Back to the Future: Designing Vinyl

Long before the digital era and the design disciplines that emerged with it, there was a unique canvas, reaching a visual audience of millions; every designer dreamed of working on a vinyl record album cover. 

With the advent of CDs, the game changed for designers: while it was still a great gig, the smaller canvas made a lesser impression. We’ve had the opportunity to design a number of CDs for great music clients, and it’s allowed us to play in the design sandbox – a change from the more corporate work we’re used to. Now that most music is downloaded, in many cases, album artwork in almost non-existent – nearly invisible to music fans. The end of an era.

There has, however, been a quietly booming market for vinyl over the past several years, to the point where record companies are taking it seriously. A niche market for an older demographic willing to plunk down $40 to buy a fresh “Dark Side of the Moon” LP on 180-gram vinyl. On the other side are the hipsters buying albums by today’s artists, so they can experience music in a new way. Anyone who remembers knows the feeling of playing an album (and flipping it over) while admiring the artist’s work and scouring over the liner notes, including everyone who had anything to do with the album. It was – and is now again – a social experience  – unlike most people today listening privately to their own music through their ear-buds.


We just recently completed our very first vinyl album design, and it was a trip. It's the debut album from the amazing New York City-based Jazz Ensemble, Combo Nuvo. We worked with a beautiful painting by noted artist Ellen Colcord, and designed a package that was reflective of the band’s exciting and varied music – modern and retro at the same time. In addition to the front and back covers, we also designed a comprehensive insert with liner notes and the album’s label.

It was a really cool project to work on, and we’re looking forward to doing more. We missed the boat the first time around, so it’s really great to be able to design for a new market for an older medium in a time when design mattered.

Designsite is an award-winning branding, design, website and digital marketing agency based in Fairfield, CT. Our expertise includes branding and corporate identity, responsive web design and development, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and print communications.

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