Regardless of the album cover, if your favourite artist or band came out with a new record you would still buy it. So why create album artwork? Album covers are a visual representation of the music we love. When people ask you “what’s your favourite album cover?” you tend to choose one that’s visually appealing, but you also choose an album that has meaning to you. It’s tough to separate the artwork from the album itself. It’s become more than “just a cool design”. Album artwork can give an album an overall theme, influence someone’s purchase decision, and it can even send out hidden messages (Super Tramp’s “Breakfast In America” has intense subliminal messaging).
But it seems like nowadays a big majority of people buy albums digitally instead of getting the hardcopy of it. This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the album artwork as much. Back in the day (before my time, so hear me out) people would collect milk crates full of vinyls by going to a music store, grab the record they’re looking for, look at the sleeve it was held within, and then get their jams on. Then eventually vinyl records became CDs (I’m old enough for this), becoming high-stacked towers or coasters in the living room. But even CDs aren’t big anymore. It’s different now. People get on the Internet and instantly download the song or album they want. It has made it so much easier to collect album upon album and keep them neatly organized in a less old-fashioned way, bye milk crates! I wouldn’t say the appreciation of album artwork has gone down because the lack of album physicality – it’s just different. Album artwork is still it’s own culture, it’s just appreciated in a completely new way than it used to be. People still anticipate when artists come out with new CDs, yes mainly for the music, but an album has artwork tied down to it. Good, bad, memorable and controversial designs, it’s something people will always want to see.
There are thousands of album covers out there which makes it difficult to choose your favourites. I asked everyone at FLIPP to show me their favourite three. This wasn’t an easy decision for all of us, but all of the album covers are not only appealing, but they have a personal story behind them all.