Words by William Wayland
Frank Kozik, who you undoubtedly know, was only 61 when he died on Saturday.
His unexpected death will leave a void in the graphic art, design, and music industries. It will be felt most strongly here in the Bay Area.
Kozik’s style merged pop culture characters with surreal and provocative imagery. His reputation grew quickly and expanded internationally. He made posters and album artwork for Afghan Whigs, Beastie Boys, Butthole Surfers, Dick Dale, Green Day, Jesus Lizard, the Melvins, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth, Superchunk, Neil Young, and a shit ton more that you can buy today on eBay for thousands of dollars.
In the early 1990s, Kozik made San Francisco his home. He started a print shop and solidified his presence in the art community. He founded his own record label, Man’s Ruin, “Empty Pleasures and Desperate Measures since 1994,” and released a vast catalog of music from another long list of Bay Area and international acts, including the Sex Pistols. Unfortunately, the company lost its lease at the height of the dot-com boom in 2001. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
His artistic vision extended beyond music and print. He delved into fine art and toy design, collaborating with San Francisco-based toy company Kidrobot. He introduced the world to the beloved “Smorkin Labbit.” If you know nothing else then you know “Smorkin Labbit.”
Frank Kozik’s work spoke to generations of graphic artists, collectible toy designers, and art enthusiasts. Through collaborations with major brands like Nike and Swatch, he brought his subversive designs to a wider audience.
His impact wasn’t limited to the art world. Kozik’s music videos, including Soundgarden’s “Pretty Noose,” added yet another dimension to his creative repertoire.
Kozik was more than an artist; he was an icon, a creative force of nature who fearlessly pushed boundaries and challenged conventions.