Saturday, February 18, 2012

Interview With Former KISS Art Director Dennis Woloch

The design wizard

Ever since I since I discovered Kiss in the 70′s, the design and packaging of the albums and merchandise have always fascinated me. And the ‘magic world’ of illustrations and typography It showed me had a lot to do with my own choices later in my working life. So It’s a real pleasure to be able to publish this interview I have done with the Kiss design ‘mastermind’ in the 70′s and 80′s, Dennis Woloch. It’s a dream I have had since I read the great interview he did with the ‘Kiss This’ fanzine in the beginning of the 90′s. And thank you very much Dennis for being to willing to answer these questions. You have made my day.

Q. Tell us a little about your background and what kind of work you did for you did for Howard Marks before you started working with Kiss.

I was the Art Director at Howard Marks Advertising in New York for 22 years. Eventually I became the VP/ Creative Director.

As an art director, my job is to come up with concepts for the project at hand, then design it and do the layout. If the job calls for an illustration or photograph, it’s the art director’s job to select the right person for that particular project. You bring it to life.

Some of our clients were Wall Street firms, Women’s shampoo, Cosmetics and Diaper Services (they competed with disposable diapers) So my experience and challenges were all over the place. We also had a greeting card Company (American Greetings) for a client. We did a large project which used pop star music celebrities, their photos and lyrics to some of their music on posters and greeting cards. I was getting experience in showbiz. We had so many projects and clients that I could not remember 5 percent of what we did in those days. We were busy.

Q. You saw Kiss before you started working with them. What was your first impression of the band and how did you end up working with them?

We were an advertising agency. I was art director/ creative director for lots of years and we became involved with KISS because my boss knew Bill Aucoin through the advertising business because Bill Aucoin was a director. He used to do commercials.

So we used to go down to this place where Bill Aucoin worked and we would edit and shoot various commercials for various clients for the agency. And then Bill got involved with KISS. Bill sublet some office space from Howard. So he was up there, you know, down the hall in the office right next to my boss’s. So he was there all the time. Before KISS he branched out and he wanted to be a freelance director and not be tied to the company he had worked for. So he Partnered with my boss and they formed a company called Direction Plus to do TV-commercials and advertising. Then he got involved with KISS and of course we were right there at the beginning. We saw the guys. They used to hang around the office. And when I saw one of their their very first rehearsals, which was in some little room somewhere… I thought they were very outrageous, kinda scary.. they went out and did their first three album covers without us. They just went out and did them because, you know, we were an advertising agency and you don’t usually associate that with the record business at all. It’s kind of a separate kind of thing. So they did their first three albums the usual way, however that’s done, through the record company.

Bill walked into the art department one day and said…I’m managing a new band and they wear this make-up but they put it on in a amateurish manner. Will you come to their first album photo shoot and help put the make-up on in a more professional way.

I thought for a second and then I suggested a better person (as an art director that is the way I think.. the correct person or talent for the job). I suggested David Byrd who is a great illustrator and I knew him because I had used him on other jobs. So David and a couple of assistants went to the photos shoot and did the make- up. He invented Peter’s silver nose. I was there and watched.

I did some small design jobs for the band after that but when It was time for their fourth album Bill asked me to design it. And I did every album in a row after that until 1988 “Crazy Nights”.

Read more HERE.