Album art. That’s one of the things I was doing this week. That is, I was making my own album art. It was the final step in getting my iPod Touch to look exactly as I wanted it to.

I’ve written before on making playlists (à la mix tapes) in iTunes (or whatever program you prefer). It’s how I like to listen to music these days. I even copied the MP3s of my music in my playlists so that I could enter new information into the songs’ metadata and give them my playlist name as the album they belong to. That keeps things from getting messed up.

The one thing I overlooked after I set up my thirty-some playlists was album art. Since all of the songs on my playlists now stated that the album they belonged to was the name of my playlist rather than an actual album the original album art that was attached to each song disappeared. Poof! Into the ether.

There was still album art associated with each song but is was a nearly random default piece that attached itself to my playlist named albums. Each of my playlists had a piece of art attached to it from some actual album art in my collection. My playlist “Rolled and Landed (don’t ask me what it means even I don’t know) had a James McMurtry album cover attached to it. It was confusing.

Since it took so much work for me to get my playlists up to snuff I was tired of dealing with them. Random art from other albums was okay with me. Also making an album cover takes a while. More time than I wanted to spend. But then, unbeknownst to me, my brain was working on the problem. And interesting way to make a quick album cover hit me. Google images.

In case you’ve never used Google images before it’s just like a regular web search at Google (or whatever your favorite search site is) except you hit the “Images” link and it just shows you pictures instead of web sites. Lots and lots of pictures.

So I would put the name of my playlist into Google images and see what sort of images it found. Sometimes the results would be literal, such as for my “One Wolf” playlist, and sometimes anything could happen, such as for my “Phineas Flatters Us” playlist.

Lots and lots of choices. And since the images were only going to be seen on screen low resolution images were fine. I’d pick an image, open up Photoshop, and add the name of the playlist in type. No fancy type work. Just basic. I kept things simple and got things done.

As I said before it takes a lot of work to make a real album cover. Or at least it should. I have seen plenty that were badly cranked out. But thanks to random images on the internet I was able to make a low res album cover that was interesting enough for me (and I’m fairly picky) in about five to maybe ten minutes (for the couple of stubborn ones).

I’m generally pretty fast with graphics on the computer (it is my profession) but it was the vast number of images out in cyberspace that made this little project of mine go so fast. There were so many interesting choices that I was bound to find something. And quickly. Image, type, choose font, and it’s done.

This isn’t a method that would work for commercial purposes. The images are property of whoever their copyright holders are and someone would need permission to, say, put them on the cover of “Time” magazine but for a guy making album covers that almost no one will ever see but himself it’s a great method. I knocked out thirty something album covers in an evening.

So now my iPod Touch is looking real cool. It’s loaded with all of my playlists and when I flip it into “Cover Flow” view I no longer get a useless collection of album covers that don’t even relate to my playlists. I get a series of album covers with interesting images on them that also state the name of my playlist. They’re useful now.

The images can surprise me too. I made them so fast and furiously that I don’t even remember what some of them look like. So as I flip through my playlists in Cover Flow view I say, “Oh look at that cool album art” as if some one else put it there. Gotta love album art.