The link between art and music is very strong, probably more like a marriage really, especially where the production of an album is concerned. In the field of popular music and particularly with those bands who employed top artists to design their covers the end of the vinyl era meant the end of large packaging for albums and much of the artwork that looked so impressive on a gatefold vinyl album measuring some 12″ x 24″ didn’t look quite so impressive on the cassette or CD format. The tiny cassette format especially did no favours to sweeping majestic artwork.
When you think that artists like the legendary Roger Dean paint on huge canvases it really doesn’t seem as if art came off very well in the marriage does it? If you get to see a poster of his work (like one of those here for instance) then you’ll see what I mean. It is good to see that bands still use great artists for their album covers though. The work done by Dave McKean for instance is remarkable. Check out the Paradise Lost album covers he did – ‘Shades of God’ and ‘Draconian Times’ are particularly good examples of his work in this genre.
The problem of course is that for many bands the budget for the album cover is no longer as high as it used to be but given the talent out there it should still be possible to get a stunning cover even within a reasonable budget. The great thing about using the big names is, of course, the fact that people will recognise the work because they have seen it around so much. This can be very useful for tapping into a particular target market. No doubt Paradise Lost were well aware of Dave McKean’s work for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and well aware that the readers of that series would be in their target market. If they weren’t, it was indeed a lucky accident … :-)
Maybe we will have a trawl back over the years before long and recommend some awesome album art … and maybe some awesome songs too!