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 (:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quitters never win. Winners never quit. What a load of crap. Sure, if you're running a race and you quit in the middle of it, you're not going to win. But some people subscribe to the notion that quitting is a bad thing, in all situations. "You can't just jump ship when things get tough or don't go the way you want." Of course you can. And thankfully, studies are now showing that you SHOULD.
"Learn to appreciate the upside of quitting. Because you can't solve tomorrow's problem if you're not willing to abandon today's dud." - Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in Think Like a Freak
Now I'm not advocating that anyone quit on something at the first sign of dissatisfaction. That would be counterproductive. But I do believe (and the people at Freakonomics agree) that we should all be more willing to pull the metaphorical plug a little earlier on things when we know we're unhappy. There's this notion of "sunk cost" that keeps us fighting losing battles which ultimately end up causing even greater dissatisfaction and 6 months down the road, you wish you had just quit 6 months ago. When we have sunk time, energy, money, etc. into something, we hold onto it hoping things will turn around. And we SHOULD... to an extent. But there's a point at which we know that we need to just call it quits but we continue with it because we've already invested so much time in it.
I've always subscribed to the philosophy that when faced with a decision, you should do what you'll regret the least... not necessarily what you want the most. So before you go off and quit something, the first thing you wanna do is make sure you're not going to regret it later. So I'm definitely not advocating quitting something without giving it a LOT of thought and consideration. But once you've figured out in your head that your future is not in that job, relationship, situation, etc., end it immediately. You'll be glad you did.
When was the last time you quit something that didn't end up being a good decision? If it's happened a lot, then maybe you're one of those people that makes decisions like this without giving it enough thought. For me, I can't think of a single time that I quit anything where I regretted it for a single second. Are there things I miss? Sure. Would I have loved to stay in that situation if it had been salvageable? You bet your hiney.
When I was in eighth grade, I hated school. Absolutely despised it. And a lot of it had to do with the school I was in. That school was fine for some people but for me, it was pure hell. So I quit going there. I transferred to a different school where I had a great experience, met lifelong friends and met the eventual mother of my children.
When I worked for the OU Athletics Department, I eventually got to the point where I knew I had reached my potential there. I was not happy. People told me I was absolutely NUTS for wanting to quit. I had a good, reliable job working for a university, doing what I loved and getting to go on free Bowl trips every year. But I quit. And it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I now own the nation's premiere sports creative agency and am infinitely more satisfied with my career. And when the time comes when I'm not, I'll probably quit this too.
I've quit other things, too. Personal relationships... Professional relationships... I quit holding on to the idea that I can grow a nice head of hair and just decided to buzz it all off. Point is, not only do I not regret anything I've ever quit, I'm much happier because of those things.
Think Like A Freak
Still don't believe me? That's okay. But you should read the latest book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubnar, Think Like a Freak. They spend an entire chapter on this and do it way more justice than I have. The point they make (and the one I'm trying to make), is that quitting is okay. And for the most part, it leads to greater satisfaction in life.
Dear Old Hat Staff: Please don't quit.
I sincerely hope that this blog hasn't inspired anyone on my staff to quit. That would suck. But only because my assumption is that if I've inspired them to quit, they have to have been unhappy here for some time. And THAT is what would bother me. All I want for any of my staff is that they are as happy as they can possibly be. And if quitting their job would lead to greater happiness, I would encourage them to rip the band-aid off and move on to the next phase of their lives.
P.S. But seriously, Old Hatters... don't quit your jobs. This philosophy applies to everyone but you.
Several of us at Old Hat are fans of logo and uniform design. There have certainly been some unique ones that teams have debuted recently. Minor league teams, especially baseball and hockey, are not afraid to take chances and try new things, in effort to sell tickets and create buzz. Movie themes, pop culture, historical, patriotic - really anything seems to be within the realm of possibilities. Many use them as part of a theme-night with special promotions and guests during the evening.
A few teams seem to lead the way, for example, the Lehigh Iron Pigs, Brooklyn Cyclones and Memphis Redbirds. The Iron Pigs even have a website dedicated to selling their bacon-themed merchandise and once had a 'Couple Married on the Mound Night'. The Cyclones went out of their way to show off their 'authentic' Star Wars jerseys. The Redbirds have modeled Eqyptian jerseys as well as Organ Donor Night jerseys.
Here are just some of the wildest ones I've come across.
Santa Claus / Christmas
Just completely random...
Fresh Prince of Bel Air
The Price is Right
Don Cherry Night
and finally ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE NIGHT!
Thanks to Sportslogos.net for several of the images.
That doesn't even include all the bad camo jerseys in various sports or ugly soccer jerseys through the years. What have you seen? Tweet us the craziest ones you've come across.
It's my final day in the office before we depart (Sunday) for Orlando for what will be our 10th NACMA. The photo above is from our first ever NACMA when I was the only employee at Old Hat and we only had about 4 clients. I always get nostalgiac around NACMA time because I think back to where we started and how far we've come. That first booth was a pop-up that took about 10 minutes to assemble. It was made of carpet and I velcroed just about every decent project I had ever designed to it. I had to ask a friend of mine to come with me to Orlando to help out as I had no employees. I didn't even pay him, I don't think. Just offered him a free trip to Orlando. Thanks Cory! Now, we more than 25 employees and every year I have to decide who gets to/has to go.
That first booth and all our materials fit into two plastic cases on rollers. Cory and I checked them on our flight and rolled them through the airports, onto the car rental shuttle and into the exhibit hall to set them up. The booth space was 10' by 10' which was more than enough room to showcase our company. Today, our booth is 20' by 20' and it takes a U-Haul to get it there. It will take us a few hours to assemble it all and we spent months in preparation for it.
In year one, Old Hat Design Company was a print design shop. We did posters, brochures, schedule cards... And I designed ever single thing we produced. Today we have six divisions that will be marketed at NACMA. Print Design, Interactive, Productions, Consulting, Branding and Capture. And I don't design anything that any of those divisions produce.
NACMA is always a reminder of what we have accomplished in the past ten years and it's quite humbling to think about. To say that I couldn't have done it alone is the understatement of the century. The people, both internally and externally, that got us to where we are are too numerous to count. But they know who they are and I offer a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you.
Please stop by and say hello at the booth next week. And take a mental picture of what it looks like. If we do as well the next 10 years as we did in the first 10, we might be occupying the entire exhibit hall.