Dec08 monthly illo: Gadsden Vineyard t-shirts

The month of December was well near over before I realized I never christened an Illustration of the Month. I think that means it’s time to retire designating a monthly illustration. I probably should have retired it with the redesign. But so I can end it with the close of the year, let this be this month’s feature:

These are two old designs for Gadsden Vineyard t-shirts. We talked about ordering some and never got around to it. I offered them up on a CafePress store, but I don’t think anybody ever ordered any.

The “Dick & Jane” design was for a Core t-shirt; they’re that old. Found them on an archive disk while looking for… an old business card? Who knows.

Moxie business card for Mark

Moxie business card for Mark

Mark is open for business!

From the vault: Harry Potter and the Magic of Reading

A few years ago, the Times, the Gadsden Public Library and Premiere Cinemas hosted an evening called Harry Potter and the Magic of Reading. I found the flyers, ads, article layout and whatnot I made for it on an archive disc recently.

Nov08 illustration of the month

This is the logo for the Milton 400 Pubcrawl. What's that, you ask?

Join the Gadsden Public Library & Downtown Gadsden Incorporated as they celebrate Monster of Literature John Milton’s 400th Anniversary!

Read the 1664 classic out loud with your friends in three relaxing pub environments, listen to guest speaker Mr. David Murdock and collect all three Milton 400 Trading Cards.



I thought you’d like this font. But I got bored with coloring in all the little blocks. I still love you, though.

Jaimie says:

ha! thanks, LBC. just call me Ja Jo. and i do like that font. i like how you can’t really use it for any thing.

Baby shower invitation

These are the invitations for LeNola's baby shower next month. I remembered my blog post about how I never have the chance to use Juno-esque fonts and then realized they would be totally appropriate in this instance.

My first design was vertical and featured a camo background (the theme of the shower), but I felt like it was missing something. I wanted an icon but couldn't find one I liked. I tried a teddy bear, but he just wasn't right.

Halloween 2008

Halloween '08 party invite

Oct08 Illustration of the Month: Scrap Pink

This is the second year that Susie Q’s (a local scrapbooking shop) hosted Scrap Pink, a benefit for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation to promote breast cancer research. Scrap Pink was created by Scrapbooks etc. magazine as a way to raise both money for research and awareness of the prevalence of breast cancer.

For me, it’s a chance to work up a fun layout. First, we ran the story on A2 of the regular paper and then used it again on the cover of Times2.

All of the scrapbooking elements came from

Retired site design

I call this version of the blog "Cherry Cheesecake" because that was the name of the color scheme I pulled from Kuler. This was the look of from November 2007 through September 2008 (when I moved to WordPress).

Sep08 illustration of the month: Lutheran church t-shirt

A t-shirt design for Trinity Lutheran Church of Gadsden, Alabama (a.k.a. the A-frame on the Drive).

Baby shower invitation

CRY logo

I wanted to design a logo treatment for my friend Carol and this is the result. I opted against her initials, because it spells "cry." The background color is an homage to her red hair, the vine a tribute to her earthiness and the font a bit of a play on words. (Parma Petit when one of her online identities uses the term "petite.")

Birth announcement (unused)

I designed the birth announcement for the Abecrombies' first born, Elias, so Kristie asked me if I would do one for baby number two, due this fall. This first design was aimed at being radically different than the one for Elias. Kristie thought it was cute, but wanted one much closer to the one we did for Elias.

Edward Asher is not the kid's name, by the way. That's the substitute for his real name, chosen for reasons probably only funny to me.

Baby Boomers cover

The bird nest is clip-art from Metro Creative Connection.

Redesign: Etowah County logo

The Etowah County web site has a redesign in the works and ran into a problem with their current logo. Namely, the quality. Who wants to unveil a new design with the same shabby logo?

They didn’t necessarily want to change their logo, just have a cleaner version of it. So here’s my vector-ized, slightly redesigned logo for Etowah County.

Kickoff cover

I didn’t have to do much for this section cover, just the text to accompany Eric’s awesome photo. I don’t want to sell myself short, though, because there are so many ways this could go wrong if the text isn’t right.

I started with adding 2008 Pigskin Preview at the bottom. This football preview comes out every year. It’s been called the Pigskin Preview for as long as I’ve been at the Times, so even though this year the section is named “Kickoff,” I wanted it to still say Pigskin Preview somewhere. I used the font (Machine) that we used when we did Football Friday sections.

KICKOFF didn’t look right in Machine. At 200+ point size, it was too blocky. I wanted the head to have punch, like a football to the chest. And though I promise I didn’t pick the font out by name only, KICKOFF is in Impact. For color, I chose a reddish brown both to pull out the color of the Titans’ helmets below and to emulate a football.

The text at the top is a light blue to echo the sky in the photo and also because it’s not really teaser text. It’s just stuff that needs to go on the cover… publish date, web addresses. It’s okay that it doesn’t stand out very much.

If you think font choice couldn’t make much of a difference, consider if I had used these instead:

Here KICKOFF is in Stencil. It’s bulky, bold. But it doesn’t work. Not enough presence.

Pigskin Preview is in Optima. Sans serif seems like a good choice, why is this not the right font, then? Because it’s the sans-serif font you see at the Clinique counter.

For the teaser copy and “with the Times,” I swapped our core design fonts. In the actual cover, the teaser is in our sans-serif and “with the Times” is in our display font. This is a more subjective choice, in my opinion. Both fonts are part of our paper’s design, so both are available for use. But how they are used makes all the difference.

Logos for Leslie

As a designer, I have trouble designing things for myself. I presumed this could be true of other designers, so last week I contacted Leslie and Terica and proposed a little game. I would design a “logo” for Leslie. She would make one for Terica. And Terica would make one for me. Our deadline was last Friday.

Terica was the first to finish. She posted my logo(s) on her blog. My two favorites are the “mod” ones.

For Leslie, I came up with three varieties. The first is what I think of as the Gypsy one. (Pinks and purples, rounded font.) My personal favorite is the one I call the Glamour version. A swooshy capital L and a sans serif.

And the third option, my least favorite (of course!), a stylized line drawing of Leslie’s face, paired with a blocky font. When I sent preliminary designs to Jaimie for feedback, it’s the one she liked best. It was also Les’ favorite.

Even when the client is a friend, she will instinctively know which one is your least favorite and like it best!

I don’t think Leslie has posted Terica’s online anywhere yet, but if she does, I’ll update.

Aug08 illustration of the month

This here is the old version of that I did several years ago. Jaimie had to update the site in HTML and FTP the changes to the server. I tried to get her to use Movable Type a few years ago (2005 maybe?) and she wouldn't have it.

But this summer, her husband and I were able to strong-arm her into WordPress. So here's the redesign.

Moxie business card


For Kris, summer 2008

July08 illustration of the month: United Way t-shirt

Last year, Jaimie and I were called upon to design the t-shirt for United Way’s annual Day of Caring. They were so pleased with the results, we were pretty sure we’d get a call this year. And we did.

Here were the instructions we received:
on the front they want Live United in black and white.

on the back the theme is 24/7 "United Way is there everyday" 2 or 3 colors.

Last year, there were three colors on the front and back. The United Way logo is actually four colors (red, yellow, two blues), but they just used one blue.

Here is what I submitted first:

Upon seeing this, they responded that no, Live United is the only thing that goes on the front. And it's a no-go to single out any parts of the logo. And oh yeah, we gotta change that 24/7 thing.

United Way (the parent organization, not just the local chapter) has restrictions about their logo. You cannot use just the circle; you have to use the whole thing. Now, I personally think it’s okay to steal the little man shape. I mean, it’s a circle over a Y. It’s an element. But I also respect that the local peeps don’t want to upset the big peeps.

Jaimie apologized that I had spent time creating this cool thing that won’t get used, but I assured her I am used to it.

I also understand how it goes when you see something for the first time, you have a gut reaction that you don’t get from just talking about it. They had discussed the 24-7 thing and it sounded great. And then they saw it in big bold numbers and realized “this makes it sound like we’re open 24-7.” It sure does; that’s what Jaimie and I thought they meant to imply.

I headed back to the drawing board by visiting the United Way website. I see that LIVE UNITED in all caps Helvetica is part of the campaign. A-ha, so I’m trying to localize a national campaign. Gotcha.

Meanwhile, the UW folks envision a new idea for the back of the shirt. They want a clock that has words instead of numbers. Working around the clock for you, yes. Open 24/7, no. I’m there.

Here was my “sell” for the second design:
On the back, I used the same font on the clock. The words GIVE. ADVOCATE. VOLUNTEER. in the boxes comes from the same look on the website. I used the red and gold from the United Way’s logo but black instead of blue because you’re already paying for black ink on the front of the shirt and to use blue would mean paying for another color. Plus, the black has a lot of pop.

They loved the clock but shot down the black and used blue instead. Eh, you can’t win ‘em all.

Redesign: Baby Info Sheet

When I pick my son up from daycare, I get a piece of paper that tells me when he ate, slept and had diaper changes or medications and if he's out of diapers. I noticed that all of the lines were really close together and figured it must be a pain to fill these things out. So I redesigned it for them.

Jun08 illustration of the month

These were my submissions for the JSU Art Alumni Chapter’s logo contest. I wanted them to match the look of JSU as a whole, hence the red, black and gold. I dummied up little mock t-shirts and something that could be used a web splash page to give the committee a better idea of the usage possibilities.

I haven’t seen the winning design yet.

Here are close-ups of the web portals, as they were my favorite aspect:

May08 illustration of the month

Another special section cover.

I found out that I was doing the layout for this section pretty last-minute. For the cover, I scanned the "retro" selection of fonts at and Googled for ideas on a "baby boomer" color scheme. The vinyl record is a Beatles album with the text changed.

For the inside of the section, I solicited pics of boomers from around Etowah County. Special thanks to Leslie, David, Terica, Nathan and Melanie for providing pics quickly.

Return of Saturn invite

From the No Doubt album Return of Saturn, I learned that (supposedly) the planet Saturn is in the same position in the sky the year you turn 30 as it was the year you were born.

The slope is my joke that it'll all be downhill from here.

"thirty" font is MammaGamma.

Regency Pointe grayscale ad

This version was designed to the wrong dimensions, so it never got used.

Apr08 illustration of the month

For the cover of this year’s Home & Garden section of The Times, my editor wanted a photo package with teasers to the main story, as well as the accompanying web content.

I started by picking the photo that I thought had the most visual pop. As I placed more and more photos on the page, I knew what I was shooting for. I wanted the grouping of the photos to have a modern feel.

More info on architect David Holland at his site:

Inside the section, I made the color wheel to go with Tamara’s story.

Mar08 illustration

I meant to save the sketch my editor gave me for what he had in mind for this cover. Alas, I must have trashed it. Just know that I worked wonders.

Jazz & Jambalaya

Jazz & Jambalaya ad commissioned by Venture Marketing Group.

Feb08 illustration of the month

Liz was the winner of my caption contest way back in September. I took this photo of her in a flapper costume on Halloween and then used it to do the pop art tutorial at