Lord of the Logos, Christophe Szpajdel

Things are going to get heavy around here. If you are a metal head, you might already be familiar with this guy, but for those who aren’t allow me to introduce you to the mighty Lord of the Logos, Christophe Szpajdel. Christophe is a pillar in the underground metal scene, designing hundreds and hundreds of band logos for groups all over the world including the likes of Emperor, where he created their iconic, symmetrical and often mimicked logo.

Some of his logos are unmistakable in readability, while others are cryptic. Some are straight up type while others are illustrated and atmospheric. Some are beautiful while others are macabre. Now it must be said that this style of logo is not for everyone. Being a metal guy I absolutely love this stuff, and the cryptic nature of these is almost a code among metal heads. Think what you will of these, but what is painfully obvious across the board is Szpajdel’s unrelenting command of typography and organic form.

And are you ready for this? All of the logos you see in this post were hand-drawn. With all of our fancy-pants computers today we can’t come close to the conceptual execution Christophe can achieve with simply a pencil and paper.

I selected a handful of logos for this post, but going through Christophe’s portfolio for favorite images is like walking into a forest and finding your favorite branch. Swing over to his Flickr stream to see a tonne of his band logos and photography, and there’s also an interview with Christophe over at Maelstrom. If you like what you see I highly recommend picking up his book aptly titled Lord of the Logos. Thanks to my buddy Fulton, I have a copy right by my side.

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17 responses to “Lord of the Logos, Christophe Szpajdel”

  1. Leukocyt Avatar

    I love the style… but I have no idea what most of them say.
    From an artistic point of view I think they are great. From a “branding” point of view they more or less pointless – they are way too complex.

  2. james Avatar

    It should also be noted that bands in this genre of music (death metal, black metal, etc) often reject the typical notions of branding, or even rebel against it. Having logos created that are often unreadable by most can almost be seen as code within the genre. It works for them, and enforces their stand. However you are absolutely right, they are very complex from a standard branding point of view. :)

  3. Leukocyt Avatar

    Fair enough :)

  4. Simon H. Avatar

    I can’t imagine having to trace some of those in Ai. I think I’d cry a little if I had to do that.

  5. james Avatar

    Simon, you’ll never guess what I did last week. ;)

  6. DavidCom Avatar

    Will we see that work of yours, James?

  7. Ryan Avatar

    A good metal logo can be summed up in three words: pointy, inverted and symmetrical. This book is bulging with all three. Great stuff. Also, those Wolves in the Throne Room logos rule.

  8. Timmac Avatar

    I spent ages looking at this guys work for research in my graphics class. The assignment is to create the brand and packaging for a band. I’ve made something… Simpler :) still heavily inspired by this guy though!

  9. Tod Avatar

    Is it bad if I can’t tell what a single one says? O_O!

  10. james Avatar

    DavidCom, it was for another company and I’ll let them release it. But you can bet I’ll be posting about it.

    Ryan, yeah those Wolves logos are killer. I never saw the second one used anywhere. Would make an awesome t-shirt.

    Timmac, Christophe would be a great guy to study for type understanding, even if he is on the extreme end of things.

  11. Fulton Hawk Avatar

    LOVE Christophe’s work. Seriously talented. The way he can visualize a word or title and put it to paper is brilliant. While his Death/Black/Heavy Metal logos are iconic, his art deco work is not to be underestimated… Beautiful. One of the hardest working guys in the business.

  12. Jayson Avatar

    Love that guy’s work. I wrote about him on my music blog and tried my hand at making one of these logos myself.

    I hear he’s a character too.

  13. Alex.R Avatar

    It’s amazing to see how one person basically defined the look of an entire genre of music.
    I remember when i was a kid and listened to a lot of death/black bands i used to stare for hours at their album covers: sometimes trying to decipher the logo, sometimes simply being amazed by all the hidden messages withing the artwork itself.

  14. Doubler Avatar

    Yap its an amazing book, and a very slick production as well, givin the black metal design scene some respect!

  15. Chris Avatar

    There’s something about being a metal head that allows you to accept all sorts of weird/crazy shit. After I started getting into bands like Opeth, Agalloch, Nile, etc., a new world opened up to me. All of a sudden, there was some epic beauty in all of the darkness surrounding metal.

    If you like these logos, you should check out the art by the Converge singer, Jacob Bannon. He has made a massive contribution to the metal scene’s aesthetics.

  16. Tara Avatar

    WOW, those are incredible!

  17. Greg Avatar

    The last one “Under the Forest Floor” is epic…

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