Belgian-born Christophe Szpadjel isn't so different than many other metalheads. Like the long-haired kid in the Megadeth T-shirt at the back of homeroom, Szpadjel spends his free time doodling the names of his favorite black metal bands in a notebook, elaborating upon them with spidery lines, satanic or Celtic imagery, or elaborately intertwining curlicues. There's only one difference: Bands actually pay Szpadjel to trace his logos. Since 1977, Szpadjel has designed over 7,000 logos for black metal bands around the world, including Emperor, Moonspell, Old Man's Child, and Arcturus.
They call him the Lord of Logos, but we wondered: Could even Szpadjel's skills make the logos of some of the world's most famous companies more metal? So we put him to the task of interpreting the logos of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more as if they weren't multibillion-dollar companies but black metal bands slurping the blood out of a bat's neck stump on stage. Here's what he came up with.
Although for the most part Szpadjel's reimaginings are immediately recognizable, he has tended to make each logo rawer and more organic. The New York Times's familiar Hoefler Tilting font becomes Gothic through the use of sharp barbs. Likewise, Facebook becomes a bramble of thorns likely to draw blood—a metaphor for the death by a thousand cuts the average Facebook user experiences every day—while the serifs of the famous Prada logo grow long, pointed tails that snake around, and the Apple logo becomes an actual fruit, its over-ripe flesh ironically tattooed with the philosophy the company arguably abandoned: Think Different. A thousand leaves and branches spiral out of the Microsoft logo.
"My work is very organic, which is an extension of my interest in nature," Szpadjel tells Co.Design. "There's always been a link between wildlife and metal. There's a shamanistic feel to them, and designing logos is my way of exploring nature."
Not all of Szpadjel's logos have been interpreted shamanistically, however. For Yahoo, for example, he interprets the letters of the company's name violently, almost like razor slashes in exposed flesh, right down to bruising around the edges. In Szpadjel's hands, the Twitter bird mascot almost becomes an iron eagle, Google's logo looks almost like an elaborate line-staff of Gothic-era musical notation, and Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the Walt Disney Picture logo becomes a keep of nightmares.
We may be biased, but we're particularly delighted with Szpadjel's extremely literal interpretation of the Fast Company logo: in the Lord of Logo's hands, we're the thrashiest and metalest of all business publications.
All of this is just good fun, but to Szpadjel, the companies of today could learn a thing or two from metal logos, or indeed the simpler logos of the past. "Logos weren't meant to be designed by committee, which is why the best logos are drawn by hand," Szpadjel says. "Look at the Coca-Cola or Kellogg's logos. The most timeless logos aren't necessarily the most efficient, readable or even memorable ones. They're the ones that have the most flow."
We couldn't put it better ourselves. All hail the Lord of Logos!