In 2018, I embark on a new creative journey. Towards the end of 2017, I decided I wanted to produce more video content on a consistent basis. I began working on a new video series to premiere in 2018 called “Run The Layers”. Run The Layers is a show created because I thought it was a cool name and I love Adobe Illustrator (+ the entire Adobe Creative Cloud) and making logos. The purpose behind the show is to take the viewer on a journey on how designs are created. I want to break down all the layers, figurative and literal, within pieces of graphic design.
Different markets call for different types and styles of logo. The logo’s personality should reflect the brand’s personality. The application of the research and the conversations will result in a design that works for that particular brand and its goals. It would be a mistake for me to design as if I was a robot producing generic brand identities. Each of us humans have unique personalities. It’s the same for brands. We should create distinct designs.
The Everyone And Their Brother logo design was a labor of love and the result of a fun journey amongst friends. Everyone And Their Brother is a new comedy podcast where four friends invite listeners to share in their “conversations around a family dinner table” experience. My friend TJ and I were invited by our friend and pro podcaster William to join him and his brother on a new podcast, a new adventure.
So, being the graphic designer of the group, I already had ideas in my head for the branding for our podcast.
The central idea surrounds the ampersand. In Adobe Illustrator, I made an ampersand using two simple circles. I made a cut in the bottom circle, with my BFF “Divide Objects Below”. The ampersand represents the “and” in the name as well as the collaborative effort of the project. The podcast is built so that, as long as there are multiple hosts available, an episode can be recorded. We also plan on inviting guests to join the party.
The Four Circles (Head And Shoulders)
On the inside of the homemade ampersand, you’ll find four circles and shoulder shapes. This obviously represents the four founders of the podcast. Each of us bring something special to the table and I wanted that represented. However the podcast evolves, I want the logo to reflect its origin.
This shape represents us speaking and broadcasting through the podcast. It is as if we are shouting through the ampersand. We are giving the world our opinions on many things. Sweet, precious opinions being recorded and made available to the masses.
Final Results & Variations
I made the logo shape in black and white first, as I always do. Then I applied color to it after the shape was approved. I chose the colors blue and white with a classic touch of gold. The colors were chosen on purpose. It refers to Kappa Kappa Psi, a fraternity in which all four of us are members. After finalizing the logo, I made graphics to serve as our avatar on iTunes and other podcast outlets as well as social media. I also formatted the logo and text for our cover photo for our Twitter and Facebook pages.
This logo was fun to come up with and the podcast has been a blast to be a part of.
You should listen sometime…like now: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/everyone-and-their-brother/id1290583950?mt=2
A friend of mine suggested I try out Doctor Who. Doctor Who is a British science-fiction show about the adventures of a Time Lord simply known as “The Doctor”. He explores the universe in his time-traveling ship, the TARDIS. It is a very interesting program to say the least. The two test episodes I was shown by my friend were “The Eleventh Hour” from Series 5 (seasons = series, across the pond) and “Blink” from Series 3. I thoroughly enjoyed both and instantly became interested in learning more about the Doctor Who universe. I considered being lazy and just continuing from Series 5. However, I decided to go back to Series 1 Doctor Who and experience the entire revival series from the beginning.
(Sorry to all super die-hard Whovians that think I should start at the very, very beginning. I don’t have time to go back to the 1963-1989 series and catch all the way up.)
While currently in Series 4, I had an idea to design some logo style graphics in tribute to this outstanding program of which I am a new fan. There may be – probably will be – spoilers so proceed with caution. (The show’s been out for 10 series starting in 2005 so…there’s that.)
Series 1 – 3
The initial idea was to just make a graphic for each series as I completed them. But you’ll see as you read further that it expanded a bit beyond that. With this part of the “Whovian Bobbie” design series, I wanted to capture some of the important elements of each series/season. A somewhat minimalistic representation of the series itself.
In the Series 1 graphic, I included original interpretations of the sonic screwdriver (one on each side), Daleks, and the TARDIS itself (on top). I was going for a crest of sorts then it took a life of its own.
In the Series 2 graphic, I highlighted one of my favorite interactions – Cybermen vs. Daleks at Canary Wharf. The two hearts below represent the two hearts of The Doctor. They are half filled to represent the event towards the end of Doomsday.
In the Series 3 graphic, you see my interpretation of one of the posters for the election of Harold Saxon, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. “Vote Saxon” was seen throughout the show in various places. The meaning behind it was revealed towards the end of Series 3. The circular objects in the Os as well as the middle of the poster refer to the Toclafane, seen in the two-part finale of Series 3. At the bottom, you see two dueling screwdrivers (which may or may not both be sonic)…for…reasons.
Characters / Races Thus Far
Since I had to create concepts of both for Series 1 and 2, I decided to make separate images for the Cybermen and the Daleks. Taking what I considered essential features of both, I crafted logos representing the legendary icons.
Here’s a video of how I designed the Cybermen logo.
Going forward, I am going to be designing my logo-ish tributes to various characters from the show and I will be designing graphics for each series as I finish watching them. Be following at instagram.com/creativebobbie. Excited to see where this project (as well as the show itself) takes me.
I’ve written about the process I take my freelance clients through. In this post, I want to discuss my thoughts on how to get those clients to trust the process. The first step in doing this may surprise you.
Choose The Right Clients
“Serious Inquiries Only”
There is a reason you see this when people post their business contact information.
Be selective about who you work with. Once you accept the opportunity to work with someone, that client and that project is your responsibility. In my field, I like to only work with people who understand the value and importance of design. I also love working with people whose projects will bring some positivity into the world, whether through a service or product. Take the time prior to accepting a job to evaluate how well you and the potential client fit with one another. Evaluate how well you can accomplish what is necessary for the project. Be thorough in determining what they need and establish yourself as a teammate and not a tool. Some people are simply looking for technicians while others want to invest in a specialist to join their team for a time.
Keep The Focus On Their Goals
Never take for granted their decision to reach out to you for help. Appreciate every opportunity you have to serve someone else. While appreciating, make sure you are digging. You build trust by digging deeper into their backstory and the backstory of the project. The more they can tell you are personally invested in their success, the more they trust in you as a teammate. You must be invested in their vision beyond the mere monetary transaction. As a graphic designer, I’m not chasing money. I’m chasing purpose. I feel these skills I’ve been blessed with have a purpose attached. My purpose is tied to helping others more efficiently fulfill their purpose through the visual medium. The overall goal and purpose of the project should inform every decision.
Explain The Process & Reasoning
Do your due diligence in “on-boarding” your client. Take the time to explain the process and make them feel welcomed. Just as you need to feel like a teammate so do they. Throughout the process, explain your design decisions with clarity. Also, be open to critique. Try what they may want to see before rejecting their input. Showing is always better than telling. Give options and explain why, in your professional opinion, you would go with one over another. Be the professional and take responsibility for your part in getting the project from idea to tangible reality.
At the end of the day, you need to deliver. A satisfied client will become an ambassador for you. They will go forth and tell the world of how great you are. Others will be listening and come to you with confidence and excitement. Word-of-mouth references are the best. Potential clients will come ready to trust your process after seeing how well it worked out for their friend or colleague. The equity you have built with your client will go a long way in bringing in new ones. Your positive reputation grows with each successful project – putting you in a better position to serve in the future.
Completing logo projects means providing my clients all the files they will need going forward. It’s not just sending a jpeg of the finalized logo. You have to take into account all the possible ways the logo will be applied. Will this logo be used only in the digital space or will there be print elements? Will it work on light and dark backgrounds? Will all the elements of the logo translate well on multiple backgrounds and platforms? Because of these questions and more, I like to provide multiple files for my clients in the final stage.
Many discussions and revisions have led us to this point. We have arrived at the solution the brand needed. Delivery of that solution may need to be in various parts. The logo and its variations are sent in multiple formats, for web and for print. The logo is the centerpiece of their visual brand identity so it needs to be prepared to work.
First, the main logo in full color. Alternate files will include variations of the logo for it to work on light backgrounds and dark backgrounds. For more involved logos, a one-color option can also be handy to have in the future. The one-color option is very versatile. Its uses include letterhead, stamps, or even laser-cut products. For example, the Nike swoosh logo is an extremely versatile, one-color logo that can be used on various products in a variety of colors.
For combination logos (with typography and an icon), you’ll need to think how those will translate horizontally and vertically. Each element will need to be isolated and maneuvered. The results will vary depending on whether you need a banner/sign or a Facebook cover photo.
The needs of the client may require multiple components to be satisfied. Delivering for the client means providing as much value as possible. The more problems you solve preemptively in the delivery stage, the greater the value and the longer it will last.
Writing down your process is important. It is great to know how you best operate so you can communicate that with those who potentially want to work with you on a project. In this post, I will take you through the client process I typically use for my freelance design clients.
The Questionnaire + Q&A
Information is vital to understanding. Whenever anyone reaches out to me about possibly designing something for them, I send them to the contact page on my portfolio website. My questionnaire gives me much needed background of the project, their goals, and any design preferences. It is my job as a designer to bring the vision of the client to fruition. I can’t do that unless I know everything I can as early as I can.
After receiving the initial questionnaire answers, we delve deeper and have further discussion with the goal to gain the utmost clarity on the project needs and goals. This is where I learn more about you as an individual and the impact you want to make on the world (or your local area) through this endeavor. Clearly defined company and project goals are required to successfully translate the story of your brand to the public. As a designer, I want to know as much as possible before any sketching or designing actually begins. Knowing the goal(s) makes it easier to come up with a brand strategy — visually and otherwise.
Design Brief and Proposal
Based on the questionnaire and our follow-up discussion, I will put together a contract that will include the design goals, pricing, and policies. The question of “How much” is reserved for this stage because an estimate can not be made without the project goals and needs being clearly defined and agreed upon. I personally don’t have set generic prices I advertise. Every project is given it’s own price estimate based on its particular needs and scope.
Project Start to Finish
Once the proposal is approved and the first deposit (usually 50%) is made then the project will begin. The personal investment made by the client means that there is buy-in from the beginning. It means they value my time. The receipt of the deposit secures their project into my schedule.
After initial sketching and digitization and refining, we will go through rounds of necessary revisions until we achieve the optimal solution. We are teammates in this endeavor. Once we have agreed on the final design(s), the remaining balance will be due. Once final payment is received, all necessary files will be turned over to the client for use.
Create your own process. Discover what works best for you. There is a confidence that comes with having one mapped out. With practice, you’ll know when to deviate and/or re-evaluate. However, the clarity of process will do you good.
Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity & Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority promote the advancement of college and university bands. The organizations share a national headquarters and a national publication. The PODIUM is that national publication.
As Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer, this publication is one of my main responsibilities. Every semester (spring and fall), an issue of The PODIUM is produced and sent to chapters and alumni members across the country. According to The PODIUM Online, the purpose of the publication is “a show-window of the college band world” and “serves as a snapshot of the Fraternity, Sorority, and the college & university band at the time”.
Published across multiple mediums, The PODIUM articles cover a wide range of topics relevant to Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, and the greater college band world. Articles aim to educate, entertain, and inspire those engaged in the exciting world of the college band through the exchange of ideas, experiences, and expertise.
I’ve come a long way since I arrived in the National Headquarters in April of 2013. Before that time, I had never used Adobe InDesign before. Within months on job, I had to learn enough of the program to produce a 44-48 page magazine. Recently, the 9th issue I’ve designed was released into the world. Visually, I feel like this is the best one I’ve done. The Fall 2017 issue of The PODIUM is the culmination of subtle and not so subtle changes to the layout over the years.
The Cover / The Theme
Every cover I’ve designed reflects the theme of that particular edition of The PODIUM. I’ve written before about what a magazine cover is suppose to do. The Fall 2017 theme is the post-National Convention recap, which is the theme of most odd year fall issues. With this being my 3rd post-National Convention issue, I continued the tradition of using the official National Convention photo of the attendees. My initial idea was to have the photo cover the entire area and place The PODIUM logo within the picture. However, due to the dimensions of the photo, I had come up with a new idea.
I made two copies of the photo, with one serving as a background and another in the foreground. I overlayed the light to dark blue gradient (made with the same blues from the 2017 NatCon logo) onto the large background photo. I placed the smaller version of the photo on top as if it was a physical photo laying on top of a table. Drop shadow was added to the photo to help with the effect. I placed the official 2017 NatCon logo with the text “CONVENTION EDITION” at the bottom to put a stamp on this particular issue’s theme.
The Inside / The Articles
Throughout my years here, I’ve experimented with the design of the inside of the magazine in an effort to improve and evolve the magazine. I’ve altered the masthead, the calendar of events, and the From The Executive Director page. I’ve completely overhauled the table of contents and other elements, drawing inspiration from professional, entertainment, and other fraternal publications.
Subtle yet important touches include increasing the space between text columns as well as the space from the edges of pages. The additional white space makes the magazine cleaner overall.
In the Fall 2017 issue, I’ve arrived at an article format I really like. I gave the title text more weight and have an excerpt that acts as a preview of the content within. I’m very visually satisfied with this layout, which is still flexible throughout the magazine. The tradition of using one of the colors of the author’s school continues in this issue and work well in this new style.
The National Officers section is where National Leadership submits articles for publication. They usually promote national initiatives and/or provide important news or advice to members. I completely changed this section to be more readable with dark text on white paper. The blue top and bottom sections let the reader know they are in a different section with a different purpose. I always want to design something that is clean yet still distinctive. The author and their title moved to the top to make room for their photo. Having the officer’s photo beside their article puts a face to the important name, creating that connection for the reader.
I’ve gotten great feedback on this latest issue of The PODIUM magazine. It’s the closest to what I’ve always wanted to The Podium to be visually. Through trial and error, research, and the support of those who I work with I learned how to make a national magazine and then how to steadily improve it. I’ll always strive for greater design, clean yet creative, for the Fraternity and the Sorority.
The intersection of sports and design is a beautiful place. My favorite sport to watch is football yet this season was the first year I had ever participated in Fantasy Football. Fantasy Football is where you are the general manager / owner of a virtual gridiron football franchise . You draft players and manage your lineup from week to week, trying to best other virtual teams in your league. But first and foremost, you have make a name for your team – literally.
The Name & The Tagline
Coming up with creative names is one of my favorite things to do in life. I know some people do parody names or utilize creative football puns. The Stroll City Strivers are my team. Strolling refers to the tradition of performing synchronized dance and step moves to music. I learned how to when I became a brother of the MIGHTY Iota Zeta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at North Carolina A&T. Speaking of Kappa Kappa Psi, the Fraternity motto is “Strive for the Highest”. I also present a workshop at conventions called “Strolling & Striving In The Brilliant Light of Brotherhood”. So, naming my team the Stroll City Strivers and having #StrollAndStrive as our slogan just fits.
Figuring out how to visually interpret strolling in a logo presented a challenge. Also, designing a mascot logo in general presents a challenge for me. I usually like to create more minimalistic, symbol type brands. I don’t consider myself a particularly talented illustrator but I do like to push myself when I can. I took a photo of myself mid-stroll (“throwing a K” as we call it) and put it in Adobe Illustrator. The pen tool and I went through the photo and created vectors of the most essential parts with some creative license. I chose to use various shades of blue to highlight certain features and shadows.
The first pass of the logo and the second pass of the logo differ mainly in the text used. I posted the initial version in the Makers of Sport Slack community for feedback. Who better to get feedback from on my fictional franchise’s branding than designers who work with actual school athletic departments and professional teams. I was given some tips, including giving my wordmark more weight. I revisited the text, choosing a new font and altered it to give it some personality.
Huge salute to Brandon Moore, whose Staubachs Coffee team social media graphics served as inspiration for me to create some for Stroll City.
As much as I love the Adobe Creative Cloud and my computer (the one at work and at home), I need breaks from technology. Taking breaks help me as a designer and as a human. Stepping away gives room for new ideas and strategies to reveal themselves. The internet is a great tool for discovery but so is actually going outside. Changing your environment can spark creativity in ways that sitting in front of your computer for hours can not. It can also save you from losing your mind over a tenacious problem you’re trying solve.
Recently, I took a trip with friends to Los Angeles. The time away and the disruption of my normal routine helped me relax my mind. A relaxed mind is fertile ground for creativity. When you’re not trying to force inspiration, it comes much more quickly on its own accord. A lot of ideas for designs hit me when I’m not even thinking about designing.
Another positive of getting away from the computer is gaining perspective and appreciation. Sitting on Venice Beach, basking in the glow of the beautiful day, I took time to appreciate the moment. As a professional graphic designer, I get paid to do what I love to do. I pay bills, eat food, and take trips through my career in graphic design. That will always be amazing to me. I can remember a time when I was starving for an opportunity to prove myself on a professional level. These kind of thoughts are more likely to enter your head when you give yourself a chance to stop and smell the roses or, in my case, the sand and water.
After a trip outside or to another city, you can come back to your work with a new focus. Even stepping away from a project for just a few moments can allow you to see things more clearly. We will all be better, if we take more time outs to gain peace, understanding, and perspective on our work and our lives.