A bad album cover is like a baggy suit...the special jacket enhances the group's position in the business; it adds to their image and maintains the aura.

James Ladwig

James Ladwig

“The Father of Special Packaging”

Jim Ladwig in 1975

Jim Ladwig was a pioneer of album design and co-founder of the influential and prominent Album Graphics, Inc. (AGI). After studying at the Chicago Academy of Art and serving in the army, he joined Mercury Records in 1955, eventually serving as art director during his tenure. He designed album covers for the likes of Quincy Jones, Cannonball Adderley and Sarah Vaughn. In 1968, the founder of AGI, Don Kosterka, invited Ladwig to join his fledgling company, which would eventually become one of the biggest publishers of album covers in the world, printing over 200 million jackets a year at their peak. 

While at AGI, Ladwig and his team changed the business with innovative approaches to design, materials and the manufacturing process. Ladwig was nominated for the Grammy in album packaging six times, winning in 1975 for Honey by The Ohio Players. That year, six of the nine albums nominated in the category were published by AGI. Ladwig would go on to create the Digipak, a wildly successful alternative to jewel cases for CDs. 

The Collection of James and Paula Ladwig show their professional and personal passion for not just music, but how imagery can impact and elevate the music to a total experience — memorable, iconic and felt.  

Album Covers Designed by James Ladwig

Listen to a playlist inspired by the creative and pioneering work of James Ladwig.

The Collection of James and Paula Ladwig

The collection of Grammy Award winning designer James Ladwig and his wife Paula, also a designer, reflects a remarkable life together doing what they loved — traveling, collecting, racing vintage cars and being immersed in the world of music. Wright is proud to present this diverse and intriguing collection. 

“I want to be with her.”

On Dec 8, 1980 Annie Leibovitz was sent to photograph John Lennon—explicitly alone—at his apartment, for the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. Pointing at Yoko, Lennon politely requested otherwise: “I want to be with her”.

Inspired by John and Yoko’s kiss on the cover of their recently released album Double Fantasy, and what Leibovitz perceived as a “lack of romance” at the turn of the decade, she obliged Lennon and ignored her editor’s instruction. 

Leibovitz requested both John and Yoko be nude, and when Yoko refused it was only John, naked as the day he came, warmly embracing the woman he referred to as “mother”. Looking at the Polaroid, Lennon said, “this is it”.

Tragically, just hours later Lennon was shot and killed by a deranged fan in front of his apartment. 

Six weeks later, the image made the cover of Rolling Stone as a poignant farewell to Lennon and would become one of their most popular covers of all time.