Music by VICE

Get to Know the Father of Album Cover Art

Alex Steinweiss is known for developing the entire graphic "language" of album design.

by Anya Tchoupakov
28 October 2015, 4:30pm

The Firebird Suite signed by Alex Steinweiss. All images courtesy of Taschen

As part of their Bibilotheca Universalis series, Taschen has released Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover, a comprehensive collection of works by album-cover artist from 1917-2011.  Former art directors at Geffen and the New York Times respectively, Kevin Reagan and Steven Heller compiled 552 pages of high quality images, personal recollections, and ephemera from the artist, along with their own insightful essays to track the career of the man who invented the very concept of album cover art.

According to the book description, “In 1940, as Columbia Records’ young new art director, [Steinweiss] 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 percent.”

 Steinweiss is known for developing the entire graphic "language" of album design from drawing, lettering, and layout. He designed his own "Steinweiss scrawl" font and claims to have invented the LP cover. Later in his career he became a master of die-cut designs and collage. He is a master more graphic designers should reference.  See more of his handywork below:

Alex Steinweiss photographed for "Downbeat" magazine at his home studio, 1947. Photo by William P. Gottlieb;

First appearing on album covers as early as 1944, the Steinweiss Scrawl had become the artist's signature lettering by 1947. Courtesy Alex Steinweiss

Igor Stravinsky, "Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring)." Courtesy Alex Steinweiss

"Bing: A Musical Autobiography of Bing Crosby, 1927-1934."  Courtesy Alex Steinweiss

"Turandot by Giacomo Puccini," from the Homage to Music series. Courtesy Alex Steinweiss

To learn more about Alex Steinweiss. The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover (Taschen) click here.


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Alex Steinweiss
art book
Bibliotecha Universalis
Kevin Reagan
Steven Heller
album cover art