Researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are looking for healthy horses to be part of a respiratory study this summer. Read more of my interview with Dr. Julia Montgomery and Dr. Katharina Lohmann on the WCVM’s website:
Foxtail Studio has black-and-white giclee photos and hand-transferred prints on wood at the Sundogs Faire in Saskatoon this Dec. 1-2, 2012. Thanks to Carissa Erickson for helping us with booth decorating ideas!
If you’re looking for a special Christmas present or a memento of the Victoria Bridge, consider a print! And if you’re looking for pet portraits, we’re sharing a booth with Heather Gessell of Gazelle Fine Art. Prints for sale can also be seen at PortraitsOfSaskatoon.com. Happy shopping!
Business card and logo I designed for my little bro who lives in Red Deer, Alberta. The business cards were printed by Jukeboxprint.com in Vancouver and feature a spot varnish on the dark grey areas. I love Jukebox’s spot varnish and other special option business cards – they’re classy enough to stand out, and not super expensive!
I was at the Grand Opening for The Two Twenty last night, a hip office/event/coffee/co-working space that is helping to revitalize 20th Street in Saskatoon.
The red carpet was a nice touch.
What I wanted to share from a design point of view was… the coasters. The schedule for the night’s entertainment (kind of a three-ring circus) was printed on these super-stylin’ coasters. I thought this was a great idea for an event program.
This is a bit late, but better late than never I always say! I’d like to thank and congratulate Bonnie Norrington, my former Saskatoon neighbor (now a Thunder Bay, ON resident), on being the first to purchase one of my Victoria Bridge 2010 prints.
I took this photo in late October of 2010; it was pouring rain which turned to snow overnight… which I suppose made it the last day of the year before winter descended. Framed and unframed prints are available; visit www.portraitsofsaskatoon.com for more details.
Wow. I went back through all the sketches and variations we did for this logo for the Canadian Arabian Horse Registry, and I must say, it was a bit like herding cats to try and put them all into some semblance of order for a blog post.
Basically, we ended up with three different “prototype families” all being revised and worked on at the same time. All of these options fed into each other during the entire process, but for the sake of brevity, I’ve followed each stream separately until we ended up at the final solution. Hope you enjoy!
To recap – the objectives outlined at the beginning were that we needed a new CAHR logo to be:
- a strong identifier for the breed and its particular characteristics
- attractive, easy to use on promotional items, and a representation that members would be proud to display.
We also narrowed down a few other requirements. The ideal logo would be a) immediately recognizable as an Arabian horse, b) immediately recognizable as Canadian, and c) distinct enough from related logos that it would be unique and memorable.
Before starting with any research or brainstorming, I had dashed off this quick sketch:
This was used as a starting point for further exploration. In terms of process, I like to start working towards a solution using only black and white (and shades of grey, if need be, although that often means the shape isn’t resolved enough), as I feel that I’m forcing myself to have a shape that works, first and foremost. According to Alina Wheeler’s fabulous book Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, shape is the first thing that the human eye recognizes, followed by color. Details come last.
Once we got into the process, I did a number of mock-ups for this configuration, and we used the logo on the bottom right as one of the possible ‘final’ solutions. This may be a comment on my (lack of) drawing skills, but I often find that shapes that look intriguing in a sketch look much less enchanting when done with flat fields of color and definite outlines. One of the ideas that we dropped from the circle image was the idea of working a maple leaf into the horse’s mane, however, as you’ll see, we came back to that idea in other revisions.
While I was working on this set of logos, Guto Penteado was putting together some ideas as well. Guto is a local designer who does all the design for Murray Popplewell’s RaeDawn Arabians (and is also the in-house designer at Popplewell’s Prairie Machine Parts) and we have collaborated on a number of projects in the past. Guto came up with two rough solutions. The first (top left logo, above) incorporated two horse heads and a maple leaf, representing the purebred and half-Arabian streams that the Registry encompasses. We knew that the second head could pose problems down the road in terms of fitting the logo into certain spaces, so we worked to see if the head(s) could be repositioned in a different way.
At this point, we had two potential directions and decided to drop both of them.
We decided that anything contained in a circle looked too much like the AHA logo. Not as critical, but also undesirable, a horse head cut-out within a maple leaf looked similar to the Canadian Nationals show logo. The AHA and the Canadian Nationals show were probably the two logos it was most important to stay distinct from, so we decided to pursue the third stream, a merging of the mane and maple leaf.
I felt very strongly about the two solutions on the bottom right (with and without the cut-out maple leaf), but they received negative feedback from everyone involved – from Tex and Nicole, our touchpoints at the Registry, and from Guto as well. With feedback in hand, I went back to the drawing board. Part of the reason I felt the maple leaf in the mane was a strong image was because it captured some of the excitement that the Arabian breed is known for; I felt that this was still important, however, the visual details needed to be handled differently.
The above set of comps was the final round of the design. It was decided that the maple leaf is complex enough on its own, so it was cleaned up and simplified, as was the horse’s head. The strokes suggesting the mane were dropped, as they contributed to confusion in the shape.
At this point, the client was okay with the top set of logos, but it was decided to drop the front maple leaf, and to use an angled line along the bottom instead of a straight line, for a cleaner look. The final solution worked well in both one and two colors.
Throughout the process, we worked closely with Tex and Nicole at the Registry. Each has a vision for the breed’s future and their feedback was invaluable. Tex is a professional photographer and current Registrar President; Nicole is an artist, designer, and also works at the Registry. Both show Arabian horses and are life-long breed aficionados. This posed some unique challenges as well; everyone involved also has a vision of what the ‘ideal’ Arabian head looks like. As part of the process, we did some tracings of Arabian head photos. We didn’t want a stylized artist’s vision of what the head should look like; however, at the same time, we did have to show some of the extreme ‘type’ that the breed is known for.
In the end, we used Guto’s silhouette from his first design with only a few small modifications. It’s a modern silhouette, in terms of breed trends, but the simplicity works as viewers are able to ‘fill in’ their own details.
More importantly… it looks good on a t-shirt!
I recently had the pleasure of creating a new logo for the Canadian Arabian Horse Registry and thought it might be interesting to share some insights into the process.
The Canadian Arabian Horse Registry, incorporated in 1958 under the Animal Pedigree Act, is a member-based organization with about 800 members. Its aim is simply to meet the needs of Arabian horse owners in Canada, and to promote the breed both within the horse world and to the general public. The Registry needed an updated logo to serve two purposes:
1. to be a strong identifier for the breed, and,
2. in order to facilitate no. 1, it should be attractive, easy to use on promotional items, and a representation that members would be proud to display.
To start the process, we did a brief survey of Arabian and other horse club logos and found that they fell into two general categories.
First, the ‘picture’ logos, featuring a detailed, prominent picture of a horse. When taken as a group within the Arabian breed, many of these logos end up looking quite similar. (Notice how these horses are all facing to the right.) These logos can also date themselves as breed standards (and drawing styles) evolve. The old logo for the Canadian Arabian Horse Registry (known colloquially as the ‘mare and foal’ logo) is of this type and is shown in the top left hand corner.
On the positive side, some pictorially detailed logos can be a beautiful throwback to historic types of advertising imagery. On the negative side, they are not terribly versatile and quickly lose detail when used at small sizes.
The second category contains more iconic logos. The more modern of these stuck with a simplified silhouette or knock-out shape (bottom row). Others had more detail but used a simplified line or outline, falling somewhere between a picture and a purely iconic look (top row). The human brain has been shown to recognize shapes first, colors second, and details third, so simplifying the imagery allows the logo to be more immediately recognizable. It also makes it more useful over a wide range of applications, for example with different sizes and colors.
We also looked at the American Quarter Horse Association’s identity system. The AQHA has a particularly strong identity, which they rolled out about ten years ago. (I haven’t been able to find out who the design firm is, but am hoping someone will be able to supply that information). The old logo (top) featured a picture of a Quarter Horse and part of the American flag. The new logo dropped all imagery in favor of a simple red Q. The genius of the mark is that the Q is unique among horse breeds and is an immediate identifier of the Quarter Horse breed (often abbreviated as QH).
In the next blog post, we’ll look at the actual process that was used to design the new CAHR logo.
I’ve been thinking lately about landscapes.
One of the first art shows I went to in college was Manifestation Series at the Medicine Hat Museum and Art Gallery, an exhibition by Yolande Valiquette, a ceramics artist, in collaboration with painter Laurie McCallum.
With apologies to the artists, I remember being surprised at the bright colors in the actual pieces, but I loved the simple black and white imagery in the exhibition flyer – enough that I’ve carted it around for ten plus years and can still find it easily on the bookshelf.
There’s some kind of strong imagery in the little buildings on the prairies. It’s a favourite subject for many artists. They have wabi-sabi. These little buildings are human-built, and therefore an easy stand-in for us, but they are alone in their landscape, accompanied only by land and sky. Waiting.
In university, I took a class on Canadian art traditions in which landscape plays a big part. This exploration of the idea of “landscape” is a funny thing. The definition of a landscape is ‘all the visible features of an area of countryside or land’, or ‘a picture representing an area of countryside’. The origin of the word (Dutch lantscap) means a picture of natural scenery – these days, we use the word interchangeably to mean the land itself, when we are viewing it.
Because of this origin being a picture, something which is viewed, landscape has always had ties to the viewer – to the person who is looking at it. Without the viewer, a “landscape” as a concept cannot exist.
One of the first pictures in my memory is this, the Big Red Barn. It marks the last turn-off to my grandparents’ farm, which my uncle now owns. It’s one of those kind of places where it seems silly to lock your doors. To me, this has never been a sad or lonely image – instead, it means: You’re almost home.
I got a chance to stretch my book-making skills when Collective Coffee held their grand opening a couple of weeks ago. Inspired by all the bits of 20th Street history that found their way into the building, this accordion-fold booklet was the result.
Research for the piece began in the Local History Room at the Saskatoon Public Library. It was really impressive to watch the archivists in action – if I so much as mentioned something I was on the trail of, they would run with it, and soon I’d have a stack of archive materials sitting on the table waiting for perusal.
The inside of the booklet features two historical panoramas of 20th Street, and photos of several re-incarnations of the Two-Twenty building (including when it was Kanigan’s Furniture and Joe’s Cycle & Sports).
The outside of the booklet has some details about the “coffee philosophy” of Collective Coffee’s owner, Jackson Weibe, and the story of the Two-Twenty building, owned by Shift Development‘s Curtis Olson. The Two-Twenty is part of an ongoing revitalization of 20th Street that began with the riverbank development and the Farmer’s Market on 19th, and will house Saskatoon’s first co-working space.
One of the details that we managed to hunt down was the history of the vinegar factory in Riversdale. Reclaimed wood from the vinegar vats was used in the façade of the front counter at Collective Coffee. Jacob Semko, a local artisan and printmaker who crafted the counter, says the wood gave off a strong whiff of vinegar when it was cut. These days, of course, the only thing you can smell in the café is the espresso.
Production notes: We used a Xerox color laser printer to print the piece and printed the booklets two-up on a 12″ x 40″ piece of paper, the maximum length that the printer would accept. The first edition was a run of 50 and we’ll be doing another run of 50 again shortly. The scoring was the tricky part, since it adds ‘creep’ to the panels, and I’ll be needing to adjust the score marks for the next batch.
Grant Unrau at Stun Collective (designer of the Collective Coffee and “It’s Good in the Hood” logos) let us use his facility for production and I think I am in love with the old guillotine slicer that he has! Will try and post pics of it at a future date!
I bought a print this morning – Holiday House, by Henry Van Seters, a silkscreen print by a local Saskatoon artist. (Pictured at right is the original painting). I was at the Farmer’s Market and decided to check out the Stall Gallery, and they had a few of the smaller silkscreen prints on sale for just $30.
On my way out, I happened to be introduced to Henry, who was on his way in. It was kind of a funny coincidence, one of the benefits of living in a small city I guess.