All 28 pieces of my #Airmax series have now been posted. This project led to some fun extensions of the program including a current install at 21 Mercer in New York City. I'll share a complete wrap up post soon.
A series of letters as exploded diagrams. I'll be adding them semi-daily as I work my through the alphabet. Once I reach the end, I'll be doing a limited edition screened poster with all 26 characters. I've had a lot of requests for these as prints, so I've added them to my Society6 store. Available as prints, stretched canvases and throw pillows. Check them out here.
I had the privilege of contributing an illustration to the Kern and Burn book project. This book dives in with design entrepreneurs and the list of contributors, both writers and artists, is impressive. Tim Hoover and Jessica Heltzel have put together something really special and it all began as a passion project, something I have a soft spot for. I thought this would be an interesting project to take a look at, because honestly, it was one that I struggled with.
The brief I was given was to illustrate the concept "design is in demand." I started as I usually do, with lots of very rough sketches. Working in a group project like this where you know the other artist's work, can be tough. For me there is definitely an intimidation factor and the pressure to do something really good can work against you. That was the case on this one. Despite the slow start, I hit on an idea I liked a lot and thought was worth exploring. A shelf of products expressing the idea of "in demand." Like the mad rush to the grocery store when everyone hears that the snow is coming. I worked from a really simple sketch, but dove into vectors pretty early, because the style I was going to use was very simple.
Once I got it this far I realized it was not illustrating what I wanted it to. I was trying to juxtapose fluff and style versus real design and problem solving, but it was becoming a different idea and was clouding the core idea. Visually it didn't express "demand" but rather emptiness or missed opportunity. In the middle of this I had another idea and thought it was worth the detour to see if there was anything there
I wanted to explore the idea of designer as superhero. Like Batman, equipped to solve the problem and being urgently called. Despite it just about always being a good idea to work in a Batman reference, at about this point, I was really struggling. The brief was so simple, but all of my ideas felt off the mark. I was pressuring myself to do things that were more showy. Every simple idea I had, I discarded because it didn't feel like "enough." I went back to a few earlier sketches to see if there was anything there.
I grabbed a book off my shelf and tore out one of the pages. I added half of the word "design" in post. I thought this was pretty cool visually and getting closer, but didn't quite feel on the mark either. "GN" is in demand? I wanted to push a little farther.
I had an early idea of these butterfly nets, reaching up to try and capture a paper airplane. I worked over top of some thumbnails in rough vectors and did a few different takes on it. I really liked the simplicity of this. There was a feeling of pursuit or capture that I thought was really strong. I did a final execution.
I actually sent this to Tim and Jess as a final. About an hour after I sent it, I wasn't happy with the final composition. The directions of the nets felt haphazard and the piece didn't have much energy or direction.
I liked the feel of this much better. I submitted this as my final. I think the lesson for me here was not to over-think. Trust your gut and do what you do well. If you get a minute, please go support this great project.
I recently worked with Money Magazine on their "101 Ways to Build Wealth" issue. We explored several concepts, before landing on the idea of showing the word "WEALTH" in various build states, as if it was being constructed a step at a time.
This is a great example of a creative client coming to the table with a great idea. The JJ's brand is very much about homage, heritage and passion. Owner Jon Luther, Marketing Director Brandy Newton and I began talking about this approach a few months back based on Jon's desire to give a huge glimpse into the spirit of the brand. The Ad includes lots of personal keepsakes of Jon's, some great junkin' finds and lots of JJ's brand objects. Kevin Chelko took the shot and Jon, Brandy and I got to do all the arranging. It was a fun shoot.
Be on the lookout for the next Charlotte Magazine to see the ad in print and be on the lookout for this idea applied in some interesting ways at JJ's and online.
I was commissioned by WIRED UK to create a headline and drop cap for an article on European Supercars. The type needed to feel like an automotive manual of exploded diagrams and pick up on elements that felt like a car. It was to be overlaid on a photo, so all of it needed to work in one color. One of the more challenging exploded type pieces I've tackled, but several headaches later, I'm happy with the results.
For those of you that have followed me for any time, you'll know the MAX100 Project has been a huge part of the last few years of my life – professionally, creatively and personally. I'm thrilled to have had those efforts embraced and supported by the brand that inspired it all. Nike has presented me with the opportunity take my MAX100 approach and to explore the entire classic AirMax range (AirMax 1, 90, 95 & 97).
Over the next several weeks we will be releasing explorations that express the design roots, color story, cultural significance and reinvention of the new engineered mesh product. I've been working closely with the Nike Global Digital team, developing this series and getting things ramped up to continue over the coming weeks.
I worked with the Symantec account team at Leo Burnett to create some title cards for their new "Conversations with Small Defenseless Animals" series. The brief was to capture each of the main animal characters in a simple, graphic way and create a flexible title card / badge. You can see all the spots on Art Director, Jason McKean's site. Thanks to Topher Cochrane and Jason for bringing me on for this one.
During my 3-month stint on-site with Facebook early last year, I had the chance to meet and work with filmmaker and motion designer, Nate Salciccioli. Nate had come down from Oregon and we were working on a few of the same projects. The guy has crazy skills in both film/motion and traditional design. I was excited to get to work on his personal identity system this past year.
The entire system was built around his site moniker, "Nate Says Hello." This was a way for people to quickly remember his URL and work around his intimidating last name. The speech window became a metaphor for Nate as a filmmaker to offer his unique point of view, and being a skilled designer himself, set him up to use the identity as a creative platform in print and motion.
I was honored to be awarded a Gold and Best of Show for the JJ's Red Hots brand program. The most satisfying part was to share the evening with my wife, and the JJ's team that works so hard to make the brand what it is everyday. Thanks again to Jon, Brandy, Melissa, Mark and the whole JJ's team and to the the AAF and partners for putting on a great event. Saturday knocked it out of the park with the event materials.
I've been a big fan of all the great shirts over at United Pixelworkers for a while now. I had the pleasure of designing a shirt for them this month and it's now up for pre-order. Go check it out and grab one.
I recently completed a set of badges for game retailer, GAME in the UK. I was commissioned by TBWA London and it was a pleasure working those guys. Maybe the best part of the project was that they called sketches "scamps," which we need to adopt here in the states ASAP.
The set of Badges I created for Vulture(dot)com's 25 most devoted fan base series were picked up and used in the print edition of New York Magazine. Love seeing these little guys in print! Click for a bigger view.
As part of Rock the Vote's viral campaign, they've invited artists and designers to create a #GoVote image and share across social media. So...#GoVote
I worked with Jen Cotton and Steve Motzenbecker at New York Magazine to create user badges for the Vulture 25 most devoted fanbases. I'm a huge pop culture junkie and I squeeze it into my work any chance I get, so this was a blast to get to work on. It was a super quick turn and I had only a few days to pull these off, but I'm really happy with the final set. Thanks to Jen, Steve and the team for sending this one my way and good suggestions on some of the trickier ones (Full disclosure: I had no idea what a Lil B was). Go grab your badge now.
I think most people have that drawer in their house. Full of forgotten stuff, random objects and various trinkets. We've always called it the "junk drawer." This series will be taking a look into these tucked away spaces in some of my favorite people; real, not so real, and somewhere in between. I love the challenge of trying to identify characters by their objects and possessions. Each small thing tells a part of the story. I'll be updating here and posting to twitter so you can follow me there @mattstevensclt.
The toughest part of this one was just narrowing down what I would include. You can pick up a lot of junk on your path to moral bankruptcy. I had a lot of fun doing this one and including nods to some of my favorite parts of the show.
One of the most enduring characters of the modern era and a personal obsession that I've never quite outgrown. Starting with this guy was a no-brainer. The bigger mystery is just what this dude keeps close at hand in that messy drawer by the bed.
This is a great opportunity to see a comprehensive design project from an angle that we as creatives rarely get to see. Rather than just a slideshow of pretty pictures, we'll be on site, sampling the food and beverages, touring the space and hearing about the design process building this brand from both the designer perspective (me) and the client perspective (Jon). And don't worry, there will be some pretty pictures too. Hope to see you all there.
Register for the event here