Monday, December 26, 2011

Say Something Poster 2011: No App for Life

Last year, I participated in the first Say Something Poster project. It was a fun project and is for a good cause, so I decided to join in again this year. While the organization and theme had changed, the mission hadn't: try to inspire the youth of today with a positive message. 

Today so many kids have their noses glued to some kind of screen. They are too busy to notice what is going on around them in the real world. I thought about how I could convey this concept in simple, yet effective way. I was talking with a mutual friend and he summed up my thoughts: "There's no app for life." Yep, that was it! Now how to illustrate "life". I did some research into some ancient icons that might have represented "life". I found a few, but it wasn't quite right. I then searched my photos for one that might give  a sense of living life.

I found a vacation shot from my trip to Miami a few years ago of the sun rising over the Atlantic. The rolling waves of the ocean, water, life with the sun rising in the background spoke to me. So I got to work assembling the image.

I wanted the familiar shape of the "app" icon to be present in my image. I wanted to show that part within the icon as "hyperreal" to reinforce the message it was not the real thing. I also combined it with a symbol for life I found in my research of ancient petroglyphs.

I'm not 100% happy with the result, I just can't put my finger on it, but it's still not quite right. But the deadline loomed so it went out. I don't think it's terrible, but somehow it seems like I could have made it simpler, more refined...anyhoo, you can vote for me through 12/31 if you do like the image and the message.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Jane hancock Letterpress Calendar for 2012

My friends over at Jane hancock paper produce a fabulous Letterpress calendar each year. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the 2012 edition.

The call for entries was in May and I chose September as my month from the selections left since that was my Dad's birthday month. Little did I know that by the time I finished my calendar illustration, my dad would no longer be with us. He passed away about 2 weeks after I signed on to do the calendar.

When the reminder for artwork came out in July, I was still in a haze from his passing. But I couldn't not do it. Especially now. So I tried to force my sluggish mind and creative juices to start flowing in the midst of my grief. I did my research. I did sketches. I took breaks because I was just so tired.

And then it came to me...Forget-Me-Nots, the flowers the symbolize September, would be the perfect subject. Especially since they are typically blue, dad's favorite color. So I worked on some sketches. The trick was, I only had one color to work with, how would I convey the texture and beauty I wanted to express? I found my solution once I had started building my files in Illustrator: intricate linework inside each petal of the flowers. I used my good ol' Wacom tablet to create freeflowing lines that added just the extra texture and dimension I was looking for.

Here's what the finished Illustrator file looked like:


























I spec'd a dark blue for the final color, and since I hadn't ever printed letterpress before, I was wondering how the the linework would appear on the final. My friend RJ at Jane hancock papers assured me that it would turn out very nice.

I know she is an excellent letterpress printer and she did a beautiful job not only on the fine lines of my piece, but also tying together all the beautiful and disparate styles of all the other great designers who contributed to this year's calendar.

The final printed calendar page:
























This calendar truly is a work of art! You can purchase them at Jane hancock's Etsy store. Only 30 are available and when they are gone, they are gone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

DLM Cheese Show Poster 2011

While I was in Chicago this summer for HOWDesign Live, I went to Willis Tower for the Skydeck tour. While in the gift shop, I shot a pic of the Chicago World’s Fair poster.



In July, while discussing the cheese show poster for my day job at Dorothy Lane Market with our Cheese Director, he mentioned the theme this year was “Cheeses of the World”. I immediately thought of this poster and how it could be a great reference for our poster.

A challenge in creating this poster is what image to use. How to convey cheeses from different countries? Cheeses that might be of different sizes and shapes would be difficult to manage. However, I worked with our Cheese Director and came up with the idea of picking out wedges of our most popular cheeses that would be at the show. I then shot a photo of them:

Then began the long process of tracing them in Illustrator keeping true to the Art Deco colors of the world's fair poster. It took a bit of work, but it did work out:



I then added it to my poster composition and it was a perfect match. I decided to shy away from a straight Art Deco typeface and chose Junction from The League of Moveable Type to give it a hint of the past, but with a modern touches:




Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry New Year

For my holiday card this year, I decided to do a new twist on my standard style. I Envisioned a sort of "Charlie Brown"/60s funky sort of look for this year's card. I originally designed it without any textures. But I just couldn't resist adding some to add to the watercolor effect. :)

Here's hoping your 2012 is indeed Merry and Bright!
(And if you haven't done your Holiday cards yet this year, you can purchase mine at my Zazzle store.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Todd Norman Pinot & Chardonnay Labels

I know it's been a long time since I posted an actual project. Hope you all have been enjoying the Instagram photos. I've been enjoying taking them! For me it is quite the mental challenge to sit down and write out my thoughts about design since I rely on my intuition to guide many of my processes. It also didn't help that this year has been extraordinarily challenging and busy. Mostly in good ways. :)

I'm not too far behind, but I will be catching up since I've had some cool projects this year.

One of my favorites was the Todd Norman Pinot & Chardonnay Labels for my day job at Dorothy Lane Market. This spring we found a great family winery, Talley Vineyards out in California that would private label our wines. We needed the label and in quite a rush to make the bottling schedule. I did some initial sketches and thoughts, but I couldn't get my rejected wine show poster concept from 2010 out of my head. So I gave it try and it worked out beautifully for the label design. I presented to the folks who needed to give their approval and everyone loved it! Recycling my old concept into a new usage worked very well in this instance and saved us a lot of time and effort and we got everything in on time. Plus the wine is pretty darned tasty too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nicholas shared an Instagram photo with you

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"Ah, how I miss Rike's Christmas windows."

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The Instagram Team

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nicholas shared an Instagram photo with you

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"Sun & rain: I guess even God has trouble making up his mind some days..."

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The Instagram Team

Monday, October 10, 2011

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"Mental note, don't buy gas today..."

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The Instagram Team

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Nicholas shared an Instagram photo with you

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"Outside the Flying Karamazov Bros."

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The Instagram Team

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nicholas shared an Instagram photo with you

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"Cloudy with 100% chance of texture."

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The Instagram Team

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

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"Celebrating Lucille's 92 years."

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"Dinner."

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The Instagram Team

Saturday, August 6, 2011

HOW Design Live 2011

Hello everyone. Sorry I've not been keeping up my blogging as of late. I've been quite busy this summer with personal stuff and lots of projects. I was fortunate enough to attend yet another HOW Design Conference this year, HOW Design Live 2011 held in Chicago this past June.



In the past, I've written up a blog entry or three about my experiences at the HOW Conference; however this year I thought I would try something different. I decided to capture my experiences in a Blurb book. Nick's Notes: How Design Live 2011 features not only photos from Chicago/HOW, but also some inspired color palettes and highlights of my notes. I feel it's a better representation of how I experienced this year's conference.

I hope you enjoy it!


p.s. Look for more blog entries soon on some of the cool projects I've been working on this summer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Controlling Social Media


I think it is silly and sad that larger companies are trying to "control" social media through fear and intimidation in this day in age. It really shows that they are afraid of this new world where they are not in control. I say it's about time!

I can understand trying to protect your corporate image or intellectual property. But really Nestlé, threatening your Facebook "Likers" with post deletion just because they did a mashup of your logo is just petty and wrong.

And the whole thing about people losing their jobs just because they posted a comment or had the wrong photo on their Facebook page is pathetic.

If companies think they can control people's personal Facebook pages: good fucking luck. It is the 21st Century and "power to the people" is the new standard in this, the Information Age. Facebook is simply a tool for sharing our personal photos and comments with our friends and family. Yes, these comments can be seen on the internet and depending on your privacy settings, possibly by people other than your family and friends.

Complaining about your boss and bitching about work are as old as jobs themselves. We all do it or have done it. That's how some folks deal with it and relieve the stress of their day, and these days we are all more stressed. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer this to hearing of another worker going out with a gun and shooting people.

And thinking you can control what photos people post to their profiles, again: good luck. Just because I have a drink in my hand in a photo doesn't mean I have a drinking problem. The fact that I have friends and enjoy my free time with them should be a plus, not a minus.

While what we post to the internet is "forever", just remember that my personal comments and photos are just that, even if the distribution is public. My comments represent me, not anyone or anything else. I don't represent any company or entity except for me.  Photos and comments from 10 or more years ago may not reflect the person I am today.

Maybe you should try and talk to the me of today to see what I'm like now, you might be pleasantly surprised. And, more importantly, get the hell off of Facebook/Twitter/whatever and go out and live your life. There's more out there than these few pixels on the interwebs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

M ssing Posters

Just a fun little idea that popped into my head for a missing poster. I wanted to see how legible it would be with the letter "i" missing. My original concept was the white type on black, but then I thought it might look interesting to make it look more like it was on the stereotypical milk carton...


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Moonlight Movies Poster

My buddies and I started grilling and watching movies outside on the deck a few years ago when we were on vacation in Virginia. We named the evening "Sunset Cinema" and really look forward to grilling season so we can see movies outside.

One of my buddies decided to build a cool movie theater in his basement and keeping with the theme named the theater "Moonlight Movies". He made a special request for his latest birthday gift: he'd like me to design a custom poster that would be the first thing visitors see upon entering the theater.

I couldn't say no to such a fun project. Luckily my friend had a good idea of what he was looking for, so while I did my research and some mind mapping, I really just listened to what he was looking for and used that to build some quick mockups in Photoshop.

Unfortunately, due to my hectic schedule near the holidays, I warned him that I wouldn't be able to complete the poster until after his birthday. He was fine with this, since he was still putting the finishing touches on his theater. I couldn't just not give him anything on his birthday, so I worked up a large "movie ticket" to build up the excitement of the poster to come:



After working up some quick thumnails and doing a very quick flat color application in Photoshop, I emailed my friend the proofs, 2 of the concepts presented shown below:



























My friend liked the ideas but wanted to merge the "farmscape" and "theater curtain" versions. While I was skeptical of this move, I went with it and ended up with this:

























Whoa, pretty garish, right?! But after a few tweaks, some textures, and some lighting effects, this was the final result:


Personally, I still prefer it without the curtain and seats, but I think it did turn out well and really works with my friend's new theater room.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Social Experimenting...

I'll be the first to admit it...Facebook is sorta getting boring for me. And Twitter, well, I've never really liked Twitter. So in order to spice things up, I've joined Instagr.am in an attempt to replace written posts with photo posts. My goal is at least one photo per day, more when I find something interesting, cool, or funny.

You can follow my new photo adventures over at my Flickr, Instagr.am (nicko74), Facebook, or Twitter pages. I hope you enjoy my social experiment!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Custom Fit Construction Logo

This was my first-ever barter project. My friend started his own construction business, Custom Fit Construction after being downsized in the economic downturn. He and his wife had developed a tagline and had a starter logo to get them off the ground, but wanted something a bit more clean and crisp as he expands his business and looks for a larger customer base.

I happened to need a new patio, so we worked out an agreement and work began just as the weather turned cold at the end of 2010. Alas, my long-desired patio would have to wait until Spring, but that's okay, I could still work on the logo in the meantime...

The original concept for his logo was "Solving Your Remodeling Puzzles" and they wanted to stick with that, so I used that as my basis and went to work and developed four concepts. I mocked up the logo in a business card format to help the client visualize the final outcome and help speed up development time.

Version A: standard "wood" version to imply the basis of nearly all construction. Cliché, but hey, gotta get it out of your system, plus you can't go wrong with an awesome background texture:















Version B: I kept the wood texture (from my friend Von's book: Crumble. Crackle. Burn. Great resource for any designer!) and added a puzzle element in keeping with the company's tagline:















Version C: I custom fit each letter of the words "Custom Fit Construction" together like puzzle pieces:
















Version D: I developed a more puzzle look for the logo while keeping the type clean and crisp. For the background I took photos of wood, concrete, brick, floor tile and gravel all around my house one sunny Saturday in November:















My friends really liked version D, but wanted it to be a bit cleaner looking so I made the the background white and changed the type to the green from version C to reflect that he does do green construction too.

I reworked the textures a bit for the final version as seen here:












So far my friend really likes the new logo and looks forward to implementing it across all media.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Company 7 BBQ Sauce Labels

I was approached late in 2010 with the project of designing a line of barbecue sauce labels for a new local restaurant concept. The restaurant, Company 7 BBQ, wanted to have their proprietary line of sauces and one rub ready to go on opening day. The only problem was the timeline: about 2 weeks total to design and get labels printed. I initially wanted to decline the project because of the tight timeline so near the holidays.

I spoke with the folks and learned they are a family of firefighters and seemed like good people, so I accepted the project. It was the least I could do for those who have put their lives on the line to help others. 

I knew concepting would be intense and stressful. I did my standard steps of research and thumbnailing, however, I put myself on a strict timer for each stage and really just cranked out whatever came to mind. 

I developed four initial concepts, mocking up the mildest and hottest sauce to show the progression of "heat". Version A was to gradually up the flames in the background against a dark blue background:










Version B was simple, bold solid colors in the background from "uniform blue" to "fire engine red" and the heat scale was numerical starting with 1 and going up to 6 within the firefighter maltese cross symbol:
Version C was based on the very cool Peter Pirsch fire truck that is the centerpiece of the Company 7 BBQ bar area:
Version D based on the idea of fire damage, the hotter the sauce, the more the beat up and textured the label would become:
















In the end, the client chose version B, the bold solid colors. I worked up retail and in-store versions as quickly as I could and they were able to open with some labels on sauces. Response to the restaurant has been fantastic from what I've heard. If you're in the area, be sure to check 'em out!