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Joe Rossi:  

Art Director, designer, illustrator, and beer connoisseur.


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

  1. A straight vector version of the initial top left sketch.
  2. A secondary concept featuring an open “roaring” mouth that was agreed to be a little too aggressive. 
  3. A variation of the use of half-light/half-shadow approach. 
  4. 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
  5. Another variation in muzzle placement, as well as color usage.
  6. This was stage in which the look started to click with the whole team as a final concept. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 

bruins-4In 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. 

We recently worked in conjunction with the University of Akron to create art for a Design Week, “Fontoween” poster. The five-color poster was printed at our studio by a group of design students, who, over the course of three days, learned the ins and outs of screen printing and hopefully had a good time in the process. Apparently learning can be fun, especially when it involves glow-in-the-dark ink, one particularly gnarly zombie and a whole lot of illustrated intestines.

Our illustrator, Joe, walks us through his illustration process and offers us a glimpse of what goes on every day inside those delicious, pink bwains of his.

Step 1:

I start with a basic concept and pull from various sources of inspiration and reference.  For the zombie pose, I photographed myself gnawing on my TV remote, which I will not show due to the unflattering nature of the photo. After a brainstorming session, I quickly sketched a rough concept of what I imagined for the poster.  This original concept served as my blueprint for the poster building process.

Step 2:

Next, I grabbed a set of Micron  pens and a fine point Sharpie and started to draw the zombie’s head. A majority of people might start with pencil and work up to markers — committing to the artwork is a big step —but I’ve always been comfortable skipping pencil all together.

Each body part was drawn individually (and on separate sheets of paper), so I would have more control of the final art as it was scanned into the computer.  After the head was done, I worked my way to his hands, neck and body — continuing to reference the original sketch as well as shots of my own hands.

Step 3:

The smooth, shiny intestine-like ‘Fontoween’ had to have a different feel than his rough, sketchy skin. Figuring out exactly how the word would work was one of my favorite parts of this project — it’s not often that my creative challenge for the day includes illustrating words out of a string of innards.

Using a sheet of vellum, I sketched the letters over the drawings of the zombie’s body, working it in through his hands and mouth. It was very important to me that I incorporated his hands, which eventually were utilized to form the ‘F’ and the ‘W’. Working with the twists, turns, and loops of the intestines, I created the other letter shapes.

Step 4:

After all of the illustrations were done, I scanned the artwork at 300 dpi and adjusted the levels for maximum contrast. I was left with a black outline of all of the artwork; using the pen tool, I blocked in the shapes and shadows and started to add different color layers to bring the walking dead to life.

Step 5:

Then, once all of the colors were done and trapping was accounted for, I went in with Photoshop brushes to give the artwork a slightly distressed look.

Finally, as the finishing touch, I put a bird on it.