Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Taking Ownership

Successful people don't wait for opportunities to come--they look for them.

As a designer in a small marketing team that serves the whole U.S. and Canadian Arabian horse world, I have plenty of projects on my plate from ads to show programs, but I also love digging up old projects and breathing new life into them.

One of the older company materials I am working on as a self-initiated project is a re-brand of the Discovery Farm ad campaign.  For the past year, my company has been using one graphic for all it's materials on this campaign.  It wasn't a bad ad, but it's been around.  People know it, and when you use a single graphic that extensively for that long, people just as quickly ignore it.

Time for a face lift.

As with the other advertising campaigns I redesigned, the first step was to freshen up the colors.  Out with the bright orange, in with a purple very complimentary to our official people, and more particularly a shade that has proven to be successful with our youth members.  Since the majority of our members are retired and aging, these ads needed to resonate with the next generation, so this shade of purple was key.


Next was the logo.  The Discovery Farm logo is just one of several AHA sub-brands, and so a drastic overhaul would have made it unrecognizable from all other AHA programs.  Instead, the new colors and some tyographic contrast was introduced through the use of Futura Heavy with Futura Regular (the old logo only used Futura Regular).

And finally, the layout was "fixed." The big floating word of the old ad was retained and confined to either the upper or lower thirds, the logo never moves from it's centered bottom, and the call-to-action was restricted to two short sentences.  To further refresh this campaign, I wrote all the call-to-actions, driving home key points about why our breed is special, why it should be preserved and, more importantly, why young people should choose them as their breed of choice. A touch of Melior, a handsome serif typeface, was used in the body copy to further introduce some typographic contrast.

Next step--bringing these print ad concepts into the digital world with web ads and social media graphics!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Have An Equine Apparel Line! :)

Of a sorts, that is.  My company partnered with Awards Recognition Concepts to create a new line of silkscreen and heat press apparel to sell at our annual shows (we hold five large shows for youth, distance, sport horse, United States and Canada).  Here is a look at the selected shirts and some of the process behind them.

And some optional promo items that might go into production as well.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

New Year, New Job

Sometimes five-year plans get broken, but luckily for me it broke in a good way.  I didn't think I'd land a dream job a year after graduating college.  I exchanged car audio for an industry I have been passionate and knowledgeable from age 10 and so now I am designing for the horse industry in a little hip town called Denver.

My primary focus is publications, advertising and apparel. I am the lead designer of the four large show program books and the annual rulebook while assisting with layouts for the bi-monthly member magazine, which has been a multi-year award winner (pictured is the first spread I designed, hot off the press).  Photography, illustration, drawing and printmaking skills all play a part in my projects here and I couldn't be happier.

I can't wait to share more with you. In just two months I've gotten more portfolio work from this new job than I had from a whole year at the previous job. I've never been more inspired.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

First Publication in an International Magazine

Look what came from France!  Back in fall 2015, while I was an intern at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, French-based Graffiti Art Magazine inquired about photos of the El Mac exhibit.  They just published my photos of the El Mac exhibit in their January/February edition of the magazine.  Go check it out!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Illustrating Coincidence

All of my top favorite songs are tracks three or four on their respective albums. Not track one, seven, or any other number, but always three or four.  Looking for inspiration to keep practicing design as personal projects, I am diving into posters for each of my favorite track three and four songs.

Up first are Imagine Dragons and Bastille. I've also included a glimpse into the process; hand-drawn marker and scanner-manipulated type.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Some of the cooler finds from my recent badge hunting in antique stores and old record shops to inspire your retro graphic design projects.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

What They Never Tell You In Design School

Design school is great because you can learn a lot in a short time, but it also doesn't mimic the real world or always prepare you for that world. You learn theory and technique in an academic setting; it is up to you to prepare for the rest.

One of those things you'll need to prepare for when hunting for that dream design job after college is the employer's skills assessment, which will come in the form of either a design prompt or a software test (how well do you really know the difference between InDesign character settings and character styles, for example).  The software test tells them your software expertise while the design prompt tells them your creative expertise and how well you handle deadlines under pressure.  In other words, are you ready for the real world?

I recently completed a design prompt for a position at a regional luxury hotel and can walk you through the process so you won't be a surprised graduate the day you get your own design prompt.

Be Resourceful In a Short Time Span
The assigned prompt was a quarter page newspaper ad due by close of business the day it was assigned.

You can cram a lot of process in a day.  I was familiar with the Mining Exchange brand, but the brief also called for an expansion of that brand and to trailblaze new territory.  I took an hour to research art deco design elements and posters (the same era that the Mining Exchange building was constructed) and decided not only to further emphasis art deco, but to introduce something the prior brand hadn't done: illustration.

Within the hour I had a moodboard assembled.  I took about 10 minutes to sketch some compositions, selected the best, and began a more refined drawing for scanning and incorporating into the final design.

Be Creative While Under Pressure
Even when working on short deadlines, take a few minutes to play with your designs. Even with this one design, you can see below how I experimented with the color and position of all the elements, playing and refining as I go.

And below is the final design. You now have a sneak peek of what you're in for when you graduate, so, while you are still in school, take advantage of projects with tight deadlines, learn to develop your process while under pressure and expand your creative toolkit as much as possible by learning as many different styles and art techniques as you can, while you can. Do that and you will be way ahead of your peers.