Alex Steinweiss Booklet

Initial brainstorming

I had certain themes that I wanted to include in my booklet while I was working on my poster:

  • a spread to showcase different ways Alex portrayed the piano
  • a spread showing the different printing layers that overlap to make one album cover + complement that with how Alex uses grids
  • a spread related to the “tombstone” album cover story — albums before the 1940s were leather bound and only mundane type, like the bareness of tombstones
  • dedicating a spread to Alex being introduced to the world’s first LP over a coffee chat — a break from Alex’s work and also an interesting anecdote
  • a spread with multiple portraits of Alex to show his personality + relationship with his wife/family

Flat plan variations

I quickly realized that many spreads I had thought of may need to be condensed to a page to fit into a 14 page booklet. I also played around with the pacing to eliminate or stretch out certain stages of Alex’s life (ex. eliminating his military experience and dedicating more space on his time with Columbia).

First spreads for Tuesday Crit (colors are inaccurate)

I first tackled the spreads that I assumed required a lot of extra drawing and photoshop collage work.

Spreads for Thursday Crit

My first priority was to make my blank spreads in my flat plan not blank anymore. However, I was also occupied with making changes to the spreads I already created. Finally, I tried adding folios + page numbers and creating the first iteration of my front + back cover.

Design Decisions and Refinements for each spread

Although I usually format my medium posts in chronological order, I decided to just focus on each spread and how they evolved. Although I try to consolidate a consistent caption system and have a reoccuring color palette, I was very focused on how each spread tells its own story and the refinements unique to each spread.

Table of Contents

I had an idea to showcase Steinweiss’s large collection of piano illustrations, and so I wanted to have many pianos and have each element of the table of contents point to a unique piano. However, I quickly realized that having so many different pianos was very chaotic and I had to squish my table of contents spread to one page to include other information. I made the text more compact and readable, accidentally added the Alex and Blanche drawing and thought it looked cool, and also labeled each section of the booklet after a musical section like “reprise” and “verse”. I had the “early years” section on the second page. I tried including many of Steinweiss’s portrait in the shape of piano keys and had green captions that complimented the images that I colored dropped from the leaves of the flower piano.

Close-up Spread

This spread fulfilled multiple needs I had:

  • I wanted to give some breathing room to my reader.
  • I wanted to really zoom in on a few of Alex’s albums instead of always showing them in a dense collection.
  • I wanted to showcase the prolific-ness of Alex without showing every single album he’s created.
  • There was a really good quote about Alex from Kevin Reagan’s book that I thought really exemplifies Alex’s impact on the record industry: “[His] colorful album covers.. took the record shop out of the library-like atmosphere and put it right back into competition, moved from the rarefied air of penthouse and museum back to Broadway and Main Street.” — Will Burton, art director, Fortune magazine, 1947

Timeline Spread

My original ideas for the last two spreads of my booklet was 1) an anecdote of how Alex invented the record jacket and 2) a spread dedicated to what Alex did in retirement. However, I was very reluctant in working on these spreads and left them to rot for a couple days.

Invention of LP over coffee chat
Later years/retirement

Break Time! Re-doing my flat plan + Re-thinking my booklet cover.

Now with my new timeline idea, I realized that I need to reorganize my spreads. I put my close-up spread in between my grid spread and my timeline spread so that the reader gets a quick chance to breathe before they meet an info heavy spread again. I also put the process spread closer towards the beginning because understanding how Alex made his work adds more context and appreciation when viewing the work itself.

Process Spread

The first iteration of my process spread was soooo loud. I was using saturated complementary colors, large images, and a lot of hand-drawn elements. This was really the way I imagined the spread in my mind, but once I started adding fidelity to other spreads I quickly realized how much I needed to tone it down. I quickly switched to a dark background and scaled down the images. I also focused on the grid lines and how the vertical lines on the left help show the planes falling downward. I also used colors to point out how Alex used his grid and hand wrote some comments to enhance the idea of analyzing what happens behind the scenes.

Grid Spread

I was first inspired by Maggie’s spread where she included a lot of Kiyoshi’s work but cropped them with unqiue shapes like ovals and rounded boxes. It was a very good mix of showcasing his work while including her own voice. Therefore, I thought of cropping Alex’s square covers into vertical rectangles using the six column grid I already had. It was an interesting exploration because the rectangles could create long snakes or even weirdly-shaped music notes.

showcasing a large amount of Alex’s work
Final iteration for Grid Spread

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