Another year of our favorites in Top Album Cover Artwork, and once again, we interview musicians and artists on the often-underappreciated work that goes into creating a product that not only tickles your ears, but speaks to your eyes and hearts. Album artwork, though often only viewed on tiny screens in this day and age, is indeed a long and laborious process that we love to give its due credit.

So read on, and choose your own artistic adventure:

> Digital & 3D Album Covers
> Fine Art & Illustration Album Covers
> Mixed Media & Collage Album Covers
> Photography & Digitally-Manipulated Album Covers

Digital & 3D Album Covers of the Year 2015

Amon Tobin – Dark Jovian (Ninja Tune Records)

Packaging & Design by Alexander Brown

A limited edition Record Store Day release, distributed as a set of two single-sided heavyweight 180g white vinyl 12″s with etched markings, encased in a white, branded, rubber wheel and housed in a transparent plastic box, designed by Alexander Brown.

“What I was really trying to do was to interpret a sense of scale, like moving towards impossibly giant objects until they occupy your whole field of vision, planets turning, or even how it can feel just looking up at night.” – Amon Tobin


Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud (Nuclear Blast)

Artwork by Jean-Emmanuel Simoulin

Jean-Emmanuel Simoulin (Artist):
This artwork is a distant evocation of a thematics based on threat. Threat of fate, threat of destiny, threat of the End itself. It represents the sacrifice, brother killing brother, under the observation of the unstoppable power of time (represented by the four seasons, surrounding the whole scene).
I simply got contacted by the band’s manager, like it almost always happens with bands of that size.
The funny thing is that I was a fan of Amorphis since I was 16, in the mid-‘90s. The first time I saw them live might have been as early as 1996; they were playing in a shitty club in Paris, and the sound was horrible. Second time I saw them was last month: biggest indoor arena in France, and they played in front of 15,000 people. I guess we both managed to find our place in life and managed to do alright.

When I was working on the artwork, I really insisted on using their old ‘90s death metal logo –being a real pest – for I had a strong nostalgia related to this logo. Unfortunately, I pathetically failed :D


Ben Zimmerman- The Baltika Years (Software Recording Co.)

Design by Bobby Houlihan

Bobby Houlihan (Artist):
“Ben [Zimmerman] made all of this music with Radioshack’s Tandy computer at home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, throughout the ’90s. It’s pretty amazing music considering his constraints (technologically) and is equal parts modern classical, experimental noise, drum n’ bass, and whatever else. It’s nuts. F or this art, I reconstructed in Illustrator the three Tandy software interfaces that Ben used to make music, and then deconstructed them into various compositions. All the colors used are to spec for what he would have been seeing on screen, and all the type is organized to reflect the user interface and visual hierarchy from the Tandy computers of that time.”
Ben Zimmerman (Musician):
The album cover is an “explosion” of several abstractions of screenshots from the Deskmate programs I used to make my album. The artist, Bobby Houlihan, stripped down the images of meaning by eliminating text and parts of the score (i.e. clefs, time-signatures, tempo and notes). However, he did include the staff lines and the Deskmate color scheme. When I look at the cover, I can get a sense of the design of Deskmate; its nuances, like the shape of dialogue boxes and buttons – i.e. the general layout of this – [is a] precursor to our modern day operating systems.


NOTE: “The video for ‘Pausebreak 1’ contains only the source material used for the album cover. In the video you can see some of the elements in a more dissected form.” – Ben Zimmerman, Musician


Benji Hughes – Shark Attack” b/w “Mama, I’m a Zombie (Merge Records)

Design by Mark Elmore

Mark Elmore (Artist):
I created the design, Tut Uncommon, as a gig poster for one of Benji’s shows at Kings Barcade, in Raleigh, NC. I had previously portrayed Benji as the King of Hearts on a poster for an earlier show at that venue, and wanted to continue the ‘Kings’ theme with this one. After toying unsuccessfully with a take-off of the famous portrait of Henry VIII, and then a King Cobra, I hit upon using King Tut. The hardest part was translating his beard into something that matched the stylized geometry prevalent in Egyptian design. It ended up rather looking like a scarab, or one of Yul Brynner’s headpieces from The Ten Commandments.

NOTE: I’ve done gig posters for Benji for the past seven years, for his shows at various venues in North Carolina. He has always been supportive of my work – and the creative freedom he has afforded me, has made it possible for me to design some of my strongest pieces.