April 17, 2020

POSTED BY

Rafael Esquer

CATEGORY

The (Mostly) Unknown Designers Behind Famous Music Bands – Part I

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We all know their music. We can easily name their lead singers, guitar players, number one singles, and facts on their history. Bands like The Rolling Stones, Chicago, and Nine Inch Nails have some of the most recognizable logos in the planet yet we don’t really know the designer behind …

new york branding sports graphic design firm

We all know their music. We can easily name their lead singers, guitar players, number one singles, and facts on their history. Bands like The Rolling Stones, Chicago, and Nine Inch Nails have some of the most recognizable logos in the planet yet we don’t really know the designer behind these iconic marks.

Today, I’d like to shine a light on four designers that have contributed to the success of my first set of four music bands whose logos I’ve been admiring for many years. I have no doubt that some of these logos have inspired generations of visually artistic kids to become graphic designers. I remember as a young boy going to the record store just to look at the cover art. After spending all afternoon browsing through lots of LPs, I’d go home to draw their logos by memory on my notebook. I loved the three-dimensionality of the Chicago logo, the sexy playfulness of the Rolling Stones, and the grit and rawness of the Sex Pistols. I dreamed that someday, I’d be designing something that is timeless and broad-reaching, just like those marks.

As it turned out, I became a designer and, as luck will have it, I got to design iconic logos too. This is my homage to those unseen heroes of many of us. The not-so-famous faces behind the famous ones.

For the first installment of this series, I selected Chicago, KISS, Nine Inch Nails, and The Beatles. Be on the lookout for the next set!

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This logo has appeared on all 30-plus albums by the band. Way before the so-called ‘elastic or dynamic branding’ Chicago did it. The Chicago logo has been expressed in chocolate, carved wood, hand-tooled leather, letter-sealing wax and many other interesting ways—and all of these before photoshop when the art directors had to actually build the logo out of various materials. The logo was started by the band’s producer James Guercio. It was later completed by Columbia Records’ art director John Berg who collaborated with artist and sculptor Nick Fasciano to create a final version.
new york branding sports graphic design firm

new york branding sports graphic design firm
This controversial logo has been criticized for bearing a resemblance to the SS of the Nasi Schutzstaffel. It was designed by Ace Frehley, one of the band members. In a recent interview, Frehley was asked if their inspiration came, in fact, from the Nazis to which he replied “And I’ll go on record saying it wasn’t modeled after Hitler or Nazis.” Where did the inspiration come from?, you might ask. He just wanted to draw some cool lightning bolts.
new york branding sports graphic design firm

new york branding sports graphic design firm
Even though NIN has had various logos, when I think of them, I picture this perfectly symmetrical logotype. It was designed by the band’s singer, songwriter, producer Trent Reznor and Cleveland native art director Gary Talpas. The inspiration came from Tibor Kalman’s typography on the Talking Heads album Remain in Light. Talpas designed for Nine Inch Nails from the release of their debut single Down in It in 1989 until 1997.
new york branding sports graphic design firm

new york branding sports graphic design firm
Known as the “Drop-T,” the logo for the most famous band of all times was designed by Ivor Arbiter, who at the time was the owner of the music shop Drum City. In 1963, Ringo and Brian Epstein purchased their drums from Ivor. They asked him to put the name of the band on the bass drum head. On the spot Ivor quickly sketched it onto a scrap of paper. The capital B and dropped T were to emphasize the word ‘beat.’ Drum City got paid 5 pounds (equivalent to $4 USD) for it!
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Stay tuned for Part II