We interviewed Mitch Monson, Creative Director/Designer, who started working with Prince over twenty years ago and designed the iconic Love Symbol for the “Artist Formerly Known as Prince” with CD/Producer Sotera Tschetter and Art Director Lizz Luce. The Symbol was eventually incorporated into every facet of Prince’s music videos, concert staging, album artwork, guitars, wardrobe and merchandizing. We wanted to learn about Monson’s time working with Prince, and get a behind-the-scenes portrait of Prince from the perspective of an artist close to him at the time.
We honor Prince’s legacy and wish to commemorate the way he shaped our music, arts, and culture of creativity. Prince, you are deeply missed.
What do you think inspired Prince’s creativity and his creative process?
It’s hard to know what’s in the head of a genius. I don’t know if anyone, except for possibly those in his inner circle, knew where his amazing creativity stemmed from. However, we do know he was always creating and that was a big part of his process. His boundless energy and creative spirit allowed him to produce an amazing volume of work. It’s just who he was – a creative person always creating. I believe it’s also what gave him so much longevity in his career.
He’s one of those people, who, when he walks into a room, everything is different. He has that presence. You feel that energy, that pressure and that genius.
As a designer and art director, I was inspired by his work ethic—a very mid-western quality. Prince and Sotera Tschetter were always pushing us and inspiring us to do our best work. Working with such forces like these two meant we were experimenting and developing a large volume of creative work as fast as we possibly could. It was a really energizing process and we loved the collaboration.
What was the mood or emotion in the room when he was creating and in these creative, genius moments?
We didn’t get a lot of time working directly with Prince, but he is definitely one of those people, who, when he walks into a room, everything is different. He just has that presence. You can feel that energy, that pressure and that genius. I mean, it’s Prince … if he’s in the room, you’re inspired!
You mentioned it was important to Prince to invest in his local creative community. How did he provide opportunities to local artists or musicians in his hometown of Minneapolis?
He provided those opportunities to the production community as well as the music community. Prince employed a lot of video directors, directors of photography, designers, producers and photographers based in Minneapolis. He was very hometown-focused that way, utilizing local production resources and keeping the work close. I think this was a generous attribute of Prince, because there were obviously a million other choices, not just in the states, but worldwide. Our company HDMG, for example, was just a small two-year-old post-production and design company—four partners and a couple of employees. We were located near Paisley Park, did mostly referral work and the next thing we knew we were working with Prince! To a new business like ours, that was life changing.