How To Pull From Various Sources of Inspiration

There is a great value to inspiration. Inspiration makes you feel something. It influences you. It stimulates you to do something creative. It’s the spark that can ignite an ever burning flame. The need for inspiration is real. However, you need not limit your sources of inspiration. 

One of the sources can be and should be real life.

No matter your area of expertise, getting outside for inspiration provides you with a fresh view. As a graphic designer, of course I am inspired by the outstanding work I see from the designers I follow. I’m also inspired by the work I see out and about. I’m inspired by people, nature, scenery, etc. For example, let’s say you’re trying to design a brand identity for a city or town. You’ll want to look at other municipal branding projects to see what other cities have done. But the best way to get started is to take in the city itself. Take photos of the landmarks. Talk to the citizens. Walk around and get a feel for the city. The inspiration is around you. When trying to capture a specific locale, you need to experience it and know the nature of the scene. That will allow you create the symbols/icons you need.

Looking at other similar logos can be inspiring but just doing that is limiting. Taking in the real life outside live and through photos challenges you to interpret in an original way. Capture the originality of your own perspective. There are a lot of tigers, panthers, lions, etc. in the world of sports. The reason why there’s such a variety of designs is because each designer has captured a unique perspective of the animal through photo references. A tiger is a tiger, but what you pull from its features is what makes your design yours. If you’re only looking at others’ interpretations, you’re limiting the potential of your own creativity.

Every project you take on may not have a direct example you can look to as a guide. Play with the perspective and the visual representation of things that currently exist in the world. Get creative with how you use the elements you see. Expand your sources of inspiration as much as you possibly can. It will often surprise you where the spark will come from.

That spark could also come from outside of the market that you’re operating in. When I create branding for Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Convention, I am pulling inspiration from other fraternities and sororities. However, I more so pull inspiration from the Super Bowl, Final Four, NHL, NBA, Oscars, Grammys, etc. Dreaming big means you’ll bring the most value to each and every project. I want my work to be able to stand in the same room as the work from much larger brands in much larger markets. I’m not limiting myself to work like mine. I’m inspired by great work across genres, styles, and markets.

To be the best version of yourself, you need to keep your mind and eye open.

~b.

How To Create A Logo For Super Bowl 52 Like The Logos of Old

Last year, I talked about my dislike for the decision the NFL made to standardize the Super Bowl logo. I was a big fan of the personality shown in the old logos. So, I decided to start a design series in anticipation of the then-upcoming Super Bowl 50. I continued that with my Super Bowl 51 design. This year, after much struggle and many deleted concepts, I arrived at my version of the Super Bowl 52 logo.

Super Bowl 52 will be held at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So, the very first thought I had was to try to incorporate the unique shape of the stadium architecture in the logo design. Deciding how to incorporate the shape proved more difficult than anticipated. I mistakenly tried to jump right into Adobe Illustrator and play. After failure and frustration were achieved in vector form, I took a step back and decided to go to pencil and paper. Sometimes you have to just stop and start over instead of trying to force a square peg into a round hole – especially, when you’ve created an obscene amount of layers with no solution in sight.

Wikipedia
So much failure in vector form.

Once I recalibrated and created a new concept on paper, I felt a lot better about the possibilities. In 2018, I’ve pledged to do more pencil and paper work – not just for rough ideas, but drawing full concepts before opening Illustrator. With the Super Bowl 52 concept, I finished my idea and then analyzed it. I drew guides on the drawing, which helped me see how I would want to construct this on the computer. It is important to determine as much as possible before opening Illustrator. The drawing, with guides for construction, proportions, and angles, helped give me clarity before assembling the vectors.

The hardest part of designing these Super Bowl logos – actually, logos in general – is achieving something I feel like could even stand in the same room as those that have come before. I’m not comparing myself to other designers, positively or negatively. It’s about the work. It’s about creating something that has a worthwhile polish that will appreciated and accomplish the goal. I was constantly looking at the Super Bowl logos that have come before, while reviewing what I had done for 52. I arrived at something I felt comfortable enough showing to the public.

~b.

Creating A Logo To Recognize Outstanding Student Musicians

Few things excite me more in my position at Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Headquarters than getting an e-mail asking me to design a new logo for a Fraternity or Sorority program or initiative. My love of designing logos is well documented at this point. So how do you think I responded to a request to re-design the Kappa Kappa Psi awards page with 10+ new logos?

Continue reading “Creating A Logo To Recognize Outstanding Student Musicians”

How To Create A Graphic Design Video Show With A Cool Name

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.

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Case Study: Tau Beta Sigma Coda Program

Last week, I broke down the Kappa Kappa Psi Centennial Logo. Today, I break down the logo design for the newest Tau Beta Sigma National Program, the Coda program.

Have I mentioned I love my job? The opportunity to brand various initiatives of the Fraternity and Sorority is one I cherish.

Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority is an organization dedicated to the service of collegiate bands and the promotion of equality and diversity.

The sorority operates primarily as a student service and leadership recognition society whose chief aim is to assist the Director of Bands in developing the leadership and enthusiasm that they require of their band. Our goals are not only to provide the band with organized and concentrated service activities, but to give our membership valid and wholesome experiences in organization, leadership, and social contacts.

-from tbsigma.org

The Coda program of Tau Beta Sigma encourages sisters to work with the elderly population through music. It is similar to the Crescendo program but the Coda focuses on the elderly rather than youth.

Coda is a common musical term for the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.

The program’s purpose is to focus on cultivating and continuing musicianship and music appreciation during the “concluding passage” of life.

from the Coda webpage on tbsigma.org

With the Crescendo logo, I analyzed the crescendo symbol on sheet music and thought about applying that inside the logo.

The final approved logo referenced the musical term, “a gradual increase in loudness in a piece of music”, by making each letter larger than the next. With this project, I took inspiration from the name Coda and immediately analyzed the coda symbol in music.

I recreated the general shape in Adobe Illustrator and added custom laurel leaves on the shape. On the inside, instead of just having 2 straight lines intersecting, I played with the idea of placing a baton in the middle. The baton is seen throughout the official Tau Beta Sigma visual brand identity, which I also worked on.

I was right on the money with the direction I went, according the National Council! They asked me to extend the axis of the lines to mimic more of the traditional coda sign and try the baton pointing up instead of down.

 

Making those changes really enhanced the overall visual. Extending the axis of the lines made the reference to the musical coda symbol more concrete. The baton is now pointing up from a more active perspective. The text below the logo is in the Playfair Display font, one of the official fonts chosen by the Sorority for use. After all the adjustments were made, the logo was approved!

Purpose driven design will always be my favorite thing to see and do.

~b.