Monday, September 14, 2009

Josh Levy, Art Director with Sony, Puts in His Two-Cents...

We asked Joshua Marc Levy, Sr. Art Director and Illustrator with Sony, to shed some light on forging a path in the music industry...

What are some of your basic job duties? Setting up photo shoots, cover design and/or illustration, package design, color proofing, press runs

How did you make your way to Sony? Its a long story of strange fate and odd twists...and I took an independent study with someone who used to work here.

What are the greatest challenges you face in your position?
Really depends from job to job. Sometimes its a matter of working with a band that has 5 members with 5 different opinions. Sometimes you win an artist over with your first cover design and other times its the 200th cover. It might thunderstorm your photo shoot day in the park. And of course office politics.

What are some of your favorite/most memorable projects?
AC/DC (one of my all time favorite bands)...We shot in London, special packaging with 4 different covers and a hard-bound deluxe edition. Went to 4 shows on the tour and everyone is wearing my art! Also Ozzy Osbourne, Modest Mouse, Love As Laughter, and Buddy Guy to name a few. (Below is the AC/DC project to which Josh refers...)

Lots of students would love to work at Sony. What are some tips you can provide for students wanting to work in Photography at Sony? There are no in-house staff photographers. That is all freelance, and there is a LOT of competition. I receive up to 20 emails a day from Photographers and I probably open maybe 1 or 2 of them by random selection. It’s all in the timing. Half the time its not even my choice who shoots the band or artist. Please do not call me. :) Best way to start shooting artists is to meet some of them before they get big and ask if you can shoot them for free. I’m not talking about live photography, set up actual shoots.

How frequently do you work with photographers and photo assistants? Really depends on the year. One year I may have 2 photo shoots and another year I may have 10. Really depends on each specific artist assigned.

What are some qualities you look for in a photographer? You must have other artists and bands in your book in order to get hired here. This is the top. Start small working for independents and small labels.

How important is a photographer’s or photo assistant’s reputation? What mistakes have you seen photogs make that should be avoided at all costs? Do not send a fashion book or a landscape/lifestyle book to a music art director. Do not hire an assistant who has to check her facebook every 15 minutes.

What advice can you give to Photographers about how to break into the music industry? Try and get into advertising or fashion, because the music industry is dying and the pay for photographers gets cut in half every year. If it really truly is your passion then go for it and don’t give up.

Recently, you made a trip to Dallas for a shoot, so… do you know who shot J.R.? Yes, I actually do. But do any of your students even know who J.R. is? I bet they’ve never used a typewriter before.

If you could be on the cover of any musician’s album (living or dead) who would it be, and what would the image look like? ahhh, there are many I’d love to design. A lot of the old rockers...My top are Pearl Jam, Neil Young, Mudhoney, Bruce Springsteen, The Buzzcocks, Social Distortion, Iggy Pop, to name a few. ...and what would the covers look like? I have no idea. It’s a giant puzzle you have to solve when the time is right.

View more of Josh's work HERE.

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