Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Wish I'd Done That! "Thought of You"

This beautiful animation was created by, storyboard artist and figure drawing instructor, Ryan Woodward. Ryan has worked in Hollywood since 1995, creating storyboards for various movie companies.

After so many years of working on commercial movie projects, Ryan had been wanting to do a side project that would include figure drawing, animation and expression through dance movements. After Ryan heard "World Spins Madly On" by The Weepies, he made up his mind that this would be the perfect song to tell a story about relationships.

Rather than creating a narrative animated piece that communicates a well defined story, this animation allows each individual who views it to experience something unique and personal that touches their own sensibilities.

It's quite simple for traditional artist to sketch a human figure. The technique calls for little detail and expressive line work, such as creating the illusion of strength drawing bold lines or making something appear delicate by making thin lines. The style and the technique are simple, but redrawing one sketch over and over again, making slight adjustments to tell a story and STILL keep that "sketch look" is pretty hard. Ryan Woodard's animation is flawless, expressive and creative.

Please visit Ryan Woodard's website to see a behinds the scenes video on the making of "Thought of You," and to view more of his figure drawings.

Pete C.
Brainwerx Design

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last minute illustration for Johnny Carino's

On Saturday afternoon (Dec. 4, 2010) I was asked to create a Christmas theme painting, for a local Johnny Carino's restaurant. The only catch was that I would have less than 48 hours to complete it. This painting had to be turned in early Monday morning (Dec. 6, 2010).

In all honesty, I was hoping to do a project just like this, but imagined that I would have a lot more time to create a different style of illustration. But when you're in a time crunch, you always go with the style you are most comfortable doing.

The image I was asked to create was simple, 3 old fashioned stockings hanging from a wooden mantel with Carino's gift cards sticking out of them over an open fire. I left plenty of room for Carino's to add text across the image at a later date.

I looked for some reference materials Saturday night and drew out the design. It was already late so I figured that I should get as much rest as possible, if I was going to finish this piece on time. In this style of painting, I normally work from back to front, and this project was no different. The next morning (Sunday) I started the project by painting a simple gradient background and added the flames at the bottom of the canvas.

My next steps were to paint the wooden mantel and put down some base colors on the stockings and add some shading to them. Next I refined the shading and added the colored stripes. In my final steps I painted the Carino's gift cards, added the orange high lights on the stockings and added a light glow to the flames.

Although I'm over simplifying the process here, this project actually took me the majority of the day to complete. Happy with the results, I turned in the painting early Monday morning.

-Pete C.
Brainwerx Design

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Wish I'd Done That! - We Got Time

In this music video for Moray McLaren's "We Got Time," artist David Wilson uses a modified version of an animation device called the praxinoscope. The praxinoscope was invented in France by Charles-Émile Reynaud in 1877. It uses a strip of images that are placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder, which is lined with 16 small mirrors. (Not to be confused with the earlier zoetrope that uses narrow viewing slits.)

For this video David used a process that was made popular in the 1950's, where illustrations were printed on the labels of vinyl records. As the record spun on the turntable, the illustrations would appear to animate if you fixed your gaze on one spot. Red Raven Records later developed a mirrored "carousel," which customized versions of it are used in this video.

I can watch this video over and over again. These low-tech animations, with their "circle of life" theme, are mesmerizing. What I enjoy most about this video, is how David goes beyond what others have done and stacked images, as well as place them side by side to interact with one another.

Below is a short video where David explains the animation process for "We Got Time." To learn more about David Wilson and see more of his art work, please visit www.davidwilsoncreative.com.

-Pete C.
Brainwerx Design

We Got Time video credits:
Music: Moray McLaren
Director - David Wilson
Producer - James Bretton
Executive Producer - Bart Yates
Production Company - Blinkink
Director of Photography - Tim Green
Motion Control - Dennis Henry at MC2
Animation - David Wilson
Art Department - Will Randall, Hattie Newman, and David Wilson
Editor - Mark Aarons at TVC
TK - James Bamford at The Mill
Post - The Mill

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Logo Design Case Study: Arriba! Mexican Insurance

In 2004, I was asked to create a logo for a new company named Arriba! Mexican Insurance. The company provides travel auto insurance for those driving across the border into Mexico. The president of the company did not have a preference over which type or style of logo I was to create, and was given free reign to come up with the design concept.

There are three basic types of logos: Iconic, like the apple on my Mac; Logotype, like the stylized text used by Disney; and combination marks, like the text “McDonald’s” used together with the symbol of the golden arches.

I began to research this insurance niche and found that the majority of the companies that deal solely with Mexico auto insurance only use plain text to identify themselves. A few companies use clip art images along with their names, but there were less than five Mexico auto insurance companies that had an actual logo. Out of those companies, there was only one that had built an actual brand. That's what I was shooting for. I wanted to make sure that I created something that was more than just a logo. I wanted to give the company a design that could easily become the first step in developing a brand.

Idea is too corporate/Americanized
With a name like "Arriba!", I knew that I could create a fun, loose logo design. I began concentrating my sketches on more abstract designs, but did stray a bit to more “corporate” looking ideas. At one of my stopping points, I automatically discarded anything that looked too “corporate” and especially the ones that looked to "Americanized." This logo had to work beyond certain borders, just like the product.

When I went back to do more research, I saw that there was a large increase in Mexico insurance companies over the previous 2 years. This information certainly got me thinking in a different light. Arriba! had to jump into the market and establish themselves very quickly. With that in mind, I needed to create a logo design that was less “abstract” and more "in your face." The logo also had to be more versatile, something that could go from a combination mark, to a bold icon.

Not bold enough
I started to work on a topsy-turvey design that I had previously sketched, but was convinced that it would not be bold enough for this project. However, I had incorporated a jumping exclamation mark into that design and felt that I had hit a key point. The exclamation mark would either make this logo, or open the door to the final concept.

Needs further developing
After several revisions, I put aside the idea to work on a different concept. I started working with the letter "A." I drew one sketch that showed the exclamation point coming out of the letter. This led me to draw a silhouette figure at the top of the letter and having it "hold" the exclamation mark, using the "A" as the legs of the figure. I felt that I had reached another key point towards the final logo concept. I further developed the figure holding the exclamation mark toward the audience. After several revisions, I went back to the topsy-turvy text idea, made it more legible, and added the figure.

On December of 2004, I was presented with a gold advertisement award by the Valley Advertising Federation, a division of the American Advertising Federation, for my Arriba! Mexican Insurance logo design.

Pete C.
Brainwerx Design

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Looking for a "Creative" advertising agency

Has anyone, beside myself, asked why do some advertising agencies (and design firms) use the words "Creative Advertising" in their name? (e.g. XYZ Creative Advertising.) It doesn't seem very creative at all. Whether it's a print design or a radio campaign, an agency's job is to provide "creative" services. I'm certain that advertisers (no matter what their budget) do not go out, purposefully, looking for mundane advertising. 

So why do some advertising agencies use "Creative Advertising" in their name? There are two simple answers to this: 1) the agency just wasn’t very creative when choosing a name (not something an advertiser wants to hear) or 2) because it's a marketing strategy.

I’ll do everyone a favor and not even share my thoughts about answer 1! (You’re welcome.)

Now, how is "Creative Advertising" a marketing strategy? That's because it deals with "value." It doesn't have anything to do with being "creative."

Clients that work with large advertising agencies in cities like New York or L.A., are acutely aware that they are paying top dollar for creative services. So those agencies have no need to use the words "Creative Advertising" in their name. Lower-middle class clients want to make sure that they will be getting a good value for their advertising dollars, and so they may be more skeptical of any agency or design firm. It is in this situation that the client needs to be assured that they will hire the best agency that makes the most creative work, while staying on budget. If the advertisers do not know where to start looking for a credible advertising agency, looking for a glowing beacon like "Creative Advertising" would seem like the best place to start. Seeing those two words accompanying an agency's name, literally assures the potential client that the agency does indeed produce "creative" work, and is not just a media buyer.

Advertising agencies, design firms and freelance designers need to see themselves as their potential customers see them. They need to be aware of the market they are in, and market themselves accordingly. This may or may not mean adding "Creative Advertising" to your company's name, but there is, in deed, a method to this madness.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I wish I'd done that! - The Most Beautiful Seat Belt Commercial Ever

Over the years, there has been thousands of commercials attempting to scare everyone into using their safety belts. Most rely on fear of a police citations or on graphic images of injuries and death to convey their message.

This slow-motion TV spot from the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, takes a completely different (and very creative) approach on the subject. When you break it down to it's simplest form, the commercial has great lighting, music and a typical family you can relate to. There are no special effects, driving scenarios, or even a vehicle.

This spot takes what seems to be a family-game-night and turns it into a heart touching, highly effective message - Embrace Life.

- Pete C.
Brainwerx Design

Embrace Life - Credits

Writer/Director: Daniel Cox
Producer: Sarah Alexander
Executive Producer: Neil Hopkins

Father: Austin Spangler
Mother: Lara Corrochano
Daughter: Clare Denning


Assistant Director/ Production
1st Assistant Director: Lucy Wigmore
Assistant Producer: Vicky Del Campo
Runner: Tom Harburt

Director of Photography: Luke Scott
Phantom Technician: Jason Berman
Focus Puller: John Mitchell
Gaffer: John Cantwell
Spark: Gary Nagle
Camera assistant: Steve Mayhew

Art Department:
Production Designer: Aoife Wilson
Art Director: James Custance
Storyboards: Peter Johnston

Editor: Daniel Cox
Colorist: Pat Wintersgill
Graphics Designer: Laylah Driscoll - Insert Graphics

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gap's new logo (for a week)

On Monday, October 4th, Gap quietly unveiled a new logo design which stirred many harsh criticisms. 
Gap’s iconic “old” logo featured a blue square containing the company’s name in all caps. The “new” logo shows a small gradated blue box over the top right side of the name. Graphic designers and Creatives worldwide tore apart this new look. One of the most common expressions was that the new GAP logo looked like it was taken straight out of a clip-art gallery. 

Within 24 hours of the unveiling, a Twitter account (@gaplogo) was created in hopes of obtaining new followers. This is a parody account, from the new logo’s point-of-view, being used as crowd control and even to backlash at posted comments. It’s first Tweet being: "I have feelings too, jerks."

Not to be outdone, the old GAP logo created an account (@OldGapLogo) and posted: “In the middle of the night, I was moved to a large windowless conference room filled with Old Navy mannequins. Send help now.”

To pour more fuel into the fire, posted on GAP’s official Facebook page on Oct. 6th was:

Thanks for everyone's input on the new logo! We've had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we're changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we're thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we're asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we'd like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.

Gap’s fan page was instantly filled with angry comments, such as:

“It looks like a cheap gas station logo... or better yet something Wal-mart would change to.”

You want a new logo? Quit asking for free designs (and I pity the designers who fell for this and sent serious submissions) and hire a professional designer/firm to create one for you. Your "crowdsourcing" ploy is nothing short of SPEC work, and completely disregards the contributions that designers have to business and culture.”

…they are just trying to get people to waste there time on creating a "free" logo and this whole crappy new logo design is just a major publicity stunt. Everyone’s talking about it, mission accomplished GAP.”

On Oct. 7, 2010, president of Gap North America, Marka Hansen, sent out a press release stating: "... Our brand and our clothes are changing and rethinking our logo is part of aligning with that. We want our customers to take notice of Gap and see what it stands for today. We chose this design as it's more contemporary and current. It honors our heritage through the blue box while still taking it forward..." (Read full article here.)

On Monday, Oct. 11th just one week after launching it's new logo, GAP Inc scrapped the design after reading over 2,000 negative comments on its Facebook page. It became painfully clear to Hansen that GAP Inc had missed an opportunity to engage with the online community.

When asked about the reinstatement, on Twitter, the original GAP logo modestly commented: "I think good design has prevailed. That makes me (and many others) happy."

From the start, I had hope that this was all just one big hoax to get free publicity. Companies spend millions (and billions) of dollars throughout their lifetime in branding efforts to expose their logos worldwide. Would GAP really throw all that away? In this manner and with this "new" design? Many companies out there, like Coca-Cola, have been able to maintain their brand for well over 20 years without changing their logos.

It’s interesting to me, how such a small word and a blue square have come to effect so many. It goes to show how color, size, placement, fonts and type styles affect us as consumers and brand followers. And how two, seemingly simple elements can portray the “feel” of young-middle-class-socialites, or of  generic-MS Word-template.

Although there are many talented graphic designers that are struggling for recognition or to land a job at a reputable advertising agency, crowd-sourcing is not the answer. I've seen many of the design work in these websites and can say that crowd-sourcing breeds mediocrity. It is nearly impossible for a talented designer to submit  unique, creative designs, when 95% of all submissions are sent out to every single job posting that fits it's criteria, without changing any elements other than the company's name. The majority of designers in crowd-sourcing websites are not creating new and unique designs for their potential customers, they are creating templates. And no company should pay an extraordinary amount of money for a design that is going to be sold over and over again, without their knowledge.

-Pete C.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marketing your business starts with a Marketable Name

Every organization in the world goes by one name or another. Now, you can call your company "AAA Tax Services" and still be able to market you company’s name; however, the majority of your marketing plan will be based on phone book advertising and promotional calendars. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Many companies do well by doing just that, but when it comes time to expand your business and market it creatively, you'll already be limited by your company's name.
For the past 15 years I've used the name PC Graffix whenever I was marketing myself for freelance graphic design work.  I thought it was clever. "PC" stood for the letters of my initials, as well as for personal computer (no, it does not stand for a Windows based computer). And "Graffix" as in graphics but with the subliminal "fix," to convey that I could fix my potential clients’ advertising needs.

As clever as I thought the name was, I kept thinking that it was too limiting. Of course potential clients would know that I was a graphic designer, but would they make the connection to website design? What about laying out entire books? Yes, this was a long time ago and the public has come a long way in understanding the capabilities of a graphics designer. However, I was never completely convinced that I had chosen the proper name for myself, but I stuck with it because I had an emotional connection to it.

Often, choosing a company's name is based on emotional attachments, especially for small businesses. A friend of mine once told me that there should be a story behind a company's name, but I personally don't agree with this. Above all, I believe that a company's name should be memorable. No one will ever know the story behind your company’s name (besides your friends and family), if they can't remember it. At least until you make it really big and the media is beating down your door, wanting to tell your story.

Just recently I decided to “retire” PC Graffix and market myself as Brainwerx Design. The main reason for doing this is because I felt the new name was less limiting than the previous one. Just like before, I thought the name was clever but more importantly, I felt that potential clients would easily remember it. And a simple word change, from Graffix to Design, instantly broadens the ability to market the name. There was absolutely no story behind the name, no emotional attachment to it either.  All "Brainwerx" really says about me is that I'm "cerebral." It says something about my thought process when I design logos or websites. But that's not much of a "story," is it?

In my professional opinion, when it comes time to choose your own company’s name, consider how well your potential customers will be able to recall the name after just a few times of being exposed to it. Pick out a name that will broaden your marketing abilities, even if you don’t have the capability to explore every avenue from the start. It would be ideal if the name you chose for your company happens to tell your entire story, or just happens to make an emotional connection that will drive you to make your company succeed.  If it doesn’t, do not let a name hinder your business before it even starts.

Pete C.
Brainwerx Design

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Print Designer's First Website

A few weeks ago I met up with a potential client that needed help with his website. Let's call him Joe, shall we? He mentioned to me that his website was ranked extremely low in Google’s search results.
Visually, the website looked as if it had been designed over 10 years ago. Black background, dark gray body, bold white type. Also, the images took too long to load, and I noticed that several of his links were not active.

I won't go into ALL the gory details, but once I saw his site's mark up code, I was shocked. There was absolutely no META data on any of his pages! Search engines, like Google, use this information when adding pages to their search index list. So when you type “Apple computer” on Google’s search box, Google goes through its list of websites, and uses that META data to show you all the websites that are related to that phrase. Joe’s website had none of this coding. How were robots and spiders supposed to help determine his page ranking without these extremely vital codes?

Down and Dirty
A few days later, I meet Joe at his office to discuss my findings. After reviewing all his web files, it became VERY clear that his website was a print designer's first attempt at web design and construction. Joe's website only had 6 pages, one of which was never completed. However there was about 50 .HTML files in his server; some dating back 2 years. Some of the images used were saved at resolution of 300 dpi (Great for printing! Horrible for web design.) and sized at 800 x 600 pixels. Quite an over kill, since all static web pages should use images at 72 dpi, sized to 300x400 pixels, on average. His image file sizes were over 3x what is actually needed for this kind of website. No wonder his photos took so long to load.

Whoever created his website, also did not understand how to use DIV tags and style margins. The previous designer used tables (much like in Excel) as spacers to place all objects where he saw fit. He also used individual tables for each paragraph of body text, instead of creating cells.

Finally, I also had to break the news to Joe about his site’s lack of META adata, and why it's so important for search engines.

To help Joe better understand about robots and spiders sifting through this website, I re-created his home page using .PHP, proper DIV tags, 2 include commands and a CSS style sheet. What does all this mean? Well, .PHP coding is just another language for writing/constructing websites. DIV tags produce the same effect as tables, but without unnecessary codes. The include command works similar to links on a web page, but for web coding. Say I’m building a website with 30 pages. Instead of writing the code for the main menu, on each individual page, I’ll create a “link,” this being the include command, to the file the contains the code for the main menu. This code is saved separately from all the other pages. So when Joe decides that he wants to switch the order of his menu, I won’t have to do it 30 times. I’ll do it once, save it, and the change will show up on every page. (Voila!) CSS coding works much the same way, but for styling text, borders, backgrounds, etc.

The results? What took the previous "web designers" 146 lines of code to create, I accomplished in 35. (Below are images of the two codes, for all to compare.)

So what's going to happen with Joe's website? After showing him how inefficient (and ineffective) his web pages are, he signed up for a total website redesign. His new site will grow from 6 pages, to approximately 25.

Keep following my blog for further updates on "Joe's" new website. Also, look for my follow up article on website construction, where I’ll discuss why I prefer to use .PHP coding, DIV tags, include commands and CSS style sheets, in more detail.

-Pete C.
Brainwerx Design

Friday, September 17, 2010

Brainwerx Design website has gone live!


My professional on-line portfolio, www.brainwerxdesign.com, is now alive and kicking. This portfolio features just a few of the graphic designs, logos, illustrations and advertisements that I've created over the years.

I have 15 years experience in branding and logo design, along with an extensive background in marketing, advertising and website design.

Some of the graphic design work you'll see in my website has been honored with advertisement awards by the Valley Advertising Federation, a division of the American Advertising Federation, and other noteworthy organizations.

Please, feel free to comment on any of the graphic design work this portfolio contains.

Also, be sure to follow this blog, dedicated to all areas of graphic design and advertising. Here, I'll be posting my design work and sketches, as well as feature others' work in my "Wish I'd Done That!" post. Stay tuned in for graphic design tips, tidbits and inspiration!

Thank you,
Pete C.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My website has been delayed!

I was hoping to get my website up and running this weekend, but it looks like it's going to take me a bit longer. I've been extremely busy working on several projects.

 Keep checking www.brainwerxdesign.com, I'm not too far from finishing my professional graphic design portfolio.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Brainwerx Design Blog Coming Soon!

Hello, I'll be starting a new blog soon. My blog will be dedicated to all areas of graphic design. I have 15 years experience as a graphic designer working in advertising agencies, sign shops, newspapers and magazines.

My new website will go live within the next two weeks, so be sure to check out www.brainwerxdesign.com and follow this blog for tips, tidbits and inspiration!