Going Back, To Go Forward.

A year ago I wrote about moving to Columbus, Ohio and going to work for J. America, designing apparel for THE Ohio State University. Today I am writing about leaving the Columbus. I wasn’t looking, but an offer came along and the timing is right take the next step in advancing my design career.

In March, I will be moving back to Orlando, Florida as Lead Designer at Three21 Creative, a small but upcoming ad agency where I will lead the branding and identity development of the group, who are all Full Sail University alumni like myself. My hope is that there will be lots of sports branding opportunities, and that is something I am looking forward to pursuing. 

For a while now I have pictured myself doing this type of work and living in Florida as “the dream”. But the opportunity has come earlier than I ever thought it would and is bittersweet. It actually was not an easy choice to make. The people I have worked with at J. America from top to intern have been truly amazing and have made coming to work every day an absolute joy. I am not sad about leaving Ohio, or leaving the work load, but I am very sad about leaving the friends I have made over the last year. It was a group that grew fast, that experienced some scary moments together and more laughs than you can imagine. It is a special group of people that I will remember forever and hope to always be friends with.

No one knows how much and how hard we have worked to make the Ohio State apparel product the best it can be. I think in the fall of this year it will show and people will be very pleased. Because I have seen a few season lines down the road, I know it only gets better and I’m sure will continue to do so each year. I really think Ohio State fans will love J. America product, and I am very proud to have been a part of it.

So, now I am a Banksy loving graphic designer at an advertising agency. Im sure there’s a good joke in there somewhere.

The Bee's Knees: Charlotte Hornets 2014 Identity

The Charlotte Hornets return to the NBA in 2014 with a fresh identity upgrade developed by Rare Design and Nike Jordan Brand. There is a whole hoard of new logos, 9 to be exact, enough to field a baseball team. I feel that number is quite excessive, especially when there are multiple styles being used throughout the package, but overall this is a fantastic evolution to one of the most unique and beloved sports identities ever.


According to ESPN's Darren Rovell the "Bobcats discovered that old Hornets gear had 8 different shades of teal. Picked color for new logo that all 400 licenses can use". Thank you Pantone! The new palette is not only going to be more consistent across many different manufacturers, but I think is much better than before. The teal is more blue than the original, and the darker purple provides fantastic contrast.



It’s a standard modern NBA angry-mascot-over-text-with-basketball concept. Instantly, I love the hornet and type, but hate the inclusion of a ball. I’d love to see just 1 team do a new logo system and forget that overplayed element, especially because it’s forced here as the lower body of the hornet forms a ball with a stinger coming out of the bottom. The use of the legs is clever, framing a shield/backboard around the type. I really love the way the crossbar on the H mirrors the S, balancing the whole mark and keeping it's symmetry.

2 other minor complaints; the teal on the wings feels odd; making them look a bit too heavy and I think the gray outline is 1 too many for this mark. Ignoring some of those details that most won’t notice or care about, it is a really cool logo that I expect to become a favorite among NBA fans very quickly. I already want a tee shirt!


Here we have a 3rd hornet design (counting Hugo) that mirrors the primary very well. It is a very nice mark that suggest speed and athleticism, and forms an abstract "C". It could easily be a primary mark and looks like it's ready to sting the fuck out of somebody!. But, damn it, that belly ball idea again!


I don't know how i feel about this one. The primary takes us in a totally different direction, and has a totally different personality than the old logos, but they have updated the old primary logo and moved it to a secondary position of sorts, where it seems it will only be used to represent Hugo the mascot. It feels like they wanted to move on from this concept but couldn't quite bear to part with it, so they decided to just keep and evolve it to match the new stuff. I think if they were too in love with the original logo to dump it, they should have just kept the original with updated colors. It would not have been anymore out of place than what this update is, and comes with pre-packaged nostalgia.

As part of the unveiling, the organization also announced that the beloved “Hugo” will officially return to Buzz City as the team’s mascot. The Hornets brand identity includes a modernized version of the original “Hugo” logo that will be utilized for the mascot and its brand. This logo is designed and intended for use as it relates to Hugo, and supplies the organization with a separate identity for one of the NBA’s most famous mascots. The refreshed Hugo logo contains several similarities to the original, with Hugo wearing white gloves and basketball shoes, possessing that trademark smile and having the letter “H” on his chest. Rather than bouncing a basketball, the updated logo continues the theme of the basketball as part of the hornet’s body. - nba.com/bobcats

Aesthetically, I like the consistency with the wing style. But the placement is off, and it looks like both wings might be growing out of his left (viewer right) shoulder. The addition of some J’s is a nice touch and is an idea that could have made this logo really likable. Except the idea of making the body a basketball makes me absolutely hate this logo. I have issues with sporting equipment in logos to begin with, but this is as forced of an idea as you will see and looks very weird. It’s minor league/Brandiose-like cheesy. 



I guess the secondary mascot logo needs it’s own secondary logo. I'm not sure how this one will be used, but I assume it is purely for the mascot, where the other could still be used to promot the team. I imagine it on advertising flyers like "Come out and meet Hugo!" or on apparel that will be directed to kids. It's quite nice; very refreshing to see a logo without a basketball gut. I think a spur should have been put on the "O" here though to better reflect what they did in the type of the primary logo. 


Image from Raredesign.com

I don’t really see the need for such a simplification of the word mark in the primary logo. Looking at it in embroidery application, I think it would still hold up with a drop shadow background, but I get it. Making it as simple as possible is a good idea. With as many logos as we have though, I’m surprised to not see an option that looks like it was cut right from the primary. It’s good type for a sports team that holds up well at small sizes. Would look really good at the ends of the court.


This is the primary logo without the word mark and is definitely one we could eliminate from the family. I don't see how this one serves any purpose that the primary and secondary can't.  It only clutters an already large family of logos. Some constraint on the numbers would strengthen the whole identity.


Why not a monogram? Okay, the monogram is cool and has some Charlotte flair with a honeycomb/hive shape that works together nicely. It could be a cool center court design but so could 4 of the previous ones. 


I haven't the slightest idea what this one is for. It's another that should be cut. My instant impression is that it is for women's apparel, but who knows. 


Image from Raredesign.com

There are a few odd ideas in this identity, but this might be the oddest. “Buzz City”. Yea? That’s what you want to be known as? I don’t know how many people will wear merchandise with this on it, but I’d respect the hell out of them for wearing it in public. I don't think this one will last long and will eventually be cut from the identity. At least, one can hope. It's a cool enough looking mark, but it screams "Minor League slogan."


As a designer, there are things I have to pick at. Brand identity needs to be focused, with all of its designs moving in the same direction. Variety is good, but there has to be unity and this system lacks that overall. Just cutting a few logos would correct it. It’s bad enough to give an audience 9 logos, but worse to do it with inconsistency in direction/personality/aesthetic.

From a pure fans perspective, this new identity is really cool and exciting. It brings me back to the 90s, where everybody had Hornets Starter jackets and gear. It’s enough to make stuff fly off shelves, taking advantage of the tail end of a big teal and purple trend in the marketplace but the color palette also keeps that nostalgia factor from the original team and completely sets them apart from the rest of the competition. It's an identity that not only is very much wanted by fans but needed from sports. It's an identity that will never be confused with another team and despite those "ball bellies" and multiple design styles, It's something that gets just as many things right and is going to work very well with fans.

Graphic Language: What is Design?

“Good design is invisible”

Well, that’s a boring ass way of looking at a visual art. . . I’ve heard that quote many times but don’t know what dork said it. Probably a web developer or industrial designer :) Definitely not someone who makes logos, posters, product packaging, book covers, or street art.

Design is many things and to try to make it one thing is silly. That quote dosen’t touch all the things that design is, but I get it. It touches things like street signage. Usually in every town and city in America you go to the street signs are green with white Helvetica type. They serve an information purpose and are designed to communicate that info quickly and efficiently. That kind of design is invisible to the extent you don’t think much about it and it is accepted as a natural part of the environment. It causes no harm and does nothing to make you take notice of the things it’s doing wrong, or ruining your experience of driving. That kind of design does not have the same principles as a movie poster or sports car.

Design is graphic art, information, language, communication, technology, a chair, an engine, a plan, an idea, a dream. It’s emotional, or it’s not. It takes a long time to do, or it’s done in a minute. Design is so much more than a single quote. It’s a creation with a purpose, if only the purpose it to create something. I can’t explain it any better than that.

Graphic Language: Application & Environment

As graphic designers, we design things for other things.  Logos for websites, graphics for packaging, type for posters. What we do goes on something else and whatever that something is has to be considered in the design process. It’s not enough to design something that communicates the right messages and looks good on paper or in Illustrator, it needs to do all that on whatever it’s going on to. This is the importance of graphic application.

Think of a football helmet. It’s contours, ridges, and obstacles (ear holes, vents and bumpers) have to be considered when designing something to go on it. A good example is the Sand Diego Charger’s logo. The lightning bolt was designed specifically for its shape and lines to form perfectly to the helmet.

The next step is to consider the environment in which your design will live. That thing you designed for that other thing is going to be viewed on or in another thing or place. Think of a billboard, and is it surrounded by trees or buildings? Is it in a climate that experiences all seasons or just the good one (summer)? Is the label on that bottle going to be seen along with 100 others on a shelf or just 10? How’s the lighting? All things to be considered when choosing type, color, material, etc.

Also, show your design in its proper application when presenting to a client. A special ability of designers and artist is to look at something and see something else. Especially with our own designs, we see them as they will be. But, a lot of clients still have to be sold on the idea. Don’t be like Pentagram and show your BIG TEN logo on a USB drive, that’s fucking stupid! That’s not where the logo is intended to live. Show it where it lives.

The Destruction of Banksy's Work Is A Good Thing

If you haven't heard, the Bristol street artist Banksy is in New York City this month putting on an outdoor art show of sorts titled "Better Out Than In". Local taggers and graffiti artist seeking attention and the need to protect their own "turf" have been going over Banksy's work about as soon as it's put up.

It's frustrating to know that Banksy's work will not last long enough for me to ever travel to NYC and see it in person. If it's not the attention whore taggers writing over it, it's the city itself washing it away. But, that's the understanding that every street artist has. They have a detachment from their own work because they know it will not last forever. It's not meant to. Even if it survives the defacers and pressure washers, it will fade away due the rain, sun, and wind. What makes so many pieces special, is that it is there for only a brief moment in time.

Still, there is a bigger enemy to Banksy's art. It's those who take the pieces from the streets to sell and profit for themselves. Some people label him a "sell-out" because of his commercial success, but if he's getting paid for work he's done and someone wants to give him $1 million for it, then good for him. If someone who had nothing to do with the work gets paid even $1 for it, well, I don't think theres even an argument to be made why that's not completely stupid. (On a related note, some douches were guarding the beaver on Bradford St and charging people to see it.)

All the people who feel the need to paint their name over his work to in some way teach him a lesson or for their own recognition, are doing Banksy a favor. If it's defaced then there is no value. The piece actually is protected in that way. For that reason I'll probably never see a NYC Banksy in person, but I would rather look at photos of them than know some jackass lifted it from the streets and sold it to some other jackass art collector.