Christophe Szpajdel Interview
1 How did you start with doing logos? And artwork ?
I started drawing at the age of three. things that started interest me are insects, wildlife....but in 1977, I started to get interested in new things like music and i bumped on Kiss. I really loved the song "I was made for loving you" and that song really moved me. I also was interested in other genres of music but folk, pop, new wave, punk and rock/metal was what fascinated me most. I felt the intricacy of logos in the mod 80's when i got fascinated by logos such as Motorhead, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Yes, Venom, Queensryche....and in 1989 I got involved with a local fanzine called SEPTICORE. I started interviewing bands after ordering demos and I came across a lot of bands playing great death/black/thrash/doom /grind metal but without a decent logo. That is where i felt the need of doing logos. I did a few death metal logos for Morbid Noise compilation (Inspired by Sepultura, Morbid ANgel...) but I also explored some border artworks...I was actually inspired by the works of Dan Seagrave among others....and in 1991, when I was in touch with Samoth, I did a surprise, i created the logo for Emperor that they adored and used for the demo "Wrath of the Tyrant", the split Album with Enslaved and the album "In The Nightside Eclipse" where my name has ben credited. Once my name appeared on the credits, I started getting interest from people from all over the world. By these times, I had to use the traditional post to correspond with people, not very easy when I was all the time on the move. Ever since, I have ben constantly and steadily working on logos for various bands. During my studies I had to tone down my involvement in the music business and concentrate on my studies of Forestry.2 Not many can call themself the Lord of logos , but you have really earned the name what are your thoughts on that career and did you ever think it would grow that big when you started ?
I actually would never think My name would have taken a flight. The crucial moment was when Emperor became big after the releas of their cult classic album "In The Nightside Eclipse" on Candlelight. I also did a few other logos like Moonspell, Enthroned, Old Man's Child, Arcturus, Covenant, Troll, Ceremonium, Legal Butchery and a few more in the early nineties that confrmed my reputation as a logo artist. in the late 90's I did some like Desaster, Nargaroth, Primigenium, Aborted, Avatar, that made my name confirmed. I never actually stopped during logos. I did lots of smaller bands logos, but some other became big and these are the ones who carried the flag of my name high. Gaining the title of "Lord of the Logos" is the fruit of constant and steady labour "Just keep working hard and don't worry about the hype" as said by Sven from Belgian death metal heroes Aborted
3 apart from being a logo artist you are also a photographer ? Could you tell us a bit about that?
|MURAL by Christophe|
4 Your work is mostly known inside the Heavy metal genre have you done any other logo work for more traditional companies or is it mainly bands ?
Initially my work would suit mostly people within the metal scene but in the mid 2000, I felt a need to enlarge my public and explore people from different walks by showing interest in such currents as Art Nouveau or Art Deco that opened a brand new potential to my horizons. In fact, this opened perspective to gain new audiences as i found there was a sort of "limitation" and that triggered my need to implement my logo art with something refreshing, intellectually and visually pleasing as well as efficient and functional. The interest in applying elements of Art Nouveau and Art Deco gave a completely different feel when it goes to making the letters of the logo fill the space in an adequate way. The release of my book "Lord of the Logos" and the participation in high profile events like "Graphic Design - Now in Production" contributed to gather a larger spectre of public. That is one of the strategy to attract more traditional companies to show interest in my work. Over the last few years, I have indulged myself by creating some "metal" logos for non-metal entities like Wayne Rooney, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, One Direction, Coronation Street, Eastenders. This is how I forced myself in creating interest for my art among an audience which never has been exposed to this genre of aesthetics. Taking part in "All public" events like the "Devon Artist Network" and "Devon Open Studios" was a huge help to get my art recognised by a public I would never have reached before If I have had stayed within the "metal" milieu. To conclude, I am constantly striving to reach a larger and larger audience that could potentially appreciate and peruse my work.
5 Your book Lord of the logos has been out a quite some time and from what I understand the response has been very good! Would you agree?According to me, I think the response was great to amazing. Still today there are a lot of people looking to get hold of this book; They can order it directly from Gestalten web-store or Amazon. According to the publisher, The response of the book was great but not great enough to justify the release of a second volume, which is something I have a burning desire for. In spite of the great response. it is the fifth year since the release of the book and the book is still available. It should have been sold out from the publisher by now. I think a boost of the sales of the book is needed in order to sell out the book. We are almost there and Gestalten has done a wonderful job. Before releasing the long awaited second volume of "Lord of Logos", I feel the need of an extra boost for the sales of "Lord of the Logos"...Please make sure to pass the message!
6 Could tell us some of the most crucial parts when making logos?The most crucial part in doing a logo is the UNDERSTANDING, What the client is looking for and how the client can express herself to make the brief visually en mentally conveying to what the expectations are. Presenting a fully developed draft is a lot more efficient than presenting primary pencil sketches as they give a better idea that we have reahed a mutual understanding. That I have understand what the client is expecting from me and that the client fully understand s WHERE i want to go with my first draft. In the past i presented pencil drafts and most of the time they were rejected and the client switched to another artist as he/she was having difficulties in understanding where i wanted to go with a pencil draft.
7 You mentioned many times unlike many artist you prepare to work in the wildlife? Since you work is done 100 procent freehand pencil and ink ! Do you have some favorite spots in the nature where you feel is your holy place to work at ?
This is where i am completely different than anyone else. As soon as the weather comes nice, I go outside , set up on a picnic table in a park, with the direct sunlight falling from the left side, as i am right handed. The sunlight permits me to see all the small details i would have otherwise missed if i had worked with an office lamp desk. I use an architect board and i print out the brief and each attachments to have a complete understanding of what the client expects from me. A clear brief with lots of specifications from the outset and attachments/references that illustrates and "put a face" to long explanations is vital. The brief is like a recipe when you cook a meal from the first time. if you have visuals and images that support the explanations, then there is more chance i get the logo within the expectations of the client. The first and essential stage of the logo is to get the pencil draft perfect and after that, the inking, outlining and filling with a thick marker to gain time is essential. As "Holy places" to work, I have a few ones: Devon: Exeter: Belle-Isle park, Peter Chalk Centre/The Roundhouse at the Exeter University Campus, The Mill on the Exe. In Totes, There is the Darlington Estate, in Dartmouth, the Riviera, in Kings bridge, The Crab shell Inn terrace, The Guard House in Brigham. For Europe, I really liked to draw at the National Danish Design Centre in Copenhagen.
8 I know its kinda a weird question but what is the most famous logo you've made ?
I would say for metal bands, Emperor, Enthroned, Moonspell, Nargaroth, Desaster, Abigail Williams, Wolves in the Throne Room, Trivium (Black metal tainted logo), Mrityu (Side project of Trivium Matt), For Rock bands, I did a serie of "tree shaped logo designs" for They Might Be Giants. Now, on top of this, I had fun and I did a logo for the rock band FOO FIGHTERS in response of the Foo Fighters logo ripped off from my Emperor logo they used for Christmas Jumpers. Foo Fighters liked very much my rendition of a Black Metal logo for Foo Fighters and it resulted in a transaction. I sold my black metal FOO FIGHTERS logo to the band. And I did some things when I was bored. I drew for my own indulgence lBlack Metal logos for Coronation Street, One Direction, Eastenders, Jamie Oliver...They probably ever have been seen nor used but still I enjoyed doing this very much...
9 You style is very unique in many ways would you say that the lettering you create has becomeIt is something I am aiming at, but also I am diversifying my art and striving into new directions, taking new leads and bringing to life new ideas....I am aiming to develop a large string of new directions and go just crazy with diversification...I want to make my style surprising and unpredictable, yet keeping my own identity. How long will it take to get my style recognised as a trademark. Metal fans from across the world has said that to me but authorities do t sem to care about having me recognised as official logo artist.
your mark ?
10 Do you think that one day you'll be able to make a living out of just drawing logos all day long ?I am very convinced about it but unfortunately at the moment I have to take great care of my day job as Retail assistant in a convenience store. This work perfectly for me as i spend all my free time for logos, working on new commissions, conducting the talks with my clients and it is not an easy thing. It does require a very disciplined daily schedule with as little distractions as possible and you know how easy i can get distracted.
11 You recently started doing exhibitions and such how has that been ?
12 being in the scene for quite some years what are your thoughts on today and the past scene ?
A lot has changes, everything is now too easy to reach as it is accessible by MP3 and free streaming. Bands have a lot harder to survive as they can rely mostly on the sales of Merchandise like T-shirts, wallpapers for PCs. Items like Tapes, Vinyl's and CD's have dropped in sales and this young generation is expecting to have everything accessible from the tip of a finger. When i started getting involved in the scene, back in the mid 80's, you could find what you are looking for at Festivals, conventions, metal markets....you needed to meet people, make contact, exhange letters, find a physical address to get in touch with someone you wanted to get hold of. Now everything has ben made fast an easy. I do miss very much the past scene n my youngets years and I will always remmeber that gig with Sodom and Sepultura on the 29th of September 1989....when i was Nineteen. Just Sodom and Sepultura...The monumental show in December with Morbid Angel and Napalm Death....all the shows with bands like Autopsy, Pestilence, Demolition Hammer, then in the nineties some excellent shows with Denial of God (DK), Enthroned (Bel), Marduk (Swe), Enslaved (Nor) and later on such cult bands as Horna, Behexen, Archgoat, Godless North, Inquisition, Watain....Good gigs and memorable festivals like party San, Open Hell in Volyne, Barroselas SWR, Metal Fest, Autumn Equinox Festival in Clifton with Nightbringer, Kvlt Ov Azazel, Havohej, Bloodstorm, ENgorge, Baphomet's Horns, Witchtomb in teh 2000's were highlights....This year, the best moment was the opening of the Marks of Metal exhibition with a prominent Danish metal band, SOLBRUD.....There are always great moments I would love to tak about.....
13 Do you have any favorite album of 2014?
I would say for metal SOLBRUD, my top favorite dark metal band...Amazing...and a great portuguese band ARS DIAVOLI....
But i also enjoyed some excellent Caucasian Folk album like XEXEC "Cerkes Ezgileri", Salihat Omarova and Rinat Karimov from Dagestan....Something i have ben enjoying as much as i enjoy and wil always enjoy metal. The more I am growing, the more
I am getting eclectic and diversified in my musical tastes....Just getting more matur and more diversified. Over the last few days, I just got completely sucked in these Kavkas Lezginkas Caucasian dances...Just love that stuff to bits!
14 Have you ever been to any of the major festivals where many of your clients play?
Yes, There have been a lot of memorable festivals like party San, Open Hell in Volyne, Barroselas SWR, Metal Fest, Autumn Equinox Festival in Clifton with Nightbringer, Kvlt Ov Azazel, Havohej, Bloodstorm, ENgorge, Baphomet's Horns, Witchtomb in the 2000's were highlights....This year, the best moment was the opening of the Marks of Metal exhibition with a prominent Danish metal band, SOLBRUD.....There are always great moments I would love to tak about.....
15 Do you have any plans for summer? any new places you want to visit ?
This summer I am pencilling some exhibitions. I have an upcoming show at HOWL Cafe in Penryn, Cornwall starting on the 5th of June and I have in August a few possible shows in the USA, among others one Eugene Oregon, one in Colorado Springs and one in Chicago but nothing is being confirmed yet, so I can't bank on them. I have also made necessary steps to take part on festivals like ENtremuralas and AMplifest in Portugal but still nothing has been confirmed. I am actually looking for exhibition opportunities across the world, so anyone with a serious proposal is welcome to contact me anytime. In October I am going to Japan for the wedding of my brother who lives there. As you can see, I have a very busy daily, weekly and monthly schedule and i had to adopt a zero-tolerance
policy to timewasters. About places to visit, there is Japan for October and next year, I am planning to visit ASIA, Especally India, China, but also Iran, The Caucasus (Dagestan, Chechnya, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia...) and i would like to visit south america (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela...)
16 Do you find that working in the free inspires you more
Absolutely, positively and unequivocally. The daylight cannot be replaced by any artificial light, even if the weather is overcast but dry, I will be working outside. I just like to be surrounded by nature and feel this direct contact with Nature. All these mountains that show their splendour to my eyes, these vast plateaus, these Deep valleys with breathtaking views. There is nothing more wonderful tan being in constant contact with Nature...it is just wonderful and many of us take this for granted. Nature has been millions of years before us, as you can scale on a 24 hours clock...Humanity would be scaled as the last minutes of a 24 hours clock if the hour zero would be the creation of Planet Earth
17 what would be your best advice to upcoming artists who wish to make it in the art department! ?
Most important is to have a clear understanding of what your client is after. take the time to have a clear assimilation of what your client is after. A loaded sketchbook with doodles is the proof of a fertile imagination, ideas...Don t be afraid to show your sketchbook to the client, that is the proof of your vivid imagination. I have experienced clients who are very limitative and that is not good. It is not rare that I actually dropped a client because he was too overwhelming or making too many constraints, reason why i am exchanging a few messages with the client prior to seal a deal. There is that vibe that says me that it will be a time waster or a valuable customer, especially when i am getting over hundreds of request a week and i will complete only a ten-twenty good logos in a month. I like to have a schedule that I review and amend.
18 Before we wrap this interview up do you have any final words to your followers and friends ?
Thank you so much for this excellent interview with lots of great thoughts i wished to share. I really hope this interview gets published soon. No idea when but i would love to see it published at some point. The most important is that I am studying any exhibition proposal anywhere in the world as long as it is dealt with in a serious and professional manner. A communication in a timely manner is essential in order to start the promotion long time in advance. My portfolio is all on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Christophe. szpajdel and my official website is www.devonartistnetwork.co.uk/CSzpajdel Please be aware that my rates for a logo start from US $100 and there is a 50% deposit payable through paypal to my account firstname.lastname@example.org A detailed brief is to be sent to email@example.com Thank you Friends, Acqauintances, Cool new people are more than welcome to contact me but , please, no timewasters, Thank you!