To many, collage is an under-appreciated art form – perhaps merely because often it’s too accessible to be considered Capital-A Art. After all, every semi-creative teenage girl’s walls will inevitably become a massive collage, and even in our age of recycling and DIY, there is often an establishment resistance to art that is built out of the art of others. There’s also a movement for exactly that idea, of course. Regardless, we love us some collage, and since music is ultimately nothing but a very grand tonal collage anyway (Girl Talk aside), we think album covers are the perfect vehicle for this particular form. These album covers, created from found paper, disparate ideas, reassembled photographs and pieced-together letters, manage to be strange, lovely, and completely apt all at once. Click through for 15 of our favorite collaged album covers, and let us know your own favorites in the comments!
Panda Bear, Person Pitch
Designer and collage artist Agnes Montgomery spent over a year listening to the songs on the record before she created the cover – she actually also created collaged designs for several of the individual tracks so that they could be released as singles. We think it’s rather fitting that a musical collage artist like Noah Lennox would choose this kind of design for his solo album.
Freddie Hubbard, Liquid Love
Oh man, you just can’t beat Lou Beach for brilliant weirdness.
The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
This is probably the most famous collaged album cover out there – and for good reason. The “People We Like” cover was art directed by Robert Fraser, designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, and photographed by Michael Cooper. If you didn’t know, those are actually life-size cardboard cutouts of the Beatle’s heros and contemporaries surrounding them, so in a way, they actually created a collage in the world and then just took a picture of it. Not quite, but you get the picture. Fun fact: Lennon wanted to include Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus Christ. Obviously, these were ultimately left out of the final shot, although Hitler got bafflingly close – a cardboard cutout of him was actually made.
Frank Zappa, We’re Only In It For The Money
Hey, there’s nothing better than one of your heroes parodying another of your heroes. Plus, Zappa’s pigtails and soul patch phase was by far our favorite phase.
Elliott Smith, New Moon
This delicate and fitting paper collage for Smith’s posthumous collection was created by Portland artist Mike King.
The Who, Face Dances
Also created by Sgt. Pepper designer Peter Blake, this again is a collage of another sort – 16 artists’ works juxtaposed against each other to create a bigger picture. What else is collage, anyway?
Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
Though this may seem a conceptual rather than actual collage, we think the overlapping drawings and stages of development make it fit in nicely.
The Beatles, Revolver
The other Beatles collage art album cover, this one we particularly like because of the way Klaus Voormann plays with the eyes collaged onto drawn faces. That’s him, over there on the right in Harrison’s hair.
Michael Jackson, Michael
Though this might not be created from found materials like some of the other collages on our list, but rather painted by artist Kadir Nelson, this posthumous album is a collage of representative and literal elements from Michael Jackson’s music and life. NPR has even done a lengthy breakdown of the elements for your sleuthing pleasure.
The Miles Davis Sextet, Jazz at the Plaza
So simple, and yet so effective.
The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.
Exile on Main St. is in itself a collage – a double album that draws on many different styles of music and influences – R&B, calypso, soul, country - pushing at the edges of the Stones’ abilities and interests, so much so that when it was first released in 1972, many fans were skeptical. The cover, a similarly rough and disparate series of images designed by multi-media artist John Van Hamersveld, added to the mixed reviews. Happily, both album and cover art are considered classics now.
Guided By Voices, Mag Earwhig!
This album cover, designed by GBV principal Robert Pollard, only reinforces his claim: “I am Robert Pollard and I am Guided by Voices.”
John Lennon, Mind Games
This cover, designed by Lennon, seems to symbolize him walking away from Yoko Ono’s massive influence over his life. Ono supervised the remixing of the album in 2002.
Oasis, Dig Out Your Soul
Designed by Julian House, this album seems to represent some kind of bizarre snack-based religious and/or musical armageddon. Which, for Oasis, it pretty much the standard for their day to day lives.
Heartless Bastards, The Mountain
The band only gave designer Michael Carney one direction: make a ‘menacing mountain.’ We’d say he succeeded.