Jim Flora, circa 1940. Photo:Jim Flora blog
James Flora (1914-1998) was born in Bellefontaine, OH. on January 25, 1914. He studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati from 1935-1939. He launched a small letterpress publication with student-writer Robert Lowry called "The Little Man Press", for which he supplied illustrations and design until 1942. He was then hired by Columbia Records to work in their art department under the inventor of the illustrated album cover, Alex Steinweiss. In 1945 he was promoted to Advertising Manager (which to me, for an artist doesn't seem like much of a promotion). Though no longer in the art department, Jim illustrated his first album cover in 1947 for Robert M. Jones who was the art director at that time. By 1950 Jim was fed up with his "desk job", which involved too many meetings and not enough creativity, so he finally quit (oh, how I can relate). He then decided to pack up his Hudson sedan and head for Mexico with his family! Jim enjoyed 15 months of sun, relaxation and art before returning to Connecticut in 1951. It was at this point that his career as a freelance commercial artist really took off and continued for decades. He illustrated covers and interior articles for dozens of the Nation's top magazines including; Fortune, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. Jim also authored and illustrated 17 popular children's books. But he is best known for his unique album cover art, much of which he created for his former co-worker Robert M. Jones, who became the art director at RCA Victor in 1953. Jim retired from commercial work in the late 1970's, but continued to be creative till he passed away on July 8, 1998.