Get to Know 427 Design: Gift Exchange Edition
Joe. He shares in my love of craft beer. So maybe there’s a mix-a-six in my future.
I hope it was Joe, because I think he’d ask Allie what to do.
Kevin…because he knows nothing about me.
Brad. It would probably be the least ridiculous and I could really use a kettle bell set at home.
I know whoever pulled my name will get me something I will love and cherish, so I can’t say it matters who actually did.
Either Paul or Andrea, because he probably knows me best, and she would get me some good beer.
Kevin, because it’s his last shot at redemption.
I hope Paul gets me a gift because we are besties and we are going to Dave & Busters after work to hang out and play games and drink beers. I feel so fortunate to have a great friend like him!!! He loves me.
Get to Know 427 Design: Christmas Movie Edition
Elf has always been my favorite. Why? Well, I don’t really think this requires much of an explanation. Will Ferrell…in a giant elf costume. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” However, I have a three-year-old and have recently been introduced to the Polar Express. So I guess that snuggling on the couch with my little nugget has probably made that my new favorite Christmas movie.
I love the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It’s always been a tradition between my sisters and I to watch that movie the night before Christmas.
It’s a Wonderful Life and Christmas Vacation. It’s a Wonderful Life because it’s charming and Mr. Potter is a hero to us all. Christmas Vacation because, well… “shitter’s full”.
Love Christmas Vacation…especially the cat chewing on the lights scene! Most of those who are closest to me will understand why.
Die Hard. Die Hard is a Christmas classic. They tried to recreate the magic in Die Hard 2: Die Harder, but it pales in comparison to the original.
Home Alone (and Home Alone 2). I don’t think I need to explain why.
I’ve got to go with the classic A Christmas Story, but I also have a soft spot for those stop motion Rankin/Bass films from the 60’s. Who doesn’t love “The Bumble”?
I don’t like Christmas movies.
Get To Know 427 Design: Christmas Gifts Editon
When I was about 8, my sisters and I opened a box that just had a key in it and were told to go look out back. When we went to check, there was a four-wheeler sitting on the deck!
Probably the Ghostbusters Fire House. It was like the crown jewel of playsets, and provided me countless years of action figure mayhem. I think that came out in ‘87, which makes me three years old at the time. It was probably just as tall as I was.
I guess the best Christmas gift has to be the only one I can remember right? I was 10. All my brothers and sisters had bikes of their own. I walked downstairs Christmas morning and BAM… Awesome Huffy 5-Speed bike with a speedometer and the gear shifter in the center of the handlebars. I still have it today actually.
Boy, that’s a tough one. So many great ones through the years. I’m going to have to say the one I haven’t received yet… My son Bryan, daughter Erin and wife Jamie are getting me hooked up with a really sweet Trek Domane 4 Series bike. It really pays to know people in high places (Bryan is an industrial designer for Trek.)
It was Christmas 1992. I was six and we spent Christmas morning in Ohio with my Grandma before driving nine hours home to New Jersey. Despite having already opened presents at Grandma’s, when we got home there were gifts aplenty under the tree. Highlights included the Crash Test Dummies Crash Test Center, which provided 101 ways to kill Crash Test Dummies, and a Creepy Crawlers machine. Probably the best Christmas ever.
When I was in sixth grade I wanted a Yo! MTV Raps leather jacket (don’t ask questions). I was certain it was my ticket to eternal, epic coolness. And sure enough, my parents totally bought it for me for Christmas. Then, tragedy struck. Before you could say “Downtown Julie Brown”, my aunt told my clueless, suburban, not-so-music-minded parents that Yo! MTV Raps was a rap/hip hop music show (evidently the name wasn’t telling) and they promptly returned it for something they deemed more “age appropriate”. Worst. Christmas. Ever.
BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT?! Yeesh. Hard one. I’ve been really lucky. So many people in my life have really paid attention the little things that make me… well, ME. so picking one gift out of so many awesome gestures is impossible. From my mom and dad getting me my first set of tools which helped me with countless little projects… to my best friends giving me paintings they made, or drawings they created… to people giving me a really great song they think I might never have otherwise heard. All of those things sort of just became a part of who I am. Those were, and I guess always will be, the best gifts I could ever get.
NOW. BEST GIFT GIVER?! Man, that’s Alexandra Charitan. This is a person that I SWEAR thinks about Christmas ALL YEAR. And has to be, by far, the most endearing, thoughtful person at Christmas I’ve ever met. Every Christmas detail is always perfect and genuine. And I can’t not think about how awesome someone with that much heart makes christmas that much better. Or. Worse, if you think of it as a competition, because you lose.
Nacho cheese. Two years ago, my mom wrapped up little packs of nacho cheese because I didn’t have very many presents that year and she wanted to get me multiple things. So she found them and thought they were cute. And I don’t even really like nacho cheese, so it was pretty random. I told her this year not to wrap up any food items. Its always a disappointment to get food.
Rebranding the Bruin
This summer, the 427 Design team was tasked with giving the Padua Franciscan High School mascot a fierce facelift. When designing the new athletic logo, a lot had to be taken into account. He needed to be representative of the staff and student body of Padua Franciscan; positive, strong and respectable. The new Bruin would require balance, should be stern and intimidating, yet not vicious or violent.
Oftentimes when a high school logo is developed, inspiration is drawn from college and/or professional team logos. But we feel that athletic teams at the high school level also deserve a strong and original logo. So we set out to deliver a great product without borrowing from an existing design. Padua Franciscan High School already stands out in so many ways, so the goal was to create a rebirth of the Bruin that would stand out in a sea of generic team logos. This logo would need to embody all that Padua stood for on and off the field or court.
Putting Pencil to Paper
In these initial sketches the bear was just starting to take shape. What started as a minor update to the existing logo (bottom right), quickly developed into a complete overhaul. While nearly four dozen different concepts were developed through this process, this small grouping shows the progression and various secondary logo ideas; essentially depicting the Bruin in every angle and mood imaginable. The top two are the genesis of what would become the final logo.
Once we settled on the front facing Bruin as the main logo, work began trying to find the right style. The challenge with a front facing bear is the angle of the face, it could easily look too much like a lion or wolf depending on the brow and muzzle placement. We started with an open roaring mouth concept, but it proved to be far too aggressive.
As you can see below, subtle changes through the various revisions make for significant changes overall.
The Life Cycle of the Bruin Rebranding
- A straight vector version of the initial top left sketch.
- A secondary concept featuring an open “roaring” mouth that was agreed to be a little too aggressive.
- A variation of the use of half-light/half-shadow approach.
- A variation of 3 but with a center light source, showing that when compared to the next version, how dropping the muzzle slightly can change his personality entirely
- Another variation in muzzle placement, as well as color usage.
- This was stage in which the look started to click with the whole team as a final concept.
- Narrowing of the face and facial features to give him a lean and mean presence. Aiming for a rounder appearance rather than a heart shaped one previously depicted.
- A minor adjustment to his “beard” and enlarging his facial features and Viola!
From one logo concept comes three variations of the Padua Athletics brand. It is important to have a tight design where the various elements can stand alone, and be just as recognizable as they are when they are presented all together. This gives the new Padua Franciscan High School athletic logo the versatility and originality that sets it apart from other athletic logos. The Bruin head can stand alone, as can the Padua Franciscan Bruins word mark. And then, the shield marries the imagery and the name together for a complete logo.
In the end, we are really proud of the final product. The new logo strikes a great balance of meeting all the goals and objectives of the project. More to come on the next phase of the Bruin logo, as we develop additional angles and positioning.
Get to Know: Gwen Ody
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I was born and raised in Akron. As a child, I was a little shit. One of my fondest childhood memories would probably be all the summers spent at the ball field for softball tournaments.
What is your educational background?
I went to Copley High School then continued my education at Ohio University where I received a B.F.A from their College of Fine Arts.
Name a hidden talent that most don’t know about.
I can flip my eyelids inside out.
Sorry we asked.
So, you recently told us that while you were in college you followed our blog religiously. Why is that?
There was something different about 427 Design. There were no boundaries for your design work. Like for the Western Open House, you guys branded cowhide with the 427 Design logo. I thought it was awesome… and I’m a vegetarian!
You’ve had the chance to dabble in a variety of projects since joining the team. Any important lessons you’ve learned since starting at 427 Design?
Yes. Don’t cut heads off while filming.
What do you hope to have accomplished in five years? Ten?
Five: To move out of my parents basement.
Ten: To have all my student loans paid off (donations are welcome).
Yeah, in five years you’ll be closing in on 30. You should probably look into getting your own place…
Three words that describe you:
2) Socially Awkward
That’s kiiiiinda four words, but its okay. Math is hard. We know.
Tell us what we can find on your iPod. What’s the most embarrassing song?
Mostly country music. Most embarrassing… MMMBop by Hanson.
Yeah, you shouldn’t tell people you like Hanson. You knew we were going to put this on the website, right?
Justin said there’s something about your hair that makes him hungry. What’s what all about?
Oh, my sock bun. He told me to take the bagel off my head.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Conjuring Chipotle whenever I wanted.
Yeeeahh! Would you be able to get Chipotle for, like, all of us whenever you wanted? Because if so, no need for that 90-day review. Keep up the great work! I’ll have a burrito bowl. Chicken, white rice, black beans… oh, sorry.
What inspires your creativity?
I am inspired by the world around me. Whether it’s seeing something in a blog post, shopping around a thrift store, reading or just clearing my head while I’m working out. I am constantly being inspired.
Share something about yourself that no one would ever believe?
I am terrified of toads.
Nah, we totally believe that. (And you’ll likely regret telling us, but thanks for sharing!)
For the past four years we have opened our doors, and our print lab, to the students of the University of Akron Myers School of Art for a hands-on, screen printing workshop. This two-night workshop is one of many opportunities open to design students as a part of the program’s Design Week activities. The poster that we design and print is specifically tied to their annual Fontoween event where each student is encouraged to dress up as their favorite font.
The poster-making process begins with the team at 427 Design collaborating on concepts for the new Fontoween design. A series of sketches are drawn and revised until the team agrees on the final poster concept. Then comes the creation of ink drawings, layers of textures, colorizing and finally setting up the files for film creation to be used in imaging the screens for printing.
When the students arrive at 427 Design they are coached through the steps of creating the art using software and given some pointers and best practices throughout the process. They are then guided into transferring the artwork to the screens for printing, mixing the colors, and finally, registering and printing the actual posters. This year’s poster included a series of four colors. Since two groups of students participate the workshop, different students attending each night, two unique colors are printed during each session.
“This workshop gives students who want to learn about screen printing an opportunity to get hands on experience in a more condensed, focused way… while ruining others equipment and supplies”, says Justin Tokos, Vice President and Creative Director here at 427 Design. Tokos, who has been teaching Production and Illustration at the University of Akron since 2008, coordinates the event each year with the head of the Graphic Design Department, Janice Troutman.
The annual Fontoween screen printing workshop is an event that our team really looks forward to each fall. It’s refreshing to spend a little time with such eager and energetic design students and we really like being able to share our space with them.
Welcome to the Team: Kevin Edition
What differentiates you from Kyle?
Not much, we are actually siblings — twin spies genetically engineered and sent by [edited for legal reasons] to infiltrate your company and corrupt your files. Our operation is going well — so far.
Where did you go to school?
Wellington Exempted Village public schools K-12
That sounds made up.
When is your birthday and what embarrassing thing about you can we ice on a cake?
October 31st — I know that has to set me up for something good, I have high expectations.
What terrifies you most about Justin Tokos?
Any type of food he tries to put on my desk. (Especially when he waits there and stares at me to see if I will or wont eat it.) Suspicious.
We were thinking you would say something more along the lines of “everything.”
Nope, just the food thing.
Aw, that’s cute.
So, what brought you to 427 — besides the extravagant pay check, two day work weeks and free kittens (we don’t have any of those things here, by the way)?
4 plus 2 plus 7 equals 13, the unluckiest number?
I’m not as good at math, but what does 4 + 2 + You’re Fired equal?
In “427 Design: The Movie”, who would play you?
[Edited for legal reasons], for obvious reasons.
Who is your favorite Ninja Turtle and why?
Venus, because she is the most hated.
I’ve never heard of her, but she sounds awesome.
So, what’s with all the vests?
They hold in my soul.
Don’t tell Justin.
The National Addy Awards
We are honored to be able to say that the poster(s) that we designed and printed for Flite Test won Gold at the National ADDY Awards, held in Phoenix, AZ on June 8th. The poster had won Gold, and Best of Show at the Akron ceremony in March, and Silver in the Fifth District ADDY Awards.
Flite Test is an Ohio-based organization created for people who are passionate about flight. We first worked in conjunction with Director/Executive Producer Chad Kapper to redesign the Flite Test logo. We wanted to maintain the essence of their former mark, while adding character and a handdrawn quality. We then took that logo and designed a series of two-color posters.
While some were printed on basic stock, most were screen printed in our print lab on unconventional materials — pages torn from hobby magazines, strips of balsa wood — we really tried to have fun with the whole process. It’s become a joke around our office that we’ll screen print on anything that will sit still long enough but we love making pieces that are a little bit unexpected and different.
We continue to be extremely grateful for clients that trust our crazy instincts, and are honored for our work to be recognized at every level of the ADDY awards this year. This is our third National award (we’ve won them in the past for our first Open House Poster and our rebrand of AAF Akron) and we hope it’s not our last. You can read more about the award from AAF Akron here.
Welcome to the team: Kyle Edition
So, Kyle — what’s it feel like to be the second of three “K-named” people we’ve hired in a month?
Kinda like being the middle child. But a lot better than being the third (sorry Kevin).
What differentiates you from Kaitlyn and Kevin?
That’s probably the hardest question honestly. I don’t really know Kaitlyn or Kevin that well yet.
Neither do we.
But Kaitlyn is shorter than me and Kevin is taller than me. I know that much.
Where did you go to school?
I went to Manchester High School in southern Summit County and I graduated from the University of Akron last May.
When is your birthday and what embarrassing thing about you can we ice on a cake?
My birthday is February 7th. The most embarrassing thing I have ever had happen to me in my life (so far) was when I accidentally used a women’s restroom in college and was almost caught, so take that as you will I guess. But I find it hilarious now.
Now. We’ll talk again on February 8th.
How do you feel about not having a window in your office?
Well, I do have a window.
But I am forced to absorb all my sunlight for the day secondarily through Brad’s office.
What brought you to 427 — besides the extravagant pay check, two day work weeks and free kittens (we don’t have any of those things here, by the way)?
I WAS told about the kittens so that played a big part until I found out it wasn’t true. But the history, talent, and expectations 427 has makes working here a fun and challenging experience.
In “427 Design: The Movie”, who would play you?
Who is your favorite BK Kid and why?
BK Kids may have been a little before my time, but from what I vaguely remember I’d say Kid Vid because of how much he loves videogames and his cool goggles.
Well, now that I feel officially old, can you explain to me how this Internet business works to me in five words or less?
A series of everlasting tubes.
So just like Discovery Zone?
Making of: 427 Bulb Sign
If you came to our 7th annual Open House on April 26th, you may have noticed a new addition to our office walls: a huge, lighted marquee sign consisting of our name, star logo and a curving arrow (it’s kind of hard not to notice).
When we first picked our Open House theme nearly a year ago (Lucky No. 7/Vegas) we almost immediately decided that we wanted to make a sign. Few things scream “Las Vegas” more than large, lighted signs, but we knew that we’d want something that could not only fit into our theme, but remain in our office for years to come. Our creative director, Justin, volunteered to take on the enormous task of building the sign, and one of our designers, Alexandra, designed it.
Here’s a peek into the process:
Most of our projects begin with extensive research. We had toured the Neon Sign Museum‘s boneyard on a trip to Vegas a few years back, so we started combing through the photos we took there for inspiration. We knew we wanted an arrow — and our logo was a given — but choosing the right typefaces and styles for the “427 Design” part was tricky.
We didn’t want the sign to feel too gimmicky or too themed; we wanted a classic and vintage look that would feel at home in our office.
While Alexandra was busy formulating the design, Justin was researching the construction end of the project. We initially considered making the sign from metal, but we quickly realized that wood was the most feasible option.
We knew we would be using bulbs (instead of neon), and we loved the dimensional quality of the signs with raised sides.
We designed the sign as vector art in Illustrator. We bought strings of simple, clear, round bulbs and measured one — after the final design was agreed upon, we took the same file and plotted out the placement of each light bulb.
With the final plans in hand, Justin enlisted the help of Brad’s son Bryan. Bryan and Justin traveled to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (their Alma Mater) to use their laser-cutting table. The bases for each section of the sign were cut from MDF, and a hole for each bulb was drilled.
This saved a lot of time and potential headaches, and ensured that our sign was as close to the original design as could be.
After the individual pieces were cut out, Justin began adding dimension to each one with strips of masonite. The straight sides were relatively simple: a few nails, some glue and a very precise measuring.
The curves were a different story. In order to get the masonite around the tight curves, he had to notch each strip so it wouldn’t break under the tension. After nailing and gluing the strips, he filled in the notched areas with body filler (thanks USC!) and sanded each one smooth.
If this sounds fun to you, let me introduce you to Justin’s fingerprints, which reappeared recently after being sanded completely smooth.
Although our sign was made from wood, we were able to mimic the look of the vintage, metal signs by using various painting techniques. After a few coats of primer, the entire sign was sprayed with a metallic silver spray paint.
The individual pieces were then painted with latex paint in their own color. Using a combination of scraping and sanding, Justin then distressed the pieces, paying special attention to the areas that would realistically have received the most wear (edges, around the bulb sockets, etc.).
Turning a string of lights into a lighted marquee sign was no small task. Each bulb had to be removed from its string while the wires were wound around the back of each part of the sign. After the sockets were placed into their corresponding holes, the bulbs were screwed back in, one at a time.
We even used a vintage glass-dying kit to tint some of the bulbs — yellow for the star, and a few random red and blue bulbs to give it a used, vintage look.
Hanging the Sign
After everything was cut, sanded, painted and wired, the sign was ready to be transported from Justin’s shop to the office. We decided that it demanded space of its own, so we cleared off a central wall near our sitting area. Hanging such a large sign was a challenge, but with a few helping hands, a lot of picture hanging wire and a few monkey hooks, we got it up and secure a few days before the Open House.
We’re so incredibly happy with the way the sign turned out. The first time we lit all 209, 5-watt bulbs — for a total of 1045 watts — we were in awe (we might have also melted the first dimmer we attached to it). It’s definitely transformed our space (and maybe our electric bill too) and will surely be the highlight of our office for as long as we’re in this space.
If you weren’t able to make it to the Open House this year, you can read more about what you missed here, or check out our photo album on Facebook. If you’d like to see the sign in person, stop by — we’d love to show it to you!