The Forever Tweaker

Every designer creative will tell you that, in theory, a piece can forever be tweaked, changed and plucked and prodded on until the day they die. Notorious historical examples are abound in music, especially classical (see Bach, Tchaikovsky, et al.). If you really need a more pop reference I am sure you can give Mr. Lucas a call on that front. Although, in restropsect, handing over the reigns might be an interesting way to expand a universe rather than constantly rewriting it. In looking at pop music in general, what the factory initially pumps out is far less interesting than B-sides remixes and counterparts. So I commend Mr. Lucas for finally throwing in the towel and letting other creatives take the reigns. Truth is a creative mind wears over time. It becomes painted into corners and stiffled by “being to close”. Varying up your style can be a daunting process, not to unsimilar than throwing a boulder on your back and running a tough mudder. You fight. You claw. Tears fly and sometimes it defeats you. I have been defeated. Time and time again. Seeing other very ingenious artists often pushes my face deeper into the mud, as it is not inspiration anymore but some beautifully brilliant piece that I wish I had thought of first. That my brain had somehow reached out into the Creation Aura that sounds us and I, not then, had published it first, cause, duh, why wouldn’t I?

So getting back up requires pushing up with all fours, curling your back, rising from your belly button, through your mid-section, spine straightening up through your sits bones, and sitting tall. How do I sit tall? I go back to my favorite pieces of personal work. Athletic Logos. I know, someday that these pieces will be replaced and forgotten, hopefully not in my lifetime, but I recall every minute of these projects and the learnings within. I created a mark, that inspires large amounts of people for ages to come. When they are long graduated they will still nuzzle up on a cold night with their well-tattered sweatpants blasting out as they revel in March Madness. Theres even part of me out there that wonders if a sorority woman is galavanting around with a tramp stamp of my mark. Odds? Low. Payoff? Priceless.

The system in creating an athletic logo are intense. It’s not just a logo, or a typeface. It’s home, away, alternate, practice, athlete and consumer, coaches. To be honest during my younger years as a designer, these projects taught me more about looking at a system holistically more so than any education I received elsewhere. LaSalle, I’ve always felt closure with. Located in Philadelphia, the Explorers are a fairly large div 1 team in the A10 conference. It has 64 marks in the system, and have been used to some extent sparringly. As my virgin, cherry popping athletic logo experience, it’s not bad. A simple 2 color guy that fits well with the other Philadelphia Big 5. My sophomore effort, in a chance to come clean, is my favorite, but still feel like its the one that I didn’t finish.

During my time at 160over90, I had the pleasure to work on many college accounts, but none will compare to the very first one, of Chestnut Hill College. A little campus-that-could women’s only educational space in the outskirts of Philly. well, once they opened up the doors for men, an athletic department explosion was very soon to follow, so work began on branding the Griffins. Having already put LaSalle to bed with ease, I felt more than confident CHC would be a breeze, and in all honesty, it was. But it’s not finished. To 160 it is. To the school it is. But the Griffin’s of whom I have a big heart for, I know it can be better. This was one of the last projects I had worked on before my leave. So the concepts were fairly polished, but I never had that complete system closure like I did with LaSalle, but when I get nostalgic and check in with my children to see how they have grown up, I get blown away.

See, LaSalle was extremely refined and had very tight rules. I had each mark worked out for the 4 colors it would ever appear. With CHC I had only worked out the major pieces, never locked up the system. And this tiny athletic program was left to use it at their leisure, but the thing is. I screwed up. Without thinking and just creating, I made a 4 color sleak and aggressive griffin that strikes fear in all of the other div II CACC teams. I mean seriously, in comparison it makes the other schools logos look like fingerpaintings. So in that sense its a win. I honed the “CH” tirelessly. It actually the best part of the system. It has an extremely layered sensibility and the piping around in gold and red was just…well, I love gold and red. Regardless, I had a “griffins” “chestnut hill” and a “g” and a “griffin” all made, but yeah, never quite tweaked them to completion. The whitespacing is off on all the typefaces. The griffin is too complex and has too many colors. The “g” is just flat out unusable. But that doesn’t stop this little college that could. And thats the inherent beauty. With no system, they manage to produce striking uniforms on what I am sure is a tight budget for this little-school-on-the-hill.

I never got to see my marks in action, so I live vicariously through the photos that pop up on the web site. Personally I did the Men’s goalie which has the CH on black. The women’s tennis unis are top notch, and seeing the “Griffins” on the men’s baseball is both proud and irksome as I know it can be better. I do love the group shots on center court though. Seeing the Grif in all his glory, ready to pounce, standing tall atop the “Slayer” inspired Chestnut Hill typeface, honestly makes me proud. And seeing how CHC continues to utilize each of these pieces in its ever growing program, damn near brings a tear to my eye, as they clearly show massive pride in what the marks represent, regardless of my screwups. Seeing them today, I was able to get on all fours, and rise again. You have reminded me how far I have come, and how much further I have to go. So, I bought the last CH red and gold hat you had, even though it won’t fit me, and I will cheer for you every day, because a cheer for you is a step forward for me. Keep Climbing and Fly Along.