The art of

_Alex Steinweiss

When Alex Steinweiss (1917 - 2011) was appointed as art director at Columbia Records in 1938, there was no such thing as a record sleeve. Luckily, within a year of starting his new job Steinweiss’ had his eureka moment and persuaded his bosses to invest $250000 in the equipment needed to print on record packaging.

No longer would records come in plain brown wrappers. Steinweiss created the ‘album package.’ His idea was to create a visual to complement the musical. It was an instant success, and spawned an entire new field of illustration and design: Album Cover Art. Steinweiss was the king of the genre; his covers are still regarded as icons. In his four decade career, Steinweiss created album covers for musical luminaries such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Igor Stravinsky and Benny Goodman.

„I got this idea that the way they were selling these albums was ridiculous. The covers were just big brown, tan or green paper. I said: ‚Who the hell’s going to buy this stuff? There’s no push to it. There’s no attractiveness. There’s no sales appeal.‘ So I told them I’d like to start designing covers.“