Monday, September 16, 2013

If Otters Couldn't Already Swim, I'd Bet They'd Yacht

     This past Spring, opened up their coveted Selection collection to the public.  In other words, This collection of special apparel, that used to be exclusively designed by Threadless's own team of designers, was holding an open call for designs from the entire Threadless community.  This collection included button up shirts, summer/cocktail dresses, sweatshirts, baseball tees, badges and buttons.  I thought it would be an interesting project to take on.

     The inspiration for the Collection seemed to be vintage ivy league and or private/boarding school.  As you can see by the mood board they provided.
 They wanted designs that evoked the mood of a private New England College.  Something you might imagine right out of the John Knowles novel, A Separate Peace (one of my favorites). 

     This week's post focuses on the sports design portion of the Fall Selection Collection Challenge (FSCC).  Threadless wanted you to think of sports that would be played in an environment or the vintage time period the mood board evoked.  In my opinion I instantly thought of New England Ivy League Schools in the 1950s.  I looped Mona Lisa Smile and Dead Poets Society on my DVD player in the studio to put me in "the mood" for the project.  Personally, the sports I think of fr this criteria are croquet and golf (obvious as they are somewhat showcased in the mood board). Others were table tennis, tennis equestrian riding, old school American football with leather helmets and one other sport that when I researched the submissions of others I did not see... So of course it was the obvious pick for me to help my design stand out amongst the other several croquet and table tennis designs. One thing that says ivy league and evokes the kind of similar mood that the Threadless display did.... YACHTING!

     Yachting is SO Very Preppy and appropriate to what I wanted to do with the baseball tee.  I have experience in designing sports imagery and logos specifically in the screen printing industry.  So it seemed only natural that I should try to take on this challenge.
One thing, and I have mentioned this before, is that Threadless designs are either Super Artistic or Super Cleaver and Artistic.  Since this design wouldn't really be representing a specific school or college, I wanted the mascot I chose to be something not normally recognized or associated with any school because you want the design to be more universally marketable.  I also wanted it to be conceptually appropriate and of course, clever.

     So it had to be an animal that could be associated with water. A graceful animal as sailing is a graceful sport.....

     ...OTTERS! Perfect!  It's clever because conceptually it works, it's innocuously unassociated with other schools and it even rhymes and/or could be combined with the word Yachting. :0)

     I originally toyed around with a composition of a few different Preppy Otters on the deck of a sailboat with their sunglasses, sailing hats and pink polos with the color flipped up.
I wanted to illustrate that image because I just fell in love with the idea of it.  I still may eventually illustrate that original thought down the road.  I wanted it to look like a traditional sports mascot logo from a school.  Very clean, stylized and graphic.  I then thought of how this really wouldn't work for this particular challenge as that type of graphic style didn't really fit in with the Threadless Mood Board.

     So I had to scrap that composition to go for something that looked a bit more old and more vintage.  I thought that a hand inked aesthetic would look more along the lines of something from  the American 50s.  Also I thought that I should make a crest or shield centered sports logo instead of creating a scene for the mascot.  I then began incorporating the nautical iconography of rope, the wheel, anchors, sails and of course the compass.
As this is the most important tool in navigating your sailboat, I really wanted it to be the central symbol I build the rest of the design around.  I came up with the idea of actually turning the otter into a ship. An image one might associate with the mythologies of Greece or even the old folklore of Sailors about Sea Monsters and such.  I just thought it was a better idea aesthetically and was a better visual solution.  I did keep something from my original composition, the otter wearing the captains hat.  I drew the otter and sailboat, scanned that in, vectorized the drawing and cleaned it up in Corel Draw. Now that it's vector, I can marry it with other vector elements.

     I then incorporated a banner to place the title of the team and sport.  Also banners are an essential element in shield or crest designs for most shirts, at least in my experience.
To make it seem more vintage, I added a damage pattern to the design to make it look like the design has been flaking and worn.  I did try different color schemes till I found something I liked very much.
I was using my book of color schemes from different time periods to figure out what worked in the 50s color and what didn't... in the end.....  Earth tones and also blues of the ocean.  They harmonized well together as well as looked great on the color of shirt they were intended for.

     After the design was complete, I began to build the display presentation for the design. This will eventually be posted on the site for others to vote on it's appeal.  Apart from the baseball tees, I thought this would also make a great design for sweatshirts as this would be something you could wear on a boat trip.

     All and all I was quite pleased with the turnout for this idea.  I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about what went into it's creation.

Until next time,
Keep sketching, keep thinking, keep laughing and most important of all, keep making art. 

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