I am starting a new (roughly) weekly column entitled "In the Classroom". I will be writing this piece to share the artists and designers I learn about in my graduate school colloquium 'Topics in Graphic Design Since 1950' taught by my brilliant Professor Thomas Crow. Any thoughts, comments, or suggestions about this new column would be greatly appreciated!
Alvin Lustig was a famous magazine, promotional and book jacket designer. He is most famous for his work on the "New Classics" book series sold by the publishing company New Directions. His work played off the tradition of bold, graphic poster design in Europe. Lustig was incredibly canny, occasionally designing black and white covers to stand out in a market that was completely color saturated. Tragically Lustig died at the early age of 40, but his work lives on through his website here.
Alex Steinweiss is best known for his complete reinvention of record covers. In the early 1950s records were still played at 78 rates per minutes, meaning that only a few songs could be put on each record and thus albums were packaged in big bulky sets. Noting the bland impersonal designs on these cases--usually containing small explanatory type on the front and nothing else--Steinweiss decided to use this free "ad space" to make covers that were eye-catching and alluded to the style and feeling of the music inside. When the 32rpm record came out, Steinweiss rewrote the book on package printing to be able to produce his brightly colored and inventive designs on a new, slim cardboard sleeve. He worked in various positions over several decades for Columbia Records while doing freelance in various other media. These two covers, however, are even today understood as two of the first and best works by this graphic master. Learn more about his work here.