Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Farthest North "SOC"

A while back I was tapped to do a cartoon design for the Sociology Department. Incidentally the gig came about via Facebook - which has been proving it's value as a side-marketing tool many times over each year, and also by way of some editorial cartoons occasionally reposted on another blog. After a few weeks finally met up with the client and got an idea what they had in mind. Bouncing ideas around and asking basic questions is a good way to start the process of honing in on the eventual marriage between their creative vision and mine. Fortunately this was another dream case where I had pretty much free reign, but I always make a point to involve whoever it is on each step along the way as the design evolves. Constant feedback without inundating them with superfluous details is a balance that gets easier with experience, and also helps with the fun factor for all concerned parties. Like learning that it's commonly accepted to refer to sociology as "soc" (so-sh), but spelled "SOC" - akin to "PSYCH" and "ED" slang.

Going with the textbook theme of "sociology," and keeping the goal of a silly picture in mind, a role-reversal seemed appropriate enough in this particular case. So after doodling out a few flagship herd animals of the arctic and dropping a few sample fonts + layouts, the roughs went out for input. And then in for more output, etc.
 Some of the considerations were simplicity, as this was going to be a single-color design, most likely black-on-light-colored substrate; and also that the logo was primarily geared towards being printed on a tote-bag. That means an even bolder line than usual would translate best given the textured nature of canvas. Details, details...

The original marmot idea didn't work so well, as they are rather marginal critters as far as conventional "far north" images go (not to mention they sorta looked like rats or feral hamsters in my sketch), as opposed to stereotypical musk-ox and caribou. The caribou concept was a keeper, but the logistics of trying to get a clean design with the full-sized versions didn't hold up, especially given the reduced print dimensions (approx 12x12") in conjunction with the required boldness of line for reasons mentioned above. So that meant head-shots, and the next stage was actually drawing out each individual animal - not the quick & dirty digital flopping done in the doodles at the outset.

I wound up doing the art-cat thing: mauling around one poor idea until it was all beat-up half to death. But this meant the time spent flogging one particular direction was a calculated gambit and an investment of hope that what with the extra attention it'd aesthetically predispose the client to picking the caribou. Pretty crafty, huh?

Yeah... so much for that idea...

Also, here's a screen grab of the (cleaned-up) document in Freehand, showing the multiple pages of each successive arrangement. Hat-tip to Rick Redick, the guru who instilled in me during my discipleship to always, always , always save each step somewhere off to the side. While this makes for an incredibly messy desktop it's well worth the potential agony of recreating work after confidently trashing something you think you're done with.

And last, but not least, after all the digital dust has settled, the words every graphic artist secretly longs to see:

"I'm very pleased. The people's and muskoxen's expressions are perfect. 
This is exactly what I was looking for." 



  1. This is great! So often we tend to view someone else's work as springing forth full-grown, like Athena from Zeus's brow. I do this all the time, even though, as an artist myself, I'm all too painfully aware of the thrashing around it takes to bust through the brush and reach the clearing. IT'S _NOT_ EASY, DAMMIT!!!

  2. Hmm, maybe that's why the asprin isn't working: I have a Greek god problem...
    And yeah, "thrashing around the brush" sums it all up better than everything I wrote: anyone who has ever tried to hike through an alder thicket in the Alaskan wilderness can relate.

  3. I love your work and really enjoy reading your blog! I haven't commented before, but couldn't resist right now...

    Have you thought about doing something for the art dept. that might be an answer to those UAF engineering students' shirts? I know many people that would wear them, both current art students and alumni, and it might be fun to answer back to the engineers' skewed (although intended to be humorous) version of evolution that takes a poke at us artists. I could be wrong, but I do think we could raise the funds for design and production in a heartbeat...


    - Annie

  4. Hey thanks Annie! I just put up linkage to yer spiffy site coupla weeks back.
    I haven't done a tshirt for the art dept. since the infamous "Hairy Potter" ceramics club one years ago.
    Gee, maybe if I stopped making fun of everybody? Besides, folks see way too much of me around there anyways - I'm usually all about pushing to get more STUDENT works out there. Seeing as how their cheaper, and especially since faculty makes WAY too much money as it is, right?
    Besides, engineering efforts always fall down, while art is eternal! And the irony of their design (if it's the one I remember seeing) needing to be drawn is another point...