"I've done it all," answers Mike Salisbury, after I sheepishly ask him to describe himself.
The man's not kidding. This is the guy who redesigned ROLLING STONE from the ground up, turning the once unassuming magazine into a cultural phenomenon; the guy who branded a little toy company called Hasbro; who helped the youngest of the Jackson 5 go OFF THE WALL sporting glowing white socks; who introduced a camel named Joe; who designed a rather scandalous magazine ad for a man named Flynt, igniting a firestorm debate over free speech that would eventually be catapulted to the United States Supreme Court.
Mike Salisbury has remained such a creative giant through the years of revolutionary pop culture that to add that he's an art director with a few hundred films to his credit seems a modest afterthought in comparison. But that's precisely why I was anxious to interview him.
His credits include ALIENS, ALL THAT JAZZ, APOCALYPSE NOW, BRAZIL, E.T., JURASSIC PARK, MOULIN ROUGE, ROCKY IV, SCARFACE, STAR WARS, THE TOWERING INFERNO...and too many others to mention.
He worked on a number of projects with Richard Amsel, including films that Amsel did the final posters for (JULIA and THE DARK CRYSTAL), and others where Amsel's work went unused (FUNNY LADY and GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN LORD OF THE APES).
Perhaps their most popular collaboration was a film with a rather grandstanding title. Salisbury was the man behind its design:
If Salisbury sounds like a good subject for a film of his own, we won't have long to wait. MR. POP CULTURE is a forthcoming documentary chronicling his life and extraordinary career. I'm greatly looking forward to it.
Also check out Salisbury's book, AN ART DIRECTOR CONFESSES: I SOLD SEX! DRUGS & ROCK'N'ROLL, which is available on his site.