In the Age of Multitasking, a handful of musicians have managed to stretch their creativity across multiple mediums—pulling out their pens and brushes to create their own album artwork. Sticking to our mission of sharing signs of life in music, film and culture, we’ve picked some of our favorite musicians who’ve showcased their talents in both the content and covers of their albums.
9. Conrad Keely
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead
Primarily known for his work as lead singer of Austin’s experimental rock outfit …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of The Dead, Conrad Keely is also revered for his detailed pen and ink creations. The singer, whose fascination with drawing began at three-years-old, is responsible for the group’s album art, as well as a slew of other creations.
8. Curt Kirkwood
Taken straight off the singer’s wall and sent to the studio, the cover art from the Meat Puppets 1987 album, Huevos, is perhaps one of Curt Kirkwood’s most recognizable pieces. Besides his role as lead-singer of the genre-bending legends, Kirkwood is also known for his work in the world of visual art.
7. John Gourley
Portugal The Man
Partnering with graphic designer Austin Sellers, the lead-singer of the Portland psychedelic rock outfit is responsible for a majority of the group’s album art—which has grown in popularity almost as quickly as their music. Incorporating a blend of eye-catching colors and delicate lines, the Gourley’s creations have even amassed a few fan sites.
6. John Squire
The Stone Roses
Since his time crafting Jackson Pollock-inspired album art, the former singer/guitarist for Manchester alt-rockers The Stone Roses has directed his energy towards progressing in the field of abstract art. Participating in several shows that display his colorful pieces, the musician’s work, as well as artist statement, can be found on his website.
5. John Lennon
Originally slated to be used for the cover of his rock ‘n’ roll oldies album with producer Phil Spector, Lennon’s childhood drawings were instead featured on the cover of Walls and Bridges.
4. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)
After attending the Hammersmith School of Art and briefly considering a career as a cartoonist, Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) decided to focus on his passion for music. And besides creating cherished works including “Peace Train,” the singer-songwriter has also designed a handful of his album covers.
3. Wayne Coyne
The Flaming Lips
It’s not surprising that the Flaming Lips frontman is also responsible for the group’s psychedelic art. The Lip’s space-bound singer lends his painting talents to a majority of the band’s associated artwork, even recently creating a screen print for their Austin City Limits performance using his own blood.
2. Daniel Johnston
Although Johnston’s work has been featured in various galleries, it’s his quirky cover for 1983’s Hi, How Are You? (also known as Jeremiah the Innocent) that has become the singer-songwriter’s most well-know piece of art. In 1993, the singer was commissioned to paint a mural of the cover on the side of an Austin record store. Even though the store has since closed, locals have managed to keep the mural intact.
1. Joni Mitchell
After spending a year attending Calgary’s Alberta College of Art and Design, the legendary singer-songwriter once referred to herself as “a painter derailed by circumstance.” True to her talents, Mitchell was responsible for crafting a majority of her albums’ artwork and, in her later years, has devoted a majority of her time to painting. She picked up her old paints in 2005 to paint a Cameron Crowe cover for Paste.