What's the deal with band logos? -- EW talks to two graphic designers about their take on logos from Him, Black Flag, and others

By Michael Endelman
February 14, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Etched on high school notebooks or inked onto a bicep, band logos achieve a kind of alchemy, transforming an aural experience into a visual shorthand. We collected a handful of logos — by Finnish metalheads HIM, hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, punk legends Black Flag, and the Rolling Stones — and asked two accomplished graphic designers to chime in. So, Vaughan Oliver of pioneering U.K. label 4AD (Pixies) and David Carson of the ground-breaking ’90s music magazine Ray Gun, do these logos rock?


Vaughan Oliver
It’s just too comical — it has nothing to do with the grit and dirt I associate with them. It stops me from listening to the Stones. They should change it.
David Carson
It has attitude, an obvious sexiness, and it’s certainly identifiable. I like that it’s fun and a little off-the-wall, though there’s a disconnect with their music.


The logo is coming from somewhere — it might be Celtic or occult — but there’s no real imagination, there’s no wit. It seems naive, like it’s the first stage.
It would make a very good T-shirt or sticker, which is one of the criteria of a good logo. I can see kids wanting this on their shirts. I’m curious to hear the music, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t like it.


It looks like where I’d start, but it needs developing. But maybe that’s where I go wrong — over-sophisticating things.
I’d give it a B+ — real recognizable, real simple, and easy to reproduce. Though it’s a little too polite; it might be a tiny bit too perfect. Is it more representative of the era than of the music?


There’s always been something nihillstic about Black Flag, and what they’ve done looks like a local construction company. I love Black Flag…. It’s the anti-logo; it’s a no-logo logo.
DC I think it’s wonderful. It was almost revolutionary at the time, back in the precomputer era. Talk about identifiable and simple. I’d say it’s the most effective one.