In my newest video series, Making A Mark, I take you through my process of creating designs.
In the first episode, I try to interpret the word in·se·cu·ri·ty into a logo design.
Watch, like, share, and subscribe!
In my newest video series, Making A Mark, I take you through my process of creating designs.
In the first episode, I try to interpret the word in·se·cu·ri·ty into a logo design.
Watch, like, share, and subscribe!
Welcome to the first official installment of a new series entitled “I Didn’t Design It But I Like It”. In this series, I want to highlight the design work of others that I enjoy. I am a big advocate for giving flowers while people can still smell them. I believe loving design means loving designers. Seeing great work acts as not only inspiration but motivation. We should all share our appreciation for and to those who inspire us.
In this first official installment, I’d like to salute Torch Creative and their work on the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) logo. My first time seeing the logo was when it was brought into the office by my friend and co-worker TJ, a graduate of UNO. It actually took closer inspection to realize that the O itself was designed to include the U and the N. This increased my fondness of the logo as I am a huge fan of clean and clever logos. TJ also showed off the UNO Maverick logo which I was also a fan of. The entire athletics brand of UNO gets two thumbs up from me.
When TJ took my friend William and myself up to Omaha on a road trip, he gave us a tour of the university. On this tour, we were able to see the beautiful on-campus applications of the logo. We attended a UNO hockey game, my first ever hockey game, which was played in Baxter Arena in Omaha. On the outside of the arena, you could see that mighty fine O shining brightly in the night. Inside, the store had the logo (and other brand elements) on all kinds of different apparel and other items. It’s one thing to see a logo on the internet. It’s a completely different and much more rewarding feeling to see how it is being applied on site in its natural habitat.
I actually didn’t find out that Torch Creative did this logo I was crushing on so hard until later. Torch Creative is a design studio based in Dallas, Texas that I have been following on Twitter for a while now. On June 19, they posted a tweet that stopped me in my tracks. So, I went to their website and discovered that I had somehow missed, in their portfolio, a project entitled “University of Nebraska Omaha Rebrand”.
The work of Torch Creative is a source of great inspiration. They done work for so many big time brands, events, and schools. A lot of their work lives in that beautiful cross section of design and sports. Even their sketches are absolutely phenomenal. Salute to Torch Creative!
Let people know you like their stuff. When you see design work (or any good work) you enjoy on social media, don’t just like but leave a positive comment. Let the people know that they are creating and sharing something that positively impacts you. I hope I am creating designs that are doing the same.
Full video on my YouTube Channel below:
I am the Publications Manager & Multimedia Designer at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters. This means that I serve as the one-man graphic design department at headquarters and handle a variety of projects, which include websites, visual brand identities, trade show displays, magazines, and more. Last year, the more included designing the visual layout for the Chapter Vice President of Membership Teaching Manual and the Membership Candidate Guidebook for the Kappa Kappa Psi National Membership Education Program: The Road to Wisdom.
The Road to Wisdom is a comprehensive education plan that provides lesson plans and activities that was adopted at the 2017 National Convention in Orlando, Florida, by an overwhelming majority of brothers. The work behind this plan began years before its completion. My work with the Kappa Kappa Psi Curriculum Committee began with design the logo for the program. Knowing this logo would be the centerpiece of the entire brand of the program, I wanted something that would be immediately recognizable.
The star is a frequently used shape throughout the imagery and symbolism of Kappa Kappa Psi. I made the star the main shape and within it cut out the shape of a road. The road is drawn at an angle and curve, moving forward, upward, and onward. The two lines on the road mark the center of a two-way road. The two-way road can represent the giving and receiving of education as well as two-way communication between teacher and student. The logo was used to promote the program and brand the curriculum committee but the two full textbooks would be a much larger and in-depth design undertaking.
The outstanding Kappa Kappa Psi Curriculum Committee spent a lot of time crafting a lesson plan and corresponding documents to provide maximum value to brothers and Membership Candidates. Once they had the content collected and organized, they trusted me to interpret their great work visually. To do that efficiency, I used Adobe InDesign. For this kind of project, there is no better program to use that InDesign.
First, the covers of the two textbooks had to properly represent the Fraternity and the program. I put the Road To Wisdom logo large on the cover with the official Greek letter logo of the Fraternity at the bottom. The title of each book was placed in-between. In the background, there is a collage of various photos related to Kappa Kappa Psi, including historical landmarks and symbols.
Inside the book, I had to use the power of InDesign to setup certain things to make sure each book was visually consistent throughout. Font choices and title styles were saved in the Paragraph Styles section. Section titles, excerpt text, Membership Candidate Responses, Guiding Questions For Discussion, and other elements that would be in every lesson were made to be consistent throughout. Also, speaking of consistency, InDesign allows you to create Master Pages that create the template for the rest of the pages in the document as assigned. The majority of the books use the template I created with the full text Kappa Kappa Psi logo on the left, the Road To Wisdom star in the center, and “Road To Wisdom” with the page number to the right.
Each lesson in the Road To Wisdom is color coded. These colors are not only featured in their corresponding section but in the Table of Contents. The Table of Contents also are the first hint that I will be using the road (from the main logo) as a motif throughout the books. The road is featured on each of the lesson covers. Each lesson has its color and a summary of the information they will be learning or teaching, depending on the book. The Vice President of Membership had additional elements such as Required and Recommended Attendees. The differences in the two books stem from the different perspectives (teacher and student).
Throughout each book, information and directives are presented so that the teacher and student can get the most out of their membership education experience. The committee and I talked at length about the best way to translate their incredibly important and hard work into tangible publications. The purpose of The Road to Wisdom is to ensure that each future Brother, regardless of initiating chapter, is receiving the same national standard of education and training. These books are the foundation of building a positive life-long Brotherhood experience and I am blessed to have played a role in their design.
P.S. You can check out the official Road To Wisdom webpage we designed as a resource for the program.
Recently, Instagram announced their new feature, IGTV. When initially announced, I thought it would be like Facebook Watch where only the most popular & well-known creators would be able to create programming for the platform. Imagine my surprise when my Instagram app updated and I found out everyone on IG could now create long-form video content. At launch, some well-known creators and personalities had content populating IGTV, showing us what was possible. Days before the launch, I had been thinking about making more videos for Instagram and possibly making an “Instagram show” of sorts so this development pleased me.
Instagram has evolved from just photos to allowing 15 second video (which I experimented with) to allowing up to 60 second videos. Now, with IGTV, creators can upload videos up to 15 minutes with some creators being able to upload up to 1 hour. I’ve written about the power of video before and the power only increases with each new advance in tech. So, with each new advance, comes new opportunities to experiment and attempt to master.
The process of designing anything for any platform or purpose begins with setting up the file. I edit all my videos in Adobe Premiere Pro. So, when I create a new sequence in Premiere, I have to make sure of two things in particular: the frame size and the pixel aspect ratio. For square Instagram video that I’d post on my regular feed, I use a 1080 x 1080 frame size. For IGTV, I use a 1080 x 1920 frame size for the vertical video format. With any video I am posting on the Instagram, I always have the pixel aspect ratio at 1.0 (square pixels).
According to Instagram’s website on IGTV:
Videos must be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long. Larger accounts and verified accounts can upload videos up to 60 minutes long, but they must be uploaded from a computer.
Videos must be in MP4 file format. Videos should be vertical (not landscape) with a minimum aspect ratio of 4:5 and maximum of 9:16. The maximum file size for videos that are 10 minutes or less is 650MB. The maximum file size for videos up to 60 minutes is 5.4GB.
As far as filming (or using) content for IGTV specifically, I try to keep in mind the vertical video format. I either just try to keep the main content centered when filming so I can maneuver while editing in Premiere or just film vertical, which you can do naturally on your phone. I have attempted to translate some videos I already created into IGTV format from my YouTube channel. The challenge there is to not assume all the content will be seen in a vertical format. I shift video file around and get creative in editing to make sure I am presenting the visuals in a way that’s appealing and unique to the platform.
I encourage everyone who has a personal Instagram account or manages one for a brand to experiment with IGTV and video on Instagram in general. With any new feature or platform, you have to taste it and figure out how to best use it for the building and sustaining of your brand for your goals. I like that Instagram is giving creators so much on one app. I don’t necessarily see it as a YouTube killer but it does give creators another option and avenue. I have enjoyed my IGTV experience thus far and am looking forward to producing more content on it in the future.
From the moment I laid eyes (and ears) on her “Tightrope” music video in the year 2010, I have been in love with the creative tour-de-force that is Janelle Monae. She is my favorite music artist of any genre, any time period. She and the Wondaland Arts Society produce music that is so creative, exciting, soulful, meaningful, and exquisitely crafted. I devour any and all music that she releases or is featured on. Recently, she released her latest marvelous body of work, Dirty Computer, and I was inspired to create illustrations based on each of the marvelous songs on the album.
Similar to my 100 Songs Project, I listened to each song as I attempted to illustrate a corresponding visual concept. I sketched out some ideas that I thought would work for each track. From each sketch/idea, I went into Adobe Illustrator and came up with something I thought would speak to each track. Along with listening to each song on repeat while designing, I used the lyrics and breakdown from the website Genius as well as her own interactive tracklist with her listed inspirations. Some of the illustrations are also inspired the accompanying emotion picture she released along with the album.
Here are the 12 illustrations I came up with for the project.
1 – Dirty Computer – This one was a minimalistic illustration of the back of my MacBook Pro with a silhouette of an Janelle Monae illustration from her “Django Jane” music video (which you’ll see featured in number 5) replacing the Apple logo.
2 – Crazy, Classic, Life – This is an illustration of a frame taken directly from the Dirty Computer emotion picture.
3 – Take A Byte – A microchip branded with love with a literal bite taken on out of it.
4 – Screwed – This illustration is directly inspired by the lyric – “You f*cked the world up now, we’ll f*ck it all back down”.
5 – Django Jane – I drew this from the frame in the “Django Jane” video where she pans right for the angle.
6 – Pynk – Directly inspired by the music video and the pants the dancers wore.
7 – Make Me Feel – Inspired by the shades she wore in the music video and how she danced between a man (Mars) and a woman (Venus), hence the symbols.
8 – I Got The Juice – Juice box for the win! Using the Django Jane silhouette here too.
9 – I Like That – Made my own like icon on this one. Inspired by “Told the whole world, I’m the venom and the antidote / Take a different type of girl to keep the whole world afloat”
10 – Don’t Judge Me – A judge’s gavel crossed out.
11 – So Afraid – This one was the most challenging. I was trying to figure out how to visually represent fear. So, I took inspiration from the Scream movies. I utilized negative space for the heart shaped tongue, the teeth, and the tears welling up in the eyes.
12 – Americans – A good old-fashioned American apple pie! With equal signs all over the top. Using red, white, and blue.
Tribute projects are fun to work on. I am happy anytime what I love do can intersect with other things I am passionate about. Put time into design series like this is great practice for me and a way for me share what I like with the world – like the greatness of Janelle Monae.
I am listening to the classic NBA on NBC theme, “Roundball Rock” by John Tesh on a loop as I type this blog post. One of the greatest, most iconic themes in the history of televised programming.
Last year, the NBA announced that they were giving the Playoffs and the NBA Finals a new visual identity. While I have no issue with the change to the Playoffs branding, I think this new NBA Finals branding is the pits. As we draw nearer to the NBA Finals with each passing day, I felt the need to write about why I am not pleased with this change.
I am not saying the logo isn’t well made. The logo is fine. However, the importance of the NBA Finals had typically been made immediately apparent by the logo. The sophisticated written wordmark with the trophy in the background was special. This new thing is way too similar to the new Playoffs branding.
In my opinion, there should be a stark difference between the logo promoting a first round game and the NBA Finals! Reaching the NBA Finals means reaching a special echelon in the sport of basketball. The logo should reflect such.
This whole movement by certain sports leagues (I’m looking at you NFL) towards standardization is so disappointing. NBA is also standardizing their All-Star Weekend logos, which is especially disappointing since the next one is going to be in my home state of North Carolina.
The NBA Finals logo has become so iconic to me and I will miss it. Listen. I understand what they are doing. I really do. I understand their desire for consistent branding and colors for the Playoffs and the NBA Finals. I just don’t like it.
But I expect, like most changes like this, we will eventually get used to it and accept our lack of control in the whole matter.
One of the greatest events in the history of music was when Spotify began allowing people to upload their own feature images for their music playlists.
Probably going overboard with that statement but it still was pretty cool.
From that moment onward, I starting thinking of cool cover art I could make for my playlists. As a lover of playlist making, this added another element to one of my favorite pastimes. As a music lover and a design lover, the intersection of the two has always provided me with great joy.
Over the past few months, I have been making my Bobbie’s Music Monday playlists and sharing them on my social media. Each playlist is made up of songs that I had never heard before and really liked upon discovery. Every Bobbie’s Music Monday playlist has its own custom cover. Starting with the 4th edition, I designed a matching back cover with the tracklist for each one. Yesterday, I posted the 26th edition. I followed my usual Music Monday process with the latest.
The art for each playlist is usually inspired by one of the tracks or one of the source albums. Once I finish the playlist, I think about what I want the cover to be. The front cover is always designed first. The back cover plays off the front cover’s concept. With playlist number 26, I knew I was going to have “This is America” by Childish Gambino as the opener and “Americans” by Janelle Monae as the closer. So, I immediately starting playing with a minimalist version of the American flag. In Photoshop, I warped the shapes and then put some torn paper texture within the design. My Music Monday logo was overlayed twice: once right side up and the other upside down. I wanted to go for something that showed the American colors but warped and torn. Normally, my designs are very clean but sometimes I like to go abstract and even messy when the artistic mood strikes me.
The Music Monday playlist cover designs have been great design practice. They allow me to experiment with concepts outside of my usual work. Thanks again to Spotify for allowing me the ability to truly customize and be creative on the platform.
To properly execute a strategy you need to know what you want to accomplish. In my humble opinion, creating with purpose is essential to a fulfilling life. Regardless of what you are creating, you need to be aware and constantly evaluating why you’re doing it. What do you want to accomplish? This past weekend, three words came to mind and I wrote them down. I want to accomplish these three things with my work and content.
Teach. Inspire. Reveal.
I want to teach what I learn as I learn it. I believe in pouring into others as I am being poured into. Being a person with expertise means having the power to help others who want to do what you do. I want to be seen as a resource for aspiring designers as well as potential clients.
I want to inspire through the work that I share. I cherish the ability and the opportunity to be a catalyst for someone else to create. My wish for everyone is to achieve the reality of their creative potential. Sometimes that takes seeing someone else doing what you want to do. I follow numerous graphic designers who inspire me on a daily basis. I would love to one day be seen as an inspiration to someone who sees my content.
I want to reveal the process behind the work I do as a way to help people gain understanding. People who aren’t even in the design space seem to enjoy my content. They like the visual concepts and content I post on my social media. They like seeing the behind-the-scenes of what I do. That behind-the-scenes content contextualizes my designs and serves as teachable opportunities.
Through this blog, my video series, my designs, and more, I want to be an advocate for creativity. I want to do as much as possible with the skillset, resources, and opportunities I’ve been blessed with.
Knowing how to give feedback to your designer is crucial to the progress of a project. When you are required to get approval from multiple people, feedback can become a sea that you and your designer will drown in. However, there are ways to navigate that sea.
Before bringing anyone in to do work for you, make sure you have your vision and goal(s) set. The more unified the team, the better the overall project and process will go. Know the gameplan and what you’re trying to achieve. The designer is more likely to be successful when the goal is clearly defined as early as possible. Creative clarity is always important to have from the very beginning. Keep in mind that the unifying vision shouldn’t be at the whim of any one person’s personal preference but at the whim of the overall goal. This vision must be kept at the forefront of the minds of all parties involved, moving forward.
Make sure the team selects a point person to be the main contact for your designer. This person will be the liaison between the designer and the rest of the team. Don’t let various members of the team shout changes to your designer at any given time. That could get overwhelming to the designer and make the process very choppy and unfocused. One person should be the collector of all the feedback and the main communicator with the designer.
Filter and organize the feedback for your designer. Some feedback will be repeated. Some people may even contradict each other, depending on how unified the team is (see Tip #1). In your meeting with your squad, collect all the thoughts of the people present and discuss those thoughts. Condense everything to an organized bullet point list of changes and comments. When I’m working with a team of clients, I ask for all feedback to be given at once in a single e-mail. It helps me to see it all at once and neatly itemized. I want to make all the necessary changes at once rather than change some things then get other changes later from feedback I wasn’t expecting.
Don’t let the project become another design by committee statistic. It is possible to come to the proper design solution that satisfies the team need with proper execution and communication.
Chances are the first attempt at a design solution won’t be a home run. On the first go round, I usually have no problem shooting in the dark. Sometimes, people need to see something before they can explain what direction they want to go in. Seeing something visually can spark ideas. However, the amount of time playing the guessing game should be kept to a minimum. Creative clarity is more important than creative freedom. Clarity requires proper communication. So, here are some tips on how to communicate feedback to a designer.
Provide context. Try to refrain some simply saying you don’t like a concept. Explain why you don’t like it. Provide examples that suggest more of the direction you’d like to see the project go toward. In my client questionnaire, I included a section that asks for the potential client to provide examples (from in and outside of my portfolio) that hint at what they’d like to see.
Ask questions of the designer. You may be confused about a design decision and clarity on that decision may give you a better perspective. Learning the why sometimes can change a person’s mind on a design. Be open to discussion and seek to gain insight. Your vision and the designer’s expertise must come together for the project to work. A desire to understand and a spirit of cooperation are absolutely crucial.
Be upfront about what you want. Be honest yet respectful. Appreciate the time that went into creating the concept(s) but don’t be afraid to reveal what you don’t like. We want you to be satisfied with the service we provide. We can deal with honest, constructive feedback because it makes not only the project but us better at what we do.
Feedback is necessary to reach the ultimate goal. Designers and clients must be open-minded and listen to one another.