Austin-based designer Jamie Zuverza’s biography is more interested in the city than his work. “As long as music has been played on Austin stages, there have been poster artists who have had a hand in its promotion,” it says, going on to pinpoint the Vulcan Gas Company as a pivotal space in the city’s musical and aesthetic history. Head there in the 60s and you might have caught Muddy Waters, the 13th Floor Elevators, or even the Velvet Underground, and seen work designed by Tony Bell, Jim Franklin, and Gilbert Shelton of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Things change, and Austin’s music scene was no different, but no matter what bands have been en vogue, the poster art that promotes them remains a staple in the music-mad Texan town. And that’s where Jamie steps in.
While we’ve long admired Jamie’s work, we’ve not caught up with him since 2013 (!), but over the years he’s remained an in-demand artist to channel a band’s output into an A4 size. Echoing various visual aesthetics, no two works of Jaime’s are ever the same.
From “cut-up collages of 1930s French, Spanish, and Czech surrealism to comic book art and 1980s Saturday morning cartoons,” the designer’s influences are far, wide but relatable at the same time. His journey into graphic design, however, didn’t follow the usual path. While studying printing and painting at the University of Texas in El Paso, Jaime ended up making some flyers for art shows “and at the same time I had a spiritual conversion and started going to a Pentecostal church,” he tells It’s Nice That.
While at church Jaime began designing “some Christian propaganda zines and also joined a Christian rock band,” he explains. “Showbiz (religious or otherwise… well, isn’t all showbiz religious?) of course sucks if there’s no one in the room, so I made flyers and posters for the shows.” You’d think the design bug had well and truly bit at this point but actually, “what put the nail in the coffin was when I got a job at the university media centre where I learned how to deface a person’s face in Photoshop.”
After he graduated, “from college and from church,” Jaime headed for Austin with a new band where yet again, “we started playing shows and making records which required the making of flyers and record covers.” At this point, the designer also landed a job at a software/hardware company. Despite previous interviews “making it seem like I hated this job, I consider it a blessing and I’m thankful for it,” the designer explains. Leaving his corporate job to travel, once Jaime settled back into life in Austin he got “a job making non-stop posters to promote shows at a music venue,” he continues. “I got to meet lots of local musicians who were in need of art and it’s been evolving ever since.”
One band Jaime works with often is Wooden Shjips, and singer Ripley Johnson’s other brilliant project, Moon Duo. A relationship between Jaime and Ripley has lasted over the duration of both albums and years, and when it came down to Wooden Shjips’ fifth record, V, the pair decided to collaborate again.
The record’s sleeve design began by bouncing ideas back and forth around “the various meaning of the ‘V’ sign: a number, a symbol for peace, victory and resistance and as a ‘magical foil’,” Jaime explains. Settling on the idea of a giant image of hand modelled in stone, “as if it were a giant monolith erected by a group of like-minded people,” purposefully aged as if a “remnant of a past civilisation, forgotten and over-grown with nature like a post-apocalyptic ruin stumbled upon by explorers — a reminder of what could happen if things go further south and we bomb each other into oblivion,” the designer suggests.
With a design practice that burrows into a topic, band, venue or any subject really, you’ll be sure to see Jaime’s designs in record shop racks and blue tacked to venue walls for years to come.
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