I love writing these graphic design inspiration posts. Thinking about what has inspired me as a graphic designer is a fun trip in the nostalgia time machine.
This morning I am recalling the impact of the covers of Sports Illustrated. Each week a new issue was on the newsstands and each week I was captivated by the blend of the photography, the fonts of masthead and subheads and how these elements were used together.
When you look at these covers below you can easily see a connection between these ‘hero images’ of the newsstands with those we see so often on websites today.
On a personal note, the ‘No. 1 North Carolina’ cover remains my favourite SI cover of all time. At the time, the North Carolina blue seemed so uniquely representative of college sports and America to me, a young sports fan in 1983. Today, looking at it, looking at a young Michael Jordan, it just seems innocent and true. In 2017 we know all the warts of collegiate sports, back then everything was like that blue. Just fun and pure.
I am constantly amazed with the means and quality of how people in today’s world can express their creative vision. Take a look at this video about skateboarding on frozen sand in Norway.
Now consider that sentence again. A video about skateboarding on frozen sand in Norway. SKATEBOARDING ON FROZEN SAND IN NORWAY!
Everything in that video speaks of how people today can create on a level that just a short time ago was simply not possible. If you had seen that video 40 years ago on a projector in a classroom you might very well have been inspired to move to Norway.
And that inspiration is what, as a graphic designer, I find so empowering about being a creative today. No membership, privilege or qualification, is needed. At any moment I can click, swipe and see what is inspiring other creatives and in turn be inspired myself.
One thing I have learned as a graphic designer over the years is how flexible ‘branding’ is.
What branding is for Adidas is not what it is for the corner store. The same basic rules apply but how these rules are used are very different.
For instance, a common quip among creative professionals is that a brand is more than a logo. That’s true, for Adidas. But for many, such as a consultant with the home office, their logo is the primary and most important touchpoint of their brand.
For brands as pervasive as Adidas, we are long past making a snap, sub-conscious decision based upon first impression glance of their logo. But for that consultant, who is trying to land a contract, that first impression is indeed vitally important. For the consultant there is no signage, no interior design, no packaging, no counter space to help reinforce their brand. Their brand is, to a large degree, determined by the scope of their business.
Every graphic designer has one style which is their personal style. A style that speaks to them, influences their work, is their ‘go to’ style that they comfortable working with. For me, my personal style can be defined by clean lines, bold contrast, and sans serif fonts.
I wonder, did a childhood of riding the streetcars and buses of Toronto serve as an early creative influence? When I look at vintage roll signs of the TTC’s fleet, I feel an instant connection to both my personal past and my creative present.
A few years ago I bought from a auction house a vice that was used in the equipment room of the Montreal Canadiens in the old Forum. It was pretty cool: when it arrived it still had the saw dust in all the knooks and crannies from an untold how many number of sticks that had been cut down in it.
What is also cool is since then I have been getting this incredible full-colour catalogue from Classic Auctions, Canada’s leading dealer of authentic and vintage hockey memorabilia. For a graphic designer and hockey junkie, I feel like I am 10 years old and the new Christmas catalogue has just arrived at the door.
Always grabbing my attention are the vintage jerseys. Like this Chicago Blackhawks jersey from 1930. Isn’t that about the sweetest jersey you have ever seen? I am always cynical of the money grab when pro teams issue a new jersey, but if the Blackhawks ever issued this as a new third jersey, I might even be tempted to become a Blackhawks fan.