Monday, November 2, 2009

Designed To Rock

Today we're starting a new feature here on BFD that will be recurring somewhat regularly. As much passion as I have for music, I have the same amount of passion for graphic design of all kinds... advertising art, web design, stencil design and especially rock n' roll poster design. Our hope is to have Q&A's with some of our favorite designers around North Texas and the nation.

In the beginning when I first became interested in graphic design I was drawn to the work of Ames Bros, since then my taste has changed a little. Currently my favorite designer around is Jason Munn who designs for his own design company, The Small Stakes. I first saw his work in a design book I have, I Googled him and found his web site and from there... that was it. There are a lot of talented designers around the country and in the DFWd area, but, Jason is my favorite one around right now.

So, I'm absolutely thrilled to present a little Q&A he took part in this week... enjoy.

Bona Fide Darling: How long have you been designing and why did you get into graphic design?

Jason Munn: I've been designing pretty consistently for about the past 8 or so years. I worked in a couple different studios for awhile before going out on my own about 6 years ago. I got into design through growing up skateboarding and listening to punk and independent music. Skateboard graphics, magazines and album covers were really my introduction to art and design and after going to school for a couple of years as a fine art major I was steered in graphic design by a teacher of mine and things began to click a little.

BFD: What is your approach to each poster design? Do you feel like the band, venue or band's subject matter hold any importance to your designs?

JM: The band holds the greatest importance to me, but sometimes locations of shows and so on can play a role. I approach each design essentially the same way, research and listen to the band and do a lot of sketches and see what I can pick up on.

BFD: You use a lot of nature in your pieces--bugs as instruments and what not. Do you get a lot of inspiration from nature?

JM: I don't think I do, but I must in some way. I'm just trying to come up with something appropriate for the band and I know natural objects are used quite a bit in my work, so there is usually something in the music or identity of the band that will lead me this way.

BFD: Your Josh Ritter poster, where Idaho is a piano is one of my favorites of yours. Do you have a favorite you've done? Is there one you wish you could redo?

JM: Thanks, that was one of the rare posters where the artist or band had a request and Josh's was to have something to do with Idaho on the poster and I came up with the piano. I've got a few favorites, the couple I've done for The Books and for Deerhunter have always been some favorites. There are plenty I wish I could redo, or sweep under the rug.

BFD: How did you get your start working with bands and creating show posters?

JM: Most of my early posters were for a venue in Berkeley, CA called The Ramp. It was located in the basement of a church and the shows were quite small, and really amazing. Some friends of mine booked the shows there and they asked me to make all the posters. There was typically 1 - 2 shows a month, so the shows were pretty special and unique. Deerhoof, Why?, Damien Jurado, and Animal Collective were some of the shows to play at the The Ramp. Unfortunately, the venue only lasted a year, but I've continued to work with some of the bands that played there.

BFD: Is there a band you would like to work with that you haven't had a chance to work with yet?

JM: I actually don't think about this too much, but TV On The Radio is one band I haven't had a chance to do anything for that I would really be happy to create a design for.

BFD: You have a very particular style, your designs have a very clean and minimalist feel. Do you think that style works best for the bands you've worked with?

JM: I'm just trying to come up with ideas that work for the band, whether it is clean or minimal is not exactly the goal, but my ideas can be pretty subtle sometimes and adding more aspects to a design can make it feel confusing and the idea can be lost quickly, so I typically try to keep to what is needed to convey the idea or mood.

BFD: Do you approach your designs differently for publications than you do for music?

JM: Not really, my approach is pretty much the same. Sometimes other client work can have more guidelines in general, which is sometimes welcome.

BFD: Would you rather design for a band or venue? Which one would be better?

JM: Most I've my work is through the band, but I occasionally do work through venues, but the bands typically approve the designs either way, so its becoming one in the same.

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