Having thumbed through more than my share of brand standards over the years I have formed some pretty definite opinions on what constitutes a good set of guidelines and what doesn’t. (To see my thoughts in full feel free to check out my blog post on the subject. The Brand Guidelines, Guideline)
So when I got the opportunity to finally set down, in Brand Guideline format, the Modo Modo standards I took the job very seriously. Well, as seriously as I can take anything. In as concise a document as I could conjure I laid out the ins and outs of a brand that, until 10 years into existence, had never once defined itself or its elements.
The best part about becoming a father, for me anyway, was the unlimited excuse to create things like this book on the basics of type for no real reason.
I mean, it's for my son. That's the reason. My son. But no matter the reason, in the end, I decided to create this little educational board book about the basic components of type filled with colorful illustrations. He's a big fan of the wrestling spreads, but he despises the chicken pages.
The Audition Room is a private on-camera coaching studio for actors that focusses on the audition itself. It trains actors how to audition, and how to do it well.
The imagery the client wanted to evoke was simple; a single empty chair. To you and me its just an empty chair, but to an actor that empty seat sitting in front of a row of people can be terrifying. The placement of the chair underneath the type mimics the looming weight of expectation hanging overhead.
As the saying goes, "If it's ain't broke, don't fix it." But what if it is broke? Or worse yet, what if it's just plain old boring? What then?
The Georgia Military College was founded in 1879 to educate young men and women from middle Georgia. It has a long tradition of excellent academics and competitive athletics. It doesn't, however, have a sports logo that was designed this century. I proposed an update to the standard bulldog that the athletic teams have used for years. It's a fresh take on the mascot, one that opens the team branding up to a more modern, contemporary look.
With a name like Heartland, it's probably not surprising that the design of this identity system draws its inspiration from vintage 1950's packaging and hand-lettered signage.
Using a combination of typefaces, illustration techniques and small accents I was able to give a classic feel to a modern logo. Between the retro style and the contemporary look, I feel that this brand achieves a good balance between design aesthetics.
I have always loved the rule of Pick Two, which if you've never heard it goes like this: Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick Two.
It's such a simple way to explain such a complex set of circumstances, and nothing more succinctly sums up the idea that If you want something fast or good, you're probably going to have to pony up for it. That's what this short explainer video is about, visually translating that simple yet powerful phrase.
Located in Long Island City, Dominie's Hoek has been serving up one of the best brunches in New York for almost 15 years.
With separate menus required for their brunch and dinner services, as well as their drink menus I wanted to create a look that was consistent but distinct enough so that servers could quickly grab the menus they needed without any confusion. The bold type treatments and contrasting colors also aid in communicating the prices and options efficiently and take some of the pressure off the wait staff to memorize all the details of a constantly changing menu.
What began as an inside joke between my brother and I is now a reality, if only as a branding concept in my portfolio. Introducing The Smokin’ Butt Brothers and their BBQ Truck.
These designs are a great example of how I like to approach branding projects, especially for bars and restaurants. I start with a central concept, explore all of the variations and directions in which it takes me, and when I’m out of ideas, I stop. And instead of using only the final design that resulted from my exploration, I save all of the near-misses and extraneous ideas in my back pocket. I think brands can, and should, be much more than just a logo.
As proud as I am of the visual design I created for this south Texas sports bar, I am vastly more entertained by the naming exercise that preceded it.
All together I think I presented the owner with around 25 options for restaurant names. In the end, the client chose Field House Burger as his favorite, but I thought there were some other names that were equally deserving of the honor, and I thought I'd list them here.
The Chop Block
Thirst & Goal
The Lucky Pig
Ground & Pound
I love creating visuals for online content, and since everything can’t be an infographic, I have a good number of one-off support illustrations floating around.
They’re all here, from the ambiguous 80s business man series to the 80s-style wrestling characters. You name it and I’ve probably illustrated it in some form or other, apparently though, only as long as it has an 80s theme and only so long as I can add some sweet texture and stippling effects.
We all grew up playing it in elementary school but in Brooklyn, Kickball is more than a childish pastime, it's something to do while drinking and acting childish.
I spent pretty much every one of my summer Sundays in Brooklyn out on the grass of McCarren Park, watching the double-decker bikes and artisanal pistachio ice cream trucks drive lazily by as we played the sport of Kings. All the greats were there: Shirtless Tom. Nando. Lance and of course, The Commish. I also occasionally created some designs for their events and other associated leagues. If you're ever in Williamsburg on Sunday during the summer, you really should drop by. It's truly something to see.
These illustrations were originally created for a little tap it iPhone game that a friend of mine was developing.
Essentially the Rod Serling character, riding a flying saucer and smoking a cigarette avoided obstacles while floating and falling across Twilight Zone themed backgrounds. It's a fun game, but let us be honest, I would have illustrated these characters at some point, game or no game.
Although my website is titled RaiseNoChicken, that is far from how I live my actual life. In reality I raise several chickens, and those chickens lay eggs, and they lay more eggs, etc.
So as a means of saying both thank you and sorry to the neighbors who put up with the noise level of nine full-grown hens and one rooster, I designed a tiny egg box to share our bounty with others. I designed the die line from scratch, and it is cut from one sheet of paper and assembled with no glue. And as you can imagine I couldn’t stop there so I created some branding for the box and other merchandise that felt reasonable for a small egg farm.
What better way to teach your child their ABC's than with friendly and colorful characters from a BBC television show called The Mighty Boosh?
You have the Ape of Death, Howard Moon, Vince Noir and who could forget Old Greg and his downstairs mixup. This book was as fun to design and illustrate as it looks, and while I don't yet have the rights to offer this book for sale, I have emailed the BBC and am patiently waiting on a response.
Of all of the identities I’ve worked on, this was one of the most rewarding I can remember. And it proves what you can accomplish with a limited time and a tight budget.
After some initial rounds of acceptable but unexciting marks, I moved away from the boundaries of the project brief and explored some purely typographical solutions. I have always loved the way letters can create amazing negative shapes, so I changed directions and started sketching again. The client was excited about where we ended up and I must say, so was I.
And for being such good sports I threw in a simple brand standards overview and color breakdown for the client.
This brand concept was created for an organization that seeks to use the interactive game of pinball to help socially enrich, educate and develop skills for children and adults with autism.
Ultimately the client decided to go in a different direction with the brand, but I am still struck by some of the marks in this set and the consideration that went into their design. The combination of type and iconography is still something I look back to for inspiration.
Living, as we do, in the Age of Big Data people are constantly seeking to take those vast sets of information and turn them it into tangible, actionable insights. What better way to represent these figures and trends than with infographics?
But it's not all about making colorful charts and flashy graphs. It's about telling a story with your information and creating a point of view for your audience. Edward Tufte, the godfather of modern information graphics, believes in maximizing the time spent thinking about content, not translating designs. While I do agree, I occasionally indulge in the odd design frill here and there.
I was unaware of the sport of Pickleball until a few years ago when my parents joined a league in their retirement community. It's essentially a cross between tennis and ping pong, and they take it very seriously.
And so it was that I was asked to submit a design for the new county pickleball association. The requirements were that the design includes the full name, a peach, as well as a pickleball and paddle. After my first design was rejected by the committee I submitted a second, simpler design, which was also rejected. Although it wasn't a winner, I think this had some real potential.
I worked on this sticker series for a company in Louisville who produces a variety of products from hemp.
Another tight-turn project, these stickers went from concept to print in less than a week, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. Utilizing a mix of concepts and illustration styles I was trying to create a series that felt unified overall, but individually unique.
A number of the projects I feature on my website are pro bono, but none of them have been nearly as rewarding as this little campaign for a local high school production of The Little Shop of Horrors.
I worked on everything from posters and flyers to the full show program and the t-shirts they sold at intermission. It was a labor of love and I am very happy with the resulting pieces. You can have your Broadway shows, I'll take a high school drama department production any day.
While slightly more aspirational than I normally feel on a daily basis, I couldn't help but enjoy working on this set of inspirational design quotes for Patric Hanlon of Thinktopia.
Starting with just the quote itself, I created unique typographical treatments for all three designs that would stand alone as posters but still feel like part of a series. Being an old screen printer at heart I couldn't help adding in some irregularities and texture to give them that hand-printed feel.
Somewhere in the dusty files of some defunct backup drive we all have a pile of long-forgotten logos that probably have never seen the light of day.
Well, I decided to root around in the attic of my design past and pull out some old skeletons to trot them out for a fresh look. Some are winners, some are near misses, while others, like my dedicated efforts to bring my friend's basement (otherwise known as the VCR Bar) into reality, were abject failures. All together though they represent almost 20 years of chasing after my dreams as a designer. There are a lot worse things to do for a living, that's for sure.
A collaboration with my boss and longtime friend, Moira Vetter, AdVenture is her Entrepreneurial Opus. She has been working since the age of 8 and running her own show for almost as long.
Filled with the wisdom that can only be gleaned from personal experience, AdVenture lays out the difficult but rewarding path to following your dreams and creating your own business. The design was intended to highlight key information, break the content up into logical chunks and provide visual interest and relief as the reader explores the pitfalls and perils of entrepreneurship.
You never know which projects are going to disappear forever, and which ones are going to take off in a way that you never imagined.
Years ago when I created the initial branding for Fermented Reality I certainly couldn’t have predicted the success the company would have or the opportunities it would provide for evolving and expanding the brand. Six years in and it’s still evolving. The latest expansion is a Bier Garten on the waterfront in Tampa.
Side note: I personally screen-printed those business cards, 4/2. I’ll never do that again.
For a designer, the task of taking dry, technical data and turning it into something that is not only digestible but interesting to interact with, is the ultimate challenge.
Luckily I live for exactly these kinds of projects. Armed with some bold typography as well as entertaining yet informative data visualization techniques, I set about turning this eBook on Software Integration into a visual feast.
There isn't a designer in the world who hasn't done at least a hundred t-shirts during their career. I am certainly no exception.
But while I will never understand the driving force that compels everyone I know to constantly think-up and pitch me new shirt ideas, I do love their enthusiasm. So amidst the litany of team fun run shirts and pickleball association ringer tees I have managed to assemble some of my favorite shirt designs for your approval.
The books I write and illustrate are honestly for an audience of one; my son. I mainly create these little board books to entertain him and myself through hundreds upon hundreds of re-readings.
This particular idea came from his affinity for slapping, banging and essentially assaulting his books. Some people talk with their hands, well he reads with his fists. So instead of asking him repeatedly to take it easy on The Hungry Caterpillar (sorry Eric Carle), I decided to create a book that encouraged him to get out his baby aggression in a fun way. Plus I've always wanted to draw the old "Where's my thumb" trick.
What do you do when you realize that it’s December 15th and you haven’t sent any holiday cards out to friends and family?
If you’re me you suggest sending out a casual text message to said friends and family, have some eggnog and call it a day. My wife’s idea was a little more involved. We created a holiday greeting using Adobe Character Animator and some public domain holiday music. I meant what I said. May we all not die.
Setting aside the fact that blog illustrations aren't ever really printed, I thought it was a better way to present these little guys.
This particular set of images was designed for a blog post about purchasing and licensing typefaces. In the end the post kind of petered out but I am left with this set of outlined, geometric beauties as well as healthy fear of ever running afoul of a type foundry. Trust me, they mean business.
Presidential history is a huge interest of mine. I find all of the intimate details and small personality quirks of these men a source of infinite entertainment.
As a passion, my interest in the presidency goes back to childhood. As a project, I would estimate I've been working on this on and off for the past 15 years. Going through several iterations and styles I finally hit upon the technique and format I had been looking around three years ago. 45 and Counting covers all the presidents, from Washington up to Trump. And even though it will eventually be out of date, it was well worth every moment invested.
When I was living in New York I had the opportunity to work with an organization called Health Corps, a not-for-profit that strives to educate and advocate for the wellness of teens across America.
While working on some of their curriculum materials I was asked to create a campaign for a summer series of events around the nation. They wanted to engage more directly with teens through events like cooking contests and outdoor concerts. I created the slogan "Raise Some Health" as a playful way to change the conversation about physical health and nutrition. I still love the message this campaign conveys.
Huddle Up represents the combination of the two biggest passions of my life; illustration and football. Written as an homage to the very sport I hold dear it is, essentially, a day in the life of a high school football player.
I've always been interested in visually expressing the things about football that I find fascinating and in this format, I found the perfect outlet. Within these pages, I cover everything from putting on equipment to the bands performing at halftime. Aside from being an entertaining bedtime read it's also a little propaganda in the war to get my son interested in the sport. But please, don't tell his mom.
Ten years ago my first major project for Modo Modo Agency was a Holiday Gift. It was called the Create-O-Matic and it was a 31-day calendar full of illustrations suggesting cheeky ways to increase creativity.
This year, with time quickly running out I plundered the deepest recesses of my mind and threw this little beauty together. It went from concept to print in less than three weeks. I was the writer, designer, illustrator and print production for this one and I loved every second of it. The content of the book was its own inspiration, or vice-versa. You get the point.
Infographic legend Edward Tufte needs no introduction. At least, not anymore, since I created these small animations touting his many notable accomplishments.
Originally created as supports for a blog post Called “When the Going Gets Tufte,” these 20 second sound bites were my little homage to the godfather of data visualization. I can’t guarantee the factual accuracy of any of them, but I can tell you they are all quite impressive anyway.
As a huge fan of movies growing up, it has always been a dream of mine to work in film. That's why I was so excited to be asked to create posters for a couple of flicks produced by my good friend, Riley Smith.
Although the films are unrelated, the client wanted an illustrated approach for each. I tried to tailor each design to the quirky and off-beat nature of these unique films and capture the spirit and tone of the movies individually. They range from a dark comedy about death and family to a completely absurd buddy cop parody.
Native ads are more than just your average manipulative clickbait. They are exploiting your neurological tendencies and weaknesses and turning your own instincts against you.
This scroll-through piece explores the effectiveness of native ads and the very real science behind how they work. It demonstrates how our reading patterns affect where we look and which side of our brain certain ad types are targeting. The visuals I created are all designed to add to the viewer's understanding of the complex strategy behind these subversive ads.
I created this simple little identity package for a the boyfriend of a coworker who was starting a catering company in New York.
They were looking for a mark that reflected the meaning of the name, Fond de Cuisine, which in English translates to food foundation or a stock, essentially. A stock is the basic element of most recipes, and the food that the catering company focussed on was simple, honest dishes made with fresh ingredients and a modern twist.
My years living and working in New York weren’t all spent playing kickball and drinking craft beer, although that does account for a great deal of my time. I occasionally managed to screen print some things.
This was a personal project that I’d been wanting to make for a while. A series of cards featuring Brooklyn versions of classic Halloween monsters. There’s the Hassidic Werewolf, Subway Mummy, Fixie Zombie, PBR Frankenstein, Vampire Smoker and Stoop Skeleton.
Grab your Rapture Preparedness Kit, some snacks, and your bible and follow me to the Preachers Basement!
This intro was created as part of an animated television series pitch that my wife and I have been working on. The Preachers Basement is a cable access show that teaches kids the confusing, and sometimes contradictory lessons of a book written hundreds of years ago. It features Solomon the Sheep, Preacher Tim, Acorn the Gun Nut, and Dusty the Old Testament. There’s even the occasional visitor to the basement. You never know who might drop by.
For the past 4 years, I have been learning Adobe After Effects through numerous online tutorials with varying amounts of success.
To test out some of the techniques I was learning I went back to one of my biggest inspirations, the original Twilight Zone series. I created these looping animations as kind of shortened versions of some of my favorite episodes. I tried to capture the unique twist or the irony of the 30-minute show in less than 30 seconds.
There’s only so much that colleges and universities can really teach you about design. The rest is gleaned out there in the world, behind a desk, cranking out ads for Uncle Harry’s Crab Shack or making business cards for a landscaping company called Lawn Time No See.
These little helpful tidbits are my contribution to the extended learning program that is real life. Some are my own, and some are borrowed, but all of them are 100% true.
This series has a little more thinking behind it than it’s distressed type treatments and faux screen printed feel might betray.
Designed as office decor for a North Carolina lighting company, the owner wanted posters that felt like artwork but were actually a reflection of the employees in the office. I started by taking some basic surveys of the workers and their interests and pooled my data and created these graphics related to their answers.
I created this poster set for a friend’s show at a venue called The Silent Barn in Brooklyn. I wish I could more accurately describe the space, but it was like watching a band play at a high school party at someone’s house while their parents were away.
I designed this set of 3 screen printed posters to commemorate the event. There was Slow Country, the Wealthy Assholes and, of course, Affair de Couer. Because of some questionable type choices I made at the time, I decided to show them without copy. I think it’s for the best.
Brand guidelines aren't necessarily all that exciting. They're not really meant to be. They lay out how specifically you are allowed to utilize a brands assets and what you should definitely not do to screw things up.
For these proposed brand standards I tried to inject a little more personality into what is an otherwise straightforward and mundane set of rules. I took the logo and created a character, Max, who leads the viewer through the guidelines. It has a playful tone and the sections read more like anecdotes than strict rules. They're the kind of guidelines I would love to open one day.
McCalls Grading & Construction is a crew out of Balsom Grove, North Carolina. They wanted an updated mark that had a classic feel, and was as rugged and dependable as the men who work for them. Combining a thin script with a chunky serif seemed to do the trick, but I threw in a lockup of initials for various other usage.
Designed as a favor for a friend and former coworker, I created this concept for Queer on a Quest, an illustrated travel blog for the non-binary adventurer.
I wanted something iconic, a letter-icon that could be used with the name but also stand-alone, and I think this design achieves that. I kept it simple and classic, drawing inspiration from vintage brands like Hanimex, which, by the way, if you haven’t seen their packaging designs from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, you should really give it a Google.
It’s exciting when I have the opportunity to leverage my skills and insights to help affect change in the real world. When my wife began corresponding with a loved one serving time I noticed not only the lack of commercial options available but also the number of regulations governing what can be mailed to inmates.
Mail Byrds is a company that creates greeting cards specifically for people incarcerated. Not just to mark life events and big occasions happening outside, but to inspire hope and to help turn their time into something more productive and meaningful. Just because someone is in prison doesn’t mean that their life is over, nor does it mean that they should forget that they have value. Mail Byrds seeks to deliver love and optimism where it is needed most.
Some projects are just too interesting to pass up, and with a name like The Couch Potato Combine, how could I say no?
Drawing from the unreliable belief that we could do things we have never done and in ways that we have never done them, the Couch Potato Combine seeks to create the opportunity of a lifetime for those would-be All-Stars of the weekend living room.
The Couch Potato Combine is a single-day event that pits participats against friends and strangers alike in a series of six NFL combine challenges. They range from the 40-yard dash to the quarterback passing challenge. The ultimate goal is to have some fun while raising money for local charities but taking home some bragging rights and maybe a trophy never hurts either.
Admittedly a departure in style from the majority of my other identity work, I had a blast working on the logo for Pips Parlour, a cozy board game bar/coffee house here in downtown Louisville. From its gaudy typography to the Victorian ornaments and extraneous flourishes, I love every curled line and intricate detail.
Normally the name of the game is simplicity. Boiling a brand down to a singular message and then creating an equally singular mark that tells the brand story in a clear and distinct voice. In this case, I asked the clients to trust me as I went in the complete opposite direction, adding more and more elements to the logo. The result is striking and captures not only the feel of the business but the taste of the owners.
Sometimes a name alone can inspire a concept. That was the case with Stone Fox Designs. Capturing the instant visual associations of the sleek, flowing silhouette of the fox as well as the sensory perceptions of stone as a material, the name challenged me to create a mark that lived up to expectations set by its name.
As I worked through various concepts I kept coming back to the combination of type and illustration as a means to express the contrasting elements of the name. In the end, I created a fox silhouette in profile, curving around to form a bold slab serif, then flowing back into itself and creating a tail within the counter of the letterform.