Sign & Digital Graphics

November '12

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I intend to push for all of the upgrades that a classic business deserves. Next I attempt to learn a bit about the state of their branding. Are they attached to a logo or colors from the past that needs to be re-incorporated? Can it be re-eval- uated by me? In Stewart's case, repaint- ing the funky sign painter lettering out front was all they had known, but now, after successfully redesigning their busi- ness cards themselves, they were more open to changes in the original look of the signage. Rough Sketches: I initially worked up a "scatter shot" design approach to indicate a broad range of possibilities, without a lot of attachment, in order to discern a general preference direction. When I was starting out, I found it useful to work from business cards. How else could you know what a cus- tomer might like when you literally didn't know what graphic design was? I stopped employing this strategy when all the know-it-all sign magazine writ- ers insisted that there was nothing worse than making signs that looked like busi- ness cards. Now I'm here to tell you, go for it anyway! The client didn't call me because I was a graphic designer who was going to overthrow everything they like. I humbly assume that an approved business card design, rendered on the cli- ent's computer, whether by themselves or their kid cousin designer, will give me an indication of what works for them. I'm willing to accommodate their taste, yet I reserve the right to gently improve the aspects that aren't suitable for a sign. In Stewart's case, I assumed that there must be something they would like more than arced red Copperplate on a black background. To test my theory with Stewart's, I showed them a random sampling that explored possible new directions. To do this, I engaged what I call the scat- ter shot effect, which calls into question all the assumptions that have been made by anyone thus far. What if the letter- ing was a different font or color or how about eliminating the arc? What if the background contrast was reversed and so on. (See Rough Sketches) Approval Sketches: This rough layout proof refined the options based on the choices from the scatter shot. I tried to harmonize what the client liked with what I knew to be good signage. 30 • November 2012 • SIGN & DIGITAL GRAPHICS I tend to do this with the hope that the client will be able to see what isn't work- ing with their homemade design, but nine times out of ten, they return to the MASTER'S TOUCH

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