Interview: Joey Hi-Fi

ICEBAR relaunches on 26th September with it’s new theme, ICEBAR LONDON ROCKS, which we are incredibly excited about, this week we spoke to designer Joey Hi-Fi, who designed the ICEBAR LONDON ROCKS theme.

1.  Hi Joey, thanks for speaking to us.  Perhaps you could start by telling us a little about how you came to be an illustrator and designer, was it always a dream or did it happen by chance?

I started drawing as far back as I can remember and I haven’t stopped.

When I was seven years old our family moved to a tiny seaside town. ‘Twin Peaks by the sea’ as I call it now. There were a few cafe’s that sold old comic books (2000AD, DC and Marvel comics). I was smitten by them. They combined two of my favourite things: illustration and stories. They were my first windows into the art world. I remember thinking, ‘how do you get a job doing this?’. After that I worked towards eventually studying graphic design. From there I moved to illustration. I haven’t looked back.

2.  You’ve had a wide range of commissions over the years, do have favourites that you have worked on? (And why…)

It has been quite varied.  Although I chose quite a few years back to specialise in book cover design and illustration (I sill like things that combine illustration with stories). With that in mind –  The cover for Zoo City by Lauren Beukes will always have a special place in my heart.  It opened a lot of doors for me. Both in terms of creative opportunities and awards.

3.  Where do you work from?  What’s your ideal setting to work in?

I enjoy working from my apartment, surrounded my by all my books, collectables and various other forms of inspiration. I’m more comfortable working alone in my own space. I find it hard to work elsewhere. I’m a bit eccentric in that regard.

4.  How long do you usually spend working on a commission? (I appreciate this probably varies a lot…)

I mostly do book cover commissions. So it varies depending on the publishing schedule for the book. If all goes well… usually the whole process takes 2-3 weeks.

The whole process on ICEBAR took about month and a bit.

5.  What was the inspiration behind the design for ICEBAR ROCKS?

ICEBAR provided me with a fantastic brief to draw inspiration from.

One of the phrases in the brief from ICEBAR that I liked was ‘rock at freezing temperatures’.

I loved that idea. Marrying rock imagery with elements representative of the ICEBAR (Huskies, drinks, chainsaws for cutting ice, chisels for sculpting and so on).

Since rock iconography can often be very male dominated, the main focus of the brief was to create a unique female ‘rock hero character’ that belonged to ICEBAR. A character that was emblematic of the ‘rock spirit’ rather than a recognisable musician or singer.

ICEBAR loved the cover I did for Blackbirds (By Chuck Wendig). They felt the illustration I did of the female protagonist in the book ( Miriam Black) had a strong presence.

They also liked that the illustration revealed hidden details the more you looked at it.

I modelled the female rock hero character on a combination of classic female rock icons. She is Joan Jett meets Blondie meets Siouxsie & the Banshees.

I wanted her to have a strong presence and pose. A rock goddess (without being overtly sexualised). A bit bad ass. Lots of attitude. The Imperator Furiosa of rock if you will.

 I really like the idea of giving her an awesome tattoo sleeve. It made it a bit more contemporary. It also gave me an area to craft a bespoke tattoo for her, full of rock icons and images relevant to the ICEBAR. I had a lot of fun weaving all that imagery together in the guise of a tattoo.

6. Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

 My big project at the moment is as co-creator / co-writer on a comic book series for Vertigo (DC Comics). The series is called Survivors’ Club – and it is written by me and award winning writer, Lauren Beukes. We’re both going to New York Comic Con in October for the launch of the 1st issue. It is a childhood dream come true. So my excitement levels are dangerously high. My smile is as wide as that of the Joker!

I also just came off a long run of book covers. Among them a new cover for the re-release of Double Dead by Chuck Wendig as well as covers for Stray (an anthology of stories and poems in aid of an animal rescue society), Mythmaker by Marianne de Pierres, Split by Debbie Loots (My first Afrikaans language book cover) and many, many more.

7.  Is there a place online where we can see more of your work / what you’re up to?

You can visit the site of my representation: … or my personal site I’m also on Twitter. My handle is @JoeyHiFi (I tweet the stuff I’m working on an curate links to bizarre and interesting things I’m in to).

For more information on ICEBAR and their new theme, visit:

Interview by @spoonsparkle – Amie Taylor (C) 2015TuaDry6TQ0Hjqijhq1nQotarN7-_RVCrXFJtKSj5pW8


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