Designers Discussion: Appealing to the Senses

October 15th, 2012

Upon birth, we are equipped with five senses of touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste. Graphic designers possess the ability to appeal strongly to the sense of sight through eye-catching innovations, vibrant concepts, and originality. Often times, visual arts fall hand in hand with performing arts, fostering an undeniably brilliant conjunction between art and music. While many designers make a name for themselves through branding and advertising for up and coming companies, some of the greatest designs of all time can be found just a click away: on iTunes. Though many album covers may be slathered with airbrushed photos of beautiful men and women enjoying the decadence of club life, a few rare gems have demonstrated that some album covers can be adorned with artwork as breathtaking as the sounds inside.  Revolutionary artists- both designers and musicians- have proved that judging a book by its cover is, in fact, a perfectly acceptable notion in the music industry.

In a world loaded with a hodgepodge of autotuned songs and even more heavily edited photos lies a treasure trove of excellence, chockfull of artistic expression. Muse, for example, has released album after album emblazoned with mesmerizing and oddly enchanting images of everything from brains to geometric shapes to kaleidoscopes. Daring to take both music and album cover art to the next level has been a specialty for Muse, as displayed most recently in their latest album, The 2nd Law.

According to the band, the image was inspired by the human brain and the way in which it processes information: through bright, vibrant, zany coloration. Perhaps the most breathtaking cover of all, however, was featured on the popular band’s fifth studio album, The Resistance. With its spellbindingly captivating construction, the kaleidoscope interpretation captures the combination of wonder and imagination in a Pantone pandemonium of rich colors. Designed by artist La Boca, the cover was not only praised by fans of Muse: it also won Best Art Vinyl 2009.

Coldplay, on the other hand, has shown such extreme diversity in its album artwork, all of which coincides with the band’s evolution of musical development over past years. The uber-modern images that graced the cover of X&Y,  as well as all of the EPs and singles that accompanied the album, showcasing Coldplay’s newfound contemporary notes. But with time, Coldplay’s musical style evolved and ultimately led to the release of Mylo Xlyoto, which sported a cover inspired by colorful graffiti. These explosions of color soon led to a branding of the band: what started as a simple idea, sparked such an eccentric and fascinating side of Coldplay unbeknownst to music lovers across the globe.

The artwork of an album has the power to set the tone of each track before the listener even tunes in. Just like advertising, an album cover must attract attention and stand out from the crowd. While it may be up to musicians to appeal to the sense of sound, it is up to the designers to appeal to the sense of sight.


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