Design Without Music

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Living your life and designing your work without music is a mistake. Listing to music can change your mood and influence you. It can be utilized in many ways for productivity, branding, creativity, influences and enjoyment. Retail environments use music to influence shoppers and to create an atmosphere. The music retailers choose is serious business, much effort and research goes in to selections. The use of music in this way contributes to branding and can perform to impact on customers. Such a study from Monash University can be found here

Music is an important tool in Art and Design. Many design colleges will teach you to keep a journal/scrapbook of influencing material and often tell you to do a design-board of reference images to refer to while working on a project; making a playlist can be even more effective. I find making a playlist or mixtape for a particular purpose will make working more efficient. Say you’re working on a brightly colored ultra-modern project and you get a call and a different client that needs their wine society invitations done; you need to switch styles quickly!…what do you do?…change playlists.

A personal anecdote: When I was in Art college I found I’d listen to, let’s say, the Flaming lips while painting. The next day when I was continuing the project it was difficult to make the same marks and keep the same quick pace as I had the previous day; I fought over the stereo, slapped the Lips back on and I was able to return to painting without effort.

Without music, design would be a mistake


Why music is important

  • It can style your project
  • It can be used to maintain a style
  • The beat can keep you working fast
  • The melody can shape mark making
  • It can help with colour selection
  • It can maintain a good mood
  • It can create an atmosphere for your workplace
  • It can contribute to branding

How to make a playlist

I know you’re saying that’s great but I don’t have time to fiddle around with my cassette player and record the late night best of Charles Mingus on JazzFM. Well worry no longer! Download iTunes then weave your cassette tapes into nests and donate them to homeless pigeons.iTunes has a few neat ways to create automatic playlists. Let’s look at the ‘Genius’. Your first option is to pick a song from one of your albums, right click it and ‘Start Genius”. This will give you an automatically generated playlist of similar music.



Another option with iTunes is to use the Genius Mixes. These are automatic playlists based on genres in your collection; just one click and you’re listening to the right stuff. This can be found in the left panel. You can also sync these to you iPod so you can listen to your music privately.Having your reference playlists named well is important too, you’ll want to be able to find the right one later. Make sure you save them with a descriptive title.

Another resource to find similar music is This site scrobbles your music library in to their database and based on your collection, rating and number of times played suggests other music you’d like. It’s a useful way to find new music and musicians you’d not previously heard of, or to find when new albums are released.

Sharing music

The added bonus of having you music library accessed in this way is that you can use a simple widget to share what you’re listening to on your blog or website.By sharing with your client what music you’re listening to you’re able to extend your branding.

An Aside

As an aside have you been to This is a great resource for finding album covers by search terms related to their artistic content. Search by the design studio that created the sleeve, by artist, or by style (of the art – not the music).Often the art that comes from music can be a heavily laden with creative elements that can influence and drive even the most mundane everyday design projects.

Enjoy yourself

In the end you’ve got to enjoy yourself. If you enjoy listening to your favorite boy band all day, and this puts a smile on your face, chances are you’re going to do good work. That said; what/whose music do you listen to? What genres influences your work?

Chris Eichberger is a freelance graphic designer from Australia listed in DesignCrowd's Graphic Design Australia directory. You can contact and hire Chris via his design portflio or DesignCrowd's Logo Design Bidding service.