Thursday, January 29, 2009

An interview with Jason Munn!

So for those of you out there who haven't heard of Jason Munn or his studio The Small Stakes, the Shimmy Shake has a special treat for you! Jason Munn is a graphic artist and has become one the premier graphic artists in music today. He has done posters, t shirts, album artwork, and more for many of today's leading independent and small label bands. If you haven't seen his work, don't read any further and click below (you will be impressed!)

So I first came upon Jason's work without knowing it. In 2005 Death Cab for Cutie released a live EP entitled "The John Byrd EP" and I was instantly impressed by the artwork. It is one of my favorite album covers. Little did I know that Jason did that album artwork. And most recently, Jason has participated in the Insound 20 project that you should totally be shopping! The prints are numbered and signed and are only $30!

And now The Shimmy Shake is pleased to bring you the following interview with Jason Munn...seriously one of the nicest guys in music today.

1. What inspires you more music or art?

I'd say is real close to equal. One of the reasons I got interested in design is definitely because of all the music I was listening to growing up - album art was really inspiring to me and I knew pretty early on that creating artwork and design for bands was something I was really interested in doing.

2. How do your designs come about? Are they created while listening to the albums from the bands in which you are working with? Or is it more about a concept?

The designs are always inspired in some way by the bands, often I'm very familiar with the bands before creating a poster for them, but if I'm not familiar with the band I often research them and use song titles, album titles or other aspects about the band as a starting point to begin thinking of concepts.

3. Is there any one piece that sticks out in your portfolio that is memorable for any reason? Any favorites?

There are quite a few of the posters I am happy with and quite a few that over time that I'm not as happy with of course. The couple of posters I've done for The Books have always been a couple of my favorites.

4. What are the best records you heard in 2008? Anything you are really looking forward to in 2009?

Deerhunter - Microcastle was by far my favorite album of the year, I also liked The Walkmen - You & Me very much.

5. How did the Insound 20 project come about? Has it lived up to your expectations? Was this the first time you had done work that would show up on t-shirts and hoodies?
Matt Wishnow from Insound contacted me last year about the project and asked me to create all the designs. I was pretty excited about the idea because I've always wanted to work on a project like this, a project where everything was part of a series. I'm happy about how everything turned out - I definitely wanted the series to have a consistent look so it was a bit like a family of designs. I've done quite a few t-shirt designs, but one of the trickiest parts of this project was that each of the designs would be printed on a poster, t-shirt and the designs would also have to shrink down to still work on the front of a zip up sweatshirt - so around 3-4 inches.

6. Can you tell our readers about the print making process? One thing I find interesting is how specific your art is. Do ever feel limited by a show poster or a piece of album artwork?

Most of the posters I do are screen printed. I often start with sketches and drawings done by hand and then everything is put together and designed on the computer - choosing my colors and so on. Once the design is finalized I separate the files and begin the screen printing. I don't feel limited by this form of printing or designing at all - I'm happy to work with the limitations and I think the work is stronger because of the limitations.

7. You've worked with creating artwork for albums as well as concert artwork so I was wondering...Album artwork or concert artwork? Do you have a preference either way?

I think I'll always prefer the poster, but I'm happy to get to design more and more vinyl packages as of late versus cd packages.

Thanks again to Jason Munn for taking the time to share with us!

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