Few people have had as much of an impact on the design world of the 20th century as Lella & Massimo Vignelli and Charles & Ray Eames.

 

From the Vignelli's instantly recognizable NYC subway signage

 

to the ubiquitous Eames's office chair

these individuals were responsible for the look of the last half of the 20th century. If you're interested in learning more about these folks, Netflix has two really great documentaries on each.  

 

Design Is One

 

Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter

 

Happy Columbus Day! Do you realize how significant this holiday is? I don't think most of us do... but that's for another day since that's not what I wanted to blog about. I did, however, decide to toss in a couple nautical terms within my blog, in honor of Columbus.

Staying on the topic of history, I wanted to dive into some sports history for all the youngsters that missed out on possibly one of the greatest eras in sports design - the 1980s.

I was reminded of some really atrocious sports posters just the other day as Deb passed along some similar athletics posters from one of our clients (who will remain nameless for the sake of anemones). The posters were obviously inspired by the totally rad designs of the Costacos brothers, which is an interesting story in itself. They are responsible for possibly the worst-themed posters imaginable, which might also be one of the coolest compilations of sports artwork. It's so bad it's good, and that's what the 80s were all about.

I wanted to share a few of these, pacifically some that had no regard for political correctness. You couldn't get away with a few of these nowadays, in our hyper-sensitive society. And I am truly sorry if yawl are overly sensitive to comments about hyper-sensitivity.

I know history eventually repeats itself, and I can't wait until we start thinking designs like this are cool again. I'm also looking forward to repeating that really good day I had in the spring of 1992, but that's not for this blog. Now on with the 80s...

 

And here are a few that might not necessarily pass the "PC" test today...

 

 

 

 

 

Recently I’ve been asked by a few clients if we can do certain print projects. The answer has always been yes. With our top notch design team, we can design pretty much anything! While I enjoy getting to work on the traditional print projects we do like schedule posters, schedule cards, magnets, brochures, tickets and game programs, it’s also fun to get to work on some of the more unique projects that come our way. Here’s a few examples of some of the different kinds of projects we've been able to work on:

We created a seat tarp for the University of Delaware to use in an endzone of their basketball arena that still allowed space for the band.

We took the Junior Iron Dukes logo we created for the Duke Kids Club and applied it to a t-shirt design.

We created truck wraps for App State to use on a variety of vehicles.

We created branded XBox and iPhone skins for UCO to use as giveaway items.

  

We designed a version of Duquesne's mascot to use as a cut out for fans to take their picture as the mascot.

We created a variety of banners for the University of Utah to use around campus.

 

I recently ran across this great site that I'd never heard about before - openculture.com. Maybe I've been hiding under a rock, or maybe my taste for what is "great" just isn't what it used to be. I've heard that your preference for the taste of foods changes about every seven years, so maybe that's the case for your taste in other areas too. Anyway, I digress...

So this site really has no content of its own, it's just a landing page to find a plethora of other content. I stumbled across an archive of 170,000 Great Depression era photos from Yale and an equally impressive photo library of the automotive industry's history, put together by Stanford. If you're part of my generation (Generation X) or before, you realize this is something that couldn't have been shared with the public even 25 years ago. Artifacts that could only be viewed by some can now be seen by the world. That's what is great about the digital age - being able to share history and culture with everyone (or at least everyone with internet access).

But as I think about how great the digital age is, it also makes me wonder how future generations will not only view, but create, art. Paper books, painted canvases, photography and other artwork created by hand- will it exist in 100 years? What I like about artwork (paintings in particular) is being able to view an actual canvas and see the bright blobs of paint and brush strokes created by the artist. You just don't get that with digital artwork. I'd hate to think that at some point, digital will replace the physical. And if it does, how do you authenticate a piece of art? What makes it unique and original?

 

Fortunately, people still appreciate having things to hold and feel and view on display in a museum, and probably will for at least my lifetime. IKEA recently created the bookbook, which is a hilarious take on the over-digitalization going on these days. Sometimes simplest is best.

 

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.

 

 

It is late and I am starring at my computer thinking about all of the wonderful projects I currently have on my list of things to do. While I sit and think about this incredible list I also think of a million other things. I think of you being a sky full of stars... I am going to give you my heart... cause you are a sky full of stars... cause you light up the... what word does he even say there? Hmmm... Coldplay kind of reminds me of U2. Hey, does anyone know if U2 will ever come out with a new album. Their last album was kind of blahhhhhh... I think ADD is a bunch of bull. It is just another way for the fat cat drug companies to get money out of people. Those damn fat cats. Real fat cats can be cuddly though. My parents have two awesome fat cats that sleep all day ha ha... Wait, what was I doing again? Oh yeah blogging... Here is a great list of things you shouldn't say to a graphic designer (:

http://designtaxi.com/news/367147/Things-You-Shouldn-t-Say-To-A-Graphic-...

I’m supposed to write a blog today. Once again, I’ve known about it for a few days and once again, I don’t have anything work related to really write about. So here is a list of random things I have thought/worried about since the last time we talked. 

 

1. Oh crap. I’ve got a blog to write.

 

2. What am I going to write about?

 

3. Why not just make a random list of things?

 

4. Ok, that sounds good. How about…

 

5. Though I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I’m lucky to be where I’m at in life. I’m reminded of this fact everyday because on my way to work I pass by the homeless shelter. Everyday I see people without jobs, without money, without a car, possibly without family to love them and probably very little hope. Thankfully, I have all those. 

 

6. I haven’t talked to my mom and dad in a while. I should probably call them. I wonder why they never call me?

 

7. I need to improved my attitude. 

 

8. My wife starts her new teaching job in Moore this year.

 

9. Moore gets hit by tornadoes a lot. I’m worried about her safety now.

 

10. My kids start back to school soon. That’s good cause they’re driving us crazy. They need to get back in to a routine.

 

11. I took my son to the doctor yesterday and found out he’s going to need to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. I know it’s no big deal but it still worries me. That’s probably gonna cost a lot of money. It’s supposed to take a week to recover which means I’m going to miss some work.

 

12. I need to be more active. I read a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that said adults who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40% increase risk of dying within 3 years, from any cause, compared with those who sat for less than 4 hours a day. I’m not really sure what that actually means. All I know is that I do sit a lot.


13. I also read a study that said 90% of studies are complete BS.


14. Actually, I didn’t. I made that up.


15. I’m getting fatter $1.08 at a time. Thanks McDonalds.


16. I’m getting old. My back hurts everyday. I don’t do anything for my back to hurt this bad. Maybe it’s because I don’t do anything that my back hurts?


17. I need to be more motivated to change my lifestyle.


18. Our offices are situated right next to some train tracks. Whenever the train speeds by I think about how screwed we’d all be if it were to derail and come tumbling towards our building. 


19. Speaking of trains, sometimes when I drive across the train tracks, I think what if that time traveling train from Back to the Future III came bursting into this dimension and crashed right into me? 


20. Well, there’s plenty more on my mind but I really need to get back to work so here’s a picture of my kids and a link to one of my favorite songs these days.


Ghostland Observatory - Midnight Voyage

 

As you may have read recently, last week, we got infected…by staff infection that is.  Wait…not "a" staff infection…just Staff Infection.  Old Hat Staff Infection.

Anyway…

One topic discussed between us was perspective.  We talked about how our busiest months are upon us, and our designers create an absurd amount of projects across all divisions in such a short amount of time…which by the way is absolutely amazing!  

However, creating masterpiece after masterpiece is not always the easiest task.  While we definitely love being busy, and it seems like we are trying to break world records for the most posters produced in a month, it can possibly make someone lose perspective.  

Over the weekend, a 9-year-old boy was enjoying New York’s Central Park Zoo with his family, when before he knew it, he was somehow separated from them.  I would assume that being a kid alone in Central Park would be traumatizing!  

Well, not for Chris Villavicencio.  He wandered the streets of Central Park to Times Square looking for familiar buildings and recognizable places to try to look for his parents.  The police found him a couple of hours later at a bus stop about a mile away from the zoo.  He was returned to his family, and all was well.

I bring up this story because it is a perfect example of perspective.  Yes, it was absolutely terrifying for his parents, and no family ever wants to be in this situation, but this is what Chris had to say about the situation…

“This was the greatest day of my life!”

He said, “This was the greatest day of my life because this was the first day I was at the police station!”

This boy who just went through something that most would think of as scary and traumatic instead described it as the best experience of his life.   

It’s all about the way you look at things.  You have the opportunity to choose what perspective to take when things might not be going the way you want.  Hopefully, you are in a place that you can choose the more positive outlook.  At Old Hat, we choose to think of how lucky we are that we are provided the opportunities to work with clients from ALL across the country and create amazing work for each and every one of you. 

Just something to think about… 

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.

PRINT

Posters - 353

Schedule cards - 146

Ads- 63

Tickets - 49

Billboards - 25

Magnets - 34

 

LOGOS: 71

WEB projects (some full sites, some updates to existing sites): 64

VIDEO

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.

 

 

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