How can one San Francisco based artist achieve international art world ubiquity without ever leaving his beloved North Pacific? Graphic designer Benny Gold has found the way: bomb the bombers. Not literally, of course, but by clothing his peers in his designs, through his own clothing line and his noted contributions to other lines of urban street-wear, Gold has figured out how to tag everywhere at once.
Of course, this isn’t to say that Gold doesn’t travel himself, or that he doesn’t bust his ass working. It just means he doesn’t have to. His own line has been extremely well received, and the work he’s done for brands like HUF and Real Skateboards have become recognizable to anyone writing, skating, or just loitering the streets. When a writer picks out his clothes in the morning, does he know he’s promoting the art of another? Whether he knows it or not, he’s keeping Gold’s name ever present on the scene, while Gold kicks it in San Francisco.
“A successful logo embodies a company’s entire feeling and direction into one small mark that is immediately recognizable at first glance.”
Format: How did you get interested in graphic design?
Benny Gold: I got interested in art early on through skateboarding and the art that was on the boards. I didn’t even know that graphic design existed until I got to college. I just went to art school because I could draw decently and I wanted to move somewhere that had a better skate scene that the town I grew up in.
Format: How did you get hooked up with Huf?
Benny Gold: I met Huf when he moved back to [San Francisco] to open his shops. He needed a logo for his brand new store. I am really into logo projects and I was really excited to work on Huf’s. I find identity jobs extremely challenging. A successful logo embodies a company’s entire feeling and direction into one small mark that is immediately recognizable at first glance. I love the logo I created for Huf and it has lead to great opportunities for me.
Format: Please give me a run down on your process of designing.
Benny Gold: My process is pretty simple. I start with a list of objectives and what the project is about. From there I keep writing words and themes down that relate. This usually brings the creative process to places that I didn’t think of when I first got the job. After I have a good list going I pick out the themes that stick out to me and I start sketching. Once I am happy with my sketch I take it to the computer. The computer is usually my last step.
Format: What has been your favorite project so far?
Benny Gold: I have two favorite projects. One is the earthquake project with Huf and Nike. I put a lot into that from brainstorming the idea to completion. It has sort of become my claim to fame in a weird way. The earthquake started as a two shoe pack between Nike and Huf to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the San Francisco quake of 1906. The shoe pack gained so much hype before they were released due to the fact that they kept getting pushed back by Nike. We almost missed the anniversary year entirely. While we were waiting for the shoes to get released we blew out the concept onto apparel and hard goods. The quake made its way onto shirts, hats, hoodies, stickers, skateboards, a Nike pop-up store and much more. The response to the whole project has been great and I am pleased with how well it was received.
My second favorite [project] is the Mash project. I had a great time working in that with everyone involved. Mash is a film about fixed gear cycling in San Francisco directed by my good friends Gabe Morford and Mike Martin. The film applies a typical skateboard video approach, but applies it to cycling. It is the first of its kind and it has blown people including myself away. I was honored to have been asked to create the identity for Mash and help with the art direction along the way. I am really proud of both of these projects and humbled by the success of them.
Format: When you do graphics for clothing, do you think about the gender the clothing is for and does that affect your designs/color scheme at all?
Benny Gold: I take everything into consideration. Design for the most part is art for other people. You have to take your audience into consideration. If I am hired to design shirt graphics for a brand that has a tough, darker image to it the designs are going to look a lot different than if I was designing for a more peaceful company like Stussy or Ipath.
Format: Do you have total artistic license for most of your projects, or are you restrained by what the client wants and/or what the market wants?
Benny Gold: One of the best things about being an independent artist is that clients come to you for what you can create, so I get more leeway than say someone in-house. I am happy with everything I create. I will put the time in to make sure that I like it before I show it to the client. I really do not like putting out bad work.
Format: When, if ever, do you create art just for you?
Benny Gold: I used to paint a lot and show art often. I had some good sized shows for my paintings, but I put that on hold to focus on design. I really enjoy design. I also put out a signature clothing line under my name. My street art sticker campaign is a personal project also, that has been running for 10 plus years now.
Format: Can you tell me more about your street art sticker campaign? What is the idea behind it?
Benny Gold: The stickers are basically something to keep me busy while I am walking around the city. It has also allowed me an outlet to grow my personal art outside of the stuff I create for clients. I try to put the stickers up everywhere I can. I have been fortunate to do some traveling, so the stickers have made their way around the world. I started putting stickers up with the saying Stay Gold. The saying comes from an old punk saying that we borrowed from The Outsiders. Over the years it evolved into Benny Gold. I felt it is more personal. A lot of people were starting to use the name Stay Gold and instead of fighting for it I let it evolve. I love stickers – they are like little art pieces that you can put up everywhere for people to enjoy.
Format: How do you feel about the fake Benny Gold merchandise out there? Flattered? Pissed?
Benny Gold: Very flattered! I don’t mind the fakes because by the time they come out the product they are bootlegging has already sold out. The bootleg stuff is not hurting the sales of the people that supported it in the beginning, just the resellers.
Format: Aside from skateboarding what else do you do in your spare time?
Benny Gold: I have been into riding my bike for a while now. The bike is awesome but it will never replace my skateboard.
Format: What are you currently working on?
Benny Gold: I have a few identity jobs I’m working on as well as the constant apparel graphics for a couple of brands. I try to stay busy.
Format: Where do you see yourself as an artist in 10 years?
Benny Gold: Hopefully still putting out good work and more signature type of projects. I just want to keep everything moving forward!
More Info: http://www.bennygold.com/