We all know albums where the cover is talked about as much as the songs on it. Album covers often evoke themes that are sonically portrayed or they could be complete nonsense. The process of creating an album cover can be a difficult process as bands will often want to be cohesive in their art for the run of that album. Ideas will come and go as the imagery, or even lack thereof, is brought to life.
We put together a list of some of our favorite album covers and why we like them so much. This was a very difficult thing to decide and you can bet we will do something like this again in the future.
Surf – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Album Art by Elijah Maura
The simplicity of this cover is actually quite captivating. You can tell the bottle was put there for a purpose. It draws the listener in to find out what the message is inside. There is also a sort of irony in such a “blank” album cover as the album is a rush of emotion, color, and creativity. Each song has its own identity and the cover seems to be accepting of all of that.
The artist, Elijah Maura, was only 18 years old when he was commissioned by Chance the Rapper to design the album cover. He was still in high school and it took roughly 2 class periods to create it. He went to college at Parsons School of Design in New York for illustration and hopes to continue working with artists in the future.*
Anti – Rihanna, Album Art by Roy Nachum
With the red-white contrast, image of a young Rih Rih (then Robyn Fenty), and Braille dots covering the piece, Roy Nachum had a vision for this cover. Titled If They Let Us, Part I, it evokes both power and innocence. The red and the crown covering her face show the power she was born with and will inevitably share with the world. This is part of Nachum’s “Blind” series which aims to open viewers’ eyes, including those who cannot see. The distortion in the body seems like this power is raging inside her and will soon burst out.
Nachum has worked with artists such as Andy Warhol, Kanye West, and Lady Gaga. The Jerusalem-born artist often experiments with human perception, encouraging patrons to interact with his art.
Malibu – Anderson Paak, Album Art by Dewey Saunders and Cory Gomberg
While Anderson Paak had been putting out music long before Malibu, it is safe to say this album threw him into the sea of popularity. The task of putting the content of this album in a 2D space was definitely not easy. The art is all over the place, much like Paak’s unconventional musical style. Bits and pieces of songs lyrics are strewn across the cover like the bird and an old Chevrolet. The layers of the cover greatly reflect the multi-layered output of Anderson Paak’s music, ebbing and flowing into one another, both clashing and collaborating at the same time.
The duo have worked with Paak in the past, including his album Venice. Dewey Saunders, also known by his stage name Dewey Decibel, is a rapper and visual artist out of Philly. Cory Gomberg is the Founder and Creative Director of Poseidon Studios in Los Angeles.
This contribution was written by Beyond The Music’s Connor Skelly.
666 – Sugar Candy Mountain, Album Art by Jess Willa Wheaton
California native Jess Willa Wheaton’s work seamlessly juxtaposes natural landscapes with modern, vibrant architecture. The lush foliage of this album cover provides a welcoming portal into Sugar Candy Mountain’s 2016 album 666. Without much previous knowledge of Sugar Candy Mountain, I stumbled upon this album cover at work while floating through a Spotify-generated Foxygen Radio Station. Its vibrant pink and warm green shades immediately caught my eye. Upon closer look, I realized the collage’s brilliance.
The angle at which the image is framed provides an entrance into psychedelia and psychedelia only. The artist doesn’t present us with an entrance to the house. Only a small peek into what might be going on inside the tropical home. Otherwise, the audience is left to create the setting within its own mind. The artist gives the shadows with minimal sky; luscious flora with only one creeping creature. Leaves cool the vibrant pink house while shadows lay warmly on the green grass.
Wheaton currently has gallery work up in Brooklyn, and her website is filled with paintings and collages, both paper and vinyl. She also did an equally as attention worthy work for Sugar Candy Mountain’s 2013 album Mystic Hits.
Barchords – Bahamas, Album Art by Heather Goodchild
While it may seem like a simple bedroom image that represents Bahamas’ 2013 album, Barchords, the photograph by Heather Goodchild carries so many small elements making it a mesmerizing album cover to anyone lucky enough to take a closer look. The angle of the image opens the room up to a confusingly bright light with no obvious root. What gives the room the light? Is it the sun or the small bedside lamp perched directly in front of it? Various contrasts fill this room. Boy, girl; naked, dressed.
Heather Goodchild is a diverse artist, who works successfully with textiles and painting as well as installations and other album artwork. She has worked on many of Bahamas’ videos as well as designed album art for Justin Rutledge and concert posters for Jill Barber and others.
Anything in Return – Toro Y Moi, Album Art by John Stortz
I’m not always a fan of seeing the band or artist on the cover of their own album. It often makes me feel like it’s a little showy, like an extension of a musician’s reoccurring necessity to self promote. In my opinion there are many artists who have done a poor job with this, taking away from the visual importance of having a well thought out album cover by just pasting themselves in what may be an otherwise beautiful scene.
But, the art of Toro Y Moi’s 2013 album Anything in Return has elements that again caught my eye without really listening to the album previously. I had dabbled with Toro y Moi in the background at work, heard it playing from my roommates’ bedroom, went to a DJ set once, but he never hooked me. The aesthetic of this cover, illustrated by John Stortz highlights the artist while adding an important amount of other elements. I like that the focus of the picture is not just a standing musician. It feels as if Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bear is interacting with the audience in an intimate way. Like a doctor hits your knee to check your reflexes, the subject plays his album for you to examine your reaction.
John Stortz is an illustrator and traveler. “Steady hands, wandering feet,” reads his Instagram bio and it shows. The LA based artist seems to have a knack for traveling, and incorporates animals and nature elements into his drawings. Though it seems he has been focusing on animal illustrations lately, his thick portfolio consists of colorful and meticulous design. Check him, and his dog Wolfgang out on Instagram or Tumblr.
This contribution was written by Beyond The Music’s Emily Steinhauer.
*Information gathered from this interview.