Although CDs have declined in use since the 1990’s, that doesn’t mean album artwork isn’t still heavily appreciated. Cover art is still the first thing the audience sees when you release a new album on social media and streaming sites. Designing great album artwork begins with these essential qualities.
Entice Your Audience
Just like with a great song, hooking your audience in with a cover design is essential. If the cover of your album is all black with no words whatsoever, what is that saying? It will certainly draw an eye and incite curiosity to know what the album contains. Keep this in mind when designing artwork. A great example of a truly enticing album cover is that of U2’s War. A simple photograph of boy staring out intensely raises a lot of questions from the audience. It also hints that what is contained isn’t entirely pleasant. The title is aptly named “War.”
Communicate A Story
Similar to a song, album artwork that feels the most fulfilling tells a story with the picture on it. For example, The Chemical Brothers’ album Come With Us features a silhouette of two bodies inside a tube, heading toward a bright light. This indicates that the album has something to do with following a mysterious call. As you might imagine, the songs in the album mainly deal with themes such as wonderment, far away places, traveling, and alien life. They tell a story.
Have a Consistent Color/Art Scheme
Some albums feature either photographs of the musicians or photographs of places. Other albums are simply words on a background of recurring colors. Whatever your scheme is, make it consistent throughout. And if the theme is inconsistency in colors, that, in and of itself, is a consistent scheme. For example, Pink Floyd’s The Wall is a very easily identifiable scheme — a white wall, with black graffiti lettering. It also effectively communicates the story of the album itself, which is about rebellion toward established standards.
The artwork of an album is no different fundamentally from the songs contained within. It is an artistic expression of an idea, story, or experience told in an unconventional way. Sometimes creating the artwork can be just as, or even more, fun than creating the actual music itself. Tie together every song in the album to create a complete package.
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Mike DiGirolamo has had a strong interest in music from a young age, playing both the cello and trombone. Outside of music he has a love for movies, theatre, and environmental science.