23 Nov
Taking Edvard Munch's "Scream" to Robotic new heights

We started off our Rock (Poster Art) Gods! series with Dan Stiles, and next up was Casey Burns. In the third installment we hit up Mike King with a couple questions to bounce off his artistic head. Another rock poster artiste extraordinaire hailing from the raining climes of Portland, Oregon, King heads his Crash America design studios where he does art for the likes of Iggy Pop, Jack Johnson, Modest Mouse and Reverend Horton Heat, as well as commercial clients such as Converse All Stars and Footlocker — usually inserting just a touch of subversive humor in much of his work. But enough talk, let’s get down to brass tacks and hear the pearly wisdom that King wishes to share with us…

So did you begin your “rock poster” illustration career in grammar school, diligently doodling band logos to exact standards?
Strangely, I didn’t draw a lot of band logos as a child, so my mom doesn’t have a box of pee chee covers featuring my attempts at YES logos.

How did you transition from illustrating to working with bands?
I started out wanting to draw comics, but I am crap at it, but then things really took a turn in 1977 (I am old) when I saw the Sex Pistols on TV. At first drawing — at least the way I did it — didn’t seem very “punk”,  so I did a lot of cut-and-paste xeroxy stuff, then slowly I made my way back to drawing. Now I draw some stuff, cut-n-paste some stuff…whatever it takes to get me where I am trying to go.

I really like your Robot Edvard Munch “Scream” piece — it has a great style. What was the inspiration? I’m gonna take a wild stab and guess you like robots.
At the time I did that poster there was a major Munch exhibit in Vancouver BC, and the shop windows of the northwest were filled with posters for the show, “The Scream” with a yellow background. So I redrew “The Scream” as a hippy robot… I thought it was pretty funny. I love robots, if there’s anything more fun to to draw than robots or octopus, I don’t wanna know about it.

Octopus? Really? OK, so this day, what has been the poster that has brought you the most personal satisfaction?
This is a very hard question answer, as I’m pretty unsatisfied with most of what I do.

Hit the Jump to continue reading our Rock (Poster Art) Gods! interview with Mike King, including an extra gallery of his work with posters by Arcade Fire, Grandaddy & The Decembrists… Oh yeah, feel free to follow us on Twitter and/ or Facebook while you’re at it…

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“The good news is that digital music killed the music business; the bad news is it killed the album cover business…”

Has there been an artist that asked to work with you who you were a huge fan of before they asked? What was the circumstance, and how fulfilling was that experience for you? Or was it hell because of the pressure?
Yes, there have been a few situations like that; there have been several artists I have pursued because I was such a fan of their music. The quality of the experience and the result depends on how much trust they want to put in me; the more they want to micro manage, the more likely the results will end up bad. (Cue flute music) “I am free spirit, man. Don’t try to put me in a box!”

You’re on deadline, with several posters to deliver by end of week. You’ve blocked off a whole night to work. What 3 albums do you cue up on your stereo to get amped and inspired?
Minor Threat, Arcade Fire, Nicki Manaj… but mostly music gets in the way, I prefer the comforting drone of television: The Sopranos, Mad Men, Top Chef.

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Do you mourn the demise of the vinyl album, and the associated de-valuation of album artwork along with it?
The good news is that digital music killed the music business, the bad news is it killed the album cover business. The budget for album cover design is a fraction of what it once was.

What album from history would you like a chance to re-design the cover?
I don’t know how to answer that.

Ok last question: if you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you?
Kosher foods.

Mike King’s take on Vampire Weekend, one of his personal favorite pieces…

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