Art Rock: Emek

Art Rock is our weekly look at the creation and design of tour posters, merchandise and other music artwork. Because why should your ears have all the fun?

Israeli-born and Los Angeles-bred popular artist Emek has been using his unique hand drawn style to help revive the rock poster scene since he broke into it nearly two decades ago—a time when the scene was considered in decline. He’s designed posters for some of rock and roll’s biggest names and festivals, and his art has been featured in galleries and magazines worldwide. He’s earned three of the spots on Billboard’s Top 25 Rock Posters Of All Time, and we really love this poster he designed for The Mars Volta back in 2008, when they played the Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington.

LiveBuzz: How did you go about designing the poster for The Mars Volta? Did they ask you to or did you bring it to their attention?

Emek: I like that band a lot, my friend Eryakh Badu gave me their contact info and I made them the poster. I have designed several The Mars Volta posters.

LB: What was the inspiration behind the artwork? How did you come up with the concept?

E: Listened to their music, got the idea from their album The Bedlam in Goliath about the middle-east Ouija board they got cursed by, and imagined what life on the ancient canals of Mars would have been like if they had Ouija boards there.

LB: Did you ever get the chance to meet the band?

E: Not yet.

LB: What other bands have you designed for?

E: KCRW Sounds Eclectic Evening, Coachella Festival, Lollapalooza Festival, Flaming Lips, Beck, Cesaria Evora, Decemberists, Jane’s Addiction, DJ Shadow, Nick Cave, Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Henry Rollins, Tool, Thievery Corporation, and a few hundred others.

LB: What’s your design process like?

E: I listen to the music, I get an idea, I sketch a quick rough sketch, get it approved, spend two weeks hand-drawing drawing and inking all the art and designing all the fonts, one week coloring it, one week silkscreen printing it, two days signing it, one day packing them all for shipping to the band, one day sleeping, one day answering art blogs, then move on to the next project. Rinse. Repeat.

LB: Who do you consider your biggest influence(s)?

E: R. Crumb, Albrecht Durer, and my Dad, the artist Yuval Golan.

LB: Are you interested or active in other artistic mediums?

E: Sure, check out my youtube videos at emekstudios.

Be sure to check out Emek’s new art book coming out mid-October: EMEK- The Thinking Man’s Poster Artist from Gingko Press.