David Welker Discusses Phish ‘Rift’ Album Art & More On ‘Amigos’

By Nate Todd Oct 30, 2019 11:32 am PDT

Comedian Mike Finoia recently shared a November 2015 archival episode of his Osiris podcast, Amigos, featuring artist David Welker. Welker famously created the iconic, surrealistic cover art for Phish’s 1993 concept album Rift.

Welker shares the journey of creating the art from how he caught the attention of the band by giving them showcards of his work at a show in New York to meeting them in Burlington for a spaghetti dinner to some of the wild word imagery Mike Gordon gave him for inspiration. The artist also reveals where Trey Anastasio got the visual concept for the diagonally sleeping man that is the centerpiece of the work. But it was the music that ultimately inspired the visual art.

David was given an early listen to the fledgling record and “I had access to the lyrics,” he said. “I had a bunch of live tapes [too] and I got the energy of live performances. Understanding their musicianship, their eclectic approach to music, their sense of humor, I really got a good base to be able to work on the theme of the album and creating a good narrative visual.”

Overall Welker provides some great insights into a band that was getting their first heavy dose of fame but also one that still got fan mail in a shoebox. He also talks about how starstruck he was. Yet, Phish seemed to be just as in awe of his work. “It was a real wind in my sails,” Welker explained as part of a story showcasing the band’s well-documented deep respect for art of all kinds.

Welker also chats about his work with other bands in the jam scene like Widespread Panic. Check out the entire podcast below:

JamBase Collections