Notaro founded BNS to be a creative boutique that he describes as "a bit off center, where we're comfortable." He is determined to create a new school of thought that extends design beyond a mere typographical experience. The firm is immersed in visual style in both printed media and motion pictures, and the designers are deeply aware of the importance of knowing how the viewer is affected. Notaro says, "The key is to put together a group of creative people, give them the freedom to do their thing, and keep it fun, even during ninety-hour weeks."
The play principle may be key, and the work exhibits strong innovation. BNS has successfully negotiated a tough balancing act between the demands of advertising clients and producing thoughtful, striking work. "As graphic designers, we're telling a story, and at the end of the day, it's more involving to see performance than flying type." One of the key elements used in BNS narratives is color.
"We really don't have a color philosophy. I guess our use of color started as being a bit more pop-ish and fun rather than muted and serious," explains Jonathan Notaro. "Subtleties in color don't necessarily translate well on television." So BNS' color choices tend to be brighter colored. Notaro continues, "This is partly due to the amount of humor in our work. A brighter palette seems to enforce that not-so-serious attitude."
Brand New School tends toward a more optimistic color palette that is hip and masculine. Pop culture elements are fused with parody modes of contemporary art. All design aspects reflect the contradictory ideas of modern life. "I think we have a deeper understanding of design history than many companies that evolved from street culture," creative director Gelhaar comments, "which keeps the work as intelligent as it is creative."
While conceptually driven, theirs is a highly technical as well as aesthetically demanding medium. Notaro explains, "Most of the time we are concerned about getting our ideas figured out in terms of narrative and visual arts. This is due mainly to having short deadlines, and color usually isn't something that is heavily scrutinized. Colors are just about the last thing we think about, or should I say, are conscious of, on a project."