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So You Want To Be… An Art Director

How did you get your start in the music industry?
Totally by accident really! I designed posters and merch for my old bands back in the day, people seemed to like what I was doing, and it all snowballed from there.

What’s the day-to-day of an art director involve?
It’s a highly refined ritual which involves debating what music to listen to, inhaling coffee instead of oxygen, plenty of emails and phone calls, a healthy amount of panic, the coffee wearing off followed by the
shakes, a whole lot of work and occasionally some sleep.

Who are some of the companies and artists you’ve worked for?
Soundwave/Harvest/Warped Tour Australia/Soundwave Touring and all of the bands that come through there, UNFD, 3Wise, Warner, Roadrunner, Destroy All Lines, The Amity Affliction, Northlane, House VS Hurricane, Dead Letter Circus, Transit and others.

How does working with a company like Soundwave differ from working with bands and labels?
To me they’re not massively far removed from each other, but with bands and labels it’s all very focused. You’re working on one specific project so you can really immerse yourself in what you’re doing. Whereas with Soundwave, you have to mentally be in 40 places at once as there’s so much to be across. You have to be focused on the festivals while staying on top of all the Soundwave Touring tours and coordinating with a slew of people to pull everything together.

Do you come up with the concepts yourself or do you get direction? Tell us about some of your favourite designs.
It’s a bit of both really! Most of the time people give me a simple idea then I run with it and throw it all against the wall to see what sticks. I usually hate my designs about a week after they’re done but my favourite designs are usually the albums I work on because I’m a big fan of telling a story wherever I can. I still love the poster I got to do for Transit last year and my laser cut skate decks.

Who has been your favourite artist to work with and why?
I’d have to say Northlane. They were amazing to work with and just straight up good dudes. We were all on the same page and they let me run riot on that one. They gave me a rough idea of the cover, I kept adding to it, gave it a story arc and created its own little universe. Luckily for me they loved what I came back with so I hit up my photographer Ben Clement and we just went nuts. We scouted and shot locations, had custom costumes, make-up artists, the whole nine yards which was followed by many, many hours in Photoshop. It was wild to watch people’s reactions as everything unfolded.

What have been the highlights of your job?
Getting to do a poster for Refused was absolutely fucking insane. I never in a million years would’ve thought that would happen! Apart from that, being able to do what I love for a living is the best thing ever.

What have been the lowlights?
It’s all been pretty good, but if we’re nitpicking, I’d have to say it’s working 110-plus hour weeks for about four months of every year. Who needs sleep, right?

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?
Work hard, answer all your emails, be friendly and always be your own harshest critic. Above all just have some fuckin’ fun!

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