Just a song

September 12, 2012

No fools around sometimes notice that the culture of musical covers is dying out, we’re sure you’ve heard something of this sort from any of the friends. You can’t understand what they talk about on the spot. Have the CDs and DVDs started coming out without covers or have the number of groups decreased? Or maybe that’s about people who stopped paying attention to the covers and collecting material music carriers?

We asked designers and illustrators these and some other questions. Most of them play in a group, sing or they are married to musicians. At least they all listen to music no one has ever heard of.(Check point 39 in “50 reasons not to date a graphic designer”), so they all gave us much interesting information.

Sergey Maximov takes the lead in this article, and then the topic is to be continued. 

Sergey Maximov


Ten years ago I used to go shopping for a CD to a good music store every time I got my salary. Although I could download everything as easy as anyone else around. From time to time I even bought the CD that I had already had in MP3 format. But the tactile feeling of the packing, the printing quality and the box has not much to be compared to. It’s like having a cigarette after sex. Time goes by and now you can just listen to music online instead of downloading it. And those flashbacks are just like watching the family album. Although I have never been a musical stuff maniac I keep all the covers as it’s easier for me to remember the picture and associate it with the music I listen to. Even now, in the era of iTunes, I get covers for all MP3 albums.

I am sure that many people still collect records or CDs with their favorite music. It’s a sort of a rite, when people come to your place to see and admire the old records collection. Now we are too lazy to download albums from Torrents. But the covers are the problem of today. You need to make out the albums in the lists or in virtual audio libraries. There is no need in some number of printed copies of covers and packings. If you are a musician, you can just post a picture drawn by an illustrator you know on your web site as a cover for the single or album. Isn’t it a worthy use of Tim Berners-Lee’s ideas?


Posters and covers making is a real job abroad. And here it’s a sort of self-publishing, that is to say, many beginners who want to become a skilled hand at illustrating are ready to do it for free. Isn't it?

Well, it’s easier to start your career as a cover illustrator, it’s worldwide practice. You can give a visual party when you don’t have to deal with any deadlines or clients’ muddle. There are a lot of such works on behance — and they are often great.

What is more, I think that many designers and illustrators will soon make gratuitous  covers and videos for their favorite groups as the more successful the album is, the more famous they are. It seems to be utopia but it already works!


Show us some really cool illustrated covers.

Almost everything that is somehow connected with illustration for me is like a red rag for a bull. But I have never accentuated attention to illustrated covers. The harmony of sound and visual images, the atmosphere is more important. 

Here are the covers that have shaken me.

The rock monsters — Hypnosis studio. These guys had been making the real history of the cover design. Many cult covers that we know and love are the works of them.


I can’t overlook a sweet well-known Michael Jackson’s album “Dangerous” cover because it’s a work of famous Mark Ryden, a cult artist for a great musician.


The concept and cover design of the Air’s album 10 000 Hz Legend made by Ora Ito is a good example of industrial design that looks like an illustration.


The frankest and the most mould crashing is the photo of Jimmy Hendrix for his Electric LadyLand made by David Montgomery.


About a year ago I came across a great album, Iron by EP Wookid, the cover for which was made by a famous French artist Stephan Belleux.


I love serial covers:

Of Montreal


Os Mutantes






Pakawa It' (they are lucky to have such friends illustrators)


And some others.

Iron & Wine


Camera Obscura


Muscles Younger & Immature by Stevey Scott


Nate Williams for Tin Cup Serenade


David Stone Martin for Roy Eldridge Collates


Ostin Eustis


Covers by Jim Flora


In general, if a musician has a good taste, his/her album will never have a bad cover. Tom York and Bjork’s discography proves my words. Gosh, I can enumerate cool covers for years!

Concept art by Tom Butch for Radiohead The King of Limbs


The musicians sometimes can be illustrators like Matthew McBess and his crew The Dead Pirates.


This is a new Fiona Apple’s album, she has drawn a great cover.


For more look through behances:

Have you seen that?