ACHOF’s Interview with 2020 Grammy Award-Winning Art Director Masaki Koike

Interview with 2020 Grammy Winner Masaki Koike on his 62nd Annual Grammy-winning (for “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package”) work for Rhino Records on the now-sold-out Woodstock – Back To The Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted March 9, 2020 By Mike Goldstein, Album Cover Hall of Fame.com

I was only 13 years old when the Woodstock festival was staged. I’d already collected several rock and roll recordings, mostly coming from my grandfather, who worked at a newsstand in the building that housed WLS Radio in Chicago and was tight with several of the DJs there (I was the only kid on the block who had albums stamped “Demo Copy: Not For Sale”!). My tastes at the time ran to music by The Turtles, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, Iron Butterfly and the Moody Blues, but I’d read that there were some great new bands who’d wowed the crowd and so I was eager to learn more. The newspapers and magazines at the time made a big deal about the performances given by acts like Santana, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Joe Cocker, Ten Years After, Sha-Na-Na and many others (two of my favorite bands – Iron Butterfly and the Moody Blues – were originally supposed to play at the concert but, for various reasons, didn’t make it) but, since I lived hundreds of miles away and couldn’t convince my parents to take me (something about “having to work”), I had to be satisfied with whatever was shown on TV (mostly aerial shots of the crowds) and then, a couple of years later, getting to revel in what I got to see when the concert film was shown in a local theater.

Many years later, I’d moved to New York for work and was vacationing in the Woodstock area when I walked into a poster shop and found a signed copy of Arnold Skolnick’s famous “bird on a guitar neck” poster advertising the festival and, since it also had been autographed by Richie Havens and Grace Slick, I bought it and added it proudly to my then-manageable collection of music-related art. I’d purchased several books about the festival that provided me, the music/art wonk, with many facts, figures and photos, and the purchase of one book I’d picked up in a gallery in New Orleans – Woodstock photographer Elliott Landy’s Woodstock Vision would later motivate me to beg Elliott to let me sell his prints in my gallery (with the positive vibes from the festival continuing to influence me all those years later). When the festival celebrated its 40th anniversary a decade ago, I went on a bit of a buying spree, latching on to several more books, the specially-released edition of the film’s DVD and Rhino Records’ six-CD set Woodstock 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur’s Farm, but when I learned of Rhino’s plans for their limited-edition 50th anniversary box set (Woodstock – Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive), I was astounded by the over-the-top nature of what was going to be included (and the fact that the retail price for the box was going to be approx. $800.00 – a bit rich for my blood).

However, in these days of $500 3-day music fest tickets and $5000 rock and roll music cruises, it seems that Rhino has identified the sweet spot as to what Boomers like me are willing to pay for well-produced, specially-made collectible products and, after seeing that the set was nominated for a Grammy, I knew that I’d ultimately have to find out what went in to putting such an encyclopedic package together. As it is my duty to provide my readers with a look behind the scenes of “the making of” one or both of each year’s winning entries (and, as luck would have it, the Woodstock set won the Grammy Award in the “Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package” category), I reached out to the product’s talented art director (and previous Grammy winner) Masaki Koike to give me/us the details, which he so graciously provided, as you’ll see below…

Interview with Masaki Koike

Mike Goldstein (AlbumCoverHallofFame.com) – Masaki, just let me say “congratulations” once again on your Grammy win this year and thanks for taking the time to discuss this project with me. My research has shown me that you’ve had a lot of success throughout your career with your work on box sets, having won before for What It Is!: Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967–1977) in 2008 and getting nominated several other times since, for Phish’s The Clifford Ball in 2010; for The Smith Tapes set in 2014 and, more recently, in 2018 for May 1977: Get Shown the Light for The Grateful Dead, but as each project presents its own unique challenges, let’s get started with some background questions – How is it that you were first learned about the scope of this project? Had you worked with this client before?

Masaki Koike – Thank you! It’s amusing to think back on a project like this and how simple it all sounded at first. I remember Rhino’s in-house art director, Lisa Glines, asking me if I’d be interested in working on this box set and all I said was “sure!” I’m a sucker for new and interesting projects!

I used to work in-house at Rhino until I was laid off in 2008. I’ve been independent ever since and they soon became a client. I’ll always be grateful for this long-term relationship!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike G – I’m figuring that you weren’t around, or were quite young, back in 1969 when the Woodstock festival was staged, but now that you’ve done the research needed to produce this package, what was it, in your opinion, that made Woodstock – the festival, the music, etc.  – different from other festivals that have been staged around the world before or since?

Masaki K – Thanks for asking, but I wasn’t born till a few years later. I think it was a culmination of things that made Woodstock different. Perhaps it was the sheer size of the crowd and how they maintained the peace for three days. Woodstock came to represent the 60’s hippy counter culture. I also think, over time, it was better marketed than other festivals. If you think about the imagery behind Monterey Pop or Altamont, I couldn’t really tell you what the logo was for each event, whereas the bird perched on the guitar neck by Arnold Skolnick (see below) and the simplicity of the image and tagline “3 Days of Peace and Music”, resonated over the years into a symbol of peace and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MG – Based on your take of the people involved and knowledge of the music business today, what was it that makes Rhino Records – and by that, I mean the label and its approach to promoting/packaging music – different from other similar labels in its “category”?

MK – They’ve established a following of audiophiles over the years. They also have an incredible catalogue of music that is timeless and needs to be introduced to the new generation. It almost becomes a responsibility to release something like this Woodstock package or else it’ll all be forgotten.

MG –This is an extra-ordinarily-comprehensive compilation, featuring many, many songs, but how familiar were you with the artists and musical styles represented in the set? Was there a particular track – or set, or musical style – from the list of songs included in the package that served as the inspiration for the package’s overall design and what would be included?

MK – I’d heard a lot of the tracks from Woodstock, but not in its entirety – nothing like this. The music was great, but I found the stage announcements even more entertaining! It’s hard to imagine in today’s world that there once was a time when cell phones didn’t exist. How would you find someone in a crowd of 400,000 people? Hearing those announcements gives listeners a sense of the time period and brings them closer to experiencing what it was like to be at Woodstock.

There are a couple tracks that served as an inspiration throughout the project. Since the title of the box was taken from the song ‘Back to the Garden’ by CSNY – a song written by Joni Mitchell, who wasn’t even at Woodstock! – I had it constantly playing in the background. The other inspiration was Hendrix’s rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”. It still blows me away! It wasn’t until I was working on this box set that I realized he played on Monday morning, and that’s why the sun was out. Since he was a headlining act, he should’ve gone on at night, but due to the rain and delays, he didn’t go on till early Monday morning, playing to a much smaller crowd of just 30,000 people! Lucky for us, we still get to see a clear image of him playing… on YouTube!

MG – By the way, did you also watch Michael Wadleigh’s documentary film about Woodstock? It won an Academy Award for “Best Documentary” and also featured a very young Martin Scorsese as a shooter/editor. Watching Hendrix take the stage that Monday on the big screen was truly inspirational…

MK – The Woodstock documentary was a huge resource and inspiration. I loved watching it while working on the box! A couple of years ago, I worked on the Monterey Pop music festival 50th anniversary DVD box set for the Criterion Collection, so it was interesting to see both festivals side by side.

MG – Did you get any other guidance – or specific instructions – from the set’s producers that gave you some direction on how to create the key parts of your main package and then any ancillary items, like the custom case or the bonus artwork, for examples – that needed to be worked on that were based on the same design guide? Put another way, how were your clients – that is, the label staffers, the records producer(s), etc. – actively involved in any or all aspects of the development of this design? What roles did they take?

MK – They provided me with previous Woodstock releases and any relevant bits of information. At each stage of the process, I would show them how things were progressing. For the most part, they let me run with a lot of the creative.

MG – In addition to the custom case and amazing amount of music included, one of the stand-out aspects of this special package was all of the bonus content you created – the book, the re-creation of an attendee’s diary, the photos and other swag – that provided collectors with a trove of additional info on the festival and the featured musical acts. Can you give us any insight into the decisions to produce some of these materials as well?

MK – I can’t take credit for most of the items you’ve listed. The WOODSTOCK R.A.P. photo book  (see below) was in partnership with the publisher, who was already in the process of releasing the book. It’s a great addition to the box set! However, since the book was going to be sold separately, I wanted to do something that was exclusive to the box, so the slipcase with the 50 die cut stars is unique to this release. The Woodstock BTTG booklet was designed to be a reference book to compliment the photo book.


 

 

 

 

 

 

The diary was meticulously recreated by an in-house designer, Rachel Gutek, while the replicas of the original Woodstock program and the guitar strap were recreated by Dennis Kiggins and his team at Integrated Communications Los Angeles. The rest of the packaging, including the wooden box and folios, was fabricated by Teri Molls and team at Midnight Oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as what was going to be included in the box, a lot of it was decided by the label and the senior producers.

MG – Were the costs – to you as producer – and the ultimate retail price charged ($799.98 in the U.S., in a limited-edition run of 1969 sets) to the consumer – important considerations as to what would be included? Did you consider offering “lite” versions of the package?

MK – I’m not sure if this question is really one I can fully answer since I wasn’t the producer. There are slimmed-down versions of the Archives box, but they have a curated list of the performances. There’s a 10 CD version ($159.95) with 162 tracks included and a five LP version with 42 songs for around $125.00.

MG – Sorry, by “producer”, I meant the one responsible for managing the design and production of the package…If you weren’t the principal decision-maker regarding what would be included in the package, who was, and so what role did you play? Do the slimmed-down versions include any of the other goodies and, if not, how do you or the decision-makers decide what’s included and at what price points these are set?

MK – My role, as art director, was to design these elements so they fit the overall theme of the box. I think Andy Zax, who was the producer and Steve Woolard, the co-producer – as well as the budget we were given – determined which items were going to be included.

A lot of it was already decided before I signed on. Some of the items, like the documentary and the poster, were added later. As I said before, the music is curated and the booklet is a bit more consolidated. The slimmed-down versions don’t include most of the other goodies you’ll find in the larger Archives box.

MG – How did you choose the talent – the designers, illustrators, typographers/graphic designers, photographers, etc. – who would work with you on this effort? Can you help me get a better understanding of the “who did what” on the project?

MK – You’ll have to ask the label why they chose me, but I’m thankful they did! For the most part, I worked independently but there was a small team of people that helped me facilitate the artwork. Since this was a historical release, I had preexisting images and photos to work with already.

MG – Taking into account all of the project coordination, how long did this process take – from start to finished product?

MK – From the initial meeting, I would say seven months.

MG – So, was there a drop-dead date when this had to be delivered to retailers and customers?

MK – The release date was the date of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, so it had to be ready to ship by August 15th. We were definitely working down to the wire!

MG – Were there any special tools you used or work processes followed – manual or computer-based – that helped create the finished product(s)? Can you give me and my readers any more details of that final aspect of the process? For example, was the package printed and/or assembled here or overseas and, if it was done overseas, how were you able to oversee the quality of the pre-press and final printing? Did you or Rhino have anyone on site overseeing the process?

MK – I typically work my way outward from the content of the box. I knew early on that there were going to be 38 CDs, a photo book and some ephemera. The contents weighed a lot, so I knew that the the outer box had to be made of something durable. Wood was the obvious choice, but I definitely didn’t want anything fancy. What that meant was no expensive solid wood, dovetail joints or stains. As I was flipping through the photos, I noticed that the stage at Woodstock was made of plywood. This helped solidify the idea. All it needed to be was plywood with screws, since the materials themselves had become a part of the concept. From there, the idea of wrapping the contents in canvas came from the canvas awnings used on the stage as well.

 

 

 

 

From there, the rest of the overall aesthetics came out of discussions with producer, Andy Zax. He said this release “was like a Ken Burns documentary of Woodstock”. I knew exactly what he meant, so I wanted to think beyond the ubiquitous image of the Woodstock logo. After pouring myself into the research, the creative direction soon started to take shape. Woodstock was much more than just a music festival – it was the gathering ground of the counter-culture who envisioned a “new America”. Yes, it was “3 days of Peace and Music”, but it was also 3 days of miserable conditions, a lack of resources and really over-crowded conditions. I’m sure that, if I had been there, I would’ve been cold, hungry and miserable – depending how good or bad my ‘trip’ was!. It’s a miracle it all came together and held together to the end! Unlike what happened a few months later at Altamont. Based on this, I wanted the colors to be subdued and the imagery to be messy, but I also wanted to counter that by having examples of bright, hallucinogenic colors.

The package was made and sourced to various parts of the world. Most of it was outsourced to China and Mexico. The printing was done out of state, with the exception of a few pieces which were printed locally. Most of it was overseen by our printer/manufacturer who would send me updates and photos to review. I did go to all the local press checks, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a hybrid of using the computer and making images by hand, using ink, brushes and even handpicked daisies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MG – When working on a package like this, do you consider your efforts to be works of self-expression? What I mean is, do you look to impart something of your own style, or do you take your lead from your client?

MK – I like to define what I do as being a “visual problem solver”, so I keep myself out of it as much as possible. That being said, I also think it’s impossible to create anything that lacks any trace of the person making it. There are certain habits and sensibilities that you pick up along the way that creep into your work. Maybe, more than self-expression, it’s more “personality”?

MG – Earlier projects for clients in the music business had you working with several noted designers, such as John Van Hamersveld on the Cream at Royal Albert Hall sets and, I’m assuming, Stanley Mouse on the Grateful Dead set from a couple years back. This project found you teaming up with Andy Zax and Henry Diltz, who also both have an impressive portfolio of album package credits. What were your take-aways after having had a chance to work with some of the most-influential designers in the history of album art/packaging? Did they leave you with any words of advice that affected your approach to projects like these and, this one in particular?

MK – Andy’s enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment to this project was infectious. I love to be around that kind of energy because it motivates me to push harder. He truly cared about this project and so did I! It’s always a bit surreal when you work with artists whose work you’ve known for years.

In the case of Cream, John made the artwork as a poster years before the release and we decided to make it the cover of the album. My role was to art direct the rest of the package. It’s tricky finding the right balance between complementing his art and not overpowering it. John and I had many conversations during the project and went on a couple of press checks together. He wore his signature round sunglasses and was dressed in black from head to toe. He brought his video camera to document the press check and sent me a mini documentary of it! I’m really bummed that I can’t find it now, but I have the memories stored in my head!

(Editor’s Note – I’ve known Van Hamersveld for a number of years – I used to sell his prints in my art gallery – so I contacted him to see what he remembered about that 2005 project and, below, you’ll find a photo he sent me showing a much-younger Masaki, along with his creative director, Hugh Brown, in the studio working with JVH’s artwork for that poster/project)

Photo of Masaki Koike and Hugh Brown, 2005, courtesy of John Van Hamersveld and PostFuture Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually never got the chance to work with Stanley Mouse. For the Grateful Dead Winterland 1971 project, I had to riff off his existing artwork (the famous “skull and roses” design) which he actually riffed off an engraving found in a Persian poetry book called The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam. I think that’s what makes the Dead so interesting – their influences in music and art are both worldly and diverse.

L-R: engraving from Rubajyat, Stanley Mouse artwork, Phyx Design’s artwork for the Winterland 1971 double LP set

 

 

 

 

 

 

MG – Before we change gears a bit and my questions for you become a bit more philosophical, I’d like to ask you if there is any other anecdotal info about this project you’d be willing to share – without betraying any confidences, of course! Every project I’ve ever looked into seems to have something of an “ah-ha or “OMG” moment”, so anything you’d be willing to share would be quite a treat!

MK – A project like this really tests you and questions your abilities. Not only is it a huge undertaking, there are a lot things going on in your periphery that can throw you off. Nothing goes in any logical order and you’re constantly getting thrown curve balls. It can be overwhelming to deal with all the emails, phone calls and meetings – while at the same time trying to make decisions on materials – without knowing where it’s all heading. During one of these grueling days, I got a flattering email from Andy saying how much he loved what I was doing! It was a nice boost, for sure! He also went on to say how glad he was that I agreed to work on this project and all its messy splendor. I remember thinking, “wait, he just summed up Woodstock… it was a ‘Messy Splendor’”! It really helped me distill my thoughts and gave me clarity on what Woodstock was all about!

MG – Moving on, let’s talk a bit about some topics I’d like to get your opinions on – First off, with the electronic delivery of music products now the dominant way they’re brought to consumers, are you noticing any more or less enthusiasm on the client’s – or artist’s – behalf to invest time and money in packaging for any/all methods of delivery that helps their products stand out?

MK – I think now, more than ever, if you are putting out physical product, you have to have the enthusiasm to do it! I also think it’s important to create incentives for buyers to want the physical package. That usually means doing something special that streaming can’t do. I think people like to own the things they are enthusiastic about, whether it’s a movie or music. Personally, I still buy Criterion Collection DVDs! There’s a wholesome relationship with tangible products. I think streaming is a great way to discover new artists or music – almost like those listening booths you found at Tower Records, back in the day – but it provides no context.

MG – How do you think album cover art help us document human history? I believe that iconic album cover art – in many ways – has had a noticeable effect on Pop Culture. What’s your take on this – is the imagery and music providing the direction, or is it reflecting the culture, or ??

MK – Sure, I guess music can be a documentary of human history, although album art has only been in existence for less than 100 years, so it’s a relatively short period of time. But I also think all visual communications can have an effect on Pop Culture, whether it’s a street sign, logo or album cover. Images are constantly taken out of context, re-appropriated and reinterpreted. It’s hard to tell what sticks and what doesn’t. A designer can’t predict what is “timeless” or “classic”. One can only hope that what they make will have longevity. For example, the artwork from the cover for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures by Peter Saville is being sold at Urban Outfitters as a graphic tee. The source of the image was done by an unknown illustrator who drew it as a diagram in a Cambridge science book. Peter took this image and used it for a cover. He could’ve never guessed that it would end up as fashion wear in 2020!

When music became much more visual in the 80s with the advent of music videos, it started to affect fashion, design and even film-making. Now, with social media, a lot of the headlining acts are all ‘influencers’ and getting endorsement deals from different brands. Artists, entertainers, corporations and politics are all cross-pollinating now.

MG – When Woodstock-related products – the record and the film, primarily – were first released, there wasn’t an internet, so musicians had to rely on other forms of promotion to get their music into peoples’ homes – endless tours and radio. Since the festival was both a political statement and a moment in time for musical and visual artists, I think that it would have been interesting to see what sort of album packages or box sets or other products geared at true fans producers would have developed and promoted and how involved in the process the artists might have been. What do you think?

MK – Anything from that time period interests me! Decisions weren’t dictated solely by marketing, so it wasn’t so calculated and based on metrics. There was a purity to the process and, as a result, interesting solutions came out of it. It could be good or really bad! A good example of this is found in the posters made for the Bill Graham venues. Artists such as Victor Moscoso and Stanley Mouse developed a style that was regional and unique but they were also inspired by Art Nouveau and artists such as Alphonse Mucha.

MG – Let’s continue on with a question that always elicits a broad range of responses. As I know that you’re also teaching young design students the skills they’ll need to make a living in today’s world, I think that your take on this is even more important to know…So, while doing the research for my book project and for some of the bios featured on the ACHOF site, I found examples of something that made me want to work harder to make sure that credits are given where due – those being several incidents over the years where an artist’s work had been used and, on occasion, abused by labels, print publishers, licensing companies and other musical acts without permission or without giving proper credit for the work being used. It seems that, in an age where people seem to find it permissible to “borrow” – it sounds so much better than “steal” or “plagiarize” – an artist’s/writer’s/ photographer’s work to help them promote and sell their own products, folks that create original art have been forced to police the print and digital media outlets to do what they can to either stop this unauthorized use or, at least, receive credit for the work they’ve done.  Have you – or any of the artists you’ve worked with – been victimized in this way? Is there anything that can/should be done about it, or do you simply chalk it up to being one of the costs of doing business these days?

MK – Plagiarizing will always exist in the creative world and I don’t think anything can be done to stop it. As a creative, I wouldn’t want to rip anyone off, just on principle alone! I take pride in my work and if I felt that it was too close to something else, I’d change it. I hunt for images as part of my research for any project but, after sitting with it for a while, I find it better to put it all away and rely on my own intuition and let it take on a life of its own.

But there are instances where I’ve been assigned to replicate, for example, the Blue Note records cover. It seems like with “mood boards” and via trendy phrases like ‘Look and Feel’, the client can be inviting plagiarism, to some extent. Perhaps it’s the psychology of stealing and getting away with it that is the real problem. But, then again, it’s not so clear cut. As I mentioned a few questions ago about the Grateful Dead project with Stanley Mouse – he found an image and took it out of its original context. Then I took the image and reused it for another purpose. Some may define that as plagiarism and would take issue of calling it ‘original’. Also remember that the Cream cover illustration by John was based on a famous photo of the band. Is this copyright infringement, or was it transformed enough to render it an original? It may be in the eye of the beholder and how one defines terms like “original”. There’s a famous quote by an American modernist designer named Paul Rand, who paraphrased a quote by architect Mies van der Rohe that said “Don’t try to be original; just try to be good”.

The subjective field is led by inspiration and influence. In school, copying is praised because, at that point, you’re learning what is “good’. As a professional, you have to expand on it and reinterpret your influences. I grew up in the Hip Hop generation, where sampling was at its foundation. Legally, you can claim that it was stealing, but they made their own music from those samples and gave birth to one of America’s original forms of music. As I got into Hip Hop, by way of DJ-ing and producing, I discovered Jazz, funk, blues, etc.. It was educational for me because I didn’t grow up with a lot of music in the house. The way Hip Hop looks into the past opened up a whole new world for me. It’s the perfect segue from looking at what took place before to making something new. As creatives, we’re all Hip Hop… we take, educate, emulate, regurgitate and, then, originate!

MG – Last question – Where will you keep your new Grammy trophy?

MK – They actually mail the statuette a few months after the show so I haven’t received it just yet. I have no idea where it’s going… maybe I’ll wear it around my neck?

About our interviewee, Masaki Koike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masaki Koike – notable album cover credits include – Black Sabbath – Mob Rules, Heaven & Hell, The Rules of Hell and The Dio Years; Various Artists – Women & Songs and What It Is!: Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967–1977); Hootie & The Blowfish – The Best of Hootie & The Blowfish 1993-2003; De La Soul – Live at Tramps, NYC; Joni Mitchell – Dreamland and Songs of a Prairie Girl; Ol’ Dirty Bastard – The Definitive Ol’ Dirty Bastard Story; Cream – Royal Albert Hall: London May 2,3,5,6 2005; Ray Charles – Genius & Friends; Mick Jagger – The Very Best of Mick Jagger; Phish – The Clifford Ball; Seal – Soul 2; Grateful Dead – Cornell 5/8/77; The Cars – Moving In Stereo: The Best of the Cars; The Jesus & Mary Chain – The Power of Negative Thinking and music journalist Howard Smith’s The Smith Tapes interview series.

(b. April, 1972 in Los Angeles, CA) According to the artist recollections of his youth, young Masaki’s early interest in design came from his appreciation of the beauty of the packaging of the gifts his family received from relatives in Japan. “Whether it was a box of soba noodles or snacks, it came beautifully packaged. The printing, colors and graphics, worked harmoniously with the materials. My dad would take out the item and throw the packaging away and I would dig it out of the trash!” He’d go on to earn a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Cal State University in Fullerton, CA in 1998 and set out to further-develop his talents (and his portfolio) via a series of jobs that began with an internship at movie poster powerhouse Cimmarron Bacon O’Brien (C/B/O). From there, he moved on to another studio working on graphics for the arthouse/indie film industry (Command A Studios) before doing some fine freelance design work for Smog Design, a studio well-known for their fine work for clients in the music industry.

His love of both music and design provided him with a lot of incentive to do good work in the album cover arena. According to Masaki, “Album cover design projects are great for designers because you’re dealing with photography, illustration, concepts, typography, layout and composition – all the formal elements of what makes a good design. But, I think that it was more than the album covers that really caught my interest, it was the whole package because you’re also dealing with structure and materials. The tangibility and unraveling of a package – preferably while listening to the album – makes the experience whole.”

After a stint as a freelancer with the Nokia Design Center, where he designed packages and graphics for their latest lines of mobile phones, Masaki set out on his own, finding work as a freelance designer for Rhino Records, a position that soon found him moving up the ladder until he was hired on full-time as their art director, a position that lasted until 2008 and, after which, he launched his own studio known as Phyx Design in Pasadena, CA. While his studio clientele is diverse, his packaging work in the music industry has earned him two Grammy Awards (and several more nominations), with samples of his work also being featured in Print Magazine’s regional design annual.

You can learn more about this artist and his work on his company’s web site – www.Phyxdesign.com and his Instagram feed at phyxdesign

Except as noted, all images featured in this story are Copyright 2020 by Masaki Koike and Phyx Design – All rights reserved – and are used by the artist’s permission. Except as noted, all other text Copyright 2020 – Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com (www.albumcoverhalloffame.com) & RockPoP Productions – All rights reserved.

One response to “ACHOF’s Interview with 2020 Grammy Award-Winning Art Director Masaki Koike

  1. Pingback: Album Cover Hall of Fame News Update and Summary for April, 2020 | Album Cover Hall of Fame.com

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