Ames Bros x Pearl Jam for Pop-In@Nordstrom x Hanes: A Q&A on Designing Hundreds of Concert Posters and T-Shirts for Seattle’s Longest-Lasting Grunge Band
When it comes to a design aesthetic, it’s hard to imagine what Pearl Jam, Skype and a Seattle-based pizza chain might have in common. But these seemingly disparate entities all share the same potent, just-under-the-radar resource: Ames Bros, a small graphic design firm manned by two pretty unpretentious guys—Coby Schultz and Barry Ament.
The artistic duo has accomplished something a lot of design houses struggle with—a seamless, cohesive style that melds two brains into one. Or at least makes it look that way. Coby and Barry met back in art school at Montana State in the early ’90s, and both moved to Seattle after graduation for career opportunities in illustration. But Ames Bros as it’s known now might never have existed had it not been for Pearl Jam wanting a series of cool screen-printed show posters. Barry’s brother, Jeff Ament (yes, the same one who plays bass in Pearl Jam), hatched the poster project in 1995 and soon Coby joined Barry to kick out a constant stream of one-of-a-kind designs. And voilà, Ames Bros was born.
Nowadays, Coby and Barry cater to a wide range of clientele—from Skype and Pagliacci Pizza to Metallica and the NFL. They even do pro bono work for Food Lifeline and SMooCH (Seattle Musicians for Children’s Hospital). But their 22-year-long relationship with Pearl Jam is still going strong—as an extensive, ever-growing archive of posters and T-shirts can attest. (For a limited time, you can get your hands on four previously out-of-print designs at our Pop-In@Nordstrom x Hanes T-shirt shop.)
We recently caught up with Coby in his Seattle studio to find out more about Ames Bros and their long-haul collaboration with Pearl Jam.