Rabu, 25 Juli 2012

Dennis Miller Radio

'Dennis Miller'

A good friend of mine at HOW Design Conference told me about Dennis Miller's radio show. So I tuned it in when I got back and I've been listening to it ever since. He does a good job and his guest's are great. He's had his buddy Dana Carvey (sp?) on a few times and those were the funniest.

His site and graphics etc. are lame however and in one of the shows he lamented about not having any designs to create stickers etc. So I had a few extra hours the other night and put this art together.

'Sticker Concept'

I designed a variety of things and sent them off to his producer. I only used purple because that is their current color they are using. So far I haven't heard anything back. Seeing how snarky Dennis can get I may hear him light me up on his show and make fun of my art? In a strange way that would be flattering. LOL

In any regard I think it's a drastic improvement over what they are currently using at the time of this post.

If you haven't heard his show take a listen at: www.DennisMillerRadio.com

Role Playing Game Icons

'Huntik Icons'

The summer right before 7th grade was my first introduction to a role playing game. I remember being introduced to Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). I really liked what was called the 'Monster Manual' and I enjoyed just reading about all the strange creatures and of course the art was pretty cool too.

I'd stay after school and play D&D with a small group of gamers. I wasn't your typical dork though, I was just friends with a few. ;-) I think I had more fun sketching out my characters then actually playing the game?

Because I was artistic, my friends would pay me to paint all their lead figures for the game. It funded my MAD magazine purchases and baseball card addiction at the time and made me realize I could use my art ability to make money so I guess in a certain way you could consider it my first commercial work.

The icons shown in this post are part of a group I developed for Upper Deck Company for a game called 'Huntik'. I have no idea what the game is all about? They provided me with rough concept sketches of characters and asked me to design an avatar icon for each. They'll be used as part of the overall game branding.

Fantasy art has never really appealed to me but this project turned out to be a fun creative respite and I like how they came out.

Design Batting Average.

Design is like baseball. Each project is an at bat and in the process of an at bat you may foul off a few pitches, you may get walked, you may ground out, or fly out, you may get a single, a double, a triple, or even a home run. But you may also strike out. Either by swinging and missing a pitch, or you get called out looking at a pitch as it goes flying by you into the catchers mitt.

No one wants to strike out. We all make a purposeful effort to succeed, but in the end it just doesn't work out the way you had hoped and you go back to the dugout and sit down knowing you'll get another attempt at it again soon.

Baseball is all about stats. The key statistic regarding at bats is of course the "Batting Average." The higher the average, the better the player, the better the player the more hits they'll get and more hits mean less strikeouts. That said someone only has to succeed 3 out of 10 at bats and they're considered an all-star. Yet in design that type of creative batting average would be looked upon as marginal at best.

Let me tell you about a recent at bat I had. And like an umpire you can make the call in regards to my performance.

Polar bear concept 1.

I started this project off like any other logo identity project. I am pretty methodical in terms of my creative process and the first stage of my process is research and collecting of information so I can create from an informed approach and develop appropriate solutions. Since we're talking baseball analogies I like to develop a good game plan.

Polar bear concept 2. (Modified Motif)

The client filled out my creative brief and I started to create my concepts. The topic of refrigeration brings up classic metaphors yet I wanted to capitalize on these in my own stylized approach.

Polar bear concept 3.

My thought on this option was to create a badge or sticker approach. They install in a broad range of locations and this would work well as a leave behind branding on all the installed units.

Polar bear concept 4. (Modified Motif)

On this project I felt a character based logo would be a good solution, so most of what I presented in my first group of logos were character driven. I arrived at this decision after auditing about 50 competitors logos. I also ran this by the client before I started building my concepts out too.

Penguin concept 1.

I've never done a Penguin logo before. That said I've never done a Polar Bear logo either. Unlike the Polar Bear I wanted this logo option to be extremely iconic and the forms of a penguin lend themselves to that approach.

A secondary nod to refrigeration in this option is the horizontal version which I intended to resemble the stereotypical shape of a thermostat. I wanted it to be a subtle attribute and not overt.

Penguin concept 2.

Still playing off the iconic penguin I work it into the letter form of an "A" since the company name is "Advanced."

Corporate approach 1.

I wanted to show a few options that weren't character driven. This was one of them.

Corporate approach 2.

On this one I decided to play up the concept of "Air." I also decided to use a badge approach with customized letterforms.

I was happy with these options and presented them to the client with my rationale for each explained. The client said they'd show the concepts to the their board and get back to me.

As soon as I heard the word "Board" I had a bad feeling. No mention of a board approval was ever brought up until now. I knew at this point that more than likely I'd be doing more explorations.

Whether it's a Board, Committee, Team or any other name given to a group of individuals who'll critique art it almost always results in a graphic train wreck. Marketing people love this type of approach because it allows them to play art director. You get a hundred ignorant opinions flying around that rarely result in a good direction.

What you do tend to get more times than not is a request to see more ideas and additional information not provided before you started designing because they've decided to either change the rules of engagement or their mind.

Such was the case with this project. The client said "The board loved your ideas. They thought they were very professional. But..."

The only word worse then "Board" is "But." What comes after "But" is never anything you want to hear and this was no exception.

The board had now decided they wanted a more corporate approach. A mark that was not integrated with the type. They explained their desire to see some form of "Crystals" but didn't want "Ice Crystals." They also explained their new found penchant for hexagons as well and asked if I could do something with that shape?

Corporate, Crystals and Hexagons oh my! I had struck out in my first design at bat.

None of this new criteria was explained in my creative brief and was outside the scope of the original agreement so I informed them I'd have to charge an additional fee above and beyond my quote since this new criteria was not provided up front. They agreed.

So even though I was a bit bummed that my Polar Bears and Penguins would now go into deep freeze I still held hope knowing I had another at bat coming on this project.

I choked up on the lumber and continued.

Crystal Concept 1.

To be completely honest I had no idea why they wanted crystals? The client spent about ten minutes explaining to me how ice crystals were actually a bad thing in refrigeration. So I had questioned the wisdom of pursuing crystals as a graphic language on this project but they insisted.

This is the type of direction you get from a committee.

Crystal Concept 2.

At this point I wasn't feeling too confident in my work but kept working out as many crystal inspired directions as I could. "After all they were paying for it." I told myself several times.

Crystal Concept 3.

Maybe they realize a new growth demographic in the "New Age" movement in regards to refrigeration? Bad designer, get back to work and stop questioning authority.

Hexagon Concept 1.

Hexagons-O-Plenty! See how clever I am, I made them stack to form the letter "A."

Hexagon Concept 2.

The client asked if I could make the hexagon shapes interconnect in some way to relay how they can network systems.

Repeat to self: I am not an extension of my clients arm, I am a creative person.

A Simple Approach.

At this point I was a bit frustrated with this project. I decided to put a donut ring on my conceptual bat and take some practice swings to loosen up. I had to hit this next one good. A frozen rope if you will. The pitch looked like a beach ball as the idea popped into my head so I worked out this last concept and included it with the new batch of logo designs to send off.

Fast forward three weeks and I finally get a truncated email from the client explaining the board loved the new directions, but (Our friendly word making it's second appearance in this project) has decided to shelf the logo project because they have other things they need to focus on right now instead. They asked me to bill for the work done.

I doubt they'll return so I billed them my full rate since I did everything short of the final art.

I had high hopes for my second at bat on this project but once it again it looks like I struck out? It's times like these I feel like I am in a creative slump or should be sent back down to the minors. But since I am a player manager in this written analogy I at lease don't need to fear being released.

Original Logo.

The above is the companies actual logo at the time of the original post. Whether or not it went through board approval I have no idea?

The Final Board Approved Logo Solution.

It's been about seven months since the original post and someone notified me of the final logo this company settled on. Can't say it surprises me at all based on their comments while working with them myself. They got exactly what they wanted I guess.

I thought I had some good ideas going, felt like I was hitting the ball well in batting pratice and would get a hit with one of the options but in the end I struck out twice and thus my design batting average has suffered.

Not sure what I could have done differently? Is there such a thing as design steroids? Perhaps a Barry Bonds filter for my drawing application? (OK, so I fouled out with those jokes.)

I do know I'll have other at bats soon so I am not too worried. How ever part of me thinks this board threw me some spitballs.

At the very least I have a cool Polar Bear and Penguin logo in my design line up now and if the opportunity arises I'll definitely do some creative pinch hitting with them.

Much like the boys of summer, my main motivation is the love of the game.

Senin, 23 Juli 2012

FREE iPhone Wallpaper - Set 3

'Lion Heart.'

It's time again to post some new iPhone wallpapers to enhance your 3G enjoyment.

'Thug Bunny - Option 1.'

Granted this is a small offering but more will arrive soon enough.

'Thug Bunny - Option 2.'

If you haven't downloaded my previous wallpaper designs you can access them via the links show on the right hand side of this blog. There are over "30" designs in all. If by chance you don't use an iPhone then you can also find my art on Start Mobile also linked in the side bar.

'Thai Beauty.'

Add some Thai spice to your iPhone GUI.

'Ultimate Bonehead.'

Don't be a bonehead and pass up on this no-brainer download.

Get this set of '5' images here: Download Vonster Brand iPhone Wallpaper

Kamis, 19 Juli 2012

This Old Blog.

A guilty pleasure of mine is watching home related programming on TV. My daughter thinks I am wasting my TiVo account recording HGTV programs instead of "Invader Zim." I of course disagree, but when "Scripps Networks" contacted me about a logo and branding for a new program I was very excited.

Cool Houses Daily Logo Mark.

A brand logo for a TV production is a different breed of animal than one for mere print production. It has to work well as a "Bug" on TV. It has to allow for the possibility of animation and seamless integration across all media venues including both print and web. That was part of the criteria I was given when working on "Cool Houses Daily" a new featurette offered up by the Scripps Network.

TV spot animation of Cool Houses Daily Logo.

Cool Houses Daily is directly tied into an online web portal called www.frontdoor.com so I created fun and colorful web headers and illustrations that were integrated into both the TV spots and web site. Visit the site link above or view my artwork in action by clicking here.

My art in context of the web site.

Working digitally is a double edged sword at times. Even though I like how this came out over all there is a few areas on the site where Scripps in house team took some creative liberty and chopped up my art to create other usages and those kind of make me cringe but what can you do?

Real Estate Survival Guide header illustration.

Part of the Cool Houses Daily home page.

Seller's Guide inset illustration.

Stay tuned for a few more logos I developed for Scripps programming on a small screen near you.

Selasa, 17 Juli 2012

Natural Design.

Lilly pad flower close up.

Some times I have to get up and walk away from my work. I did that today. I couldn't focus and kept getting distracted, so I walked into our back yard where earlier this summer we installed a pond. For the last few months we've struggled to get the eco-system worked out and now it's a thing of beauty.

Floating flower bed.

Today revealed a special surprise. Our first lilly pad flower bloomed. The design of nature amazes me from the symmetry of a flower, the unique structure of a crab, or the diverse patterns and colors on the Koi fish that swim in our pond.

Our three Koi "Pearl", "Camo" and "Socko."

I really should be working but instead I found myself just sitting there watching the fish, then taking some pictures of the flower. Sure, I still have a deadline but if you can't have a life as well than what is the point really?

Tide pool critter.

Earlier this summer we took a two day trip to the coast and I captured this photo of a crab there. He was living inside a tide pool and didn't want to model for me so it took a while to get a good shot.

All of this reminds me once again that Gods portfolio trumps us all.

Selasa, 10 Juli 2012

Urban DJ.

Urban DJ logo.

A while back a Japanese company approached me about designing the brand system for their two online business ventures. The first one was for "Street Value" and the second one was for "100 Milligrams." (I didn't design their web sites)

The company is now starting a new business called "Urban DJ" and wanted the logo to match the brand style of the previous marks. So once again it's character driven, uses the same typography and plays off the common DJ term of "Five Legs." (At least that is what I was told is a common term? I've never heard it myself.)

Urban DJ logo, secondary format.

Since "Street Value" produces collectible toys I proposed the idea of trading out services in exchange for them producing a toy design of mine. They agreed and as of right now tooling is being figured out at the manufacturer so that a wax prototype can be made. But I'll post more about that later, so stay tuned.

Official Ninja quality garb.

I call this character "Cycloptopus." Infest your wardrobe with this asian monster!

Senin, 09 Juli 2012

Pistons and Pinups.

Pistons and Pinups logo mark.

My good friend and fellow artist Rob Schwager creates incredible artwork! He enjoys illustrating pinups and drawing cars and has decided to combine the two passions into one new web presence he is calling "PistonsAndPinups.com." (Site is in development.)

I was honored when he asked me to create a logo for his new venture. After all "Women" and "Flames" are part of the "Top Ten Themes" artists adore illustrating so it was a no-brainer.

Promotional t-shirt design.

Adorn your chassis with some high-octane inspiration!

Kamis, 05 Juli 2012

FREE iPhone Wallpaper

'A poster I created for Adobe. (The non-edited german helmet version)'

My iPhone is showing up any day now. In preparation I have taken some of my favorite pieces of art over the last year or so and have created a set of wallpaper images for my iPhone. For those of you who have or are going to get an iPhone I have provided a link below so you can download the images as well.

'My Temporal Infestation Illo. iPhonized'

As time goes on I'll create completely original designs specifically targeted for the iPhone. So keep your eyes peeled.

'Tribal Texture'

Some of the wallpapers like the one above come in a variety of flavors.

'Alien Biker.'

Get the entire '25' image set here: Download Vonster Brand iPhone Wallpaper