50 Unique Album Cover Art Designs by Kenal Louis
The following are 50 original album cover art and designs by visual artist Kenal Louis. A collection of beautiful & creative designs completed for Musicians by the designer.
Kenalsworld’s Art & Creative Designs
Kenalsworld Founded in 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska. The company is the brand/identity behind the original art I create. With of 8 years of experience in designing single covers and album cover art for countless of artists. My work includes illustrations, graphic design for musicians, solo artists, major and vintage labels and more.
Starting The Design Journey
Art has always been a major part of my life growing up as a child. Following high shool, I begin a career in graphic design. Initially, I started designing Myspace pages for artists and later got involved in creating flyers, banners and album cover art for musicians.
Below is an extensive list of 50 of my past album cover art and single cover designs. Some designs and artworks did not make the cut for this list.
Album Cover Art #1 – “Washed Away” Mixtape
The first project in this list of album cover art projects is entitled “Washed Away”. “Washed Away” was a personal music project I released in the later part of 2012, which featured seven original songs. Creating the cover art for this project I wanted to illustrate something visually that was emotional, creative and one of a kind.
Washed Away the Mixtape
The “Washed Away” mixtape features a song that I wrote out of love and inspired by emotions felt from personal experiences.
Music distribution seems to be getting further and further away from print to fully digital. At the time I created the designs for this project, I also produced some copies of “Washed Way”. Below is an actual disk label design I set up with a mirror look to the album cover art.
Inspiration From The Japanese Artist Hokusai
I used a self-portrait photograph to do a vector line drawing of myself animated, which is in the design of the music project. One of my inspirations as a visual artist has always been Hokusai Katsushika a Japanese artist born in 1760 in Edo, Japan. I first learned about the Japenese artist taking an art class in middle school.
Via: Katsushika Hokusai – The complete works by Katsushika Hokusai Ecards, user comments, biography, slideshow, more than 200 images and more!
“The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” was the painting that I saw in class. This artwork pushed my love for art even more to its development.
I incorporated a small piece of the wave-inspired artwork into the album cover art and design of “Washed Away”. Other elements included the cupid style hearts and stars.
The music project featured seven songs all originally written by me and some by producer Will J, with soundtracks/instrumentals that were provided by three other music producers. “Washed Away” was my first actual music project release. Prior I released a few songs online through Myspace and Reverbnation.
Download Washed Away
“Washed Away” Available for download through Datpiff. Listen download the project; it has accumulated over 9,900 downloads and counting.
“Washed Away” at the Grammy Awards
I was fortunate to collaborate with the print and press company that produced the 55th Grammy Awards program book for the music project and its promotion. I did not receive an award from the Grammys, but hopefully one day I will have the opportunity to work with the organization.
For a while, I confused considered my music equal of value to my art but realized I needed to focus on one thing. I decided to give all of my efforts was art.
Mock-up Grammy Hall of Fame Book Cover Designs
A year later I created these mock-up book cover designs for the Grammy Hall of Fame, which never got published. However, creating the designs for the book helped me further increase my creative vision as well as composition.
The Viral Song “Friday” Single Cover
The design for “Friday” I was very simple, and I wanted to make it pop with the color red. The song was repetitive and about one day of the week, which was obvious through the entire song. Nothing was poetic about it, and visually I made it a goal to creative a cover art for the project that would have similar effect visually.
“Friday” was a viral song and internet sensation in 2011. The song went viral following a post by Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 made making fun of the song, it blew up. When the song started taking off it was not yet uploaded to iTunes or any other online music publishing store, while I was working with Ark Music Factory, no one thought this song would be a hit.
The song became a hit for all of the wrong reasons. “Friday was the most infamous song of the year.” There was a rush at that time to get a cover design for the song uploaded on iTunes and Amazon. I had some original photographs captured by the photographer for Ark (Barry Wayne) at that time, I created the single cover and submitted it to Patrice Wilson, and he decided to go with that design for the cover art of Friday.
“Friday” – Music Video
“Friday” peaked on the Billboard’s Hot 100 up to the 33rd spot for the most sold record. The song was pronounced to be horrible from many online sources. There are many parodies on Youtube ridiculing the song. Some sources compared it to Justin Bieber’s “Baby”, but I could not understand why people compared the two songs. Justin Beiber had Ludacris on his song and Rebecca Black had Pato, while Justin Bieber had always started becoming a famed artist pre-teens loved.
Album Cover Art #2 – “Friday” by Rebecca Black
I also designed some posters for some email blasts for Ark Music Factory. The entire visual designs and brand identity for the indie label came from me as their graphic designer at the time.
Flyer Designs for “Friday”
Creating The Visual Identity of Ark
Ark Music Factory for a short period was accepting members on their site. I design the logo for the company as well as their website layout at the time the site was receiving a lot of traffic due to the over-exposed song.
Below are a few variations of logo designs I would create for Patrice Wilson’s brand PMW(Pato Music World). The final logo he decided at the time to go with was the second logo.
Album Cover Art#3 – “Crush On You.”
Working with Ark at the time as a designer, I got a chance to create a few more designs for the other artists that we promoted by the label at the time. One of these young musicians Abby Victor, her video on the original channel where it was released received over 4 million views. Following the release of “Friday”, all of the artists that had contracts with Ark Music Factory published singles online.
The “Crush On You” Music Video
Similar to the cover I created of Black’s “Friday”, I designed the unique cover for “Crush On you” using a photograph I received, of the young artist. “Crush On You” well-received songs by the massive group of online trolls that bullied Rebecca Black and Pato for their song “Friday.”
The other artists caught a bit of the wave in buzz, which I assume was good for them financially. A majority of negative attention and energy directed towards “Friday” allowed the other singles released by Ark received less harsh backlash. The other songs were considered much better than “Friday.”
“Crush On You” by Abby Victor was one of those songs.
Album Cover Art #4 – “Ordinary Pop Star.”
“Ordinary Pop Star” by CJ Fam was another pop song produced by Ark. The song was about a young girl wanting to be a pop star without all of the dramatic and overwhelming pressure that comes with it. Although we all know, fame doesn’t come with much privacy and is something that changes your life forever as a public figure.
“Ordinary Pop Star” Single Cover Design
The single cover design for “Ordinary Pop Star” designed to represent the concept of the song for Ark. The cover’s objective was to show CJ Fam as the sole focus of the cover without surrounding distractions. “Ordinary Pop Star” would eventually be pulled from the original channel because it also started to receive negative attention.
Album Cover Art #5 – “Butterflies.”
“Butterflies” by Alana Lee received the best feedback on the songs produced by Ark. The exit strategy for the song from the chaos that occurred during the whole viral moment for “Friday” was the most successful. Alana Lee’s management re-uploaded “Butterflies” to their channel in time and today the video have over 1.3 million views and counting.
She continued to create music two years following this record.
The cover design for “Butterflies” was bright, simplistic and create visually to reflect the pop record the best it could. All of the single cover designs for the record label included photographs of the artists for branding purposes.
Album Cover Art #6 – “Convertible Sos.”
It’s obvious that Hip-Hop is different music genre than Pop. This cover was created sometime between 2007 and 2009 for an Atlanta-based rap artist named Sosa. I created the design for the project entitled “Convertible Sos” to be flashy. And to showcase the lavish lifestyle famed rappers live.
The visual for the “Convertible Sos” album cover art is a design I created as a composite through the use of stock images. One of the sources I used for the stock images is officialpsds.com. An image of a BMW, lavish mansion, and grass field to compose the design.
Every hip-hop artist that are ambitious about their position in hip-hop wants to be the best. Often associated with looking the best, sounding the best and showing that they are the best. Visually the design was created to show the confident hip-hop artist in an environment of luxury with the richest that he valued.
Album Cover Art #7 – “Contact.”
“Contact” is among my simplest designs that I have ever created for musicians. Out of the many designs, it is one of the few when title, the artist’s name and just the photograph. I collaborated with Daven’s manager to create the design for this artist.
As a creative artist, I have to be balanced when working with others to bring their visions to life. I’ve worked as a freelance graphic designer for the past six years and creating art since I was a child. Whenever I look at this cover design for the “Contact” project, I think it’s too simple. However, it was the result the client I worked with wanted.
The direction of this single cover was created to be clean and to focus purely on Daven. Daven Wilson started acting at a very young age on the ABC television show Barney and Disney’s Drake & Josh.
The most important thing is not always the creative freedom or artistic direction sometimes for clients. I’ve come to respect that when commissioned for a project if I accept to work on a project I must be open to suggestion. Although clients in the past have given me complete creative freedom to take them in the right direction.
Let’s Talk Art Development
I mentioned earlier that art had been something I’ve been doing for years. Through these years I developed many artistic styles I adopted as my own. One of these art forms is digital painting. When I first started digital painting I hated using a tablet to paint or draw. I always thought that the tablet felt too unnatural.
After creating many artworks through the digital art form of painting as well as drawing, using the digital pen became something that felt natural to me. In 2016 I got this bright idea to create illustrations of celebrities, public figures and friends as Kings, Pharoahs, and Queens.
The Original Artworks of Celebrities and Kings and Queens
The following art piece created through digital painting.
The first of these illustrations is this artwork of musician and entertainer FKA Twigs. This illustration was one of the most difficult for me to create because I had to figure out how to illustrate her in gold and keep the lighting consistent. FKA Twigs is a unique artist; her sound is very distinctive along with her persona as a musician.
Creating her like a queen I thought was too subtle and decide to make her artwork stand apart from the other illustrations I had seen previous online of the artist. It would have been even greater to have this piece used for her album cover art, but it is a personal visual arts project I created for my royalty art series.
Details In The FKA Twigs Artwork
Choosing the artists, I decided to begin this illustration series with is a very selective process. Each piece I create is unique to each artist and requires a lot of research before creating the artworks. I found that FKA Twigs was a Sagittarius and found many reference images of the artist.
The FKA Twigs art illustration published on Kenalsworld in an earlier post. The artwork is also available for purchase in the Kenalsworld online art store.
The key thing that I looked for in each image were how her facial features were structured, her body figure, and various hairstyles she had. All of this stuff were imperative in knowing and having embedded in my mind to create the artwork. This artwork took between 20-24 hours of work to create.
Album Cover Art #8 – “Drop The Guns.”
“Drop Da Guns” by Aaron R was done at the time of the Trayvon Martin incident and countless other shootings that became nationwide news. It’s unfortunate that in the 21st century that racism as well as hate still has a significant hold on people. The cover art for this mixtape was an abstract digital composition, which was created to serve as a remembrance of the lost ones and the injustice of the justice system.
Album Cover Art #9 – “LA Confidential.”
“LA Confidential” is a song originally by musician Tory Lanez. I covered the song and also created a design for it visually using two of the primary colors used in printing, Cyan, and Yellow. The song is about cheaters and unfaithfulness. Tory Lanez is an artist born out of Toronto, who have made his mark in the music industry as a rising hip-hop star.
Album Cover Art #10 – “Vibranium.”
Jazz music has been around for many years and Jazz artists like classical music. It is one of the highly respected genres in music, but not the most popular genre that the masses choose to listen to in today’s days and age. The cover art for “Vibranium” was as simple as the “Contact” single cover I created for the artist Daven Wilson, which can be seen earlier in this post.
The major different between the album covers was not just the photographs of the artists themselves. The big difference was the complete overall project.
Wilson’s creative project was for his single cover, while Chris Massey’s “Vibranium” was for an album.
The complete design for the project included the following:
- Front Album Cover Design
- Back Tray Card Design
- CD Insert Page Layout Designs
- Disk Label Design
Jazz Album Cover Art for “Vibrainium.”
The origin of Jazz music is New Orleans and since the late 19th Century the city has embraced its sound of Jazz.
I spent a year living in Louisiana in a city between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. I found myself traveling to New Orleans for live music events and to enjoy the art culture of the Southern city. The combination of European horns and African drums created the sound. Of course, some pioneers brought a strategic as well as innovative direction to the music.
You can listen to “Vibrainium” and other sounds by Chris Massey and the Nue Jazz Project on their website.
The Most Famous Jazz Musicians
- Louis Armstrong
- Miles Davis
- Charlie Parker
- Dizze Gillespie
- Billie Holiday
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Lester Young
- Frank Sinatra
- Nina Simone
- Ray Charles
Album Cover Art #11 – “Cold Artillery.”
In 2011 I created the following album cover art illustration for a music producer Mike F The Hitman. The project as seen below was entitled Cold Artillery.” Mike sent me a headshot of him and from there I created the illustration drawing of him.
The artwork was done to illustrate him as a royal king and behind him was the world and the depth of space. The sound behind the music project was Hip-Hop, and we agreed on creating something visually that would summarize the tone of the project.
I mentioned earlier that most hip-hop artist or producers see themselves as the best. This mentality starts from the independent/underground artists and goes all the way up the to music moguls as well as big time super-producers.
Being confident is essential if one wants to go through the jungle of the mainstream music industry and survive attacks that come with the fame.
“Cold Artillery” Album Cover Art
“Cold Artillery” was among the first digital painting projects I created in photoshop for an album cover. Since 2011, I’ve gained a lot more skills as well as knowledge on how to produce detailed and more visually appealing artworks. Take a look through some of my digital illustrations and line drawings to see the growth as well as recent works.
All in all, Mike was pleased with the look of the album cover art for his instrumental music album.
Listen to “Cold Artillery” on Reverbnation.
Album Cover Art #12 – “The Compilation.”
“The Compilation” album cover artwork created for a non-profit organization who provided creative services as well as education for creatives. “The Compilation” was composed using a set of photographs of different individuals from this group working. I created the album cover art through the use of digital collaging.
Music was a big part of this organization’s premier focus of support. I discussed the concept with one of the founders or the company along with his vision for this projects album cover art. I composed a speaker box shape out of the images and microphone with a cord also with the set of photographs.
I worked with New Era Global Foundation for over six months on many creative visual projects. The projects ranged from brochures, flyers, album covers, logos and photo-retouching to name a few. All in all, they were pleased with the visual outcome of the artwork composite for the cover of “The Compilation”.
“The Compilation” Collage Album Cover Art “
Album Cover Art #13 –“FTL” Mixtape
“FTL” was futuristic hip-hop album project I designed. The artist well received the design for the mixtape, and he liked the direction of the composition.
Influence of The FTL Concept
Growing up a fan of Star Trek I never imagined I would be creating album covers for artists and art. I went through several moments in my life where I thought I wanted to go school to be an architect, animator or another direction in career selection.
Went I created this album cover art for the artist I felt proud of it. Still today I think I made an excellent composition with the materials I had to work with when I put this creative design together.
I found myself creating some flyers and posters for Ricky Arenas. Myspace was still alive and as popular as Twitter is now at the time I created this album cover design.
The Software Used To Create The Album Cover Art
I am very proficient in the use of Photoshop not just for photo-retouching, but for graphic design, photo manipulation, and digital painting. Sometimes depending on the creative project, I will draw the sketch of my composition or illustration and then scan it to the computer. I’ve done my digital art using the same method because I am comfortable with drawing freehand with a pencil and pen.
I believe there are a unique signature and beauty sometimes in not having a line that is completely smooth and looks digitally drawn. Although, I respect both traditional forms or art and the digital arts as well.
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
- Corel Painter
Album Cover Art #14 – “I’m The S**t.”
When I look at this mixtape cover, now I think of world domination. The design concept for this had a militant tone in its direction. A couple of stock images were chosen for the composite of this design to make the artwork for this cover come to life. The idea of having a riot feel war zone in the city was the route that the artist’s manager wanted to go.
The Back Cover Design
During the time of creating this project, I was also into design flash banners with Adobe Flash for animated banners. Before flash animation became a thing of the past, I also created several animation projects in Adobe Flash.
Below is the back cover design that I did for the project with layered effects and cutout images through the use of Photoshop.
Album Cover Art #15 – “Inner City Kid.”
New York is a city that has birthed many of the greatest Hip-Hop/Rap artists. Artists list Run DMC, Salt and Pepa, Nas, Biggie Smalls, and Tupac Shakur. The origin of hip-hop and home of the entertainer culture is evident in New York City.
J.Clancy From New York
J.Clancy is a client I had in 2014 for a mixtape project he was releasing entitled “Inner-City Kid” and at the time I was experimenting with one of my many styles of art. I had done many personal art projects in this style before working on the album cover art for the “Inner-City Kid” cover. Below is the album cover I created for his mixtape.
The Front Cover
I begin creating line drawing and digital illustrations in 2012, just two years before working on this project. I developed this style in drawing after attending Omaha Fashion Week event I would go to be inspired. You can take a quick look at some of the fashion designers I featured on the Kenalsworld blog from the event.
I never was a big fan of colors and incorporating colors into my artwork, but after many art experiments, I became intrigued with color combinations, color harmony, and understanding color meanings.
You can stream “Inner-City Kid” on Datpiff.
Disk Label Artwork
Album Cover Art #16 – “Young Black & Gifted.”
The “Young Black & Gifted” was completed at the beginning of 2016 as a follow-up/continuation to the “Inner-City Kid” album cover project I created for J.Clancy.
The artwork is a symbolic piece representing black power and the many things associated with being a black person and hip-hop culture. 1973 was the year Hip-Hop was born by DJ Kool Herc in the west Bronx, New York City according to History.com.
Hip-Hop Influence Black Culture
Hip-Hop has influenced clothing design, fashion trends, personalities, poetry, and art. This project for one is an example of art being influenced by Hip-hop. Presentation matters in every business venture. How well you appeal, or your product appeal to others is crucial on validation of your brand.
“Young Black & Gifted.”
J.Clancy contacted me roughly two years later to work with him on the album cover art for “Young Black & Gifted”. I was surprised but eager to take on the project for him. The result was the artwork you see below.
We went through the process of color selection, adding and removing elements, and trying different fonts to see which better suited the overall composition.
The Front of The Album Cover Art For J.Clancy
“Young Black & Gifted The EP.”
This project for the musician was something he wanted to be symbolic but also very creative visually. When I spoke to the artist before creating the artwork, he said he wanted to continue the direction creatively similar to the album cover art we did prior. He mentioned the reaction from those who saw the album cover for “Inner-City Kid” provided him with great feedback.
Why Is Presentation So Important?
Having an official look is imperative for musicians when it comes to their brand and visual identity. I believe every professional in their field should have excellent visual representation to support their business.
I learned while working in retail that merchandising is a big factor in helping sales as well as building customer loyalty. Not everyone shops at thrift shops. I have nothing against thrift shops; some people would rather go to a retail store that cost a bit more because they feel like whatever is presented to them subconsciously looks better, and the atmosphere makes them want to come back.
When you are on a budget you are limited to how much you can spend, so its normal to want to get the most you can for your money. However, sometimes that’s not always the best more to make.
The budget shoppers are usually the customers that come into a store and head straight to the clearance section of the store that they enter. I’ve experienced watching people come into a store and do the same thing.
Is There Anything Wrong With Clearance?
No, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with clearance merchandise. It’s where you want to go to get the cheapest deals in a store; though they may not be the best.
Clearance serves as a place where merchandise that was not purchased by other customers carried over. These are the items that some either did not find attractive, thought was expensive, or simply did not interest the majority of the demographics in customers. The last aspect of this is that clearance items are sometimes the things manufacturers send an abundance of, which did not sell.
Items in retail in today’s day in age move fast with their turnover times. Holiday after holiday and season after a season.
The Abstract Digital Illustrations
I mentioned the previous style in art being influenced by my first visit to Omaha Fashion Week. Below are some of the fashion art illustrations I created in this very same style. Fashion is something I admire because of it’s contribution to the arts like music. I know that all of the various forms of art link to one another. Dancing links to music which links to fashion and fashion to dancing.
This is an ever going circle of the arts.
Album Cover Art #17 – “Get Your Own.”
Kaela Freeman is an art I had the opportunity to help build an identity for with her singles. Her mother, also her manager contacted me in 2010 to design a cover for her single “Why Should We Bother” and after that we worked on a few more projects together.
“Get Your Own” was the last album cover project I worked on for the artist in 2013. Since then we’ve work on a total of 5 album covers, which 3 of the five can be seen below.
The cover for “Get Your Own” was classy and to the point.
Album Cover Art #18 – “Tear It Up.”
One of the other projects I worked on for Kaela Freeman was “Tear It Up” dance and pop record. With this design, I used a license free photograph of laser light stock photo in the background of the subject. The fonts are chosen through DaFont and trial and error. We made some revisions, and I added some motion effects in photoshop to visually give an impression of the fast paced environment the song was suitable for.
Album Cover Art #19 – “Why Should We Bother.”
“Why Should We Bother” was the first album cover design I created for the young artist. It was a big of a mysterious image in a sense, although it was very clear this was a young girl beginning her journey through music. Since creating this album cover, I’ve seen much growth in her persona as well as music.
Her manager and I established a trusting relationship when it came down to my work through graphic design.
Take a listen to the song on Bandcamp.
Album Cover Art #20 – “Weekend.”
Whenever I have clients return for more work, I feel like I did something right. I always to my best to provide the best visual work I possibly can deliver. I give my best creatively because the work I produce is a reflection of my talent, skill and the quality of my portfolio.
Occasionally I look through my hard drives and find designs or art that I created in the past, and I ask myself “what were you thinking?” and “why did I create this that way.” I always believe I could have done a better job. I don’t dwell on that too much because I also see the progression in my work and notice the growth in my compositions as well as creative vision.
Let’s Talk Digital Painting
Willow Smith is a very eccentric young talent. Being born of two stars I can’t even imagine the things she experienced growing up as a child surrounded by her parent’s star-studded friends and colleagues. This illustration art of Willow Smith is another symbolic piece specific to her. Similar to the FKA Twigs art illustration I shared earlier, I made this artwork very reflection.
How Long Did It Take To Create This Piece?
The time it took to figure out how to get the impressive of bronze was lengthy. This is one of the artworks that took me over 20+ hours sitting in front of the computer painting. Although, I must admit that I am glad I didn’t have to use oil paint to create this artwork because it would take my most likely over 100 hours to create this piece.
The Detail Eyes
Small Detail Equal Big Idea
Sometimes I come up with ideas by accident during the process of creating the artwork that I produce. In the eyes of this illustration, I thought of adding some depth into the eyes pupil. I also wanted to give an impression that the world is in her eyes. From a distance and at first glance of the artwork one will not see the detail in the eyes, but I thought this was a clever idea when it came to me.
If you are a fan of Willow Smith or just love this piece it is also available for purchase through the store.
Album Cover Art #21 – “Number One.”
I mentioned earlier that I enjoyed the many forms of art. Music also a very big part of my world. Even as I write this article, I am listening to Ludwig Van Beethoven to help me focus on the thoughts that I write. “Number ”
“Number One” is another personal music project I released at the beginning of 2016. This project is a mixtape featuring 40 songs that I wrote and recorded as a songwriting experiment to showcase my writing ability musically. I am a fan of music and in this project, I have a mesh of hip-hop, r&b, alternative r&b, rock and Creole music.
All of the songs in “Number One” took roughly nine months to record, mix and master from the mixtape release. “Number One” can be streamed on Datpiff or my personal website/music site kenallouis.com.
Album Cover Art #22 – “Change The World.”
“Change The World” is one of the songs from Number One that I released on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. The song is about me changing the world through my music. Although I think the gateway to this is my visual art pieces and illustrations.
The song was written inspired by the great black men who changed the world with their voices. The likes of Bob Marley, Racy Charles, Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. These men are iconic figures and are quoted as well as put on pillars only visionaries can accomplish.
One day I hope to be among the likes of these men who spoke for something profound during their times. The world is a very dark place, and I hope to be a light in it. By affecting a change in the world one song at a time.
Take a listen to “Change The World.”
The Wallpaper Design For Change The World
Aside from the cover art, I created for “Change The World” I also made a wallpaper and background design to promote the project in small advertisement campaign I launched to drive listeners to the Soundcloud page and Bandcamp.
“Change The World” is available as a free download on Soundcloud and through the download of the “Number One” mixtape via Datpiff.
Album Cover Art #23 – “I Cried.”
“I Cried” Lyric Video’
The lyric video was created following the single cover art design for “I Cried”. This song is the only official single I ever released on iTunes and Amazon for sale. When I wrote this song, it was intended to be an emotional record with a melancholy love tone as an R&B ballad.
I grew up listening to Babyface, Luther Vandross, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, and many other great R&B musicians. All of whom influenced my musical direction a great deal. I was introduced to these great artists and bands by my older siblings. Though I keep an open mind to the variety of music, I listen to as well as share online with my peers.
Designing The Single Cover For “I Cried.”
When I was getting ready to release this personal music project I did not have any recent photographs and wanted to create a cover that would be memorable for others, whenever they heard the song or thought of it visually.
Album Cover Art #24 – “How It Was Supposed To Be.”
“How It Was Suppose To Be”
“How It Was Suppose To Be” originally performed by the super producers and artist Ryan Leslie is a cover I rendered.
When I begin exploring music as a hobby, and something I wanted to for the rest of my life Ryan Leslie, Usher, and Ne-Yo was that artists I looked to for inspiration. Ryan Leslie has been a great inspiration to me because his story makes me realize that success is possible if you work hard, sacrifice certain things and invest all you have into the thing you love the most.
Being creatively unlimited is something I truly believe I have. The mindset that we as human beings are unlimited to the amount of things we are capable of doing and learning helped me evolve as a creative individual.
The cover of this song can be found on SoundCloud.
Album Cover Art #25 –“Karesse.”
The Lovers Art Series
“Karesse” is a song I composed and penned in Haitian Creole. I created a cover for this song using one of the erotic couple art pieces I produced in 2011 for an art series. I thought the drawing was the most suitable for the album cover art for the record. It is a sensual and romantic song, and the illustration I created was perfect for the cover.
The reaction I’ve received from others regarding the sensual drawing has been great. I’ve had poets and authors contact me in the past to use this image for their book covers or as a part of a project they want to publish. Others have reached out to me to create an artwork similar to them.
The art piece itself is available for print orders through my art store on Kenalsworld.
The next six album cover artworks and designs were all created for personal projects I released online as songwriting or recording expressions.
Album Cover Art #26 – “Princess of China.”
Album Cover Art #27 –“Remedy of My Heart.”
Promoting “Remedy of My Heart.”
Album Cover Art #28 – “Skip A Beat.”
The “Geometric Heart.”
Album Cover Art #29 – “Thinking About You.”
Album Cover Art #30 – “Welcome To The Party.”
Album Cover Art # 31 -”Legend City.”
Yung Legend was one of the artists I had to design for during my time working with New Era Global (the non-profit entertainment and media company). I created an illustration with him as a digital painting with an upside down city underneath him as the first concept for “Legend City” his album. However, the team decided they wanted to come up with something less artistic and more luxurious and to focus on Yung Legend in a different light.
Photograph vs. Digital Painting
The design with him sitting in the driver seat of the Rolls Royce or Bentley was the concept they chose over the digital painting. Although my favorite cover was the one with him painted, it’s not always about what I like or wants to create as a creative artist when collaborating with others… not unless I am the creative direction and have the final choice to make for the brand or company I am working with.
This concept with the red background took far longer than it took to create the design seen above. In the end, the client was more satisfied with the tone blue design.
Alternative Album Cover Art
Album Cover Art #32 –“Girl Swag.”
“Girl Swag” was another single cover I create for Ark Music Factory the label that was responsible for the Rebecca Black viral song “Friday.”
Album Cover Art #33 – “Exit Remix.”
“Exit Remix” Album Cover Art Design
Maor is a trance/pop/dance musician I’ve also worked with several times on digital art projects. “Exit” is the last album cover art concept we worked on together. Every design we’ve done are unique to the song he released. The overall direction for the design was to create something sleek, edgy, and slightly futuristic.
Every time I look at this cover art, it reminds me of the Matrix for some reason. It is one of my favorite projects in the body of work that I’ve created for musicians.
The following designs are a few more concepts I created for Maor.
Album Cover Art #34 – “Victory No More Rain.”
VNMR Remixes Album Cover
Album Cover Art #35 – “My 1st Love.”
“My 1st Love” is an artwork I created for a singer/songwriter Lost Star of David. This project was collage piece I put together for the artist to be a visual narrative as a direction of the song.
Album Cover Art #36 – “The Many Faces of Love.”
“The Many Faces of Love” is a gospel music album I designed for in 2009. In the design for this project, I create a style in gold for the text of the artist’s name. The album cover art is classy and touching with the photograph used as well as the gesture of the artist. This is one of the few designs I’ve ever done for a Contemporary Christian/Gospel musician.
Having a great design or artwork for an album cover is something every musician in a mainstream level value, whether they make Pop, Rock or Gospel music.
This design for Pamela Kirlew was created to symbolize and inspiring music project. The photographs were shot for this album cover ahead of time and were provided to me for the formating, styling and composition of the album design.
Overall the artist and her manager were pleased with the outcome of the album cover art for her gospel album.
Album Cover Art #37 – “Lose Control.”
“Lose Control” is the first project I created for Pato (Patrice Wilson). Following this design, I created a few more work with him for various artists. The design contains the Nigerian flag and an abstract highway photograph. I composed the album cover art with a direction and tone of a dance record.
The song we created this design for was an international world song. This album cover art for Patrice led to other graphic design related projects we created together, which would eventually lead to the creation of Ark Music Factory.
The design entailed a disc cover design and back cover design.
The Art of SZA
This Illustration of Sza is another piece from my Royalty Art Series of the songstress. Like the Willow Smith, and FKA Twigs art pieces this artwork took over 20 hours to complete. Although it is not the official cover for the artist, it is one of my many original artworks I have for sale in my art store. I’ve had a few suggest this style of art could be an album cover.
I did create an album cover for a rising artist, but cannot release the design until the project is complete.
Details in the artwork.
Capturing Sza’s beauty was the goal in the artwork. Her freckles, lips, eyes and essence makes her unique as a musician. As a creative artist and illustrator, I wanted to magnify the beauty that was already there.
Album Cover Art #38 –“Blast Off.”
“Blast Off” is a project I designed that in unreleased. I am not sure whether the song was ever released, but this design is something I was very proud of because of the through behind the project. A photograph of the singer/songwriter was sent to me on a backdrop holding an umbrella. From the photograph, I built a composite of a rainy night with a car behind and rocket launching for taking off.
When composing work like this album cover art, a lot of research is required and a good amount of time is necessary for finding the right images that will work to make the composition seamless. This design is futuristic and a bit stylistic in fashion.
Album Cover Art #39 – “Melinda Madness.”
“The Ghost Within” is another album cover art I produced for a dance/trance sound producer. He came across a cover he wanted to create something similar to, and we worked around the concept that he saw. The piece is a digital painting I created using Photoshop.
Album Cover Art #40 – “Stripped Ballad.”
“Stripped Ballads” is another album cover that was unreleased. This cover is one of my favorite covers in my portfolio. Her photographs along could have been the cover for this music project. I spent sometime figuring out how to create her name in the gold effect. The color selection of gold, tan, yellow and red was the core focus in the direction behind this design.
Unfortunately, this design was not selected for the artist’s music project.
Sonya Kahn Design Project
Album Cover Art #41 – “Cruise Control.”
This concept starting as a drawing. “Cruise Control” is a digital painting I created of the hip-hop duo to illustrate their journey through music together. Driving towards the horizon as the sun sets for a new day. Immediately seeing this cover art I could not remember why I added the train tracks in front of the car.
The idea of a cruise control was something automatic that worked with a guide. This is also a reflection of the musicians heading on the right path. “Crusie Control” is one of my works using digital painting as a style in creating album cover art.
The group was also pleased with this project, and I created the logo design as well for their record company along with promotional flyers for a few other ventures they had.
The complete album cover artwork for “Cruise Control”.
Album Cover Art #42 – “The Cook Up.”
“The Cook Up” is an album cover art I created for a Hip-Hop Artist by the name Chris Rogers. I cannot recall much about the project other than the sleek look and direction of the design.
Album Cover Art #43 – “Becoming Thurston Ray.”
Thurston Ray is a Neo-Soul musician I created this album cover design for. Although it is not the most abstract or visually creative artwork. The design is original and represents entirely the direction the artist wanted to convey. “Becoming Thurston Ray: A Human Experience” is about his journey. We collaborated in thought on creating a design that illustrated a diary look in design.
Using the written font and black paper texture. The font I also in white was done in purposely to look visually like chalk on black.
You can listen to this album by visiting Thurston’s music on his website at www.thurstonray.com
Album Cover Art #44 – “Main Bravo.”
“Main Bravo” is the first design I created for a music album cover for New Era Global. This cover served as a first design for the non-profit organization. The design represented the closed curtain, which would be opened through the exposure of this brand and company. I thought the theater was a great way to show visually the transition that N.E.G was going through at that time.
Album Cover Art #45 – “Unorthodox.”
“Unorthodox” is another Dance/Trance album cover design I created for a track/beat producer. The design composition is abstract, metallic and dark to reflect the mood of the music album. A city in deep darkness surrounded by stars with one light source. The approach of this album cover art was a minimalist direction in design.
Album Cover Art #46 – “My Perfect Mistake.”
“My Perfect Mistake” is an album cover design I created for Y’lloh a singer/rapper. This cover has been developed using a merged technique in photoshop combining four different photographs of the artist onto one blended image. The metallic texture of the font in gold is a similar technique I created in a previous design for another artist by the name of Sonya Kahn in an earlier design.
Her style, as well as persona alone, made the album cover design unique.
Sometimes the most powerful thing in the brand and marketing of an individual is their visual presence. It had long been said that sex sells. Most mainstream artists are led to believe that they are idols, which their fans want to be like them or fantasize about being with them as stars.
In the past, I’ve found myself not taking on many projects and passing on working with musicians because of the poor quality of their images. Again, this thought that the work I provide to others is a reflection of me as well as what I am capable of doing.
Below are two other designs that I created for Y’lloh for other projects.
Album Cover Art #47 –“Rockstar.”
Album Cover Art #48 –“This Life.”
“This Is Life” is one of the only designs I’ve created with some 3D implied graphics. Although the text is the only part of the design that is 3D, it is one of the unique works in my album cover art portfolio.
4 Big Focus In Album Cover Designing
Avoid Using URLS
Avoiding using long URLs is something that I recommend when creating album cover art. This is a big no for the front cover especially. If the music project being published is going to be print, it is also not recommended to have websites on the project cover art, even in the back.
In some cases, if the project is going to be released only digitally and used to direct traffic to a particular site it could be done (I still would not recommend doing something like this on the front cover design).
Do You See The Cover As a Thumbnail
I once learned in illustration class that when designing a logo or graphic design for something like an album cover, it is good practice to envision the artwork as a thumbnail. This is a test to make sure that regardless how small the design make get it will still be clear, and the direction/impression does not change much.
A Name or Title Not Always Need
With more contemporary artist today and the development of minimal art, a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes allowing the viewer to come up with their perception and figuring out the message behind a project is a strategic way to market a music project.
The only drawback to this is if a brand has not yet been established for the musician or band the project belongs to.
Face or Art
I am a believer that new artists should always debut their albums with a visual of themselves. Your facial features are the most unforgettable thing about you as a human behind. In the case where you have a distinct persona and visual presence, this alone will make you memorable.
Faces on album cover art get more attention than any form of cover designs. The connection that comes from someone’s eyes as mentioned in this post on sonicbids creates an automatic engagement with the viewer.
Album Cover Art #49 – “Memories of The Future” Mockup
Before I share the details of the last album cover design. “Memories of The Future” is one of the rare designs that was never used the artist. He envisioned a cover design that had some world-wide monumental symbols in a scene as he stood looking at them from the distance. We also discussed a movie poster feel in regards to the creative direction.
Designing For Clients
I created quite a few variations of the design, but the musician decided to go with another design for his album cover suggested by his team of supporters. Overall I was very pleased with the outcome visually of the album cover art.
However, the final product of any of the artworks I create for clients is mostly never my call. I can’t recall I time where I chose the final design for a customer. I have given suggestions in the past, and some of what I suggested from the many revisions we create were selected for their final projects.
“Memories of The Future” by Young Blaze is available for download on iTunes as well as his website.
Album Cover Art #50 – “Heart of The Ghetto” Mixtape
“Heart Of The Getto” is a mixtape cover I create for a South Florida hip-hop artist. Visually I wanted the project to be close to seamless with the two major rap artists behind Yun G. I used some effects and filters to created a blended look as well as feel for the cover art.
Why Is The Look of An Album Cover Art So Important?
Album covers are meant to be memorable and a creative visual representation the talent behind a project a musician or musicians put together. A lot of time, resources, collaborations, money and creative production goes into producing quality the music. Having the right album cover art is very important to musicians. It is the equivalent of the logo design companies creates to represent their brands and corporations forever.
When designing for artist and musicians here are a list of some of the things I require.
- There visual goal/purpose
- Quality photographs if using their portrait
- Clear direction of the style they are looking for
- Great communication back and forth regarding the revisions
Iconic Art of Famed Artists
There are a countless amount of mainstream artists who have released music in the past with iconic album covers. Some album covers were simple and others very complex.
My favorite genre of music is R&B and when I think of my favorite musicians and bands I see not only their faces but I see the album cover of the best song I associate with these artists. Most of their album covers were portraits, but we have gotten more complicated with brand identity and music personas.
Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and FKA Twigs are some of the most eccentric and peculiar artists I think of when I think of unique musicians.
Michael Jackson’s Album Cover Art
I was born in the Caribbean and even on a small island we knew who Michael Jackson was. Michael was a mega star who impacted the world through his songwriting, voice, and talent in entertaining. He used his ability to touch on sensitive topics and help liberate the minds of many though his musical gift.
As a musician, I love Michael Jackson for his music and as an artist, I admire him because he was a fan or art. Not many years later after his death, his art was made public. Michael himself would draw and paint images. The man was a very creative being who became both famous and infamous for certain things, but a legend as well as an iconic figure he was indeed.
“Escape” and “Dangerous.”
These two album cover art pieces created for his music releases “Escape” and “Dangerous” are some of the most creative covers I have ever seen. Though “Escape” was not direction by Michael because it came after his death, I believe he would approve of the cover chosen for this music release. “Dangerous” was an abundance in symbolism incorporated into the illustration of the cover. It was a magical as well as very mystical cover representing the things that Michael represented as well as his music.
Controversy of The Cover
There have been some individuals who claim that Michael Jackson was part of the Illuminati and that this album cover was too symbolic of many dark things. I do not know what every image represents, but I do agree that there is a heavy amount of symbolism in this album cover art.
Janelle Monae’s Album Cover Art
Janelle Monae is a distinct artist, and she values creative direction. These are two designs that were done by artists she hired to bring a creative vision to life for her music albums.
Thank you for taking a journey through a small part of my graphic design and art portfolio in this post. While creating of these album covers and single covers for the musicians I grew as an artist. Although I spend a lot of my time today working on personal art and creating art series collection, I seldom create work for musicians.
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Why Hire Kenal?
In 8 years I’ve worked with many musicians as well as labels on creating creative art for their brands and artists. The range in the body of work produced is from Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop, Rock and various other styles.
A Composition Expert
Whether you are looking to create a design or artwork that will be for promotion online or in print; I am familiar with multiple formats as well as compositions. I consider myself an expert in composition and layout designs.
Quality Work Worth The Price
From brand consultancy to art direction and graphic design, we’ll help to refine and develop your existing identity in the marketplace, or design a complete refresh and overhaul for your brand – or band. We offer a creative full service, including digital and print marketing, logo design, tour merchandise and apparel design.
Contact me today for a quote regarding your musical projects album cover art or single cover design. Price ranges may be $400-$1,500 varying on the concept and time it would take to create the artwork.