May 10, 2017

A Simple Simple Short Shot

Entertainment advertising - Album design

Incredibly, album art took over 40 years to show up

"It was ridiculous that beautiful music was in an empty piece of cardboard.” - Alex Steinweiss

Now famed designer, Alex Steinweiss started out in Brooklyn where he earned a scholarship to the Parsons School of Design. After graduating he made posters with/for Austrian designer Joseph Binder, before taking a job at Columbia as their advertising manager. In 1939 he realized that the plain brown, tan or green paper ‘lacked sales appeal’ and added a simple marquee design to a collection of songs by Rodgers and Hart. The album sales jumped 900% immediately and album art was cemented in the world of recorded music.

It seems incredible that something so intrinsic to the way we enjoy music took so long to develop; album art is still on our iPod, Spotify, Tidal and Google Play, it’s enlarged and hung on our walls or printed proudly on t-shirts. It seems obvious now, but at the time it was a revelation. Advertisers must continue to look past the traditional, the typical and the conventional to find new ways to cut through the clutter - to find the blank slates that are staring us in the face.

To see more of his work, go to: