Album Cover Art

Like most people who listen to music, I’ve always loved the humble album cover. I’ve stared at the art while the music plays, I’ve read the lyric sheets, I’ve noticed where the tracks were recorded. Were there guest musicians? How long did it take to record? Who took the band photos? To me, it didn’t matter if the music was wrapped in an 8-track jacket, a cassette j-card, an album sleeve or a CD booklet. The design could promise me something or nothing, tell me about places I’d never been, or spark me to achieve artistic goals of my own.

I take a collaborative approach to designing album art. I like to toss ideas back and forth with a band until we end up with something cooler than any of us had imagined when we began. An initial Q&A session is a great place to start, and helps me get a sense of the people behind the project. Looking at other covers the band like is also very helpful. It can narrow the focus and help me make some suggestions. Of course, I also listen to the album and read the lyrics.

The bands I’ve designed for may or may not know me personally, but they are usually familiar enough with my visual work, in general, to allow me the freedom to do my “thing.” Nonetheless, it’s been a good idea for me to send in-progress versions of the cover for review. It’s easier to know about and change a critical element earlier in the project than later, to say nothing of having to scrap an idea and start over :)

In the end, some designs are more daring than others, but all are what the customer wanted.

I hope.

-John Kieltyka