A day late posting this project from design school days gone by. Deadlines in the current era were looming, and if you know me, I refuse to miss deadlines unless there’s a very good reason.

This project was created in my final year of Graphic and Visual Design training, an ode to the programme we were just completing. I really wish I had kept all the course assignment briefs since I don’t really remember the specs we were given on this one.

Graphic design poster

I used gouache tempera, technical pen, and airbrush for it. I had a thing for triangle borders at the time. I believe we had to incorporate tools of the trade, so you can see a right angle, pencil, registration mark, a portfolio case, and of course, hand-rendered typography. I’m not sure what the globe was all about, perhaps I was thinking I was going to conquer the design world? Travel?

gd closeup

This piece I was super proud of because it was chosen by my instructors to be in a student grad show at a local design agency in Vancouver.

gd detail

But that’s not all! After that show, my piece somehow got seen by the board of the Vancouver Sea Festival and I was selected to create their official poster for the year (1991), based on this piece. My first paying  design gig, right out of school!

full poster

Again with the triangles, this time morphing into a wave= mountains, trees, and ocean waves. I thought that was pretty clever.

poster detail

Again the typography was hand-rendered. I don’t have the final artwork I created for it, (this piece above is the final printed poster) but it was all done on an acetate overlay with paint and technical pen. I think I might have even used some Letraset rub-on letters on this one! I spared no expense on my first official “job”. How exciting or what!

So, if I was to create this project again today, I’d create the entire thing in Illustrator with vector graphics and illustration. Likely not in the same style, since this is quite dated, lol, but a similar feeling, with a dash of Vancouver hipster thrown in for good measure. It would probably be digitally printed so colours would stay nice and bright. And likely there would be several applications for it, banners, display advertising, buttons, tshirts, so vector format would be preferred to ensure the art was easily manipulated for each use.

Soon after this project was completed, I got my first design job at a pre-press studio, creating newspaper flyers for a now defunct electronics company. I was paid $7/hr- and told I was lucky to get that and was told directly that I was “given a foot in the door so I should appreciate that”.  And I did. However, I didn’t stay long at that job, 3 months. I left there because I got a job at a super funky handpainted tshirt company (also long defunct) where I really learned how to get sh*t done, and met some fabulous people who I am still friends with today.

That job was also the start of my career-long immersion in tshirt art and design. It’s something I now specialize in, and now, it’s kind of a dying art. Knowing how to create art for screening is a bit old school, but still very much required. I get a lot of files to fix and set up for screenprint, and it’s surprising, kind of, that people just do not know how to do it. If a file is built incorrectly, it causes a ton of grief of the printing end, so when I set them up, I go with the very lowest common denominator and try to make it completely foolproof. There are a lot of considerations and specific technical set-up and formatting to take care of, and, surprisingly, a lot of the companies I work with still use very old software, so it’s knowing the limitations of that and making sure the file will work for, and actually open on, their systems as well.  I work with several suppliers, mostly fixing and preparing art that other designers have done. It’s not super glamorous work, but it’s often a challenge, and, I still get a kick out of making art files that work. And that’s why I get called on to do it, they know I can get it done, quickly and it will work, they can run separations, and the file will be ready to go to print.

So that was my first, last, and ongoing kind of gig, all stemmed from one grad project. And apparently at this stage, I’m considered a “lifer” in the design industry, and that suits me just fine!

What was your first job out of college or uni? Have you continued on that path or changed gears completely?