While I’m not a big fan of classic holiday tunes — blame years of retail during college for that — finding Christmas music that’s been re-imagined or created from scratch by my favorite artists has become a must. Such is the case with this amazing, reverb-riddled take on “Little Drummer Boy” by Conor Oberst and friends.
Chances are you’ve already spied the amazing art Zack Nipper has churned out over the years, but do you know who he is? As the graphic artist over at Saddle Creek, he has fashioned many a lauded album cover and design—with his Bright Eyes collaborations garnering him lots of recognition. His original work comes in many mediums, with illustrations, needlework, appliques, cut-paper collages and sculptures topping the list. And while Nipper’s pieces might appear simple in design, they are anything but, with lots of hard work put into each hand-made work of art.
Collaborating with Conor Oberst, the magical concept, design and artwork created for Cassadaga—which features black and white optical illusions and secret messages—earned the Omaha-stationed artist a Grammy award. Zack transformed Conor’s musical themes of spiritualism, mysticism and the occult into visual art via three pyramids amidst a celestial drop, while for the record’s whimsical design, he drew inspiration from vintage ouija boards, and created starry-backed drawings for hidden, multilingual phrases.
Turning to textile art, Nipper fashioned patchwork sculptures of imaginary beasts, which he photographed in grayscale for the cover of There Is No Beginning To The Story, and then took to the embroidery needle a few years later for the brownstone-embossed covers of the Lua single and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning.
For the latest Bright Eyes album, The People’s Key, Zack went “old-school,” reverting back to the cut-paper collage designs he created for earlier Bright Eyes albums, like that of Every Day And Ever Night. Piecing together hand-cut yellow, orange, red and black paper flames one-by-one onto an art board using a surgical scalpel and glue, the album-making process took an astounding amount of time, but payed off in the end, with the “wall of fire” concept that Conor wanted intact. And although this is rumored to be the last Bright Eyes record, we can only hope Zack will continue to create amazing cover art for the singer-songwriter’s future endeavors. Check out the collection of wonderful album covers Mr. Nipper has designed below.
Combining real-life action, crafts and animation, the Cat Solen-directed music vid for this lovely, Oberst-penned tune features people on a clay plane falling from the sky and into the deep blue sea with a colorful explosion, after being taken for a spin by mischievous felt clouds.