Sunday, March 20, 2011


My latest logo is finished!

A good friend of mine in Ontario, Canada asked me to design a logo for a new project called Water Cycle that he and a few friends created. From the get-go, they didn't give me much direction, and were simply interested in what I could come up with creatively. Their only requirements were that I include water, cycling, and Africa in the design (which was harder than it seems). The final design was chosen 100% by them. I gave them about a dozen initial comps to choose from, and this was one of their favorites from the beginning. After making a few tweaks to the colors, font, and composition, we arrived at the design you see below.

To give you more context for the project, here's their mission statement:
To raise awareness about water issues and promote sustainable water management practices via a multimedia campaign, which will include a video journal, website and a documentary. The documentary will follow the group as they cycle from Cairo to Cape Town without the use of bottled water.

The guys of Water Cycle were so easy to work with, very enthusiastic, and knew exactly what they wanted- which made my job infinitely more fun. It was an absolute pleasure working on this design with them, and it's been a privilege for me to be a part of this great cause.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Toole's Garage

The entire point of this blog is simply to give me a space to reflect on my process as a designer, and give people a better understanding of how the process works.

When I was in school as a design major, our professors had us create something called a "process book" for almost every project. At the time, it just seemed like one more thing we had to check off our lists in order to get a good grade. But since I've been a professional designer and have been working in the field on so many different kinds of projects, I now realize how valuable this tool really is and how it has helped me grow creatively. This blog is my online, public, digital process book.

In any creative process, I think it is important to look back on the work you've done, and try to see it objectively. It is so gratifying and fulfilling to reflect on a piece of work after it is complete, judge it for what it is, and still really like it!

I can honestly say that the new logo design I just finished a few months ago for Toole's Garage is one of my favorite projects I've had the pleasure of working on. Dave Toole, the owner of Toole's Garage, came to me in November (ish) of last year and asked me to work with him on a new logo for his San Carlos auto shop.

After taking over the company formerly known as Meehleib Auto a few years back, Dave decided it was time to re-name and re-vamp his business. From the get-go, he told me that he wanted a design that would look professional, competent, trustworthy, classic, and efficient and that would also create recognition for his company within the community. Basically, he wanted the long-time clients of Meehleib auto to respect and continue using his services, AND he wanted his future Honda, Acura and Infiniti customers to find his company online, in phonebooks, in newspapers and ads and think "I've finally found you!"

No pressure.

Dave and I had several long conversations and corresponded over email a ton before I even started on the design. As usual, I kicked off the process by spending countless hours researching auto industry logos and scouring the internet for designs that encompassed the look and feel of what he was after. At this stage, Dave mentioned that he loves to work on old classic trucks, and often has these vintage vehicles in his shop. He told me in an email, "I am starting to imagine my 56 Chevy Pickup (completed for dream purposes) with a sweet logo right on the doors as the truck rumbles down the road catching everyone’s eyes…and ears, while I am inside with my cool baseball cap logo’d up.  AHHHH, yeah, can’t wait!" I got from him that his hobby was not only a critical detail about the character of his company, but was also a huge part of his own identity- and should definitely be reflected in his logo-to-be.

After thoroughly talking through his vision with him, and getting a solid feel for what kind of business owner he was, I started comps for the design. Dave was really involved in the entire process. He thought he was micro-managing or being too picky or being too much of a "Libra". But it was so great to have his detailed input every step of the way. I kept laughing about the fact that he corrected me on my incorrect use of wrenches in the logo concepts. He told me "We do like the wrenches incorporated, but in my field…the use of the “adjustable” wrench is for rookies or backyard mechanics." Good to know.

I love being a designer because every project is so different and I am constantly learning. Never in a million years did I think that I would have a justifiable reason to know the visual nuances between an amateur wrench and a professional one. But now that I am well-versed in wrenchology, I feel that I could confidently hold my own in a conversation about wrenches, should one every come up.

We did about 4-5 rounds of comps before we finally narrowed it down to THE logo. A portion of the narrowing process is shown below.

Dave had said that he really wanted a chrome look to the logo, similar to that of the Pixar movie, Cars. Honestly, I didn't actually know much about how to create these kinds of effects on text. But, I was excited to take on the challenge because a) I wanted Toole's Garage to have a fantastic logo and was willing to step out of my comfort zone in order to do so, and b) I knew I'd learn a new skill that I could use in future projects. I got online and did probably about a dozen tutorials- picking and choosing the different steps I liked from each and applying them to Dave's new logo until I got an effect that looks pretty chromey. 

The above design is the final logo that has quickly become the new identity of Toole's Garage in just a few short months. It has an anatomically correct wrench in it, has that classic car feel and looks as shiny as the metal on the hood of Dave's 56 Chevy pickup.

A few days ago, Dave posted photos of the shirts he just had made with the new logo on them. It's so exciting to see Toole's Garage new logo in action and my hard work helping such a great business in such a positive, fun way.

Thanks so much for reading, and thanks to Dave Toole and Toole's Garage. Congrats on your new logo! | Toole's Garage on Facebook

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I love the smell of a fresh, brand new website.....


I am so excited to be launching my new branding. I have had the same logo for about 4 years, and I have re-done my website twice using that logo. The original idea behind it was that I am always ready and willing to edit, change, and fine-tune a design until it is completely done and as perfect as I can possibly make it. Especially in my college days when it was created, I never hesitated to crumple up ideas and toss them in the trash if I thought they weren't good enough. Hence the logo. Which everyone thought was a fortune cookie....I guess that works, too.

Yes, I am still a huge perfectionist- which is exactly the reason that it takes me so long to finish projects like my own branding and website. But, I have been working on the new design for a few months now, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out!

I actually did more that just re-vamp the site. I chose to do the unthinkable (for a designer) and reinvent my branding entirely. This was a pretty large feat considering that I have had tons of work over the last few months that have kept me quite busy. But, I dove right in and managed to come up with a new logo for myself in record time. 

Below is a chronological snapshot of the logo development process. I knew I wanted to use the Acacia flower, but make it somewhat abstract so that it was more stylized and less literal. I don't know why I've never used this concept for my own name- it seems like the obvious. It's so interesting to look back on the process of a project, and see the progress that was made......

The final logo is in the bottom right corner. I love its energy and it fits me well. I'm also really proud of myself for this departure from using maroon or dark red for everything- the olive green is a big step for me.

I built the site with an online website builder called Wix. I'm not a web designer and I don't really enjoy building websites (mainly because of the endless technical difficulties), but Wix is very easy to use and requires next to no programming. I used my site as a means to learn the Wix interface so I could use it to build a client's site- which was a great way to kill two birds with one stone. I think it's definitely an improvement from the old site, and much easier to update and keep current. No one had really seen my newest work until now, and I'm excited to have a site that can really show it off. It's a simple design, but it lets my work speak for itself in a clean, crisp and professional way.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoy the new look!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

DOCKERS: My new favorite ad campaign

So, I have been putting off officially "launching" my blog, so I've decided to just jump right in. I have a love/hate relationship with blogs because I can't imagine why anyone would actually care what I have to say about....well, anything. BUT. I intend to use this blog as a space to share what inspires me, excites me, and drives me to do what I do. I always have so many great ideas and just plain awesome work to share- and I am constantly looking at and studying current design. I guess this is as good a place as any to show off the stuff that actually made me scream with joy!

Here it goes.

When I see great design, I get so excited that it almost hurts. I found this set of ads this week when I was thumbing through the brand new Typography Annual issue of Communication Arts- an incredible magazine that features the best of the best designs in the world. It's quite inspiring.

You can tell an effective ad (or design of any kind) when it catches your eye immediately, and makes you forget everything else around it. The use of texture in these is genius, and Dockers cleverly commissioned several different typographers to design the type for these ads. Pieces like this, that make you think "why didn't I think of that?" and that make it look easy, are what fantabulous design is all about. Music to my eyeballs.