Designer’s block: A Q&A with Aaron Scamihorn

Categories Inspired Talks, Web Design

Designer, illustrator, screen-printer and “portraiture” artist, Aaron Scamihorn says he has a mixed media love affair with typography and serigraphy. His work can be found on gig posters for bands like CAKE, Queens of the Stone Age; reppin’ roller derby tournaments; and illustrating striking expressions from celebrities and iconic films. His use of rigorous texture and bold color pallets really slap you in the face.

The Indianapolis-based designer, also known as Ronlewhorn online (and on XBOX), works professionally for creative agency MediaSauce, conquering design, branding and illustration for an array of clients.

Inspired Mag got a hold of Scamihorn to chat about his distinctive illustration work, the collaborations he’s made (and hopes to make) with other artists and why he prefers creating a portraiture of a flawed face, with a little character to tell a story.

[infobox margin_bottom=”0″ margin_top=”0″ border_radius=”all” color=”white” title=””] This is a series of interviews created in collaboration with our friends from Doejo – a new kind of creative agency, powered by an amazing collective of talent and technology. [/infobox]


1. You’ve collaborated with some amazing creative groups like The Silver Screen Society and The Roving Cinema. Who are you dying to collaborate with but haven’t yet? And what draws you to their work?

I love a good collaboration. Nothing is better than the amalgamation of unique minds and talents. I’m always down for interesting initiatives and unique opportunities. If I had one person individually that I would love to do work with it would be Aaron Draplin. The dude’s sheer passion and boisterous badassery is infectious. His nod to the aesthetic of the past paired with precise iconography of today is something I strive for in my own work. As a fellow Aaron that is big, bearded & born in the Midwest, I think we could make some pretty rad stuff together.

2. Gig posters seem to be a passion of yours as well. What are your favorite bands and more importantly, who would be your dream commissioned artist/band print?

The whole screen printing thing just happened one day when I realized something was missing. I’d been staring at these pixels too long and I needed to get my hands dirty and produce something physical. Having played in garage punk bands since I was 13, I’ve always felt at home in a crowd of musicians and music fans. I set my bass down a couple years ago and sold my rig to buy a new iMac. Gig posters are my way to keep doing what I love and stay plugged in to the scene. I love everything from helping a band I truly believe in to getting to work with some of my favorite musicians such as CAKE. I’m a huge fan right now of bands that have kept a flair for the punk of our youth while blending it with classic rock & roll: Bayside & The Gaslight Anthem are at the top of my list for who I’d love to do gig posters with. I have also been on about a 2-Year kick where I can’t stop listening to Frightened Rabbit. I’d love to work with them. And, of course there are my favorite bands I’ve listened to since the 80’s when I first started buying my own music that are still doing their thing today such as MxPx & NOFX & Rancid.

3. You had your first solo exhibition show called “Freaks & Geeks” in Indianapolis with the tagline “Art and Story” (where your pieces were accompanies by narratives). What is your primary goal when designing portraits or portraitures without narratives? What story are you trying to tell?

There is something raw and subconscious about the connections we make with other peoples’ faces. I am passionate about a less-than-perfect face. It’s the wrinkles or patchy beards that make someone who they really are and I can’t get enough of it. I live for some solid eye-bags. Illustrating Steve Buscemi was my pièce de résistance. The more bizarre and unique a face, the more I can’t help but want to use it as reference for a portrait. I really enjoy perceived beauty & innate intrigue.

4. What are three spectacular art print shops (with links) we should know about and what do they specialize in?

I’m a huge fan of Burlesque of North America printing everything from Draplin’s Speaking posters to Aaron Horkey’s phenomenally intricate work to Wes Winship’s ridiculously amazing Arcade Fire Posters!

You also absolutely need to check out Mama’s Sauce. They do SICK letterpress & screen printing. And man, I love that brand!

Also check out my friends Wellington & Robbie over at ShedLabs. Their “MeWithoutYou” poster is super-rad. Bummed it’s sold out! They also have one of the best 404 pages.

5. What is your favorite historical era in design (for example, 1960s minimalism in advertising), and why?

I’ve always been really into mid-century stuff. Vintage comics & old hand typography will probably always show up in some influential way in my work. I think Lou Dorfsman’s gastrotypographicalassemblage will always be one of the most amazing things ever designed.

7. What are you currently reading/ Netflixing/ playing leisurely, to get your mind off work?

I am often on XBOX playing Call of Duty to get my mind off creating for a while. I think it’s the perfect fix for creatives. It’s very mindless and I can play for just a few minutes and jump right back into designing and feel refreshed. Battlefield 3 is about to come out as well as Modern Warfare 4, so expect my productivity to decrease slightly in november/december! Look me up if you play. Gamertag: RONLEWHORN.

8. Tell me a little about MediaSauce and what your specialties are. What has been your proudest client work to date? 

MediaSauce is a creative agency just north of Indianapolis. We create some pretty unique websites for a diverse range of clients. I continually get to mix up my daily work with design, branding, photography and illustration. One of my favorite projects was a website refresh for the Indy Humane Society. I took what was a pretty stark palette of Red, Black & White and introduced this steely-grey-blue to the mix and introduced Gotham Rounded Bold as a typeface that referenced the rounded toes of the heart-paw logo. These subtle updates mixed with some photographic and organic container shapes I think really helped give the site a sense of approachability and friendliness it was previously missing. They are a no-kill shelter and do great things for orphaned pets in our city. It was an honor to work with them.

Aaron Scamohorn


[Photography by Chris Whonsetler]
John Lendman is the copywriter/ scribe of interactive web agency Doejo. Chicago-based Doejo is a creative hub of designers, developers and a bastion of ingenuity and imagination. The company has launched more than 300 web sites, marketing campaigns and applications since its founding in 2007. Follow us Twitter or check out our blog―if you can keep up.