So I finally did it! I completed an Illustration Friday challenge. Since I’m on “vacation”, I thought I’d give this week’s challenge a go. The topic was tornado, and boy, didn’t it have my head spinning!
My initial thought was “What would Lucienne Day do?” I love her abstract, organic patterns (Calyx and Dandelion Clocks are two of my favorites). I sketched a few (atrocious) ideas with vines that formed the shape of a tornado and had some fun retro-y styled shapes on them. Nope. Not the right plan. I needed my own spin.
So, I sketched a few more options and finally created this fun little illustration.
Five?!! Can you believe it?! Five years ago, I accepted a friend’s challenge to “do something” with my owl doodles. That “something” ended up being a 365-day challenge that resulted in 385 illustrations and over 400 owls (several posts had an extra or two as part of the story). I used that challenge to help me beat burnout and escape what had become a soul-crushing day job and to move on to my next big career adventure—what I thought was my dream job: working full-time for the nonprofit I had helped to found. That dream ended rather abruptly.
Short Story: I left graphic design for 3.5 years to run a nonprofit out of my home, only to be fired at a Panera without warning or cause, replaced by a friend of a board member within 2 days, and left with no chance of a full-time job (thank you “confidential conversations” among friends) and no unemployment (small nonprofits are not liable in Ohio). While I’m hurt by how this was handled, I’m not angry or looking to place blame. It’s simply time for me to learn and to move on.
It’s up to me to label this a “fail” or the start of a “bounce”. I choose bounce. I will always choose bounce. What I have to work with: loads of creative ideas, hundreds of owls, inspiring friends and family that I will always make time for FIRST, life lessons that I’ll never forget, and a few plans.
And so to celebrate the 5th anniversary of my escape from burnout and the start of my next experiment in creative freedom—a “bird-day”, if you will—I will be releasing my owls to you in the form of…
Art prints, pins, and magnets at my Etsy store (Coupon Code 5YEAROLDOWLS will save you 13% now through June 30th.)
More art prints, home decor, & cell phone cases through Society 6
#The100DayProject Day 2: Original Vintage Games
Day 2’s challenge is to take the name of a real vintage 1940s game and create your own rules. Here are the full descriptions of the original games, in case you were curious. 100DayProject-Day2-Games.pdf
Since I was let go from my all-consuming nonprofit “day” job, I have been examining my decisions and my lifestyle. As one of the founders, I sacrificed quite a bit to ensure the success of this nonprofit—time with my family, my career as a designer, incredible design projects, a book project, friendships, my home (it was run out of my home until the day they “let me go”). Without warning or cause, I was told the board was moving on without me immediately* and did not need or want my guidance or input any longer.
*This was quite the shock, as the board and I had discussed my succession plan many times in the previous months. I had wanted to allow an easier transition for the nonprofit and also allow time to rebuild my design career, but the board decided to take a different direction.
I was devastated. Really devastated. This nonprofit had become my identity. Who would I be without it? Why didn’t I matter anymore? Would anyone care about me without my nonprofit connection? What would happen to the nonprofit?
As I sorted through the self-doubt, I realized that my life had been lacking inspiration. I had been battling a bit of burnout for a while (and attempting to recover from two concussions within just a few months of each other) and had sacrificed most of my typical creative exercises as I struggled to meet the nonprofit’s goals. While I had occasionally maintained my Saturday morning design inspiration hunts, I had stopped creating. Sure, I had some fun side-jobs once in a while, but I wasn’t doing enough to refuel my creativity.
I thought about bringing back my owl-a-day project, but that would be too easy…and the truth is, I don’t really like owls that much. I thought about joining a Creative Sprint, but I really wanted something illustration or drawing based. That’s when I learned about #The100DayProject and decided to join in. I wanted to do something with sea life and creativity—an odd combination, but that will make sense in June—and came up with my “Sea Different” project.
I lost a bet. While I cannot reveal the terms of the bet, I can tell you that in losing that bet, I was on the hook for creating a logo for an awesome friend’s new business…and I totally geeked out over losing. Sure, I could have sketched something out in crayon on a napkin and handed that over—I never said anything about the format or quality—but I just can’t do something half way.
So, I started sketching out the letters within the company name to find a style that connected with the what I believe the business’s characteristics are (reliable, creative, smart, fun, and modern). I worked out several pages of letters (including the full page of As at the left).
Once I worked my way through all of my lettering ideas, I took a look at other race management companies and considered the audience’s expectations.
I know CRP’s audience pretty well (runners!) and know that we see more than our fair share of logos—unless you’re leading all the races, you’re bound to have a few shirt-backs full of logos right in your face at every race. I wanted something that would immediately draw a runner’s attention and started on sketches that incorporated a runner with the company name. Many were absolutely hilarious, but I finally created one that I felt worked well, and sent it to Rooster & Stretch* for feedback.
They were thrilled with one of the designs, so I built it out in Illustrator and sent them a workable logo. At first, I was pretty proud of this guy, but after another designer moved him to the other side of the logo, I was…not happy. I hated my creation and basically begged to create a new logo option.
So, I went back to my sketchbook and drew a bunch of runners. This was a fun challenge—there are so many runner icons running around out there, and I wanted something a little different. Once I found some workable options, I scanned my favorites using the Genius Scan app on my iPhone and worked up some rough comps (shown below) using the Concepts app on my iPad to speed up the process a bit. Then, sent them off to Rooster & Stretch for feedback.
I was surprised when they chose my funky wave dude (upper left). He was my last-ditch filler dude. I never thought he’d make the cut, but he was the one.
So, I reworked the lettering slightly to create some visual connections and worked out color options. They wanted orange and royal blue, but that color combination could be confused with the race timing company they work with. I brightened the orange and adjusted the blue to darker teal (to avoid any color vibration). I also created several iterations of the logo to allow for multiple uses.
They loved the final colors and logo and had me create course signs to use at their 5k and 10k races. Next up: converting all of the handlettering into custom typefaces, the full brand identity package, and website redesign.
This project didn’t quite follow a standard process, but the guys launched Cadence Race Promotions quite quickly, and at the time, I was still working a chaotic full-time job and designing in my free time. Now that I’m designing on a full-time basis, I’ll be able to give this project all of the creativity and energy that it deserves.
I’ve developed a bit of a fascination with Mid Century Modern bookcases, especially the ones with the asymmetrical shelves. I’ve started to notice these frameworks in vintage fabric designs. Two of my favorite fabric designers, Lucienne Day & Marian Mahler used asymmetric frameworks as the base for several patterns during the sputnik era (mid-1950s through the 1960s). Of course, Lucienne’s frameworks were much more organic, while Marian’s tended to be more rigid.
For this morning’s creative caffeine, I sketched out a few frameworks of my own and adorned them with random shapes. No real goals here, just taking 15 minutes to work out my retro design skills before jumping into what is most likely going to be another chaotic day!
In case you want to play along, download my worksheet below. (Or just grab a sketch book, and make your own.)
I may have a slight design crush on Von Glitschka. Maybe more than slight. Now through March 20th, you can experience his awesome creativity for free! Yep, Lynda.com has unlocked a few courses, including Von’s Foundations of Logo Design.