William J. Schaff Jr. is an artist and musician based in Warren, Rhode Island and Oakland, California. He is known for artwork for the bands Okkervil River, Songs: Ohia, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
Much of Schaff's art deals with death and loss, as well as the consequences of, and responses to, human violence. Stories from the Old Testament and scenes from The Holocaust are recurrent in his art. Schaff works in paintings, drawings, collages, scratchboards, mail art, motion pictures, and comics.
A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Schaff has exhibited and lectured at numerous institutions, including the United States Air Force Academy, the Rhode Island School of Design, Amherst College, and East Carolina University.
Schaff is a prolific artist for musicians and is best known for producing all the art for the Jagjaguwar releases of Okkervil River. He was the subject of Pitchfork's "Take Cover" feature in 2009. In 2012, a book of Schaff's artwork, featuring introductions by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, Will Sheff of Okkervil River, and Darren Jackson of Kid Dakota, was published by Graveface Records. It includes a vinyl recording of previously unreleased songs by Jason Molina,
- 2016 The Casket Girls, Night Machines
- 2016 Jason Molina, I'll Be Here in the Morning/Tower Song, 7"
- 2015 Brown Bird, Axis Mundi
- 2015 Heather Aubrey Lloyd, A Message in the Mess, Volume One, EP
- 2014 Swearing at Motorists, While Laughing, The Joker Tells The Truth
- 2014 Okkervil River, The Silver Gymnasium
- 2014 The Wooly Moon, "The Mountain", 7"
- 2014 Guy Capecelatro III, Scatter the Remains
- 2013 Allysen Callery, "Mumblin' Sue"
- 2013 Junior Varsity Arson , "Waiver"
- 2013 Six Star General, "Hair Supply"
- 2013 Assembly of light Choir, "Self titled"
- 2013 The Casket Girls, The Casket Girls E.P.
- 2013 Brown Bird, "Fits of Reason"
- 2013 Dan Baker, Pistol in My Pocket
- 2012 John 3:16, "Visions of the hereafter - visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory"
- 2012 Our Orthodox, We Are Not the Only Ones
- 2012 Brown Bird/Joe Fletcher/I Love You and I Miss You, Dan Blakeslee tribute album
- 2011 Okkervil River, Your Past Life As a Blast, 7"
- 2011 Okkervil River, Rider, 7"
- 2011 Okkervil River, Wake and Be Fine, 7"
- 2011 Brown Bird, Salt for Salt
- 2011 Okkervil River, Mermaid, 12"
- 2011 Kid Dakota, Listen To The Crows As They Take Flight
- 2011 Okkervil River, I Am Very Far
- 2010 Our Orthodox, Our Orthodox
- 2010 Monster Movie, Everyone Is a Ghost
- 2010 Dreamend, So I Ate Myself, Bite By Bite
- 2009 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Pin Points and Gin Joints
- 2008 Okkervil River, Lost Coastlines, 7"
- 2008 Kid Dakota, A Winner's Shadow
- 2008 Okkervil River, The Stand Ins
- 2007 Okkervil River, The Stage Names
- 2006 Okkervil River, Overboard & Down, EP
- 2006 Monster Movie, All Lost
- 2005 Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy Appendix
- 2005 Dreamend, Maybe We're Making God Sad and Lonely
- 2005 Okkervil River, For Real (There's Nothing Quite Like the Blinding Light)
- 2005 Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy
- 2004 Gravenhurst, Black Holes in the Sand
- 2004 Kid Dakota, The West Is the Future
- 2004 Sharron Kraus, Songs of Love and Loss
- 2003 Songs: Ohia, The Magnolia Electric Co.
- 2003 Gravenhurst, Flashlight Seasons
- 2003 Kitchen Cynics, Parallel Dog Days
- 2003 Kid Dakota, Get Her Out of My Heart, 7"
- 2003 Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores, Every Man for Himself and God Against All
- 2003 Okkervil River, Down the River of Golden Dreams
- 2002 Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores, Bent at the Waist
- 2002 Okkervil River, Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See
- 2000 Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
- 1999 Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores, May You Dine on Weeds Made Bitter by the Piss of Drunkards
Schaff led two acts as vocalist and songwriter, Reformation and Noel the Coward, and was part of the musical ensemble I Love You and I Miss You. He also played guitar and percussion with The Eyesores, The Iditarod, and Black Forest/Black Sea. Most recently, he was the drumming ape “Dead Chop Chop” in the What Cheer? Brigade.
Schaff lives and works in a house that was passed to him by his father, but does not own it outright and, due to unsteady income, has been unable to consistently make payments. As a result, the house has been in foreclosure multiple times and has been nicknamed "Fort Foreclosure" by Schaff and its other residents. In an attempt to raise funds to solve the problem more permanently, Schaff launched a partially successful Indiegogo fundraising campaign in March 2014.
- "An electric turn with literary pop" (on Okkervil River albums), Elisabeth Donnelly, Globe Correspondent, The Boston Globe, Sep. 2007, states "Rhode Island artist William Schaff", webpage: BostonGlobe2007-09.
- Breihan, Tom (December 3, 2009). "Take Cover: Will Schaff". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- Murphy, Linda (December 18, 2008). "Water Street vibe draws artists". The Herald News. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
- "Save William Shaff's home". Will Sheff. 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
- "saving fort foreclosure". William Schaff. 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
- The Artwork of William Schaff.
- What Cheer? Marching Band.
- "About the Artist: William Schaff" from Austin Chronicle.
- "William Schaff - Lift Yr Skinny Fists" an interview in Stylus Magazine
- "Under the Covers" from Stylus Magazine
- "Unsettling Images/Artist's Images of Holocaust Horror Aim to Arouse" from The Gazette (Colorado Springs).
- "An Electric Turn with Literary Pop" Schaff's cover art for Okkervil River discussed in a Boston Globe article.
- "Take Cover: Will Schaff". December 2009 interview with Schaff on Pitchfork Media.
- Noisey/Vice profile - June 2016