Cey Adams, Def Jams graphic designer discusses his work for Run DMC (Anshul Gowda)
Cey Adams, Def Jams graphic designer discusses his work for Run DMC

Anshul Gowda

Def Jam Graphic Designer Cey Adams Talks Art

October 20, 2017

From dodging calls from Jay Z to designing a new coffee table book for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Cey Adams is a busy man, but believes in his projects. Being the founding creative director of Def Jam Recordings, and afterwards putting a majority of his time and effort into designing logos and ads for large multinational companies. While still finding time to talk and motivate today’s youth.

“When you pick that book up, it will show you the evolution of Hip Hop.”

In the past one of his favorite artists to design album covers for was Public Enemy. He also reflects about his past experiences working with famous artists such as Beastie Boys, LL, Cool, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige. Using his childhood experiences to create well-known corporate advertising campaigns for companies such as Nike, HBO, Coca-Cola, Burton Snowboards, Moët & Chandon, Comedy Central, HBO, and Warner Bros.

“One of my favorite things about working with was that they knew the power of an album cover.” . However, many young rappers preferred to have their faces on the cover, but Cey Adams encouraged them to move to a more symbolic and artistic style.

For Cey the money never entered into his decision making at Def Jam or his other work. His passion is to design logos and ads that contain a deeper meaning, while still conserving the young feeling within.

“Everything we were doing was for the love. We weren’t doing it to get paid.”

Another project that has elevated his career was an interactive graphic for Google.  He created a graphic that also enabled Googlers to create their own beats from samples on the website.

Cey Adams will presenting his work and talking about his history with Jay Z, Run DMC, and others for the Witching Hour festival at 7:30 p.m. at the Englert.

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