I’ve read that you’ve done a lot of work for Jade Tree records (one of the pioneer emo/punk/hardcore labels)? That is one of my favorite record labels growing up! Tell us a bit about some of your work on Jade Tree…
I was lucky enough to meet Tim and Darren of Jade Tree in the late 90s. We are from the same hardcore scene of the mid to late 80s. So we hit it off right away. As soon as I met them I told them I wanted to work with bands and do album covers. They threw me in the mix immediately with the first Kid Dynamite LP and we were off and running from there. I was able to work on albums for The Explosion, Turning Machine, Pedro the Lion, Paint it Black, as well as Merch for Euphone, Joan of Arc, Promise Ring & Jets to Brazil. I had so much fun doing that work. It really let me stretch my legs design wise and helped me explore new ways to approach projects.
I’ve seen that you’ve done some work too with legendary bands like The Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead / Dead & Company.. How did you meet those guys?
I have been very lucky to have worked / worked with both bands. The Rolling Stones project came from someone on their team requesting me after seeing my work. Their merchandising team got in touch and set me loose on a series of posters and shirts. The Rolling Stones are one of my all time favorites so I was beside myself that I got to work for the band. The Dead / Dead & Company connection came from me making Dead bootlegs for years. Sounds weird I know but it has led to one of the best working relationships I’ve ever had. Truly a dream come true. It’s never lost on me how great it is I get to do stuff for one of the most iconic bands in the world.
I’ve read in your interviews that your love of ‘90s video games also inspires your works. What are your favorite ‘90s games?
(I have no idea where you read that) HA! The only game I ever played in the 90s was Donkey Kong Country and I was obsessed. I was never a video game person, but that for some reason captured my attention.
So can you tell us a bit about your design and creative process?
Lots of thinking and mentally sketching. Looking through old books and gathering info. Doodles on paper, planning and then finally executing. At that point it hopefully comes out they way I see it in my head. I’m finally at the point, 25+ years in that what I have in my head can translate to paper most of the time. Sometimes I’m surprised because it comes out a little different, maybe better than I anticipated. That’s always fun.
So how did you meet John Mayer? And how do you start that ’Sob Rock’ project? It’s like you both really brainstormed about those cool aesthetics on ’Sob Rock’…
It’s all thanks to my spin on a bootleg Dead shirt. John saw it and wanted one. I brought him a few shirts at a Dead & Company show and we just kept in touch. I ended up working on his last LP “The Search for Everything” and I guess I did an ok job because here we are with “Sob Rock”. John has a very clear vision of what he wants, which really helps as a designer. It makes my job way easier and the end product very very clear. This whole project had a clear vision from the get go. We were both on the same wavelength from the beginning.
I really liked the small details on ‘Sob Work’ visual designs and promo stuff. Like the “price cut” stickers on the cover or those old-school billboards designs.. Where do you get inspirations for ’Sob Rock’ designs?
The period correct details without being kitschy or hokey can be tough. We wanted it all to feel very authentic. Old advertising played a huge role in this project. The details, the typography, the photography were a fine line to walk where it felt real and not cartoony. The devil is in the details as they say.
Last questions: tell us your 8 of your favorite soft rock / AOR / city pop songs that you listen to while making the ‘Sob Rock’ designs…
Hall & Oates - She’s gone
Christopher Cross - Sailing
REO Speedwagon - Can’t Fight this Feeling
Foreigner - I Want to Know What Love Is
Mr. Mister - Broken Wings
America - A Horse with No Name
Seals and Crofts - Summer Breeze
Little River Band - Reminiscing