Picture Perfect: DJ Treats by PJL (1998)

Illustration by Paul J. Lawrence

Paul J. Lawrence has a style like no other. Really, I can’t trace any notes of artists channelled by PJL. He’d probably protest how clueless I am, but his talent is as pure today as I remember witnessing it in high school. The flyer above was the first he designed for me. It was for a mixtape that summed up sophomore year in a nutshell. We were kids exploring New York City from Chinatown to the Upper East Side, ’90s NY rap blaring from our portable CD players during class, eager to later drown the frustration of parental control through gulps of 40oz bottles of Olde English 800. We played everything by ear, nothing by the book. That was how he took my design cues—all by observing. Yes, I did practice turntablist acrobatics like scratching behind my back; but not while chatting up a stunning philly. PJL supported me during my then promising DJ career. And I could only be a fan of his work, xeroxing hundreds of pages of this very flyer as if I were about to start my own one-man street team. I kind of did, and still do to this day when I have a gig on deck. He’s gone on to cash checks for huge clients like Blackbook and XXL magazine, padding his résumé with some serious credentials. He’s truly one of a kind. Anyone lucky enough to comission him for work has a piece of history on their hands. Respect.

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