Who doesn't love good music, and good art? I was inspired to write this post after seeing the album art for Logic's album "Under Pressure." It was illustrated and designed by fellow SCAD grad, and the always amazing, Sam Spratt. It got me thinking how important the relationship between art and music is. The album art is of course the face of the music that is on the album and represents what the musician has spent their time producing. The album art for Under Pressure depicts a scene that was common for Logic when he was an up and coming rapper; sitting in the basement of his friend's home reading lyrics off his phone while his friends listen.
The most memorable album covers throughout time are ingrained into our minds and of course the designer plays a role in ensuring this. Some albums have remained a part of culture years after being released. Two of my favourite album covers of all time are The Beatles' Abbey Road & Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. The designer for Abbey Road, John Kosh, famously said "we didn't need to write the band's name on the cover ... They were the most famous band in the world." The album art for The Dark Side of the Moon was designed by Hipgnosis and George Hardie under the instruction to come up with something "smarter, neater- more classy."
As a fan of minimal design, it always intrigues me to see just how minimal album art can go, while still achieving something that is memorable. Another Beatles classic that has come to be known as The White Album (1968), designed by Richard Hamilton, consisted of a simple white sleeve embossed with the name of the band, and each with a unique serial number. This was perhaps as minimal as possible an album art can get...right? Well Kanye West proved that to be wrong with his 2013 release of Yeezus, with the packaging that Kanye designed himself. The album had no album art, and consisted of a simple CD encasing with a red sticker affixed to the front, and the CD within the case (also blank in terms of artwork) showing through.
Despite the minimal nature of these two albums, I am sure that they will continue to stand the test of time and remain an important part of our design culture. In a world where we are visually bombarded on a daily basis, the designer (along with the musician) must figure out how to solve the problem of not getting lost to the consumer, and it is truly amazing to see just how they continue to solve this problem.
Below are some examples of album covers that I think have been successfully designed. Enjoy!
And here's the first album cover I ever designed for the Trinidadian band jointpop :