If you’re looking to get inspiration for album covers, that means you’ve managed to release one or multiple songs. That’s awesome. The real challenge is to put it out there, and album art can play a huge role in that. Therefore, using album cover ideas to come up with your own album art is a smart move.
With so many different music platforms today, including Spotify and SoundCloud, there has been a massive influx of music producers.
To differentiate yourself, you need to develop a persona, market yourself, and create a certain sense of ‘self.’
You can start doing that by creating album art that reflects you, your music, and what you stand for.
In this article, we’ll go over some awesome album cover ideas and examples to inspire you.
Let’s get started.
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Impactful Album Cover Ideas for Your Inspiration
There is a lot of album art all over the internet. Many indie musicians use album cover art to differentiate themselves these days. That has made album art crucial to the music industry but has also saturated typical cover artworks.
In the early days, there was no Photoshop or graphic design software. Musicians used to have their cover art designs drawn by hand. That’s why we see a lot of unique and great album covers from back then.
However, since the communization of computer-generated cover art designs, there has been an influx of all kinds of music album covers.
Graphic designers today try to develop album cover designs that are eye-catching, can be shared on social media, and incorporate several factors, including the following.
- If there isn’t a need for creativity, they use high-quality album cover templates.
- They try to incorporate logo designs so that the art can be used as video thumbnails, profile pictures, covers, stickers, t-shirt designs, and more.
- The design is often used as a foundation for the back cover, CD cover (if applicable), and playlist covers.
Today, we’re at a point where we can take design inspiration and graphic design tips from other album artworks to create our own. It’s all about taking in the elements of iconic album covers and then churning out a design that resonates with you and your music.
The following are some of the best album covers for design inspiration. They’re not all designed by renowned musicians (however, there are iconic album covers included); some of them are from indie musicians and bands. That goes to say that great album cover ideas can come from the most unexpected places.
1. A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay
Designed by Czech etching artist Mila Fürstová, the album cover is based on star charts. It includes various everyday elements, such as a bicycle, hot air balloon, animals, and more.
2. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
The 1973 album art for The Dark Side of the Moon became synonymous with Pink Floyd’s name. It led to the band being recognized by prisms. It’s a great example of creating symbolism, depth, and mystery using minimalist elements.
3. The Velvet Underground and Nico
Created by the legendary Andy Warhol, it was one of Warhol’s famous attempts at visualizing mundane objects in unique ways. It goes to show that you don’t need to create something completely new for it to stand out.
4. Currents by Tame Impala
Created by Robert Beatty, the 3D artwork showcases an oscillating flow, hinting at the album’s focus on electronic sounds. It’s a great way of depicting change in seemingly stable environments.
5. Nevermind by Nirvana
The 1991 Nevermind album cover by Nirvana is an instant reminder of what the band was about – bold, direct, and real. It’s a great example of how photo-heavy album covers can be molded into a legacy.
6. Abbey Road by The Beatles
Getting recognized for being the most iconic album cover ever is one thing; knowing that there was no planning or thought-process behind it is another. It shows that sometimes, a lack of symbolism and profoundness is exactly what you need.
7. Molchat Doma Etazhi
The cover for the debut album of Belarussian post-punk and synthpop trio Molchat Doma is a unique take on contemporary architecture. It’s based on a real-life building; that shows you can take inspiration directly from your environment.
8. Born and Raised by John Mayer
A somewhat steampunk take on album covers with unique typography gives you such album art. Following a certain theme usually works well, especially if you know what the majority of your fans like.
9. Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin
Using the picture of the 1937 Hindenburg disaster was blatant symbolism of the band’s name. With an impressive track list, it became an iconic album cover for the ages.
10. The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden has been known to produce some of the weirdest album art based on a hellish theme. The thing is, the art always resonates with their metal music. It’s the ideal example of art begetting music and vice versa.
11. Relapse by Eminem
Hip-hop has always been about sending a message, and Eminem’s Relapse was an absolute blow to the Opioid crisis in the US. It depicts the rapper’s face using hundreds of colored pills.
12. Graduation by Kanye West
Made by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, the colorful album art is another example of an image that looks pleasant at first but actually has sinister undertones.
13. Cherry Blossom by The Vamps
What looks like a limited edition artwork of a 3D artist is actually an alternate depiction of a natural phenomenon – a cherry blossom.
14. Holding On by Dabin
This is what you get when your album cover maker combines hand-drawn elements with the song’s tone. The single cover shows entangled hands trying to ‘hold on.’
15. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
The famous cover shows the band members’ alter egos. It’s a unique way to include band members in the album artwork; additionally, the typography of the album title works well too.
16. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel
The album art uses a classic painting-style approach depicting an early 1900s scene. It resonates with the band’s usual style and approach.
17. Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses
Guns N’ Roses has also been criticized for their album art like Iron Maiden. However, it works well with their music, has embedded symbolism, and showcases band members in an alternate form.
18. Lost by Forester
A lot of new music tends to use visually appealing art. This particular artwork is pretty simple, but when seen while listening to the song, it sets the tone for it and helps drive your imagination.
19. Kunzite by Saturn
A semi-modernistic take on album art, it mixes space elements with human anatomy. However, what sets it apart is the color palette used.
20. Parallel Lines by Blondie
The album art is a famous example of using black and white tones to set up a band picture. Other than that, the contradictory mood of Debbie Harry versus the rest of the band further accentuates the theme.
21. Infinity by Wolfclub
The cyberpunk style has really picked up in recent years, and this particular album art commemorates all that it’s about.
22. Over This by Tim Schaufert
This particular style is pretty simple, yet it works wonders. You choose a seemingly normal landscape picture, add a filter, and complement it with an avant-garde design.
23. Aladdin Sane by David Bowie
One of the most iconic photos of David Bowie is rightfully part of an album cover. This photo and cover encompass the singer and defines him (and his alter ego Ziggy Stardust).
24. Metroma by The Sei
At times, your album art can just be a modern take on mixed art. A mysterious background with an even more mysterious object focus is a great way of generating curiosity.
25. Miss Anthropocene by Grimes
Some people create a certain persona, and their songs and works of art resonate with that. This is a prime example of album cover art reflecting the singer, their songs, and the general theme they follow.
26. Brazil by Men At Work
Album titles that reflect real-world places, things, or people provide a unique opportunity to use certain elements. For example, this album cover uses the things that make Brazil popular to create the cover, such as the City of God background, a soccer ball, and the Christ the Redeemer statue.
27. Impossible by Drastic
Blueprint-based album art has been becoming popular in recent years. The blueprint used often depicts a direct, subtle, or underlying object of significance.
28. The Way by Zack Hemsey
Minimalism has a way of working itself out when used properly. Choose any single object, design, or drawing, and put it on a plain background, and use a minimalist font for the album title. However, this usually works well with instrumental music.
29. Da Bang by Judas Priest
Unrealistic size comparisons work well with album art, especially when you combine them with an explosive event. For example, a massive titan fist slamming down on an unsuspecting planet.
30. Da Chip Daft Punk
Unique covers of songs can also lead to great album art. This particular 8-bit album art is by Da Chip, who recreates songs on vintage game systems. The lack of pixels makes for a whimsical yet nostalgic album cover.
31. Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones
Being the first to do something is often iconic. This album art for The Rolling Stones’ psychedelic album was the first to include a 3D sleeve in rock music.
32. I Think You Think Too Much of Me by EDEN
Words can make up for a great album cover if used in the right way. In this particular cover, the same thing is repeated, yet it blends well with the background and the design elements.
33. Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish
Sometimes, your album art should be all about moods, and the best way to trigger moods is through colors. Vague shapes and mood-setting color palettes can make abstract cover art seem meaningful.
34. The ReVe Festival: Day 1 by Red Velvet
Album art should reflect the music; as a result, this particular artwork showcases the colorful and upbeat music by K-pop group Red Velvet.
35. Jay Som by Anak Ko
Graphic design can be complicated, but at this point, designing something simple can help create something amazing. However, you should focus on how gradients are used in this album art.
36. Burn Everything That Bears Your Name by Vinnie Paz
Mixing up the literal meaning of your album and songs tends to create a sense of interconnectedness. You can either base your album cover on your album title or the title song.
37. Wow by Moby Grape
Designed by Bob Cato, this psychedelic-era album artwork shows an alternate landscape with very large grapes. It makes no sense, yet it resonates with the listener.
38. Where’s Your Album by Apathy
Cartoonish album covers may seem counterintuitive, but if you can use the style to showcase a serious environment, you’re good to go.
39. ‘Tis the Season to Be Jelly by Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa had turned a lot of heads during his career, but his album art was always appreciated. It was always a unique, ironic, or satirical look into an issue.
40. Madonna by Madonna
When Madonna released her new album in 1983, the self-titled debut turned a few heads. However, it was a statement, and that’s what the album cover was all about.
41. Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull
The newspaper cover with tons of references was a fresh idea when this album came out. Similarly, one can do magazine or brochure-based album covers.
42. Come Fly with Me by Frank Sinatra
An album cover that combines the singer’s attitude with a specific era (the jet-set era in this case) works because it humanizes the songs.
Use Album Cover Ideas to Design Your Own Album Art
There are no tutorials for creativity, only for design tools. You have to log into your brain, get some inspiration, and develop new ideas.
Use the album cover ideas above to get an idea of what themes you can use, how you can relate your art to you, and how your music can be incorporated.