Spotlight On Jose Garcia of Zoca Studio Inc.

Here at CSC, it’s our goal to equip our winners with the tools needed to truly change their career trajectories. Therefore, we’ve recruited sponsors that are the best of the best in all facets of the music industry. Fortunately for us, one of those sponsors is Zoca Studio.

Zoca has been designing for bands and artists for 10 years and has worked with musicians including Wilco, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, Van Morrison, Blondie, Lucius, Walk The Moon, Cake, Walk Off The Earth, Empire of the Sun, James Bay, Volcano Choir, Chris Stapleton and many more. Jose Garcia, Creative Director of Zoca Studio Inc., was included in Wilco’s, Beyond The Fleeting Moment’, a book regarded as one of the most inspirational publications on gig posters. Our CSC Grand Prize winner will receive their own gig poster designed by Garcia. 

We sat down with Jose to talk about the how he got where he is, and what elements your band could be missing in your visual branding efforts. Enjoy!


  1. You’ve designed posters for some huge bands and artists, including Wilco, Ben Harper and Blondie. How did you get into designing for musicians?

When I started at OCAD University I was introduced to gig posters as art and of the studios that were influential in the gig poster world, such as, Aesthetic Apparatus, Decoder Ring Design, Andrio Abero and The Heads of State.  The art these studios were creating felt so new and captivating that it provided a great sense of inspiration in developing my own design style. During this time, I had fallen in love with the music and gig poster artwork of the band, Wilco.  Wilco always had an eye for compelling design and used the best artists and design studios, including the ones mentioned above.

My first break as a designer came when I was still a student at OCAD University and Wilco was coming to play a sold out show at Massey Hall. I reached out to the band to ask if I could design the poster for that evening. Wilco took a chance and allowed me to do a commissioned based poster for their sold out show.  After getting that first gig poster, I was able to build a rapport with Wilco’s management that eventually led to more work. Having Wilco as a client gave me a stamp of approval to work with other artists such as Ben Harper and Blondie. My persistence and passion for creating gig posters has helped me acquire a more consistent work-load in the last few years.

2. What are your goals when creating a gig poster? What about a band T-Shirt?

My goal for creating a gig poster is trying to find the perfect balance between typography, colour, and negative space. These elements are the fundamentals to design, which are key to a successful visual and not just a poster. Aside from the foundation of design elements, I try to expand on subtle nuances such as texture, grit and illustration. These added visual features often help from creating a generic looking poster to a great looking poster. The same design process happens for a t-shirt graphic. The only difference is that designing for t-shirts you have to consider the production output of your graphics. It is often recommended that your t-shirt graphics be less complicated in detail. This will help your artwork be translated well onto fabric.

3. How much creative input does an artist usually provide?

In most cases artists provide little or no creative input. I like this because it allows me to have free range in what can be created.

4. In terms of visual marketing materials, how are a musician’s needs different from those of a corporation, if at all?

I think the needs of a musician and a corporation are similar when it comes to visual marketing materials, as they both need to create content to advertise to their customers. The only difference is that marketing materials for musicians can have more an artistic expression, which allows me as a designer an opportunity to offer a much richer visual experience.

5. Do you think that musicians should focus more on their visual branding? What mistakes do you commonly see in how musicians market and present their work? 

I think visual branding is important for musicians because it is another way to reach their fans.  Most bands do not have traditional branding, such as a logo or symbol, to identify with, but tend to have an overarching branded aesthetic that can be identified back to their musical style.  You look at a band like Tame Impala, all of their art and visual branding can easily be classified as “psychedelic” without having to use a single logo. This visual aesthetic matches their musical style.

One mistake I notice is that sometimes artists will post low resolution artwork on social media creating a blurred or pixelated image.  Even the best design will not look good if you lack the proper resolution.