If you’ve ever tried to purchase one of Emek’s prints online, you know how quick they go. Mere seconds, at most. Before you’ve seemingly even had a chance, SOLD OUT appears after refreshing the page for the 87th time. He’s gained massive popularity in recent years, providing prints for the biggest festivals in the country, including Coachella, Rothbury, and Wakarusa. He’s also created images for the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, The Prodigy, Pearl Jam, and The Decemberists; and has managed to grow a lasting relationship with R&B soul-goddess, Erykah Badu. His attention to detail is the hallmark of his work, and the fact that he relies on hand-drawn images to convey the complexity of his ideas, is astonishing. He’s quickly become the golden standard of the rock poster world, a standing he’s only validated by continuing to create deliciously methodical art. In a scene whose expansion has meant certain dilution, Emek has single-handedly kept the bar high. Who you like most is clearly a matter of taste, but this guy’s talent and vision are undeniable.
Henry Rollins dubbed him “The Thinking Man’s Poster Artist,” a more than apt description, considering his growing roster of incredible rock posters and art prints. Emek’s creativity bridges technology and the natural world, and oozes with character, color, and creativity. It’s no secret why people love his work, it’s delicate and detailed, while offering various intricate sections that you can wander in and out of. His work is dynamic because it feels classic and brand new at the same time. He clearly pays homage to his rock poster forefathers, while looking ahead to a complex future, which is both unpredictable in scope, and beautiful when Emek imagines it on gallery stock. He acknowledges that concepts are the key, but his skills are clearly carrying him over the top. Emek talks with me about Robert Williams, his late-night drug of choice, and how he feels he’s carrying on the creative tradition.
EL: Henry Rollins referred to you as “The Thinking Man’s poster artist,” I’ve always thought that moniker was apt. What artists do you feel that way about?
EMEK: Other posters artists that I admire for their creativity and skill are Jason Munn, Aaron Horkey, Marq Spusta, Arik Roper, Gregg Gordon, and of course Justin Hampton and Jermaine Rogers; but there are so many creative poster artists these days that the list goes on and on…
EL: How do you make sense of the huge increasing popularity of rock poster art? Is it price point? Convergence of art and music that makes it more interesting?
EMEK: I don’t try to make sense of it, I just feel lucky and keep working hard. Robert Williams (founder of Juxtapoz and master painter extraordinaire) said, “we are in the age of rock and roll, and these are the stimulated visuals of this period of time.”
EL: I read that you didn’t have a TV in your house growing up – do you have a TV in your house now?
EMEK: Yes, and it’s my late night drug of choice…
EL: I have a lot of respect for Erykah Badu, I love her music, and love the stuff you’ve done for her projects. Did she aproach you? How’d you two hook up creatively?