October 12, 2016
Inspiration is Everywhere: The Vinyl Resurgence
By Adam Schneider
I've read that most artists have always dreamed of being musicians and that many musicians have played in the visual arts. They are kindred occupations that tend to overlap. I get that and it makes sense why we see those worlds collide again and again.
About seven years ago I received an unexpected gift from my brother – a turntable. He had started collecting vinyl records a few years prior and was upgrading his system which meant passing his old one to me. I was pretty unsure about it at first. In 2009, only true audiophiles and hipster wannabes collected vinyl. I’m no audiophile so did I want to be the guy that said, “Yeah, I listen to records”? Hell no.
That ‘gift’ sat in the basement until the following year when my brother drug me to my first Record Store Day. I was lured by promise of “limited” releases from Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. You have to understand that when I was in my teens I was obsessed with music. Just as importantly, I was obsessed with the artwork that adorned the covers and booklets of my CD collection. The small wall of my bedroom was layered in a carefully constructed collage of album artwork from bands like Nirvana, Green Day and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. For years I mimicked the illustration style of the cover art for Sublime’s album of the same name. I created a sculpture based on MXPX’s cartoon punk character in ceramics class. Obsessed.
Needless to say, my interest was piqued and I went along for the ride.
That Record Store Day I rediscovered the beautiful album artwork that has become a careless afterthought in this digital age. I learned not only about colored vinyl, but so much more. Split vinyl. Splattered vinyl. Tri-colored vinyl. Lathe cuts. D-Side etchings. Vinyl with dinosaur bones in it. A record made of ice. Vinyl with blood in it. Yes, blood. There is some crazy shit out there!
My previous experience with album artwork was tiny, compact jewel case books. Vinyl album artwork is large and thoughtful. It spans gatefolds and record sleeves. There are creative die-cuts, spot varnishes, letterpress and metallic foil covers. I even have an album cover that was water colored by hand. It’s true art. It’s inspiring.
Since then I’ve amassed a small collection of albums and am relishing this resurgence in the vinyl market. It’s not cheap, as marketers and record companies are capitalizing on the demand, but it’s fun. It’s fun to see how current music artists and visual artists are approaching an older medium. It’s fun to see albums that you listened to while growing up in the 90s being released for the first time on vinyl. It’s fun to see the indie labels truly experiment with the wax and album art.
I still don’t love saying that I collect vinyl. It just sounds lame, right? Then I think about why I collect vinyl and how it inspires me to create. Maybe it doesn’t sounds so bad after all.
Thanks for reading.
And, if you’re interested in diving a little deeper here are a few interesting links.