This title discusses about music for the eyes; the man who revolutionized record packaging; and, the golden age of album cover design: the first ever in-depth retrospective of the work of Alex Steinweiss, inventor of the record album cover. This collector's edition contains the full range of his output including hundreds of previously unpublished sketches, mock-ups, and comps from his personal archive. Limited to 100 individually numbered copies, each signed by Alex Steinweiss in his trademark 'Steinweiss Scrawl', printed on archival-quality paper and packaged in a custom slipcase, this Art Edition comes with an original signed artwork. In 1939, Columbia Records' newly hired art director, then 23-year-old Alex Steinweiss, pitched a novel idea to management: why not replace the standard plain brown album wrapper with an eye-catching package? The fledgling record company initially balked at the expense, but decided to take a chance on Smash Song Hits by Rodgers & Hart, performed by the Imperial Orchestra, a risk that paid off. Within months of Steinweiss' repackage of their line of 78-r.p.m. records - with abstract and sophisticated illustrations, and novel typography influenced by European poster artists of the 1930s like Joseph Binder - sales increased by as much as 800 per cent and the album cover as we know it was born. A decade later, he invented the paperboard jacket to contain the new 33-1/3 inch long-playing record, the LP, which remains the industry standard to this day. For three decades, Steinweiss created thousands of original artworks for jazz, classical, and popular record covers not only for Columbia, Decca, London, and others, as well as designing logos, labels, adverting material, even his own typeface named the Steinweiss Scrawl. He defined the golden age of album cover design and influenced generations of album designers to follow. Less well known, but also highly influential, was his work outside of the record industry: posters for the U.S. Navy during World War II, print ads for ladies' footwear, packing and label design for liquor companies, and film title sequences; as well as his personal fine art which included paintings, drawings, and ceramics. This text includes an original essay from renowned design historian and Steinweiss expert Steven Heller, Alex Steinweiss' personal recollections from his years in the business, detailed captions, and extensive bibliographic information. Also featured in this in-depth retrospective are hundreds of sketches, mock-ups, and comps from Steinweiss' personal archive, most of which have never been published before.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1917, Alex Steinweiss entered Abraham Lincoln High School at the height of the Great Depression. It was there that he came under the wing of the art department chair Leon Friend, whose other famous pupils include Seymour Chwast, Gene Federico, and William Taubin. After graduating from Parsons School of Art and Design, Steinweiss became an assistant to the Austrian designer Joseph Binder for three years. In 1939 he became first art director of Columbia Records and single-handedly invented the album cover. During World War II Steinweiss enlisted with the U.S. Navy, designing posters by day and continuing to work for Columbia by night. After the war, he took on additional clients in the record industry (London, Decca, RCA, Everest), as well as dozens of distilleries, film studios, magazines, and medical companies. In 1970, Steinweiss retired from the graphic design field to pursue painting and ceramics, and moved to Sarasota, Florida. His work has been widely exhibited around the United States, and his numerous awards include an AIGA Medal and the Art Directors Hall of Fame Award for lifetime achievement. Kevin Reagan is a three-time Grammy Award winning art director/designer who has also been honored by the AIGA, NARAS, the Type Director's Club, Print, and Communication Arts, among others. The former art director of Geffen, MCA, and Maverick Records, he has designed packages for hundreds of artists including Madonna, Beck, The Dixie Chicks, and Sonic Youth. He lives and operates his design studio in Los Angeles, California. Steven Heller, a senior art director of the New York Times and co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design program, is the author of over one hundred books on design, popular culture, and satiric art. In addition to writing for over a dozen TASCHEN titles, his recent books include Design Literacy Second Edition, Stylepedia, and The Education of a Graphic Designer.