Another design legend has passed. Arturo Vega, the artistic director of the Ramones and long time Lower East Side artist, passed away this Saturday. That came as a shock to a lot of people–especially since Vega was known as one of the rare aging punks who really watched out for his health. There had been some talk of a sudden diagnosis of liver cancer, but there hadn’t been any kind of confirmation. (And, as of this writing, a cause of death has yet to be revealed.) Vega was 65.
You might not remember Arturo Vega, but you will most certainly recognize the single most iconic band logo ever created: The Ramones seal.
Vega, as the art director for the band, was the one responsible for the creation of the Ramones’ logo, which you will find below. Even if you believe that the Ramones are one of the greatest bands to ever grace the planet, you cannot deny that their visual weight on the world, in the form of numerous band t-shirts proudly displaying the iconic seal, is all due to Vega.
Often dubbed “the Fifth Ramone,” Vega was their most devoted archivist and fan in addition to their friend and confidant. Vega described his vision to writer Jim Bessman:
I saw them as the ultimate all-American band. To me, they reflected the American character in general – an almost childish innocent aggression. I thought the great seal of the president of the United States would be perfect for the Ramones, with the eagle holding arrows – to symbolise strength and the aggression that would be used against whoever dares to attack us – and an olive branch, offered to those who want to be friendly. But we decided to change it a little bit. Instead of the olive branch, we had an apple tree branch, since the Ramones were American as apple pie. And since Johnny was such a baseball fanatic, we had the eagle hold a baseball bat instead of the arrows.
After the band split in 1996, Vega continued to work as an artist. Vega was part of an art collective known as the Antagonist Movement. His continual contributions to the underground art world signifies his permanent mark on this world.
As we cannot help but pay tribute to Vega in true Redesign fashion, here are 5 artists who were so inspired by the look that Vega inspired in one of the most iconic American rock bands in the world. See their amazing recreations of the Ramones below.
You are a true legend, Arturo Vega. Rest in Peace.