Thursday, December 20, 2012

A New Rising Star...

ADG is excited to announce the newest addition to our full-time Studio Team! Aaron Johnson impressed us as an intern with his amazing illustration skills and sly sense of humor. (You might recognize his collaborative work on the the "Best of Nashville" Scene cover from this past fall.) Apart from making a great impression as an ADG intern, Aaron was awarded a Gold and Silver ADDY in illustration for his Mega Macho Manly Men Calendar. It doesn't stop there, he also won best of Advertising in the Split and Twisted 2011 Student competition at Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film where he also teaches a community class on digital painting.

We knew he was talented, but his work on our Political Pimp posters sealed the deal for us. Aaron made it through boot camp, and now he is scoring direct hits on the front lines of design awesomeness. Here are some samples of his work:

A little more background info on Aaron: he was born in the O.C. and raised in Nashville, where he decided to dedicate his early years to drawing cartoons and making corny jokes. Finding illustration and graphic design the perfect fit for his odd skill set, he attended Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film. In his spare time he enjoys eating strawberry flavored foods, building replicas, watching Japanese Anime, and teaching people Photoshop. After becoming an illustrator his new life goal is to one day ride a zeppelin.

Keep an eye out for fresh new ADG illustration and design work starring Aaron Johnson!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wall Calendars: A Date With Destiny

Have you seen our new 2013 wall calendars? If you ever wondered how Anderson Design Group became so obsessed with poster art and calendars, read on...

For many years, we dabbled in creating quirky self-promotional gifts, brochures, mailers, etc. to show off our design and illustration skills. We also fiddled around with making gifts that we could send our clients as tokens of our appreciation for their business. After producing Millennium Bug Survival Kits in 1999 (which included necessities that people would need if the world descended into chaos,) we decided to make our next self-promo/gift something that folks would want to look at every day for the next 365 days. So we tried creating a wall calendar featuring our art.

One of our first attempts was a spoof on the corny but popular Successories posters—cheesy stock photos with smarmy motivational slogans. We called it SICKsessories and totally ripped on the whole office culture.

Then 9/11 happened, and we were really ticked at terrorists. So we made a Don’t Mess With The U.S. calendar full of patriotic imagery that taunted cowardly terrorists to show their faces to us rough-and-ready graphic designers.

Our next calendar was in the early days of PhotoShop, and we used that dangerous new technology to fuse animal heads onto humans in another office humor calendar.

One thing leads to another...
History was made when we stumbled onto an opportunity borne from necessity. (Isn’t that how the best inventions happen?) Our clients from New York or L.A. just didn’t understand how we could create excellent design and illustration, or be so in touch with popular culture while living in Nashville, Tennessee. We needed to prove to them that Nashville is about a lot more than Country Music—that we really do have all our teeth (or most of them), and that we talk about other things besides NASCAR and WWF Wrestling. So we chose our favorite landmarks, restaurants, arts & culture venues and Music City themes and we designed a series of 13 posters to showcase our great city.

Mohawk (a paper company) was looking for an innovative way to showcase their paper. We had a great relationship with McQuiddy Printing, who wanted to create a gift and showpiece for their clients. So a 3-way joint-promotion made it possible for us to combine the 18" x 24" posters into a giant wall calendar that blew everyone’s mind. Every calendar included 13 limited edition gallery prints. (Each calendar was valued at over $300! Those were the days before the economy tanked. Back then, everyone could afford to throw money around like that.)

Our 2004 Spirit Of Nashville wall calendar changed everything for us. We won so many awards for that piece, we lost count. Folks from all over the world were calling to find out if they could buy the prints from the 2004 Spirit of Nashville calendar. So we created a new print series that we would continue to expand for many years to come.

We did one more large format poster calendar for 2005, but as the economy sagged, everything had to get smaller. In 2006, we began creating 11" x 14" calendars that actually fit into people’s cubicles or kitchens, and we began using the smaller calendars to promote new lines of full-sized limited edition gallery prints. Almost over night, we grew another division of our company.  We stepped up our efforts to create more poster art that would become our next calendar.

Our self-promo calendars were originally intended to bring us more business from our clients—and that did happen—but we soon found ourselves creating posters, postcards, calendars, etc. and selling them directly to consumers via our web store. Eventually, we turned our conference room into a boutique, and now Anderson Design Group has a full-blown Studio Store and mail order biz.

New for 2013...
We have 2 lines of prints to promote for 2013. One is a labor of love for our community—a Metro Parks calendar full of 13 prints that celebrate Nashville’s parks and public green spaces. In addition to the calendars, we have also created ready-to-frame prints, and a 22-piece postcard set so that folks can own all of our parks designs in a compact format.

Our other 2013 calendar promotes our new World Travel Collection—prints that feature romantic destinations from all over the globe. ADG’s founder Joel Anderson assembled a team of young local artists, (all graduates of Watkins School of Art, Design and Film) to help him create the art in this new print series. They include Michael Korfhage, Andy Gregg, Julian Baker, Shelby Rodeffer, Rion Nishimori, and Ligia Teodosiu.

This new World Travel calendar features 13 different 11" x 14" prints that can be framed. They are all adapted from the ever-growing series of World Travel gallery prints. And for anyone short on wall space, we have also made a 24-piece postcard that features mini versions of all our 2012 World Travel prints.

We are giving a limited number of our latest 2 calendars to our clients as gifts (while secretly promoting our skills and enticing them to send us more biz.) We have also reserved a limited supply of calendars to sell on our web site. They make great gifts... so get yours while supplies last!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cover and interior illustrations for the Nashville Scene

The Nashville Scene is a hip, weekly publication that Music City locals read for news and reviews. As a free news magazine, the Scene survives on advertising, eye-catching covers, and interesting content that will make people stop, pick up an issue, and read through the entire publication. Priority #1 is a cover design that will grab passers-by and make them take a magazine off of the rack. Content and flow must then hold the reader’s interest and compel them read the issue cover to cover.

The biggest Nashville Scene issue each year is the Best Of Nashville edition. Every year, readers vote to nominate their favorite local businesses, arts, entertainment venues, etc. And each year, the Best Of Nashville issue is by far the most widely read. Hence, it is packed full of advertising, making it a big revenue generating issue for the Scene. With all of that advertising, the flow and the interior content must be extra special—because let’s face it— people don’t pick up a magazine for the ads!

In an effort to make the magazine stand out and be fun to look at, the editorial staff wanted to create a classic Art Deco vibe. They were familiar with our iconic poster designs from our Spirit of Nashville and Art & Soul of America Collections, so they asked us to create the cover and interior illustrations to look like classic, grand event poster art from the 1920s.

We did some research on Deco-era design and World’s Fair poster art. Aaron Johnson, one of our stellar interns from Watkins School of Art, Design & Film was assigned to start doing research and sketch up some rough concepts. (His great work on this project and others earned him a full-time position on our staff as soon as he graduates in December!)

Aaron sketched up some iconic images and then added dramatic Art Deco architectural shapes to frame them.

Once he finished black and white art for the cover and the 7 interior divider page illustrations, Joel Anderson went to work painting the illustrations. As a former airbrush artist (in the days before computers,) creating the effects in Photoshop was a lot of fun—especially since there were no brushes to unclog, over-spray to clean up, and band-aids to apply from frisket-cutting accidents! Joel added dramatic lighting to Aaron’s compositions to give them a classic Art Deco World’s Fair flair.

The publication was divided into 6 sections. After creating the cover and intro page, our job was to create color and navigation that would lead readers through the 215-page magazine. Here are some samples of the full-page art we created...

It was challenging to take the Deco look and make it work for all the categories. For a section on kid’s stuff, we rendered a vintage robot in bright colors.

At first, our color palette was true to the Art Deco era—more sophisticated, understated and muted. But the magazine editors thought the colors might not jump off of the news stand enough, so we jacked up the saturation and the overall color palette to make the illustrations more attention-getting.

The magazine was the biggest issue ever. We had a great time working with the awesome team from the Nashville Scene. If they would have offered a category for Best Editorial Staff, we would have voted them #1!