This year's Grammy for best artwork is a posthumous homage to Chris Cornell
Designed by Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and his designer/illustrator brother Barry Ament, the artwork features two portraits of the late singer, partially obscured by a wrap of trees.
- Jenny Brewer
- 27 January 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
The Grammy for Best Recording Package is one of a small handful of prizes for the visual arts amid the renowned music awards, but it makes the gong all the more covetable for designers in this realm. Its history is hugely varied and features some of graphic design's biggest names, from Jonathan Barnbrook to Stefan Sagmeister, and this year a world renowned bassist and his designer/illustrator brother join their ranks. 2019's winning cover adorns the album Chris Cornell, a compilation of tracks by the late singer, designed by Barry and Jeff Ament.
Barry Ament is a graphic designer and illustrator who runs Seattle-based design agency Ames Bros with Coby Schultz, and Jeff Ament is one of the founding members and bassist for the band Pearl Jam. Jeff has won Grammys previously for music and design, the band's song Spin the Black Circle winning Best Hard Rock Performance in 1995, and its album Lightning Bolt winning Best Recording Package in 2014 – on which Jeff was part of the design team. Barry Ament was previously nominated for his work on Pearl Jam's Yield; his agency has also worked on artwork for Metallica and The Who.
The design for Chris Cornell's posthumous album is a collaboration with Jeff Lange, a retired screen printer who worked on Pearl Jam’s first concert posters in 1996, reports the Seattle Times. It depicts Cornell, who died in 2017, in two portraits, on the back and front, a wrap of trees partially obscuring his face. The packaging is also credited to Universal Music creative directors Jeff Fura and Joe Spix, and the singer's widow Vicky Cornell.
Also shortlisted for 2019's awards are Bon Iver's I,I by Aaron Anderson and Eric Timothy Carlson, and Intellexual's self-titled album designed by Irwan Awalludin.
Last year's winner of Best Recording Package was St Vincent’s Masseduction by Willo Perron, while 2017's was a joint win for Magín Díaz's El Orisha De La Rosa, art directed by Carlos Dussán, Juliana Jaramillo, Juan Felipe Martínez and Claudio Roncoli; and Father John Misty's Pure Comedy, art directed by Sasha Barr, Josh Tillman and New Yorker cartoonist Ed Steed.
In 2016, Jonathan Barnbrook won the award for David Bowie's Blackstar ★, and in 2009, Stefan Sagmeister won for David Byrne and Brian Eno's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.
The other artwork award, Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, went to Masaki Koike for his design of the Woodstock: Back To The Garden anniversary album. Also shortlisted was Thom Yorke's Anima by Stanley Donwood and Tchocky.
Other visual awards went to Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Ed Burke for Homecoming, named Best Music Film. Burke also won the same award with Beyonce in 2016 for Lemonade. Best Music Video went to Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus' Old Town Road, directed by Calmatic – who has previously worked with Donald Glover, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator and Anderson. Paak.
Barry Ament, Jeff Ament, Vicky Cornell, Jeff Fura and Joe Spix: Chris Cornell