Artist Survey #1: Todd Russell

Todd Russell and I met at CSU Long Beach. We had some design classes together where we critiqued each other’s work and became good friends. He has since moved to New York and became a big shot Art Director for Island Def Jam Music Group. Jon McLaughlin – Ok Now, Kerli – Love is Dead, and Rise Against – Appeal To Reason are Russell’s most recent offerings. Rise Against & Jon McLaughlin were just released Oct. 7th. He is currently working on the upcoming release for Hoobastank.

(Rise Against – Album Illustrations: Tim Marrs)

(Sound the Alarm)

(Kerli – Front/Back Illustrations: Natalie Shau)

(The Roots – Co Art Directed with Kenny Gravillis, Illustration: Mel Marcelo)

Name: Todd Russell

Location: New York

Medium(s): Mainly digital

What do you consider yourself (artist/designer/other)? Art Director/Designer

Where can we see your work (place/publications/url)? iTunes, Best Buy, Amazon, Virgin Megastore etc.

When did you start gaining interest in artistic forms of expression? When I first started interning at Interscope Records

Who/What inspired your interest? JP Robinson and other designers in the music industry that was I exposed to. Just looking at random cd packaging, good and bad, from artists I knew and ones I didn’t.

Where do you first remember being exposed to art? My family has a history of having backgrounds in fine art so I guess at home as a child growing up.

What is your day job? Creative Director for Island Def Jam Music Group (I oversee all the creative aspects for a given project – photo shoot, packaging, design, video, viral/online content etc.)

Why do you create? Because I enjoy making art that can be viewed in the public eye

Is there any recurring theme in your work? No not really, sometimes I use the same elements, but because of the wide range of genres I am given I have to go in different directions all the time

What do you want from your work? To guide projects so that visually and aesthetically it can be the best it can possibly be

What do you want viewers to take from your work? That is hard to answer because most if not all my work is based off of commission so usually I am working for specific artists and trying to put on paper what their vision is and what is going on in their minds. Most of the time they hardly care what the public will think, as long as they are happy then I consider it a job well done.

How often do you work on personal projects? Who has time for that?

How often do you work on commissions or commercial work? All day

Does your art support you financially? Fortunately, yes

Do you feel preoccupied with your art, do you think about it often during the day and night and do you anticipate your next session? All the time, I have to

What do you do in your spare time besides your art? Read, watch TV, browse the internet and see what other artists/designers are doing and try to get inspired.

Which musicians are you currently interested in? Usually I listen to a lot of artists who I am working with to help get in that mindset. But right now…TV on the Radio, Beck, Death Cab for Cutie, CSS, Cut/Copy, Innerpartysystem, MGMT, Justice, Kenna, Portishead, Ra Ra Ra Riot, Lil Wayne, The Roots, The Game, Nas, Young Jeezy, Jack’s Mannequin, Rise Against, Alphabeat, Cold War Kids, Kanye West, N.E.R.D…

Are there any events you are looking forward to attending? Not that I am aware of now, usually I just scour the museums to see if there are any good exhibits, the last one I went to was at the Brooklyn Museum to see the work of Takashi Murakami

How long do you generally take on a piece? Varies, depending on the timeline of a project, Two weeks, One month, 24 hours…

Do you work on multiple projects at once? All the time

Do you have trouble parting with your finished work? No, but the question should be do you have problems making changes to something you have finished and spent a long time working on? Yes, making changes that compromise my work for the worse is possibly one of the hardest things to do.