Friday, January 27, 2012

Notre Dame Irish Logo

I do design work for Zephyr Graf-x, a company that creates hats for college sports teams, among other things. Some time ago I was asked to do an update of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo to make him look tougher. This was for a custom hat line from Zephyr.

I went right to work, sketching out dozens and dozens of ideas for this project. This was a really fun challenge for me; Notre Dame is a high profile school and every detail had to be perfect. We needed a modern look for their mascot that respected the spirit of the original. There were many revisions throughout the long approval process.

I went back to the drawing board many times. This is about a tenth of the ideas I sketched during the design process. The other thing I had to keep in mind is that this logo needed to be one that would embroider nicely onto the hat.

Here you see the original logo on the left and the final upgraded Fighting Irish on the right. I think the design embroidered really well onto the hats.

Zephyr makes many different variations of hat styles with this logo I designed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

303 Bell Engine Crankshaft Special

Once in a while I get to work on a really unique project. In this case, it is a carefully restored roadster from the early 1950's. The restoration shop called me in to look at the original rusty frame of the body. I was able to make a pattern of some of the original lettering from that. Years later, when the body was restored, I pounced the original lettering back onto the freshly painted vehicle.

The important thing about an authentic auto restoration is that you need to make the lettering look just like its first paint job, whether the lettering is sloppy, or crooked, or poorly done, it needs to match the vehicle's original look. I like to get all of the details right, even down to the hubcaps.

Fortunately, they had done a lot of research on this car and had some photos on hand for reference for this purpose. There were black and white photos of the roadster from different angles, which helped me recreate an authentic paint job on this historic car.

If you look closely near my elbow you will see a color photo of the original body. On top of the car is one of the black and white photos.

I learned to letter from my father, Alan Johnson. I spent a lot of time in garages as a kid lettering and working together with him. This is a job I did on my own, but I am glad he got a chance to see it. Here we are together with the finished body.

This car is featured in the December 2007 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.

You can also see the Gooding and Company Auction review video of the vehicle here:

This vehicle is cuurently on display at the Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dale's Market Mural

I grew up in a small town in New Jersey, and was living downtown in 1999 when the owner of a local grocer's shop approached me about painting a mural on the side of his building.

Dale's Market was a family business located in a historic old town, so I thought a mural with an old-fashioned market scene would be perfect. I decided to use sepia tones like you would see in an old photograph.

my original sketch for the project

This was the first big mural project that I did all on my own. The wall measured about 16 feet by 45 feet, was very patchy and rough.

I worked on the mural in between other projects throughout the fall and included elements that I thought people would find interesting.

 There is a canvas awning along the front of the building which I carried along the side of the building to become a part of the mural.

 I finished the job the day before I married my wife, who also grew up in this small town. The next month we packed up a truck and moved to sunny Colorado.

Here we are with our family, seven years later.

And here is our daughter, 11 years after I first painted the Dale's Market mural. It has held up very well. We stop by to take a look at it every time we return to New Jersey to visit our families.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mountain's Edge Coffee

A local coffee roaster came to me back in 2007 for a logo. As usual, I started by sketching a few pages of ideas.

This is the final logo I developed for the client.

Over the years, I have designed a variety of labels and products for him.