How to design album covers

The thing about Information Professionals/Librarians/Whatever is they need to have a diverse skill set. One minute you can be cataloguing books by emotion and the next you can be splitting up a knitter’s circle that has gotten dangerously loud and is frightening the children in the soft book section. You have to be able to adapt.

One of the most lucrative areas that I have found myself working in is designing album covers for bands. Like a lot of things in my life, I got into this by chance.  It started with my capstone project on classifying 1980s cassette covers using the British Catalogue of Music Classification system which I did purely to impress a hot looking library student. I put a lot of work into that.


More importantly, I get insane amounts of money for designing album covers and this helps me to be of benefit to mankind. It is still not enough to keep a book shop open so I have to work like everyone else. I get offered edgey guitar bands which suits me down to the ground. Film scores and experimental jazz I farm out to my friends.

My favourite tool for designing album covers is a Random Flickr Blendr created by John Johnston that he uses for self help book covers. This was originally used for gonzo digital media bootcamp DS106, but like a lot of things on the internet it is only limited by imagination.I give it bonus points for using Flickr cos I love creative commons.

Below are a few of my album covers.






Hard Light


Color burn


Color Dodge



Bring out the Gimp

One of the first things I had to do in my internship was to start creating some graphics. Posters, flyers, promotional material, headers, banners and any sort of visual images that the organisation wants.

I was dreading this becuase I do not think I am very visual. I prefer to work with text. I have used layout software (InDesign) in the past and the experience has not been a good one, because I was trying to learn off an old manual.

So, I was wary when I was told that I was going to be learning some graphic design as part of the internship. They set me up with this odd thing called Gimp ( the Gnu Image Manipulation Program), which appears to be similar to PhotoShop. It is free and open source, which is a huge advantage compared to PhotoShop. The basic principle appears to be based on the concept of layers. Images are uploaded as layers and manipulated (resized, cropped, changed and moved about) and then all the layers are finally merged into one.



So far, it seems to work well. It has some unique peculiarities but it has many of the same shortcuts that other graphic packages have. I am having some fun with it.

Anybody out there used it?


Image credit –