How I create album artwork

How I create album artwork



How I create album artwork

I love creating album artwork because I have to work directly from a brief. And, often the briefs push me to use different colours, textures or mediums I wouldn’t normally use. 

I can find it a bit too easy to get stuck in my nice little bubble (it’s a lovely colourful bubble of turquoise and gold).

I also get to talk to people!!! About the type of art they’re after and how it can compliment their music, rather than working by myself listening to podcasts, which I do love but can get a bit lonely.

These album briefs differ from a commission for a client’s home - because generally a customer knows the colour they’d like for their house, or has seen a similar painting of mine that they’d like to have on their wall. 

An album cover brief is usually about mood rather than colour.

My process

Creating album covers also means listening to lots of different music - or sometimes just one track on repeat, (depending on whether it's an album or single cover).

I will have the track or tracks on loop while creating the artwork. This helps in so many ways. I find audio, whether music, podcasts or audiobooks, helps focus my mind and quieten my noisy inner critic. So I always have something playing while I paint, whatever I am working on.

I will always have an initial listen before even selecting which materials to use. I sit with my eyes closed to focus on the sound and mood of the music. 

Sometimes I will see colours, shapes, or brushstrokes/lines in a certain direction. Other times the music is very evocative in terms of atmosphere - sad, upbeat, dramatic, scary etc. This combined with the brief sets me up to start. 

Collaborative briefs

Sometimes the briefs are very open ended - dreamy and spacious were the words used for the below album colour, and I was free to interpret that through art. 


Other times a description and palette will be given -  loud and driving with dark colours. This image was actually used for a horror score album.


When working with more open ended briefs I love creating a series of paintings - especially alcohol ink paintings - in the same mix of inks. Because of the nature of working with alcohol inks - organic, intuitive and fast paced.

I love having a few to send to clients to choose from too as they pick their favourite and I can use the others for exhibitions, prints, cards and notepads.

I love that so much of my work has been created by listening to the music of amazingly talented composers and musicians. 

Working with a clear vision

Other times the briefs can be more specific - Dave from “The Bustling Tram Society’ had a really clear brief and sent over a few images of couples walking by the river. 

To create this album cover I listened to the album and the vocals and music sounded like autumn - warm colours and hues. Most composers just want the digital image but Dave wanted to keep the original painting as well so we just had to wait for the oil to dry.


An artistic language

I create the album and single artwork for This Shimmering Sky  - my husband is a composer and he creates this music. The paintings I create for him are acrylic inks with paint pen over the top, to add highlights and details.

Because I have created so many of these I have a visual language for these covers - so they are always created with the same materials and the palette is always full of dreamy, relaxing colours.



Here's a selection of This Shimmering Sky single covers in Itunes

You can see more of my album covers on my website here: album covers



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