inspiration for designers

9 Ways to Get Inspiration for Your Album Artwork

It’s your first album and you want everything to be perfect- including, of course, the CD artwork. But you are too drained! You’ve been thinking of concepts for your album artwork for weeks yet no idea is remarkable enough. So you’re now hopeless and you’re running out of time.

First, you need to take a deep breath and get a cuppa coffee. Then, come back here and read the tips and resources below. Because with art, it’s 99% inspiration. Here are some ways to get inspiration for your album artwork:

1. Listen to Your Album with Your Eyes Closed.

It might seem like a very mushy idea but this is what most designers and art directors do in order to visualize the look of the CD package. Nope, it is not necessary that the album art should reflect the music but it’s nicer that way,eh? Especially if you’re still a new band. So close your eyes and let your imagination wander as you listen to your songs. Make sure you take note of the overall mood of the images, the colors (if possible), the feel, the texture, etc. If an image pops in your head, take a snapshot of it in your brain and transfer it to paper.

2. Google Grammy Winners for Album Packaging.

In order to make good designs, you have to see examples of good designs. Here are the Grammy winners for Album cover design in the seventies, eighties, nineties, and 2000s. Maybe you’ll get inspired by these designs and who knows you’ll be included in the next batch of winners!

3. Go to Design Resources Online.

There are plenty of visual resources on the web where designers and creatives can turn to for inspiration. Here is a list of the top 10 resources for design and inspiration online.

4. Explore the city, the suburbs, wherever. Go out!

If you’re stuck in the same place, if you’re stuck in the same routine, then your ideas might be a bit limited. If you cannot find a good concept for your album packaging, shake things up by changing your routine or trying something new. Even a stroll in the park (if it’s not part of your routine) could spark an idea or two.

5. Take photos of anything that inspire you.

Make sure you bring a camera when you’re strolling in the park. Take photographs of the things that inspire you. Do not think. Just take random shots of people,places,and things that you like. This will teach you to let go of the seriousness you have for your album artwork and actually enjoy capturing art. This will also result to lots of stock photos which you may find useful for your album cover design. There is plenty of creative album artwork that uses Polaroid photos.

6. Check out different materials in a craft store.

Who says you should only use one type of paper or cardboard for your CD package? You can use any type of paper you want. You can even create a CD package made of bubble wrap, wooden box, or even a tin can.

7. Go to a museum

Why not? That’s the go-to place for visual art.

8. Visit Your Nearest Record Store

Study (yes, study) the album artworks on the shelves. Without thinking, pick out the ones you like best per row. Take a snapshot of those albums and examine them at home. Why do you think they got your attention? What elements are there? What colors are there? Do you like a certain album artwork because of the concept or the execution?

 9. Browse Packaging blogs like Dieline

Remember that you are coming up with a packaging and not just a booklet. The rules and aesthetics of packaging are quite similar but still different from posters, booklets, and flyers. Visiting packaging blogs will help you come up with a good “wrapping” for your product (your album). The Dieline is the best website to visit for packaging inspiration.


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