When Pagliacci needed to update its pizza boxes it turned to none other than the iconic Seattle design firm Ames Bros. A two-man wrecking crew, Coby Shultz and Barry Ament opened their studio in 1994. Pearl Jam was their first client. Jeff Ament, the band’s bass guitarist, is Barry’s brother. "Back in ’95, on a snake farm in Bangkok, my brother and I hatched a scheme to create a series of screen-printed posters for some upcoming shows,” Barry Ament said in an interview with EMP. “There was no intent behind it, no long-term vision, just the need to be creative. Really just an outlet for fun. I knocked out several posters and within a few months Coby stepped in to join the fun. We were given enough rope to try new things, explore different styles and techniques and ultimately it brought out our best. The result is a massive body of work that we are truly proud of.” They’ve received Grammy nominations for their artful packaging for Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy and Yield. They’ve designed posters and CD covers for too many bands to mention, but they include Neil Young, Radiohead, Coldplay, Sting, Phish, John Mayer, Snoop Dog, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, and The Hives, along with dozens of Indie Rock bands. While they got their start in rock and roll, their success grew way beyond music. They’ve done significant work for MTV, Nike, the NBA, NFL, AOL, Nissan, Honda, Absolut, Nascar, EA Sports, Powerbar, Sony, Sprint, and Got Milk?.
Matt Galvin first met Coby and Barry in Macrina’s Sodo cafe. They were there almost as much as he was. A conversation over coffee quickly turned into "we love your pizza" and "I love your t-shirts.” Matt bought some shirts. They bought pizza. At another encounter Matt said, “It would be cool to have you design a pizza box for Pagliacci. It is kind of like an album cover, only not at all.” When the time came up to redesign Pagliacci's pizza boxes, the notion of switching to a new graphic designer came up. Matt suggested Ames Bros. After one meeting, Pagliacci’s design team was convinced. Promoting the new online ordering system was a primary goal as well as doing something fun and irreverent. Seeing Pagliacci as a quintessential Northwest brand, Coby and Barry suggested Sasquatch. Mount Rainier peeks over his shoulder. The computer is the old iMac that is used in Pagliacci’s office as a doorstop. Throw in a cool new Pagliacci font, a squirrel, and sunglasses and an iconic Pagliacci pizza box is born.
Some of the Ames Bros. work for Pearl Jam is currently on display at Sea-Tac airport in an exhibit organized by EMP, the Port of Seattle, Pearl Jam, and Ames Bros. “Historic and cultural milestones live on in these works of art,” says Jacob McMurray, Senior Curator, EMP Museum. “These posters commemorate amazing concerts, such as Pearl Jam’s four-night stand at The Spectrum in Philadelphia in 2009, where they closed down that fabled venue, but they also convey the band’s and the artists’ points of view on contemporary society. As such, these posters are more than just graphic ephemera, but in fact objects of often deep artistic and cultural meaning.”
Barry and Coby have opportunities to work with lots of famous clients and well-known brands. Yet, they are most interested in working with brands and people they like. To have Pagliacci in that mix is pretty cool. While few people pin a pizza box to the wall or consider it something that contains deep artistic and cultural meaning, we’re proud enough of the new design to consider framing one.