Thursday, July 26, 2007

Java Jazz

Here is a design I did a few years ago and redid for my wife's 30 birthday.

We love coffee and I have a dream to open a coffee shop some day. This would be the name of it and the logo or some version of if I ever bring this dream to reality.

Anyway... for my wife's 30 birthday I turned our house into the coffee shop for her and her guests. It was pretty cool. The invitations had this image on them:

Over all it was a pretty cool party and a way to see part of my dream come true and let my wife enjoy a coffee shop all to herself with her friends.

Doing these type of things is another way to keep sharp as a designer and do some fun things if you don't get the chance to every day.

I also created Java Joe the mascot. He looks like this:
One day I hope to bring these to life for a real jazz cafe, but until than I will enjoy doing the design.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Where does inspiration come from? As a designer it is important to find out what inspires you and what helps you create. For me there are a few different things.

  1. Podcasts – With the invention of the iPod, podcasts have become a new way for me to get inspired. There are many out there dealing with design, art and many other subjects, but my favorites have become the old time radio shows. Just listening to these are fascinating. The ideas and thoughts put forth in them. The good vs. evil. The “wow” factor of Sci-fi that has become real in some respects and is still a long way off in others. The stories get my imagination going and help me to come up with new ideas.
  2. Music – Music has always been one of my inspirations. It helps me to relax and let my mind wander down other paths it has not gone down. My favorites for inspiration are; jazz, trance music (Enigma type), African (hey I grew up there), movie sound tracks and others like Pink Floyd.
  3. Miniature Games – Yup. I’m a geek. I find miniature games to be very cathartic for me. I like to buy and paint the pewter minis and make the terrain for them than hang out with a friend and play a wargame. My favorites are from Privateer Press. They also have some very cool art. Below is one of the minis I painted.

  4. Reading – I love to read a good book. My wife says I devour them. My favorite authors are J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I really enjoy fantasy and find I enjoy philosophy too. The problem I find when I read is I get lost in the book and will read to the exclusion of all else until the book is done. I find though that a good book will get my brain working and take me down new paths and to new ideas.
  5. Other Artists – Artists are a breed unto themselves. We see the world in ways others don’t. We try to capture feeling, emotions, thoughts and ideas on paper. Seeing how others do this helps me to understand how to do it and gives me ideas about how to try to do it. We see things in different ways. An example seeing things differently:
These are my five top inspirations. Looking at them makes me realize they are all a type of art. Each thing comes from someone’s imagination that someone else has inspired.

What’s your inspiration?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Wine Label

I'm a member of the How forums and found this challenge in the Sandbox section:

Here's the task: Design a new label for Robert Mondavi's new (fictitious) line of Zinfandel wine, "838 Zin."

The details:

The Mondavi Winery corporation is looking to capitalize on the recent explosion in United States' 21-35 year-old wine-buyer market. Young and hip, this generation of wine buyer has discovered/rediscovered wine as the social lubricant of choice, a more sophisticated alternative to beer or mixed drinks.

The Mondavi corp is looking to launch a new line of red Zinfandel, calling it "838 Zin" for it's fun abbreviation, and the fact that only 838 cases will be produced each year.
So I played around with Photoshop and Illustrator and came up with this:My thought was to go for a more sophisticated drinker. One that enjoys art, aesthetics and the labels on the wine bottles. I'm one of those that likes to wander through the wine stores and look at the labels and see which ones I think are cool. I thought this one would attract me for its combination of modern feel with the older watercolor looking background art.

I also took this challenge was to try something I don't normally get to do. In design I find it is good to try something new to stretch your mind and your creative muscles. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said:
Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.