Fresh off the heels of the Grammy’s, I thought I’d shed a little light on the history of the album cover. Credit has been given to Alex Steinweiss for inventing the album cover as we know it. He was the pioneer who took the cover from a plain brown wrapper to the custom artwork we know today. Read a little bio here.
Mr. Steinweiss passed away this year, but his legacy will certainly live on, as first art director at Columbia Records, and beyond. His work was a little of everything: a little modern, a little dada, a little bauhaus, a little abstract, always fresh and creative. His album covers have been lovingly imitated since his first cover came out in 1939. If you’ve never heard of Mr. Steinweiss, you’re missing out. AIGA’s tribute to him is here.
The image above is what is historically known as the very first album cover; image borrowed from LP Cover Lover’s website.
Last: article about Steinweiss’s career and passing in the NY Times this past summer.