From Primus to PC Magazine
Banana Factory artist Doug Boehm’s clients range from Rolling Stone to rock stars
As a both a professional freelance illustrator and a fine artist, Doug Boehm has worked on a variety of projects during his career, including commercial projects, as well as illustrations for publications like Time, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone Magazine. Over the years he’s illustrated ad campaigns, packaging and posters, and his work has been shown or published in several countries including Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. It stands to reason then that his studio at the Banana Factory would be filled with a diverse array of artwork – and it is – including a few pieces he did for rock band Primus. We recently caught up with this eclectic artist to find out how he got his start and what it’s like to design work for everyone from The New York Times to Les Claypool.
Doug, you’re a fine artist and an illustrator. Which came first and how did you get your start?
My first love was illustration. Album cover art, comic books and skateboard graphics were my introduction into the world of visual art. I started out working with publishers of magazines and newspapers doing editorial work. I’ve been published in over 170 publications and have also illustrated for the advertising industry. During this time in my career I really wanted to have a personal creative outlet that enabled me to stray from the boundaries of commercial art. I started painting and showing in galleries. I painted a lot of personal work between 2006 and 2014.
How did you become interested in a studio at the Banana Factory?
I had a studio in my house for many years, but the need for a separate space was more of a practical decision. I wanted a space that I could disconnect from the world for a while. The Banana Factory has offered me the flexibility to work and share my work and story with the public. It’s a very friendly environment with a lot of talented folks in the building. I also bring my son with me over the weekend, which is very important to me. My availability varies so I appreciate the 24-hour access. I have been very impressed with what ArtsQuest has done for the Lehigh Valley and it’s nice to be part of it.
Over the years, your work has been featured in numerous national publications, while your fine art has been in exhibits around the globe. Is there piece or series that truly stands out to you?
I’ve created thousands of images so it’s tough to pinpoint. The best jobs have always been the projects that didn’t feel like work. My style is very distinctive, so based on that many commissioned illustrations have turned out looking as though it was a personal project. If I had to pick one piece it would have to be the first illustration I did for The New York Times. It was for a story about online therapy. I created an image of Sigmund Freud being projected as a hologram. The New York Times has such a far reach beyond New York City that I received several emails from readers commenting on how much they loved the image. I also ended up reselling rights to that image multiple times.
You also do a lot of commissioned work. What’s the most challenging assignment you’ve had and why?
I haven’t done a lot of commissioned work recently. My space at the Banana Factory is intended to focus on personal work. But, in terms of illustration, the most challenging work has been for the advertising industry. There are always many revisions and overall direction changes that seem to go on forever. Whereas, the publishing industry is strapped for time, which means quicker decision must be made.
Let’s talk music…who’s your favorite musical act?
I have a wide range of musical interests. I listen to everything from classic country to heavy metal to folk to electric music to some hip-hop. However, while I’m painting several bands frequent the studio such as The Chemical Brothers, The Flaming Lips, The Roots, Beck, The Grateful Dead Fugazi and Primus. It’s kind of all over the place.
Over the years, you’ve created several tour and show posters for rock band Primus. How did that happen? How did they discover your work?
When I graduated college in 2001 I befriended their graphic designer and we have followed each other’s work over the last 16 years. I initially designed some t-shirts for Les Claypool, which eventually turned into posters for Primus. I’ve done three posters for the band and met Les Claypool a couple times back stage. Les has always been an inspiration for me. He’s such a creative force that never stops. He loves music, crazy artwork, fishing and wine – all of which are on my love list as well.
Last question…if you could design a tour poster for any musician or group, who would it be and why?
This is tough based on my varied tastes. It would probably be Metallica. I’ve been a fan since I was 13 or so. My brother turned me on to Metallica early on. One of my early artistic influences was the artist named Pushead. Pushead created a lot of art for Metallica and did a lot of art for the skateboard industry. His work always blew my mind so the idea of doing a poster for Metallica would bring it full circle.