You wouldn’t necessarily think the anti-establishment punk aesthetic would have a place in branding, but it’s a proven way to appeal to customers' quirks which often results in success. Designer J Collins is more than familiar with the idea, effectively blending the punk rock influence of his youth to his professional practice.
J Collins is LA-based and has been a professional designer for more than fifteen years.
"I've worked at ad agencies, design studios, branding firms, motion shops, and with clients directly. Projects ranging from visual identities to campaign creative to social content to logos for entertainment properties to records and t-shirt designs for bands. My experience is diverse, but at the heart of everything I do is a desire to create work that is explorative, beautifully crafted, with a bold point of view."
Back in his senior year of high school, his love of music fused with his interest in art from classes and electives with the help of a forward-thinking art teacher. “I was in a couple of bands that created artwork for. Then I started doing art for my friends’ bands. That turned into a little business I made for myself. I would paint band logos on jackets in exchange for whatever I could barter for: records, tapes, CDs, t-shirts... beer.”
“After seeing a few of these seemingly shady deals go down my teacher pulled me aside and asked me what I was up to. Assumably relieved that I wasn’t selling drugs or something, my teacher asked me if I ever thought about a career in graphic design. I came from a working-class background and hadn’t heard of graphic design. I didn’t have plans to go to college - or any plans really - after highschool. My teacher arranged for me and a few other students to meet with a rep from a local design school, and I fell in love. The rest is history.”
Some of his standout projects on Creative Commission include risograph inspired graphics for indie beer brand The Hunted, as well as provocative works for Cult Records such as a bold and bright poster for Surfbort.
“That’s a look that I’ve been developing over the past couple of years. The idea is to bring together my love for Danish and Swiss graphic design, experimental typography, and punk flyers from the late 70s/80s. For The Hunted I incorporated my love for tattoos and made the composition of the piece in the vein of a flash sheet.” The fusion of these visual subcultural signifiers results in undeniably striking imagery.
But where does he see the punk aesthetic fitting into branding generally?
“It all depends on the brand and its message. I think punk is more about the frame of mind than a replicated look that comes organically from culture. You don’t need halftone images and scanner bed textures to say 'fuck it' and do things on your own terms.” Amen!