Jazz Art

JAZZ ART is a collection of original graphic works inspired by famous jazz records and created by Jérôme witz. Each piece is unique.
On sale exclusively on Sam Records.


When Fred told me he was opening a boutique in Paris to sell vinyl jazz records, I wanted right away to create something in parallel, because being part of this new venture was a way I could show him my friendship. And I love jazz too. Being a graphic designer has given me the chance to produce visuals for many jazz albums, a genre that has always provided inspiration for my work. So how could I take part? Why would anyone want to redo or reinvent visuals that have been legends in both jazz and graphic design? Wouldn’t some beautiful prints of legendary sleeves – in a large format – be enough to decorate a new boutique? At the time, I was becoming less inspired in my own work as a painter, and also finding less inspiration in the music I was listening to. This project with Fred would go a long way towards filling those gaps. I dived back into albums where power and elegance coexisted, and listening to them gave me an almost impulsive urge to digest the music visually. An idea suddenly seemed the obvious solution. So I proposed to Fred that I could perhaps appropriate – visually and freely – the perfect names of some of these musicians, and titles of albums that sound like slogans or couplets taken from poems, or these track-listings, timings and names of titles… in a word, the whole poetic universe that surrounds the period of this so-perfect music. The concept here is not to draw inspiration from the original artworks – and how perfect they are! – but to reinterpret them through a simple calligraphy of the names of works and their performers, and give them the resonance of my own feelings when I listen to them. To join my hand with that of the musicians simply through writing their names… As a graphic designer I’ve always been conscious of the power of symbolism, that questioning curiosity that lies behind the act of simply writing a name that belongs to someone else. Is it an alternate signature replacing that of the name’s real owner? Is it the work of a counterfeiter? Or a decorative figure, like an ornament? No, not when the act is accomplished with sincerity: it is then almost spiritual, and close to shamanism… Doing this is a way of coming into contact with the person, of being fully with that person, or at least a way of desiring to do so, quite apart from the fact that you are paying the most perfect, proper tribute. I’ve worked in a single format with the idea that each piece should be unique and original. No contrition, no duplicates, no print or silk-screen designs, and each new drawing is unexpected and improvised. I have modestly tried to work in the same way as these jazzmen, picking up a theme – a sleeve dating from a particular period, a name, a word, a colour – and then stating it by giving my own intuition a free rein. Thanks again to my good friend Fred Thomas for unknowingly initiating a series that I take pride in, and which hopefully you’ll like. – Jérôme Witz –

Jérôme Witz is the Founder/Artistic Director of the element-s agency. After obtaining his Graphic Arts diploma in Paris in 1996 from the ESAG–Penninghen School, he studied lettering under calligrapher Michel Derre, with whom he presented his thesis. In his graduate year he also studied under Roman Cieslewicz, an Artistic Director and major artist in his own right. Jérôme’s passion for the interactivity of music and the image brought him to apply his graphic design talents to various creations for the music and entertainment industries. He has designed a great many album covers, including those for such French jazz imprints as “Label Bleu” and “Bee Jazz”, where he created those labels’ visual identities and later designed the sleeves for albums by the likes of Steve Coleman, Bojan Zulfikarpaši , Henri Texier and Magic Malik, among others. For Universal Jazz, Jérôme has created the graphics that identify such well-known collections as “Écoutez le cinéma” (a series that features the music of Michel Legrand, Serge Gainsbourg or Quincy Jones…) and “Free America”, for which Jérôme created original paintings devoted to a limited edition of albums by American free jazz musicians including Steve Lacy, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Roswell Rudd et al. In 2010 he created the graphics for the heteroclite label “Nø Førmat!”, where he remains in charge of visual works for such artists as Ballaké Sissoko, Oumou Sangaré and Gonzales. Many other French and international artists have benefited from covers designed by Jérôme Witz, among them Alain Bashung, Bernard Lavilliers, Sophie Hunger, Jeanne Added and Carla Bruni. His element-s agency has also produced print communications for theatres such as the Lille Opera, the Théâtre de l’Odéon or the Théâtre du Tarmac, and also more recently media for cultural venues like Les Trois Baudets and FGO- Barbara. In association with Sam Records, Jérôme recently designed the “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” box-set featuring previously unreleased music by pianist Thelonious Monk, and also the sleeve for the live album “Antibes ’75” by saxophonist Billy Harper. In parallel with his creations as a graphic artist and designer, Jérôme Witz continues to work on his own new paintings.