What's Next for Album Art?

Album art is important. 

It’s the first impression we get to a musician’s work. It sets the mood and tone for the whole album—Kanye wanted an image that was “something that will be banned” to set a dark tone for his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (and he got his wish); Taylor Swift’s 1989 cover featuring a polaroid mirrors the nostalgia of the album’s sound. It’s also the image that pops into my head as soon as I hear a new song come on—like Beyoncé typed in millennial pink over a black background; or The 1975 written in neon in a glowing rectangle. It’s also the easiest way for me to see what song is playing with a quick glance at my phone’s lockscreen.

Originally, the album cover was completely utilitarian—a cardboard square with some text on it to protect the vinyl record inside. It soon became more of an art piece that consumers used to find the record they wanted to listen to. But in the time since, album art hasn’t really changed from the old static, square image (with the exception of the cassette tape). Sure it has kept up with current design trends, and maybe feature some sparkly foil or some clever cut-outs, but the format we get today isn’t much different than it was 70 years ago.

The way we consume and interact with music today is completely different than 70-even 10 years ago. So why hasn’t album art evolved with it? We don’t need to protect anything physical — we’re streaming it online or from our phones. We don’t need it as a reference to find an album — we type it in the search box or ask Siri to play it. We don’t have it spinning on a record player or in a boombox — we have it as a temporary wallpaper on our phone.

Here are some quick ideas I’ve come up with to bring album art up to date:

Shape. Move outside the square. Make it fill the screen. Whether it’s portrait or landscape. Take advantage of the screens we have in our pockets. Soundcloud uses the whole screen, and Spotify has started to do it too—but they are only cropping a square image.

SoundCloud

SoundCloud

Spotify

Spotify

Animate. The popularization of .gif and motion graphics makes this easy to implement. It doesn’t even have to be too crazy — just enough to add a little life to the image like a cinemagraph would be a nice update.

Teary Eyes by gatchaman

Teary Eyes by gatchaman

Animate Level II. Take it a step further: make the album art change based on what track is playing. Continue to tell the story of the album through changing visuals — whether its changing colors, moving pieces, or warping — that’s all dependent on the song. Take it even further by having it change within each song — let the sound affect the image (kind of like the old-school iTunes Visualizer). Note: this could get too close to a music video—it’s a fine line with this one

Interact. Allow us to use our fingers or tilt or turn our phones around to change the image.

Experience. Create a whole virtual reality experience for the album. Create a three-dimentional world for the consumers to move/look around in. It would be a lot of work, but how cool would that be!?


Any ideas you have that could be a fun evolution for album art? Let me know! I’d love to hear ‘em!

April / May / June Wrap-Up

First off, what do you think of the new look of the site? I hope it's easier for y'all to navigate. 😊

read.

Check out this article on Wired about a new stop-light concept by designer Evgeny Arinin designed to be more legible to humans AND self-driving cars. You can see more photos of his concept here on his website.

It's hard to know what to do when someone with anxiety is in the midst of an episode; and asking that person what they need in the moment doesn't really help. Read this guide of navigating an anxious episode of a friend or loved one.

This simple contract for freelance creatives.

A really interesting graphic of how cable news covered the Comey hearing in their captions on the bottom of the screen (aka chyrons or lower-thirds).

One of Kendrick Lamar's tracks on his latest record was produced on an iPhone!

The guys over at Standards Manual (you might know them from printing the old NASA design guide) just announced a new book on the EPA's design manual from 1977 and it look b-e-a-utiful. They just raised $169k on Kickstarter. If you're a graphic designer or super into branding like I am, you're probably really giddy right now (you're not alone!).

Books I've read these past few months: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (this book is so important!), What is the Bible? by Rob Bell, and Matisse by Jean Selz

The only way you’ll find out if you ‘have it in you’ is to get to work and see if you do.
— Cheryl Strayed

I made a website to try to get a job! I wasn't the best fit for the position, but it was a fun way to get their attention to get an interview! See what I did here (with some personal info redacted) everlanepleasehire.me

 

listen.

april playlist

april playlist

may playlist

may playlist

june playlist

june playlist

My most-listened-to albums these few months: Melodrama by Lorde, Harry Styles by Harry Styles, What Now by Sylvan Esso, Conscious by BROODS, I'm Alone, No You're Not by Joseph, Rise & Fall by The Sweeplings, Don't You by Wet.

Life Day 3

Today is my third Life Day. And I feel…weird. I’ve been oddly depressed in the time leading up to today and I’m not really sure why. Today is meant to be a day to celebrate the life I’ve lived since I tried to prematurely end it. But I’ve been discouraged this past month. I thought “3 years later” would feel different. I thought my life would be a lot more stable, that I’d be happier, that I would've done more, I’d be more successful (whatever more means).

I thought I would have a college degree.

I thought I would have a job.

I thought more people would want to hire me.

I didn’t think I would still be having panic attacks

or that I’d have to take meds every morning.

I thought I would have “gotten over” my depression.

I thought I’d be able to effortlessly get out of bed every morning.

I thought I would know what I want to be when I grow up.

I thought I would be completely self-sufficient and independent.

I thought I would have more friends.

My therapist is good about reminding me that these expectations I have on myself are arbitrary and that the bar I set for myself is way higher than anyone else would expect from me or that I would expect from anyone else.

“Jonathan, do you know the golden rule?”
“Yeah…” *said with attitude and questioning where this is going
“What is it?”
“Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
“I think you need to do the opposite of that. For you, let’s say, ‘Treat yourself the way you treat others.’ Cut yourself some slack, give yourself a break, and be proud of what you've already accomplished."

Why. does. that. seem. so. damn. hard.

But he's right. I would never hold anyone—especially my closest friends—to the standards I've set for myself. It's time to take a breath, give myself some grace, and realize that if today went a little differently three years ago, I wouldn't be here at all. In these three extra years I've been given, I've learned so much and have gotten to do things and live in places I never dreamed of. Today, I may not be where I wanted myself to be by now, but I sure as hell have come pretty far. In these three extra years,

I started taking more pictures.

I learned that going for a drive to nowhere and listening to music can be the best therapy.

I learned that alone-time can be a good thing.

I jumped a few fences I probably shouldn't have.

I explored abandoned houses.

I watched the sun rise over the Shenandoah mountains

and the sun set over the Pacific.

I spent a week in San Francisco with a group of people I had never met...and wasn't murdered (in fact, they turned out to be some of the coolest people I've ever met).

I visited Facebook HQ.

I learned that sharing the ugly parts of yourself doesn't scare everyone away.

I learned that a lot of people don't know what to do when you share the ugly stuff.

I learned that everyone has ugly stuff they are too scared to share.

I found out that more people are cheering me on than I thought.

I got really into coffee.

I found out that community tables are the best.

I learned that it's okay to ask for help.

I learned that someone sitting with me in silence can be a comforting thing

and that it's more comforting if Keeping Up With The Kardashians is on TV too.

I got two tattoos (and a third in the works!!!)

I learned school isn't for everyone. For me.

I dropped out of college.

I learned to be okay with uncertainty.

I learned that self-care is different than selfishness.

I learned that the people and environment I am surrounded by is critical to my health.

I learned that change is okay and usually precedes growth.

I learned that not having time for something is just a priorities issue.

I learned to say yes more.

and that it's okay to say no.

I got Bosley, my family’s golden retriever.

I got two adorable nieces (and another on the way!)

I stopped cutting myself.

I got my first pair of Birkenstocks.

I was featured by a brand for the first time.

I lived in LA for a month.

I went to Belgium.

I started writing more.

I made my first internet friends through Instagram.

I moved across the country to Phoenix where I knew two people.

I got really into podcasts.

I learned about Spiral Dynamics and how it helps understand culture and human development.

I learned there is so much artistic beauty in rap.

I learned I’m a 7 on the Enneagram and a Meyers-Briggs ESTP

which taught me a lot about how I see the world and how to relate to others.

I learned a lot of my friends are introverted feelers.

I built a lot of stuff out of wood. And painted a lot of wood. And sweat a lot.

I survived working in 120ºF desert heat. And sweat a lot.

I sweat a lot.

I learned the importance of rest.

I got a free mattress.

I stood on the wings of airplanes.

I found out that the desert is one of the most beautiful places. and one of the most colorful places if you look close enough.

I began to let people see my scars.

I was named an Instagram photographer under 10k followers to follow by Moment.

I visited Vermont.

I learned that doubt is okay and leads to growth.

I saw the Grand Canyon.

I moved back across the country to New York City.

and ended up living above an escort service.

I became a graphic designer.

I got to see Kanye West preform live

then run off stage when Kim was robbed in Paris.

I was reminded that I have a lot of friends who are amazing and beautiful artists.

I moved across the country, again, to San Diego.

I got to live with my best friend.

I found out that my body doesn't like a lot of what I've been eating.

and my new diet means I don't feel nauseous all day every day.

I started to eat more and *slowly* gain weight.

I read a lot of books AND enjoyed reading them.

I stopped drinking Coke and replaced it with La Croix.

I learned that a lot of social media can be noise that doesn't need to be heard.

I learned silence can be a good thing.

I started being more thoughtful about the things I own.

I learned that there are a lot more people doing good things that I thought.

I got a bike.

I started to paint.

I learned the importance of stopping and taking a breath.

I started to meditate.

I learned about hygge.

I learned people aren't thinking about me nearly as much as I think they are and they really don't care what I do—which is really freeing.

And I'm constantly learning that I am more resilient than I think.

I may not have the job I wanted. I may have some of the same battles to fight every day. But I've gotten to live one crazy, wild, lovely, brutiful life. And for that, I am grateful. That's what I get to celebrate today.

March Wrap-Up

listen.

A playlist of the music I've been listening to this month. Click to listen.
A playlist of the music I've been listening to this month. Click to listen.

An episode of 99% Invisible on logo design and why we get so angry every time we see a new and revamped logo.

watch.

Futuracha Pro is an Open Type Font that magically adjusts and readjusts as you write, based on the preceding and following letter.

It's a truly magical thing when a person sees their profession as an art form.

 

read.

Books I read this month: The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Here are some interesting things I read on the internet this month:

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The Pudding—a weekly journal of visual essays

This is one of my new favorite websites to visit. Each essay tells a different story based on a bunch of research and proudly shows the data in the most beautiful and engaging ways.

 
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February Wrap-Up

Laundry Day is back but it's going to look a little different. These new monthly wrap-ups will be in the same spirit as Laundry Day but without the pressure of having publishing every week. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the things that have been inspiring me this month and feel free to share what has been inspiring you!

read.

Books I read this month: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker, and Finding God In The Waves by Mike McHargue

Here are some interesting things I read on the internet this month:

 

listen.

An episode of Song Exploder where Jóhann Jóhannsson talks about the thought and intent behind the movie Arrival's score.

A two-part podcast by 99% Invisible on Frank Lloyd Wright's affordable house for the masses and how it inspired ranch-style houses today.

A playlist of the music I've been listening to this month. Click to listen.
A playlist of the music I've been listening to this month. Click to listen.

watch.

Color film was originally designed for white skin. It wasn't until furniture makers and chocolatiers complained that people of color had a film for them.

A FANTASTIC docuseries on Netflix about some of the most creative thinkers and imaginative minds working in the world of art and design.

The meaning and virality of Hygge — a Danish term defined as "a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being."

A walkthrough of how the winners of the Oscars are chosen and why it's not always the film you were most excited about.