Making sure your records artwork is as fantastical as your record can often be a pretty daunting task. We get it – your record is your pride and joy, and you want to be a part of every single aspect of its creation, right?
Every single of us has a talent with something, and although it’s great to be a well-rounded talent, nobody’s a superman. Your creative genius may reside in the music, but when it comes to the record’s artwork, your inspiration simply falls flat…
So, where do the professionals come in?
A lot of work goes into record artwork design, as there are so many factors riding on it. After all, your record artwork is the true “face” of your music – this is what you present to the world, and, subsequently, this can be what makes or breaks your album’s success.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons why hiring a professional can be the perfect solution for sucesss, as well as a few tips and tricks to help you narrow down your artistic search.
Are you ready to become the global music sensation of tomorrow? Then read on…
Outsourcing Design: Pros
Let’s face it – having strong album artwork can never be a bad thing. Take a look at The Beatles Abbey Road album cover, for instance – you could probably recognize that artwork anywhere! And, it’s earned its iconic status with copious amounts of pop culture references…
There are many reasons why outsourcing your records artwork is a bright idea, and some of them may depend on your particular situation.
Still, several good reasons are widely applicable, and some of them may surprise you. Let’s look at four of the biggest ones:
1. You get a unique perspective:
Collaboration always yields amazing outcomes and records artwork design is no exception. By hiring an artist, others will take both your music and your input and come up with something fresh.
2. Maximize the appeal of your work:
Unfortunately, lots of people judge books by their covers. Even though your art is audible, very often, people make assumptions based on the record artwork.
By hiring someone specializing in this kind of design, you can make sure that they convey your message in the best possible way.
3. Save time (and money):
If you decide to do it yourself, you’re going to spend untold hours trying to learn about software, file types, printing, and more before you even get to the actual design process.
Remember, most graphic designers spend years in school learning their craft and then honing their skills. Whoever you hire has likely eaten, slept, and breathed graphic design for a very long time.
You don’t have that kind of time to invest.
It isn’t just the actual design, either. You have to know how to convert and manipulate that design to fit dozens of different formats and platforms. Then there is the production and printing process.
Think about all the ways you want to use this record artwork: do you know how to get there? Probably not. Do you have the time and energy to learn?
What’s more, you’re very close to this project; that almost goes without saying. Trying to convey everything you’ve poured into this project visually could become an agonizing process that is time-consuming and emotionally draining.
All told, you’re likely to save yourself hundreds of hours of your own time by hiring a graphic designer for your records artwork. Even though you will have to work within their availability and timeline (though you have some control over that), you’ll save much of your own time, and the finished product will probably be delivered sooner.
You’ve brought your music “baby” this far, and you’re undoubtedly anxious to get it in front of the world. Hiring a graphic designer can help you do it much faster.
4. Focus on the music:
No matter how passionate you are, everyone has a limit to their creative resources. Don’t waste yours on design; hire a professional artist and get back to your music (and all other tasks that go along with releasing a record)…
What Type of Graphic Designer Do You Need?
Just as there are different musicians, graphic designers specialize in various types of design, and several of those types apply to music.
In terms of skillsets that may apply to records artwork, these are just a few of them:
- A Music Designer – Highly illustrative artists, who are all about the music, man.
- A Brand Designer – Less about the music and more about you; visual branding is their specialty.
- A Social Media Savvy Designer – a designer specializing in this area will focus more on how the record art can appeal to users on social media such as Instagram, or Spotify. Many also have the added bonus of web design experience!
- A Product Designer: they’re going to focus on getting your record into the hands of users, plain and simple–they’re sales experts.
During this stage, the best thing that you can do is browse different graphic designers’ portfolios – which are super easy to find, by the way: you can check out a freelancer platform like Twine or Dribbble, or try your handy Instagram sleuthing skills!
Or, check out your music library! Go through your favorite records artwork and jot down any ideas you have for your own project. Having a basis of ideas to work from will be fundamental in helping you find the right designer for whatever task you need!
How to Hire a Graphic Designer
Once you have found several artists whose work is appealing to you, you then have to go about hiring them. To help you out, here a few quick tips:
- If you haven’t already, establish logistics.
What’s your budget? What is your ideal timeline? You may be able to (or need to) narrow your list based on those parameters.
- Personality, professionalism, portfolio:
Hiring a graphic designer for your records artwork is not just a business transaction; it is also an emotional experience – you’re hiring a business partner, here!
A good rule of thumb is that there should be a graphic design proposal and a price quote from your freelancer – before any contracts are made.
Therefore, it’s essential to genuinely like your designer and their work. In addition, they should behave professionally: return your calls and emails promptly, be up-front and realistic about costs and timeline, and be willing to collaborate on your ideas for your records artwork, and respond well to the client feedback.
- Find out about their partnerships:
Your designer may already have relationships in place to make some of your next steps easier – one of the obvious being printers. In addition, they may work closely with website programmers, social media experts, or marketing strategists/promoters.
Not only can they hook you up with some of these people, but their willingness to collaborate with them means that those people’s expertise will contribute to your records artwork too – score!
- Ask about their creative process:
What will it take your freelance designer to design your records artwork? How much input will they seek from you and others? Find out about their creative steps along the way and how you can be involved. That way, you’re more likely to love whatever they design.
After sending them your recordings, and signing a contract, you don’t want the next time you hear them to be when the artwork is finished…
These are just basic elements of professionalism within the field of graphic design. For more help finding your perfect freelancer, check out our archive – guidance on everything, from finding a freelancer to constructing a contract!
The 2 Core Components of Your Records Artwork:
1. Artwork Format
This advice that we want to give to you is also a very compelling reason to hire a professional graphic designer in the first place. Even though printing is essential, it isn’t the primary way your recorded artwork will be seen.
You need a designer who will think about how their work will look on various platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, YouTube Music, and much more.
A standard format for this type of work is a 1:1 square format with very high resolution and colors. That way, the record label, and artwork will look best on a high-DPI, high color range mobile screen.
Extra Tip: Consider Establishing Printing Relationships
However, even though much of the music consumed these days is done digitally, you will still have printing needs. Unfortunately, just as you’re not an expert in design, your designer isn’t necessarily an expert in printing.
That’s why you should also look into establishing a good relationship with a printer.
Not only will you need to print the artwork of the actual record, but you’re probably also going to need posters, promotional materials, and even other items that your future fans will want, such as t-shirts and other souvenirs.
If you find and begin to work with a reputable, reliable printer now, it can save you time and stress down the road.
2. Artwork Style
It’s best to collaborate with a graphic designer who has some idea of the type of style you want. Here are a few album artwork styles that are particularly trendy:
This can be either object or image-based. It uses dark or light objects on top of colorful backgrounds to make it look like frosted glass and emphasize what is underneath.
Very popular with indie artists, the especially nostalgic design evokes a sense of longing for the past or even the imaginary. They often feature grainy photography of people, landscapes, or a combination of the two.
As the name implies, the geometric design emphasizes shapes but isn’t necessarily considered minimalist design. Designers also incorporate geometric design principles to balance or draw viewers’ eyes within their artwork.
In the end, you will want to choose something that reflects yourself, your music, and the message that you’re trying to convey with it. A professional graphic designer can help you turn those ideas into something visually stunning and acurately representative.
Where Can I Outsource?
Twine & Freelancer Platforms
Freelance vetting means looking further than the resume and portfolios. Testimonials are also available to view, so you can see how successful the freelancer was with past clients.
If using a freelance platform like Twine, you can be reassured knowing that their team has done the hard part for you – browse their range of over 33,000 graphic designers, take your pick, and be satisfied knowing you’re getting top-quality designers and artists, at your service.
You’re probably thinking – and what about agencies, right? True, you may want to venture into the realms of outsourcing via an agency, instead of an independent designer. Although we can’t rave about our freelancers quite enough, we admit that there are some great agencies out there.
In the event that’s what you choose (final answer? Are you sure?), here’s what a partnership with a design agency could like:
Typically, design agencies work in teams. You have people who are more artistically inclined, but marketers and other experts balance out their skills.
- Start to finish services:
Agencies can often handle all of your needs, including printing and production – which may save you time on outsourcing these elements.
In the event that something goes disastrously wrong with your project, you can be assured that there are multiple people handling it, instead of the one. Although it’s unlikely your freelancer will drop everything and leave you hanging – unfortunately, personal life does happen.
Note: You can be assured that if this happens with Twine, however, the support team has got you covered.
Of course, there are also downsides to hiring an agency. For one thing, it will probably be more expensive (you can decide whether this is worth it). You may also have less room for your input or even contract negotiations.
Finally, some people — especially independent artists — love the idea of supporting other independent artists rather than going the corporate route. The best thing to do is carefully weigh your options, preferences, and hoped-for outcomes and go from there.
Your Next Steps
So much goes into the conception, design, and production of records artwork, so there are lots of ways that you can better equip yourself for the process ahead of you.
You may want to brush up on your knowledge of the fundamental elements of design. That way, you can converse more intelligently with your designer, speaking their language. In addition, educate yourself on the design process.
Of course, every artist or agency works differently, but you can become familiar with stages such as concept, sketch, production, etc.
As you well know, graphic design trends are constantly evolving and changing. It’s your job (and your passion) to keep up with those trends in music, but not in graphic design or even records artwork.
By hiring a professional graphic designer or agency, you have made the best possible decision to entrust one of the most critical parts of your music product to experts.
Ready to hire? Our marketplace of over 410,000 freelancers have the skills and expertise needed to skyrocket your business to the next level. From marketers to designers, copywriters to SEO experts – browse the talented bunch here!