Jon Contino

Contino - Photo by Oscar Zabala.jpg

Jon Contino is an influential staple in the design and branding community. As founder and creative director of independent branding studio CONTINO, he has produced award-winning work for household names including Nike, MillerCoors, American Eagle, Coca-Cola, 20th Century Fox, AT&T, and Sports Illustrated. He has also received some of the industry’s most prestigious honors, including a Decoration & Design Building Stars of Design award, a Clio Key Art Award, a Cannes Lion award, and an ADC Young Guns award. He was born and raised in New York and never left.

What was your latest book discovery? What are your favorite books of all time?

I'm not much of a reader, but I'm an avid art book collector. My newest addition is David Lynch's Some one is in my house which is a beautiful book filled with everything that comes out of his head that's not film. Some of my favorites of all time would be the Rizzoli collection of Keith Haring's work, R. Crumb Sketchbook Vol. 1, New York Nights by James and Karla Murray , Forever and Ever by Shawn Barber, Winning Ugly by Todd Radom, Life. Love. Shirts. from Revelation Records, Magic from Taschen is incredible and I also released a book last year called Brand by Hand that is a favorite, but for different reasons.

Most visited blogs, websites? : 

Uni Watch
Art of the Title
The Verge
Bleacher Report
AIGA Eye on Design


What apps do you use the most and why?

Pocket Casts is indispensable. Podcasts save my life during late night work sessions or traveling, both of which I do more than I probably should.
Notion keeps my life together as much as possible. All of my project management, and some life management, is sorted and organized in it. Without it, I might die.
Procreate has taken the pen out of my hands and replaced it with an Apple Pencil. It's honestly made me a better illustrator.
I use Instagram out of necessity, but I don't like it.'s garbage and I hate it. But I use it every day.

Whats currently on your playlist?

This is my current list of songs looping in the studio:

Here Comes the Pain by Out for Justice
Dissect Yourself by Car Bomb
Weed Pin by Drug Church
Familiar by Agnes Obel
Pleased to Meet You by Trapped Under Ice
Lust for Destruction by Candy
Vex by Chelsea Wolfe
Lay Low by Fiddlehead
Still Remains by Stone Temple Pilots
Plea by Magnitude
Want it All by Angel Du$t
Doomtech by Vein

What records would you recommend to hear?

Songs from the Big Chair and The Hurting by Tears for Fears are both severely underrated records. And that's said with the consideration that they were still both massive hits. I listen to them on repeat constantly.
Paul Walker by Drug Church is an amazingly energetic and vibrant record that also happens to have maybe the best lyrics I've ever heard.
Time and Space by Turnstile really brought me back into the fold of fun hardcore music.
What it's All About by Out For Justice is basically a mini EP, but it's PERFECT.
Should My Fist Eye by Neck came out in 1999 and was almost two decades ahead of its time in terms of technical hardcore/metal.
Angel Dust by Faith No More. Speaking of ahead of its time.


Fresh movie finds? What films do you think everybody should watch?

The VVITCH was brilliantly executed. I tell everyone I know to watch it. It's probably getting annoying at this point.
The 'Burbs with Tom Hanks is one of the best 80s horror comedies to ever exist.
The Godfather (Part 1) is pure perfection.
Speaking of Godfathers, The Godfathers of Hardcore takes something so pure and filters it through the lens of horrible, horrible time.
Trick 'r Treat is a super fun Halloween horror anthology that I feel like most people never saw or forgot about.
Ghostbusters duh.

Which artists working today do you admire most?

Kimou Meyer (Grotesk)
Kathie Sever / Fort Lonesome
Don & Ryan Clark / Invisible Creature
Justin Weatherholtz
Jeremy Dean
Julio Cesar Battistelli (YAIA)


What are some of your tv top tips right now?

Mad Men and The Sopranos are always running on loop in my house.
Chernobyl was amazing.
Russian Doll was great.
Stranger Things season 3 was excellent.
OA season 2 was also excellent.
And the New York Yankees are in first place. That makes for some damn good television!

Who are you following?

There's too many to name, so I'll just list some of my recent favorites within the past year or so! And you can find these all on Instagram.

@truehandsociety - All the artists from True Hand are great
@flyingfishstudiola - Such an amazing career

Procreate has taken the pen out of my hands and replaced it with an Apple Pencil. It’s honestly made me a better illustrator.

What tools do you use in your work?

I used to be strictly pen and paper, but since the iPad Pro came out, the Apple Pencil and Procreate have been my major workhorses. My scanner is just collecting dust now which is kind of a bummer, but my workflow is so much more efficient now. I can't really complain.

What magazines / newspapers do you read regularly?

I used to be big into both, but it's been a long time since I've bought a magazine. Now if I buy any sort of magazine-type publication it's usually a hardcore or illustrator's self-published zine.

What are your favorite gadgets?

iPhone - My entire life is in that stupid little box.
ROLLO label printer - Obviously good for printing labels, but I also like to print out drawings and stick them in my sketchbook.
Withings digital scale and blood pressure monitor - I'm old and concerned with my well-being, ok???


Jon Contino


Portrait image by © Oscar Zabala