Monday, 20 February 2012

Bike Specsheets

I'm sure most of you have come across 'infographics' at some point whilst browsing the old interweb. If not, take a minute to have a look at some of the examples here. I'm a big fan of these because they effectively relay simplified information and statistics in a creative and manageable way. I think that the best ones are those that only use 3 or 4 main colours and replace photographic images for custom vectors and symbols. Anyway, these are what I used as the main source of inspiration for the specsheets below.

Specification sheets for motorcycles are one of the best tools for a customer to compare one bike with another. When there is so much choice out there, finding the right bike for you can be difficult enough without this sort of information being hard to come by. When I've been tasked with creating generic specsheets in the past, I tended to stick to a straightforward list of features to make the information easy to read, keeping pictures and graphics to a minimum. Despite the advantages of this, they were a little boring and not many people would take the time to have a look when we attached them to the corresponding bikes at outdoor events. So, a bit of a spruce up was on the cards.

I guess the most notable improvement was the inclusion of the icons. I'll admit that they don't actually provide any additional information but hopefully they act as quite a nice visual prompter.

The example on the right was the first one I made and the difference between this and the updated version on the left is quite noticeable. The Street Triple sheet has a much clearer structure and the additional headers makes it a bit more organised. With the Van Van sheet I'd definitely replace the thicker section dividers if I do these again. There are already 2 types of line dividers (thin line and dotted) on the same page and they also unnecessarily take up a bit of space and make it look a little cluttered.

All together, I think we must have had around 20-25 of these to make so the layout and design really did have to be simple and generic to ensure I had enough time to make all of them for the display bikes at racing and charity events.

It's probably worth mentioning at this point that these were made for last years' season of outdoor events and I'm sure that by the time the next batch roll around, I'll want to re-do the design for these specsheets. It just never ends...

Rukka Arma S

When it comes to motorcycle clothing, it doesn't get more premium than Rukka. It may be expensive, but you certainly get your money's worth, as this poster so helpfully demonstrates. Look at all the noteworthy features! Sarcasm aside though, this really is quality stuff.

So, when I was thinking about the style of the poster, I looked towards the high-end of the market, right up to bespoke tailors. And one thing kept popping up: visible stitching. This type of thing suggests class and an investment in quality and higher levels of comfort and safety. You'll notice that each of the feature circles have a double stitch outline to reflect this.

The fluorescent coloured stripes down the side are an obvious connection to the high-vis panels on the jacket. The background colour was chosen to emphasise the luminosity of these panels.

Had to do a bit of a cut out job on the model to put him on the dark background. This is not something I am particularly keen on because it is very difficult to get a clean finish, especially around the hair. This isn't much of an issue when it comes to web content and small prints. However, on anything larger than A4, your leftover pixels are gonna be about as inconspicuous as the honey monster riding the Northern line to Waterloo. Nonetheless, I gave it a good go and hopefully the finished article does the jacket a bit of justice.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Swap Shop

Out with the old, in with the new (sort of). Swap shops are all about recycling/reusing and the style of the poster had to reiterate that. It was part of a 'Go Green Week' on campus and so the earthy colour scheme of green and brown seemed a natural choice.

The inspiration for the swap shop logo was the 3 arrow recycling symbol. I decided it would be better to go with only 2 arrows to suggest the give and take nature of the event.

A lot of the time I use quite plain fonts for advertising (helvetica, arial etc). Straight lines and sharp edges convey a slick operation and almost a guarantee of quality. I felt that was the wrong message for this particular event as nothing was being sold and it was more of a fun, chilled-out type of affair. The font used is 'Komika Axis' and I think it has quite an inviting look.

Cardboard, more than most other products, is closely linked to recycling. The items that were likely to appear on the day had to feature in some form on the poster and simplifying them into cardboard shapes was an appealing concept.

Lastly, the background has the sort of grainy texture that you would find on recycled paper and there is a faint pattern of interlocking arrows, lovely.

Please visit my friend's blog if you would like to hear more about the Swap Shop (warning: she is a bit of a tree hugging eco-weirdo).

Friday, 10 February 2012

Yamaha 50 Year Anniversary: A Look Back

To coincide with last year's 50th anniversary of Yamaha Racing, Laguna Motorcycles offered a number of special prices on Yamaha models for a single weekend.
Below is the poster I created to advertise the deals on offer...

A lot of information in this one. 11 Bikes on one A4 page; not the kind of brief I generally like to receive. I tried but there simply wasn't enough space to have an image of each bike on offer, not in any size that would be worthwhile anyway. What this poster needed was a bit of prioritizing, a few ruthless decisions to trim the fat and set the balance... I chose the 4 best offers and decided to make a bit of a showcase with them on the right hand side of the page. For the remaining ones, I decided that a simple info box would probably fulfill the purpose and a customer with a particular bike in mind would certainly be able to find it without the aid of a picture.

It's sometimes quite easy to forget the primary purpose of a project and get bogged down in details or aesthetics. Always keep in mind exactly what the aim of a poster is and the audience that you're targeting, it can save a lot of time and unnecessary effort. Going over the top can also be detrimental to a promotion when the message is lost amongst lots of pretty pictures and graphics. 

It's quite useful sometimes to look back on previous work and critique it yourself once you've developed a bit more. This particular poster was done around 8 months ago and I remember being quite pleased with it at the time, so it seemed like a good candidate to look at retrospectively. Firstly, the brief asked for a lot of information on a relatively small space and I think I achieved that without making it too cluttered. One drawback however, is that it doesn't explicitly shout "HEY, YOU, LOOK AT THESE RIDICULOUS OFFERS!" It looks less like a promotion and more like a regular fact sheet. It resembles almost every advert that you'll find in every edition of motorcycle news because bike dealers are very keen to show just how many great deals they can offer the average punter. I sometimes think that maybe the more offers there are, the more diluted the impact becomes.

The large faded logo in the background is something I haven't done in a while and if I'm being honest I still don't know if works well or not. I just feel that having too much going on in a background, especially under text, can distort the information and make it difficult to read, which defeats the point of putting it in there in the first place.

Lastly, why did I go to the effort of putting those two stripes in the bottom left hand corner? They serve no purpose and are in the foreground, overlapping the box and date. I guess even jeniuses make mistakes...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Insanity Radio Logo

The student radio at my university (Royal Holloway) recently held a competition to re-brand the station with a new logo.

Here are my submissions for both light and dark backgrounds.

One of my initial ideas featured the 'i'  as a person with headphones on, but side on. I showed it to a couple of friends and it took them a little while to figure out what it was so I had to have a bit of a re-think. One of the most important things about a logo is how much of an instant impact it makes. People aren't going to linger in order to decipher the point of it and so I went for a very classic and recognisable headphone design. The Napster logo was one source of inspiration.

I wasn't sure whether the headphones were related closely enough to the radio so I thought about how I could include a radio mast or radio waves. At first I chose the other 'i' and toyed around with that but it just wasn't coming together. It was only through a bit of doodling that I figured out the shape of the 'a' makes a perfect radio mast, especially in the Molot font. 

The design was chosen to be short-listed for voting alongside some very nice creations by other members of the university and wider community. The voting closed a few weeks ago, so fingers crossed it was the preferred choice! 


Now here's a musical duo who are insanely cool. Not only that but Chromeo's brand of electro-funk is nothing short of genius. I would say that it's a throwback to the electro of the 80s, but that would simply be an insult. This is far better.

I was lucky enough to see them live in London last November and it was the most entertaining gig I've ever been to. Honestly. if you ever get the chance, don't hesitate. Heck, I'll come with you.
These lads know what it means to be performers; their energy and skill on a stage is like nothing I've seen before. They also know what it means to be cool, and it's not in your face or over the top. It's a chilled out and slick operation, and that is what I wanted to come across in this piece.
Now I've finished spouting off about my crush on these guys I'll get down to the design...
As you may have noticed with most of my other designs, I like to keep things simple and uncluttered. 
My initial intention was to make everything with straight lines but this just didn't work for the sunglasses. Their shape looked a little bit too abstract for this design and so I had to concede a few curves. That wasn't too much of a problem because the glasses were meant to be quite a pronounced feature and this probably enhances that. I often have a bit of difficulty with lighting and shadows, and this design proved no different. The nose was a particularly troublesome area and I must have gone through about a dozen different shadow styles before I was happy with the look. For most of the design I made each part on one half, duplicated it, flipped it horizontally and then put it in place on the opposite side for the symmetrical look.

If I get a bit of time I'll start working on a similar thing for P-Thugg (the other, shorter one).

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Vespa GTS 125

Recently scooter promotions and posters have been pretty uninspiring to say the least. I find there has been a distinct overuse of arrows, ink blots, circles and rainbow shapes to make these motorcycles 'funky' and appeal to younger people. Don't do that.
There has also been a reliance on imitating the MOD style of the 1960's with union jacks and targets. This isn't such a bad thing because it's probably one of the first things people associate with scooters and its a pretty natural link, so we'll forgive that for now.
I agree that retro is definitely the right direction for scooter endorsement, only it should be a different kind of retro. In fact, i'm talking vintage.

I'm talking the kind of sepia-toned class you'll see in a stella artois advert and the nonchalant suavity of Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can. Well that was my intention for this anyway. (If you need any more examples, look no further than my facebook profile).
I decided pretty early on to use cream and brown tones to achieve that old-timey feel and took inspiration from, amongst other styles, art-deco and film-noir movie posters.
The orange was a late addition as I thought the poster needed something bold to give it a bit of a visual punch. In the end I decided it would be most effectively used on the header and footer as its one of those colours that looks clear on both light and dark backgrounds.
Admittedly, this style isn't particularly original for scooters. Vespa, for one, have a rich heritage of advertisements that really do capture the spirit of riding these delightfully exciting machines. I didn't realise before I started this project just how beautiful some their classic adverts really are and I would recommend having a browse through the archive if you're into vintage posters. They would certainly be a great starting point for similar work in the future. I'm by no means an art expert, so wouldn't really know how to define some of these styles, but I can appreciate what they represent and the type of lifestyle they are trying to convey to onlookers.

As well as the above poster for the specific Vespa model, I used most of the graphics for another in-store sign (below). The only change was the background cityscape; The Eiffel tower is a clich├ęd but sound indicator of French sophistication. I think the relaxing, leisurely mood of the top image contrasts quite effectively with the fast pace and slickness of the sport section.

By chance, we found an old poster frame in the back of the shop which has an LED panel underneath. When we put this poster over it and plugged it in, it really enhanced the creams and whites and makes for an eye-catching promotion behind the scooters in the showroom.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Suzuki Van Van

For the reasons given in an article on visordown, the Suzuki Van Van 125 is quite possibly the best bike to start out on. It's light, easy to handle and not too powerful. It also happens to have style and charm in abundance.

Unfortunately you won't find this particular colour scheme in the catalogue, but there are still some pretty swish ones to mull over. Suzuki don't often produce interesting colours; it's usually the standard red/blue/white or plain black. However, the retro dual-lines on the tank and the brown option for the Van Van really is quite refreshing.

Technically I guess this one wasn't too difficult in the end. Bit tricky when it came to deciding which details to keep in there and which ones to take out though. Sticking to block colours was definitely a good choice as it leaves it sharp and simple. I'm also pleased the silhouette of the engine and bike-guts takes a nice shape and doesn't just look like an unfinished part of the picture.

Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to use it.

Thunderbird Storm Logo

The Triumph Thunderbird Storm is a beast, there's no doubt about it. Now I'm not the most bike-savvy person out there but even I can appreciate what an impressive machine this really is. If you're searching for the type of power that will leave your stomach behind when you open up the throttle, then look no further. At just under 1700cc this is a force to be reckoned with.
It occurred to me that this edition of the standard Thunderbird model didn't have it's own identity and it's not particularly distinguishable from it's slightly less formidable brother. I thought the best way to display the storm's individuality would be to give it its' own logo. 

The colour choice here was pretty straightforward; Triumph corporate colours are blue and white, so job done.
I've always been a fan of stencil logos and single colour icons; they are clean, clear and versatile. I must admit I was influenced here by the shape and layout of football clubs' badges; Middlesbrough and Sochaux come to mind at this point.
The bird image you see in the centre is the official emblem used by Triumph on it's Thunderbird models so it seemed pretty essential to include it. It's been around since the classic Thunderbird model of the 1940's so I imagine is recognisable amongst most bikers.
The curved text you see at the top of the logo was something I was keen to use on this project. I'll admit that I have always associated text-warping like this with word art, finding it pretty visually offensive. However, I recently came across a few examples of curved text effectively used in logo designs and fancied giving it a go myself. It took a bit of tinkering and ultimately a subtle adjustment really does produce the best outcome.

Triumph motorcycles are understandably quite protective of branding and so this project was never intended for public use. Hopefully I'll be able to put this to use as a template or something in the future for similar work.