Tuesday, November 24, 2015

new logo for the Northern Tioga School District

I was asked quite a while ago to redesign the logo for our school district. I tossed out multiple ideas and none were accepted. I sat on the project a while, as no deadline was given, until a concept popped into my mind a few months ago. I sat down at the computer and pushed it to its current state.

They decided that this was ready.

I wanted to represent the 3 communities in which we have buildings.....avoid looking to industrial or too elementary school as well as still remain simple and easily understood. School is the foundation of a quality life and the teachers I work with do an amazing job at giving students an Opportunity to succeed. Well, this is it. (there is also an upward arrow lurking in the general layout)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

vintage crayola box with awesome type and cool elf

I'm a sucker for great lettering. A nice piece of typography appeared in my school mailbox the other day. The day after it arrived, I found out that it had been gifted by a wonderful second grade teacher who is soon to retire. She assumed that I would like this empty crayola box and she assumed correct! Wow! Just big enough to hold 36 crayons, the box is of a sturdy board and in relatively great shape....a few blemishes on the corners. Though it was empty, I will display it proudly in the office that my wife and I use (when it is clean enough) to do artwork, bills and other computer junk.

The elf has a Disney feel. The type has a genuine friendliness and beautifully scaled to the box. Love the stubby ampersand as well.

One is currently on eBay for about $50. It is full of red crayons. The list describes it as coming from the early 50's (1952 is the exact claim). Awesome!

Monday, November 9, 2015

tee shirt design for beavertail skiffs

There is this top shelf boat manufacturer in Florida that goes by Beavertail Skiffs. My brother Capt. Gregg McKee has a great relationship with the owners and must have dropped my name as someone who could design a tee shirt for their inaugural owner's fishing tournament. As usual, research was followed by sketching and more research. In the end, i had little to go on since it was their first event. Sometimes, that's mighty good. 

I chose to mock up a vintage trophy look and etch the designs into the solid color. I knew they would be using a light blue tee and went with a bold blast of darkness against the light ribbon with dark lettering. I was unsure if they were going to apply corporate logos around the sides and bottom so I attempted to keep it more vertical. I may have moved the date and location to the east and west if I would have known sooner.

I lifted this picture of someone wearing the tee during the tourney from Beavertail's facebook page. My brother may have taken it, not sure. Anyone looking for a great flats fishing boat....check 'em out! My brother owns one and it is awesome!

Thanks Beavertail.....for the opportunity and the TEE!....love it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

buffalo bills wooden sign

I work with some amazingly talented, kind and dedicated teachers. Two of them have become good friends of our family. They are terrific people with two fine children. Their kids have babysat our children on many occasions. As a gesture of gratitude for having us over to their home and the allowing of their children to take care of ours, I decided to build them something to hang in their basement. 

The basement in the home is a beautiful one and I set out to design something to add to the quality. Another teacher I work with just set me up with some well aged barn wood and I thought it would do the trick (Thanks JOE!!!!).

The man of the family is a big fan of the Buffalo Bills. I decided to build the logo out of the boards. After a bit of google searching wooden signs of that subject, I found nothing that looked anything like I had planned (always a good thing!). 

First, these barn boards are naturally striking and to paint them always feels wrong. My design was to stain them, if necessary, with new and used motor oil...nothing that would hide the beat up and weathered look of the wood. 

I have limited tools and limited skills when it comes to working with wood. The design has to be simple for both my taste and my talent with this material. 

The Bills logo has two colors and also a white outline that separates the colors and continues around the outside of the entire design. I decided to make it a dimensional piece with the white of the logo being a total background layer. The idea came together as I started the assembly of the background. A simple raised layer of lighter wood on top of a layer of darker wood. 

I wanted the piece to be large but not pompous. A bit of thought had to be put into the scale. Knowing the basement, I rested on 44" x 30". Too small and the design would waste the limited wood.

Below, the final resting place. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

large tarpon wooden sign/piece of art

I am not sure yet as to the point of making this large tarpon sign. My awesome neighbor scored this amazing bunch of very old wood (we think it is silo boards) that has incredible texture.

 This tarpon strikes a much more dynamic pose than the last one I made for my brother's home. 

At just over 6 feet from the bottom of the jaw to the tip of the tail, I believe this tarpon to possess the correct dimensions of these beautiful fish. Some old motor oil and roughed on paint and she'll soon be ready for whatever her future holds.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

local font find #24

We found ourselves in Coudersport, Pa. the other day. We were helping a fine young lady move her things from apartment to apartment. Upon our journey, we made our way past a Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation building near the elementary school. The lettering was awesome. I had to stop and snag a few photos. The lettering was beautifully retro and dated and very few were aligned on the building with any regard to being straight. 

This type style is part of the Art Deco movement that was experienced in the early part of the 20th century. Most consider it from the 1920's up to WWII.

If you follow the horizontals of the brick, you can see how off the individual letters were set. Maybe they rotated slightly on one connecting point (I did not walk up to the side of the building to see how they were stuck to the facade).

They are awkward and jovial. They really do jump at the viewer as individual design gems. The weight is interesting and a real feat of problem solving can be attributed to the designer. I was unable to google search an exact font name but many Art Deco themed fonts were very similar.

Friday, July 24, 2015

local font find #23

It should be obvious that the spacing between letters (kerning) is horrible on this sign we drove by in New York state. Problems are everywhere. The reason that I have it as #23 is how poorly the 99 looks on the interstate logo. Why is it so far right?!?!??!?!??!!!!!!! The border of white is much smaller on the I-86 shield but at least the 86 is centered. WOW! is this horrible. I will get some shots of a good I-99 sign compared to this poor one in the near future. YIKES!

Monday, July 6, 2015

my brother and son and an interesting catch

This pic has nothing to do with art, design or the ranting of Angry Strongo. Read my brother's post over on his blog here.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"not so" local font find #22

We have made it a yearly destination to stop for an overnight rest in Staunton, Va on our way home from visiting my family in Florida. Staunton (we learned it is pronounced "stan-ton" on this trip) is the home of Woodrow Wilson. Ash thought we should take a trip through town before risking our lives on I-81 north and the mayhem of 4th of July traffic. We drove by Pres. Wilson's birthplace and decided to stop and take a look.

At the museum next door to his birthplace, they had his Presidential limo outside. It was to be in a parade the following morning and the museum staff was attempting to get the motor to turn over. 

The head of the museum was overseeing the maintenance and saw my family passing by. He called us over and asked if we would like to take a closer look. Another man opened the back door and we were invited to step inside. My children took him up on the offer.....

This Pierce Arrow Limo is in pristine condition and quite beautiful. I'm not an extreme "car guy" and I could have stared at this machine for an hour or two.

The details were awesome.

To the point of this post, the type! The license plate looked like it was designed for this machine. It fit it so well. As we walked around this piece of art, the plate blended in with all the glossy detail. Being a font nerd, I was alerted to its beauty and classy look immediately.

If I found any flaw, it would be the font used in "antique vehicle". This is all about the numbers. The 5 and the 2 being the same makes the 5 seem unique. Love the zero as well. Anywho, if you are every experiencing the misery of I-81 in the middle of Virginia and you need a break, stop into the beautiful city of Staunton (stan-ton) and drive around town for a bit. A small slice of American heaven.

in addition: I am in no way promoting the ideals that Wilson stood for. I have avoided politics on this blog for many reasons. Recent readings have convinced me of this former President's racist beliefs. My family will no longer have a single cent spent in the positive upkeep of this man, his legacy and the attempt to keep his history a positive one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

alternative Heart of Darkness book cover

As a final project for the 2D Design class, I had my students redesign a book cover of their choice. Some research had to be done as to what covers already were in existence and a possible revisiting with the text if necessary. One of my favorite books of my youth was Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. There was one catch to the project....it had to be rendered on an existing book cover. I supplied old, large and plain canvas covers to which the students picked numbers between 1 and 100 for first choice. My examples for the students are pictured below. 

I did some preliminary sketches with marker and watercolor to find the right mix of design and color choices.

I stressed that they should keep it simple. I had them view some vintage book covers that successfully utilized simple and still looked amazing.

Each student had a front and a back to work with (giving them a test cover if needed). I attempted to solve the problem with just black paint on my red cover. I always seem to lean toward one color, usually black, from the start of all projects. The blood red river was the one element I was sure of. 

Pictured below is the final version. All the sketches and versions were shown to the students. I attempted to do all the projects to give the students a sense of time and commitment. I have a full time teaching job, two kids and a house to take care of. I got the projects done (including brainstorming and multiple sketches), yelled at my kids and did some laundry and dishes as the semester rolled on. Most of college is about time and time management. As a young man, this was an impossible task. I have been on a slow improvement plan as I have found my wife and started a family.

The complementary colors are reacting way better than the photograph may be showing. The red of the river glows in comparison to the upper version utilizing just black. I really like the duct tape side with the color coded stickers.

Summer is here!!!!!!!! Have fun folks!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

intro to graphic design project

The project was based on the Pennsylvania German/Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art known as Frakturs....Originating a few centuries ago, they were often family related and very personal pieces made by relatively untrained artists in a simple graphic style. I based mine on teaching at the University level for the first time. The transition was not easy. Sorry that the above image is blurry, but I did not really have the time to scan it in as two halves and try to piece them together. The below images were scanned in. As a Fraktur, the entire composition seems to work well but the intense design flourish within the squirrels was too much...way too much. I would definitely leave the squirrels grey if done again. I left the swirls in as a teachable moment for my students. I did not get around to redoing the project, but there didn't seem to be a point in taking that time. It began as a demonstration of how to handle the project and I guess it will stay that way. Showing students imperfections is just as important as showing them excellence (and NO, this is not just an excuse to go lazy on a possible redo). Students should be able to recognize the flaws in their own work with the same ease as they see it in others. I think if I was considering hanging a finished product in the house, the redo would have been produced with simplified squirrels.

I really liked the sweaters (they were supposed to represent my children) and the type. I regularly and affectionately refer to my children as "squirrel boy" and "squirrel girl".

I did some straight forward aging with watercolor and attempted to keep the spacing and the design simplified. I did not try and over-draw anything. The overlapping of objects was purposely minimized and the parts really remain as individual parts.