Music and Murals

Jess Rotter is an illustrator who lives in Brooklyn. Not only does she run a successful t-shirt line, producing shirts with her own illustrations based on vintage record covers, but she is also the head of publicity at the music label Mexican Summer. Through her job, she travels to shows and music festivals around the world, and it’s on the road where she frequently finds inspiration for her personal work. She has contributed to Dossier and worked on projects with brands such as The Gap and Pamela Love, among others. But her biggest contribution yet – in scale and meaning – may be the mural in room 1122 of The Ace Hotel in New York. One in a series of artist collaborations commissioned by the hotel, it combines her love for music, illustration and travel, housing it under one roof. I was lucky to be invited to watch part of the process and ask Jess a few questions.

Stephanie Tran: How long did the mural take you, from start to finish and what did you listen to while painting?

Jess Rotter: The total time was 10 hours, evening to morning. I listened to a lot of mixes from friends during the ride (Turquoise Wisdom, Dublab, and Doodcast!). There was definitely a rad 2 am champagned Thin Lizzy moment, which is always the best.

Stephanie: How did you choose the image for the mural?

Jess: I based the painting on an image I shot in Marfa, Texas a couple of years ago. The landscape was originally made to be included in a comic book I am currently working on called Paradise, which is about trying to experience true moments as a whole, whether nasty or gorgeous – a feat not easy in the age of our lives being filtered by emails, phones, and Campbell soup cans. It’s kind of fun to have all this heavy plain trippin’ taking place in a little New York City hotel room.

Stephanie:You mentioned listening to a certain song a lot while traveling, which must have a special meaning here, as a soundtrack to your mural, in a hotel room where your work will be seen by many others in a similar state of transience.

Jess: The country-folk-blues song Never Make a Dollar That Way by David Wiffen, from 1971, is a really special personal totem, as it’s been a go-to reflective jam for years throughout my travels. One of the finest times I’ve had with the tune was solo escape of a crazy party in the desert, and being truly dazed staring at cartoon stars within completely pitch-black air. There were tears, there were smiles- it was awesome, it was… paradise. The song can be found here.

Marfa, Texas in New York City? Paradise indeed.

Photographs by Jeaneen Lund

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