During the conversation with Elliott Wilson and Brian “B. Dot” Miller that celebrated Mannion’s 20-year run in the culture, they spoke about his career beginnings, magazine shoots, Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt, the photography industry today, finances, and much more. They also touched on his recent commissions to shoot the artworks for DJ Khaled’s Major Key and Gucci Mane’s Everybody Looking.
“I’ve done all of Rick Ross’ stuff pretty much. I did like four in a row. Every time I would bump into Khaled. Like, ‘What are you doing? Why do you keep doing these album covers? Why do you always have a headache?’ Let me explore. Let me elevate you and take you to a new place,” he says.
A video posted by DJ KHALED (@djkhaled) on Jun 24, 2016 at 1:06pm PDT
He reveals that this is the first time he’s ever shot Khaled directly for an album cover. He came close to shooting him for Suffering From Success, but says it fell though at the last minute. When Khaled signed his We the Best imprint to Epic Records, he reached out again to make the already iconic floral cover for Major Key happen.
“Really creatively sort of speaking, this is what I want,” he says of Khaled’s direction. “I want flowers. I want colors. I was like, ‘OK, we can do flowers and colors. What else?’ I want a lion. ‘Alright, let’s get you a lion.’ It just all comes together. There was growth. There was some of just him and the flowers. There was some of him walking with the lion. I haven’t even seen the album packaging yet, but what we covered was pretty epic.”
@djkhaled #major🔑 @jonathanmannion. Nuff said. WE the BEST!! Honored to bring this to life my brother!! Been waiting a long time for this to happen! #LION!! Are the Drake vocals in? Lol. Yes they are. @champagnepapi & Khaled looking strong!! @christopherfeldmann on the album layout… Stay tuned for the SPREAD!
A photo posted by Jonathan Mannion (@jonathanmannion) on Jun 23, 2016 at 10:17pm PDT
On his work with Gucci Mane, Mannion said he has done the album covers for The State vs. Radric Davis and The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted and wanted to reconnect with him again. For Everybody Looking, Mannion says it was a reference to Brooklyn-based artist José Parlá’s work. “He always does these vibrant colors with beautiful layers,” he says. “José Parlá is one of the illiest artists. Hats off to him.”
Mannion explains that Gucci wanted a summertime vibe, portraying feelings of heat with a lot of color. The painting in the background was actually done on location at his Atlanta mansion. “He’s in amazing spirits right now,” adding that Gucci told him over the phone: ‘I couldn’t do it without you.’
“That is always heartwarming for me to have people fight to have me be a part of their projects because they know what I can put in to it,” he says.