Timothy O'Donnell

Timothy O'Donnell is a creative director at 160over90, a branding agency headquartered in Philadelphia. In his varied career, he has designed for 4AD Records, MTV, New York magazine, and Johnson & Johnson's Global Strategic Design Office, and has counted HarperCollins, HBO, Penguin Books and numerous independent record labels among his freelance clients.

Timothy is the author and designer of Sketchbook: Conceptual Drawings from the World's Most Influential Designers, which married his abiding interest in the creative process with his complete inability to pay attention during conference calls.


Undercover: The Best Album Covers of 2014

With my active lifestyle, I don't have 11 months to kill until those slugabeds at Pitchfork sum up the years' best artwork.

Topics: Packaging, Professional Development, Random

Undercover: Shiny Happy New Year

New Year's Eve represents the ultimate triumph of marketing — its irresistible promise never delivers, but we keep coming back for more.

Topics: Branding Identity, Design Reference, Random

Undercover: Physical (Format) Therapy

Pristine shrink-wrapped reissues or musty garage-sale fodder, the mental benefits of digging through record bins can't be overstated.

Topics: Design Reference, Packaging, Random

Undercover: Spotlight: Ben Tousley

Best known for his work with Grizzly Bear, Ben Tousley proves that the art of the album cover is alive and well—despite any rumors to the contrary.

Topics: Branding Identity, Packaging, Professional Development, Profiles

Undercover: 4AD: Facing the Other Way

On the publication of Martin Aston's eagerly anticipated label history Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD, there's been a welcome rekindling of interest in the iconic independant label.

Topics: Color, Packaging, Pattern & Palette, Professional Development

Undercover: Perhaps breakfast should have waited longer...

Unassailable news sources, the Huffington Post and my wife Alex, both think Prince's new cover is brilliant.

Topics: Branding Identity, Packaging, Product Design, Professional Development

Undercover: Not beautiful, but true

Sufjan Stevens' recent, ahem, savaging of an album cover is a welcome addition to the sparse critical dialogue around sleeve design.

Topics: Layouts, Packaging, Type

Undercover: GOING G4EEN

On the 25th anniversary of R.

Topics: Color, Layouts, Packaging, Pattern & Palette

Undercover: Spotlight: Jordan Butcher/Work of Self

Seattle-based Jordan Butcher crafts gorgeously textured album artwork under his nom de création Work of Self.

Topics: Branding Identity, Design Reference, Packaging, Professional Development, Profiles

Undercover: Storm Thorgerson 1944-2013

Since Thorgerson's death was announced Friday, dozens of worthy tributes have been written.

Topics: Branding Identity, Packaging, Professional Development, Profiles

Undercover: Paul Sahre vs the Nanobots

Nanobots are tiny robots the size of a molecule.

Topics: Branding Identity, Packaging, Professional Development, Profiles

Undercover: False-color before Instagram

Instagram filters have turned everyone into a photographer, resulting in an avalanche of faux-nostalgic images.

Topics: Branding Identity, Color, Packaging, Pattern & Palette

Undercover: A few vaguely related thoughts

It's been 22 years since My Bloody Valentine's first album was released, and I'm disappointed, to say the least.

Topics: Branding Identity, Color, Layouts, Packaging


Provocative new designs for David Bowie and George Orwell explore themes of obliterating or redacting information—and have set the comment boards ablaze.

Topics: Layouts, Packaging, Random

Undercover: A festive but predictable wonderland

Every Halloween, just after midnight, the silence is shattered by a terrifying sound — Christmas songs blaring unnaturally early out of every store and radio.

Topics: Branding Identity, Packaging, Pattern & Palette

Undercover: A brief autobiographical pause

If you spend enough time talking about music and album covers, every so often you'll be asked, "So, what was your first record?" This is an unfortunate situation if (a) you believe honesty is the best policy, and (b) your first record was Double Vision by Foreigner.

Topics: Layouts, Packaging, Product Design

Undercover: A Conversation with Steven R Gilmore

Industrial music, made popular in the 80s and 90s by labels such as WaxTrax! and Nettwerk, is an abrasive collision of rock and electronic music—Black Sabbath as played by Kraftwerk.

Topics: Branding Identity, Packaging, Profiles, Type

Undercover: Desert Island Design

´╗┐What one album cover would you bring to a deserted island: the hardest decision since Sophie's Choice? You are about to undertake a sea voyage upon a luxuriously appointed cruise ship.

Topics: Branding Identity, Design Reference, Packaging, Random

Undercover: The Darkness's Syrupy Centerfold

Eight-foot pancakes? Gallons of maple syrup drizzled over bikini-clad Argentine temptresses? It's either the best breakfast in recorded history or a new album cover for The Darkness.

Topics: Handmade, Packaging, Professional Development, Profiles

Undercover: Station Identification

While you can no longer carry four alimonies on the back of designing album covers, working with music is still powerfully seductive to designers, who clamor to design band logos, t-shirts, gig posters.

Topics: Branding Identity, Color, Pattern & Palette, Type

Undercover: In Black and White

After Peter Blake's packed-to-the-rafters, world's-poorest-seating-arrangement sleeve for Sgt.

Topics: Color, Design Reference, Packaging, Pattern & Palette, Random

Undercover: Judging covers by a book

Despite recent intriguing developments in music packaging—albums released on USB jewelry! cassette boxsets!—it's still very much a 'remember the good old days' kind of field.

Topics: Branding Identity, Design Reference, Fashion, Packaging

Undercover: Norah Jones' wild side and other design transformations

Designing for the music industry sure ain't what it used to be—the goalposts haven't just moved, they've been smashed into atoms.

Topics: Branding Identity, Packaging, Professional Development, Random