Having been through a renaissance in the last decade, traditional branding and signwriting, once consigned to the annals of design history, made a strong resurgence. Like many trends, it has largely fallen by the wayside for something newer and shinier. Going against the grain, Jonathan Schubert has refined the style, taking it from its roots into a whole new realm.
Drawing on minimalist aesthetics, the traditional style of branding was closely tied into signwriting in that it valued purpose and efficacy. That is, it wasn’t just about making brands look good, but making them stand out from the crowd and sell stuff. At the end of the day, what it comes down to is reflecting the brand’s philosophy and, even more importantly, making people pay attention to it.
In what is an otherwise overcrowded marketplace, Schubert has differentiated himself by drawing on extremely potent symbolism in pieces of branding that go well beyond the face value of the logos and into something more reflective of the brand’s ethos and philosophy. It’s a tall order to do so much with so little, but therein lies the magic.
From bar and restaurant signs to the bottles of spirits that grant him his greatest freedom, Schubert’s outwardly simple designs pack a punch, capable not just of telling a story, but provoking the audience to want to hear that story. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what his style is, not that that is particularly important, but to give an idea, his logos are the kind that you’d expect to discover on an exotic adventure, maybe on the tattered bottle of rum behind the tiki-style bar on a river hut restaurant where you're not exactly sure what country you're in.
They look like something hand drawn with care by the owner who is clearly far more creative than you’d have imagined. They have spirit and a versatility that could see them printed on a t-shirt, used on a business card or even on a sovereign ring for marking a wax seal. Transcending eras and geography, there’s no true way to define the illustrations, but one thing that might help is understanding where the artist himself is from - Texas.
The Lone Star state still retains parts of the Old West mythology, of cowboys roaming frontiers and pioneers searching for opportunities from the land. There’s also a cultural crossover there, between the Mexican and the American, the chaos and the order. Finding equanimity in-between the two, Schubert’s logos have leapfrogged peers working with this ‘vintage’ style because he isn’t just emulating it, but truly embodying it.
Permeated with a true sense of the creative unknown, Schubert’s work is best enjoyed and understood through the man himself. His mantra is ‘hustle is muscle’ and whose dedication to developing and evolving a craft without turning his back on its origins is testament to the potential of simple and powerful branding in a day and age when our eyes and minds are a warzone for overstimulated maximalist content.
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