Matthias Löwenstein is the Art Director at Season Zero a graphic design studio located in Stralsund, Germany. Since 2004 they’ve been working with a wide variety of national and international award-winning bands, musicians and labels. Season Zero consider themselves less as artists and more as graphic service providers at the intersection between musicians, management and labels. They accompany the process of artwork creation from the beginning and take over the communication between all parties.
— The Logo Creative™ (@thelogocreative) March 6, 2019
The experience they have from working on hundreds of music label releases enables them, specifically to address every musical genre and come up with custom-made conceptions and designs for their clients within the music industry.
Season Zero specialises in the implementation of physical artworks of all kinds. Whether classical formats like jewelcase, digipak, and vinyl or extensive special editions with individual packaging solutions. A holistic design, as well as the associated data handling for smooth and timely print production, is the heart of their work. For digital releases and a coherent overall appearance on the internet, they offer the cover design as well as the suitable elements for all important social media platforms.
Recognition value and independence are the most important aspects of a strong brand. This also applies to bands and musicians. Therefore, they also take on the design of lettering and logos, specifically designed for each musical style.
The Logo Creative – Hi Matthias thanks for agreeing to take part in the designer interview, I’m a fan of your work, and been following you for a while.
Matthias Löwenstein – First of all, thank you for considering me for this interview, Andrew!
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Matthias Löwenstein – To be honest there hasn’t been an exact turning point I can think of. But I’ve been drawing since I can remember – I guess that this could be considered as my foundation. During my teenage years, I wanted to become a game/character designer, but everything changed the moment I picked up my first guitar to form a band. It was all about music since then. When we finished our first demo, I was the only one among us with some Photoshop skills and it was up to me to come up with a cover and logotype. In the following years, I had the opportunity to do a lot of artworks for regional bands and I continued to work for labels and bands during my studies as well. When I finished my media design bachelor degree I already had a representative portfolio which allowed me to get in contact with bigger clients and – with some luck – go freelance right away.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Matthias Löwenstein – My day consists of different tasks depending on my current projects. Since I work for the music industry most of the time, my schedule varies a lot. From creating visual concepts for a new release, planning photo shoots, designing logotypes, posters, apparel designs up to single covers or album artworks. Due to its dynamic nature, my routine never gets boring and it’s great to be able to work with a lot of different styles, depending on the artist/band I work for.
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
Matthias Löwenstein – I think the first logo I’ve ever designed was the one for my band Deepwater, about 15 years ago. It was heavily influenced by the logotype of Led Zeppelin to be honest – but to my defense, every letter was drawn from scratch and I didn’t use a default font at least 😉
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite Logo you have designed?
Matthias Löwenstein – I consider myself very open-minded when it comes to art and design – it’s very difficult for me to pick a favorite. It always depends on my current state of mind. But if I have to choose one of my newest logos, I like the monogram I did for the „German Songwriting Awards“.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite Logo of all time?
Matthias Löwenstein – That’s too difficult to answer for me. In general, I love when there’s a twist to a logo – a clever treatment of the letters, a hidden message in the negative space, a good combination of type and form. Personally, I like simple and clean logos, but I’m also into elaborate hand lettering with a lot of swirls and ornaments. I think logo design is a wonderful thing. It’s like finding a visual short story that is inherent in a single word.
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process? How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Matthias Löwenstein – After some research, I usually begin with a few concepts based on the client’s briefing. Those pitches can be hand drawn sketches or some rough type treatments in Illustrator. From there it can go in different directions, depending on how open-minded the client is. In the best case, I can work directly on a final design or do some more pitches after receiving feedback for the first ones. It really depends on the project. In general, I’m quite lucky to work with clients that give me a good amount of freedom.
The Logo Creative – Are you a MAC or PC User and is there a reason for your choice?
Matthias Löwenstein – MAC, because it works 😉
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently?
Matthias Löwenstein – Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign. I’m an old school print designer.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Matthias Löwenstein – There’s inspiration everywhere! Art, books, movies, nature, fashion… the secret is to know what to do with it. Choosing the right visual ingredients for a project is key. For example, I’m a big fan of Art Nouveau – but as a designer, I love to dive into many styles and I don’t want to restrict myself to a distinct one. Work stays fresh this way and most importantly, it keeps me interested in every new project.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job being a designer?
Matthias Löwenstein – I think it’s a wonderful job – ever changing and ever challenging. But sometimes it feels like it’s never over and there’s always something on your mind – at all hours. It’s not easy to switch it off. But I don’t want to sound too pessimistic on that.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite Graphic Designer and why?
Matthias Löwenstein –I like the work of Dirk Rudolph a lot. He’s a German designer that is popular for his artworks for bands like Deep Purple, Die Toten Hosen, In Extremo, Rammstein and many more. His hand-made approach to work with type and photos is fascinating and always unique.
Besides him, I’m a huge fan of illustrators like Aaron Horkey and Ken Taylor. Their art never fails to amaze me – and simultaneously gets me frustrated with my own work…
I also would like to mention Ryan and Don Clark of Invisible Creature. They do a lot of great work for the music industry as well.
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Matthias Löwenstein – A message made visible.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Matthias Löwenstein – When I started, I did lots of artworks that haven’t been paid well. This was frustrating at times but helped to establish a reputation and portfolio. Clients need to know that you are reliable and that you’re not some sort of a crazy artist, but a real service provider who knows his craft and deadlines. In the end, it’s not about you, it’s about the project.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Matthias Löwenstein – Personally, I’m quite happy with how my career turned out so far. It would be nice to work with a small team from time to time though. Usually, I’m on my own when it comes to creating concepts and artworks – so I’m enjoying being on a photo or movie set surrounded by like-minded people every now and then.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Matthias Löwenstein – Draw more! Because I would love to be a better illustrator by now or a more intuitive one at least. It‘s constant conflict in me. Getting older, however, I acknowledge that I would get bored restricting myself to a very specific kind of style. I prefer being able to provide a broader visual range for my clients and to work with different kinds of media to keep it exciting.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Matthias Löwenstein – Everything you do in your work has to be justified in form and content. Strip off everything that doesn’t support the message. By approaching it this way, you don’t have to think about „what’s missing“ but rather think about „what can be omitted“. This was an essential cornerstone I’ve been taught during my studies.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Matthias Löwenstein – I would like to quote one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, Make good art.“ In other words, there are no shortcuts to become better as a designer. Just do it – paid or not. With every project, you’ll gather experience and routine and it will be easier to come up with new ideas and ways to bring them to life.
learn more about Matthias Löwenstein | Season Zero |