The packaging for recordings is a rich but peculiar art form. It’s a very visible piece of art, but the creators are mostly anonymous. It’s creative but also utilitarian, a piece of advertising. Ideally, it represents the artist and the music inside, but it’s also a corporate branding tool for a label. Even a few serious jazz fans might have no idea who David Stone Martin, Burt Goldblatt, Esmond Edmonds or Reid Miles are — but their work for Clef, Verve, Blue Note, Columbia or Prestige would be instantly recognizable to them and evoke entire eras in jazz.
All that seemed destined to become a quaint memory with the advent of CDs in the 1980s. (Of course, CDs along with all other physical music delivery platforms seem now well on their way to becoming quaint artifacts themselves, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
Still, some artists found ways to create original, distinctive work, work that both represented the music and gave it a fighting chance in a desperately crowded marketplace. Consider Stephen Byram.