TYPO BERLIN 2007 @BCC, AlexanderPlatz
1. Steve Heller on Alex Steinweiss (the father of record cover design)
» Lucian Bernhard was his inspiration , master of the advertising poster: leaving only the essence, no ambiguity only allmost litteral. Born in Brooklyn, Polish parents (Greenhorsn = immigrants without money) Steinweiss is white stone, went to Abraham Lincoln Highschool, they had the most important graphic design program in those days. He was a good painter and illustrator. European avant-garde and design, when it was all down to reduction. Assistant of Joseph Binder, working and introducing for Columbian records (CBS bought it later on) Point of purchase displays was what recordsleaves were. His first designed cover sold the product for a 800% more! Lateron got more interested and influenced by Art Deco. Working with the importance of evocing the music in the output of the image. When it happened it was revolutionary in America, looking at "de Stijl" (1937) Modernism was on a rise, Paul Rand for example incorporated new lessons of the Bauhaus and worked with the same revolutionary work of Steinweiss. Lateron influenced by the use of 2D forms integrated into the design. Constructivism, Art Deco and photography, experimenting with typography from the past...integrating it into these modern designs. (the germans invented branding with Peter Behrens) Steinweiss is always looking for the aura of the music.
He designed one of the first script-type design, making it for Photolettering » Steinweiss sprawl. He was a so called commercial artist. he found that the Bauhaus was ultimately to restrictive for him. His illustrations resemble very timeless, a lot of so called modern illustrators still bring the same kind of work. He was a remarkable craftsman, always renewing, but not always making the best choices. Let other people decide which of your work should be used... :) Sketching mostly everything at first and then tran slating it with overlayers (very oldskool) precision setting all marks collors and pieces into the design.
Left Colombia in 1942 as an Art director, going into the Navy, later-on being introduced to the LP, playing 22minutes instead of the older, 3 to 4 minutes before the click. Steinweiss had to make a new package, his brother in law was a printer, andfor the first time they had to be printing on the package in stead of on a different page that could just be applied or sticked on.
Abstract expressionism, had an enormous impact on the new American artists and designers, and even on typography. Steinweis would sitl combine it with decorative influences he picked up earlier.
After working on a number of recordsleaves, he got to packaging and later-on working for the filmindustry. (James Flora should be checked in this context as well) - working with very contemporarian colors and forms) 1963 Steinweiss decided to leave the music-industry and moved to Florida, and Neill Fagida took his place. Revolver was the album that changed everything, even more then SgtPeper. Steinweiss layed the foundation for LP-cover design as an artform and it peaked somewhere in the '80s.