Case Studies

Jay Song Studio

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Jay Song Studio is the purpose-built home studio of audio recording engineer and music producer, Justin Newton, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Justin is my brother and I’ve enjoyed working with him on various iterations of his professional branding over the years, including jnTracks Productions, Railroad Avenue Recording, and his current business name Justin Newton Audio.

Seeking to brand the new studio as a destination for great music records, Justin chose the new name as a play on his first initial and the idea of a songbird. Together we developed an elegant, flexible, and unique logo system based on this songbird-audio concept, refreshed and relaunched his website under the Jay Song Studio moniker, and even developed a simple introductory video to promote the new studio.

 

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Logo & Brand

Procreate using Apple Pencil, Adobe Illustrator

The primary Jay Song Studio logo comprises an abstraction of an audio waveform in the shape of a silhouetted songbird, with the brand name trailing in its wake. Contextual flexibility is achieved using multiple “lockups” (arrangements) of the “Jay Wave” logomark and the “Jay Song Studio” logotype, of which both pieces can also be used independently.

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CONCEPT PHASE — Early concept sketches inspired the visual idea of the audio waveform in the shape of the silhouetted jay, but the final design concept did not emerge before thoroughly developing several other, similar but distinct design directions.

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LOGOMARK — We explored numerous approaches for conveying the abstract visual combination of a jay and an audio waveform. The final shape is both simple (to afford scalability) and original (to promote brand ownership), all while remaining objectively recognizable as both a bird and a sound wave, according to a small group of polled viewers.

LOGOTYPE — We simultaneously experimented with typographical iterations, with the goal of visually integrating the logotype with the audio waveform metaphor without over-sacrificing readability. Our final selection accomplishes this with vertically elongated letterforms, and implied small-caps and drop-caps, to help parse the words without spaces. Subtly rounded corners complement the smooth curves of the Jay Wave logomark.

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COLORS — The Jay Song Studio brand colors come directly from the existing Justin Newton Audio brand, which remains the business name behind both brands. The implementation of the brand colors further enhances the visual metaphor of the audio waveform, as it is typically rendered in professional audio software.

 

Website Design Refresh

Squarespace, Customizations using CSS, HTML, and JavaScript, Adobe Photoshop

Photography, Video Production

Additional Photography by Derek Heidemann

I had previously worked with Justin to update the design of his existing website. With the rebranding under Jay Song Studio, we refreshed the website a second time, taking new photography of the new studio, adding a promotional video (see below), and using the opportunity to clean up some of the language and simplify the path for new clients to reach his business.

 

Promotional Video

Videography, Video Production

Music by Derek Heidemann

We also created a very simple promotional video to introduce Jay Song Studio on the site. I consulted on concept and script, and then handled lighting, direction, shooting, and video editing for the project. Music was provided by Derek Heidemann and edited by Justin himself.

AANE Twenty Years

AANE 20th Anniversary

"Celebrating 20 Years" Logo Adaptation
"20 Years, 20 Faces" Logo & Artwork

20th Anniversary Gala Campaign

www.aane.org

The Asperger/Autism Network (AANE) is a non-profit organization working with individuals, families, and professionals to provide information, education, community, support, and advocacy to people with Asperger profiles or similar autism spectrum profiles, with the goal of helping them to build meaningful, connected lives.

In 2016, AANE celebrated their landmark 20th anniversary. Together we developed not just one, but two adaptations of their existing logo, as well as invitations, fund-raising materials and program artwork for their annual benefit gala, specially themed "20 years, 20 faces" to celebrate the diversity of AANE's people, resources, and accomplishments over its twenty years in operation.

"Celebrating 20 Years"
Logo Adaptation

Adobe Illustrator

The first objective was to adapt a variation of the existing logo to specifically celebrate AANE's 20th active year.

The direction was two-fold:
1. "Simple. Quality without being staid. Nothing cutesy."
2. "Don't overpower the messages of the existing logo: modern, active, creative, moving forward, and community."

My approach was to work within the existing framework, subtly building the "20 years" message cohesively into the original artwork.

A few iterations of the "20" glyph adaptation that we considered, including the winning icon.

Many organizations insert large numerals into their logos to celebrate landmark anniversaries, but I felt it was less typical to do so with such a well-intergrated, subtle, modern feel, and this was well received by the AANE team.

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After the "20" glyph adaptation was approved, it was put to work in this simple banner, "Celebrating 20 years," to be used for all communications related to AANE's 20th year, and especially for fund-raising materials therein. For contexts in which it was important to also include the regular AANE logo, a monochromatic teal version of the "Celebrating 20 years" banner was used to reduce the perceived redundancy of both logos within the same frame.

 

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"20 Years, 20 Faces"
Logo & Artwork

Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop

The AANE team decided on a clever theme for their 20th annual benefit gala: "20 years, 20 faces"—a concept for celebrating the diversity of AANE's people, resources, and accomplishments over its twenty years in operation.

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To bring the "20 faces" metaphor to life we created a mosaic of twenty "faces" comprising AANE, toned with brand colors to emphasize diversity, and arranged uniquely for different contexts. These "faces" are not all literally portraits; while they include staff, beneficiaries, contributors, and relevant historical figures, there are also relevant book covers and even works of art by members of AANE's artist collaborative.

 

20th Anniversary Gala Campaign

Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign

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Client Feedback

 
 

"Tye’s work more than exceeded expectations; everyone was thrilled. Despite sometimes confusing directions, Tye had the flexibility to grasp the project’s moving pieces and last minute changes. Working with Tye is easy, and there is more creativity, sharing of ideas, and feedback than with in-house/corporate designers."

— Sheri Singer, Campaign and Special Events Manager, Asperger/Autism Network (AANE)

 

CURE

CURE

Logo

Adobe Illustrator

The Emergency Ultrasound Division of Massachusetts General Hospital tasked me with designing a logo for their new research and education program moniker: CURE (Center for Ultrasound Research and Education at MGH).

The logo's purpose was to help distinguish the educational efforts of the department independent from, though still affiliated with, MGH. It needed to look great on academic certificates going to medical professionals for completing ultrasound education courses developed by the CURE team, and it needed to work harmoniously beside the existing MGH shield logo.

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CONCEPT PHASE — Following research into the organization and designs used by many similar institutions, we began with the initial concept phase, wherein many experiments and iterations are roughly rendered and quickly abandoned.

After settling on an overall direction—strong, clean letterforms, using a few rippling strokes to represent the familiar "pie" shape of an ultrasound monitor—came another phase, exploring typographical arrangement and additional embellishing elements, which were eventually all dropped for a more minimal approach.

FINAL DESIGN PHASE — After narrowing down to a final concept, we explored several different treatments for the ultrasound monitor abstraction—appropriately placed on the letter U, allowing the letter to even be thought of as the ultrasound probe itself, producing the sound wave downward.

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FINISHING DETAILS — The final touches were rendered with precision, using the curve and angle of the ultrasound monitor shape to give the letterforms continuity and ownership to the brand.

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FINAL TYPOGRAPHY & COLOR — Because of CURE's affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital, it was most appropriate to use color that closely matches that of the MGH brand's blue/teal.

MLD Productions

MLD PRODUCTIONS

Brand refresh
Website

MLD Productions is a Boston area, startup digital media production company with a heavy focus on video, but also audio and photography.

The MLD team approached me to build their website, and in the process we determined that their logo needed a refresh to improve its readability.

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Brand Refresh

Adobe Illustrator

THE PROBLEM — The original MLD monogram had no separation between letterforms; the right stem of the M coincided with the stem of the L, which also directly connected with the D. This lack of distinction between letters lead many viewers to see "MD" instead of "MLD." The challenge was to eliminate this readability flaw while preserving the established aesthetic.

THE WINNING SOLUTION — Resolving this problem elegantly took thorough experimentation and iteration, eventually resulting in subtle separations between the letters that don't completely break the unified, monogram feel. The L is distinguished not just by separating its stem from the M, but by raising the baseline of the M (along with its central dip) to match that of a new break in the stem of the D. Each new gap between strokes is carefully measured to exactly the same tight distance, helping to maintain that cohesive, "attached" appearance.

COLOR ADAPTATION — To further establish the complete shape of the L,  the white-to-orange ombre is adjusted to the right, now beginning just within the D. To counter-balance this new asymmetry of color, and to supply extra nuance, an inverse ombre is optionally applied to the bounding box.

EMBELLISHMENT — A dim shading now fills the bounding box, intended to provide the monogram better contrast over light backgrounds, and to draw more attention to the concept of the box as representative of a movie screen.

 

Website

Squarespace, HTML, CSS, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

PROCESS — The MLD Productions website was built using the Squarespace platform. This allowed for easy, fast development of a beautiful, rich site, that's easily updated and maintained by the MLD crew, on a very modest budget. It also provides a mobile-responsive structure with minimal effort, which means that everything looks and works great on any device. Despite the guiding nature of the Squarespace framework, there is little limitation of stylistic control or the addition of custom elements not included in the platform, given knowledge of web development tools.

STYLE AND LAYOUT — The site layout was structured around MLD's work, with the shape and behavior of each section defined by its content. Interrupted only by fine lines of white and orange—MLD's brand colors—the content is delivered front and center. The result is a clean, smooth, full-frame layout, affording a distraction-free website experience not unlike that of a personal theater. On supporting web browsers, the use of parallaxing background images (which scroll more slowly than other content) creates an illusion of depth, heightening the immersive, cinematic experience, befitting a company like MLD Productions.

Michael Stec

MICHAEL STEC EP

Logo
Album Artwork

michaelstec.bandcamp.com

Michael Stec is a singer-songwriter, native to Pennsylvania and trained by Berklee College of Music. This logo and artwork was invented for his debut, self-titled EP, which to me evoked a combination of rustic and urban culture, with a soulful yet slightly whimsical expression.

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Logo

Adobe Illustrator

CONCEPT & LETTERING — No typeface was used, opting instead for a unique, handwritten style, implicit of Stec's own honest and personal approach to his craft. To add personality, the M and S were twisted into the shape of Stec's semi-profile, traced from a photograph of him playing guitar in the recording studio, and a few additional strokes were all that was needed to complete the minimalist illustration of Stec's facial features. These strokes were reduced further, as if his left eye was cast in a shadow by dramatic lighting.

ILLUSTRATION — The trace of Stec's hand and guitar neck were added as an option, with the intention of allowing the logo to work with or without them, and perhaps at times even without the face.

EMBELLISHMENT & REDUCTION — The flexibility of the logo elements creates an identity system that can adapt beautifully in widely disparate contexts—from an album cover (using the full, guitar-in-hand illustration), to a guitar pick (with only the abstraction of Stec's silhouette remaining, after completely reducing the logo to just his initials).

 

EP Album Artwork

Adobe Illustrator, Photography, Adobe Photoshop

The full logo is the centerpiece of Stec's self-titled EP album artwork, wherein it is set very simply in white over closely photographed woodgrain from the back of an acoustic guitar, while vignetting and drop shadow are cast to add a sense of dramatic stage lighting.

Central Falls Realty

Central Falls Realty

Logo

Adobe Illustrator

www.centralfallsrealty.com

Central Falls Realty in Dover, NH, formerly a franchise of Century 21, sought a new logo to establish themselves as a newly independent company, but without eroding familiarity with their established customer base.

Left: The Century 21 logo, under which the company formerly worked as Century 21 Central Falls. Right: The new logo for Central Falls Realty.

CONCEPT — To accomplish the goal of reminiscent yet distinct from their former parent company's logo, the still-appropriate underlying concept of a warm-gold roof was carried over, this time styled with more modest, residential architecture. To afford the new logo a stronger sense of ownership by the new company, the illustration is completed with a waterfall, inspired by Cocheco Falls, a relevant regional landmark located near the company office on central avenue in downtown Dover, NH.

COLOR — While the concept of the warm-gold roof was borrowed, a brighter shade of gold was chosen to better compliment the lively blue of the falls illustration.

TYPOGORAPHY — The typeface Palatino was chosen for its nuanced, architectural serifs, and the words of the company name are stacked, right-aligned, providing visual stability that is representative of the reliability one expects from both their home and their realtor.

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Many variations of the falls illustration, and a few type arrangements were explored before a final decision was made on the simple strokes with right-aligned type.

Here are just two of many alternate arrangements that were considered during our process by not ultimately used.

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Forging Reverie

Forging Reverie is the dynamic, expressionist rock band for which (disclaimer) I played the various roles of vocalist, lyricist, co-songwriter, and essentially also manager and publicist, for all eight of its active years.

As resident designer, I also assumed that responsibility, alongside that of creative and art director for all of the band's brand and promotional artwork, spanning two LPs, two EPs, and with a concept for a third, incomplete album in the works. The most ambitious of these projects was the LP Motion Canvas, for which most of the following work was designed.

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Logo

Adobe Illustrator

CONCEPT — The name Forging Reverie is meant as an expression of the artistic process—literally, "reverie" (i.e. inspiration, rumination, musing) "forged" (culled, crafted, sculpted) into songcraft. The contrasting tones of the two words reflect the band's habit of mixing aggressive energy with ethereal melodic vignettes. Throughout the logo, this dichotomy is echoed with intention by sharp, angular forms juxtaposed with flowing curves.

LETTERING — The letterforms were designed entirely without the use of typefaces, drawn in disparate, representative styles—rigid, serifed "Forging" over fluid, sans-serif "Reverie." In both words, the letters alternate in size, inspired by musical rhythm.

LINE ART — The minimal "FR Emblem"—comprising just the "FR" initials and the "flame/water" line-art to their left—was designed to optionally stand on its own.

Motion Canvas LP artwork
& product art

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
White body makeup, acrylic paint
Portrait photography by Chehalis Hegner

The artwork for the LP Motion Canvas is the result of ambitious planning, collaboration, and budgeting. The final artwork selected for the cover, alongside several alternates, was composed before all of the materials were brought together.

CONCEPT — The "motion canvas" concept is illustrated by painting the band members white, as if part of a living canvas, with the logo painted by hand onto the fabric above. The white "canvas" backdrop is actually a giant patchwork of burlap, chosen for its affordability and thicker, more visible texture, in lieu of actual canvas' finer grain.

LETTERING — The album title is spelled in the foreground with beams of light apparently cast by an old-fashioned projector, held by guitarist Derek Heidemann. This effect was created using a technique called light painting; individual letter forms were individually photographed, using long-exposures and drawing with a flashlight in a dark room, then collaged together digitally.

On-Disc Artwork
& Hand-Built Packaging

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
Acrylic Paint

SLEEVE FRONT — These simple DIY sleeves were decorated by laying them all out in a grid, and spattering them in a "Pollockian" all-over pattern, resulting in a unique design on each.

SLEEVE BACK — The backs of the sleeves bear the basic liner-notes, arranged and printed on a custom label, and adhered by hand.

LIMITED RUN — To top it off, only 100 of these were made, each hand-numbered on a backside corner. The result is an inexpensive, do-it-yourself, labor of love, where each unit is unique.

DISC — The on-disc artwork is an arrangement of the hand-painted Forging Reverie logo above a warped treatment of the light-painted album title, over a real canvas texture photographed separately.

 

Motion Canvas LP Poster

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
White body makeup, acrylic paint
Portrait photography by Chehalis Hegner

The Motion Canvas poster was designed to celebrate the release of the album, using alternative images that didn't make their way into the album art design. A print of the poster was included in the bundle with physical disc purchases of the album.

 

Digital Album Booklet

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
White body makeup, acrylic paint
Portrait photography by Chehalis Hegner

Taking advantage of the alternative album art images, this rich digital album booklet was designed to carry the lyrics and album production notes in a digital format, to be included as a PDF with digital downloads of Motion Canvas.

Motion Graphics

Photography, Adobe Photoshop
White body makeup, acrylic paint
Portrait photography by Chehalis Hegner

These motion graphics (or "cinemagraphs") were created for the title banner of Forging Reverie's website for the Motion Canvas release; the two images would alternate every several seconds on the site (see video below). This animated medium allows for the painted version of the band's logo to be "drawn" in the air, and the beams of light cast from the projector to actively shimmer in motion as they spell the album title in the foreground—effects intended create a feeling of depth and "life," evoking curiosity about the album's concept.

PROCESS — The animations were created frame by frame, using Adobe Photoshop—working backwards, erasing pieces of the painted logo, each frame—and drawing each beam of light from the projector and then adjusting its opacity, manually, for each frame.

Website

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Wordpress, HTML & CSS
White body makeup, acrylic paint
Portrait photography by Chehalis Hegner

PROCESS — Forging Reverie's official website was built using Wordpress. Starting with the foundation of a highly-flexible, blank Wordpress theme called Thematic, great control was achieved in styling a unique child-theme for the website.

CONCEPT — The site was designed alongside the release of the band's album Motion Canvas, so the aesthetic of the site is based on the same imagery as the album art. Site content is displayed on a giant, blank canvas, with the band members above, painted all white, as if, themselves, part of a living canvas.

One Idea EP Artwork

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator
Original photograph by Sophia J

The semi-acoustic, live EP One Idea was released as bonus material with an expanded edition of Motion Canvas. The imagery corresponds with the lyric quoted in the artwork: "You're a bird without legs and I'm afraid of heights."

 

After the Crash Album Artwork

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

After the Crash is an unreleased album, named after Forging Reverie's first song written together. After a lengthy period of lineup changes and growth, the title and artwork were intended to signify a "re-ignition" of sorts, with a planned revisitation of the band's earliest material, updated and joined by new music.

The image is literally the surreal appearance of an open flame with its color inverted. The goal was to capture the essence of the band’s energy and drama, while touching on this concept of transformation. The lyric quoted—from the reinvented song In Effigy—corresponds with this imagery and, along with the band's logo, stands out by inverting the color a second time.

DIY Apparel

Shirts: Spray-bottle Bleach & Stencil
Hoodies: Hand-operated Silkscreen & Stencil

THE GOAL — Budget merchandise with an “indie” appeal.
Two custom methods for branding fabric by hand were invented, using stencils of Forging Reverie's “FR emblem." A side benefit of both techniques is that each piece results in a unique iteration of the design.

SHIRTS — Bleach is sprayed through the stencil onto the garment. Excess bleach from the stencil is dripped and spattered onto the shirt, creating a unique pattern on each.

HOODIES — The stencil is taped to a silkscreen in order to print each logo by hand. The black hoodies get an intentionally misaligned double print of yellow over orange, while the white get an extra unique spattering of blue, similar to that of the shirts.

The Speed of Film

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THE SPEED OF FILM

Logo
Album Artwork
& Photography
Concert Poster
Apparel

The Speed of Film is a now defunct contemporary rock band from the seacoast region of New Hampshire. (The moniker has been more recently used by at least one other music group.) Their name—a pun on ISO or light-sensitivity of photographic film—and songwriting style called for a cinematic, storytelling theme, and the band members were most interested in something with a classic, “retro” vibe.

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Logo

Adobe Illustrator

This logo was created for the release of their debut album, Vows and a Party, and was inspired by old-school, dramatic film typography, and treated for that clichéd, “silver screen” look—a style achieved by pairing the aptly named Sad Films typeface with the deliberately saccharine Zapfino script.

 

Vows and a Party LP

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

CONCEPT — For the album artwork and package design for their debut album, Vows and a Party, The Speed of Film sought to take their retro-cinematic storytelling a step further with the nostalgia of town fair rides. All photographs were taken specifically for the project. To heighten the retro/nostalgic vibe, photos were treated to look as though they were taken with an old fashioned Holga toy camera.

Jewel Case Insert

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

JEWEL CASE INSERT — The jewel case insert booklet features a different fair ride on each panel, including the album cover. Not all of the rides depicted are old fashioned; it was decided that this anachronism fit the storytelling concept of the album by making an interesting statement about life experiences passing into memories with age.

 
 

Jewel Case & Disc Artwork

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

INSIDE — The inside of the jewel case CD-tray features the “Thank You” section (traditionally used by band members to thank collaborators, friends, family, and fans for their support), symbolically hidden underneath the CD, for listeners to discover as they lift the disc to play it for the first time.

DISC — The on-disc artwork stands apart from the rest, uniquely designed to resemble an old fashioned playbill with the album track names listed in lieu of the programme for a show.

Concert Poster: "Vows and a Party" album release

Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

This poster already had a prescribed theme in promotion of The Speed of Film’s debut album release show. Naturally, an unused photograph from the Vows and a Party album art shoot was appropriate. Supporting acts had their own logos.

Apparel (Two Designs)

Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop

We decided on two concepts for apparel artwork, and it wasn't important for it to directly draw from the album theme, but they did want a sense of humor conveyed.

RED — Old school theater scene, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000, with band member's heads silhouetted in seats (like the characters of MST3K), and the band logo on the silver screen. Simple line art was drawn in Illustrator and distressed texture was applied in Photoshop to give it a worn-in, well-loved look.

Black — A deliberately cliché, 4-up band member head shots arrangement, using reductive, clipart-worthy caricatures of each band member, boiled down to each their cartoon essence; Justin Newton's square frames and lip ring, Justin Walker's male-pattern balding hairline (as personally requested), Adam Poliquin's backward cap and goatee, and Dave Blakney's contrasting lack of distinguishing features.