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Alex Steinweiss 1917-2011
posted: July 20, 2011

The great Alex Steinweiss passed away yesterday at the age of 94. He was the first guy to convince record companies that records would sell better if the packaging  included imagery. Steinweiss designed his first cover for Columbia Records in 1939, and designed countless covers throughout his long career.  If you don’t have the Taschen monograph you should get it.
 
I met Alex a couple of years ago in Sarasota, and he told me that he designed 100 covers a week at Columbia.  It seemed hard to believe when you look at the level of craftsmanship required to execute those designs before digital technology,  but Alex insisted it was 100 a week.
 
Steinweiss sent me a terribly nice note about my book Jazz ABZ and invited Jill and me to visit him in Florida. I’m glad we made the trip when we did. He was full of stories about growing up in Brooklyn, working for Joseph Binder, and he enjoyed showing us the paintings that he did after retiring. And he loved his buckwheat pancakes.

9 comments
Richard Borge July 20, 2011
inspiring Paul, thx for the post.
KY July 20, 2011
This butters no parsnips.
David Flaherty July 20, 2011
One of the greats Paul. What a thrill for you to meet him in person.
sockwell July 20, 2011
looks like alex forgot about membership to the clean plate club. he was an inspiration to many. thx for posting. ps- i told you i bought his entire library right? for $800!
Matthew Hollister July 20, 2011
incredible work, really cool post. the thing with pancakes is that you can't take a break in between, it's too hard to get started again.
Rob Dunlavey July 21, 2011
Thanks for posting this Paul. I'm curious what his personal work was all about. I wonder what he felt about music packaging nowadays…
Terry Brown July 21, 2011
Thanks for bringing this piece of illustration history to Drawger. He created an entire genre. I can only imagine his conversation with the 1939 bean counters!
Robert Saunders July 22, 2011
Alec Steinweiss's work was great. It must have been fun to break bread with the old guy. Others whose LP jackets I like are David Stone Martin from the 50's, and Reid Miles, who gave the Blue Note label its signature look. He also hired a young artist named Andy Warhol to illustrate a couple jackets for Blue Note.
Patrick Hruby July 26, 2011
I heard and I immediately thought of you. What an inspiring and prolific life he led. You are so lucky to have met him. This was a nice tribute Paul.
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