He is credited with helping to create a particular jazz look, the distinctive and atmospheric Blue Note style that later became iconic in the hands of photographer Francis Wolff and designer Reid Miles.
The Pennsylvania-born Hermansader, a painter, designed the covers in the 1950s and '60s, when Blue Note was still a relatively unknown jazz label. He had studied art and design in Memphis and at the New Bauhaus in Chicago.
Michael Cuscuna, president of Mosaic Records (which has re-released Blue Note recordings complete with original cover art), said, "What John Hermansader and [designer] Paul Bacon really did was evoke the feeling of the music. They used everything from Bauhaus designs to things that were completely otherworldly."
Angelynn Grant, a graphic designer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told the News-Times, "He was one of the early pioneers. . . When people think of Blue Note covers, they think of Francis Wolff's photography and Reid Miles' design. But John Hermansader laid the groundwork and got them going along that path."