Sleeveface is an internet phenomenon wherein one or more persons obscure or augment body parts (usually the face) with record sleeve(s), causing an illusion. Also known as LP Portraits, a profile picture is taken which then reveals a “hybrid face” of the subject and famous person depicted on the vinyl cover. Here is a simplified explanation of how sleevefacing works: Find an old record album cover, preferably one with a large photo of the artist’s head (Elvis, Paul Simon, or David Bowie will do nicely.) Hold the album cover or sleeve in front of your face or someone else’s. Take a picture. Now you’ve got a sleeveface. Sounds simple enough, but lining up the sleeve’s face to the human body, and coordinating color, clothing, and position require lots of imagination, and trial and error.
The term ‘Sleeveface’ was coined in April 2007 by Cardiff, Wales resident Carl Morris after pictures were taken of him and his friends holding record sleeves to their faces while he was DJ-ing in a Cardiff Bar. Morris was merely bored when he held the cover of an old vinyl copy of “McCartney II” up to his face, making it appear as if the former Beatle’s heavily mulleted head had briefly replaced his own. “I thought it might be kind of childish actually,” he said. “What sensible grown adult would do such things?” His friend John Rostron took photos and posted them on the internet’s rapidly emerging Facebook social networking site. Soon other DJs across the United Kingdom started repeating the trick at their own parties, finding record sleeves of just the right dimension and comedic proportion. The phenomenon of sleevefacing soon captured the attention of news media outlets and influential tech blogs. The fad immediately took off on Facebook and other social networking sites and photo-sharing communities. It now has its own website (sleeveface.com,) Facebook presence, and thousands of inventive practitioners around the globe. The official Facebook group has more than 10,000 photo submissions, many are the cleverest of these images…faux Bob Dylans, wannabe Paul McCartneys, and lookalike Madonnas whose posture and clothing is in perfect sync with their idols’ most classic record covers. According to the profile page, contributors have been regularly organizing offline parties and meet-ups for sleeveface enthusiasts around the world. Celebrating the merits of vinyl in an age when music has gone digital, it appeals to record collectors, music lovers across the generations, and anybody who ever fancied him or herself a rock god. Who says they are not Elton John? Elvis? Bruce Springsteen. Who says? Who says?
Beside trending on the internet, there’s a book on it, too. More than 200 witty images that are as addictive as popping bubble wrap, but a lot more fun. John Rostron and Carl Morris are authors of the book Sleeveface: Be The Vinyl published in 2008 by Artisan/Workman, which compiles sleevefaces from the worldwide submissions to their website, sleeveface.com. The book’s cover shows a man holding what looks like a large photograph of another man’s head in front of his own. It’s amusing, but the humor only hints at the richness, depth, and awesome creativity of the pictures within.
There is also a Sleevefacer iPhone app available that lets you access album artwork from your Music library and sleeveface right on your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch…choose a sleeve and then snap a photo with it superimposed over the top of your camera. You can move it, resize and rotate the sleeve. The only thing missing is the hand that’s holding it. Here’s a few videos. Warning: fun and addictive.