New Yorker, Alex Steinweiss (1917-2011) is considered the father of LP artwork. Prior to the 1930s, the vast majority of records were sold in plain sleeves or record shop advertising ‘bags’. As the first art director at Colombia Records, he recalled what record covers used to be like:
The covers were brown, tan or green paper. They were not attractive, and lacked sales appeal.
They were so drab, so unattractive, I convinced the executives to let me design a few.
He went on to design album artwork for other record companies such as Decca, London, Remington and Everest.
Examples of his work can be found in Jazz Covers, a book we’ve reviewed in the past. There are two books dedicated to his huge back catalogue; For the Record: The Life and Work of Alex Steinweiss and Alex Steinweiss. The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover. There are three editions of the latter available costing from £15 to £1,000.