Atomic Pop Monkey is a one man company founded by Jon (Jonathan) Krop in the Spring of 2000. Since the inception of my full time freelance career, I've been fortunate enough to primarily have a client base comprised mostly of musicians, record labels, artists, small businesses, organizations, and non-profits who … Read More
Atomic Pop Monkey is a one man company founded by Jon (Jonathan) Krop in the Spring of 2000. Since the inception of my full time freelance career, I've been fortunate enough to primarily have a client base comprised mostly of musicians, record labels, artists, small businesses, organizations, and non-profits who I have been a fan and supporter of.
There's a lot of related, yet varied, years of experience prior to my freelance career. Which has been all part of my life long path. I've always been a fan of art, music, literature, movies and had spent several years studying and practicing in those fields. I was born in San Francisco, and then in 4th grade moved an hour north to Sonoma.
My introduction to computers began when my mom bought me an Atari 400, which ran BASIC on 16K of RAM. My childhood friend Tim Schafer and I spent our free time learning to program and writing our own video games. Shortly there after, I hit puberty and like most teens discovered rock and punk music. I put aside the computer for an electric guitar. One of the first concerts I went to was with Tim, and we had the good fortune of seeing Frank Zappa live in Berkeley - which turned out to be the only time I got to see Zappa perform live.
While in high school, I joined the newspaper staff, and along with my friend Brian Poshen, wrote a music column as well as provided cartoons and layout. I had dreams of being in a band and began taking music theory classes at the Santa Rosa Jr. College while supporting myself by working for Elaine Bell Catering, as well as doing some time in retail stores (record and video.) I spent ten years catering, which taught me many things besides food and wine. I learned how to deal with deadlines, people, and crisis situations with grace. Elaine was more than just a boss, in many ways she was a key person who knew more about me than I did. Elaine noticed that I used to doodle on anything and everything put in front of me, and was the first person to pay me to do art - a series of cartoon advertisments that ran in the Sonoma Index Tribune. She also had me pick up the phone book and take my art to a few local artists - Linus Maurer (friend of Charles Schultz and yes, THE Linus from the Peanuts, as well as Stanley Mouse.) Both artists were gracious with their time, and encouraged me to pursue art further.
I took classes in Psychology, Philosophy, and of course Art. Some of the best advice I've been given came from the instructors I had. Kevin Fletcher encouraged me to experiment with various mediums, and during a lecture told all of us: "Don't compete with other artists, compete with yourself - don't focus on what other people are doing, focus on going beyond your most own best work."
Around this time, my best friend Erik Hinke took me to see a band I've never heard of before by the name of Redd Kross. I left the show a huge fan, and felt a strong bond to their artistic sense, as well as their sense of humor. I was also soon won over by the underground films they stared in; "Desperate Teenage LoveDolls", and "LoveDolls Superstar" both made with their friend Dave Markey. The bands I was heavily into at this time also included Jellyfish, The Posies, Big Star, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., The Cure, and many others. I actually even gave a fellow figure drawing student and friend Sarah Wirt a (very horrible) audition tape to pass on to Roger Manning Jr. and Andy Sturmmer in hopes of being able to audition for them when Jason Falkner left Jellyfish, as well as sending one to Redd Kross when Robert Hecker left. Fortunately none in either of the bands recall listening to either submission. I hope that the evidence of my guitar abuse has long been discarded and destroyed.
One day while channel flipping, I ran across a performance by a fiery genius comedian by the name of Bill Hicks, I remember laughing my head off at the time, and made a mental note to keep my radar out for more shows with him, and caught him a few times on David Letterman, but lost track of him. (I was to learn several years later that sadly he had passed away.)
Don't worry, all of this seemlingly random back story will all make more sense soon.
My friend Leif Maertens and I kept writing songs, but we started to realize that being in our mid 20's and not having had been able to find a singer, or a proper band situation, or playing a gig in front of anudience for that matter, that we should explore some of our other options. On Halloween Eve of 1992, I was in a car accident that further made me consider the directions of my life and career. I went to San Francisco and looked at the Academy of Art College, and was interested, but situations prevented me for attending classes. I took the insurance money from the accident and felt the smartest thing to do was to invest in a computer to help me with school. After talking to my former math teacher, Darrell Ross, I decided that with my artistic interests, the Apple Centris 610 would be a good choice, and apparently is was. My access to software was limited at the time, so I self taught myself a lot using shareware and freeware programs, as well as 'breaking' and then fixing my computer - mostly because I was interested in seeing how the computer operated, and just what it was capable of.
A chain of events transpired that had me leave the quiet comforts of Sonoma, and move back to San Francisco. The new scenery and opportunity had me pursue a new career. I was able to get a few freelance gigs, and spent some time in small print shops laying out restraint menus, bushiness cards and the like, and it felt like a small start in the right direction.
Eventually the print shop experience, as well as my tinkering ability paid off, and I was hired as a Mac Lab Tech at the Academy of Art College. I was thrilled at being paid to 'geek out' - fixing computers, learning programs, and being surrounded by graphic design and multimedia tools, instructors, and students. Not only that, but it was at the very school I had hoped to attend a few years prior. I became a sponge, attending seminars, lectures, and classes. I was promoted twice, first to Lead Hardware Technician, and then to Technical Director of the Computer Arts Department. On the occasion, I would do freelance jobs ranging from friend's indie bands to conceptual package designs for Galoobe Toys.
During this time and thanks to AOL and a 14.4 modem, I made some new friends in SF and over the world, like Jone Stebbins, Paul Bertolino, Rob Sonner, Val Yoder, Peter Ledebur, and countless others who shared a lot of the same interests, and encouraged me to keep after the dream. Paul and Peter introduced me to an odd cult movie by the name of "Heavy Metal Parkinglot." That film led Paul and I to do a short tribute documentary called "Spice Girl Parkinglot"; in which we got our friend Paul Hanson to dress in drag and interview the folks at a Spice Girl concert. This no budget homage actually found itself as Editor's Pick of the Week at the now defunct MP4.com.
Paul and I heard of a Redd Kross tribute CD being made, and decided to contribute to it. Thanks to Paul's talents as a singer, drummer, bassist, and the lead guitar playing of our friend Brent Ratkovitch, the final song came out pretty faithful to the original; as the "Kross Dressers" we covered the theme song to "Lovedoll Superstar" ... and yeah ok, you can listen to it here. It was all recorded at home by Paul on a Tascam 4-track in our house. We did 1 additional track, a cover of Redd Kross' "Notes & Chords Mean Nothing To Me"
I felt I had done my time at AAC, and resigned, to cut my teeth in a few directions; I continued to do Mac Tech Support by working for the Mann Consulting company providing tech support for major ad agencies, as well as my budding web and design skills to use at StreamEngine working on a Flash based tutorial system for SAT tests. I was offered jobs from Macromedia and FCB, both companies were appealing to me, and I opted for FCB's position due to there being more creative aspects involved.
I enjoyed my time at FCB, working under Mark Pratt, Garret Lenior, and JD Michaels; and under their guidence designed and built the office's intranet, that led to me doing updating on the company's main site and working on a variety of web sites and projects. I also began to freelance more, I virtually "met" Dave Markey online, and helped him get We Got Power Films online - which was exciting having been a fan of his films and videos for over a decade by then. By then Jone co-founded the Bay Area band Imperial Teen who were produced and friends of Steven McDonald of Redd Kross. Between their 2nd and 3rd albums, I began doing Imperial Teen's web site. Over the past years, I had also befriended Jeff and Steven McDonald from Redd Kross via the internet, interviewing them, and having mutual friends. In 1999, Steven flat out asked me "So when are we were going to do ReddKross.com?", and I replied, how about now? I began to feel I finally found that niche I was searching for as I began creatively collaborating with the very people who inspired me in the first place.
Just then, at the start of 2000, the big .com bubble burst, and many agencies restructured, were sold, closed, or merged laying off hundreds of people in the same field as I was. I happened to be one of those casualties, and realized that for every job opening, companies were literally receiving upwards of 450 resumes. The day after I was laid off, a recently made friend and new client, Scott Hay from One Inch Round inspired me to take the opportunity to start my own business, and to try to freelance full time.
That Spring, John Heyn and Jeff Krulick emailed me asking me to create the web site for the 15th anniversary of their cult film "Heavy Metal Parkinglot". Without knowing the band personally, Jeff had run across Redd Kross's site and followed the links to me. That project made me realize it was possible, and the site was listed in Shift Magazine as one of the year's top 100 sites. I started building a client base, and did some part time work with Grey Direct, and DonorDigital.
I worked with DonorDigital, and together we have created a vast body of work for the Non Profit Sector, including the Humane Society, NARAL Pro-Choice America, The American Lung Association, The Polly Klass Foundation, Amber Alert, Mother Jones, the HRC, MoveOn.org!, Amnesty International, and the amazing Senator Paul Wellstone!'s final campaign before his untimely death. Some of the work we've done had garnered attention - such as the 2004 People's Choice Webby Award for Best Activism Site (HRC.org and Millions For Marriage), and in 2005 a Golden Dot Award Nomination for best online political campaign (BushVChoice.)
Joe Regis (founder of Restless Records and then President of Rykodisc) called me and asked me to do some online work for Rykodisc. My first assignemnt was to reskin the Rykodisc site for thier 20th Anniversary. I've been working with Rykodisc for several years now, and thanks to them, have had the opportunity to do work with the aforementioned creative muses of mine such as The Posies, Big Star, Bill Hicks, Brian Eno, and countless others. (That long winded introduction should make more sense now.)
Several of my CD and LP covers were featured in the Spring of 2003 at the Richmond Art Center's exhibit "Scenes & Zines", which presented the best of the Bay Area's cover art (CDs and LPs) and 'zines; "demonstrating that innovative graphic design happens beyond the constraints of mainstream culture and commercialism."
Word kept spreading, and I've been fortunate in having the opportunity to work with extremely talented and wonderful people such as all those mentioned above as well as The Johnny Ramone Estate, The GAP, Nickelodeon, Charlotte Caffey (the Go-Gos), Brian Eno & All Saint's Records, Anna Waronker (that dog!), Persephone's Bees, The Muffs, Patrick Park, Barsuk Records, eenie meenie Records, Jon Auer (The Posies / Big Star), Oglio Records, Sympathy For The Record Industry, UCLA, Sarathan Records, Vapor Records, Tracy Bonham, Lisa Loeb, Danny Benair & Natural Energy Lab, Jason Falkner, Ladytron, Russell Simins (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), The Rocket Summer, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Brian Reitzell, Vicki Berndt, Misfits Records, Steve Reynolds, Ted Perlman, Nada Surf, Osaka Popstar, and many others ...
Aside from the internet work, I've also done a large number of album covers, print work, merchandise designs, photo sessions, short films, music videos, package designs, and other visual projects. In regards to web based projects, my goal is to create functional, clean sites and online interactives that use the best solutions given the deadline and budget involved.
I welcome select new assignments and projects and feel the best and most exciting projects are yet to come. Read Less
Web Designer, Assistant Manager, Graphic Designer
Redd Kross — CA, USA
sole proprietor, art director, designer
Krop Art — CA, USA
web design, web updates, print design for ads, menus, concept art