Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Exercise: Skatepark Poster

This was a fun poster to work on. The skater I used for reference is a kid named Dale that lives at my local skatepark. I had to fix up his bangs and he has big gauged-up earrings. I wanted a more clean-cut appearance so I took those out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sketch: N is for Nuthatch

Though it is a bird, ("B"), I felt like something simple today and baboon wasn't cutting it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Case Study: Tacoma Skate

It was clear to most people that Tacoma's indoor skatepark was going to be short-lived. Tacoma skaters have a large choice of free skateparks to choose from but the facility itself never seemed to quite gel with skaters. It was slippery, was perpetually under construction, had whole rooms filled with junk. In fact it wasn't working on so many levels and in so many ways it's difficult to really identify any one thing that they could have done better to make a difference.

When they started they contacted me about some design advice due to my experience with Skaters for Public Skateparks. Naturally I shared what I felt should be the priorities in the skate course design...and they employ many of the same principles that graphic designers use:

• Meet customer expectations
• Provide a small number of exotic or uncommon, "signature" elements
• Keep it clean and simple so it is easily understood
• Don't pander

In the interest of seeing the business succeed I worked with an artist friend of mine to come up with some inexpensive concepts that could help on some of these fronts.

One issue was their logo. It was basically an oval with the letters "TS" stamped in the middle. The oval is meant to suggest a skateboard and the TS glyph stands for Tacoma Skate. It is set sideways to further conceal the forms. The owner suggested that this would be slightly elusive to a general public and feed into the "secret" world of skaters.

I'd suggested something a bit more cheerful and upbeat to suggest the place was active and vibrant. In order to communicate this concept I drew up a sketch of a logo that used the same basic premise of his, (the name in the middle of the board), but brought it out in the open so that parents and people walking by might get some idea of what the place was about.

He didn't care for it or felt it was too sanitary for the vibe he was trying to create. While I understand this position, I felt that a no-budget start-up should aim for anyone they could get...and that meant, (to me), creating a mark that most people would understand. Because this was a pro-bono effort I stepped aside and figured I'd find other ways to help him get his business off the ground.

The next challenge was the facade of the building. The facility populated an entire building. There was no store front to speak of—not that it would have mattered since the building was in the middle of an industrial neighborhood. The side of the building faced the road so I figured it would be a great opportunity to get some bold messages out to the street.

This was also work that we were willing to donate (minus materials, which would have come to about $100). The owner opted to go with window paints and a sandwich board.

The final attempt to bring some professional creative to the business was in dressing up some of the interior walls with motifs other than "urban graffiti." I suggested a floral design because I felt that it would appeal to skaters' sense of irony, parents and non-skating visitors, and be just controversial enough to get talked about among the locals. His response was essentially, "we're not doing floral."

And that was that. I went back once or twice to check it out. The business lasted 6 months before they closed. As much as I wanted it to contribute to its success—with my 30+ years in skateboarding and 20+ years in design and marketing—in the end I simply couldn't find a way to help them out. Lessons were learned.

Fro Life

Done for a design collective as part of a collaborative group project.

Sketch: M is for Moray

I thought maybe this chap should be an E for Eel but he ended up destined for M. The also-rans were a Macaw (which could be a P for Parrot or B for Bird), a Monkey, and a Monarch (butterfly). Oh, there was also the Musk Ox, Mongoose, Moose and Meercat...each with its own pretty good reason to sketch it out.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sketch: L is for Leopard

After I finished this handsome beast I was going to change all his spots but couldn't bring myself to do it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sketch: I is for Ibex

Ibex, (aka Supergoat).

Sketch: H is for Hyenas

Seems like most of the times I ever see hyenas on TV it's through some kind of night-vision camera, so that's what I was looking to capture here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Concept: Kill Young Jim

I'm not really at liberty to say what this is for...but it's fun.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Exercise: Thanks, Pal!

Quick little thank-you card for Skaters for Public Skateparks. If you went out to dinner with Ernest Borgnine, do you think you would like him more or less than before your meal?

Sketch: G is for Giraffe

Whenever I see giraffes I think of Sergio Aragones sitting in his studio thinking up gags. For some reason these animals are just comical. It's like they belong to the "weird horse" family along with camels and llamas.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sketch: A is for Aardvark...

...or anteater, or earthpig...whatever this thing is called. You know.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Exercise: Undisputed Heavyweight Champions

The Seattle-area band, Undisputed Heavyweight Champions, contacted me about doing their debut CD packaging. Rather than taking a traditional "punk rock" approach, I worked on a cleaner design that featured the full playlist right on the cover. The band was delighted and the CD did well.

Exercise: Texas T-Shirt

A skatepark advocacy group in Texas asked me if I would donate a t-shirt design for their cause. I was happy to do so. Skateboarders love skulls and Texans love hats so it seemed like a no-brainer. I'm not typically a fan of mixing my vector and hand-drawn materials together but in this case it seemed appropriate.

Concept: MOTO

A friend of mine asked me to create a logo for his band. While we got to the logo, the fun part was in exploring all of the different possibilities. His band, Masses of the Opiate, are heavy but he has a wicked sense of humor so I figured presenting some ironic approaches would be appreciated.

An early decision was to explore vices. These sketches all explore that direction in some way.
The font used in the small group of three drawings above is similar to the one used in Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense. (Masses of the Opiate is nothing like Talking Heads.)

The sketch below was just a whim. I rather like it.
The development of the "actual" logo was a bit parallel to all of this fun exploration. Here's what we finally came up with.

Exercise: D&D Character Charts

As part of a large project I was tasked with plotting out the Dungeons & Dragons character creation process. As the first step I plotted out the key decisions and variables between the different classes. The whole exercise was very complex and produced dozens, (if not hundreds), of graphical files. At the end of the day I rather liked the simplicity and clarity of these very initial charts.

The first chart (above) compares the eight different core classes found in the game. The blue boxes represent points where player decisions occur. Starting at the top, for example, the first decision is "race." The next decision is how tall and heavy the character will be. If you opted to play a human character, you get to decide where you will put 2 bonus attribute points. This chart takes you all the way through the racial portion of character creation.

The second chart focuses on class. (In Dungeons & Dragons the characters are comprised of two fundamental characteristics; race and class. A class might be Fighter, Ranger, Cleric, and so on.) In this chart we see that most of the player decisions are found when they get into the Skills, Features, and Powers.

This exercise was ultimately used to inform the Character Creator software.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sketch: C is for Cheetah

Afternoon decompression. Nothing like drawing cheetah spots after a day of managing photos and sorting image files. In other news, wrapped up a big hand-off to MIT Press so it may be time for a beer.

Sketch: D is for Dragonfly

What's to say? It's a Dragonfly. Another daily warm-up for the tasks at hand.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Exercise: Portrait

A colleague of mine. He's actually a normal human color in real life. He is a photographer, therefore an emphasis on his eye. I encourage you to check out his work:

Case Study: Green Air Supply

The client approached New Tacoma Design with an interesting problem: To market an innovative beer sales device. The context took a few minutes to fully understand. Beer is propelled from the keg to the tap using compressed gas. The gas is a mixture of CO2 and nitrogen. This gas is stored in two separate tanks and mixed using a gas blender in the back room of the bar or pre-mixed in a single tank, (eliminating the need for a blender).

The bar owner or manager orders gas from industrial vendors. The gas arrives on a truck and the empty tanks are taken away to be reused.

The client's device extracts ambient, airborne nitrogen from the air and compresses it into a bleeder tank. The device also blends that nitrogen with CO2 to whatever mixture is desired. (Ales and lagers use one standard blend and Guinness uses a high-nitrogen blend.) The device can deliver different mixes to different lines so it's incredibly efficient.

The technology behind the device is geeky but it too important to remove from the communication. The solution was to lead with two essential messages:

1. This device saves you money with perfect, consistent servings that eliminates waste.
2. This device allows you to harness technology and frees your staff to focus on other priorities.

After the marketing language was hammered out, two key illustrations were created to express the essential messages. The first was intended to express the value of a "perfect pint."

The image shows three pints. The first cannot be served without pouring out the foam and replacing with liquid. All the foam that goes into the tray is wasted beer. The second shows a perfect pour with the right amount of head. The last shows a flat beer that contains too much beer.

The second image was to showcase the device. Unfortunately the device isn't visually interesting.

The subject was drawn from a low point-of-view to reveal the dials and hose attachments. A second drawing was made with a reveal to show off some of the cool stuff inside. While these details may not mean much to the average viewer, the detail attracts attention and draws people in.

The two illustrations feature the two sizes of the device. (The top size has an external chrome column while the bottom size has the chrome column inside the container.)

These illustrations were used in several pieces of communication, including the sell sheets below.

Sketch: F is for Fox

Seemed appropriate to give the elephant a friend.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sketch: E is for Elephant

Fooling around this morning waiting for a meeting to start...drew an elephant.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Concept: Rain Light

The problem isn't just rain, it's that the world is sort of dark when it's gloomy out. It's about time our umbrella manufacturers came up with a bumbershoot that didn't make one feel like they were hiding under a giant cape. How about an umbrella that lights up the world underneath it using small LEDs? One could even design the umbrellas as period pieces such as this gas-lamp/mission style doodad above.

Here is the light in action. It provides safety for the pedestrian and illuminates the path. What's not to love?

Epilogue: I figured that this idea was so simple and good that it had to exist already. It does. I found this link that contains step-by-step instructions for building one of these umbrella lights.

Concept: Worst Tattoo Ever

Not really a whole lot to say.

Concept: Hellnar

My impressions of the small village of Hellnar, Iceland.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Concept: Camera

For all of Europe's comfortable liberal acceptance of things extravagant and profane, I am constantly surprised at the number of security cameras installed and aimed into public places. While in Reykjavic I spotted this beauty and captured the capturer in this sketch.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Concept: Popsicle

Popsicles. Available thanks to advancements in refrigeration.

Exercise: All-Star Packaging

For several years I was art director for the Major League Baseball Trading Card Game. The product featured players in their current jerseys. (Managing the hundreds of photos and the staff photographers was a full-time job in itself.) Each player's card featured stats that were reflective of that player's performance during the season. The customer can pit their dream team against their friends using a clever gameplay mechanic. Pretty cool stuff.

The game featured several expansions throughout the year to reflect trades, injuries, and other dynamic well as new athletes that were performing well.

The Starter box, (above), contained rules, a playmat that resembled a baseball diamond, and an assortment of cards that players could use to get a feel for the game. When they were satisfied with the experience they could improve their team with booster packs, (below).

To add to the excitement for the dedicated fans we also created an All-Star SKU. This was a complete playable game and had all of the all-star players. The box also contained tabbed cards and provided a collection container for storing and sorting card collections. Below is the carton (slash storage box) and the playmat.

In 2002 we ran into a big problem. Due to the game going very long, (11 innings), the teams ran out of available pitchers. The game ended in a tie and disappointed baseball fans across the nation. This was terrible news for our premium product and we feared poor sales.

Our novel approach was to play on the unresolved nature of the game by featuring a cigar band with the marketing text, "Settle The Score!". Sales ended up being better than expected.

Exercise: William Morris Pattern

The client wanted a seamless floral pattern based on some of the nostalgic arts-and-craft-style wallpapers. After some research I found a pretty good William Morris pattern online to use as reference.

It wasn't quite seamless and some of the shapes were a bit stiff and weird. I figured it was good enough to start with.

I started by drawing the leaves in Adobe Illustrator. The outer contour is a stroked line and the veins are filled shapes. (The left shows the drawing and the right shows the vector lines.)

The leaves were all drawn and the adjacent fits were all carefully crafted so that the group could be tiled seamlessly.

The leaf vector is duplicated and reduced to build the fill shapes. The colors were loosely based on the original sample.

The two parts are assembled onto a dark background. Note that the stroke vector is duplicated behind the composite image to build depth.

That's it!