The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover
Publication Date: April 2011
List Price: $69.99*
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The man who launched the Golden Age of album cover design
"I love music so much and I had such ambition that I was willing to go way beyond what the hell they paid me for. I wanted people to look at the artwork and hear the music." —Alex Steinweiss
Alex Steinweiss invented the album cover as we know it, and created a new graphic art form. In 1940, as Columbia Records’ young new art director, he pitched an idea: Why not replace the standard plain brown wrapper with an eye-catching illustration? The company took a chance, and within months its record sales increased by over 800 per cent. His covers for Columbia—combining bold typography with modern, elegant illustrations—took the industry by storm and revolutionized the way records were sold.
Over three decades, Steinweiss made thousands of original artworks for classical, jazz, and popular record covers for Columbia, Decca, London, and Everest; as well as logos, labels, advertising material, even his own typeface, the Steinweiss Scrawl. He launched the golden age of album cover design and influenced generations of designers to follow. Less well known—but included here—are his posters for the U.S. Navy; packaging and label design for liquor companies; film title sequences; as well as his fine art. Includes essays by three-time Grammy Award-winning art director/designer Kevin Reagan and graphic design historian Steven Heller; Steinweiss’ personal recollections from an epic career; and extensive ephemera from the Steinweiss archive.
Record collectors and graphic designers rejoice! Previously available in a limited edition, the book is finally available in an affordable trade version.
Steven Heller is the art director of the NY Times Book Review and co-chair of the MFA Design program at the School of Visual Arts. He is the editor of the AIGA online journal, VOICE. He is a contributing editor to PRINT, EYE, Baseline, and ID. He writes frequently for Metropolis and other design magazines. He is author, co-author, and editor of over 90 books on design and popular culture.