09 September 2013

Marketing Designs for Author Stephanie A. Smith Library Event

A 45x45 inch large format display poster "set the stage" for
the integrated collaterals designed to promote the author event.

A revised print ad squeezed in a third
location and time.
Todays Art in an Hour installment features the design of promotional marketing materials for our library's upcoming author event featuring Stephanie A. Smith, author of Warpaint and Rocket Baby. I was asked to create a large format 45x45 inch publicity poster, quarter page handbills, a print advert, and a web banner to promote her upcoming speaker event. The materials provided for use included two book covers, a photograph of the author snuggling with her dog, and language for the event specifics. At events that feature a quest speaker I instinctively want to use an image of the person so people can immediately see who will be presenting the material. But as I have come to learn, many authors simply don't take the time to provide a good, even semi-professionally photo of themselves taken for use in promoting their themselves or their products. Once shocking to me, I have grown accustomed to expect this unfortunate trend. In this particular case, the author's face was partly obscured by the pet she was nuzzling into, so I quickly and easily vetoed that image and moved to select the more visually dynamic, striking, and professional looking book covers to use in the design of our publicity.

As it turned out, both the covers used the same colour palette of red, white, and shades of black. I would use the aesthetics of these covers to become the basis of the publicity design. The strength of the book covers was enough to carry the visual impact of the designs, but two covers on a white background with simple text still needed a little variety to break up the monotony of a simple solution. To emphasize that the event would take place on two different dates in two different library branches, I prominently underlined and highlighted in red the two locations. I also used the underscore and highlighted two letters in the author's name to bring a little more of that red up higher into the design as well. The design looked good but bland on plain white, so I used an enlarged and toned back detail portion from one of her book cover illustrations as the background of the entire design. This gave a little visual texture and variety to the background so it wouldn't be so bland. 

The design was scaled down to become six handbills arranged on
an 8.5x14 inch page to print out and trim by hand.
Once the large poster design was finished, I applied it to the handbills which I arranged as six images on an 8.5x14 inch legal page for printing. Seventy six pages of these would be printed out using the office copier and trimmed by hand to size for a total yield of 200 handbills. The same design was slightly modified to a new dimension and saved as a black/white image for a print advert. Image tonal densities were balanced out in Adobe Photoshop for better print reproduction. After completion of the print ad, one of our other branches let us know that they were also having the same event at their branch, so the advert was revised to include them, shoehorning their location and date into the remaining open space under the book covers. Lastly, a different arrangement of the visuals was repurposed for use as the web banner; all removed language that served to detail the locations and dates would appear beneath the image as a caption line on the website.
The design treatment was arranged differently for use
as a web page banner.

07 September 2013

Library Marketing Designs for Tennessee & Friends

Website home page web banner repurposed the art from the sign and handbill design.

The simple design evoked a style from another era.
Welcome to another installment of Art In An Hour. In this example I had a library event request for publicity development waiting for me to begin for weeks only to be continuously pushed back off my radar while other more pressing, urgent priority projects kept flaring up. So, what could have been a "luxurious" time frame for concept development eventually dwindled down to hours. In an effort to keep bailing projects out of my congested schedule as quickly as possible, 

I spent about an 20 minutes to illustrate (using Adobe Illustrator) a simple concept that--to me--harkened back to the simple television show lead-in artwork styles of the 1960s and 70s, a time when Tennessee Williams was a literary star that had his works turned into feature length films. I selected an Adobe Illustrator vector-based clip art silhouette image of a man, placed him in Adobe Photoshop to blur the edges, then placed him into my Adobe Illustrator artwork where I completed the rest of it (walls with Library logo and text, suitcase with floor shadow and headline treatment in it). I then imported the black/white art into an InDesign layout file so that I could place the remaining body text because I find working with larger amounts of text to be easier in layout applications than in art applications.
Quarter-page handbills were simply
scaled down versions of the 8.5x11 inch sign.

The illustrated concept was to simply show an opened suitcase sitting on the floor, placed in dark silhouette by a brilliant ray of light coming from an open door behind it. In the doorway would stand the silhouette figure of a man, either Tennessee Williams or Victor Campbell, the latter being a man who would be speaking at the event about having been given the suitcase by Tennessee Williams for safe keeping some 30 or so years earlier. The artwork was a simple and stark contrast between light and dark for easy, eye-catching viewing--as well as quick completion on my part.

The publicity request required creation and delivery of two 8.5x11 inch printed signs, 40 quarter-page handbills, and one web page banner ad. Once the sign was created, it was easy to copy and scale it down to handbill size, then repurpose portions of it for use as the web banner. Thanks to the simplicity of the design, total production time was right around one hour for all of the collaterals combined.

04 September 2013

Library Directional Way Finding and Interior Room Signage Design Development

New signage system displays treatments for general
public way finding and secondary room signage styles
I've been eager to post some new design work for quite a while. But in the 33 days my last post on 20 July, I've created and delivered over 93 design projects and worked on an additional ghastly sum well beyond that. Some of these projects even have multiple pages or pieces associated with them, such as a 37-piece signage plan for a recently renovated children's area, and an additional 28 signs to continue with implementation of a plan set in stages for another area of the same library. Then there is the 34 sign schedule for a new branch building currently under construction, and its accompanying 62 collection signs--all of which need to be digitally designed and tested by myself in-house using Adobe Illustrator before being client approved and sent out to signage companies for fabrication. For this post, lets just stick with the signage; I won't even attempt to highlight any of the daily print projects needing design development for promoting library events.

In the spring of 2013 I developed a signage plan for the library district based on and modified from other existing designs. The resulting proposed signage system was created to simplify and unify decades of hodge-podge, ad hok sign styles that had sprouted up like weeds over the years. The design intent was to present a two-prong sign style: one for general public directional and locational signs, then a second, more elegant one for room and special area designations. Both would use clear 1/8 inch acrylic plexiglass material and display black vinyl lettering on a white background. Smaller collection signage would also make use of a two piece laser-engraved plastic. Signs would range from the 7x4 inch to 14x6.25 inch collection signs, and from 6x6 inch door signs to 33x14 inch large overhead signs.

Upon closer inspection, you can see how some holes
are missing their braille pegs.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliancy was taken into consideration during design development, but I found the code so specific and restrictive that there seemed little opportunity to divert from the specifications where creativity and unique signage development was concerned. So instead, I moved the design to be as close to ADA compliancy as possible without fulfilling every minute requirement, such as a 3/16 inch raised letters mandate on the surface of the signs. I did, however, make sure to use a high black/white lettering point size and background contrast, and I added a braille component to signs that were to be installed within user height code specifications. The design wasn't intended to fulfill ADA requirements 100%, but it was to achieve as much of it as possible while allowing for some stylistic variances in type font and material selection.

A selection of different coloured two-ply plastic signs utilized
a laser to burn away the lettering through the plastic
surface. These were used for collection book shelf signs. 
Our sign fabricator did a fantastic job on the signs, but it wasn't without a hiccup along the way. We had subcontracted a second vendor to create the braille after signs were made, one who would drill holes and insert small pegs into them to create the braille nubs. We received a very nice sample, but we received the live signs, the braille pegs that were inserted into the acrylic began to fall out almost immediately. So we had to recall the signs that used braille pegs and went back to the drawing board to create a second set of signs that simply used a plastic adhesive strip of braille and glued that to the sign surface.

In the end the resulting signage system was well received. It went far to achieve its goal to simplify and unify the appearance and functionality of the public spaces in the library and successfully established itself as the basis for future sign development district-wide.