Aaron Belyea – Owner / Senior Designer
What got you into designing?
By default, actually. I played in a number of bands and ended up doing logos, flyers, and merch for fun. Friends and other bands we played with started asking me to design for them. I hadn’t really even thought of design as a career up until that point. Ironically enough, I had been collecting old clip art books, archival catalogs, type specimens and shooting photographs for years. All which seemed to integrate effortlessly into my early work.
What was your first photo editing program?
I believe it was Photoshop 2.
Describe your style.
I would like to think it’s somewhat diverse. I certainly respond to simple and bold solutions that have an underlying hint of complexity. Our client base is incredibly varied. I really value that over the course of a day we’ll work on super clean, sophisticated marketing material, then switch gears and hand render type or distress elements for a messy, tactile CD package. As designers, it really keeps us from getting complacent or bored.
How would you describe running a design firm?
Amazing, challenging, fun, frustrating, but extremely gratifying. I really enjoy overseeing + art directing a bunch of really talented cats.
What are some of your favorite bands?
Yikes, that’s a tough one…Elvis Costello, Pixies, The Shins, Lee Morgan, Mr. Lif, Doves, Bad Brains, The Zombies + French Kicks.
Any advice for an upcoming designers who are interested in running there own design firm?
Think very carefully before hand. Have a solid understanding of payroll taxes. Order coffee in bulk. Make sure that you have a loyal client base before you open the doors.
What has been your favorite piece of artwork that you designed?
Wow, that’s even harder than the favorite band question. I did this mixed media piece for a design installation that I do love dearly. Part rust, part vinyl, part tin, part spray paint, part sweat.
How did you come up with the name ‘Alphabet Arm’?
Before I was a designer I had a love for type and had an alphabet tattooed around my arm. I quickly had the nickname “Alphabet Arm” which became my design moniker.
How did you start up Alphabet Arm? Was it started by a group of friends?
I launched it as a solo designer in November of 2001. I ran the studio solo for a couple of years and got a handle on the business end, then slowly started adding designers. At the moment, we are a four designer studio with one bad ass intern.
What is your office like?
It is in a renovated brick and mortar warehouse with all the modern amenities of a new building. We have a lot of artwork on the walls. Two of my favorite installations are the noted “T-shirt Wall” (framed samples of shirts we have designed) and “The Logo Wall” (12′ x 30′ wall with a sampling of logos applied as vinyl cuts). The vibe is very professional, but relaxed. It is a large open space and we spend a great deal of time telling jokes, screwing around, attempting to make each other laugh. If we weren’t such highly productive designers, I’m afraid not much would get done. Dress code: t-shirts and sneakers.
What helps you get inspiration for new designs/projects?
Everything? Pop culture, music, design heroes, poorly executed design examples, my designers themselves, and coffee.
What would your thoughts be for designing buttons? Any tips?
Try to come up with something that is not obvious or hasn’t been done a million times. Think about scale, think about the message, and think about it in terms of something you would want to wear yourself.
Any words of encouragement for new and upcoming designers?
Build a killer portfolio. Seriously, do as much work as you can even if you have to give it away until you have a respectable collection of work. Study the masters (Reid Miles, Art Chantry, Saul Bass), define your style, and practice, practice, practice.
Thanks for your time Aaron!
Be sure to check out his design firm Alphabet Arm Design
We recently started working with Matt Allen, who is the mastermind behind Ice Cream Man. I’d love to go into detail about the history of Ice Cream Man, but it’s best left for Matt to do so. Check out his press release here. What a clever idea!
For more information, please check out the Ice Cream Man website. We donated 10,000+ single button packs to help get the Ice Cream Man name out. We’ll be supplying his entire tour with button packs! Below I’ve posted a few photos of our custom button packaging in action!
For apparel printing and other printed paper goods, here is one local company we highly recommend:
Jakprints www.jakprints.com is one of our closest custom merchandise affiliates. We have been working with them since PureButtons was open back in 2005. They are a very reliable company and are great for the concerned citizen. All products are sweatshop free and they use an all natural soy and vegetable based ink. They also print on all recycled paper. Don’t let that fool you, though, their work and turnaround is great.
JakPrints offers the following Merchandise:
Apparel Printing, Embroidery, Offset (full color) and may even work with you on other custom projects!
11:11 a.m. is a charity that PureButtons has sponsored for a few years now. Every year Purebuttons will donate a large batch of buttons for 11:11 a.m. to give out during the entire warped tour. They are a rapidly growing charity and they have a very big approach. All of their profits go towards the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (http://www.pcrf-kids.com). Check out their website, make a donation and look out for them during Warped Tour!
The packs shown above are being sold for $1.00 at the 11:11 a.m. Warped Tour tent. All proceeds will be benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. visit their website www.1111am.com
I just thought I’d showcase some of our recent button packaging orders. So far the response has been great, keep up the unique designs! Stay tuned for actual photos. For more information about our custom button packaging check out our button packaging page.