The album cover is a visual hallmark that audiences end up associating with the music, artist, marketing, and era. Unfortunately, this has changed slightly during the digital streaming era, where albums have become data sets filling playlists and covers have been relegated to a tiny square on the screen. Thus, creating album artwork that stands out has become tougher than ever. #musiccovers #greatesthits #art #artists
Image credit: Pexels Source: https://images.pexels.com/photos/7751832/pexels-photo-7751832.jpeg
To produce truly impactful work that transcends media, artists and graphic designers need experience in digital illustration, web design, graphic design history, and even motion graphics. Famous graphic designers like David Stone Martin and Charles Stewart took a very long time to build their portfolios before they went on to create legendary covers that would be remembered by music fans for years.
Through the years, designers have contributed so many iconic album covers. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of them below.
Image source: https://ik.imagekit.io/uwaknajbdrm/https:/img.vt.co/2021/11/nirvana-1024x1024.jpg mage from Alamy Stock Photo, licensed under CC. Nirvana’s Nevermind was released in 1991, and is famously regarded as one of the most iconic album covers of all time. It pictures a baby swimming toward a US dollar bill on a fishhook. The album cover was like nothing ever seen before when the album hit the record stores. A large part of Nevermind’s commercial success, and even Nirvana’s popularity, has been attributed to this particular cover. It is now featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection, and is widely regarded as a bonafide classic. The art director for Nirvana, Robert Fisher, posted his collection of original and never-before-seen artifacts from Nirvana on Instagram to encourage other designers wanting to go down the same path he did when he was an unknown designer working at Geffen Records.
Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/he/1/16/DawnFMAlt.jpeg image from Wikimedia, licensed under CC.
Two years after his last release, the fifth studio album from singer-songwriter, The Weeknd was unveiled. The album was called Dawn FM. Its record cover and graphics were a collaborative venture with Robert Beatty, who is known for his distinctive "psychedelic" style. Beatty was also responsible for designing the covers for Tame Impala's Currents (2015) and Kesha's Rainbow (2017).
Beatty designed the limited-edition artwork for Dawn FM, including holographic typography and a futuristic path leading into a sun-filled landscape. This would perfectly capture the album’s eclectic nature, representing the catchy dance tracks and melodies that helped to create this visual masterpiece for the 2022 release
Image source: https://live.staticflickr.com/3087/2656792150_78ed8bd364_b.jpg Image from Flickr, licensed under CC.
Klaus Voorman is a long-time friend of, The Beatles. When they played him their new track "Tomorrow Never Knows," and requested cover art from him, Voorman was stuck. He wanted to create an image as avant-garde as the track, asking questions like “How far can I go?” and “How surreal and strange can it be?"
Seems that Voorman was the perfect choice for the task because he would go onto use a combination of old photos of the Beatles and some of his own drawings — complete with newspaper photos of eyes and lips on George Harrison's face — to create one of the Beatles’ most iconic album covers.
Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Beyonce_album.png Image from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC.
Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth studio album contained the ubiquitous tracks from, “Drunk In Love” to “Partition,” all neatly enclosed within pink-on-black typography on the cover. The strikingly neat layout, contrasted with the previous four albums, that featured “fashionable face-focused shots”.
Todd Tourso, Bey’s creative director, was careful about using color. They used a grayed-out pink to subvert femininity while still remaining sexy and loud, deriving the image from fight cards and boxing-ring placards. The stark visual shift was iconic, and the album landed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 within just three days after its release.
Behind our beloved musical artists are unsung graphic designers who deserve just as much recognition. As we proceed further into the digital streaming era, we need to take time to appreciate these iconic album covers, just like we appreciate the collection of songs they depict.
Article written by Roseanne Jodson; Exclusivley for, JanieGallegos.com