Words by Brian Kayser — Book Jacket Design, Illustration

I’ve been working on these Words books [+] for awhile now. Each one is a collection of interviews with legendary artists. It started as one book but now it’s being compiled into volumes.

I spent many years discovering new music by actually digging through records, tapes and cds in stores, attics, basements and yardsales. I read my favorite artists’ point of view in print before twitter decimated a pretty robust culture of magazines. So this is a pretty special bit of work. Journalism in print! It’s high art, man.

This collaboration with Brian Kayser has segued into other book jacket design and illustration projects that I’m excited about. I’m working on a couple of children’s book ideas and currently designing a jacket for another different collection of interviews from an independent hiphop label out of London. I won’t say to much about those things yet but once they get printed, I’ll be posting details of them here.

Get a better look at the covers in my design portfolio [+] or on my instagram feed [+].

Portrait Sprints

My latest creative exercise is “portrait sprints.” A couple times a week, I’ll sit down with pen and paper and some image source (usually a photo from a google image search) and I’ll complete a portrait in less than an hour. Start to finish in one session. I really like this one. It’s of John Most, a Virginia poet, who has let me design book projects [+] for him in the past. Check out my instagram feed [+] to see other portrait sprints.

I and I Survive – HR of Bad Brains

hr documentary human rights bad brains

I did this illustration just to see if I could get the @HRdocumentary instagram [+] account to like it. They did and that made me pretty happy. My gift of regard was dispatched to the internet. My message landed and was received. That’s a simple joy.

I’m very much looking forward to seeing the new documentary [+] that tells the story of Bad Brain’s legendary front man, HR. I grew up loving the band, and specifically their human torch of a singer.

I believe that HR is the kind of spirit that originally inspired the notion and convincing belief in Shamanism. He’s gifted, powerful and mad. He is absolutely magical if that word can be defined in terms of energy and imagination. If this film is what I think it is – it will speak equally to his icon as a legendary talent and as a living example of the complexity of human mental health. It will be more of a story of survival and gratitude than a celebration.

The first time I ever heard his voice I was bewildered. I remember saying out loud, “What is this?!” Nothing has ever sounded like him.

Contributing to the Art of Rap


Last year I illustrated and designed a book cover for a collection of rap interviews called “Words” by Brian Kayser [+]. There are some proper photos of that in the design portfolio [+] of this site. Brian is working on a second volume now and in the meantime I’m illustrating artists for his other interviews to be published to a couple of rap news websites, hiphopgame.com and wegoinin.net

I spent many years working on art to support music projects. I contributed illustration and design to rap magazines in the days before twitter and soundcloud. I love being involved with these projects. It’s true to that era of media, creative culture and connecting to collaborate with people out of a mutual love of the art.

Low Resolution

High Resolution is over rated. A little bit of grain is warm. Something that looks good in analog and feels comfortable on the eyes. There’s something to be said for that.

In 2016 I’ve committed to doing at least one ink drawing every week. That’s an easy goal. A low resolution. Persistence and consistency matter more than ambition with these things.

2 years ago, 2014, my resolution was to work out once a week without fail. I did it all year. Easy. I didn’t even define “work out.” Just committed to an hour of effort a week. Last year I upped it to attempt 500 running miles with a minimum of 365. I almost hit 400 by years’ end. But if I had set out to do that in 2014 the thought of it might have worn me out.

Accomplishing big goals is about committing to do something do-able, first. Not sure where I’ll take this drawing commitment but so far I’m hitting about 5 a week. I’m already feeling them get more involved…feeling more inspiration around choosing what to draw. Feel free to follow this experimental resolution on instagram to see where it goes [+].

Preem Toon

Illustrated Primo

Working on a book cover for a hip hop journalist. He’s compiling his rap mag interviews from a time before twitter. This illustration of GangStarr / DITC chairman of the boards, DJ Premier, nods to a time still a bit further back; the hey day of sugar cereal and Saturday morning cartoons. I imagine Premo as a guest ally on Scooby Doo a la The Globe Trotters, Captain Caveman or Phyllis Diller. And for some reason that makes total sense.

Meditation Modes


My new year’s resolution this year was to do better with sleep and practice meditation. On the back end of a 10 mile run, in a deep meditative state, I had an experience. A breakthrough more or less. It took me months to process it but it sort of felt like this. An objective interpretation of a subjective experience.