Creating an identity for an entertainment client is a never-ending
cycle of renewal. As the artist constantly reinvents him- or her-
self, creates new work, or even performs in a different venue,
design must keep pace. For a contemporary music client whose
“logo” is essentially the sound it records, there can no longer be
such a thing as a single visual mark that can carry the full weight
of the performance. Today’s brutal marketing environment
requires a more fluid visual identity.
Ames’s relationship with the band Phish dates back to 1996,
when the Seattle-based design office created T-shirts for a U.S.
tour. Since then, the two-person firm has worked with the band on
a number of projects, and each has been very different. Ames also
creates graphics for Pearl Jam, MTV, House of Blues, MOE, Sting,
John Mayer, and Nancy Wilson, to name a few artists and groups.
Phish actually has a real logo—an uninspiringly literal aquarium-
variety fish built from the letters in the band’s name. But Ames
and the other design companies with whom Phish works are not
required to honor or use it in any way.
“Bands constantly reinvent themselves, but without design they
can’t do it. Even though they don’t work with just one logo or look
all the time, they are very concerned with their identity. Bands
make a load of money on posters and T-shirts,” says Ames
designer Coby Schultz. The art and identity that designers create
is essentially the for-sale product. “Each piece we create is com-
pletely unique. Each can stand on its own.”
For a Las Vegas appearance in 2003, Ames focused on the quirky
nature of the place for a poster design. Ames is known for its
strong silkscreen design and production. Schultz took advantage
of the process to create what he calls “large colors on big paper.”
This design shows a washout, complete with high-waisted pants,
white belt and shoes, giant lapels, and bad glasses and hair.
“He’s in his mid-40s and is still driving a Gremlin,” Schultz
explains. “He’s still trying to hit it big.”
The designer’s goal is to tell a compelling story in every design.
He believes that is why Ames’ work appeals to bands: Like a
song, their art has something to say. “There is always a deeper
message, not just a cool-looking something,” he adds. Here, the
message is one of humor. From the arcade colors to the dimen-
sional type to the content of the art, the designer uses the over-
the-top reputation of Las Vegas to put Phish into context for this
Identity Design
Ames, Seattle, Washington
6 6
Job no:82185(CTP) Title : RP-Logolounge 2 Client : Pro-vision
Scn :
175 Size : 228.6(w)279.4(h)mm Co : M6 C0 O/P: CTP
Dept : DTP D/O : 27.08.04 (Job no:000000 D/O : 00.00.01 Co: CM0)
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