Album cover design is alive and well in the digital era. However, the role of the album cover has changed. The days are long gone when album cover art served to attract your eye amid a sea of vinyl in a record store. Now album covers, both virtually and in analog form, are part of an artist’s broader visual palette. For example, the cover of Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP, designed by Jeff Koons, permeates all aspects of her brand, including her Little Monsters website, social spaces, merchandise, and concert staging.
Album covers are actually perfect for today’s visual era. Album covers tell visual stories that express the music on the album, capture the personality of the artist, and grab your attention. I recently created a presentation that shares several examples of memorable album covers from 1957 to the present day. My presentation, Visual Storytelling through Memorable Album Covers, covers a wide range of artists from Goldfrapp to Pink Floyd. The examples skew toward the late 1960s and 1970s because that time was the golden era of the album, when artists and musicians collaborated on groundbreaking designs. But as Visual Storytelling through Memorable Album Covers shows, album covers remain a powerful expression today. I will periodically update the presentation to show you how modern-day album covers are still provoking, expressing, and telling visual stories.
I would love to see your examples, too. Please let me know about album covers that have made an impression on you and why. I’ll return the favor by creating a new collection of visual stories told through album covers.