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