Dust La Rock: Breaking the Rules

Brooklyn-based graphic designer and illustrator Joshua Prince, aka Dust La Rock, is quick to say “Andy Warhol’s ‘15 minutes’ is of little interest to me.” Instead, a constant reaching for “longevity and aesthetic perfection” is the mainspring for La Rock, whose designs appear on clothing, books, album sleeves, skateboards, and even an absinth spoon. But what are La Rock’s plans for maintaining and building upon the success he has achieved? And, of equal interest, how did Joshua Prince earn status worthy of his art star pseudonym?

Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Prince began his career not in the graphic design world, but rather in fashion. At first the transition to print, web, and product-based design was difficult. Prince says, “trying to find work in these areas with little previous experience was a daunting task.” Still, he stuck to his new focus and eventually was able to find connections to design firms and ad agencies through his contacts in the fashion industry. He says, “One side of the coin follows the cliché ‘it’s all who you know,’ the other being your internal drive to succeed (and pay the bills), which means putting yourself and your work out there, come what may.”

Luckily, for Joshua Prince the exposure he generated for himself brought success, and with it, the birth of Dust La Rock.  Currently, La Rock balances his own freelance work with the projects he undertakes at Fool’s Gold, the record label where he serves as art director, or — as their website puts it — “Minister of Art.”

I don’t appreciate myself or my work being labeled or defined by people, and I have repeatedly and purposely attempted to defy all conventional wisdom as it pertains to ‘the rules’ of our industry.

Though lack of experience may have initially been an obstacle in other people’s eyes, La Rock doesn’t seem to have struggled creatively with the transition from fashion to graphic design. Whether his medium is a cotton poly blend or a hand-drawn typeface, La Rock has an instinct for design functionality. He explains, “I started my career in the fashion world and tend to employ a similar approach to that creative process when working with clients. Foremost is getting a clear picture of what the project’s needs are and determining what tools will best suit and facilitate the process.”

With that “clear picture” in his mind, La Rock moves on to his tried and true next step in producing a design: research. His research methods include “digging through [his] library, browsing the web, taking photos, or simply stepping out and absorbing the outside world.” After compiling and editing his research, La Rock says, “the creative process begins.”

Not one to forget to give credit where it is due, La Rock has another “essential” recipe for starting a project off right: “a hot cup of Yerba Mate, a smoke, and the proper musical selection.” More traditionally, if not less seriously, he also credits collaboration with other designers as a strong asset to his work. He says, “The potential to clash heads is there, but upon occasion, I have found two minds are indeed better than one, as fresh and different perspectives are brought to the proverbial plate.”

With its loop-filled organic typefaces and bright cartoonish figures, La Rock’s work defies labels. And, as it turns out, that’s just how he wants it. He explains this, another key to his success: “I don’t appreciate myself or my work being labeled or defined by people, and I have repeatedly and purposely attempted to defy all conventional wisdom as it pertains to ‘the rules’ of our industry…The phrase ‘do what thou wilt’ as written by Francois Rabelais and associated with the philosophy of Thelema is the word of the law I live and work by.”

Though his fashion experience, networking, Yerba Mate, and rebellious attitude have served him well this far, what will give Dust La Rock’s career the longevity he wants? He says, “I’m always taking in and processing my surrounding environment, associated experiences, and storing them for later use and reference.” With this future-focused mentality and new side projects, such as one with Sympathy for the Devil, the online artists’ marketplace where his absinthe spoon is sold, it looks like La Rock’s moment in the light will outlast Warhol’s 15 minutes — by a long shot.

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