CD artwork for my musical project Sempervivi is proof that I am very hands on. I departed my previous band Analog Apostles in 2014 to start my own solo project. After self producing an acoustic EP, I wrote new songs for this record, which necessitated a full band. I designed my own layout for “Always Alive” in 2017. This album was, in every sense of the words, both a labor of love and a family affair.
CD artwork process for Kentucky rock music
Initially, I only knew that I wanted to use a bright green color for the album’s cover. This is because the record’s concept is evergreen life. I took my time on this project in between other work and music related tasks, since my goal was to hand draw as much of the CD art as possible. At first, I even hand wrote the credits, but I was not happy with how those turned out. However, I drew or traced each and every other element in the CD and jacket composition.
CD artwork incorporating natural elements
Many of these songs’ themes center around family, growing up, and the idea of continuing one’s lineage to future generations. I wanted to incorporate many elements that were found in nature. Therefore, I researched which animals symbolized immortality in different world cultures. In the end, I settled on the cicada. It is a winged insect which is common here in Kentucky that can be heard chirping loudly on humid summer evenings. I incorporated a pair of these bugs as part of the front cover heraldry.
The sempervivum plant is also known as a succulent or houseleek. I featured it in red, front and center on the cover. It is a reference to the name of the band as well. “Sempervivum” is a Latin phrase that literally translates to “ever living” or “always alive”.
Fonts and typography for CD artwork
I did not initially set out to draw the word “SEMPERVIVI” with a particular font in mind. Instead, I decided to emulate something I would have doodled on one of my old high school notebooks. I drew, scanned, tilted, and resized the letters a few different times to get the feel just right. The varying sizes and placements of the tall serif characters make it stand out in a way that a conventional font would not.
I set the arched title “ALWAYS ALIVE”, as well as the track listing, in the “Triforce” specialty font. However, I filled in the signature openings of the letters when I traced it. This is in order to give the characters more weight.
I then completed the front cover layout with some doodles of light beams and bubbles. I also created a frame to go around all of the elements using the Adobe Illustrator program. Then, I retraced it by hand in order to continue the sketch art theme. The text, frame, and drawings all have a faint white shadow that adds depth, as well as creating a subtle embossing effect.
Jacket CD artwork finishing touches
I sketched a drawing of my young son’s face on the back cover as the focal point. This made sense, since two of the songs center around becoming a father and spending time with him. The drawing offsets the album’s track listing. I used the Paint tool in Photoshop so I could highlight his face and make it pop off of the cool blue background. I also redrew the Bad Apple Records logo, which I designed for the record label in 2002.
Finally, you may notice many paint splatters which are blended into the background. My son actually painted them at the tender age of just one and a half years old. Thus, I made sure that he was listed prominently in the album credits at the bottom of the jacket!
Disc CD artwork layout
Last of all, I painted the compact disc itself with a deep magenta hue. It was complementary to both the green and blue backgrounds on the jacket itself. Next, I blended in a few more paint splatters from my son’s art into the background. Then, I arched the artist name and album title, once again using my altered version of the Triforce font.
I traced sempervivum stalks from some photographs I found online by using a fine Sharpie marker. The traced Bad Apple Records logo is again featured, centered between the drawings. One more time, I highlighted these elements in a lighter shade of Magenta by using the Paint tool in Adobe Photoshop. After I had put in many a long hour working on it, the album art was finally ready for the press.
CD artwork that screams “YOU!”
All of the elements of this sophomore record, ranging from the songs themselves to the art detailed above, encapsulate the story of who I am. I identify with many roles. Christian, husband, father, Kentuckian, musician, friend, and graphic artist are all labels which describe me.
Do you have a distinct vision of what CD packaging should accompany your next recording project? I have years of experience designing merchandise for bands and musicians in many genres. This includes artists performing everything from country to bluegrass to alternative rock. Whether you have photography and other elements ready or not, I can get the results you need. Contact me today so we can get the ball rolling on your own CD artwork!