Wednesday, August 19, 2009


By J. Frank Hagan

First of all Michael, the album cover art for SONIC BOOM was released today .I didn't quite know what to expect beforehand , but I love the artwork. It's very different than any other KISS album art. The font reminds me a bit of a throwback, almost a homage to the 1960's of Batman and the Jetsons. Was that intentional?

No, it wasn't, but interesting to see how others are perceiving it! I wanted to give KISS something a little bit different from all the black and chrome imagery that's become so overused and tired these days.

Since KISS was going back to their roots for the music for the album, it was the same premise for the artwork as well?

Yes, Exactly. This is something Paul definitely was pushing for when we discussed where to go with the album art. That's one of the reasons he reached out to me after all of these years. Rock and Roll Over became something that represented, for them, a pivotal moment in their music. I think they wanted me to evoke the same aesthetic sense on Sonic Boom as I had on Rock and Toll Over-- something that acknowledged their hard rock roots.

You said that creating an iconic cover was not your goal on this project, how were you album [able?] to keep that out of the picture after already creating ROCK AND ROLL OVER which is already iconic?

Creating something "iconic" is not an attainable goal. A good analogy would be that a person cannot set out to be a superstar. All you can do is work the hardest, be as great as you can be and have passion for what you do. You might attain that "Superstar" status, but it's not up to you. You put your art, no matter what it is, out there for people to respond to. All I can do is set out to create the best album cover that I can. After that, it's out of my hands. That said, I'm pleased with the art and people have been very receptive.

You dealt strictly with Paul Stanley on the idea as to what he wanted for the cover of SONIC BOOM?

Paul was great. He pretty much left alot of that up to me. That was a lot of pressure! But I showed him my concept, he gave notes and input and viola! An album cover was born!

How did you get involved working with KISS again after all these years?

Very simple. I didn't go looking for this. I received a phone call from Paul when they were on their South American tour in April. He asked me if I'd be interested in working on a new album cover, and I said yes.

How long did it take you to go from pencil sketch to the actual finished product?

Creating my initial idea and putting it down as a rough pencil sketch that Paul would understand took about a week or so. After Paul approved the sketch, getting from that point to the finish probably took about a month. There were details that needed to be ironed out that took some time, such as selecting the photos and having Paul approve the look I intended to give them.

Designing CD covers rather than albums creates a challenge due to the small area to work with - How did you accomplish this without losing any of the integrity of the art and what the band wanted?

This is something that many people don't understand. Getting the information that once appeared on a 12" canvas to reduce down and fit in a format that's less than 40% of that size is not easy. You cannot solve the cover problem the same way. Since elements are smaller there have to be fewer of them, and they have to be bolder in order to have any impact at all on a store shelf at that small size. My art for RaRO doesn't come across as well at the smaller size. There's a difference between holding a CD in your hand, and having it catch your eye as you walk past in a store. It has to act like a miniature poster. That's why I believe my design for Sonic Boom will be effective.

You have a very impressive list of clients, if you can, can you tell me what work you are most proud of?

Well, since you ask I'll list a few, and provide a few links so that people will understand what I'm talking about. Of course I'm proud of the stuff I've done for KISS, but beyond that there's a long list. Here's a few:
The covers I've done for TIME Magazine
1 2 3 4
The album cover I designed for the Squirrel Nut Zippers (total opposite of KISS!)
Bette Midler's Las Vegas show identity
postage I've designed for the US Postal Service
All the fonts I've designed in the last few years under the name
Alphabet Soup...
and the
posters I've designed to celebrate the release of those fonts.

You can visit Michael Doret and his work at

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