The 46th Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards may be a while away yet, but finalists for the Best Album Cover category have already been announced, with three very different designs in contention, incorporating everything from paint to sketch work to sculpture.
First up is Nick Keller for his work on Beastwars’ self-titled album. Keller, who currently works at Weta Workshop as a concept artist, has designed on a number of film projects over the last five years including the Chronicles of Narnia, Under the Mountain, Avatar, Indiana Jones 4, and most recently The Hobbit.
His work on Beastwars represents his first dabble into album design work.
"Album artwork is something I've always wanted to do as it combines the two complimentary art forms of illustration and music into one creative expression,” he said. “I think it's great to see a continuing interest in hand-painted artwork on album covers in this digital age".
The images comprising the cover and inner gatefold for the Beastwars album are both oil paintings on 30"x 60" canvases and Keller said that togehter with the band, the idea was to come up with a concept that conveyed an "otherworldly, apocalyptic event".
"Pyramids, vivid nebula, and a distinctly Lovecraftian flavour of a 'cosmic horror' were all ideas that the guys wanted to include. A pretty awesome brief in my view," he said. "The cool thing that ended up happening with the two companion pieces is that they are distinctly contrasting. Where the outer, cover image depicts this apocalyse in the midst of it's chaos, with the heavens opening in fiery grandeur above a decimated civilization, the inner gatefold illustration is eerily serene prior to the event. Forboding, green fingers creeping over the horizon in an otherwise peaceful twilight."
Unlike Keller, Angela Keoghan has been designing album covers for some time. Her nomination comes for her sketch work on Bannerman’s debut album The Dusty Dream Hole. The freelance photographer, tutor and fellow business partner to The Treehouse Creative, is often sketching ideas for albums, tour posters and merchandise.
The final nomination has been picked up by Baly Gaudin and Thomas Young for their work on Young’s own self-titled album, Tommy III. Baly, a recipient of a 2009 Best Award, was originally the main designer for the album cover but after a skiing accident broke a few of his bones, Young, or ‘Tommy III’, quickly became a part of the creative process.
With spray-paint in hand, Tommy and Baly spent many a lunchtime covering various objects in layers of paint, risking what they've described as “bouts of fume-induced hallucinations and sacrificing a pair of Tommy Ill’s shoes for the greater good”.
With various spray-painted objects completed, the duo proceeded to create a “hyper-real urban wasteland installation”, which they photographed and used for the cover.
The winner for Best Cover will be announced along with all the other regular Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards category winners on November 3 at a ceremony at Vector Arena.
Last year's Best Album Cover nod went to designer Paul Johnsonr for the Phoenix Foundation’s album Buffalo. Read the story here.