Meet Mexican Summer's Jess Rotter, Whose Art You've Probably Already Enjoyed
By Michael Alan Goldberg
Jess Rotter truly racked up the frequent flyer miles this year. The long-time in-house publicist and marketing wiz for Brooklyn-based indie record label Mexican Summer practically lived in airplanes, repeatedly jetting out west and back to handle her duties repping Best Coast--the label's biggest success story to date, as the band crossed over to mainstream fanfare this year on the heels of their second album, The Only Place. Rotter found herself busier and more harried than at any point in her decade-long career inside the music industry.
Up in the air, though, was Rotter's time, and the cabin became her art studio. "I knew I was gonna have six hours of time where I could concentrate--I'd put on my iPod and just draw," she says.
For the past several years, drawing has lifted Rotter to her own ever-growing artistic heights. A phenomenal and increasingly in-demand illustrator with one creative foot firmly rooted in music, Rotter's crafted attention-grabbing album artwork--like The Only Place's back cover/inner sleeve, and the chimerical cover and 20-page accompanying booklet for Country Funk 1969-1975 (Light in the Attic Records), which SPIN just named the year's best reissue CD--as well as work for MTV (check out her recent, stylin' Frank Ocean portrait), Nylon, Japanese Vogue, Dossier, The Gap, and Ace Hotel.
Rotter's cover for Light in the Attic's Country Funk release.
She's also the brains behind the boutique T-shirt line Rotter and Friends--launched in 2007 and run mainly out of Mexican Summer's offices, her nostalgic, dreamy, hand-drawn portraits both pay homage to big names (Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Bob Seger, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, etc.) and evangelize for the underappreciated, obscure, and lost artists of the late-'60s through the '70s: Captain Beefheart, Betty Davis, Roky Erickson, "Swamp Fox" Tony Joe White, Link Wray, and Ya Ho Wha 13 among them. Available only online and in a few boutiques and stores (like Other Music, which has stocked Rotter and Friends shirts since the line's inception), Rotter's designs--of which she makes very small runs--have garnered a sizable cult following.