We are in the beginning of busy season here at Old Hat. We’ve got over 175 print jobs going on right now, which can be completely overwhelming if you let it be. However, this will be my 4th busy season, so I think I’m pretty prepared at this point. I’ve had a different number of designers each year, so each year has been a bit different. This year, we’ve got some experienced designers on staff, so I know that this busy season will be busy, but go smoothly. 

Every year I try to take a “Treat Yo Self” trip in August. Last year I went to Colorado to visit friends, and this past weekend I flew to Nashville for a bachlorette party. You may think, “Hey Tricia, the title of this post is ‘A weekend away is refreshing’ and you went to a bachlorette party? Did you even relax?” Which I’d reply, “YEP! Exactly what I needed!”

You see, reader, I spent a weekend with some of my closest friends that i’ve known since kindergarden. We spent the weekend catching up, enjoying some drinks, dancing, and we even got to paint the Nashville Skyline (photo above, yes I added a Moose, cause WHY NOT?!). Yeah, they asked about work, but other then that, I didn’t think about how busy we are and how the next 4 months of my life is going to be hectic and stressful. The more I mentioned my job, the more “dang, your job seems so fun” and “the work environment at your office seems awesome”. 

Which made me take a step back and consider how great it is to work at a place where I can wear athletic shorts and t-shirts, and enjoy a beer on a friday afternoon with some pretty incredible people. This weekend helped me focus on how grateful I should be that I have a job that I love, I get to work with some super great people who care about me, and that at the end of the day, it is a job, so its going to be stressful. 

I encourage everyone to spend one 3 day weekend with friends every year, where you don’t check work email, but rather take time to look at the bigger picture and realize how grateful you should be for the blessings in your life. 

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.

 

 

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.

Disagree?

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.  

Sincerely,

Zac

P.S. But seriously, Old Hatters... don't quit your jobs.  This philosophy applies to everyone but you. 

 

We've been working on football materials for a couple months here at Old Hat. It's always nice to get a head start on football materials before busy season comes along and we start producing materials for other fall sports. As projects come in, I always look forward to seeing what direction the client wants to take the campaign, how our designers interpret it, and then come up with incredible work. Football is most schools top revenue generating sport, so there is a lot of thought and time coming up with the message each school wants to deliver each season. This year I have noticed that a lot of schools are focusing on their fans and the experience they have when they attend a game. 

Not only are schools focusing on their fans and the experience of going to games, but there are more and more shows, apps and websites coming out focusing on the user's experience and how they can be a part of something without leaving their house. While watching my guilty pleasure The Bachelorette on Monday night, there was a sneak peak of ABC's show, Rising Star. The basis of the show is to have aspiring musicians perform while the public votes on them using an app. The results are live and if the performer receives 70% of the vote, they move on to the next round. There are not coaches or judges, but there are 3 celebrities "experts"* who will give feedback and their vote holds more of a percentage then the general public. 

As I was thinking about this show and the experience schools want to sell their fans on, I see one thing in common. We, as people, are looking for a good experience and to feel connected to other people. With social media being such a huge player now of days, you can really live your life in your basement, but feel connected with the outside world…because of shows like Rising Star, getting likes on Facebook, etc. However, there is still something missing, and thats being around other people. So, schools are trying to get fans to come to games, get to know other fans, and have a good experience, enjoy the community that comes with attending games and being a season ticket holder.  

I quit Facebook almost a year ago, and I won't go back. There is something so special about talking to people face to face, face time, even on the phone, not just following their lives on Facebook. You get to really know how they are doing, hear them tell stories about their vacation instead of just looking at their pictures and feeling like you know what their life is like.

I moved to Norman knowing 2 people in Oklahoma. I've been here almost 3 years and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon. A big part of that is because of the people i've met here. The community around me; I have great people that I work with, and great friends outside of work. They make the experience and my life here so much better then I could ever portray on social media.

As schools focus on their fans, getting them to games, creating a "family" atmosphere, I'm glad I can help schools achieve that, even if it is just managing the people who are doing the designing. Even the most introverted person needs a couple good friends and community around them, and if they find those people at a football game that we did the poster for, then that makes me happy. So, as fall comes around and you have an option of going to a game, or any event where you'll be around people, do it. Get out of your comfort zone and go out and find that community around you. Or, next time you are on Facebook looking at a cute baby, call your friend and ask them how they are. It will make a big difference in your life, and theirs. 

 

 

 

*One of the experts is KeSha…so i'll be watching-cause OBVI. 

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. 

 

Star Wars 

 

 

Ghostbusters

 

Santa Claus / Christmas

 

Superheroes

 

Social Media 

 

Just completely random...


Fresh Prince of Bel Air


Michael Jackson


Hot Dogs?


The Price is Right


Convict Night


Don Cherry Night


Gettysburg Address

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.

While I'm aware these blogs tend to function best when we write about things related to "the business" I often find it difficult to find things to write about that fall within that category. I quite honestly don't know much about it. I mean, I was hired as a designer, an artist. My only job is to create images that convey certain feelings and emotions. Outside of that I'm not sure what my blogs can offer as far as an insight into the business. 

With that in mind, I just decided to take this opportunity to share some of my non-sports related art with you. When I'm not designing your football poster or a logo for your stadium, I like to do...

Portraits of friends and family...

  

 

Pieces inspired by a quote I read or lyrics from a song I heard.

  

 

Sometime I just feel like playing around with shapes and colors.

  

 

Sometimes a friend will ask me to design something for their radio show or motorcycle rally.

     

 

Other times they're just pieces I feel like doing for fun.

   

 

Sometimes a family member will ask me to fix and colorize an old family photo like this one. Other times I feel like doing something outside the computer.

  


Then there are times I don't feel like making  or doing anything which is when I end up making things like this...

 

 

Well, there you have it. I'm not sure what purpose this blog serves other than giving you an insight into the mind of a guy who sits in a corner all day listening to music making neat pictures... 

Hope you enjoyed...

 

I love awards shows. So, I was very excited to watch the Billbaord Music Awards on Sunday night. I didn't catch all of it (No DVR at my house!) but what I did see I was shocked. They brought back Michael Jackson from the dead! I will admit, I thought it was kinda creepy. He was up there dancing, and I couldn't figure out who was real and who wasn't. It made me think that technology is amazing, right? The fact that he looked that life like kinda blows my mind. 

If you were a hologram..where would you want to be? And what would you be doing? I think I would want to appear random places, like in the middle of a basketball game, or on the football field, just dancing. 

I don't know. Are we going to have football games in the future where we bring back past stars to create some kind of game before the actual game starts?

Would you pay to see that?

If they make a hologram of Bill Snyder coaching on the sidelines after he leaves this world, I think I'd pay to see it. 

Something to think about...

 

This blog will touch on several things which seems to be the way to go with blogs these days. 

Today is the first round of the NFL Draft. I'll watch some of the first round (and much less of the following rounds). I'm just ready for the draft speculations, projections, mock drafts, etc. to be over. Five months of hype is way too long and now they would like to move it back even further.

Luke's blog last week about Netflix for sports got me thinking. That is the way sports and content are headed. The NFL Now is set to launch this summer. Each sport has their own networks plus their game packages (NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice) and streaming services bundled together. Individual teams offer on-demand media through their local TV partners. College conferences already do this with their networks (SEC, Pac-12, Big 10) and subsequent online offerings. Many leagues are keeping a close eye on new services like the WWE Network and UFC Fight Pass, with exclusive live events and a regular schedule of online programming in addition to a vast library of on-demand content. How soon will we see a day when all live playoff games are available exclusively online or through the league network, and not on free TV or basic cable? Now if we could just do away with the archaic blackout rules for pro sports…

Did you happen to catch the OKC Thunder's Kevin Durant and his emotional MVP speech? Check it out here, along with graphics designed by Old Hat's @HostetlerGraphx and @iBeGeoD. I think most of us would agree that our moms are the real MVPs.

Finally, check out the Super Fan 5K website. The event takes place Saturday, May 31 to support the Mary Abbott Children's House and the Norman Public School Foundation.

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