Album Cover Design

By: Adrian Larrsen

What makes a good album cover design? Is it the graphics, the photographs, the layout or the text? Whatever it is, the visual impact is what these elements try to consider. Excellent graphics, well-conceptualized layout design, superb photographs, and readable text, especially with the lyrics of the songs, if included, all make up an album not only worth buying but worth keeping as well. The trouble with most manufacturers today is that too little space is given to the designer for his album art. Many times, musicians are so involved with the designing process that the artist is not free enough to create. Winning their trust, which take some time, is what album artists usually do so they could create, invent, and discover original ways of expression in this popular medium.

Results of intervention into the cd and DVD cover designs by musicians or big record labels are relative. In some cases, they produce bad results. In other cases, they prove to devastate the artistic integrity and ingenuity of the album cover designer. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it has long been established that artists, in this case album artists, must have the freedom to exercise his or her aesthetic discrimination. This is not to say that album cover designers must deviate from what the record label or recording artist wants. It would certainly be bad for business. But "artistic space" or the freedom required of DVD or CD designer for artistic self-expression.

Since most musicians are concerned about the entire outcome of the album, it would be wise for the artist to consult with them from time to time. Contrary to what most people think, this saves more time and effort than actually producing something that in the end will not be approved by the record label or musician. Most of the time, musicians are just vocal of the design they want for the album cover to create a thematic mood for the album. As an artist, the cd or DVD cover designer must build concepts around a certain theme. And a good, logical basis for a design theme would be the content of the album. No one could explain the concept of the album's songs except the singer. Thus, a collaboration is always welcome.

This, in turn, affects the working relationship because compromising your original design would be tainted by the musician's or record label's. This is the concern of most album artists, as already mentioned above. The challenge is to create a design that is a consensus between designer and musician. Does the musician want that his or her songs would be included in the lyrics? Which photographs would jive with the theme of the entire album? What mood should be generated in light of the mood achieved in the songs? By answering questions like these, creativity can be directed to something that will please the record label-client and even artist itself. Themes can be a good starting in designing an album. And of course, because a musician who has an obvious bias to his work, he would certainly approve of a design tailored after the album content itself.

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