More Than Mixtape Covers, More Than Art. Freak Stewart Is Taking Over The World Artistically!
Last week, we sat down with Sebastien ”Freak” Stewart to talk about his incredible journey as a graphic designer and how he reinvented the mixtape covers circuit.
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Indeed, Freak has accomplished a lot in an industry where artists are not always getting their time under the spotlight. From initially creating a buzz locally, Freak Stewart now works with mainstream artists such as Gucci Mane, Oj Da Juiceman and much more.
We wanted to understand how he made it. As a curator in the Hip Hop scene, Freak Stewart saw the local and international scene evolve for over 10 years. From Myspace to Facebook, this artist marked the game with his own touch, mixtape covers after mixtape covers.
Being behind the scenes allowed him to play various positions in the game beyond creating mixtape covers. Creatively wise, it seems like there are hypothetically no limits for the creative. Today, he’s releasing his own book called ”I Got You Covered” with a collection of some of his best work as a graphic designer.
Today, you will learn how Freak Stewart became a gatekeeper in this Q&A/Editorial we did (& take some notes because there are a bunch of gems)
MGS: How Did You Start In The Industry And Why In This Specific Field?
Freak Stewart: I actually started as an event photographer in 2006. I’ve been working with Photoshop since I was young but I didn’t take it seriously until years later.
After a year or 2 of shooting events, I eventually started to organize events and manage artists. At some point, I started producing albums & mixtapes and when it came time to design the cover artwork, I did it myself. I instantly fell in love with designing covers.
MGS: You’ve Seen The Scene Get To Where Tt Is Now, What Has Changed According To You?
Freak Stewart: I feel like there are lot more artists getting worldwide recognition now because of social networks. I think we got more and more artists from Montreal making waves in the US and all over the world. I’m really proud of all these guys.
MGS: When Was Your Big Break In The Industry?
Freak Stewart: Even though I worked with a few big artists, I don’t think I had my big break yet. I feel like I won’t ever feel like “I made it“. But I guess my goal right now is to design a cover for a gold or platinum single, but you can’t plan that out.
I Don’t Think There’s A Straight Path To Success
cC: Freak Stewart
MGS: Who Was The One Artist You Never Thought You Would Work With?
Freak Stewart: Gucci Mane! I made this cover to announce his release from prison for fun. The next morning the cover was all over the blogs and Gucci’s label used it to announce his release from prison.
A few weeks later, they used it for a single. After that, I’ve been in contact with his camp and I designed Sean Paine’s (Gucci right-hand man) album cover and Jenka’s (1017 newest artist) mixtape cover. I’m still in shock how a cover I made in 15min had such a huge impact.
MGS: Do You Think An Artist Necessarily Needs To Get Out Of Montreal To Make It?
Freak Stewart: I don’t think there’s a straight path to success. You can make it by never leaving your basement really. But I believe in travelling, shaking hands and networking. You create stronger relationships when you meet people in real life.
MGS: Is It Hard To Create An Artwork For An Artist You Don’t Know Or You Have To Listen To Their Music First?
Freak Stewart: I definitely like to listen to the music first to get the vibe of the song. If a song is aggressive I won’t design the same type of cover as a slow jam.
MGS: What Would You Say To Anyone Stealing Your Artwork?
Freak Stewart: That happens all the time actually and I ain’t even mad for real. At the end of the day, people recognize real talent and originality.
MGS: What’s Your Creative Process To Really Get In Your Zone?
Freak Stewart: I listen to the song/album to get the vibe and emotion of it. Then I make it happen. Sometimes I’ll know right away what I wanna do, sometimes I’ll look the web for inspiration.
Even though sometimes you don’t feel inspired right away, it’s important to just try stuff and force the inspiration. Nothing will happen by waiting for the right idea.
MGS: You’ve Also Created Your Own Clothing Line. In What Other Fields You Would Like To Use Your Creativity?
Freak Stewart: I’d like to design movie covers/posters. I’ve done a few book covers, I’d definitely like to do more.
At The End Of The Day, People Recognize Real Talent And Originality.
MGS: How Did You Come Up With The Idea Of Launching Your Own Book?
Freak Stewart: I made a smaller book last year to showcase my work when I went to Atlanta. The response was amazing and people wanted to buy a copy. When I came back, I’ve decided I would make a bigger version and print a large quantity.
It took me a year to wrap it up because I kept making dope covers and I wanted to include. Even 1 week after I sent the final version to print I made a cover I wish I could’ve included.
MGS: What Are Your 3 Keys To Success?
1 -Work hard, because, at the end of the day, hard work beats talent.
2 -Be consistent. Working hard is good, but you need to work hard every day. I rarely take days off and even on these days I try to knock at least one design. If you run out of job, do something for yourself or offer someone something for free.
3 -Do what makes you happy. If you do something solely for the money, the odds are you will fail. Do what you love and strive to be the best and you will eventually get paid.
If you want to learn more about Freak’s work, you need to get his new book called ”I Got You Covered”. He has included some of his golden work from his decade of killing the mixtape circuit.
Tonight it’s the official release of the book at Nestor Bar. You get a signed copy and enjoy live performances from Mtlord & Mike Shabb!