Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Logo Review

It’s hard to believe that 2010 is almost over! This time of year, it’s always healthy to do some reflection and evaluation. What worked? What bombed? What should we enter in the awards, and what sort of logo should we vow to never do again? Logo design is probably the hardest thing we designers do. But it is very satisfying to create a mark that defines a brand and launches an enterprise into public view. Here is a parade of logos we created over the last year and a half with some commentary about each one:

These 2 logos were actually done a few years ago, but we’ve never included them on our blog. Lucky Strike Lanes of Princeton, Kentucky is a small independent bowling alley. The owner hired us to create a nostalgic look that would give the place a classic American feel. We obliged them by creating logos for the bowling alley and the restaurant. In order to get into the right frame of mind, we had to go bowling and eat bowling alley food. Just part of the job!

A Nashville-based hard core heavy metal band needed a logo for free. Since Joel Anderson’s teenage son was in the band at the time, Joel did the logo in trade for free concert tickets, a t-shirt, and some heavy-duty earplugs.

This logo was created for, a website aimed at musicians and worship leaders who are looking for new songs that can be sung by church congregations. Note the icons representing a congregation of people with sound waves rising above the crowd.

This logo for the Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Company won several ADDY Awards, including Best of Show. It was also featured in Print Magazine and featured on the Die Line. Needless to say, it has been one of our more successful logos!

 This is an example of an unsuccessful logo. It was for a talented photographer who does very artful wedding photography. While we feel like we created a logo that captured the name, vibe and target audience, we never really found ourselves reading off the same page with the client. Sadly, none of the logos we submitted pleased him, and we ended up settling for a kill-fee and parting ways. No hard feelings... sometimes things just don’t click.

This logo is for a product line that is still in development. So we cannot say much about it, other than it has to do with old denim. We think it’s cool, and we hope to see it in use soon!

One of the craziest logos of the year was done for a pal in L.A. named Alex Mebane who is an actor, song writer, video producer. He created a hip-hop rapper persona called $pyrul and wanted us to whip him up a logo for his iTunes and YouTube promotions. We had a budget of $1 and had to do the logo in 3 hours. Since the whole idea is a parody on rap music, we were encouraged to be as cheezy as necessary to achieve the desired look. (We broke all of our own rules about NOT using every Photoshop effect available... this logo actually features drop shadow, inner bevel and lens flare!)

Hog Heaven has been around since the 1980s, but they never really had an official logo. So when owners Katy and Andy Garner called to say they would be on Food Network, we got to work creating a logo that they could use for all their promotional needs. We tried to make the logo match the establishment—a weathered rib shack that has never been fancy or flashy. Just real good.

 The Davidson County Clerk’s office has never really had a logo, either. Since the county clerk is elected, the name changes every so often. We made the logo adaptable, so the clerk’s name could be swapped out in the future. We also created icons to represent the various services the County Clerk’s office provides (like birth certificates, business licenses, automobile registration, titles, etc..) These icons will be used in creating directional signs and rack brochures.

A new church in Hendersonville, TN needed a logo and some branding to let folks know their doors were open. Logos for churches and community organizations are always tricky. The colors, fonts, and overall vibe needs to match the mission, purpose, membership, and target audience. In this case, Redeemer is a young energetic congregation with reformed orthodox evangelical theology.

The Wine Shoppe in Green Hills is known for their expertise in fine and rare wines. The new owners wanted to do a total brand overhaul. Their logo needed to look established with an old-world European look and feel. We researched fonts, wine labels, European pub signs, and poster art to arrive at the logo they chose. Above are some of the other logos we experimented with in the process.

We will do this again at the end of next year. Until then, Happy New Year, and a prosperous creative 2011 to you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NEW Print Shop Poster Series

We’ve always been fans of Hatch Showprint, Isle of Printing, and Yee-Haw Industries—classic Tennessee letterpress print shops that consistently produce striking illustrated poster designs. Computers have really changed how designers and illustrators create. Thanks to Photoshop and desk-top design programs, it seems like most contemporary commercial art is full of drop shadows, highlights, layers, stock photos, and lettering that was just typed—not really typeset or styled. What we wouldn’t give to get our hands dirty every now and then and create something from start to finish that was never touched by a pixel, mouse click or megabyte!

We work on Macs all day long. But we also draw, sketch and paint as often as possible, experimenting with any hand-done medium we can find. This keeps our design and illustration work looking fresh. (Funny how “fresh” has become code for “doesn’t look like it was done on the computer!”) There is no substitute for traditional hand-lettering, drawing or carving done by real artists. And old world printing techniques like letterpress and screen printing are great at forcing designers to limit the color palette and focus more on typography, illustration, use of positive and negative space, and simple composition. 

If we had the space, we probably would buy some old printing equipment and move backward in time, doing less and less on the Mac and conventional 4-color printers! Since we don’t actually own a letter press, all of our art ends up on the computer at some point as a digital print file.

This nostalgic longing for long-lost craftsmanship inspired our latest batch of posters for the ever-expanding Art & Soul of America Collection. We limited all the designs to 3 colors so they can eventually be reproduced as screen prints, letterpress posters. The results were very satisfying. To start, we did a test run of 4-color process printed posters made to look like letterpress prints. (They are available on our Art And Soul Of America site.) In the future, we will actually produce limited edition screen printed versions of the most popular designs. 

Check them out and let us know which ones you like best!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Art of Advertising

Back in the golden age of poster art (a period from the late-1800s to the mid-1900s,) advertisers hired talented under-employed artists to create posters that promoted everything from live shows to chocolate to soap. Even though the posters were merely hawking everyday products, they were often beautiful and eye-catching, masterfully created designs. Illustrated posters are not used much in advertising today—probably because of how much time it takes to produce this sort of art, and because most cities have laws against plastering posters on every surface.

Even though posters don’t get much display space in modern commerce, we thought we would revive the long-lost art of illustrated advertising posters in an effort to promote our client’s establishments. Rather than look for commercial wall space, we created the posters to be framed as art that folks would use to decorate interiors—restaurants, homes, offices, etc..

The Wine Shoppe in Green Hills hired us to redesign their logo and create a new branding scheme that emphasized their expertise in rare and imported wines. In addition to creating store signs, biz cards, gift tags and ads, we illustrated a series of 5 classic wine posters. In Tennessee, Wine and Spirits stores are not allowed to sell anything but wine and spirits. They can only use the art to promote the store. But we are selling the prints for $39 each on our Spirit of Nashville poster web site. These limited edition prints make great wall decor for any wine enthusiast. And while they add charm to any kitchen or dining room, they will silently promote the Wine Shoppe for years to come!

Another client, Hog Heaven created 3 new BBQ sauces, but did not have a big marketing budget to advertise. So we took the label art we had designed for the sauce bottles and made posters and tin signs for display in their rib shack and to be sold on-line. These prints will also be available on our Spirit of Nashville site and Nashville Artisans Gallery site in January.

The idea behind making striking poster art is simple: create art that folks love enough to hang on their wall, and you’ll have them staring at your logo all year long! So even if our clients don’t plan to plaster Nashville with poster art, they will still gain prestige and visibility as food poster collectors buy the prints to decorate their home and office walls.