Zachariah O’Hora is the man behind the artwork for many of our releases starting with the World’s Funkiest Covers to our newly released Brasileiro Treasure Box of Funk and Soul. Zach’s unique vision for art and vast knowledge of music have helped to forman identity for our label. He took the time to speak with us about his work and some of his favorite projects with us!
When did you decide you wanted to be an illustrator? What inspired you?
It was in 4th grade. I was in a new school. I drew on all my book covers (remember the old paper shopping bag cover) and got a rep as the new kid who could draw. Soon I started drawing on other peoples book covers and getting paid in candy. My specialty was Garfields and Smurfs. I invented the Michael Jackson Smurf which would cost you extra.
How did you get into the children’s illustration business? Do your kids inspire ideas for your work?
I was doing freelance illustration for magazines and newspapers and it was something I always wanted to do. I started pursuing to before I had kids, but its a very opaque business to break into and it took a long time. By the time I had a book deal my son Oskar was on the way. He was the inspiration for my second book “No Fits Nilson!”
How did you connect with Wax Poetics to do the 7inch sleeve for the Moments?
I think I was just so excited to discover Wax Poetics, I had picked up their 4th issue in a record/coffee shop in Brooklyn (Halcyon on Smith street R.I.P) and saw their address was just down the street and I just flooded them with postcards and offered to work for free even. I was lucky to do a few illustrations with them, a cover for the Hip-hop issue and even did an interview on Grant Green with Grant Green Jr. Shout out to WaxPo!
What has been your favorite project with Cultures of Soul to date and why?
Honestly I’ve dug them all for different reasons! I listen to the World’s Funkiest Covers record the most often. I just love covers, especially when they are made funky and soulful. I’m probably most proud of the art for Tommy Stewart’s Disco Love Affair. The continuation of the art to the labels worked out pretty nicely. I was in a record store the other day in Buffalo, New York and I was excited to see they had vinyl of the Stanton Davis LP on the wall and they had the CD version of the Brazilian Box set on display.
What’s been your favorite book to illustrate?
This all depends on what I’m working on. I tend to love whatever I’m working on at the moment the most. When I get done I worry that its crap. A year or two later when it’s out in the stores, I wonder how I did what I did, because it looks fresh again.
Right now my favorite is written by Ame Dyckman and it’s called “Wolfie the Bunny”. It’s a hilarious and sweet story that I wish that I wrote. Another book that came out this year that I wrote and illustrated is called “My Cousin Momo” There’s going to be a French edition coming out in January and I like the cover even better than the original. (That’s the French version below)
What books do you have planned for the future?
Ame and I did another book together called “Horrible Bear” that comes out in April and we are working on a couple other secret projects. I have a book that I just finished of my own called “The Not So Quiet Library” that will be out next June. There’s some other stuff but I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about them yet.
What are your favorite top 5 books?
My top 5 picture books in no particular order are:
1. Father Foxes Penny Rhymes by Clyde and Wendy Watson
2. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
3. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
4. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson
5. Templeton Gets His Wish by Greg Pizzoli
And favorite top 5 albums?
This is a tough one, as there are so many desert island picks. In 20+ years of collecting records, these are five I always go back to, listen all the way through without skipping any songs.
Charles Mingus- Mingus Plays Piano
Weird one-off Mingus record- he’s not even playing bass as the title suggests. Beautiful improvisations.
Sly and the Family Stone- There’s a Riot Going On
All the Sly records are great but this is the best and darkest.
I don’t even know what you call this record- The Black Caucus record? It’s not rare but it’s slept on. Amazing live jams from everyone listed.
John Coltrane- A Love Supreme
I used to go to the Coltrane Church in San Francisco on occasion and their priests would play this live for hours in a little storefront on Divisadero Street.
Grant Green- Alive!
I was fortunate to meet Idris Muhammad (R.I.P.) back in the 90’s when I worked for the SF Jazz Festival and he signed this for me. Probably my #1 record of all time!
I’m super psyched to be a part of the extended Cultures of Soul Records family! First off, as a fan. I love everything you guys put out. And I’m honored to be a small part of what you are doing.
Thanks for having me!
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