Graduation Print by Kaitlin Kelly

Albums to Study if You’re an Art Lover

Aliyah Lashley February 21 2023


As an emerging artist, it can be hard getting inspiration for a project. That’s why it’s great to look at everything - even album covers.

Album covers are an art form in and of themselves. Not only do they have a creative and emotional impact on music and art lovers alike, but are also a window into that artist’s world before the viewer even hears the album. It can also be a great source of inspiration for emerging artists.


Black Light Burns "Cruel Melody" (left) King Crimson "In the Court of the Crimson King" (right)

What really sells these painted album covers is the use of colour combined with visuals. They draw their target audience in and keep them interested. The contrasting shadows used for Cruel Melody compared to the colouring of In the Court of the Crimson King lead to great elements between these two paintings.


Kendrick Lamar "To Pimp a Butterfly" (top left) Beyonce "Dangerously in Love" (top right) Billie Eilish "When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?" (bottom centre)

Photography album covers are the most common and can have vastly different statements. Photographic albums are my personal favourite because the musician’s faces can convey emotions and moods through their expressions. In my opinion, these covers give you the clearest vision of what they want their audience to feel, while minimalist or painted covers can be a little vague. The album covers above range from provocative, sexy, and creepy, respectively. This can connect art lovers to the emotions your art is meant to evoke.


Arctic Monkeys "AM" (left) Pink Floyd "Dark Side of the Moon" (left)

Sometimes, you don’t have to have a lot. The simplest to construct, maintain, and update are the covers that are most narrowly focused. These types of album covers use minimal design to their advantage to help sell their albums to the public. AM and Dark Side of the Moon are on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list, with the latter being seen as one of the best-selling albums of all time.


Gallows "Belly of the Shark" (left) Matt Elliott "Howling Songs" (right)

In my opinion, illustrated album covers are the most visually creative covers around because the emerging artist's imagination is captured through illustrations. Look at the Belly of the Shark, with its colour palette and strokes, and how the black and beige colours of Howling Songs compliment the man’s face. These elements help make the album covers stand out a little more artistically than the others do.

Did you like the album covers that were shown? What album covers have you found particularly appealing? What appeals to you about them? Think about the aspects of these album covers that you find appealing and maybe you can use those components to create something fresh and intriguing in your own artwork.

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