The Science of Album Artwork
By Aaron Porter
Once again we delve, semi-deep into the thought process that goes into your favorite (and not so favorite) album artwork. Today we take a look at some artwork that unfortunately falls on the later end of the design spectrum. In the world of design it’s important to see the good and the bad (mostly because every artist has a bit of both in them) so that we can be aware of when things go wrong. Boom Town sadly suffers from some errors that even the most rank amateur designer should have been able to catch.
Victor WainWright – Boom Town
Sometimes it’s easy to look at a design and say or know it’s bad. There are reasons for that. There are an exasperating number of problems with this artwork. I hesitate to look this over partly because it’s impossible to know why this particular final design was approved occurred. Either way, something has to be first, may as well be Boom Town.
If you’re going to make a composition comprised of multiple photos you’ve got to do it well. They need to be able to fit together and appear coherent. Using low resolution images next to high resolution images, as they’ve done here, calls attention to the fact that the image is not only constructed but done so without any thought given to the pixel density or noise quality. Additionally, each photo indicates a very different light source.
The car’s perspective is another problem, as it doesn’t match the street. As one of the major elements, it’s imperative to get that right. If an image is one of the top two spots in your hierarchy then you must, must nail it. From the bad perspective to the questionable photo choice it throws the entire album art into this disjointed and confusing …. thiiiiing. I understand wanting to give full attention to the band mates, but the positioning of the two not in the car is so confusing. It feels like the only reason they’re there at all is because everyone else is, and frankly after thoughts can destroy a design as quickly as anything else. Have all of your elements ready from the start. If something does come up and it must be added, start from the beginning.
I feel now is as good a time to mention this as any.
Designers can fire clients…
I know what seems counter intuitive, but knowing that you can not fulfill a clients needs or wants is one of your most important skills. If a client is asking for something that you think will in some fashion harm your reputation or ability to attract other clients, walk away. It won’t be easy but sometimes it’s necessary. Okay… rant off.
We tried to fix some of the issues with the design, but without the original files it wasn’t easy, but it should give you and idea of what it could have started to look like with even a half hours worth of work.
If you’re not a designer, you might not be able to point out these problems individually- but something will definitely feel off. Like a cheap disguise, you know what they’re going for but it’s not convincing.
Remember everyone, bad design punishes everyone, not just the client.