Whether you’re starting a tour, band, media company or business, design is something to be considered. It establishes your brand, gives you a stamp to smack on stickers, pins and T-shirt and—more importantly, it creates a symbol people will internalize and connect with you. Sometimes, logos are so great that they become beacons for culture.
In this series, we get the stories behind highly recognized icons within our community from the people who created them.
(Image: Ben Witkowski of Texas In July's EVR tattoo)
With their punk/hardcore/emo background, Equal Vision’s logo featuring the Hindu god Krishna can cause some head-scratching. But as owner Steve Reddy explains, the design goes back to Equal Vision’s beginning. “Equal Vision was initially created because Shelter wanted to put out their own records,” Reddy says. “The name came from a verse spoken by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. The logo is a picture of Krishna that a Hare Krishna artist had lying around, unused in her portfolio.
“Ray Cappo, the singer of Shelter and founder of Equal Vision, liked it and asked her if we could use it and she agreed. We used the logo for all of our Krishna-core bands, but when I signed Shift—our first non-Krishna band on the label—we switched to just the “e v r” letters as a logo. We wanted to make a differentiation so kids knew Equal Vision wasn't just an all-Krishna-core roster. We did it that way for a couple of years, but after the Krishna-core stuff faded away, we decided to go back to [our original] logo for all releases. The Krishna logo still means a lot to me today, and I've always preferred how it looked over just the letters.” [BM]
AP 302 cover stars Asking Alexandria, the Dillinger Escape Plan, I See Stars and Stick To Your Guns found their label home with Sumerian Records. When he started the label in 2006, CEO Ash Avildsen looked to history for the perfect name and logo.
“I chose the name Sumerian due to the fascinating ancient civilization of Sumerians and the fact they were the first society to ever transcribe music,” says Avildsen. When looking for the visual representation, he looked just to the west of Sumer in the Old World to Egypt and the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx.
“I thought the Sphinx and pyramids together looked cooler than any symbol directly connected to Sumeria like the [ziggurats]. The Sphinx is the largest and oldest monumental sculpture in the world. There is a lot of mystery regarding who built it and what it is supposed to represent. I believe the pyramids and the Sphinx were not built solely by some Egyptian human workers.”
But let’s skip the history lesson here, because it all boils down to this: “One thing is for sure,” says Avildsen. “Having the body of a lion and the head of a human is badass.” [CW]
It’s one of the scene’s most recognizable symbols, but for its inaugural year in 1995, Warped Tour didn’t even have a logo. “We had a monster truck [design],” recalls Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman. “People actually showed up to go to a monster truck show. They thought Sublime, No Doubt and Quicksand must be monster trucks.” Confusion aside, it taught Lyman a valuable lesson. “I saw [that] you need to have something iconic. Now people look at that arrow, and that’s still one of our top selling merch pieces every year.” Although he doesn’t remember who came up with the design, Lyman does recall being drawn to the simplicity of it. “Well I was thinking—even back then, it was the Nike swoosh and things like that—the simpler the logo, the better. If you’re going to try to do all these art pieces [like] we were trying to do around our posters, you just want to have something that would draw the eye and be known as the Warped Tour.” Seventeen years later, it’s safe to say his goal has been achieved judging from the crew members and fans who show Lyman their Warped Tour arrow tattoos. “I’ve seen a lot of kids that have come up this year, and they’ve got a small, little arrow on their hand, kind of like a star,” he says. “I saw one girl that has one on her calf. She had the Warped Tour arrow and underneath it every year that she’d gone.” However, don’t expect Lyman to join their inked ranks. “I don’t have any tattoos. I never thought anything was going to be permanent, just like I don’t think the Warped Tour is going to be a permanent thing. Except I guess I will be identified [with it] now after this long with the tour. Maybe I’ll have an arrow put on my casket or my urn when it’s all over.” [BM]
THE LOGO: HANK THE PIGEON
THE BAND: THE WONDER YEARS (As told by Dan “Soupy” Campbell)
“Our first tour was in England–don't ask me why–and our old keyboardist was lamenting on his disdain for the common pigeon. He pointed out that nobody likes a pigeon. No one wants one around, but they thrive everywhere in spite of that. A year later, we were reflecting on that idea and came to realize that, at that point in our career, we weren't so different from the pigeon–no one really wanted us. No one wanted to feature us, sign us, book us, etc., but we were there anyway and we were growing. We booked our own tours. We marketed our own band. We started to realize we were the pigeons of this world, so a pigeon logo just made sense. We've known artist James Heimer since we were 12, and his art has shaped the visual side of our band. It just made sense to have James do a pigeon logo for [us].
Later, we decided to bring the logo to life a bit and reached out to Hopeless [Records] about building a mascot costume. Casey [Cavaliere]'s friend Carley brought it to life and Casey himself said, “He looks like a Hank.” Since then, Hank has been a huge part of the band and has taken on a life of his own. He'll appear at special events like our pop-up shop, music videos and even has his own Twitter that's almost totally separate from the band now. It definitely got out of hand, but I mean that in the best way.” [RC]