Where to get Images/Artwork for Album Cover?

First of all, I like to do the design myself, but I can obviously not make fantastic looking artwork like dragons, magical lands etc. that I want to use for album covers for my music.

Now, where can we composers get these kinds of images legally with full permission for commercial use so that we can use them as album art for Spotify etc?


My bands have released couple of albums and the artwork was always created by some friend, who is skilled in this kind of work. It’s the best when you can talk with the creator about your vision of the cover. Of course this approach needs more time and money compared to downloading an image from some photo bank. It depends on how much unique we want that cover to be.

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Thanks Adam. Yes, having friends that could do a favor in return for favor is great. But I have no friends that can create amazing fantasy/sci-fi art that I want to use for my covers.

So what about if I find great artwork on DeviantArt or ArtStation portfolios? Should I just PM the artist and ask for permission to use his/her image for my album cover?

If he/she simply says yes in an email, am I really covered legally then so I can use that image for a commercial release on Spotify etc? Or do you always need a contract with a license?

I believe it’s the same like with music. From a laws perspective, both are a licencable content. If you would write somebody an email, that he is allowed to use your track in his video, is it all he needs?

That’s what I am asking. I don’t know! :stuck_out_tongue:
But many YouTubers ask “can I use your track for a YouTube Video on my channel?”. If I reply yes sure, which I seen many people do. Is that really enough?

There are several webs where you can download pics or ilustrations free to use in a comercial way.
Lately I’m using images as inspirration to compose based on characters or places, and I pick images form those webs.
for instance:
You must look at the license limitations (if they exist)

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Thank you Vicente. I actually know all those free stock photo websites, but honestly they are not the highest quality artwork I look for. And not nearly enough variation in this niche.

For example, here is one single artist profile I found, and I would love to use several of his images for my music videos on YouTube, album art for Spotify etc. But how? Do I simply ask him in a PM, is that enough?

And, what about this?.
You can contact the authors.

I am not a commercial entity, and therefore can’t answer your question specifically, but the question you pose is still valid for non-commercial music creators.
Personally, I use images that I capture from a space simulator called Elite: :Dangerous, with screenshots captured while travelling around the galaxy in various space craft. Players of this game regularly share their captures to Reddit, Facebook, Flickr and specific artwork communities dedicated to Elite: Dangerous. The general rule of thumb is that images from the game can be used in non - commercial ways only and therefore do not break the EULA. This gives me control over the artwork I use for my tracks posted on YouTube, where I cite the image source.
Now if I want to use artwork from a different source, I go to Wikipedia and find images that are in the public domain, carefully reading the permissions section to see if and how the image can be used.
Regards, Adrian.

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In the past I’ve used Deviant Art / Artstation etc, I’d contact the artist and ask their permission, explaining exactly what it will be used for. They’ll either grant you the use or ask for a license fee.

The only thing I can think of that might be an issue is if the artist granting you the use has in any way breached someone elses copyright, it would likely be very difficult to change an album artwork once its out on Spotify etc.

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Thanks William, this is exactly what I am looking to do. I just want to make sure they can just respond “yes you have my permission to use image XYZ for your project” in an email. And that this “verification” is enough to cover me legally for my commercial release?

Because I doubt most of them would not be willing to take the time to set up a proper contract for a license, as my experience with artists of this visual styles of art most often just do it for enjoyment (no business income).

I’m not sure on the legality of an informal contract like this but if they give permission it should be fine to use.

On the flip side with no legal contracts they are always free to ask you stop using it down the line and you’re also not covered if they’ve perhaps taken the artwork from someone else. I think this is unlikely but worth considering.

I’ve used artwork with permission before and so far have had no issues but the most I’ve done with them is use them for Soundcloud / Youtube thumbnails.

As far as I can tell deviant art and artstation is a total mix of amateurs and professionals so the response is probably going to vary. I’m guessing it will be the same as letting someone use your music, if they’re looking to make money from it then its standard to expect payment.

I sometimes use Unsplash for my cover albums they have a great amount of photos. Otherwise I make them myself or use my mother’s paintings.

Here’s my mum’s artist website if you want to check it out, though it is more around nature and you surely won’t find any dragons!

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Thanks Alexis, I used both pixabay and unsplash a lot for stock photos. But I am looking for fantasy/sci-fi artwork in super high quality to use for album covers for my epic music etc. :slight_smile:

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If you are looking for High Quality images the “go to” site is www.unsplash.com I haven’t really understood how they make their money (which of course they do), but they let you use their images for whatever usage you might have without cost.

Broadly their business model comes from the high volume visitors they get and in my understanding is that they have product placement in some of their images, but I’m not sure how that works. The thing is that you have great images at your disposal!

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Thanks Peter, I used both pixabay and unsplash a lot for stock photos. But I am not looking for photos in this case. I am looking for fantasy/sci-fi drawings and artwork in super high quality to use for album covers for my epic music etc. :slight_smile:

Pexels.com is free and attribution is not required BUT highly recommended. Video.pexels.com is the same thing.

Sam Hayles does a lot of album artwork, and logo design, not sure of his prices but he does pretty good work. Check him out.

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