In graphic design, I specialize in magazines, books and music packaging. I’ve been working with Metallica for 16 years, and have done a number of projects for Motörhead and for various musicians in the Bay Area. Before moving to San Francisco in 1999 I lived in Honolulu, where I worked as production manager on Pacifica magazine, the in-flight magazine for Continental Micronesia Airlines and as a freelance designer for Hawaiian Airlines’ in-flight, Hana Hou. Before that I lived in New York City, where I worked first as an economist, then as a computer programmer, then as a musician.
Most of my recent work has been art directing Metallica’s quarterly publication, So What! Here’s a link to the most recent set of issues. The magazine is one of Metallica’s key offerings to their fans.
I like to take on big projects, assembling a team of freelancers and acting as art director and project manager. I work closely with writers where design is developed concurrently with editorial, guiding the process of visually organizing editorial content into a coherent and beautiful product. A recent example of this collaborative approach was working with Kirk Hammett on his book Too Much Horror Business.
In New York in 1981, some art school friends started a rock band, and after showing I could play more than two chords, I was recruited. Within 3 years I quit my day job and embarked on a music career. I played guitar in a number of New York bands, for singer-songwriter Mary Kelley, and bass for Twin Peaks chanteuse Julee Cruise. I was a live sound engineer at Folk City and 8BC, and a recording engineer at Harold Dessau Recording. I helped run an alternative music venue in the East Village called the Love Club.
In 1991, I left music for a career in graphic design. Under the radar I continued to work on music, both my own and in collaboration with some talented friends. In 2006 bluesman Rob K asked me to help him with a concept album based on Dante’s “Purgatorio.” I produced, co-wrote, engineered and played multiple instruments on the album, called the Purgatory Home Companion. In 2007 I reconnected in San Francisco with Mary Kelley , and we started working together again, a collaboration continues to this day. In 2013, Bond Bergland asked me to play guitar for a reunion tour of his influential Industrial rock group, Factrix.
Since late 2016 I have been working as production director for Other Minds, a leading organization for new and experimental music, located in San Francisco. In addition to concert production, I handle their graphic design and manage their web site.
Singer and guitar player
Mark Abramson has been an integral part of our band magazine SoWhat!. He created a look that captured the essence of our band in print. He made the fanzine a professional magazine that other bands could only dream of publishing. Without his vision and expertise our connection with our fans wouldn’t be where it is today. His ability to mix our vision with his to create a captivating piece for the reader is a gift. He has been a talented and positive addition to Metallica.
Metallica Club President
I would like to convey my highest endorsement of Mark Abramson both personally and professionally as an art director, designer and production manager.
In my role as President of Metallica’s fan club, I seek out and value those resources that can provide reliable, turnkey service of impeccable quality. It is essential that these services be delivered on time, on budget, and with minimal oversight. For the last 16 years, I have relied on Mark to produce Metallica’s fan magazine So What! to meet and exceed all of these expectations. As the sole designer and production manager of this printed publication, Mark was responsible for communicating Metallica’s visual brand to its most loyal followers. His work was consistently outstanding!
In addition to the magazine, Mark worked on a variety of projects for Metallica ranging from calendars to merchandise catalogs. He also managed the design and production of two custom collectors’ books, large and challenging projects that we could not have done without his expertise. Mark was always a pleasure to work with. Cooperative, creative, and kind, he has been a valuable asset to our creative team and to the Metallica family.
Editor, So What! magazine
Mark is a tremendous designer, project coordinator and production manager. Working with him in my capacity as Editor of Metallica’s magazine So What! for 16 years, I have found Mark to be an excellent “team-mate,” a wholly trustworthy art director and a tremendous creative bouncing board. Mark has the uncanny, and extremely rare, ability to produce top class work on a variety of time-frames and projects descriptions, furthermore, Mark is unflappable whatever the deadline constraints are.
When it comes to production, I can safely say that not once in our time together have I ever had to think about that side of our magazine production, simply because Mark’s care and eye for detail in these technical areas is exceptional.
There is not a platform, template or project Mark cannot produce, from creative conception to delivery, and it has been a pleasure and a privilege working with Mark … one I hope to continue very soon again.