We had the good fortune of connecting with Greg Rolfes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Greg, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve loved art for as long as I can remember. When I was a teen and really into discovering new music, I became more and more enthralled by how intrinsically intertwined the artwork was with the music. I would stare at the cover artwork of my new record albums and immerse myself into the artwork while absorbing the sounds. The art became such a visceral part of the overall experience.
At the time, I was a big fan of a record label out of London called 4AD. The label was very focused on creating a consistent fusion between the music that their bands were putting out and the artwork that accompanied each release. The in-house graphic artist, the late Vaughan Oliver, along with photographer Nigel Grierson, had a very specific vibe that they achieved on a regular basis. As I got older, I knew that I wanted to create art for the music industry. For nearly 25 years now, I have been lucky enough to have worked with some great record labels and bands from around the world. I am currently working with the record label COP International (run by Christian Petke) and, as fate would have it, the original in-house record producer from those old 4AD days, John Fryer.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your creative process and how you got to where you are, what can you share with our community?
I guess I would describe my art as digital collage meets abstract and surreal. I absolutely love using a lot of textures and distressed themes to contribute to the overall feel of my work. When I’m working on artwork just for myself, I most often tend to start from scratch with nothing particular in mind. I begin layering images and textures and just follow all of the “happy accidents” down the path that they lead me. Eventually a theme will take form and I’ll just go with it. More recently, I have been refamiliarizing myself with vector based designs and have been adding them to my new Redbubble shop. It’s a lot of fun to hear the positive feedback from those who my work resonates with.
When I’m working for bands, occasionally they will want to use some of my previously created artwork as is or tweaked slightly to fit their vision. Most times, however, the band will present an idea to me and I’ll begin compiling some rough ideas and we’ll go back and forth until all parties involved are happy with the direction. There have definitely been some nightmare projects along the way, but I’d say 95% of them have been very enjoyable and everyone was happy with the finished result.
As far as how I’ve gotten where I am…it’s been an interesting and exciting road. In the early days, I started out by directly contacting bands and record labels which I personally liked. I presented them with some of my work and we discussed the possibility of having me create some artwork for them. One thing lead to another and now, at this point, I’ve created well over 100 original artwork designs for many different bands and labels from all over the world. I have made some great friends along the way and things keep getting better and better. It’s great to have achieved my original dream of doing this and now to see it just continuing at a much more intensive pace!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m lucky enough to live in beautiful Denver, Colorado at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains. There is definitely no shortage of amazing locations to take visitors around here! In addition to the impressive scenery and nearby mountain escapes, Denver also has a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene. Microbreweries are also very popular and prevalent around here. There is a great arts district with all kinds of high end as well as some unusually quirky galleries.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Of course, first and foremost I’d love to give credit to my parents, who always encouraged me to pursue my artistic endeavors. When I first got into graphic design in the late 90s, it was Todd Durrant, the owner of the now defunct record label A Different Drum, who gave me my first opportunity to work on artwork for a band. This opened up the door to all of my future projects, both on ADD as well as alfa-matrix, Metropolis and many others. A huge shoutout to Christian Petke from COP International as well for reaching out to me and asking me to join his great team! Great things ahead!