A truly musical illustrator, Jim Flora (1914-1998) had a wonderful ability to make the music he loved manifest in his drawings. The Flora archive is a treasure trove of his fantastic designs for magazines, children’s books and, of course, his record sleeve designs.
Flora began working in the art department of Columbia Records in 1942 and was promoted to Art Director in 1943, replacing the godfather of album cover art, Alex Steinweiss. The "golden age" of Flora covers came when he was promoted to Advertising Manager and began taking design assignments on the side. He created unbelievably fresh designs like Mambo For Cats and Bix and Tram.
My favourite is his design for Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5. The album was a reissue of 1920s material for Columbia's "Hot Jazz Series”. Just look at it! Everything is in there; you can almost hear that New Orleans jazz leap off the image into your ears.
You can see the whole collection of his album cover art prints on his hypergallery page but here is a sneak preview of a new print, Inside Sauter-Finegan, set to join the collection next week.