Getting Album Artwork Right Part 5: Quality Control

Album art seems less and less important these days to some, where in reality it is still greatly important and an important way to make your release stand out. In order to do it right there are many considerations and little details that are easy to mess up. Hopefully, we can help you to avoid those in this series.

Sometimes despite the fact that you put, thought and planning into your album artwork, thing still go wrong. This is inevitable any time you set off on a creative endeavor and knowing how to deal with it can be one of those things that either saves this endeavor or lets it fall into the category of mediocrity or even failure. Now that I broke your heart, I will let you know the brightside: most of the things that go on in album art can be fixed with some easy and even free solutions.

Trust Yourself

I will confess something, I have a terrible visual eye. While as a record producer I can hear exactly why a mix isn’t working a in a few short minutes, I can often not place what’s wrong with a piece of art or what could make it work better. As a manager, I have had to comment on thousands of pieces of art over the years and one of the things I learned is I don’t need to know exactly what’s wrong with a design, just a few simple concepts can help me communicate what I am not liking to a designer and remedy the problems easily.

Fonts

One of the quickest fixes for bad album artwork is that the fonts the designer are using aren’t working. Fonts establish a mood for artwork and if the mood that font is giving off isn’t gelling with the rest of the album artwork it can kill the whole thing. Simply ask for a new version or three, with different fonts used in the artwork. It is sometimes necessary to not use stock fonts and have the designer add to them to bring a less generic quality to the album artwork.

Filters

Filters are all the rage these days, and in all reality they make mediocre art and photographs look way more exciting. If you are having a problem with photos or art falling just a little short of expectations try giving filters a shot. there are some great one’s available at sites like Pixlr (pixlr.com). Sometimes a filter will change the mood of some art to get exactly the right feeling you are looking for and make the whole art comes together.

The Push

Often times artists just need more information or a push. If they aren’t living up to your expectations or figuring out your vision you can first try giving them a bit more of a push. Some positive encouragement can go a lot further than just saying that they suck and aren’t getting your vision. Perhaps you are the problem and you aren’t describing to them what you want in a way they understand. If an artist isn’t getting what I want, I try to find a new way to describe it to them, or find things I like in other designs and tell them what I like about them. This positivity along with more clues can often give a good artist exactly what they need to make you happy.

Files

One of the great things about doing art in the modern-day is that most printers need the Photoshop Document. If you have some art that’s just missing the smallest touch, you can often enlist the help of another designer (friend or a pro you hire from the Internet) and have them just give the design an objective perspective.

Worst Case Scenario

You are over-budget and unhappy with the art you got, and most of all beaten down with art you waited on and paid for. Don’t worry, there are still tons of options out there to get what you want. Hit up the local graphic design school and ask the teacher if he will post an ad for their students, these kids are usually dying for some experience. Hit craigslist or other music message boards, even your social networks may have a fan who is dying to help you out, (be careful, since if you hate what they do, you may have one less fan). You can also try running a contest and getting some free publicity out of it. There is still hope!

Jesse Cannon is the editor of Musformation. He produces records at his studio Cannon Found Soundation. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseCannonMusF. For more info please visit his website.