I think it’s safe to say that you will have some semblance of a layout rattling around in your head prior to picking up a pencil. Even if that vision is hazy, hashing out the main characters first will aid you in nailing down the layout. Sometimes the brain-to-paper translation isn’t as clear as you’d like.
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Sooner or later, if you create commercial art, you'll have your best work rejected by committee. It's part of the job. This is one of those projects. I'll be going back to the drawing board, but I wanted to share this work as is.
I'm very proud of this solution – It represents some of the smartest conceptual work I've ever done.
I was tasked with "updating" the following graphic. This graphic is the foundational concept behind my client's entire business. In other words, it's been used to sell their services for years.
At first glance, there seems to be a lot of information being presented. What you don't see is any real clue describing what's happening. Without the assistance of paragraphs of text or a salesperson, the viewer is left to their own devices to derive any meaning.
The application "stack" is represented by icons that tell the viewer very little. And the accompanying text identifiers are equally amorphous.
You'll also note a variety of graphic elements that are meant to clue the viewer in to a larger idea, but all of these elements largely fail to create a cohesive visual narrative for anyone trying to decipher the graphic.
The solution I arrived at solves these issues — I created visual metaphors that accurately depict what literally happens at each tier. The simplicity of the imagery and design affords a viewer with no prior knowledge of the basic concepts a means of "creating" a narrative for themselves without the help of accompanying text.
The "isometric" grid underlying this illustration helps create a plane for the tiers. I added flags at each level to help draw the users eye through the entire illustration. Once the basic art was created, I made a few slight adjustments to accommodate the text for the next two graphics.
Overall, this is a highly successful piece. That it was a casualty of "committee" is just a consequence of opinion. It happens.
Stay tuned for the next version.
In the words of owner and developer Justin Shattuck, Loryka is "a platform and data pipeline that allows researchers to gain insights into the attacks we see [on the web]." His platform is revolutionizing the web security industry and I was entrusted to help design a logo that captured the essence of his vision.
The name Loryka is derived from the word "lorica", which is a specific type of Roman armor that incorporated an overlapping lattice of metalwork. My initial attempts to design a logo took this concept head on. And failed.
After a few more discussions with Justin, he described his business as "a company that is taking PH readings of the soil." He went on to describe a data tool that didn't just look at the forest, but looked into the forest through a microscope to see the smallest ant on a leaf.
After numerous versions, I hit upon the idea of incorporating a few different elements 1) a PH color scale 2) a diminishing circle of dots representing the "data" cycle of life and 3) slightly overlapping letters to hint at the idea of armor and "connection".
Last year, at the 2017 PEERS Conference, I floated the idea of updating the installer illustration for Craft CMS 3 to the head honcho and resident genius at Pixel & Tonic, Mr. Brandon Kelly. In addition to the fact that his karaoke skills will instantly remind you of an angrier, out-of-tune Henry Rollins from Black Flag, he's also a fan of good-ish drawering skills. I'd illustrated the installer screen for Craft CMS 1 years ago and it seemed to me that the impending release of the biggest update to his flagship product might be the perfect opportunity to update the installer artwork. A few months later, Brandon gave me a call.
Conceptually, he and his team wanted to explore the idea of "inclusivity" without getting too far into the weeds about how to broach a very touchy topic visually and do so without offending an equally touchy group of people (Please note: These are my words, not his ... But it's still 100% true. Deal with it). We eventually landed on the idea of exploring inclusivity through the locations where Craft CMS is being used around the world. Which, once again, brought up the specter of dealing with race and gender and all the baggage that comes along with that topic. It needed to be avoided like Coldplay. The question was how? The initial idea was to focus on landmarks from countries around the world which would have been interesting, but I concluded that the resulting illustration would have felt more like a travel advertisement than a representation of Craft.
After putting the concept through my brain's spin cycle, I expanded on the idea exponentially by including landmarks, mythical beasts and creatures from folklore, foods, and representative objects from specific countries. You'll also find a random assortment of web and nerd references to help round out the illustration for the tech crowd. The resulting piece is straight-up fun and successfully represents "inclusivity" without stepping on any social land mines.
I created three different versions of the center area that literally plug into the open space to accommodate potential uses:
In all, twenty-three countries and locations are represented (objects vary based on center art):
NYC - Lady Liberty, pizza
PNW (Seattle, Portland, Bend) - Sasquatch, pint glass, hop bud
SF - San Francisco is a city
UK - London Bridge
Germany - pretzel, brat on fork, beer
India - Airavata
Australia - Rainbow Serpent, boomarang
South Africa - flower with mountain graphic from national symbol
Canada eh - bacon, hockey stick
France - Eiffel Tower
Netherlands - wooden shoe, tulips, cheese
China - Chinese dragon
Spain - bull, olives, tomato
Singapore - lion fish
Japan - Kasa Obake, koi
Indonesia - flower, palm tree
Ireland - shamrock, pint glass
Norway - Viking helmet
Poland - brat, beer, bull (nothing unique about Poland's symbology)
Russia - Baba Yaga
Italy - wine bottle, wine glasses, olives, grapes
Saudi Arabia - dual swords from national symbol
Middle East - Bahamut
Nerds - Starship Enterprise, propeller beanie, alien ship
Bunch of other random and tech/web-related stuff
I had a blast creating this piece for Craft 3. It goes without saying that good people deserve good art.
Thanks, Brandon and team Pixel & Tonic!
A wonderful old client of mine from Atlanta referred me for this project toward the end of 2017. This was my last web design project for 16toads Interactive, but the logo and branding artwork fit nicely in with my new direction here at OddBurton, so I am including it as a sample.
Bell Masonry is an family-owned company that has been operating in greater Kansas City for nearly 100 years. They were in the process of going through a corporate restructuring and wanted to overhaul their logo and brand for the future. Their team specified three primary criteria for a new logo: 1) Visually portray "masonry", 2) suggest the idea of a company that has spanned "generations", and 3) make it timeless. These concepts are difficult enough to pull of as individual elements, but all three, in a single mark? This is precisely the kind of challenge I love.
After doing a bit of research I found that two objects appear in 99.8% of all logos for masons: bricks (brick patterns) and trowels. These images are so pervasive that they can be found in nearly every possible design solution down to mimicking the classic Masonic fraternal logo. These images are pervasive because there are literally no other objects that could represent "masonry". My initial pass included bricks, trowels, and a couple terrible attempts to represent the Bell family business with a bell ... and a brick pattern. I threw out those samples almost immediately. And thankfully, my client listened to my rationale for not choosing a bell with brick pattern as their logo.
The only other object that makes sense visually is an actual mason. After doing a handful of initial sketches, I hit upon the idea of drawing a mason from yesteryear to represent two things visually: masonry and generations. It worked. The initial icon was a realistic portrayal of a mason from around the turn of the century. My client liked the idea but felt that the rendering and fonts were a little too "elegant" for his clientele. Their portfolio was broader than the luxury home market and, consequently, he was leaning back toward the bell with brick pattern. I asked him to let me play around with the illustration as well as the fonts to address his concerns.
A Flexible Solution
I'm drawn to logos that provide flexibility for use in different media. A logo that requires an icon to be understandable isn't a successful logo. Nor is a logo that can't be modified to work in both horizontal and vertical formats. The final logo sheet shows how the Bell Masonry logo can be adjusted to work in multiple formats.
After successive passes, I chose a heavy, highly readable sans serif font and simplified the mason icon by removing nearly all of the detail. In the end, my client was absolutely thrilled with the final result. And I managed to create a logo that incorporated all three of the elements they requested: masonry, generations, and timelessness.
I was afforded the opportunity to create an illustration for a client who has a penchant for octopi and squid. Ultimately, this illustration will be painted on a tile backsplash in her kitchen.
I plotted the illustration using a photo of the space. Ideally, I would have liked to get exact measurements but I knew going in that adjustments will need to be made on-the-fly to accommodate the space, size (dimensions) of the tile, and things like the electrical outlet. None of these things affect the basic concept.
Turns out I did a pretty good job measuring. Very little adjustment will need to be made to the illustration to accommodate the space.
Next steps will be selecting tile, researching paints, how-to-paint-on-tile techniques, and how to fire and/or seal the final painting.
I'll be posting more about this project as it progresses.
Newly finished tee shirt design for the Ballard Beer Company. The shirt will feature a reversed version of this illustration.
As with most of my work, I sketched out the primary art by hand then scanned the image. The final line work was done on an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I wound up exporting multiple PSDs for various elements of the final illustration and compositing those elements in Photoshop. Final tweaks, including additional line work, were completed using a Wacom tablet in Photoshop.
It isn't often that an artist is given an opportunity to create his unique vision without any limitations. Greg, the owner of the Ballard Beer Co., gave me free rein to do whatever I wanted with a mural he wanted to have painted in a cramped spot at the front of his store ...