For Sasha Barr (@sashabarr), the hiring process as an art director at Sub Pop Records was pretty informal.
“I was brought on as a temp, part time, and then I just stayed,” Sasha says. “I became full time four or five years ago. Never applied for the job, never really made a resume, just lucked out.”
Though his title might imply that he focuses on making album covers for the label’s releases, his responsibilities are much more complex. “We’re responsible for anything that’s a visual representation of the label,” he says. That includes merch, digital illustrations for social media and streaming services, even interior design for the Sub Pop store at Sea-Tac Airport.
Still, album art is the priority and every project is different. Some artists come in with vague ideas and let Sasha take control, while others are more specific. For Flight of the Conchords’ second album, I Told You I Was Freaky, the duo asked for ‘70s-style Seals and Crofts visuals, which Sasha then outsourced to illustrator — and Baroness frontman — John Baizley. For Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear, the singer-songwriter wanted to experiment with a pop-up diorama that also played an instrumental version of the title track.
Through trial and error, Sasha and their LP manufacturer made Father John’s dream work within the label’s budget. “None of us knew what we were doing in regards to a pop-up, but we ended up with something cool.” That album, which earned Sasha a Grammy nomination for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, epitomizes his role as a label’s creative director, bringing the artist’s whims to life.
“It’s not about what I like,” he says (though he loves Honeybear). “It’s about trying to make the band happy. Each album is their baby and it’s my job to make that into a physical reality.”
––Dan Reilly for Instagram @music