Allow us to introduce you to animator/illustrator extraordinaire Mr. Scott Benson. We were fortunate enough to procure Mr. Benson’s talents for the Coat of Arms logo and ident. We admire the man and his work and hope you will too.
COA: What do you look for in a logo or ident? What makes a logo good?
Mr. Benson: I’m not a logo designer by trade, so my take on this may be different from those who make logos their profession. A good logo is communicative. It should give as much information as possible about what it represents while being as simple as possible. At the same time, I am drawn to the crests and seals companies had back in the pre-modernist design days. As such, I tend to like logos that lean in that more embellished direction while staying concise.
COA: When we came to you for Coat of Arms’ logo/identity design, we referenced that we wanted to include the Belgian horse and the Cuban crest. How did you go about melding the two of these images together?
Mr. Benson: I think the only way to go about something like this is to simplify the images into their basic elements. The Cuban crest has much to choose from – the oak branch, the laurel, the cap, etc. But what stood out to me most was the key and the shield. The shield as a framing device and a connection to the idea of arms, the key as a general symbol of entry, access, perhaps expertise. Once I sketched that out, it was just a matter of adding the horse and embellishing. Viola!
COA: In his request for your artistic expertise in this project, Jonathan wrote the following: “The idea behind the name [Coat of Arms] comes predominantly from the idea that agencies, companies, and creatives will want to wear the seal of good creative work – which is our brand – Coat of Arms. With the increasing amount of companies claiming to provide creative post services, I want Coat of Arms to stick out. I want people to be proud to say they are trusting us with their post-related work.” Beyond the visual references he provided, what inspired you in the design of our logo?
Mr. Benson: Long before I was a professional artist I did a large amount of merchandise for bands. Those years taught me, I think, about doing a lot with very little. Every time I design a logo for anything I’m drawing on that experience more than anything. Most logos I end up designing would look at home on a black t-shirt or as a tattoo. This isn’t to say that every one has “edge” or anything, but rather that I try to create images that look as though they represent something established, something that communicates substance. To my eyes at least, the cliché of the abstract squiggle logo screams lack of identity, as if a company was just born yesterday. This is probably why I’d never make it as a dedicated logo designer. They’d throw me out of squiggle camp.
COA: I know you’ve re-branded entire companies in the past, what have you learned from those experiences?
Mr. Benson: For companies I very much have to tone down my normal style, which is rather whimsical and idiosyncratic. Re-branding is difficult because you’re dealing with history, with years of existence prior to your involvement. It’s like changing someone’s name when they are 30. I’ve always found the actual design part to be easier than the pitching process. You’ve spent hours crafting a perfect mark in the safety of your workstation, but then you’re up in front of a group of frowning businesspeople decades your senior trying to sell them on your ideas for their company. Communicating your ideas for them clearly and confidently goes a long way, sometimes further than the design itself.
COA: What are some of your favorite logos?
Mr. Benson: My favorite logo of all time is the Eveready 9 volt logo. It has far more character and energy than a logo for a battery has any right to have. I also love how tenuous a connection the logo has to the actual product. 9 volts = 9 lives? I have no idea. But I have always loved it.
A lot of old punk bands had great logos. I don’t think anyone has topped the Black Flag four bar logo. What could you add to that logo to improve it? What could you subtract? I can’t think of anything.
COA: When you created your own identity for Bombsfall, did it come naturally or did you have to rework it over time? What do the jack-o’-lantern, raised hand, and the flames represent?
Mr. Benson: I change my visual identity at least once a year. As an animator and illustrator, people will always associate me more with my drawings and shorts than any logo. This frees me up to experiment and have fun with my identity design in ways a company never could. I like to play around with symbols that have a folkloric, magical, or spooky feel to them. I’ve always been drawn to that subject matter, especially in my illustrations. The current logo is a drawing of myself in a somewhat iconic (as in religious icons) pose. In place of a sacred heart is the jack-o’-lantern, an inversion of sorts replacing holiness and piety with mischief and mystery. Instead of the sign of a blessing on the upturned hand, the flame is symbolizing inspiration. Like a light-bulb. I suppose the flame above the hand also indicates ability. Or maybe my hand was just on fire that day. That’s a possibility. It’s art imitating life.
COA: What does Bombsfall have in the works for 2012?
Mr. Benson: I have a couple of new shorts that will be released sometime this year. I work on them in my non-client-work time, so I’m at the mercy of the tides of business. I started selling prints last year and will be putting out a load of new ones in the coming months. I’m going to be involved in a few art shows this spring, a first for me. And I’ll probably think up a whole bunch of other stuff to do as well. You’ll have to wait and see!
Check out Scott Benson’s website at http://www.bombsfall.com!
Check out previous Hitching Post articles archived under “Logged & Captured.”