The Petmates are on the Job!

At any given moment, it's likely you'll find a neighborhood pet under the care of the Fuller kids (I think their record is six at one time). And, since they are often in competition with the many pet care companies out there, it seemed only fitting that they get their own professional identity to help even the playing field. The challenge was to make it look professional without looking too slick.

Meet the ChefRef

My son Caton loves to cook and he loves refereeing soccer so we call him the ChefRef. Naturally, I decided that he needed a logo (what 14-year old doesn't?). Unfortunately, when I brought it home to show him, he gave me a puzzled look as if to say "What the heck would I need that for?" Oh well, I think some day he'll appreciate having a graphic designer for a father.

Rescuing Reston, One Logo at a Time

I love living in Reston and jump at any chance to make a contribution through design. In this case, Reston National, the public one of Reston's two golf courses has been threatened with potential development. We just so happen to live across the street from the golf course and, like many Restonians, cherish the green space the course provides our community.

Catching wind of a grass-roots effort to stop the development of the course, I knew that a strong identity could help the fledgling group get noticed quickly. Offering my services pro-bono, I created a logo that references golf course flags, suggests the idea of green space, and uses a strong italic typeface to give it a sense of urgency. I extended the capital Rs to further emphasize the idea of forward movement and used a bright yellow border to attract attention.

Get involved at

Above: some alternate logo ideas

It's All Fun and Games

I've worked with Darcie Davis off and on for more than a decade and she never ceases to amaze me with her enthusiasm and intelligence. She's the type of person every smart business owner should be on a first-name basis with. Her latest venture is called Games and Team Building, which uses games and other activities to build better business teams.

I designed her logo (as well as the Huddle and Fortune Ice Breaker cards she sells on her site) with all the elements needed to capture the fun and dynamic products she offers. Have fun!

Above: Darcie's business cards were designed to be like a game card with a question on the front and the answer (Games and Team Building) on the back.

They Are Vicious!

Okay, not really, but that's the name my son's U13 boys soccer team (I'm the coach) chose last Fall's season. I was pushing hard for them to go with the Quakes or Natural Disasters after the Northern Virginia area experienced an earthquake and torrential rains and flooding, but they weren't having any of that.

The beauty of the name Vicious is that not a single kid on the team could even be remotely considered vicious. They're the total opposite in fact so I appreciated the irony. The only drawback was that some of the parents thought we were yelling "Fishes!" when we did our pre-game cheer. Oh well...

I really wanted to do shirts for the kids, but ended up using the logo on certificates and a get-well card for a parent who had brain surgery during the season. I'm hoping they go with it again this Fall so I can finally get those darned shirts!

Reston Soccer Sports a New Logo

Once again, my passions collide in this new logo for Reston Soccer Association. I guess being a coach, age-group commissioner, and board member wasn't enough for me, because I had to add the organization's visual identity to my list of duties (Actually, the other board members do a hell of a lot of work so this was the least I could do to keep up with them!). They have been a great group to work with and, while there have been some hiccups along the way (who knew patches could be so difficult?), it's been a great experience and so much fun to see the new logo on jerseys, magnets, fliers and more. My son is none too thrilled that only the travel players get color logos on their jerseys, but I don my coach's jersey with extra pride seeing that beautiful logo on it.

The old "Helvetica Man" logo

One of the challenges with a pro-bono (of course I didn't charge them!) like this is to follow the same process you would with a paying client. I deliberately presented it in a way that would show that I took the project seriously and had only come to the final idea through careful consideration. With no skin in the game, money-wise, it's easy for a pro-bono client to say "No thanks" and walk away. Thankfully, in this case my hard work paid off and, with a few minor tweaks, the idea I presented was the one that was approved. Below is my complete presentation — with explanations for each element in the new logo — in case you're interested. (Click on each to enlarge.)

Design and Nature: A Natural Fit

I’ve been working with the Friends of Reston for the last couple of years (see my earlier post on designing their logo) and was happy to design posters for their annual evening of nature-themed storytelling to benefit the Nature House. I’m a big fan of the Nature House (and especially appreciate their bathroom that is open to the public and is a perfect stopping point on my walks around Reston) so this was a perfect project for me.

I’d love to try my hand at storytelling some time, but until I get up the nerve (and have something interesting to say), I’ll have to settle for contributing by telling their story through design.

Beautiful* Logos for the Beautiful Game

I've been playing soccer since my elementary school days, but only in the last few years have my athletic and design lives intersected. Soccer logos are a funny thing. Most European club teams have very traditional crests or seals that I don't find terribly appealing. On the other hand, MLS (Major League Soccer) logos blend old-school European with a slicker, more American style.

My first soccer logo was for the Phoenix, my indoor team at the time. A flaming soccer ball seemed to fit the bill nicely and I chose type that had a funky, retro-futuristic feel. Definitely not traditional. I had to stop playing due to a series of injuries, but I hope the logo lives on.

The Blackhawks were my son's first team and my first opportunity to dip my toes into coaching (I was an assistant, but yelled like I was the real coach). After I designed it, I was bothered by the V-shape formed by the wings, but rationalized that it was a V for "Victory." Not that that helped us much.

I've been coaching the Reston Legends for the last couple years. The name is rather ironic since we haven't been very good (though we always seem to rise to the occasion come tournament time). I really like the way the soccer ball resembles a globe emerging from the dark of night.

The Wreckers are my son's - and my - futsal (a type of indoor soccer) team. I messed around with this one for weeks in my spare time, fussing over the chain and the type. At the last minute, I found out that the image area was more square than the rectangular shape I had been working with and I had to come up with something new in a few days. In the end, I love the way the ball emerges from the shield, blending old- and new-school sensibilities.

I'm currently working on a soccer league logo that is in the development stages. Fingers crossed, I'll unveil it soon.

*Beautiful might be stretching it a bit, but I couldn't resist it for the headline.

A Banner Day

I opened my email the other morning and was pleased to find an acceptance letter from the AIGA DC chapter saying one of my banner submissions was accepted for the Urban Forest Project in Washington DC. The Urban Forest Project is a campaign that creates awareness of the importance of trees, the environment and sustainability using banners on street lights and signs in the downtowns of cities like New York City, Denver and San Francisco. After several months, the banners are recycled into bags and auctioned to benefit a local nonprofit. Over 400 banners were submitted for the DC UFP campaign and only 100 were accepted to hang this Spring in the nation's capital. I'll keep you posted with more details as I get them.

The illustration I used is from an old book of engravings. I find it particularly fitting that a wood engraving is being used after all these years to promote the importance of trees.

The Tidewater School, Part 1

We homeschool our kids, but if we sent them to school, Tidewater is the type of place we'd send them. A nurturing environment where students' individual learning styles are respected, The Tidewater School is a true community. A desire to grow the school beyond its current size made them realize that they had outgrown their existing logo and identity.

Normally, I present logos on individual sheets, but after meeting with the educators from Tidewater, I knew they would be receptive to something a little different. Having heard that they put together photo albums at the end of each school year, I decided to put together my presentation in the form of an album.

I started out with a series of words (each on an individual page, but shown all together here) that set the tone for what we were trying to express/achieve with their new logo. Each logo I presented had to reflect all or most of these attributes.

I presented each logo concept as if it were a chapter in the album — with titles like you might find in a children's book — and showed how each logo might appear in color and on a t-shirt. I don't normally show logos this finished, but felt that several of the ideas (including my favorite) were better explained when they were more fully realized. You need to be careful not to show too much at this stage or you may end up stuck with an idea that hasn't been fully thought out. In all cases, I used blues and teals since these were colors they requested and I agreed that they made sense with their name.

Concept 1: Ebb and Flow
When you visit Tidewater, you get the sense that there is a lot of movement and energy in the place, so for the first concept, I used a visual representation of the name to suggest the dynamic nature of the school. I like the the idea that there could be several variations of the logotype to further reinforce this idea.

Concept 2: Water and Sky
When I think of the name Tidewater — and think of what the school is all about — there is a strong connection to the natural world. To me, this idea represents that connection: the symbol itself, with its flowing shapes, could be a sun or the ripples of the water. It can also be seen as a pinwheel, a reference to children and childhood discovery.

Concept 3: It Came From the Tidepool
I must admit that this was probably my favorite. As a symbol of childhood exploration and discovery, the idea of somehow representing a tidepool had intrigued me. Meanwhile, in an attempt to create a distinctive, iconic T for Tidewater, I started drawing squirmy lower-case t's on a napkin. The two ideas merged in a shape that, to me, clearly expressed the joy of finding some small creature in the depths of a tidepool (and putting it back after you've studied it a bit, of course).

Concept 4; Dance of the Sea Stars
Early on, the folks at Tidewater had requested that I try doing something with a sea star. I was a bit skeptical at first, but when I started working with it, I really liked the sense of movement and change they could convey, especially when used in multiples. Just a note: my kids rightly pointed out that sea stars aren't the brightest of the sea creatures and that an octopus might be a better symbol of marine intelligence. I had to admit that they had a point, but wasn't so sure that an octopus would make a good symbol for the school.

Next post: And the winner is...