I was asked to contribute a poster to the Expletive Poster Exhibition at the Light Grey Art Lab in Minneapolis. It was a fun excuse to make something so I went with a very countrified expletive that I'm not sure many people even believe is a real word. BUT IT IS, CONSARNIT! eh hem
I used some old wood type for the lettering by rolling on some acrylic paint and using them as stamps.
I wish I could have made it out to the show. Seemed like it was a good time. Thanks to Lindsay Nohl for her hard work on the show and her excellent organizational skills that made life easy on the contributing artists and designers.
Good to be back in the studio after some time off. I decided to take a "summer break" this year. Rest and travel is our friend! It was a great little break and left me itching to get back to work, which is a feeling I have never felt before after going on vacation. I think that's a good sign. The break included a trip back to Texas to visit family and spend a week in Abilene, TX with my friends Ryan Feerer, Dana Tanamachi, and Wade Griffith painting on walls and having the laughs all day and night, two camping/climbing trips to the catskills, a week long staycation in NYC and then 2 weeks in heaven.. I mean Italy. So now it's BACK TO WORK.. er.. PLAY!
Back To Work from Howdy Jeff on Vimeo.
After many cover designs that didn't end up making it to print, I finally got something printed in Fast Company! This was a fun opportunity to use a bunch of beautifully designed fonts including the work of my friends Dan Cassaro and Juan Carlos Pagan. Thanks to art director Alice Alves for making the project super smooth.
I was at the top floor of the Viacom building in Times Square putting in some freelance time at Nickelodeon when I got a mysterious call from Chicago. It was DDB calling to tell me about this idea they had for a McDonald's ad campaign involving print, web, and tv where they wanted a lettering artist to create some type for a top secret new product. It took me a while to understand that they were looking for an artist to actually be IN the television spot. But when I got it, my brain exploded. After I put my brain back together, I had a call with the team at DDB and started to realize that this project was going to be pretty amazing.
I knew right away that the idea was based off some work that had already been done by my good friends Dana Tanamachi and Dan Cassaro that involved capturing their work with time lapse photography. I still wish they would have let the three of us go to town on this project together. That would have been fun.. but a little too expensive I guess.
I ended up having about 3 weeks to prepare and figure out what the mural for the spot was going to look like. They had a bunch of catchphrases that they wanted to use so I grabbed the list and started sketching. Everything else was totally up to me which was great... but daunting. The size, color, style, etc. Blank canvas. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!
I wanted to share some process sketches and talk a little about this crazy experience because I feel like, for a designer, this was pretty out of the ordinary. I always say that I am the happiest in situations where I am completely out of my element and figuring out solutions to problems I have never encountered before. Well this project took that idea to a whole new level!
I started by sketching ideas of what the mural could look like. The only direction I had was that they wanted the black box to possibly be a central image and that I had to use specific catchphrases.
Color sketches after a round of revisions.
As time got closer and the sketches were approved, I moved out to my back yard and did some speed tests since I would only have one day to paint the whole mural. This was much different than anything I have ever done before. In fact, when they initially asked me how long I would need to paint the mural, I said three days. HA! It ended up actually being about five and a half hours. I learned a lot from doing these tests before hand. The idea was to find new ways to make words as fast as possible. The secret weapon: PAINT PENS!
OFF TO LA!
I have to say, getting to go to LA was a major perk for me since, for some reason, I have never been to California. And I must also say that I didn't want to leave. It was such a pleasure working with the team at DDB, Green Dot Films, and the director, Omri Cohen. I felt like a king while I was in LA!
We had a few days to prepare which was great but it seemed like every time we met, the time they told me I would have to paint got shorter and shorter which started making me nervous. There were so many question marks in my mind like how long the paint would take to dry, how opaque the paint would be on the wall, etc. I did as much preparation as I could but really I wouldn't know how it would go until I actually got paint on the wall which didn't happen until about 2 hours after we started filming. I didn't realize we would have to get all the product shots done first which meant chewing and spitting out a ton of McBites while trying to be an actor. WHAT!?
I was a nervous wreck all morning but once I got the first splash of yellow on the wall, I immediately relaxed and had so much fun. The three other actors were an enormous help in keeping me calm and helping me feel like we were actually just hanging out. They were good! We're FB friends now.
PRINT & WEB
I decided to do a separate painting for the print ad even though the original idea was just to use a crop of the mural. The problem was that because of the extreme time constraint I had to paint much faster than I normally do which meant a lot of fine tuned detail got lost, but it didn't matter for the spot. Edges don't have to be quite as crisp when looking at a huge painting on a small tv screen. A lot of the detail is lost on screen and that helped when speeding through the painting for the spot, but I knew there needed to be more detail in the print ad.
After rounds of sketches, approvals, etc., I ended up only having a day to do the painting for the ad, too. And it took about twice as long as the mural which is funny because it was only about 12"x19"! I used my normal technique of building up several layers of paint (and not using markers). I painted on two pieces of wood from an ikea box that I have never put together.
We ended up sort of running out of time on this web feature so it didn't turn out exactly the way we had envisioned, but it's still quite fun to mess around with. Here are some process images for the web piece.
This was such an amazingly fun project to be a part of. The thing that I was most worried about was representing the community of designers that do custom lettering in the best way possible. It's a small little crew that I am really grateful to be a part of. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make this thing as good as I could so hopefully I achieved that with the help of the other super talented people who were involved. TIme to take some time off!
If you're like me and have been out of town and unplugged for a few weeks, then you may be unaware of the amazing and fun new venture of my pals at the Heads of State. They are my heroes. Why are they my heroes you ask? Because A. they are famous for their amazing gig posters and B. even more importantly, they are geniuses. They are geniuses because they have mastered the art of doing what they love, doing it really really well, and making a living at it. Their latest venture, Pilot & Capt., is par for the course. Combining great ideas with great design to own and create products that people will love. This is my dream in life and I still haven't figured out how to make it work, so it's great to have people like Jason and Dustin to look to for inspiration. Congrats, guys! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy some tshirts.