The Best Music Album Cover Designs of 2020
Although 2020 has been somewhat chaotic in almost every sphere of life, it has definitely produced some great music – and album covers. Taking on a number of the latest design trends, the album covers that have been put out in 2020 certainly did not disappoint.
We’ve put together a curated list of our top 10 favourite album covers of 2020. Make sure to take note of the different design tools, aesthetics and trends that have been used to create these great album covers.
1. Zulu Man With Some Power – Nasty C
Released just last week, the use of 3D graphics on the album cover of ‘Zulu Man With Some Power’ are undeniably great. The use of colour and detail lends to an almost mystical look, not the mention the brilliant framing. Rap artist Nasty C has definitely leaned towards the more creative side when deciding on this unique album artwork. 3D graphic design has definitely been a popular design trend in 2020.
2. Heaven or Hell – Don Toliver
Noted as one of the most prominent albums of 2020, ‘Heaven or Hell’ by Don Toliver features a western-style hand painted artwork by illustrator Matt McCormick. What we love most about this cover is both the use of colour, linework and clever use of space. The level of detail is also admirable – even the generic ‘parental advisory explicit content’ note seemed to also be hand painted.
3. Circles – Mac Miller
The photographer that created this incredibly beautiful posthumous album cover for Mac Miller’s album ‘Circles’ is still unknown. Fans and critics have narrowed it down to either Mac Miller’s photographer before and around the time of his death, Justin Boyd or Christaan Felber, who was the last photographer to shoot with Mac before his death. The album cover is composed of two photographs layered on top of each other in a way that resemble double exposure film photography. The cover itself is minimalist, but definitely has an underlying feeling of solemn.
4. The Slow Rush – Tame Impala
Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and photographer Neil Krug captured the album cover for the band’s newest album ‘The Slow Rush’ out in an abandoned mining town in the middle of the Namibian desert. It was the town Kolmanskop that served as the inspiration for the album cover, as it was filled with brightly coloured architecture. The photographs were then edited to create a surreal, vivid artwork that embodies Tame Impala’s psychedelic, reflective music style.
5. Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
As the third album in the ‘Revenge of the Dreamers’ series, this Deluxe Edition Directors Cut album cover is incredibly unique and undeniably creative. The cover features hand painted portraits of all artists signed to record label Dreamville. All the artists on the cover are also featured on the album itself. Used in conjunction with the painting technique, interesting typography has also been used to create a distinction between the foreground and background. It’s safe to say that this album cover definitely strayed from conventional graphic design techniques used in album artwork but, nonetheless, it worked!
6. Imploding The Mirage – The Killers
The Killer’s latest album artwork for ‘Imploding The Mirage’ features American artist Thomas Blackshear’s piece called ‘Dance of the Wind and Storm’. The choice to use this artwork for the album cover was in fact a spontaneous one, decided upon during a recording session.
Blackshear’s piece served as a source of inspiration for the entire album, with the band returning to it constantly to make decisions about lyrics, sound and which songs to include on the album. The band noted that there are a number of direct links to the artwork within the song lyrics.
The delicate, whimsical painting itself was described by the artist; “I sought to create a romantic, lyrical feeling with emotion and energy.” With this in mind, it’s clear why the band decided on this piece as a source of inspiration for their alternative, indie rock genre of music.
7. Modus Vivendi – 070 shake
Well known illustrator Sam Spratt is back at it again with 070 Shake’s abstract album artwork for ‘Modus Vivendi’. The obvious use of complementary colours is incredibly eye-catching. Paired with the highly detailed use of highlighting and shading, this piece appears resemblant of a photograph when viewed at a distance. The abstract, sci-fi theme is also highly symbolic of 070 Shake’s alternative hip-hop music style.
8. Dreamland – Glass Animals
Adding to his long list of talents – singer, songwriter and producer of Glass Animals, Dave Bayley conceptualized the cover art for the band’s latest album himself too. The band worked together on a 3D graphics program to put together the artwork. The cover itself features a 3D imaging of Bayley’s head, surrounded by objects he encountered in his life.
The use of colour and neon elements lends to the vapourwave microgenre of the 1980s/1990s they aimed to capture. The overall theme of Dreamland is inherently nostalgic and is said to be inspired by ‘I Spy’, an old series of children’s book. The techniques used are undoubtedly in line with the latest 3D design trends we’ve been seeing this year so far.
9. Gimme Love – Joji
As with his past album covers, artist Joji plays a large role in the design process of his album artwork. This one in particular is a single off of his second studio album. The artwork features a film-like style photograph which works to create a hazy, dreamlike image– presumably in anticipation of his upcoming album, ‘Nectar’. This orchestral song has been described as a “sticky pop anthem with haunting vocals”, which is clearly reflected by the album cover design.
10. Chromatica – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s long awaited album ‘Chromatica’ was undoubtedly well-received when it dropped. It’s artwork seemed to follow suit and has been regarded as one of the best album designs of the year. The artwork itself is made up of both photographic and graphic design elements. The artwork depicts an interesting, dystopian themed scene. The album design and execution was put together by a large team of people that worked in collaboration to materialize this piece.
Feeling inspired? Having looked at this diverse list of great album artworks designed by some extremely talented artists, freelance designers and photographers, make sure to check out this article on 99 designs which features some great freelance album artwork designers that are ready for hire! Whether you’re an artist yourself or simply part of a creative team, you’ll undoubtedly find a designer right for you.