August 2, 2019

The Dos and Don’ts of Podcast Cover Art

A comprehensive guide to designing the best cover art for your podcast.

Never judge a podcast by its cover art — or should you? It’s in your best interest to make sure your podcast has a standout cover. With so much competition for attention across the internet, a well-designed cover can sometimes be the determining factor whether someone listens to your podcast or not. While we’ve made it even easier to create beautiful cover art—right in the Anchor app or web experience with our Cover Art Creator, there’s a lot to consider when trying to make your cover art eye-catching. So we’ve put together some best practices to help you make sure that the first point of contact a listener has with your podcast genuinely represents your show.

Do: Define your podcast’s visual identity

Don’t: Start designing a cover before understanding your podcast’s visual identity

Before designing your cover art, it’s important to do a little soul-searching to figure out what your podcast is all about. Your cover art should be visually pleasing, but it should also accurately represent your podcast’s overall message. Answer these questions to get a better understanding of how to approach the design:

  • How would you describe your podcast? Make a list of keywords.
  • Then, form your elevator pitch. Try defining your podcast in 1–2 sentences in order to really hone in on your idea.
  • Who’s your target audience?
  • What makes your podcast special and different from others?
  • What other podcasts inspire you, and what do you like about their cover art?

Do: Use high resolution photos

Don’t: Stretch photos that are too small

Whether you decide to go with photography or illustration, make sure you’re using a high resolution image. A standard size used across the web is 1080x1080 pixels (1:1 ratio). This will ensure your art looks crisp across all podcast listening platforms.

Do: Use simple, high contrast imagery

Don’t: Use too much text and/or different colors and fonts

The saying “less is more” certainly applies to design. If you start using too much text, colors, or fonts, you run the risk of diluting your cover art and not making it as bold as it can be. Solid background colors and gradients can work wonders in helping your art pop off the screen. If you are using text on your cover, make sure the color contrasts well with the background. Limit yourself to using no more than two fonts if it’s necessary to use more than one.

Do: Pick complementary colors that work well together

Don’t: Pick colors at random

There’s a whole science behind color theory. Different colors evoke different physiological responses. For example, yellow can make us feel warm and happy, while blue instills a sense of trust and dependability. Think about what you would want your potential listeners to feel when they see your cover art, and let the psychology of color guide you in a direction. There are always exceptions to these rules, of course, so don’t be afraid to take creative liberties. Adobe Color is a great tool for finding colors that work well with each other.

Do: Ensure the text on your art is clearly legible on mobile screens

Don’t: Use tiny text or add other text besides the title of your podcast

Since the majority of podcast discovery and listening happens on mobile devices, you’ll want to make sure your cover art is optimized for small screens. Keep your text limited to the title of your podcast (pro tip: you don’t need to include the word ‘Podcast’ in your design), stay away from tiny text, and make sure you pick a solid, easy-to-read typeface. Using custom hand-drawn lettering to create your cover art is also a good option, as long as you keep a good balance of simplicity and high contrast. If you find it too challenging to make your text legible, try using a block of color behind the text to separate it from the image.

Do: Use simple illustrations and patterns

Don’t: Mix too many creative elements together

If you love to draw, creating original illustrations and patterns can be a cool way to set your podcast apart from the rest. Incorporating no more than one bold pattern and one illustrative element is a good rule of thumb for keeping your cover art visually balanced. If you use too many competing elements together though, their meaning might get lost.

Do: Use photography with clear subjects on a simple background

Don’t: Use photography that is too busy

Photography can be a great option if you feel that it relates better to your podcast’s message. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have professional equipment either. You can get great shots using your smartphone camera. Simple imagery is best. You can edit your photos in Photoshop, VSCO, or Canva if you want to go for a collage look, or experiment with different filters and layers. Avoid using photography that has too much going on, as you’ll want to make sure your text stands out on the photograph.

Remember that less is more when creating amazing cover art. If you need more inspiration, you can use Anchor’s Cover Art Creator to start designing your podcast art today. Now unleash your inner artist!

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