Album Cover Artwork Inspiration

Over the years there’s been lots inspirational artwork created for album covers and with this post I am going to highlight a few of my all time favourite designs as well as introduce my new series of “Musically Inspired Album Covers”.

Digital downloads are unfortunately taking away more and more sales from physical CDs which is a shame as you really lose out on seeing the awesome artwork associated. I personally try and buy a physical version of the album whenever I see a good design but I sadly think this might well be a dying trend, mainly due to the convenience of applications like iTunes.

The trend of having interesting artwork for album covers obviously started way before digital downloads and, like magazine covers, were a way of catching someone’s eye for them to want to find out more about the music or potentially make a purchase there and then. This today is not the case as much more music is simple purchased out of hearing the music or recommendation / word of mouth. However recently it looks like there has been a re-emergence in bands wanting to have more exciting and interesting album cover art – which is great as I would hate to see this kind of art dwindle.

My Musically Inspired Album Covers Series

This year I have been asked to create more and more album covers, which I love doing, but I noticed that the ones which I wanted to work on most were the ones where I had been inspired or moved by the music itself. This in turn has started a new project of mine on Flickr which I have called “Musically Inspired Album Covers”. The artwork here has been created with no other influence other than the music (playing on repeat1). I start with a blank screen and just start designing and hopefully create something that fits the style. Obviously there are subconscious influences, as with any design, which will come in to play but for the most part it just about me, the music and Illustrator CS5. I’d like to think that most of the designers below in the gallery have taken a similar approach as some of the designs seem to match the music perfectly.

Here a few of the design I have created so far in the Musically inspired album cover series. Follow my Flickr stream if you want to see more as I’m planning to keep this series going for a while or at least until I run out of truly inspirational music (which won’t be any time soon).

Inspired by Gareth Emery and the track Metropolis

Inspired by Jean Michel Jarre’s album Equinoxe

Inspired by Jean Michel Jarre’s album Zoolook

Inspired by Deadmau5’s album Lack of a better name

Inspired by Röyksopp’s album Junior

Inspired by Röyksopp’s album Melody A.M.

Inspired by Mike Oldfield’s album Platinum

Inspired by The Avalanches’ album Since I Left You

Inspired by BT’s album These Hopeful Machines

Inspired by Daft Punk’s single Digital Love

Inspired by Daft Punk’s single Around the World

Top 5 Album Cover Art

Below this is my full collection but I thought I would just outline my top 5 beforehand. These are my favourites and really encompass what I love about album cover art design.

Yes – Union (Roger Dean)

Jean Michel Jarre – Equinoxe

Crystal Method – Divided By Night (Neil Ashby)

Muse – Resistance (La Boca)

Rafale – Rock it, Don’t Stop it (Akroe)

Inspirational Album Cover Art Gallery

Here is the gallery of a selection of album cover art which I find really inspirational and exciting. If you know who the designer was please add a comment and a URL if possible so they get some recognition.

21 thoughts on “Album Cover Artwork Inspiration

  1. Justin James

    Funny enough, I was about halfway down and saying to myself, “I can’t beleive there are no Judas Priest covers here”, and with one more scroll of the page, there was “Screaming for Vengeance”.


  2. SteVen

    Wow you produce some of the most beautiful work i have ever seen. Also great work putting together this collection of covers.

  3. Jean Stuart

    New fan and love your covers I think, yep, I would buy all of them!

    My favourite cover isn’t listed here but is by Roger Dean (I think): prefuse73

  4. Kevin Gilmour

    Thanks for compiling the list Simon, I love Van Halen’s cover but I was always more fond of their Greatest Hits. It’s like a revisited version, – the use of Black & Gold is wasted on screen but I’m still using it as an influence to this day!

    I love your originals too, I think the first is my favourite.

    PS Your poll “If Adobe…” is missing a 4th option – Neither! I have a Mac G5 running Windows 7. It rules, best of both worlds; cool looking box on the desk, cool running OS inside!

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  7. Edric Ureel

    Been a while since I visited the blog.. but my mouth dropped right open again. Was a big fan, still a big fan. Amazing new work, love the colors (pink, …)

    Thx for sharing the inspiration,


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  10. David

    It’s my first time when i visit this blog.. But I never thought I would find an article so good with such quality photos. I will be a big fan of yours.

  11. Luke watts

    Wonderful collections i came across. your cover design looks unique and creative. One of our designer was in search of album cover i have forwarded this to him and he was happy.Thanks for sharing.

  12. Graphic Design

    Art can be in any form and style. You may work to whatever design you want like sample designs above. It’s what you thinks are good and what you think inspires you.

  13. Travis

    WOW! I have been trying to find and learn more about art like this for months and can’t find anything. I wish I knew at least where to start/ They obviously look very “algorithmic” or something…how did you learn? I am just starting a label and would like to represent our sounds with stuff like this…Thanks for inspiring me and GREAT art!


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