Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

Lord of the Logos, Christophe Szpajdel

Lord of the Logos, by Christophe Szpajdel

In this post, Blair Thomson of Devon-based agency biz-R interviews Belgian-born “Lord of the Logos” Christophe Szpajdel (pronounced “shpydel”). There’s also a chance for you to win a signed copy of Christophe’s book.

The style of design featured is part of a small niche, and different to the normal posts here on Logo Design Love. But it’s also very recognisable within its field, and the same rules of branding apply — simply at the other extreme (like the music it represents). Christophe’s illustration skills are also adaptable to more mainstream graphics work and could cross into many other areas of design.

At what age did you first become interested in logos?

My interest in logos came at the age of seven when I saw the Kiss logo. That was back in 1977, and is what sparked my creativity for logo making.

KISS logo

I also particularly liked the logos of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. It was at the age of 17, however, when I really became fascinated by designs such as those for Venom, Kreator, King Diamond, and Possessed.

Were you interested in drawing and this developed into logos, or did you always like branding?

I’ve always found something fascinating about logos, especially the Art Nouveau and Art Deco logos from the beginning of last century. These were the most amazing gems. Have you seen such beautiful brand logos like Tropon for example? I think Art Nouveau and nature were always to be associated as one, and the first thing I started to draw were plants and animals. Art Nouveau is itself the cult of nature.

Do you admire logo and identity design from outside of the metal world that you have become infamous?

Some product brand logos can be cool, like Relentless, for example. Even today this logo still fascinates me. I’m also very keen on some of the variations of the Animal, Billabong, and Warlord clothing logos.

I actually create quite a bunch of non-metal logos like the CRAS logo, a Tulsa based society that projects old forgotten gem movies from the 20′s to the 40′s. I designed several personal brand logos for people such as Dawn Hemsley, Deborah Dean, Pamela Smith, Vicky Sanchez, Maxine Ridd, and Paula Whitfield, and also illustrated for Paula Whitfield’s book The Repertoire of Delusions.

So yes, I explored identity design outside the metal world and it worked even better because non-metal clients were unfamiliar to the existence of this world. At some point, since creating my account on Facebook, I realized there was a completely new public gaining interest in world yet unknown to them — the world of logos.

How do most of your clients find you?

They mostly find me by word of mouth, but there was a massive increase of interest since i joined Facebook, and since I was interviewed in such magazines as VICE, Metal Hammer, Metal Maniacs, and Terrorizer. That made my name reach even more secluded circles of interests that I would never have thought of before. The Internet had a massive impact.

Lord of the Logos, by Christophe Szpajdel

What is your favourite self-created logo?

It’s hard to pick just one favorite, so I’ll mention a couple of favorites from each style. Emperor and Abigail Williams among the classics, Morgawr and Anamorph among the Art Nouveau ones, Deborah Dean and Disciples Of The Watch for the Art Deco feel, Wolves In The Throne Room and Chasma for the Deressiv’Moderne current, The Obliterate Plague for its simplicity and efficiency, Samantha Byrne for the enigmatic pose with came as a doppelganger of the Glorior Belli logo created by Valnoir Artfield de Lautrec.

What logo do you wish you had created?

I wish i could have created the logo of Dragged Into Sunlight, since this is my absolute to favorite band and my absolute favorite logo, but I designed a logo for his other project, Ninkharsag, which is in my book. Other logos I wish I had created are Demoncy (USBM heroes), Sarcofago, Mutilator Immolith, Venom, Shores Of Melancholy, Burning Of Sodom. I never had the chance to get hold of any of these bands that inspired my creativity with their amazing music.

Lord of the Logos, by Christophe Szpajdel

Your work is extremely detailed. How long would a typical design take?

It takes a minimum of two weeks and can last up to six weeks or more. It depends if it’s a complicated logo, and if the client requires lots of changes, as was the case with Seize The Soul, Namter, Animus Mortis, The Wounded Kings — all very fussy clients. I would actually rate them as “Clients From Hell” because they truly are! I am also a very meticulous person, paying attention to every detail.

I understand that you recently created a logo for Really Interesting Group (aka RIG), who designer and blogger Ben Terrett operates. How did this compare to working with musicians?

RIG logo by Christophe Szpajdel
Image credit: Noisy Decent Graphics

Actually, that was something very simple, i never thought it would be for a group. I first thought it was for a band called RIG and thought oil rig. I asked Ben Terrett for as much detail as possible and he was fairly laconic in what he wanted. I digged a bit more and found out he loves AC/DC as lettering, so i created a very simple logo. After that, I got a lot of interest, and this is how i met you, Blair, and even more interesting is that you just live next door to me! How cool is that?

Working with musicians generally takes me longer and requires me to come up with more changes during the run of the work. I often have to give further cracks on logos, and as I’m telling you all this, I’m working on a fourth logo for “client from hell,” The Wounded Kings.

What inspires you?

Mostly and primarily, I am inspired by nature, but over the last decade, I opened my interest to art, especially Art Nouveau for its flowing motives, and Art Deco/Modernism for its geometry. Anger is something that helps me in coming up with a great logo for an aggressive metal band.

The tranquility of shorelines gave me inspiration to create some flowing logos that needed a more relaxed state of mind.

Tell us about the book — how did that come about?

Gestalten have produced some beautiful books on logo design. In march last year, after the interview I gave to VICE (yes, they have been taking the mick out of me, but great, they turned me into a weirdo) and the feature in the Compendium “Logos from Hell” by Mark Riddick, I got approached by Hendrik Hellige whom I met in Berlin by the end of May. Then in June, the big boss of Gestalten, Julian Sorge, concluded the contract and in September I supplied all my logos.

In October I created the logo for the cover, and finally, at the end of January the book was released. I didn’t interfere at any time with the process of assembling the book, as I gave Gestalten my full trust. They did a wonderful job juxtaposing the photos I took in different parts of the world (mostly Whiskey Town Lake in Northern California, Mount Hood in Oregon, Dartmoor, and the Southwest Coast Path in Devon).

The result is amazing and I am more than delighted with the work of Gestalten. Finally I can regard this book as my child. It really is a part of me.

Do you have any advice for budding logo designers — metal or otherwise?

It is better to specialize yourself in something you really feel for. Try to find as many inspirational surroundings as possible to unleash your creativity. That is something that also applies to artists who want to reach the general public as well the metal public.

Win a signed copy of Szpajdel’s book Lord of the Logos

Lord of the Logos, by Christophe Szpajdel

From the Gestalten website:

“This book is a collection of work by Christophe Szpajdel, an artist whose fans in the underground black metal community worship him as the Lord of the Logos. It includes hundreds of powerful logos, each of which captures the force of this musical genre anew. Through his surprising use of aesthetic influences such as art deco and nature, Szpajdel has brought a new dynamic into the gothic visuality of heavy metal. This publication, which is done in the style of a black prayerbook, shows not only how he has succeeded in leaving his own visual mark on this music, but how he has also expanded the canon of forms it uses.”

Release: January 2010
Price: € 35,00 / $ 55,00 / £ 32,50
Format: 21 × 26 cm
Features: 272 pages, full color, softcover, gold embossing
ISBN: 978-3-89955-282-9

To enter the draw, leave a comment naming someone you want to see interviewed on Logo Design Love. One commenter will be chosen randomly on Friday 26th February, notified by email, and posted here.

Update: Friday 26th February
The randomly drawn winner is Alicia Viera. Congratulations! You’ve been sent an email with details on how to collect.

Thanks very much to Blair Thomson for conducting the interview, and to Christophe Szpajdel for taking part.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities

42 appreciated comments

  1. Thanks so much for interviewing him. As an artist, designer, and a fan of some of the music, I have always loved the band logos… Emperor being a prime example. I particularly admire the symmetry with most of these logos. They also do a great job of somehow conveying the feel of the much of the music as well.

    I appreciate what he said about specializing in something you really feel for. As with the music these logos represent, it isn’t something you can fake and have it come across as being accepted by the fans (or with the bands I suppose either!). It’s about remaining true to yourself.

  2. Imran Subhani

    nice interview….

  3. Great interview, thanks for the effort. I would love to see an interview with David Pache, owner of http://www.helveticbrands.ch/ He is one of the best logo designers I know.

  4. I’m not good with the names of designers, so how about an interview with me i have created, i don’t know, more or less 5 nice logos.

    ; )

  5. Great interview! I have always been fascinated by metal or hard-rock band logos and what makes them take the form they do – so this book definitely piques my interest.

    As for someone to interview, I would love to see a piece on Chuck Anderson of http://www.nopattern.com His work never ceases to amaze & inspire me.

  6. Very interesting interview!

    How about an interview with Paula Scher?

  7. Great work, interesting read.

    And I nominate John Langdon.

  8. J

    Great interview, great work by Christophe.

    With that said, although “appropriate” with the ‘hell’ reference, outing them and labeling them as “clients from hell” was a bit much, no? Sounds like he holds a strong grudge. Maybe I just misread it.

  9. Great interview, I always thought the logos were kind of generic, to me all look the same, but I guess that goes for the music too. Metal sounds all the same to me.

    I nominate Lance Wyman… I have lots of questions for him.

  10. Great interview, very skilled and specialized talent for rock band logos.

  11. J – I think he’s being funny. The idea of Hell is often embraced by metal culture.

    How about an interview with another designer with a music tie-in? Scott Hansen is a designer who records as Tycho for Ghostly International. http://blog.iso50.com/about/

  12. Haldun K

    Heh, nice. So somebody was actually able to make money out of metal band logos after all.

    I nominate that intern kid who created the not so great but very recognizable and successful Google logo. That would be great if you could find whoever he was.

  13. Ryan E

    Love the logos. Nice to see metal band designs getting some recognition.

    I nominate Ryan and Done Clark from Invisible Creature is Seattle. They have some great logos for bands and corporate companies a like.

  14. Nuno Jacinto

    If been enjoying Christophe’s work since 1993 form the first time I saw his logos for Moonspell and Emperor. Very inspiring concepts.

    I would love to see an interview with Carlos Segura

  15. Great Interview! Great Interviewee. I loved the part about KISS because Van Halen is what inspired me to design.

  16. Thanks David for a great interview.

    As for the nominations, I nominate the person above me, mr. Mike Erickson aka Logomotive.
    I am big fan of his work and would really like to see him interviewed here on Logo Design Love.

    Regards
    P.S I’ve just ordered a copy of your book and can’t wait to get it in my hands:)

  17. jasonized

    Metal logos look good as tattoos. They are logos from hell, “Deviously Nice”.

  18. Alicia Viera

    Nice interview. Thank you, David.
    I’d like to see an interview with Nancy Wu if possible.
    Thanks again.

  19. Thanks for this interview. Really special niche that may not appeal to all, but is certainly worth a look. Really excited about the variety of stuff you post on here. Keep it up!

  20. Oh, and would really like to see an interview with Josiah Jost, (Siah Design).

  21. Sean

    He is doing the logo for my band Empyreus! I can’t wait to see what he will do for us!

  22. Sean O’Grady – he’s a great designer. I especially like his Castle Print logo.

    BTW great interview!

  23. Goalie

    Scott Hansen from ISO50

  24. Brian

    Great. I love Christophe’s work. I’d love to see an interview with designer Jennifer Sterling, who after a period of success in the 90s has apparently dropped off the face of the earth.

  25. great interview! i’d really like to see lance wyman.

    i know, i know, he’s already been nominated, but i love his work! this was an awesome read =]

  26. Margo Chase would be a cool interview.

  27. Very interesting interview. I didn’t know Mr Szpajdel before this interview, so thank you for this interview !

    I think it could be great to interview Philippe Apeloig, the French graphic designer: he created famous logotypes, such as Châtelet (musical theater in Paris) or the Moeller Fine Art (New York).

  28. Brad @ Raunch

    I had no idea someone did all those logo for those bands…that’s so cool and I womdered why they looked so similar! I was thinking all these bands had more in common than they do…I don’t know about logoization but in the ’80′s PUSHEAD did some art for us at RAUNCH and his stuff was everywhere, very stylized but still had logo-style marketability…maybe a piece on him would be cool!!

  29. videoflyer

    Interesting interview. His work is quite intricate – I like it. I was hoping that some of the examples would embiggen when clicked but oh well. And I’ll second Nuno Jacinto’s suggestion of Carlos Segura as a future interview subject.

  30. Nick

    Great Interview.

    I also nominate John Langdon.

  31. Nice post! Love rocky logos :D

    I’d like Wally Olins to be interviewed , he designed the Orange logo, and I like it very much The simplicity and use of the true color and name of it is stunning. And the powerfull mix of orange-black or orange-white brand styling is great.

    SªYºNªRª!

  32. Nice interview, David. I like to see chuck anderson from NoPattern, interviewed on LogoDesignLove.

  33. Jason

    I would like for you to interview Felix Sockwell. He just did the new logo for Fashionista and I really like his style. http://felixsockwell.com/

  34. Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I’ll see what I can do.

    The random winner for a signed copy of Christophe’s book is Alicia Viera, who I’ll email now.

  35. Gavin

    Nice Interview, interesting to see how and what inspires different artist.

    Yes like Nick an interview with John Langdon would most interesting.

  36. Hi, I love this post, also I have a blog about typography and lettering in spanish, and i wondered if i can translate this interview

  37. Hi Fernando, feel free to translate with attribution.

  38. Great interview, a man with big heart, the arts of Christophe is very amazing!
    Total support the underground


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