Dialogues

One On One: Chaz Morgan

Chaz Morgan has built a reputation as one of the music industry’s top designers.

September 24, 2020

 

Chaz Morgan has built a reputation as one of the music industry’s top designers.  

 

You may not be familiar with his name but, you may have seen his artwork. His designs grace the album covers of A-list artists like Meek Mill, Sean Combs, Rick Ross, and French Montana. He also has a branding and clothing line called Carpe Diem.  

 

We met with Morgan in his studio in New York to talk with him about his creative process and sources of inspiration. 


commARCH: What is your story? How did you get started? 

 

Chaz Morgan: I started when I was in college around 2006. I went to school at Columbia College in Chicago. There is where I discovered Photoshop. And from there I practiced and practiced and I developed a unique design style and I was able to take my talents to Chicago nightlife where I designed for a lot of club promoters. And from there I met a lot of marketing reps at labels. I was started getting album cover opportunities and through word of mouth and great work and consistent work, I was able to gain traction and meet a lot of people within the music industry and designer album project. 

cA: When recording artists are choosing someone to create their album, why do they choose you? 

 

CM: I think they chose me based on my expertise, my hyper-realistic style, and my ability to get straight to the point as far as making sure that the art I design represented what the music was about and the imagery I was using was truly relevant to the artist making the music and a fan base who digested it. And just a familiarity with the subject matter and the consumer. 

 

cA: How do you get inspired when you are beginning a new project? What is your creative process? 

 

CM: I listen to a lot of music, particularly the clients' music. I deep dive and do research on the start to the present day of that artist's journey. I ask thought-provoking questions about where they see themselves now and where they plan to be in the future. And so, I think they choose me because I'm able to foresee a lot of their trends design-wise and help them communicate their message to their audience better. 


cA: Regardless of the industry, when we work with clients, there can be differences in creative vision. How do you approach dealing with creative differences when working with a client on a project? 

 

CM: I try to communicate as much as possible. I play devil's advocate to my perspective and their perspective. I tend to avoid it by (providing) three different art directions for them. So it's never just one cookie-cutter creative solution. I'll make sure they're able to dive in and collaborate with me while I work with them on their brand. And whenever problems arise depending on what the issue is and the time frame and the deadlinewe usually come to understand that quickly or we just agree to disagree and go our separate ways. 


cA: Do you get into creative slumps? What do you do to break out of them? 

 

CM: Yes, I do a lot. What I do to get out of themI work on passion projects, things that are not commercially driven, just pure expression. Second, I try to get rest. And three I read or research and do other things completely not related to designI'm always on a pursuit to learn different things. So when I get burnt out I just stay away as much as possible or I work on something completely in contrast to what I normally work on. 

 


cA: You also have a successful clothing line. Can you tell us about that venture? 

 

CM: Yes. My clothing line is called Carpe Diem. It started out originally as a visual diary. It was a collection of designs that I created to express myself and people started beginning to gravitate towards it. The message is relevant and the things that I felt like are worth learning or worth materializing or worth pursuing is a foundation from oneself. And with clothes being such a vanity, I just want to create a context that people do deserve to look good at any price point, no matter who you are, and will walk a life you come from. 

 

cA: What project are you most proud of and why? 

 

CM: The project I'm proud of the most was Meek Mill's Dreams and Nightmares. That was my first album cover in 2012. Not only was my first album cover, but it also performed well amongst my peers. And the same colleague that chose me to get that project also was the one that provided a new opportunity as a creative director at Rock Nation eight years later. So there’s a lot of sentimental value to that. 

 

cA: What changes do you see in the design world? 

 

CM: Just more self-expression, more vulnerability, more juxtaposition. So many different people from different walks of life being exposed to different cultures from different walks of life. You can open up your phone, your smartphone or your computer and traveled around the world in 10 minutes. And I think the more people dive into their interests, the more they'll find inspiration near and far. And that ultimately changed the way people interact with visual art as a whole because different cultures have different appreciations or different resistance to different things. And I think it’s creating a landscape to create something really interesting. 

 

cA: How would you complete this sentence? For my next project, I would like to 

 

CM: Create four-dimensional assets and have fun and different design programs and create architecture and clothes. 

 

cA: What is your favorite architectural building in the world and why? 

 

CM: One is the Willis Tower because I'm originally from Maywood, Chicago area, and the second one anything built (in the style of) Mondrian and the De Stijl era. 

 


cA: If you could use one of your album covers as a piece of art in a commercial building, which album cover would you choose in what building or city. Why? 


CM: I would pick 
Dreams Worth More than Money by Meek Mill, and I would put it in the Louvre. The inner city has its own trials and tribulations and circumstances that shape some really unique individuals. And when I created that album cover, it was based on Meek's father passing when he was an adolescent. and the name of the album was called Dreams Worth More than Money. In the inner city, what’s worth more than money? Is it your dreams or is it something else? That particular approach, I decided to use $100 bill – half being his father's funeral program and the other half being a stack of money. Because with young African Americans from the inner city, you either have proper guidance or you’re out there risking your lives and financial freedom. And I think that was a powerful statement and conversation to have revolved around an artist that solely speaks to people coming from those environments. Not just in Philadelphia and Chicago. That message is relevant in London, UK, and everywhere else. So, I think the Louvre would be the proper venue for a piece of work of mine like that. 

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