Graphic Design Inspiration: 40 J-pop Album Covers

Graphic Design Inspiration: 40 J-pop Album Covers

J-pop, ( Japanese pop music), has its roots in the 1960’s. The term “J-pop” was coined in the 1990’s and rose to a peak later that decade.

It served to describe the energy behind the music. Although J-Pop is stuck in the 90’s (and deliciously so), the album cover art isn’t.

It embraces modern culture, manga, anime, the strange and the outrageously hilarious. However, what can we, as designers, gain from this? We can understand how pushing boundaries, combining simplicity with symbolism and having no fear can create amazing designs! So feast your senses on these J-Pop album covers!

In this article, we present 40 J-Pop album covers. For viewing pleasure, they have been divided into “Cartoon”, “Illustrations”, “Manipulated Photography”, “Bold and the Bright”, “EXPLOSIONS!”.

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Typographic Portrait of a Human Face

Cartoon
The Japanese have a very unique and highly recognizable cartooning style. This collection best demonstrates this.
The Best of Sweets House
The Best of Sweets House

DJ Kenkaida – I love DJ
DJ Kenkaida - I love DJ

K-On! Azusa Nakano Character Image Song Series
K-On! Azusa Nakano Character Image Song Series

Japanese Pop – Imari Tones
Japanese Pop - Imari Tones

Shonen Knife – Happy Hour
Shonen Knife - Happy Hour

Gundam Rock – Andrew W.K.
Gundam Rock - Andrew W.K.

Stereopony – Over the Border
Stereopony - Over the Border

Asian Kung-Fu Generation
Asian Kung-Fu Generation

DECO*27- Paravereruwarudo
DECO*27- Paravereruwarudo

Island of Curiosity – Halfby
Island of Curiosity - Halfby

Hello Mr. My Yesterday – Hundred Percent Free
Hello Mr. My Yesterday - Hundred Percent Free

Single Album – Sambo Master LoveSong
Single Album - Sambo Master LoveSong

Illustrations
Whilst it can be argued cartoons are illustrations this collection contains album designs that are more detailed and have a different level of depth.

Neuromantic – Yukihiro Takahashi
Neuromantic - Yukihiro Takahashi

Yotsuba Sagashi no Tabibito – Galileo Galilei
Yotsuba Sagashi no Tabibito - Galileo Galilei

Black Album – VeltPunch
Black Album - VeltPunch

The Sum – The Last Alliance
The Sum - The Last Alliance

The Best of Seamo
The Best of Seamo

Diorama – MUCC
Diorama - MUCC

Roundabout – Akeboshi
Roundabout - Akeboshi

Manipulated Photography
These covers use manipulated photographs. As a result most of the manipulated photographs in this collection have resulted in being a bit on the surreal side.
Mothership – Lego Big Morl
Mothership - Lego Big Morl

Crawl – Natsu Best
Crawl - Natsu Best

Onelbum – Natsu Best
Onelbum - Natsu Best

Serious Japanese – Teriyaki Boyz
Serious Japanese - Teriyaki Boyz

Gazette – Dim
Gazette - Dim

Bold and the Bright
This is the collection’s brightest and boldest album covers! Strong lines, brilliant colours and bold typography are throwing themselves around in these albums. Watch out!

AntennaGo!GO!7188
AntennaGo!GO!7188

Dark Days/Light Years – Super Furry Animals
Dark Days/Light Years - Super Furry Animals

Sotto Kyutto / Super Star – SMAP
Sotto Kyutto / Super Star - SMAP

Ni Yao De Wo Dou You – Bearbiscuit
Ni Yao De Wo Dou You - Bearbiscuit

With U – Big Bang
With U - Big Bang

Nudy Show – Anna Tsuchiya”
Nudy Show - Anna Tsuchiya

Cosmetic – SID
Cosmetic - SID

Extract7- IVE
Extract7- IVE

Japanese Rock VS FPM
Japanese Rock VS FPM

Yusuke – Mitsubachi
Yusuke - Mitsubachi

Poems like the Gun – Dad Mom God
Poems like the Gun - Dad Mom God

Vandalize – Alice Nine
Vandalize - Alice Nine

Nico Touches The Walls – Aurora
Nico Touches The Walls - Aurora
View Source

EXPLOSIONS!
We”ve left the best to last. EXPLOSIONS!
Shichiten Hakki Shijou Shugi! – Kotoko
Shichiten Hakki Shijou Shugi! - Kotoko

Keep on Smashing the Blue – Last Alliance
Keep on Smashing the Blue - Last Alliance

Sign in to Disobey – Isobe Masabumi
Sign in to Disobey - Isobe Masabumi

Conclusion

As you can see, these album covers are full of energy and give the visual feel of the music.

They also cover a wide range of styles, mediums, angles and emotions. These covers show the strong relationship between visual elements and typography which is an important point to consider when designing. It also demonstrates how to make something look eastern which is helpful if your called upon to design for a client or project from a different cultural heritage to you.

When designing, whether it be websites, logos or illustrations, the designer has one chance to encapsulate their message. Look through these images again and see for yourself how they capture the music they are designed for. Also look at their treatment of type, colours and line work.

11 Replies to “Graphic Design Inspiration: 40 J-pop Album Covers”

  1. I love this style, insightful post, thank you Emma for this wonderful list !!

  2. It’s a amazing collection, excellent job.
    thank you very much

  3. Japanese Rock VS FPM, is interesting. It is hard to speculate on the design without knowing the context of the music on each album. That being said, a lot of these are less than inspiring.

  4. All work on the site deserves loud applause. Among them would like to commend the work: “The Best of Seamo”.

  5. It’s nice to read a good blog post. I enjoy lots of the blog posts on your site.

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