One of the most prolific artists of our generation, we had the pleasure of catching up with the Lord of the Logos himself, Christophe Szpajdel. Not only giving us a breakdown of some of the most iconic works of his past, he also gives us a behind the scenes look at his current and most important projects to date – an artistic war diary based around Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
It began on the day following the Cold Never Dies exhibition at the Black Heart in Camden, London. I was on the tube and I came across a heavily tattooed woman wearing some interesting jewellery. I just handed her a business card, she said "thank you" with are quite strong New York accent. Two weeks on, I was contacted by Claire Gillen, who is based in Philadelphia. She asked me about doing a logo for Rihanna but I didn't realize yet it was for the actual pop star. I crafted dozens of drafts before setting on three final designs.
On top of the Rihanna logo, I also did some graphics that never got used for t-shirts. Apparently these graphics never got used and t-shirts got printed only for the Rihanna crew. Completion time was almost 1 month and a half from early July so by mid August and the product went live. I only got paid $500 US dollars, primarily because the manager I had at that time was on vacation and had no signal nor network connection. If I had a proper management team behind me, I would have earned a lot more. It was anyway a huge boost and a wake up call to revise my rates and start charging clients accordingly.
Emperor was a different story back in the late 80s let's say early 90's. I had a job working with a local extreme metal fanzine called Septicore. Thierry was the main writer, he was in touch with Samoth – at that time he was playing in a band called Embryonic. They had released an excellent demo called Land of the Lost Souls and it was death metal with a strong, sulfurous perfume of Darkthrone and Mayhem in the guitar riffs but a frankly death metal vocal.
Samoth announced in his fanzine called Z.A.S.T., that along with another band he shared with Ihsahn, Thou Shalt Suffer, he was starting a new band – Emperor. I first sent the Emperor logo to Mortiis but also to Samoth. In 1994, my name was finally credited on the now legendary In the Nightside Eclipse and my name has been featured on all albums, including re-releases by Candlelight Records. This is the band that clicks instantly with my name. I am the same guy who did the emperor logo. In 2005, Herlaka Rose coined me the Lord Of The Logos. By the way, her book is now available if you click on this here.
Emperor is the band that uses my logo without discontinuing from their first days to present. When I created this logo, it has been seen as a revolutionary break through in the metal scene. A logo which is readable, instantly recognizable, eye catching and memorable. Emperor was and will remain a landmark in the entire music industry, all genres covered.
Metallica was a rush order. It was in November 2016 on my trip to Japan as I had an art exhibition scheduled at HHH gallery in a suburb of Tokyo. The time frame for two logos was extremely short – 2 days maximum and I arranged to meet an associate of the client at Heathrow airport about 4 hours prior to departure. It was Jonas Åkerlund's associate, Kwesi, who oversaw the entire creative process. It was for Metallica and "Manunkind" with Kwesi instant messaging Jonas – 3 hours and both logos were completed.
I handed the originals to Kwesi who then scanned them and converted them into suitable digital format. The video was released next week for the promotion of Metallica's album Hardwired. This time my manager Kevi Eisenlord negotiated a price of $1100 US dollars but I waited 9 months for the payment to be completed. This video got over a million of views within the first 24 hours it came out. That was another boost in my career.
The oh so famous movie by Panos Cosmatos that came in 2019 and it featured a figure in the movie industry – Nicholas Cage. This is actually a "cold case " collaboration as Panos Cosmatos contacted me in 2012 for a logo for Mandy when the project was in its infancy. I did 3 drafts, one after the other, following his directions. The collaborator on the logo itself took a few weeks of emailing back and forth to get the desired results. This logo has been incubating 7 years before coming to life with the movie and Panos was very secretive during this entire latency time. The logo brought me again some articles and features in the local press like Devon Live and Western Morning News/ the Devon Independent. I also got some features on internet blogs. This was a fairly smooth collaboration. However this one seemed to have engaged to a very niche public who understands and enjoys in-depth quality thriller/ horror movies like The Blair Witch Project for example. Overall a very pleasant experience.
Ukraine War Diary
Ukraine is a project which is very close to my heart because it came spontaneously from my heart. I am actually of Polish heritage with a Ukrainian branch from my paternal great grandfather who married a Ukrainian woman in the beginning of the 20th century after his former wife died at the age of 40. He also moved to Kharkiv as there was a very high demand for skilled engineers to develop and manage the booming industry. So I got in touch with Olena Kurylo and engaged to help her to rebuild her life in Poland. I am actually traveling to Poland for the fourth time in less than 2 months alone. The idea of creating art started since the first day Putin invaded Ukraine and continued with the rate of one design every day and it's going to last as long as the war continues. I am doing that as a war diary to document the illegal, ruthless, fratricidal aggression from Russia on a sovereign state which was supposed to be a fraternal nation. I call that a cowardly fratricidal aggression on a sovereign state with the excuse of demilitarization/denazification but that has turned into a war of attrition. With all the works, I am trying to figure out how I could raise funds to help Ukraine, providing the things it needs- humanitarian aid and military assistance. I am currently partnering with Euthanasia Sport for manufacturing and merchandising apparels in order to raise funds for Ukraine. The original works will be hopefully exhibited shortly in Poland. So far I have created about 100 pieces. This is also for me an opportunity to make a real difference.
А ми тую червону калини підвищено
А ми славну Україну геї гей розвеселимо
Слава Україну – героями слава
In September this year I will be taking part in the annual Devon open studios and my venue will be the Tavistock wharf in the border with Cornwall.
The group is called In Harmony With Chaos and it features Caroline Wallis, May Allerfeldt, Helen Ely and myself, from September 3 to 30 with a private view on the 4 of September. About Tavistock, It's a historic town just a stone's throw from the bustling city of Plymouth and it's an ideal opportunity to attract visitors from around the world.
So this is something important I would like to make sure you save the dates. Other than that, I am looking at taking on projects that will really boost my career and make me become who I really want to be: an artist whose name clicks instantly when you spot a well executed logo which stands out, is instantly recognisable, unique and memorable. And I am open for major exhibitions around the world, so anyone looking for a passionate artist to add in your roster, please give me a chance to show my true potential. Thank you so much for giving me the space to share my thoughts so openly.
Opportunities don’t happen – you create them.
To see more, pick up his book Archaic Modernism, The Art of Christophe Szpajdel.