The making of Madonna’s first album cover

By art director Carin Goldberg

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Imagine working with an up-and-coming pop star on her first album cover. You're not sure who she is or whether she'll be a one-hit wonder, but the shoot goes well. Fast forward a few years, everyone is talking about Madonna, and you realise that the cover you did was a bigger deal than you thought at the time. Carin Goldberg was that person.  And now,  the art director behind the cover of Madonna's self-titled first album has opened up about the artistic process behind it. ‘When I got the call, I rolled my eyes, because it was another [musician with a] one-word name,’ she told NY Magazine’s The Cut. ‘At that time it had become cliché to have a one-word name, because of Cher.’

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But Carin was pleasantly surprised, saying Madonna was: ‘probably the easiest job I ever had. She was a true professional, even at that young age […] she did everything we asked her to do, she said thank you.’

Because the artwork had a low budget, Madonna was asked to wear her own clothes to the shoot. ‘We were all doing that kind of eclectic look, but Madonna did it with a much more audacious, sexual edge,’ Carin says.

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The shoot was uncomplicated, with the team just putting on her music and asking her to dance to Holiday: ‘There was not much else we needed to do, because she was a performer.’

Madonna’s musical success was a surprise to Carin: ‘Who the hell could have predicted after that? It totally exploded. That album was the moment.’

And while she didn’t expect Madonna to go so far, she’s glad she did the cover artwork now: ‘I will be forever the art director who did Madonna’s first cover, which I suppose is not a bad thing.’

As jobs go, working with one of the most successful female pop stars of the time is probably a pretty cool thing to have on your CV.

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