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.
Authors Steven Heller and Kevin Reagan (through TASCHEN publishing) has released a new book on his work, Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover