Preparations for the 2011 Edition of the sustainable fashion project Rock Me Again are well on their way. Capsule Projects pitched a few questions to Simon Berndt, who is one of the founding members of One Horse Town. The agency has been responsible for designing the Rock Me Again marketing material for the past two seasons. When it comes to design and illustration, Simon is definitely no stranger in town.
Photography Alexia Webster
Let’s start at the beginning. Who came up with the name “One Horse Town”? What does the name mean to you?
Justin (Poulter) and I had a meeting when we first started to talk about starting OHT. I initially wanted to call ourselves Crazy Horse Illustration, after the famous Indian who defeated the Yanks at Wounded Knee and also after Neil Young’s band. Justin liked it but wasn’t mad about it and suggested we rather go with One Horse Town. We liked the idea of us starting out like a small dusty frontier town that would grow into something great.
Right from the start “One Horse Town” received quite a bit of attention for its style of illustration. Were you surprised by it?
There definitely did come a point where we were like, wow man we’re doing this and people are digging it. This is great! We started getting some great jobs in and it was clear that we were moving to the next level and getting noticed.
Your craft includes illustration and graphic design. What part of your craft do you love the most?
I consider myself more of an illustrator than a designer I reckon, but they’re so deeply involved with each other in most things that I do. I think my favourite is poster design / illustration as it combines illustration, design, typography and communication. I love posters; I’ve got a massive recourse of old movie posters and rock posters.
Do you think “One Horse Town” has found its niche in the market?
I think what’s great about One Horse Town is that we either don’t really have a niche or we’ve got a few. It’s allowed to get a lot of different and exciting work from a lot of different areas from advertising, to bands to magazines, etc. That’s what I love about my work, I’m always working on something that’s new and exciting and challenging in its own unique way relevant to the client and the brief.
Other than Capsule Projects, what other clients have you worked with recently?
I just did some stuff for the Armoury Boxing gym in Buchanan Square, Woodstock. I’ve also been working a lot for a club in Australia called The After Dark Social Club. I also did a range of decks for KFD which was super rad and I’m working on the stuff for next year’s tattoo convention.
Photography Ian Engelbrecht
Illustration One Horse Town
You could have worked for any other firm, or could have picked a much safer career route in these tough economic times. What made you decide to do your own thing?
It was a mixture of an experiment and these hard times you’ve mentioned. I was doing my b-tech in the year we started OHT and I wanted to use the company as the basis for my research. If it worked out after a year I’d keep going with it. I’ve always wanted to be part of a creative collective or studio of likeminded people and I realised there was potential for illustration and it was my real passion so I went for it. Justin Poulter had also just finished 3rd year and due to a lack of jobs I approached him to do it with me and he was super keen… the rest is history, I guess.
Who or what are your big influences?
Music, films, the city, my friends and then, of course, a wealth of other illustrators out there. Old film and rock posters are big influences on me too as I mentioned earlier…
Following last year’s World Cup Soccer Tournament, South Africa has been given another opportunity to host an event that will draw global attention, The Climate Change Conference of Parties (Cop 17), set to take place in Durban from 28 November to 9 December 2011. Do you feel South Africans should become more vocal about environmental concerns leading up to the conference?
I read somewhere that South Africa is in the top 5 or something for pollution per capita due to our massive reliance on coal. I was pretty shocked. I reckon we’re due to stand up and be counted and do something about changing shit up. We live in one of the most beautiful places man, we need to respect and nurture it.
Do you have any favourite blogs or sites?
I’m often on behance.net just checking out people’s stuff, especially with the new typography served and illustration served sections. I also keep an eye on local blogs like 10and5 and we-are-awesome to see what’s happening. Then all the sites and stuff of my favourite illustrators and few rock poster sites… I don’t get too much time in my day to spend just looking for cool stuff unfortunately…
Away from illustration and design, what are your other great loves?
Music is definitely top. I collect records and horde mp3s. I’m a sucker for rock and roll from the 50s to contemporary stuff but I’ll listen to just about anything and give it a chance.