Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Logo Review

It’s hard to believe that 2010 is almost over! This time of year, it’s always healthy to do some reflection and evaluation. What worked? What bombed? What should we enter in the awards, and what sort of logo should we vow to never do again? Logo design is probably the hardest thing we designers do. But it is very satisfying to create a mark that defines a brand and launches an enterprise into public view. Here is a parade of logos we created over the last year and a half with some commentary about each one:

These 2 logos were actually done a few years ago, but we’ve never included them on our blog. Lucky Strike Lanes of Princeton, Kentucky is a small independent bowling alley. The owner hired us to create a nostalgic look that would give the place a classic American feel. We obliged them by creating logos for the bowling alley and the restaurant. In order to get into the right frame of mind, we had to go bowling and eat bowling alley food. Just part of the job!

A Nashville-based hard core heavy metal band needed a logo for free. Since Joel Anderson’s teenage son was in the band at the time, Joel did the logo in trade for free concert tickets, a t-shirt, and some heavy-duty earplugs.

This logo was created for, a website aimed at musicians and worship leaders who are looking for new songs that can be sung by church congregations. Note the icons representing a congregation of people with sound waves rising above the crowd.

This logo for the Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Company won several ADDY Awards, including Best of Show. It was also featured in Print Magazine and featured on the Die Line. Needless to say, it has been one of our more successful logos!

 This is an example of an unsuccessful logo. It was for a talented photographer who does very artful wedding photography. While we feel like we created a logo that captured the name, vibe and target audience, we never really found ourselves reading off the same page with the client. Sadly, none of the logos we submitted pleased him, and we ended up settling for a kill-fee and parting ways. No hard feelings... sometimes things just don’t click.

This logo is for a product line that is still in development. So we cannot say much about it, other than it has to do with old denim. We think it’s cool, and we hope to see it in use soon!

One of the craziest logos of the year was done for a pal in L.A. named Alex Mebane who is an actor, song writer, video producer. He created a hip-hop rapper persona called $pyrul and wanted us to whip him up a logo for his iTunes and YouTube promotions. We had a budget of $1 and had to do the logo in 3 hours. Since the whole idea is a parody on rap music, we were encouraged to be as cheezy as necessary to achieve the desired look. (We broke all of our own rules about NOT using every Photoshop effect available... this logo actually features drop shadow, inner bevel and lens flare!)

Hog Heaven has been around since the 1980s, but they never really had an official logo. So when owners Katy and Andy Garner called to say they would be on Food Network, we got to work creating a logo that they could use for all their promotional needs. We tried to make the logo match the establishment—a weathered rib shack that has never been fancy or flashy. Just real good.

 The Davidson County Clerk’s office has never really had a logo, either. Since the county clerk is elected, the name changes every so often. We made the logo adaptable, so the clerk’s name could be swapped out in the future. We also created icons to represent the various services the County Clerk’s office provides (like birth certificates, business licenses, automobile registration, titles, etc..) These icons will be used in creating directional signs and rack brochures.

A new church in Hendersonville, TN needed a logo and some branding to let folks know their doors were open. Logos for churches and community organizations are always tricky. The colors, fonts, and overall vibe needs to match the mission, purpose, membership, and target audience. In this case, Redeemer is a young energetic congregation with reformed orthodox evangelical theology.

The Wine Shoppe in Green Hills is known for their expertise in fine and rare wines. The new owners wanted to do a total brand overhaul. Their logo needed to look established with an old-world European look and feel. We researched fonts, wine labels, European pub signs, and poster art to arrive at the logo they chose. Above are some of the other logos we experimented with in the process.

We will do this again at the end of next year. Until then, Happy New Year, and a prosperous creative 2011 to you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NEW Print Shop Poster Series

We’ve always been fans of Hatch Showprint, Isle of Printing, and Yee-Haw Industries—classic Tennessee letterpress print shops that consistently produce striking illustrated poster designs. Computers have really changed how designers and illustrators create. Thanks to Photoshop and desk-top design programs, it seems like most contemporary commercial art is full of drop shadows, highlights, layers, stock photos, and lettering that was just typed—not really typeset or styled. What we wouldn’t give to get our hands dirty every now and then and create something from start to finish that was never touched by a pixel, mouse click or megabyte!

We work on Macs all day long. But we also draw, sketch and paint as often as possible, experimenting with any hand-done medium we can find. This keeps our design and illustration work looking fresh. (Funny how “fresh” has become code for “doesn’t look like it was done on the computer!”) There is no substitute for traditional hand-lettering, drawing or carving done by real artists. And old world printing techniques like letterpress and screen printing are great at forcing designers to limit the color palette and focus more on typography, illustration, use of positive and negative space, and simple composition. 

If we had the space, we probably would buy some old printing equipment and move backward in time, doing less and less on the Mac and conventional 4-color printers! Since we don’t actually own a letter press, all of our art ends up on the computer at some point as a digital print file.

This nostalgic longing for long-lost craftsmanship inspired our latest batch of posters for the ever-expanding Art & Soul of America Collection. We limited all the designs to 3 colors so they can eventually be reproduced as screen prints, letterpress posters. The results were very satisfying. To start, we did a test run of 4-color process printed posters made to look like letterpress prints. (They are available on our Art And Soul Of America site.) In the future, we will actually produce limited edition screen printed versions of the most popular designs. 

Check them out and let us know which ones you like best!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Art of Advertising

Back in the golden age of poster art (a period from the late-1800s to the mid-1900s,) advertisers hired talented under-employed artists to create posters that promoted everything from live shows to chocolate to soap. Even though the posters were merely hawking everyday products, they were often beautiful and eye-catching, masterfully created designs. Illustrated posters are not used much in advertising today—probably because of how much time it takes to produce this sort of art, and because most cities have laws against plastering posters on every surface.

Even though posters don’t get much display space in modern commerce, we thought we would revive the long-lost art of illustrated advertising posters in an effort to promote our client’s establishments. Rather than look for commercial wall space, we created the posters to be framed as art that folks would use to decorate interiors—restaurants, homes, offices, etc..

The Wine Shoppe in Green Hills hired us to redesign their logo and create a new branding scheme that emphasized their expertise in rare and imported wines. In addition to creating store signs, biz cards, gift tags and ads, we illustrated a series of 5 classic wine posters. In Tennessee, Wine and Spirits stores are not allowed to sell anything but wine and spirits. They can only use the art to promote the store. But we are selling the prints for $39 each on our Spirit of Nashville poster web site. These limited edition prints make great wall decor for any wine enthusiast. And while they add charm to any kitchen or dining room, they will silently promote the Wine Shoppe for years to come!

Another client, Hog Heaven created 3 new BBQ sauces, but did not have a big marketing budget to advertise. So we took the label art we had designed for the sauce bottles and made posters and tin signs for display in their rib shack and to be sold on-line. These prints will also be available on our Spirit of Nashville site and Nashville Artisans Gallery site in January.

The idea behind making striking poster art is simple: create art that folks love enough to hang on their wall, and you’ll have them staring at your logo all year long! So even if our clients don’t plan to plaster Nashville with poster art, they will still gain prestige and visibility as food poster collectors buy the prints to decorate their home and office walls.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

iSpirit of Nashville

Check out this short new video to see how the app works! 

Several months ago, our friends at FireFly Logic and RedBone Entertainment approached us about creating an iPhone app that marries our poster and postcard art with video footage, GPS mapping, and web links. The result is a hand-held virtual tour of Music City that even allows you to send digital postcards of our Spirit of Nashville art to your pals as you walk around Nashville, enjoying everything this great city has to offer.

The process was simple on our end—we just created the iPhone screen art. Then Firefly took our poster designs, some content from our web site and video footage and built a very easy-to-use (and cool-looking) app. After a few rounds of testing, they sent it to Apple. Now everyone with an iPhone can take an artsy virtual tour of Nashville, Tennessee. 

If you download the $2.99 app, you’ll be able to experience Music City from anywhere. If you are lucky enough to be in town, you can plan a fun-packed day in The Ville by checking out video clips, poster art, and links to Nashville’s most popular destinations and landmarks. After using the map feature to navigate to your destination, you can send a digital postcard of your adventure featuring one of the 70+ designs in the award-winning poster collection. 

Next we’ll be thinking about turning our Spirit of Nashville Coffee Table Book into an e-book for the iPad. More details on that to come!

Download the iPhone App for only $2.99 at: 

Monday, November 8, 2010

French Paper. American Design.

We designers tend to geek out about stuff like illustrated posters and postcards—(especially when they are printed on cool paper!) So when the coolest paper company on the planet asked us to partner with them to create a new promotional calendar, it was like being handed an authentic Boba Fett costume and being asked to make a personal appearance at a Star Wars Convention.

We have long since been fans of the French Paper Company’s amazing products—made famous by their promotional materials designed by Charles S. Anderson (no relation to Anderson Design Group founder Joel Anderson.) 

French Paper encouraged us to dream up a deluxe promotional calendar that would feature Smart White and PopTone papers. So our team of artists went right to work, trying to out-do our previous Spirit of Nashville calendars by assembling a brand new collection of illustrated prints and uber-cool postcards that feature original travel art of our favorite U.S. cities and national parks.

McQuiddy Classic, a 100-year-old Nashville printing company partnered with us in a 3-way joint promotion to produce this 13-month calendar full of 11" x 14" ready-to-frame mini prints. Printed on Smart White paper, with a set of 16 postcards printed in silver metallic ink on PopTone paper, this became the perfect opportunity to unveil our new Art And Soul Of America poster collection.

McQuiddy Classic Printing has helped to put the Spirit of Nashville Collection on the map by producing fabulous promotional calendars each year since 2004. In a few weeks, McQuiddy reps will have 500 of these special edition 2010 calendars to give away. French Paper reps will distribute 2,500 calendars around North America, and Anderson Design Group will give away 250 calendars to clients and friends. For anyone else who is interested, we have also reserved 250 calendars to sell on our site.

We hope you can get your hands on one of the 3,500 limited edition calendars that French, McQuiddy Classic and Anderson Design Group will be giving away. And if you can’t snag a free promo calendar, you can always buy one at

Friday, November 5, 2010

Running with the Right Crowd

Anderson Design Group has had the pleasure of working on dozens of posters ever since our Spirit of Nashville Collection became popular. Recently, we were asked to create a new poster and t-shirt design for an annual charity race called the Boulevard Bolt. The race takes place every Thanksgiving Day on scenic Belle Meade Boulevard in Nashville, TN. Since 1994, the Boulevard Bolt has grown from 2,500 participants to nearly 8,000 participants. Today, it ranks among the largest 5-mile races in the country, having raised over $1.4 million for the homeless community in Nashville since it began.

The Boulevard Bolt Committee representative emphasized that the event always happens Thanksgiving Day, so a fall theme would be in order. So ADG staff artist Andy Gregg produced a couple of concepts that were like Art Deco Olympic posters. The designs looked right at home in the Spirit of Nashville Collection. Unsatisfied (and a little bored with himself) Andy set out to create a design that would involve some kind of graphic pattern or rhythm based on autumn colors and symbols, using positive and negative space to create drama. Inspired by a 1960's-style Modern design style (made famous by TWA Airlines travel posters,) Andy created a bold, stylish option with hand-lettering that was very different from the Spirit of Nashville look. To his surprise, the Boulevard Bolt committee picked this more inventive and risky design.

In Andy’s own words: “I've always loved retro design, and having illustrated many of the Art & Soul of America prints, I had had plenty of chances to work in an Art Deco style. However, I really hadn't been able to break out of the first half of the 20th century on a poster design project. I saw this as an opportunity, figuring the Modern style would be conducive to the flat, graphic nature of this concept. What you see is the final product. The header typography I created is admittedly not really 60's Modern, but rather conflation of 60's and 70's script styles. When designing a piece that does not need to be from a specific design movement, why limit it?” 

The project took about 5 days from start to finish. Andy had a great time working on it, and the Boulevard Bolt committee was very pleased to have such a cool design for this year’s event.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Opening Doors with Great Design

The Grand Ole Opry suffered catastrophic damage during the flood in May. Almost 4 feet of water covered the wooden stage, destroying it along with the pews, curtains, and walls. The staff was able to salvage the historic six-foot circle that was cut from the original Ryman stage and placed into the Opry House in 1974. The famous backstage dressing rooms were all ruined and had to be completely gutted. 

As soon as the waters subsided, a massive renovation project began. Just 5 weeks before the grand reopening, we got a call from a Grand Ole Opry official who asked us if we would team up with Kathy Anderson, a well-known Nashville interior designer who was hired to completely transform the old back stage dressing room area. All 18 of the dressing rooms had themes celebrating the glory days of the Grand Ole Opry. They needed us to create unique door signs for each dressing room—signs that would hint at the distinct theme, decor scheme, color palette, and heritage that each dressing room represents. The Opry folks wanted a classic look for the famous rooms which Minnie Pearl, Little Jimmy, and Roy Acuff, even president Clinton used — a warm, timeless Music City feel — inspired by our very own Spirit of Nashville Collection!

So we (Joel headed up the design team of Edward, Ligia and Andy) set out to create 18 full color die cut logo signs. Each sign started out as a sketch. Once the sketch was approved, we created a vector illustration with a die cut template for each unique sign shape. Finally, we gave the vector illustrations a classic aged look in Photoshop before being sent off to Phase 3 Media, the sign vendor. The door signs were all installed just days before the grand opening celebration. A special open-to-the public backstage tour event was named “Spirit of Nashville Day” as a nod to the famous collection of prints that these door signs were patterned after. Of course, we were flattered.

We really enjoyed working with the excellent folks at the Grand Ole Opry and the interior designers at Anderson Design (not related to Anderson Design Group!) If you ever have a chance to take a back stage tour, be sure to check out the custom art that identifies each dressing room!

Here are 2 videos shot after the renovation was complete:  


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Design like a Fool!

Recently, a really cool company called Book Fool asked us to help them create 2 new t-shirt designs that would appeal to college students. (Book Fool sets up near college campuses and offers cash for used text books. Then they sell the books online at a discount, infuriating college bookstores, while helping students save lots of money!) Book Fool was looking for an underground way of promoting their brand on campus—something pretty hard to do, since companies are not allowed to advertise on school property. They also wanted to reward "Friends of the Fool" with some fun, irreverent swag. The solution: we decided to create some really cool shirts, so students could legally advertise all day long in shirts that they would be proud to wear.

Our hip young team of designers were in college recently enough, so they knew exactly what to do: 
1. Andy Gregg illustrated and designed a shirt based on old pulp fiction Sci-Fi movies and novels. (Even though the budget only allowed for about 10 hours of design time, Andy went the extra mile by pouring his soul into 65 hours of sketching, inking, and Photoshopping. He even pulled an all-nighter to finish it off, then slept in his car for an hour before popping back into the studio to work another day.)

2. Ligia Teodosiu designed a shirt in the persuasive style of Victorian newspaper advertising. (She didn’t have to work all night to finish her design, but she did spend many hours studying and illustrating turn-of-the-century facial hair fashion.)


The results were totally what you might expect. Book Fool is getting rave reviews, and from now on, students everywhere will probably use their “used book money” to buy cool t-shirts instead of beer. We feel pretty good about our contribution to collegiate fashion and sobriety!

Check out Book Fool’s blog site...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gettin’ Saucy

When local BBQ legends Andy and Katie Garner asked us to help them create a brand for their famous BBQ sauces, we said YES without even having to think about it. That’s because we LOVE their smoked ribs, pulled pork, brisket, turkey & chicken. But the secret to Hog Heaven’s success has always been in their sauces. You can get them in a little plastic tub with your meal, but until now, the sauces have not been available in a bottle.

We started by batting around names for the brand and the individual sauce
s. They had a Barnyard Brawl theme stuck in their crazy sauced up heads. We loved the idea of food-fighting animals, and over the course of the design project, the brand became BBQ Fight Club with sauce names like Kickin’ Chicken and Punching Pig. ADG staff designer/illustrator Andy Gregg rolled up his sleeves and started inventing awesome fight club characters for the label art (which will eventually become trading cards and posters to help promote the sauces!) The process was a blast, and the end-product definitely lives up to its name.

The process started (visually-speaking) in a low-rent Luchadore district, wandered around in a stylish zip code, and ended up in a hot & steamy barnyard brawl fight club. Note the progression of the sketches and colors:

Hog Heaven sauces can be bought at Hog Heaven or at the Spirit of Nashville store.