Graphic Designer Merwe Marchand Le Roux chatted to Rolling Stone about how he "makes his mark", charging his friends for work, and his vintage-brand-new-second-time-around-all-in-one-lucky-packet designstyle.
You've designed album covers, posters and t-shirts for the likes of Akkedis, Van Coke Kartel, Heuwels Fantasies, aKing, Jack Parow and your own band, The Shotguns. Although your distinctive style's golden thread still runs through all your projects, how do you manage to keep every new project fresh and not looking like the previous one?
I try to push myself every time I get the opportunity to design a new cover. The music differs from each band so the design has to look different. But I use some of the same elements. I see it almost like making my mark, almost like "x marks the spot" or like back at school where you would write on your school desk "Marchand was here".
Your style seems to be inspired by a combination of a pop-art-like-Beavis and Butthead-bad-acid-trip and the photo montages and landscapes of Storm Thorgerson. How would you describe your own design style?
Ok, that's not an easy one. I tend to throw a lot of styles and stuff together and sometimes end up with 300 layers, built up from old etchings, 3D generated objects, hand drawn elements, old photography etc. I sometimes forget something I used and check it in the final printed design. So I will call it: The-vintage-brand-new-second-time-around-all-in-one-lucky-packet- design-style.
What was the first worthy graphic project you designed and how did you get the gig?
It would probably be the first Akkedis – the Vir Volk en Vaderland CD cover I did in 2005 while working at Am I Collective. It was the first time I saw my stuff getting mass produced. Or the first aKING – the Dutch Courage album. Still need to die-cut it like it was intended to be printed.
You also play bass for Jack Parow on live shows and you're very good friends with the whole VanFokKingTasties clan, do you ever charge them for your graphic design work? Where do you draw the line between friendship and business?
Yeah I grew up with most of the guys. It is a bit different than doing a job for a corporate client, but I do charge them.
When designing a CD cover, do you listen the album while working on it and if not, what is your process?
Yeah man, my playlist is filled with pre-production tracks. I usually get the pre-production from the guys before they go to studio. I will listen to it on repeat. Then the bands will send me the final mixes the moment they are done. And most of the time when the master is done the design is done and then they both go in for production the last day of the deadline. Two weeks later I get the final printed product.
If you have to choose, what is your favourite album cover you designed and why?
Probably the latest Jack Parow cover, because it has no lyrics printed and is only design and illustration. I feel it captures the style of music in a nicely packaged visual diary. Keep your eyes open for the special edition later this year.
What was the most challenging graphic design project you ever worked on?
Each one is. If it is not challenging you, you are not doing the right thing.
Mac or PC? Why?
Was PC all my varsity days till I won a Mac. Never looked back since. It is just more loose to work with. PC is too structured for me.
Any advice for young designers?
Dont mix your drinks.