One of my favoured blog visits is Matt’s Musings, where artist and machinima magician Matt Kelland muses often on things that pin the Interest-O-Meter. Recently, after having indulged in the old internet meme of ‘Making Your Own Record Cover’, Matt was musing about whether designers might find themselves eventually replaced by some kind of quasi-random system for generating ‘artwork’.

If you’ve not played the Record Cover Game game it goes like this:

1: Go here, to get a random image – picture #3, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

2: Go here to get a random Wikipedia article – this will be the name of your artist.

3: Go here to get a random quote, the last four or five words of which will be the name of your album.

Combine the ingredients in a photo editing app such as Photoshop, and voila! – Instant Design Skillz and a new Number One with a Bullet!

Here’s a nifty example which I just made according to those rules:

No Matter How Slow - A New Hit!

Cool! Not something I’d pick up in a record shop, probably, but you never know – I’m pretty fond of Arab Pop…

But as I mentioned to Matt, my feeling is that designers are safe for a while yet. Even in the ‘Mafitah al-Janan’ effort above (which in my opinion would have been rejected by all but the most feeble of A&R people) I’ve employed at least a little discrimination… it’s hard not to want to use at least some slightly tasteful fonts and a complementary colour scheme.

I told Matt that I was skeptical of much true artistic merit in the Record Cover Game – the dice are far too loaded. Using the above rules, you get offered a generally high standard of images, excellent quotes and the possibility of some unusual and meaningful parings – the path to this point has been well-and-truly paved by creative people. Next, stir in a little of your own artiness (even the tiniest amount…) and, well, it’s not unreasonable to expect a half-decent outcome. But, I speculated, what if you truly randomize the process. What if you try and take out any innate taste? Do you still come up with anything you’d want to display on your cd shelf? And I spun up a few examples which I posted in Matt’s comments.

They were SO terrible, in fact, that I actually started having fun… so now, in true TCA fashion, I’m reinventing the Record Cover Meme.

Acowlytes! This is your quest: go now and make the very WORST record cover you can. A cover that would ensure your future as a designer was well and truly dead, buried and pissed upon.

These are the NEW rules:

1: Go here, to get a random image. Image #3 – no matter what it is – will be your album cover.

2: Go here to get a random website – the first 3 or 4 words of the first link on the page is the name of your band.

3: Go here to get a random cliché – the third one on the list is the name of your album.

4: Arrange the elements in a photo editing app such as Photoshop according to the following restrictions: try to pick a random font and a random colour for each of the titles (how you opt to do this is up to you, but I trust you to play fair and try and be as truly random as possible).

5: You must put your artist name along the TOP of the image, and your album name along the BOTTOM. No creative placement allowed!

Maybe you’ll arrive at something as appalling appealing as this:


Or this:


I certainly hope so. Put it where we can see it and post a link in Comments. Let’s show Matt what kind of world we’d have without anyone at the design controls…†


† In fact, these monstrosities are frighteningly similar to the kinds of ‘artwork’ you see in those annoying leaflets people shove under your front door. Coincidence?

BTW – I totally swear I made those two bad ‘covers’ using the rules outlined above – the way the title in the second one interacted with the text on the image was entirely random. Sometimes random can be mighty entertaining.