interview with Fred Jérôme

As you know, Fred Jérôme (a.k.a. Barnik) is Simple Plan’s graphic designer, who has been working with the band ever since their very first album and who has contributed to all of their albums so far and also to their merch designs, website and the band’s new biography book: “Simple Plan: The Official Story”.

Fred was very kind to answer some of my questions via email and you can now check out some very interesting stuff about his earliest collaborations with Simple Plan’s band members and how Fred approaches graphic design and work with Simple Plan in general.

Check out the new interview with Fred below:

After reading the book, I found out that not only you have been working with SP for a very long time but you are also said to be “Reset’s long-time collaborator”. What was this collaboration with Reset about and how did you get to know them?

When I was young, I played bass in a band called My Big Wheel. Same vein as Reset, maybe a little bit more “pop rock” like Blink-182, MxPx… We were playing and touring a lot with Reset. Since then, I kept contact with Chuck and Pierre. Pierre also participated on our album. He made the back vocals in one of our songs called “Loaded”.

You are the creator of Simple Plan’s very first three symbols that marked the “No Pads” era – the broken heart, the sad face and the thunderstorm, as well as of the subsequent “Still Not Getting Any” symbols – the house, the medical symbol and the coat of arms. What is the exact meaning behid these symbols? Does the band’s music inspire you when you’re creating any sort of graphic design for them?

The three icons on the SNGA album represent the three period of the album photoshoot. The house stands for the suburban lifestyle earned at your forties. The coat of arms (with golf clubs) represents the retirement and finally the medical symbol represents the old age. Maybe not our best concept… I guess it was too complicated.

When I create an album cover, I get to listen to the songs so it inspires me. Then, I create a cover that reflects the energy carried by the music.

What sort of design do you enjoy creating the most – album covers, apparel designs or websites? What has been your favourite design that you have ever created for SP?

Very hard question… When I design stuff for SP, I always need to be creative but it is so easy to work with this band that I enjoy every part of it. I don’t have a favourite kind of artwork. In fact, I have so much fun that I would almost do it for free… But don’t tell them! ;)

How much of an input do the SP guys have on your designs? Who comes up with the ideas?

For the albums’ covers and the website, I brainstorm with the band (Chuck is very creative, maybe even more than as a drummer, hehe). After that I try some stuff and we choose together. For the merch, most of the time, I design a bunch of concepts and then we pick as many designs as we need.

Making of the Simple Plan book must have been very challenging: what was the hardest part for you, as a graphic designer?

The hardest part of the book were the deadline and the page restrictions… We had so many pictures and archives that we were able to make 600 pages. It was very hard to choose between all of these pictures because we had to leave some on the side. We could keep those pictures for a second book! ;)

Do you enjoy listening to Simple Plan? What’s your favourite song?

Yes, of course I listen to SP. I listen to some bands that are a little bit more old school punk rock, but I love catchy music, and SP know how to write very catchy songs. I picked one song from each of the albums: I’d Do Anything, Thank You, Time To Say Goodbye and Can’t Keep My Hands Off You.