Self-taught, self-employed art director and designer Henrik Walse has been focusing on design for the music industry since he started in 1998. Henrik has created multiple logos, album covers, and posters for some of Sweden’s hottest exports, including Sahara Hotnights, Danko Jones, The Hellacopters, and most recently, The Hives ‘Lex Hives’ which has been nominated for the Best Art Vinyl 2012 award.
What’s your background?
I’m from Sweden. I live and work in New York. I did not go to design school.
How did you begin doing design for music?
Growing up skateboarding, I got in touch with a lot of people playing in bands. I started to do stuff for my friends, and some of them got really big, so I got pretty well-known in the music industry.
It looks like you’re the “go-to” guy for rock design in Sweden, but you also do a lot for U.S.- and U.K.-based labels like Universal, Virgin, and EMI. How is it working from a distance? Do you feel like we’ve gotten to the point where designers can work remotely from home, or do you spend a lot of time traveling for meetings and photo shoots?
It’s really easy to work long-distance now. The only thing is the photo shoots. I really like to be part of those, so I have to travel some. I had my office in New York for a while and worked mostly with Swedish clients without problems. I guess you can be wherever there’s a good Internet connection. But it is easier to be at my office in Stockholm, where I have tons of material, books, etc., for inspiration.
Can you tell me a little about your process when you’re developing a new logo for a band? Do you listen to the music over and over? Do you look through logo books for ideas? Do you look through your CD collection? Do you go to the music store?
I mostly look through old magazines. I’m really good at seeing things in stuff that doesn’t look that good. Then I try to incorporate my own thoughts in the stuff I find. A lot of my inspiration also comes from traveling. And of course collecting old records.
Who has been your favorite band to work with so far?
I must say The Hives. They have such great ideas to work from. But I also like to work with bands that leave the design completely up to me. The Hives are really cool about design. They always tell me I have to do stupid simple design, so it looks like they could’ve done it by themselves. I’m really into the designs of underground power pop and New Wave singles from the late 70s early 80s. Most of that stuff is really simple and “stupid” design and I just love it!