Wednesday, October 5, 2011
1. Hire Someone to do it for You
If you've got a bit of a budget to work with, probably the best option is to hire a professional graphic designer to create your artwork for you. If you're going to pay for it, it is not unreasonable to ask any prospective designers for examples of their work. Specifically, you probably want to work with someone who has worked on album art before. Don't settle for less than what is going to make you happy.
Some things to keep in mind:
• What you pay will depend not only on the experience or demand for the graphic designer, but on how extensive what you need is. If it's a digital-only release, perhaps only a front cover image is needed. Or if you're doing a full physical release, you might need a tray card, cover image, an multi-page booklet. How extensive you get is up to you, but keep in mind it will effect the cost of the graphic designer, but also the printing costs.
• Make sure you and the graphic designer are on the same page and get everything in writing. It's important that everything be clear ahead of time with regards to who owns the rights to the artwork and how it can be used. For instance, do you intend to use the cover image on t-shirts, posters, or other merch? Some graphic designers might want more money for those rights. Have clearly defined deadlines and approval processes in place. Just be sure both sides are clear on how the artwork will be used and you'll save yourself a lot of potential headaches.
• Also make sure that the details for approval are clear to both sides. You should be able to request changes within reason and issue any corrections that need to be done. You can avoid a lot of problems in this area by having the artist do rough mock-ups of their ideas before moving on to creating the full-fledged final piece, but chances are at least minor revisions will need to be done.
2. Find Someone to Volunteer to Create the Artwork for You
If you're running a bit low on cash, don't despair! There are tons of graphic design students and recent graduates looking to build up their portfolios who may be willing to do the job for free. There are lots of really talented people out there who can help you, but there are some important downsides to this approach, too. The first, and most obvious, is experience. Students and beginners may be more prone to making rookie mistakes, or simply creating sub-par work. So it can be a bit of a gamble. The other is that since the artist is basically doing it out of the kindness of their own hearts, you don't have much leverage when dealing with things like missed deadlines, etc.
3. Do It Yourself
Are you pretty handy with Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign? Have some experience in text layout? Then maybe considering doing it yourself. You'll have full artistic control, can ensure deadlines are met, and the only artistic temperment you'll have to deal with is your own. If you've never done this before, let me assure you it is harder than it looks, but not impossible if you have patience and a willingness to learn. Save yourself heaps of problems by finding out what format, resolution, etc. the manufacturer or digital distributor needs the finished work in. Many manufacturers even provide templates for CD artwork layouts on their sites. Not much of an artist? No problem. Services like iStockphoto offer millions of images of every description that could be the basis for a slick-looking album cover. If you want to get up to speed on learning some of the popular graphics design programs such as those from Adobe, I recommend checking out the Classroom in a Book series.