jon contino interview jon contino interview
jul 26, 2012

jon contino interview

self portrait by jon contino

designboom talks to illustrator and CXXVI clothing‘s creative director jon contino.

DB: please can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to start your studio in its current format? JC: to make a long story short, I got to where I am today through hardcore music and making band merchandise and album layouts. I went through a few firms then opened my own and started my own clothing company.

since then, I pretty much decided that none of those things were really giving me the creative freedom i desperately craved for so long, so I just started illustrating full time to see where it would take me. now for the past 2 or 3 years, I’ve been a full time illustrator, lettering artist, brand consultant, and overall designer.

I work alone in a small studio with a steady stream of metal blasting from my speakers and short breaks here and there to hang out with my wife or eat a sandwich.

whats a typical day at your studio? ever since I put together a studio in my home, pretty much every waking moment has been dedicated to work. design pumps through my blood nonstop and I just can’t ignore it. I love spending all of my time working and love all the creative stuff my clients throw at me. free time comes when my wife yells at me or there’s a pickup wiffle ball game happening somewhere. other than that, it’s pretty tough to tear me away from whatever project i have going on at the moment.

as for a typical day, it usually varies between two different versions. the first is the most common: wake up, go straight to work for a few hours, hop in the shower and grab some lunch, go back to work for another few hours, eat dinner and maybe watch a bad horror movie, then work for a few more hours. the second basically consists of running around manhattan trying to cram as many meetings into a day as possible. I love being untethered and going about things at my own pace, mostly because my pace is hyperdrive.

poster for jack daniel’s

besides design what do you have a passion for? well my family goes without saying. I have the greatest people surrounding me at all times and am extremely lucky in that regard. besides that, baseball and music are probably a close second. I could do either one all day, every day and almost as happy as I am now.

who or what is currently influencing your approach? lately I’ve really been admiring the art scene in general from 1980s lower east side new york. that whole east village, punk rock, street art, anything-goes mentality is so raw and aggressive. those are probably two of my favorite things when it comes to just about anything in my life.

what has been your defining project so far? I think starting and developing CXXVI has really helped define my style. I took away all the boundaries in my brain and let loose and it really opened up a whole new world to me. since then, I think that voice has grown and flourished, but the first few pieces I did in the baby stages of the brand has turned everything I know upside down. I feel like people familiar with my work would agree.

what is the biggest lesson you have learned from a project to date? at this point in my career it’s hard to pinpoint a specific lesson I’ve learned. I think the most important thing i’ve learned is to remain friendly and respectful to everyone you work with. it’s extremely easy to get frustrated or become overly-confident and obnoxious, but that will bring you down real fast. modesty and respectfulness are vital characteristics of any good designer.

t-shirt design for CXXVI clothing co.

t-shirt design for CXXVI clothing co.

 

label for CXXVI clothing co.

 

label for CXXVI clothing co.

 

bandana for CXXVI clothing co.

 

swing tags for CXXVI clothing co.

 

t-shirt illustrations for CXXVI clothing co.

various illustrations for CXXVI clothing co.

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