When Steve Jobs founded Apple on April 1st 1976, he had a vision. He had a dream. And he knew that within this dream a large part of the success story would be marketing - marketing has to rely on clear imagery, clear branding…This led to the production of a symbol that would come to be known all over the world. The iconic bitten Apple that features on all Apple’s products is as recognizable as the Monopoly man, the Pringles man, or the Mr Muscle man.
It is the same for us and our Little Monkey Man.
Great brands with great visions need great artists, they need someone who can visualise the feel, the heart, the vibe™. For us, this person is Ivo. Ivo Janss.
We sat down with Ivo to ask him some questions about his work and how he got here.
I've been an artist my whole life, I've been drawing and thinking up stuff since I was a kid and rolled into coffee just to get an income next to art school. I didn't expect to be sticking around for so long at the time.
2. When working with the boys, what were the first conversations you had about the imagery of Friedhats? Where was the starting point?
In the beginning I think everybody was quite inexperienced to be honest, we were basically winging it all along the way.
The design process was usually me pitching some wild crazy ideas and Lex and Dylan going 'no' for a bunch of times until we hit a 'hell yes'.
One golden rule in designing for Friedhats that's been there since day one is that all the designs have to have absolutely nothing to do with coffee.
To this day there is no Friedhats brand identity guide or style book, and I think that's the key to keeping it fresh and exciting.
3. The labels have become a standout part of the Friedhats brand and imagery. There's a lot of discussion out there in the coffee world now about the sensory experience of coffee, especially when it comes to colours for flavours. Do you think your labels are evocative of a certain flavour profile for each origin?
Definitely, a label is like a little visual representation of the flavour in a very abstract way. First we had a design for every country, but after a while we realised that this had become quite limiting. so that's when some countries got colour variants or even secondary label designs. I've also had very cool designs bounced or shelved simply because they didn't fit with the coffee.
4. Who is the little monkey man? What do you think he's like?
I don't speak to him that often to be honest, he is kind of shrouded in mystery and very keen on his privacy. Last time I spoke to him he had his mind set on retiring but turned out it was just a clever ploy to renegotiate his contractual obligations and compensation.
5. Which part of your work for Friedhats has made you the most proud? Or the work that most represents you and your own vision?
Well, I'm definitely glad the logo is what it is, I made that in 2016 or '17 I believe which it feels like a lifetime ago, I was very inexperienced and if I look back at a lot of stuff I was making back then I feel like I've grown a lot since that (to put it mildly). But the logo still looks very mature and fresh. I love the fact that I don't even feel like I've made that, it's living its own life at this point, I think it's iconic and I'm very proud of that.
6. The van is a new big project you worked on, how was it creating such a large scale piece of art?
Not so different now in the digital age, I downloaded a vector model of the bus and just drew on top of that.
7. When you start a new commission where's the first place you start? Where do you go for inspiration?
I start with taking my dog (Henk) for a walk in the forest or on the beach and letting it sit in my head for at least 24 hours. I'm not a big sketcher, I tend to generate ideas in my head, think it out a bit and then start putting the ideas on paper. In my head the sky is the limit and I'm not restrained by my lack of abilities
I'm not really sure, but when drawing a character I tend to go for the weirder type dudes because that's just more fun.
9. Your style has also changed a lot over the years, what do you think helps you develop the most as an artist?
I get easily bored and my interests are pretty varied. I've dropped the idea of a consistent style, obviously there are some recognizable aspects in my work and overlapping themes. But if I do 'the same thing' for too long it doesn't give me the same adrenaline rush when I finish something and feels cheap, and mostly restraining. I always want to learn and teach myself new things so that will always keep me on the lookout for new things and implementing that in my work.
There you have it folks. Let your take away from this be to be very careful when working with enigmatic illustrated monkey men. I heard that they also have very good lawyers and their union is better resourced than ours.