R.I.P. Alex Steinweiss (1917-2011)

Alex Steinweiss, a graphic designer and art director who first brought custom artwork to vinyl LP sleeves and invented the first packaging for vinyl records, has died on Sunday at the age of 94.

From the New York Times:

The record cover was a blank slate in 1939, when Mr. Steinweiss was hired to design advertisements for Columbia Records. Most albums were unadorned, and on those occasions when art was used, it was not original. (Albums then were booklike packages containing multiple 78 r.p.m. discs.)

His first cover, for a collection of Rodgers and Hart songs performed by an orchestra, showed a high-contrast photo of a theater marquee with the title in lights. The new packaging concept was a success: Newsweek reported that sales of Bruno Walter’s recording of Beethoven’s “Eroica” symphony increased ninefold when the album cover was illustrated.

A nice showcase of Steinweiss-designed LP covers can be found here.

R.I.P.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.