17 Albums That Will Inspire Your Designs

This is a collection of the music that is for sure going to inspire you to design something fresh. Play some music, get inspired, open up Photoshop, Illustrator, or even MS Paint* and start designing!!
*MS Paint is not recommended but do what you have to do to relieve that designers stress.

Zion-I – Deep Water Slang

I could listen to this album over and over again and never get tired of it….and I do. If I had to choose the best then these would be them starting with “The Drill”. When the beat drops it gives me chills every time I play it. “Finger Paint” and “Sorry” are really good chill songs and I’m sure they will get your creative juices flowing. “Kick Snare”, after listening to this song I bet you will try to beat box…haha. “Mind Blow” is a more up beat song and you can really hear Amp Lives, Zion-I’s DJ and beat man, influence on the song. “One More Thing” is a slower song, kind of has that dark sound….I always picture a gloomy rainy day with this song.


Wu-Tang Meets The Indie Culture Instrumentals

“Lyrical Swords” is a great one. I love the sample of the lady singing in this beat. “Slow Blues” is exactly what the title says with a new sound to it. I’m sucker for ODB so the “O.D.B. Tribute” song always gets me. “Listen” flows very well and will give your design some soul! “Preservation” is it just me or does this track really sound like Eminem’s “Crack A Bottle”?


Four Tet – Everything Ecstatic

Check all of them out, it’s only five songs long. “This is 6 Minutes” is my favorite. It has a really nice computer and drum sound that meshes very well together. The track is really six minutes and 3 seconds long….fyi…haha.


Soul Position – Things Go Better With RJ and AL

“The Begining” obviously cause its the beginning of the album. I first heard “Hand-Me-Downs” on the podcast Effective Edge TV. It always brings me back to that great show. “Blame It On The Jager” If you are recovering from some Jager shots then I’m sure the only thing you are inspired to do is sleep. This song will sympathize with you. “I Need My Minutes” is a fun song but so true….haha makes me laugh every time I hear it. Relationships are a huge influence on everything we do especially in the design world and that is why i picked “Keep It Hot For Daddy”. This is a good song on about relationships. Break ups to make ups have inspired me all my life and I’m sure they have for you too. Keep your designs hot for……daddy?


sigur ros – ( )

This album is great to put on and lose your self in inspiration. Non of the tracks with break your concentration and i can never understand what he’s saying. Almost like its another language.


Rob The Viking – Beats to Pillage and Conquer By

Rob the Viking makes beats for Swollen Members. This is his solo album and it is all instrumentals. “Let the Record Rotate” is a great beat with a nice calming flute. “Go For Mine”, “Fist Full of Beats”, and “Under Street Lights” are great ones as well. With all 3 of these songs I always hear Mad Child putting a verse over them in my head. We should all send a letter to Swollen Members and have them record some vocals over these beats. That would be awesome!!


Night Owls 3 – The Chiropractor’s Goldmine – Various Artist

Tracks to check out: “Start From Scratch” is a nice DJ track with some pretty fun samples. “Big City Of Dreams” is a nice mellow song that features Pigeon John and RedCloud.


Muddy Waters – The Definitive Collection

What’s better then a Muddy Waters album? A Muddy Waters album with all of his greatest songs. “I Can’t Be Satisfied” is the song that you need to play when you have a design that you keep tinkering on for hours. You just cant be satisfied….move on. “(I’m Your)Hoocie Coochie Man” with the blues riff you can’t go wrong. “Got My Mojo Working” It will get yours going as well.


El-P – I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead

This guy is a master in his art! “Tasmanian Pain Coaster” gives me goose bumps especially :30-1:10. “Run The Numbers” is a great song and features Aesop Rock. “Habeas Corpes” the sample in the begining reminds me of the band Hole. It’s a darker track and I always picture two dudes rapping in a graveyard. I don’t know why I just do.


Prefuse 73 – One Word Extinguisher

Prefuse is a mix of electronica combined with hip-hop. While designing listening to “One Word Extinguisher”, expect to get funky surprisingly techy looking designs. Make sure you check out the track “End of Biters”, the rhythmic yet very glitchy beats will surely inspire you to create some wonderful yet weird designers. In the track “Uprock and Invigorate”, you will be mesmerized into working for hours with this song on loop. The song really sinks you into your designs. When Listening to “The Color of Tempo”, open up and geek out with some amazing color schemes with this jazz/electronica influenced track. Have fun!


Deep Puddle Dynamics – The Taste of Rain…..Why Kneel?

Deep Puddle Dynamics is a group featuring Sole, Alias, Doseone and Slug. The whole album was done in 2 weeks. “Deep Puddle Theme Song”, “The Scarecrow Speaks”, “I Am Hip Hop” and “Rainmen” are great songs to check out.


Boom bip – Seed To Sun

This album is super chill. “Roads Must Roll”, “U R Here” and “Awaiting An Accident” are really good background tracks. “Mannequin Hand Trapdoor” is another good one that you will probably want to listen to a couple times to hear what Doseone is saying. Don’t get off track, do what you came to do……..DESIGN!!


Blockhead – Music By Cavelight

“Carnivores Unite”, “Sunday Seance”, “Road Rage Breakdown” and “Jet Son” are some of my favorites. Out of all of them my favorite is “Daylight”. You might recognize it if your an Aesop Rock fan.


Bjork – Greatest Hits

I know of very few albums that I can listen to from start to finish without skipping a track. A lot of albums have that one track that sucks the inspiration out of you. This is one of those few albums that pumps you full of inspiration from the first to the last track. I can’t even name a favorite on this because all tracks are created equal when it comes to Bjorks Greatest hits. If you are a fan of this check out the movie “Dancer in the Dark”. This movie and it’s soundtrack are an inspiration in themselves but that’s a whole other post.


Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold

This album is an inspiration by itself let alone Atmosphere’s full discography. Some tracks that you should check out are “Puppets”, “the Skinny”, “You”, “Yesterday” and “Guarantees”.

atmosphere lemons cover

Alchemist – Rapper’s Best Friend

Not only is this a rapper’s best friend but a designers best friend as well. Every track is smooth and mellow. “Stuck To You”, “Back Again”, “tight”, and “Bring You Light” all have great beats that you should check out while designing your next ghetto fabulous break dancing poster.


Aesop Rock – Music For Earthworms The Instumentals

I’m a big fan of Aesop Rock and it’s weird that I would recommend an album that you don’t even hear Aesop but here ya go. “Wake Up Call”, “Merit”, “Nighttrain Promo”, “Shere Khan” and “All Is In My Mind” will help you get that design out of you mind and into your designs.


So there’s the 17 albums you should check out. What albums do you love to design to? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

About the author


Hey! What's up? My name is Jeremy and I think design is awesome:) design resources are cooler than shamwow! using our free resources is ridiculously radical! Use it, love it, and enjoy.


  • For those who actually rock, I’d suggest Disturbed – Indestructible album, Black Light Burns – Cruel Melody album and of more heavy, All That Remains – The Fall of Ideals.
    Have phun.

    • these are resources for design, it’s not about what’s on the radio. fuck disturbed. all that remains is pussy shit. if you’re into metal look up some whitechapel, suicide silence, born of osiris etc. Sick list Jeremy, you have great taste.

  • fantastic list! a few of these albums recieve a pretty regular spin from me when designing already, will be sure to check out the rest!

    Disturbed are rubbish.

  • wow..excellent list…I somehow came across this blog looking for design inspiration..This is most of the music I listen to..also check out

    dj egadz
    dj shadow
    Mr cooper
    Glen Porter
    Flying Lotus


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