Jon Contino is New York. We caught him on daddy day while his daughter was playing with Play-Doh in the background. The phone interview couldn’t have been more perfect. His voice has that New York snare to it, complete with the cadence of traffic trailing off over a bridge into another borough. As you may know, he specializes in old school lettering with new school flare; that may be putting it too simply. Hard work and history permeate every fiber of his aesthetics. The dude revels in the imperfections of old ink and paper. He has done work for giants like Nike, 20th Century Fox, Miller High Life, even the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. He loves hard music, the Yankees, his wife and his daughter. Other than that, he is just a super nice dude, and we are thankful for letting us get to know him with our dumb questions.
Q. Besides Volga and 21st Amendment, what’s the coolest beer logo?
This is a tough one. There is a lot of cool beer branding out there, and a lot of garbage. Brooklyn Brewery and Narragansett are both really cool, but when I think about it, that Anheuser-Busch A with the eagle through it is just like the best thing there ever was.
Q. When’s the last time you played the drums?
I actually played like two weeks ago. I had like twenty minutes to run downstairs, play a couple of Hatebreed songs in my head, and get out some aggression.
Q. What’s the best hardcore band from Long Island?
Man, you gotta go with VOD. They are the quintessential Long Island hardcore band. (sidenote: He answers this question while helping his daughter open up Play-Doh)
Q. For research, do you prefer the library or internet?
My wife introduced me to the world of antiquing. I was always interested in old newspapers and stuff. The internet is a necessary evil, when it comes to efficiency and scheduling. A lot of times what we will do is hit up antique stores and old book stores. We get lost in weird places like that, and I will stockpile reference material, shoot tons of photos with my phone. Just to ingrain myself in that time period. The gems are in the everyday stuff, or the stuff people throw away.
Q. Would you rather be the brand manager or general manager for the Yankees?
At this point, today, I think everybody wants to be the GM. Dump a bunch of money in Bautista’s driveway and get him over from the Blue Jays. But in the grand scheme of things, I would rather be the brand manager. No one is gonna yell at you if you are the brand manager. Plus, you have access to all those archives. Somebody asked me once if I ever would want to rebrand the Yankees. The Yankees brand is what I based my whole life on, ya know, I wouldn’t want it to be altered ever.
Now caption this bad stock photo.