We Can Make It Better
In light of the tragic events in Newtown, CT, from here forward 100% of the profits from Gonzo The Extraterrestrial purchases will be donated to Stop Handgun Violence, a non-profit that works effectively to prevent firearm violence through public awareness and sensible legislation.
“My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”
- Jim Henson
Did an interview for the theshirtlist.com:
Any advice for other designers/artists?
Drown in other’s work, constantly. It’s easy to forget there are others doing the exact same thing as you, sometimes better. Seeing that helps you better your work, keep up on trends, and pushes you into trying new approaches to design.
Kick In The Brand
I get requests regularly asking for step-by-step posts on designs and illustrations, and recently one for branding. More specifically: rebranding. Rebranding is a big pile of work… in order for it to be successful. Anyone can flip up a new logo or change a name, but good rebranding is a complete overhaul of aesthetics, that doesn’t double back on principles. This year I worked an 8 phase rebranding for a local kickball league (PKL):
1. Logo – I approach logos with a ‘bat signal’ philosophy, keep it simple and recognizable. Pushing out a brand new logo only helps a brand change, but not grow. Using the previous logo I kept the same key visuals but updated a few points. The type change and grit was made to display a nautical/rough neck quality that is reflected by the league.
This result improved the ‘symbol’ of the PKL while allowing and easy transition for those who previously recognized it.
2. Website – With a well-planned concept, this step can breeze by, without it you’re looking at weeks of hell. Using visual boards provided by league photos, I found the best representation of the league was hand-made.
The theme displayed the grittiness, physically, regional workmanship, and (most importantly) product originality. Hand-made designs provide a subtle “once in a lifetime” feel better than any expensive font ever could. After creating all the visual elements of the site, I scanned and planned. This result provided the league with a good ‘uniform’ to wear for outside press and inquiries.
3. Social Media – The easiest yet most tedious step. Every brand has a socially active demographic, the trick is hunting them down. PKL’s targets were deep in Facebook, with a meger pool in Twitter, and a sprinkle still creeping Myspace. With this info I created a posting plan for Facebook, and direct-mirrored the Twitter feed. Keeping the logo as the main profile and cover image (bat signaling!) and keeping a posting frequency of about 3 times a day from April-September. Also made it standard to remove the “I” from posts in order to project the league as a community, being a major value. Since scheduling seemed to be one of the major demographic uses on Facebook, all events and schedules were preplanned in Facebook events. The result improved communication between the PKL and it’s members, and increased community involvement both on and off line.
4. Videos – Visual spectacle is easier every year. iMovie made it easy for a couple quick videos to help circulate around the web, driving up traffic and creating fresh leads. Using the same graphic standards implemented in the website, and using music that catered to the alternative nature of the league, these acted as commercials without sacrificing principles. The result provided exposure and satisfied expectations that a simple still photo can’t always achieve.
5. Posters – Best reception came from the rock show style posters created for the league. The initial plan was to just have a banner created, and did, that stretched for the season. For that I illustrated a parody of Roger Williams, highlighting both the league’s tradition and humor.
But instead of stopping there I found the extra mile would be too much fun to not run down, creating rock show posters parodying teams for every week of the season. Providence is an artsy/music town that loves their late night dive bar gigs, and the demographic is deep in it.
So for the first time a poster ad for a kickball event would hang next to a hardcore show poster at a local bar. The grit and punk-parody of the posters were received well, and provided a little often targeted goal of ‘street cred’. The result also increased involvement in the teams who were now being spotlighted without effort, gaining the PKL a swooning customer.
6. Presentation – Every design I’ve ever worked on has strained my eyes, I’m addicted to details. So implementing a physical graphic standard was as important to me as digital. Using only red balls for games and only black trash bags for field clean up, most had no idea there was an actual effort put in place to achieve branding on this level. Though they were minor details, the result carried the branding across a platform into the physical product.
7. Merchandise – If there’s one thing that I know, it’s wearability. It’s a factor many in the same pool as the PKL forget about when creating merch for their brand. A great example is just about any local marathon race that gives their runners free participation shirts: they’re covered in logos, the colors are a rollercoaster, and while they successfully achieve all their branding goals you’d never wear them out on the town. Again due to the league’s demographic being such a grit/nautical/rock show by-product, the simple logo wasn’t going to cut it here. Instead, new designs were created, using a distressed faux-logo to project the grittiness, while also being clean enough to mirror most favorite rock show tees from over the years.
The first run was done on blue and red, keeping the traditional New Englander happy, and screen printed in town to cement the community-breed aspect. After the first round did well, the decision was made to not repeat the printing, in order to reaffirm the ‘once in a lifetime’ appeal. Although limited editions aren’t good for market totals, they do create a stirred fan-base, and there’s no number gauge for that. The next round of merch changed the direction to smaller margins. Stickers and embroidered patches using the logo gave a double edged effect, supplying the members with new merch never exposed to, and and turning the league members into a street team.
Soon after the launch, just about every local was sticker tagged, and most messenger bags were sporting the patch. These products also gave the consumers a break before the next release, the community selected tee. I created 3 options all based on demographic wearability: an iron work inspired crest, a biker-like pigeon emblem, and a sci-fi parody illustration. The 3 designs were always going to be used in some way, but by making it a league-voted choice it engaged Facebook to the sales, and empowered the community, again a major principle to the PKL. The community voted the sci-fi as the shirt they most wanted to purchase, while I recycled the other 2 for the league’s end-of-season free shirt and sweatshirt.
The result of this provided the PKL with much needed revenue, and transformed eager customers into walking bar room billboards for the league. The designs, although different in their own way throughout, all tied together for one decisive brand.
8. Events – The brand is based on a couple basic ideals, an important one being spontaneity. It reinforces the ‘once in a lifetime’ and although difficult to plan, the goal can be achieve by preparing.
A few events out of the league’s norm were planned and designed in advance but not executed until the last minute. A mock version of the Olympics were held the week of the opening ceremony, it’s ad utilizing the league’s humor while also not providing too much information, making the community curious.
A return of the league’s founder was both guerrilla hyped and executed using community resources that feed the local market with interest.
The season’s party mashed together the rock poster theme from all season with the league popular sci-fi shirt concept, creating a sci-fi parody rock poster.
And also a competition with another league that flipped the design standards by mocking historical art, intended to provide a fresh look after a season of design similarity.
The result kept the community interested, visual intrigued, and alert to communication.
The league’s rebranding didn’t need a giant shift, just a nip here and tuck there. It’s too early to tell if the rebranded league has felt effects from the new concepts implemented this year, though at minimum it has raised the bar for what is expected by customers. The next task is maintaining those expectations.
We Can Slay It - May 26 (http://www.riptapparel.com)
Got A Case Of The NEW
New iPhone cases have been added to the online store, including themes for Jaws, Archer, Star Wars, etc.
Make your phone look at nicey nice, it deserves it, it helps you call things.
A Long Answer Ago…
Did an interview where I was asked why I thought there was a large amount of Star Wars re-emerging in indie apparel, here’s my long nerdy answer:
It’s fun to say, but Star Wars is hot right now. I’ve had this conversation and reasoning with colleagues, and we all agree, it comes down to supply and demand. The original Star Wars was released from 1977 to 1983. When its mainstream popularity started to slow, it was amped up by the re-release in the late 90s. Then the (unfortunate) prequels were released from 1999 to 2005. Then the cartoon show, and now the 3D release, etc. So the franchise has been in your face for the better part of 30 years. That covers “supply”, but the “demand” is unique. Because of the current licensed merch is focused on promoting the Episodes 1-3, the fans are demanding merch that promotes Episode 4-6, mostly because they’re better. This demand has forced us independent creatives to whip up new stuff for the nostalgic fan that has little supply.
In any case, I’m just happy I get paid to draw ewoks.
Baker Street Consulting
Vote 2012 - Super Teesday
I designed 5 election shirts for Threadless’s Super Teesday release. It was a fun project with crazy-nice people to work with. I think everyone is pulling for the Zombie campaign, who have promised the most chaaaaaaaannnnnngge.
Show your support for the candidate of your choice by purchasing the appropriate tee! Everyone that casts a vote, gets a sticker, each purchase made is a vote for that candidate. You have until Tuesday, March 20 to cast your vote.
Attack Of The Photoshop
“There is no can’t” is one of the main things I try to push on young designers. In the realm of 2D design, any and every image is possible. All you need is alittle creativity, and photoshop. You can have a shark attacking a moon astronaut, while on fire. I did a photofavor for a friend who needed to use an image of a building for an ad, only they didn’t like how the building had people in it, and when asked if their design department could just remove them, they said “we can’t”. So I took some time, some clone tool, and a few dashes of patterning, to show them that they “can”.
A Year In Doodles