Richie Stewart is a graphic designer and letterer from Boston USA, he describes himself as a detail obsesser, and founded Commoner, Inc in 2011 with his wife Brook. As Richie explained as a kid he hated school and would constantly skip classes. He explains just like Ferris Bueller from the movie he was sick a lot from school and as Ferris Bueller quotes in the film “How can I possibly be expected to handle school on a day like this?” this quote became Richie’s Internal Monologue.
— The Logo Creative™ (@thelogocreative) November 28, 2018
Growing up Richie’s mum was a commercial artist and Richie spent a lot of his time in her studio watching her and idolising what she did. His mum was very supportive and always encouraged him to do things with his time and Richie explains he would draw in a sketchbook and copy letters practising typography. His dad learnt him the valuable lesson of you have to work hard for what you have and take genuine pride and the time to do things the right way.
He was into punk rock and skateboarding as a youngster and as he explains the two combined was energetic, passionate, aggressive, loud, dangerous and creative all at the same time and this is what Richie connected to and what made his heart beat out of his chest. He shared his passion with other kids and connected to them with a shared passion in a way that he never had with anyone before.
He started to feel really passionate about design and explains that one thing that has really intrigued him about design is taking an existing image that people have an association with and alter it in a way to give it a new meaning. He started with self-initiated personal projects that eventually lead to commissioned projects for clients.
He went from a young kid who hated school and missed classes to “working class” designer, he has worked with clients such as Nike, CNN, Miller Lite, Market Basket, Sebago, Johnny Cupcakes, Salvation Army, Atlas Ventures, and the Hunger Games movie.
The Logo Creative – Hi Richie glad you’re taking part in the Designer Interviews, I love your work and design style.
Richie Stewart – Hi Andrew, great to hear from you, and thanks again for having me.
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Richie Stewart – I spent the majority of my life making things and knew I wanted to do something in that realm but was never good enough at one thing (drawing, writing, painting, calligraphy, sculpting, cartooning, etc) to really identify what that profession would be. Graphic design was so broad in terms of approach which I didn’t know even existed until college. I really liked the freedom of being able to mix and match different image making techniques however I felt most comfortable doing so. My studio art teacher suggested I try a design class because I had “good ideas and bad execution.” The first project was to make CD album art using found images, a photocopier, microns and your choice of a few fonts from an old Letraset book. After that, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Richie Stewart – 50% thinking, 50% drawing 100% worrying
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Richie Stewart – Morning for sure – My imagination tends to be more aware after a night sleep so I try and save the morning for anything that requires heavy thinking/concept work and the afternoon for production stuff and tasks that require less mental endurance.
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
Richie Stewart – Ugh – this was one of the first ones I made in school where I was under the impression every logo needed to be a visual pun. Fast Eddie’s Barber Shop – Terrible!
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite Logo you have designed?
Richie Stewart – Using the word favorite is tough 😉 but the wordmark for Fuel Cafe is one of the first ones I made that got attention and lead to a myriad of other work opportunities.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite Logos of all time?
Richie Stewart – BLACK FLAG
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Richie Stewart – Oh, definitely not. I really have no idea how these things get made. I guess I just draw the sameish thing several hundred times until I can get a few unique lines.
The Logo Creative – What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
Richie Stewart – I grew up a skate rat so I definitely dig the way a lot of skateboarding brands handle things. Brands like Baker, Deathwish, Vans, Zero, toy machine…all of them have this kind of lo-fi bare-bones approach that feels honest and human.
The Logo Creative – What do you consider your most successful design project, and why?
Richie Stewart – I recently helped a dear friend and artist, Kirk Wallace, brand his studio. He’s told me in brutal honesty that his confidence in his own art has increased immensely because of it. That epitomizes success to me.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Richie Stewart – Really depends on the situation. I don’t think a logos ever truly done – I’ve worked on some for a few weeks and some for over a year. Each project is different.
The Logo Creative – What are you recommended design books to read?
Richie Stewart – I don’t think I’ve ever read a design book but Margaret Shepherd And Ross F. George co-wrote the proverbial bible on hand lettering.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
Richie Stewart – Procreate I use for about 90% of my work. I just started using it about 6 months ago and I love it so much and cannot imagine life without it now. Anything that needs to be vectored I just redraw with the pen tool in Ai or if the final drawing is good enough I can sometimes get away with a live trace. Any other finishing like light texture or shading I’ll do in photoshop.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Richie Stewart – The ones that xerox crystal clear at a half inch.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Richie Stewart – My daughter gets me hyped to get out of bed but after that, it can be a real struggle. Sometimes I’ll try in hone in on one detail of the design I like and really try and obsess and develop that one tiny thing. That tends to set off a chain reaction of searching for hyper-specific images / conceptual research/history lessons. Basically whatever I can do to inject more purpose and meaning behind it the more likely I am to get my ass in the chair and get to work.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Richie Stewart – Besides hanging out with my kid I run a good amount. I try to do about 30-35 miles a week. I love junk food and horror movies and skateboarding and punk.
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
Richie Stewart – Calling it done.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job being a designer?
Richie Stewart – Satiating the primal need to make things feels well. Helping people visualize their ideas is also a good feeling. The worst part is there is no real mental downtime – it’s in your head all day and all night. It can tend to make you a bit mad after some time.
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Richie Stewart – My daughter Lily and wife Brook are tied for first. They give me purpose and motivate me to be a better person and designer. I just wanna do ‘em proud.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite Graphic Designer and why?
Richie Stewart – Steak Mountain. His work is super visceral and always emanates some kind of grotesque honesty. I feel like you can see traces of his process in the final work. True creative genius. Also, I believe Jennifer Lucey Brzoza is on a whole other level – just lightyears ahead. Her ability to combine art and design is absolutely beautiful and her view of the world is just so unique. Definitely Alberto Vacca Lepri – his logos are otherworldly in terms of concept and execution. Incredibly transformative and powerful.
The Logo Creative – What’s your favourite design quote or quote in general, and do you have a mantra or saying you live by?
Richie Stewart – Anything without the word hustle I’m good with. I believe that Ferris Bueller embodies many ideas that can lead to happiness in this life.
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Richie Stewart – What communication looks like
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Richie Stewart – There were no real steps just me jumping off a cliff hoping to grab a branch or two on the way down. I think when you commit yourself to this kind of work in a freelance way it consumes your life. I don’t mean this in a bad way but have recently come to terms with my purpose of being a vessel for other people’s ideas. Freelance art and design isn’t some sort of “side hustle “ for me…it’s how I pay my rent and take care of my family. I take it incredibly seriously while also trying not to give too much of a fuck about it.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Richie Stewart – Perhaps a few high-risk financial decisions I’ve made but I’ve lived in a toxic prison of my own doing obsessing over things I would have done differently in the past. But it’s such a waste of my energy that I just can’t give them attention anymore. I’m content with my place In the universe based on the choices I’ve made over a lifetime.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Richie Stewart – It’s cool cause nothing matters but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try really fucking hard. Enjoy the ride.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Richie Stewart – Talk less listen more.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Richie Stewart – Don’t touch a computer until you learn the basics. Master the fundamentals of lettering. Make tons of trash to find that one speckle of beauty. Repetition.
learn more about Richie Stewart | richiestewart.com
Also published on Medium.