One of the best parts of life is getting to celebrate special occasions. Last week I celebrated my fifth anniversary of working at Old Hat. I actually used to live in Norman, OK and started my Old Hat career as the Web Production Manager. When my husband got a job offer in North Carolina, I was excited about the move, but super sad about leaving Old Hat. Fortunately for me, a short time after I moved to NC, Zac offered me a chance to rejoin the Old Hat team as an account executive. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to work with so many of our awesome clients on a daily basis and am excited to be a part of Old Hat's continued growth for many years to come.
Speaking of special occasions, I should probably mention that today is my 9th wedding anniversary. It's been an adventurous nine years filled with new jobs, new states, new homes, two kids, a dog and lots of fun. I wouldn't trade it for anything and am thankful for every day we get to spend together!
Old Hat knows a thing or two about celebrating big events as well. Often times, we are asked to design pieces to celebrate a milestone in a sports' history. You can check out some of our commemorative branding projects here:
Great staff photo, huh? Only, that's not us. And that will never be us. We don't wear power suits or ties. We wear jeans, t-shirts, ballcaps, athletic shorts... pretty much whatever we want.
I was looking at our "About Us" page the other day and I couldn't believe how corporate looking I had allowed it to become. All our staff photos looked like we belonged in a photo like the one above. But that's not us. So I decided to spend my morning getting US back into our about us page. There are no major changes here but it's a much better representation of who we are than it was before. This page doesn't include our entire staff, by the way. Just the people you're likely to come into contact with when you deal with us. Though after spending some time working on this page, I think we probably need to get our entire staff on here.
Since my husband and I both work in athletics, our girls have been to a lot of sporting events in their short lives. They've watched collegiate football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, golf and more. Regardless of what the sport is, they always want to know who they are supposed to cheer for. Since the majority of events we go to are to watch UNCG, that's become their team. Being in North Carolina, and right in the middle of the Duke / North Carolina rivalry, my girls have already picked sides on that as well. My oldest daughter has a close friend whose parents went to Carolina and are super fans. So she likes to cheer for them too because her friend likes them. Her friend has made quite the impact, so much so, that she has randomly told me that God is a Carolina fan because he painted the sky Carolina blue. Funny stuff. Meanwhile, my youngest daughter likes to cheer for Duke because they had glow sticks at one of the basketball events we went to for them. Clearly allegiances start young!
That got me thinking about all of the cool projects Old Hat has done for various schools' kids clubs. From logos, to brochures, to membership cards and shirts, there's a lot schools can do to get kids invested in their program from a young age. Here's a few of the kids club projects we've been fortunate to be a part of:
So yesterday was my day to blog, and I completely forgot because I got wrapped up in a new Old Hat Project that is really, really cool! I am not going to say too much about it, but will give you a clue. It involves neat logos like these:
So why to picture of my dog in the snow?! Because nothing is as cool as my dog in the snow!
Yesterday at our mid-year Staff Infection, Zac asked us to pick a project from 2014 we worked on or worked with that we really liked. This list could really go on and on as there are hundreds to pick from. A few projects mentioned yesterday are still being finalized and are almost ready for release - stay tuned as more great stuff is always coming out of this place! And like a parent with their children, it's hard to pick a favorite. But here are some of the highlights…
2014 has been a busy year for me at Old Hat. I have been fortunate to work on close to 300 projects this past year. One of my favorite parts about working for Old Hat is the variety of clients I get to work with. It is always fun and interesting to collaborate with the clients and our designers to bring their vision to life. In 2014 I was able to work with many great people across 29 different organizations. Here's a small sampling of the many great projects I got to work on in 2014.
Bethune-Cookman Football Poster
Charlotte Poster Template
Duke Cameron Indoor Stadium Commemorative Logo
ECU Undaunted Campaign Videos
Florida State Men's Basketball Poster
Marist ESPN3 Broadcast Animation
Minor League Baseball Cap Poster
Yale Kids Club Logo
I'm already excited about projects planned for 2015 and can't wait for another great year!
Good Monday morning folks! Man, is that not a SWEET title graphic?
Okay, so it's somewhat obvious that I'm NOT a graphic designer. BUT, I do work with a few of them here at the Hat, and I gotta tell ya, they've been bustin' it out this summer.
In my last blog I talked about the amount of work we've done over just the last year, and went on about how we're the experts in our field. Rest assured, none of that has changed, but it's been on my mind for a while to figure out what it is that makes some of our work better than other work. Oh sure, we can't always do the very absolute best project ever created in the history of mankind, but that's at least what we're shooting for. So why isn't everything the best?
Over my 8+ years of working at Old Hat, there have been a couple times that a client has mentioned they didn't feel they were getting the same level of design as other clients; that perhaps, because a client is a big-time university, they might be getting our best possible work while others are getting the run-of-the-mill stuff. Now I know design is very subjective, and unless you have The Design Spectrometer 400TL, it's really hard to gauge the level of design you're getting from a designer. That's why we always scan and document the results for each design using the DS400. By doing so, we can ensure that each poster gets equal amounts of athletic aptitude, branding recallability, design and structural interface integrity, and love. Yeah, you know what, I made that part up about the DS400. I thought we had started doing that but apparently not.
Okay, so seriously... why is it that some work is better? I've gotta say, I think these two graphs tell the story. Before you get upset and send me hate emails, know that I realize clients don't actually perceive things the way that I have them in the first graph. This is a dramatization intended to make a point. Or maybe some clients and others not familiar with the creative process actually DO think this is the best method. In that case, I would ask that you study the second graph.
Here's a quick breakdown of the graph below:
- The level of quality goes from low to high as the client provides input. Simple graph: more input equals better quality, regardless of how much or what type of input a client gives (content or design related). This is what I would call the "perceived" best design practice. And just to be absolutely clear, this is wrong.
The graph below is what I'm calling the actual best design practice. And here's a brief explanation:
- Quality goes up as input is received, similar to the first graph, up to a certain point. The point at which the quality starts to take a downturn is generally when clients move across that imaginary border I'd call the design line. In this graph, that's represented by the Ideal Input line. Providing all the pieces to the puzzle is great, but as the experts, we then have to take those pieces and put it together in a way that screams AWESOME!!
- The Quality level is represented by the upside-down U (downward parabola for you math folks), because having little or no info is probably not going to lead to a great result. In the same way, having too much information or design direction (after you get past that design line) is not going to lead to a great result either.
So what's the ideal amount of input? Honestly, it will probably vary from project to project and client to client. As a general rule, when we have as much content and direction necessary to effectively communicate your message, combined with the freedom to creatively enhance that message. That, my friend, is the ideal amount of input.
I don't want to overstate the difficulty or importance of my job but man, art is hard.
Sure, I'm not slaving away in the hot summer sun working construction. Nor am I tasked with making decisions that will ultimately affect the lives of others. Once, I came home and told my wife what a hard day I'd had and without missing a beat my daughter asked "Why? Did someone try to kill you?". Well, no. Not exactly. It's not "hard" in that sense. I mean, there are varying degrees of difficulty right?
I'm lucky enough to work in an air conditioned office, sit in a comfortable chair and be surrounded by a fun and creatively stimulating environment. However, this job, at times, can be mentally exhausting.
Everyday I'm asked to created something new. Something that up until I start working on it, has never existed… ever.Often times, it's something I've never even thought about. And the thing is, these things have to be created out of thin air, on the spot. Every time I sit down to design something, my goal is to come up with something better than whatever it was I did last time.
BUT, art is a purely subjective form of expression...
Even though art is subjective, there are a hand full of rules designers try to stick to. You know that old saying "You need to know the rules before you go and break them"? Yeah, that applies here. But because of its subjectivity, what looks good, what "pops" or what looks cool to one person may not look cut it for another. The problem is, not everyone understands art or design. They don't understand "the rules", the thought and considerations that go into a design. They don't understand why certain decisions were made or why things need look the way they do. This can make things very difficult. Things get compounded when you introduce more people into the equation, each with their own idea about what good art/design is and how to achieve it… and somehow, I have to figure out a way to please everybody all while trying to break as few design rules as possible and that, my friends, is why ART IS HARD...
I'm so thankful to be working in the sports industry. It's fun. It's fast-paced. It's entertaining. It's something different every day. And it's a challenge. Chances are if you're reading this, you're working in the sports industry yourself, and you share these sentiments.
From time to time, I forget what makes us a great company, what it is that sets us apart from other creative agencies and freelancers. I forget how good our people are at what they do. I forget how difficult it must be to produce new materials each and every day, yet give each project its own unique identity. But it's the experience of creating new projects each day that makes us the experts at what we do. If you look at popular theory (Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and others), expertise comes through repetition. Basically, by the time you put in 10,000 hours doing any one thing, you've become an expert in that field. That equates to roughly five years of doing 40-hour work weeks to become an expert.
Old Hat has experts on staff. We've got print designers, developers, animators and (don't forget) client service reps with that kind of experience. It goes beyond that though. Our designers, developers and animators aren't just simply putting in hours to gain expertise. It starts with talented people that push themselves, which in turn causes those around them to work harder (iron sharpens iron). That's a benefit we have that you won't get from freelancers and in-house designers. That's not to say they can't create great work and aren't experts themselves, but I'd put our team of experts against an individual any day.
If you look at the sheer volume of work Old Hat produced in 2013, you might realize what I've realized: 1) how difficult it must be to constantly push ourselves to greatness and 2) how our experience continues to keep us the best at what we do.
So what is that volume of work? Let's see what we did in 2013, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the common projects we work on daily.
Posters - 353
Schedule cards - 146
Tickets - 49
Billboards - 25
Magnets - 34
WEB projects (some full sites, some updates to existing sites): 64
Intro Videos - 73
Commercials - 54
Animations - 63
Photo/Video Shoots: 19 full day shoots, 7 half days
I think the evidence speaks for itself. So if you ever wonder if we're truly equipped to handle your next project, just trust us, we know what we're doing.