Vinyl album sale are hitting historic highs in the United States, casting a spotlight on the importance of album cover art. Album sleeve design plays an essential role in expressing a musician’s vision and sparking curiosity through visual storytelling. In the digital age, album cover art is even more valuable. That’s because digital gives musicians more ways to raise awareness for their work through the visual power of an album cover — on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter, and so on. The memorable covers of 2020 expressed the times we live in. The album sleeve for Taylor Swift’s Folklore captured the essence of social distancing and a newfound longing for nature that led to skyrocketing visits to national parks during the pandemic.
Duval Timothy’s Help reflected something we’ve been missing and wanting during the pandemic: the human connection . . .
. . . as did Heavy Light from U.S. Girls:
SAULT’s Untitled (Black Is), with its simple upraised fist, symbolized Black empowerment during a time of social upheaval.
Those themes of Black empowerment where everywhere, including Flo Milli, Ho, Why Is You Here? from Flo Milli . . .
. . . Legends Never Die from Juice WRLD . . .
. . . and Twice As Tall from Burna Boy:
But there was plenty of room for artistic expression on its own terms. The goofy design of Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters reflected a bit of whimsy, mystery, and arch sense of humor that has defined her work for years.
Madeline Kenney’s Sucker’s Lunch shared a sense of deadpan humor that works for any era:
For more memorable album covers of 2020, check out my SlideShare presentation. I hope you like it.