intellexual
Intellexual has a total of twelve songs and each song is individually represented by a visual work by Irwan Awalludin.
Each song’s collaborator also has an abstract representation that’s equivalent to the contribution they made to the music.
What makes this an awesome one is the fact that you can opt to color the pieces of artwork, both the front and inner.
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#11. BON IVER – I, I
Bon Iver’s album I,I has a very contemporary artwork as its jacket’s front cover.
It is a mix of photography and digital art. It’s quite an intriguing piece and so are the art pieces within.
I wonder what went through Anderson and Carlson’s mind while conceptualizing them.
#12. FOXHOLE – WELL KEPT THING
Well Kept Thing is the latest album from the band released in 2018 ending their 12-year hiatus.
The design is very minimalistic, but it still does the trick. The mono width design by Harold Apples, is made up of minimal geometric illustrations and words letterpressed in hot blue ink paired with deep blind emboss on the front cover.
The ink color definitely goes well with the light pink color of the vinyl record jacket.
Check out our custom vinyl record jacket printing service
#13. MITSKI – BE THE COWBOY
The photographs for Mitski’s Be the Cowboy album all feature her with no direct eye contact to the camera.
All except one, where she can be seen all glammed up with a make-up artist doing some touch-up on her eye as she looks at the camera.
The title and the artist’s name does not hinder our eyes from seeing the whole photograph as it is hollow.
#14. JONATHAN COULTON – SOLID STATE
Jonathan Coulton’s Solid State has a very fun vinyl record packaging thanks to the successful direction of art director Gail Marowitz.
The packaging is a gatefold jacket with a plastic sleeve. This sleeve is animated in the front and back when you slide it out.
Check out custom gatefold vinyl jackets printing service
#15. MURA MUSA – MURA MUSA
Alex Crossan debuted under the name Mura Masa with an eponymous album.
The packaging clearly shows a lot of his gratitude given how he listed the people credited for the album on the cover album.
What really catches your attention, though, is the photograph at the center.
It features a person in a position that cannot be held in position by any person. It’s a shot that was taken with great precision.
#16. THE NATIONAL – SLEEP WELL BEAST
At first glance, you think that the artwork on the front cover is just a painting of a black house against a gray background.
But when you look closely, you realize that it’s a black and white photograph of a barn where The National, apparently, recorded their album Sleep Well Beast.
When you open the gatefold jacket, it’s another world. A far cry from the muted colors on the front cover, the inner artwork features a burst of colors, though, it’s just blue and pink.
#17. PARQUET COURTS – HUMAN PERFORMANCE
Human Performance’s front cover is an artwork by Parquet Courts’ guitarist Andrew Savage.
He has a lot of work outside the group but since this particular art piece was apparently screaming at him from the corner, they decided to use it for the album.
The theme of the album is about personal instability, and the artwork definitely depicts it well.
#18. BON IVER – 22, A MILLION
And we have another album from the indie folk band Bon Iver.
This time, it’s their 2016 album 22, A Million.
Its art director is still Erick Timothy Carlson and much like the following album, it shows a lot of digital art.
#19. RIHANNA – ANTI DELUXE EDITION
Rihanna’s 2016 album, Anti, has one of the best art covers and she herself favors it over all the other album art covers she had. It’s a creation by Israeli artist Roy Nachum.
The black, red, and white canvas features a very young Rihanna, naked and holding a balloon with her eyes covered with a golden crown.
Over the artwork are braille characters making up a poem by Chloe Mitchell.
#20. SNOOP DOGG – BUSH
Snoop Dogg’s album Bush is an album co-produced by his friend and Grammy Award-winner Pharrell Williams.
The cover art for the album is green themed, featuring bushes and trees in all shapes and sizes. What stands out is the blue dog biting down on a bush.
It’s a great move how the vinyl record matched the blue dog standing out of the artwork makes it look very symbolic.
And we’re at the end of the list…
I hope that this compilation has inspired you to come up with a badass vinyl packaging design.
Get creative and tweak these ideas here, or maybe even surpass them!
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD/vinyl and merch company in LA.