INTERVIEW: Rock Poster Artists series (

Tom Pappalardo (Standard Design) (US)
Graphic designer and illustrator since 1995 or so, Tom Pappalardo is running Standard Design which had received the honor of featuring in the new Gigposters book. Is this the only reason why Standart design is today featuring on the blog ? Certainly not as working for bands like Built To Spill, Clutch, Ween, Neko Case, Mission Of Burma, High On Fire, Mike Doughty, Bob Mould, My Morning Jacket is already THE good reason.

Hello, of course as every Crewk interview, first question: what are we listening to when we come to visit you?

I am a big fan of iTunes shuffle, so it’s usually some random-ass thing. As I type this, Iron Maiden Powerslave is on, followed by the Treme soundtrack, which has some excellent New Orleans music on it.

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?

I’ve been cartooning and illustrating for a couple of decades. I’ve got a weekly comic strip (The Optimist – ) and a graphic novel/illustrated book (Broken Lines – )
I’ve been working on for a few years. I’m also in a guitar/drum duo called The Demographic ( ). All that plus being self-employed graphic designer ( ).

When did you start drawing?

I’ve been drawing cartoons since I was a kid. I just was too dumb to stop when I got older.

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?

I took a bunch of studio art classes and a drafting class in high school. I went to Massachusetts College of Art in Boston for a couple of years, first as a graphic design major, then as an undeclared, then I dropped out. So I ended up feeling self-taught.

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?

I’m a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. I also do a lot of corporate After Effect animations. Stuff for like, PowerPoint presentations and meetings. And along with that, I’m a cartoonist.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?

I publish my comic strip The Optimist in the local weekly paper.

Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?

I’m a big fan of Reid Miles and his classic Blue Note LP cover work. Syd Mead and Ralph McQuarrie for illustration (not that they influence my work, they’re just cool). Berkeley Breathed, Ted McKeever, Mike Mignola, and Charles Schulz for cartooning & comics. For contemporary artists, I love Tooth’s work ( ).

What are the principal steps in your work ? Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

For posters (and lots of other graphic work) I tend to think in two or three colors. I like a good limited palette. I have a small variety of approaches. I don’t do much illustration for posters, usually. I lean towards collaging stuff in Photoshop. Sometimes futzing around with clip art or found little bits of stuff. I’m a despicable over-user of the halftone filter. I do all the color seps in Photoshop/Illustrator.

How long does it take you to do a poster?

I’m not very good at keeping track of time. I have no idea.

You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?

I have a few different styles and graphic approaches I can fall back on, but oil painting is not a skill I ever acquired (nor do I care to learn). I also probably couldn’t draw a horse to save my life. Unless the project specifically required a poorly-drawn horse.

For which band have you already worked for?

Built To Spill, Clutch, Ween, Neko Case, Mission Of Burma, High On Fire, Mike Doughty, Bob Mould, My Morning Jacket.

For which band would you love to work?

Pixies would be great. The Sword. Paul Westerberg. I’d love to do some hip-hop stuff. A Mos Def or The Roots poster would be wicked fun.

Do you choose the artists yourself?

I’ve approached a few specific bands/performers, but most of my poster work has come to me via show promoters.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?

Cutting out all the bullshit n’ keeping the design focused. I’m not a producer of intricate things. Every time I put in too much stuff I end up regretting it. My strengths lie in taking things out, paring things down. I try to do that as much as I can. It takes a surprising amount of time to make something simple looking.

You feature in the new gigposters 2 book, how did you find yourself involved in it ?

I’ve been a part of the community for a long time. Almost since the site started. I even handled one of the site designs a couple of years ago. Clay Hayes has done a great job on that joint.

He’s been the shepherd of a lot of friendships and a lot of business connections. I’m surprised he hasn’t been asked to officiate at a poster-maker wedding yet.

Do you think you are part of a “Graphic Scene”, if so who else ?

I don’t go to any of the Flatstocks or other poster conventions, and I don’t hang out with too many people locally. I suppose I’m a part of the GP community, but only in that sort of abstract online-buddy sort of way. Apparently, in some places people are friends in real life.

A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it’s free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?

My portfolio is at and my blog (where I actually have posters and prints for sale) is

The best praise you received lately?

Every anonymous Facebook Like, retweet, and reddit upvote of my work makes my small heart grow three sizes too big.

What can we wish you for the future?

I’ve been focusing more on my comics and writing lately. We’ll see what actually gets published. I’ve been moving away from rock posters and more towards art prints. My future involves making lots of stuff and seeing what sticks.

See the original post at Crewkoos Rock Poster Artists Interviews.