Jul 132011
 

mrsd

The designer of Andrew W.K.’s “I Get Wet” is simply credited as “S.S.” but here at Andrew WK Music we’ve come to know him as Scott Sandler of “Mr. Scott Design Inc.”. He was gracious enough to give us some fun bits of info about his experience while working on the said project. Here’s his report.

S.S.: In 2001 I was working in-house at Island/Def Jam Records. The creative director at the time approached me with a new project, an artist that went by the name Andrew W.K.. I listened to the record and was blown away! It was a new sound with no pretention.  It was just fun!

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The first time I met Andrew he came to the art department to meet me and go over the artwork. He was very particular and had a clear vision of what he wanted the visuals to look like. He drafted a thick manifesto of rules that would apply to any artwork related to his releases so there would be continuity. In a nut shell, all his records would have a striking cover which would act as the money shot and the rest of the cd package would be simple and not too designed out. It would be laid out very stoic with a white Times New Roman font with a justified center on a black background – ALWAYS! The idea behind this aesthetic was to be reminiscent of classic 12″ LP’s. The cover was the the only visual and the back usually had lyrics and that was it, simple and timeless.

I didn’t agree with how simple he wanted it at the time. I felt he was an artist you could really have fun with going over-the-top on his visuals.  However, it was his record so I wanted him to be happy with it. Keep in mind at the time that this was his first major release. In retrospect, after seeing “The Wolf” and other releases of his since, he really did stick to the script and the payoff came through in having continuity throughout all his releases. So now when a new Andrew W.K. record comes out you know what it is right off the bat, they have a look.

I have to give him a lot of credit, most musicians that I work with aren’t that “hands-on” with the artwork. They are trained musicians and don’t understand or aren’t too interested in the art side of things. Also, before a release happens they have so much going on and so many fronts, that they can’t deal with meeting with the art director too much. Andrew made the time.  It was so important to him.

AndrewWKMusic: It makes sense to me how involved he was on the project. From what I understand Andrew is quite the artist himself, for example I believe he painted the skull on his first EP “AWKGOJ”.

S.S.: He has a very playful side that comes out in his work, but he has an equally intense side pulling the strings and pushing the machine forward. I have never worked with a musician of his like before or since. He’s truly dynamic and admirable.

The cover was shot was by Roe Ethridge and the idea of Andrew having the bloody nose was their baby. I’d love to take credit for that but unfortunately I can’t. What a striking image. The label got scared that Walmart and chains alike wouldn’t stock it with such a visceral image so we ended up having to put a black sticker on the outside of the shrink wrap to hide it for those stores. That was good thing though because people wanted to know what was going on under the sticker. It built mystery.

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All the inside photography was shot by Danny Clinch and I was able to attend that shoot. It was a fun day at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We had to clip the back of Andrew’s jeans so they would look tight enough, an old rock star trick.

That record was a fun time and was a great window into the life of a unique artist on the rise. I have so much respect for Andrew, he was a delight to work with.

AndrewWKMusic: So why was the actual CD art changed? I noticed on your mock-up that it’s different than what we have now. Were there any “pressed” like that one?

S.S.: Like I said I didn’t agree with all of Andrew’s design choices at the time but felt strongly that he should get the artwork that he wanted, the mock-up I posted is my version. My versions don’t usually veer too far from the published version, but it really is my only venue to show my work as I would’ve liked. The version on my site has never been published.

AndrewWKMusic: Why were you not involved on the next album? Had you left Island at that point?

S.S.: Andrew was nice enough to approach me to join him for “The Wolf”, but at the time I left Island Def Jam to open my own studio and the creative director as I remember wasn’t too interested in sourcing that one out, so it unfortunately ended my reign with Andrew.

AndrewWKMusic: Did you choose to be credited as “S.S.” or was that just applied to you?

S.S.: I didn’t choose the credit “S.S.”. Andrew appointed it to me. I think he thought it would be fun to have folks on his team use a “W.K.” format.

AndrewWKMusic: By the time the album got to you, do you remember if it was the “final” version of “I Get Wet” or were they demo tracks at that point?

S.S.: I believe I only ever heard the record as the published version.

Scott Sandler
Mr. Scott Design Inc.
www.MRSCOTTDESIGN.com