Steinweiss. The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover

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Alex Steinweiss (1917–2011) invented the album cover as we know it. 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.

Over the next 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. His daring designs, gathered here in all their bright combinations of bold typography with modern, elegant illustration, revolutionized the way music was sold.

The book includes Steiweiss’ personal recollections and ephemera from an epic career, as well as insightful essays by three-time Grammy Award-winning art director/designer Kevin Reagan and graphic design historian Steven Heller.