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Don't think you need custom cover art? You might want to think again.

As with any business (and yes your band is a business) you try and find out where you can save money. I am advising not to settle for a generic album identity and to budget for a custom cover. Your cover is really an album identity. To promote your album you should use that same design for a Facebook skin, t-shirt design, set design, possible new website design and more. Building a solid brand identity is crucial for success in this modern market, and your cover becomes the visual identity of your music.

A professional graphic artist should be hired, but doesn’t always mean you have to spend a ton. A design agency will have a team working for you but they will also likely be the most expensive choice. Freelance artists are usually less expensive and one with experience should be able to do just as good of job. There are many freelance sites where you can post your project so freelancers bid on it (,, etc). I would advise against the crowd sourcing sites.

Even look to your own band members, is there someone that is creative? They can give you a head start and then just consult with a professional designer so they can get the files ready for print and advise you of any production issues you might run into. This is a small fee that can save you ALOT in the long run.

When you find an artist be sure to have a contract clearly detailing what you get for the settled price along with a timeline.

Feel free to post any of your tips in the comments below.


headshot Jennifer Paganessi has been a freelance graphic designer for the past 14 years and owns JL Album Art, a division of JL Design. Also a lover of music.

Reader Comments (3)

Nice article. Always make sure whoever is doing the artwork is doing it in a program the printer can accept! Photoshop is nice & everything, but very few professional printers accept PSD files to print from! Just ask the print shop what their preferred format is & don't hire anyone who isn't proficient in the software!

November 14 | Registered CommenterBrian John Mitchell

No you are totally wrong. Artists are NOT brands. They are artists and their image needs to reflect them and their personalities. Professional designers will NOT get this and this is the reason the industry is in the creek without a paddle. Ask yourself what design identity did Michael Jackson have? Artists need to step back away from the corporate model. They are mavericks and one offs and not a brand.

November 16 | Registered CommenterKehinde azeez

I think you should make a t-shirt designcontest on crowdsourcing sites!

April 16 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

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