Collaborating Artist to Artist
Musicians & Visual Artists | Collaborating to create album covers

A band’s visual identity is essential in a commercial world – audiences, record labels and venues will see single/EP/album covers before they hear the music.

Finding an artist is not difficult. Finding the right artist can be. The temptation may be to go with your pal who is good at art and offers to design your album and logo. That can be a bad choice.

Consider if their style is appropriate for your band. Does a delicate drawing suit your heavy rock band or will it confuse your audience?

If your pal isn’t the answer, how do you find somebody who fits the bill?

Keep your eyes open; go to exhibitions, check out local creative communities online and ask around. If you find somebody who’s work you like, email them. If they can’t help, they might know somebody who can.

Clarify expectations in a casual contract that states what you are receiving and what the artist can expect from you in return. There is nothing worse than finishing a project and both sides feeling like they have been cheated.

Then be clear about the terms of the license you will receive for using the artwork. Artists rarely transfer their copyright to a client, so unless they explicitly agree, it won’t become yours. You will normally be paying for them to produce the work and for to have a right to use it.

You can’t just use work you find online. Let’s say you do and your single goes platinum in the UK; that’s 600,000 breaches of copyright you could have to compensate the artist for.

Discuss payment openly so that you can find a solution that works for you and the artist. Illustrators and designers spend many years and a lot of money learning to draw/paint and use typography, layout and colour. Like musicians, they expect to be remunerated for their skills.

With the nitty-gritty items ticked off, you can move on to fun part – the design process.

Some questions worth asking:

  • Which albums/logos do you like?
  • Have you associated a colour with your band?
  • Do you want something humorous/silly or serious/emotional?

It’s much easier for the artist if you have some idea of what you do/don’t want and if you can provide your songs for them to listen to.

I recently worked on an EP cover for Electioneer. They sent images of covers they liked, along with a Soundcloud link. Once I had an idea of their style, I decided this would be an opportunity to experiment with a screen-printing technique that was new to me.

From Electioneer’s song Little Sun I got a hint of Twin Peaks. That made me want to explore eerie imagery, but with a lighter undertone through the use of brighter colours.

Part of the brief was that the EP should have local appeal in Glasgow. I remembered The Witch’s Tree in Pollock Park, which I’d visited one stormy afternoon (it’s spooky even in the best of weathers). I painted the ink directly onto the screen and printed it. I had fun and they liked the result. The perfect combo!

The cover has since been used for gig backdrops, press kits, posters and their record cover. I’m excited to find out where it will pop up next!

Both you and the designer can benefit from a good relationship by creating opportunities for Both you and the designer can benefit from a good relationship by creating opportunities for each other down the line. Enjoy expanding your network!

This article was written by our friend Ida Henrich. Please check out her work here.