You may or may not be familiar with the name Leif Podhajsky – and you more than likely can’t pronounce the name Leif Podhajsky – but you will almost certainly be aware of the work of Leif Podhajsky because it is very good.
Leif has designed some of the most inspired, arresting and beautiful work in the history of recorded music. We interviewed him in Issue #45 of Monster Children. To see the full article in the flesh, buy your copy here.
Right off the bat, I want to discuss your Wikipedia page. ‘Leif Podhajsky is an Australian graphic designer, thought leader, interstellar guide, creative doyen, luminary, inspirationalist, media personality and art director of Czech origin.’ What’s that all about?
Yeah, that’s one of my friends. There’s a running joke in my group of friends where they just give me a lot of shit, basically.
So you’re not a thought leader?
No. It’s just one of my friends. He’s always taking the piss. And then my other friends are like, ‘Dude, what’s up with your Wikipedia page?’
That’s hilarious. When I read it I thought you must be some sort of hippie.
No. But I thought ‘fuck it’ and left it. If I change it he’ll just step it up and do something worse.
You should get in on the joke and add, like, ‘cabinet maker’ to your list of skills.
Right. I should add some things that are really down-to-earth.
Let’s talk about your work. You primarily design album cover art.
Do you like all the bands you do work for? Is that a prerequisite?
Yeah, most of the time it is. It definitely helps. But I like a lot of different music, so I can get something from almost any music. If I feel something from it, it means I can work with it.
Have you been approached by any bands you’ve had to turn down?
I think mostly I’ve been really, really lucky. Sometimes I’ve had to turn bands down, but that’s been because of timing or budgets.
But would you do album art for, say, Keith Urban?
No, I don’t think I’d do a Keith Urban album. I’d probably pass on that one.
What about AC/DC?
I’d love to do that!
What would you do for them?
I don’t know. I’d have to have a chat with them and listen to the new album.
Can I guess the top five bands or artists whose album covers it would be your dream to design?
Yeah, go for it. Better than me doing it.
The Jonas Brothers?
The Jonas Brothers was a joke! You can’t do jokes on Skype. It was a really good joke, Leif. Did you plan on becoming a designer of album art?
Not really. I had a studio—a graphic design studio/advertising kind of thing—with a friend in Melbourne and that gave me a lot more time to experiment; I started doing the stuff I do now just on the side, to experiment with different images, and I started my own site, and then it kind of just went from there. Glen [Goetze] from Modular Records got in touch with me to do the Tame Impala record (Innerspeaker) really early on, which was just, like, a fluke. That was the first album cover I did. I think he’d seen a feature I did in Lodown magazine—who, incidentally, have the same landscape format as you guys.
Are you a fan of psychedelics?
Ahh… you mean the drugs?
Yes. Not the people.
Not the people. It’s funny, when people say ‘psychedelic’ I’m always like, well, I suppose so, but for me it’s kind of more… kaleidoscopic? Universal. I think what I see more are the patterns and shapes in nature, which are already there, but maybe I just put my weird filter on it.