RIP, Frank Kozik, Iconic Bay Area Poster Artist and Designer
Frank Kozik, long time Bay Area resident and iconic figure in the Juxtapoz art scene, died suddenly Saturday May 6, 2023.
“I am not an artist” was the opening line in the introduction he wrote for his very first feature in the Juxtapoz Winter 1997 issue. “Other terms may well apply: designer, illustrator, poster geek, appropriator, hack, but not artist. To me that term should be reserved for the handful of unique individuals that can take energy and matter, reach into themselves and produce a work of special insight and beauty. I do not do that” he continues. On and on he went in this way—self depreciation was his verbal medium.
I met Kozik earlier that same year. I was completely intimidated by him. He was handsome, talented, owned a record label… and did whatever he wanted to do. I wanted to know him; was drawn to learn more about him. Conveniently, I was slinging Juxtapoz ad space, at the time, and he was an advertiser buying those ad spaces. So, I got to know him. Also conveniently, my boyfriend was a huge Jane’s Addiction fan and Frank happened to have a Jane’s Addiction poster for sale. I bought it, framed it, and gave it to him for his birthday. It was the first piece of art I’d ever purchased and it meant—and still means—a lot.
Beyond his art and art scene contributions, Frank Kozik was revered for his generosity and dedication to mentoring emerging talent. His work broke barriers and challenged conventional norms by pushing the envelope of what was deemed acceptable. His career has spanned decades, during which he fearlessly challenged the status quo. “It’s a big world and I think there is room for everyone. I always figured that cooperation was the best part of the underground scene...” For that reason Frank found the backstabbing competition he was noticing in the rock poster scene, in his words, “strange." I think Frank was angered by those who didn’t share his punk ideologies—it was clear even his own dance with capitalism annoyed him.
His work transcended traditional boundaries, blending pop culture references, political commentary and a sharp sense of humor. His collaborations with renowned musicians—album covers and concert posters—became cultural touchstones reflecting his undeniable talent for capturing and communicating the essence of rebellion and nonconformity. Throughout his career he continued to collaborate with brands and artists, continually experimented with emerging technology. His unwavering commitment to pushing artistic boundaries and his designs have left an indelible mark on the world of art, design and popular culture.
I got rid of that boyfriend, but I kept that framed piece of art. Even though I lived in a crappy apartment in the Tenderloin with found furniture and milk crates for shelves, I was now an art collector. I had a sense of pride—and freedom—and a new understanding of what it meant to be an artist. Kozik believed in art accessibility, and throughout his life he inspired and changed countless numbers of lives, including mine.
We lost touch after I moved to LA. But more than a decade later, we reconnected in Clubhouse during the pandemic. Frank would hang out every night with us—a ragtag group of artists, all yearning for human connection with one common interest: art. He was the same: grumpy, harsh, and combative. He was also kind, caring, and incredibly sensitive, A true ARTIST, just as I remembered.
We lost a legend. —Lindsey Byrnes
Frank is survived by his wife Sharon & their two cats.