Designer Spotlight: Justin Moll

Designer Spotlight: Justin Moll

Meet Justin Moll - Philadelphia artist behind our new "Hawaiian Cowboy" T, and long-running merch series in our first “Designer Spotlight”

Enjoy! x Magdalena & Vincent

Tell us about your art background, inspirations, how you refined your style & how you chose the handle Dr. Wolfenbergen (or did it choose you?)

I was in a Bradlees store with my dad -- I was probably 7 or 8 -- and there it was, Iron Maiden's "Live After Death" Cassette. My life was instantly changed. Between Derek Riggs (Iron Maiden artist) and the graphics of Jim Phillips (Santa Cruz Skateboards) I was pretty much obsessed with art.

Art by Derek Riggs

Fast forward to high school I was into doing death metal / black metal art and flyers. From there I got into punk, the design work of Art Chantry, the Charles S. Anderson library of images and folk art. I kinda learned what I like by spending endless hours at Kinkos making flyers and stickers with found art.

Art by Art Chantry

I had gone to school for graphic design and I’m still an Art Director during the day -- but right before the pandemic I started to spend more time on the stuff I wanted to do. I made up this stupid-long name, Dr. Wolfenbergen, and started posting my doodles on IG. Been stubbornly evolving ever since.

How did you link up with Hi-Tide Recordings?

I'm not quite sure how this happened. I'm a huge Scott Sugiuchi fanboy, and he was doing work with them, so possibly through some interactions with him. Hi-Tide reached out and gave me a shot at a design and I think it went well. I really enjoy working with them because they curate so hard -- the aesthetic is so considered -- it's like an honor to be able to contribute something to it. Such a great quality label.

What has been your favorite Hi-Tide project so far? Why?

My absolute favorite Hi-Tide project is for sure the pirate -- that design is everything I ever wanted to make for them - crammed in one shirt. 

Runner-up is the Black Flamingos shirt.

How did you approach the new “Hawaiian Cowboy” design? What obstacles or breakthrough moments happened along the way?

For me the fun part is not finding images for designs but drawing them to feel familiar -- almost to seem like found images. Even though I have an extensive visual collection, I typically don't use references (except for hands) I like to just play around until a thought works for me. So, with the "Hawaiian Cowboy" design, I knew we wanted a skull and hat, but wasn't sure how to make it tropical. We went through a few rounds of trying scarves and palm trees. Then we tried the necklace, and it was like, duh! That's what it needed.

If you could choose the next Hi-Tide merch concept, what would it be?

Shrunken head, witch doctor, sea captain, treasure chest, basically any "Scooby Doo" villain. I never stray too far from typical tropes -- it's the designer in me, I guess.


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