You've got to be obsessed with it: Jeff Jank in Daab design series

You've got to be obsessed with it: Jeff Jank in Daab design series

  • August 24, 2011

Stones Throw's art director Jeff Jank is the first artist featured in FRESH 1: CUTTING EDGE ILLUSTRATIONS - OBJECT, one of a series of design books published this year by Daab. Fresh 1 covers a broad spectrum of over 300 illustrators working within various types of spatial environment; 335 pages. Short except below.

Jeff Jank is the creative director for Stones Throw Records in Los Angeles, California overseeing the label's identity in print and on the web. He has designed work for MF DOOM, Mayer Hawthorne, nearly every release for Madlib, and is the illustrator of Quasimoto, a character which he uses as security to translate his attitude towards commercial illustration while taking this toy to work with him, producing cover artwork, posters, box-sets, t-shirts, trainers, toys and even coffee. Stones Throw started in 1996 and has become one of Hip hop's most charismatic and influential record companies.

Q: As art director and designer for Stones Throw Records since its early days, your cover artwork for musicians including Madlib/Quasimoto, J Dilla and MF Doom has been a major influence on the visual direction of underground Hip hop. Could you describe your own creative background and how you became the visionary art director within the record label?

A: I go back all the way to high school days with PB Wolf, who started the label. We did some music together, I did the demo tape covers for his first rapper Charizma. Years later he starts this label Stones Throw. I didn't like their cover art. Next thing I knew, I was doing the cover art, learning how to do the technical computer stuff by trial and error. We ended up moving to Los Angeles to work closer with Madlib, four of us including our label manager Egon all up in a house. That was 2000 when the label became full time work. None of us knew completely what we were doing, but we knew what we wanted to do. It was only a few years later when someone called me an art director that it dawned on me what an art director did.

Q: What sort of relationship does this creature Quasimoto have with your own identity?

A: Madlib created Quasimoto in the 90s as a character to rap with when he didn't want rappers to invade his work space. Rappers are always drinking your booze, ruining your shit, leaving messes. Anyway, I started making drawings for Quasimoto as a character for a record called The Unseen, an album which I loved and listened to several times a day for weeks. By the time of the second album, Madlib was including references of the drawn visual side of Quasimoto into the lyrics, so the cartoon image became a part of the whole package. I identify with it as a part of a collaboration.