If a music video is the extension of a song, an artwork or commonly known as “album cover” is the extension a record. Essentially, it sets the tone of what the entire record is all about through super cool graphics or whatever image musicians/ artists come up with. Sometimes it works, and well, sometimes it just doesn’t.
Have you experienced buying a record plainly because the artwork is super cool? It’s effing good you want it displayed on your house or your room.
Let’s split this topic into two important things, shall we?
First, artworks that instantly catch our eyes and can easily be interpreted by our brains.
More often than not, artists and musicians with big names befit this. Big names who are marketed by huge record labels like Michael Jackson, Madonna, etc.
“Dangerous” by Michael Jackson introduced us to his infamous eyebrows and his pet monkey. Everyone thought it was cool and funny.
As in the case of Madonna, her True Blue cover pioneered that sexy neck look! She is a great singer, dancer, songwriter and producer and those things were well expressed in her records, “Confessions on a Dance Floor” and “MDNA”.
One classy cover though is “21” by Adele. It is simple, clean and has Adele’s face on it which clearly means that the record is deeply a personal roadmap of her life. “As I Am” by Alicia Keys is also good example of how an artist’s face on the cover could possibly launch massive hits.
Second, artworks intended to send a message (which oftentimes lead us to something like breaking a code out of all those colors) or it’s just plainly artsy fartsy, as they say.
Indie artists and rock bands usually fall under this category. They don’t normally use their faces on the cover, but instead they use it as another form of expressing their music through art. And to be honest, graphic artists should be given so much credit for it.
The best example to personify this would probably be Icelandic singer, Bjork. She’s strangely different in a good way, aside from the fact that she makes great music, her album covers really stand out.
“In Utero” and “Nevermind” by grunge rock band, Nirvana, is what is now considered a ‘classic’. That little baby on Nevermind has been a trademark to this day.
Jared Leto is known for his exceptional artistic gifts. He thought of a cool way to somehow perfectly “market” 30 Seconds to Mars third record, “This Is War”. They used photos of random people including their staff and crew and their fans worldwide on the cover. But one photo that really strikes us is the roaring tiger! Hence, a metaphor for the album title.
Minimalist covers like “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd, “Is This It” by the Strokes “Coexist” by The XX, and The Beatles’ “White Album” are also good and stand out when displayed at the record store.
Generally, musicians put so much effort and thought to their respective artworks.
And quick tips for budding artists/ bands out there: producing it doesn’t have to be costly. Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on how creative and original you (and your band-mates) would want it to be.
It can be a picture of the ocean or nature. It can be fashionable or trendy. Or like Adele’s, it can be personal as it is, and posting your face on the cover isn’t exactly as bad as people thought it would be, unless well made.
But be smart about it as well. You cannot simply have a jazz record with a Pop Art-ish bursting with colors cover. Can be but depending on how it is creatively done.
It doesn’t have to be so intricate. The important thing is, listeners, supporters and the fans understand its meaning. Moreover, they have the freedom to interpret it themselves. But having new fans like your records because of the artwork isn’t bad either. That’s actually a good start to getting them to know your music.