Character design is a real job?
The first professional job I ever did was a character design for an extremely large beer company back in the 80’s. As a college student it was a very big deal. They handed me a fat check along with a contract and samples of a beer they hadn’t even released. I had no idea at the time that there were people who actually did this type of work for a living but I knew right away this was the life for me. A few years later I started my own business creating and working with licensed characters. Since then I’ve worked with all kinds of companies, some large and known around the world others small and independent. To me the size of the company is not important. What I like to focus on is how I can best help them stand out and get noticed with fun characters and a unique marketing plan.
A little over two years ago I began working with Tilt365. They wanted something unique and fun to help deliver their message. The first order of business was a total redesign of the characters they had been using before I joined them. The roll of the new characters was to engage their audience, help lighten the message and most importantly be unique. That was no small task but I’m always up for a challenge.
Playing it safe
All too often I see companies totally drop the ball when it comes to developing a strategy that allows them to stand out and be noticed. Unfortunately the process usually goes something like this… The company spends a lot of time, money and effort putting together the perfect product. They research, develop and perfect every angle but when it comes time to develop their brand they wind up looking like everyone else. One looks like another, looks like another, until pretty soon they all blend together and you can’t tell them apart.
Why do they do this? Why does everyone want to look the same? Well, frankly it because it’s safe. It’s safe, predictable and there’s very little risk. The problem with safe, predictable and low risk is that it all adds up to one giant snooze fest. Just think about how many times you’ve had to sit through a presentation where it’s page after page of text, charts and graphs, no thanks.
To stand out from your competitors you must be willing to try something different. You have to be willing to take a risk and not fall prey to the temptation of playing it safe. Nothing that changed the world ever did so by playing it safe. Tilt365 did not want to look like everyone else and that’s where I came in, luckily it’s what I do best. I realize risk can be scary but do you know what’s scarier? Playing it safe, blending in and getting lost in the crowd.
Stay tuned for more Tilt updates tomorrow as we spend the week celebrating our new book release, Tilt Presence. Being the calm in a sea of noise.
I’ve been in business a long time. For every project I create there are at least three or more sketches that are rejected along the way. It goes without saying that in that vast pile there are a few I feel shouldn’t be in there. I mean, I get it, it’s all part of the process but that doesn’t mean I have to like it .
The Bob Folder for Misfit Sketches
That’s where the Bob Folder for Misfit Sketches comes in. Not every rejected sketch makes it to the Bob Folder for Misfit Sketches just the ones that really broke my heart. Every once and a while I reach in there, grab one and work it up.
A Hotdog Logo Misfit
This is one of those ideas. It was from a project I worked on many years ago. The client wanted a hotdog character for a logo project but had no real direction in mind. He told me to just go nuts. I knew this idea was a stretch but sometimes crazy ideas spark other ideas so I submitted it along with the others. Even though this one was rejected it did spark some interesting conversations… so I guess you could say it did it’s job.
This art was created on the iPad pro using the Procreate app.
Superhero week has come and gone in a flash. Thanks to everyone who followed along with me and thanks to those of you who came and found me on Instagram. You guys are total rocks stars. Today I wanted to take a look at what the process looks like when developing characters for an actual client. Sure it’s fun to draw whatever comes to mind but what happens when you’re doing it for a real live client? Lets take a look at the process.
Step one sketches:
Concept sketches. Step one is always sketches. My client is Chewy.com.I’ve worked with them for many years. We designed a set of characters together to help them market their online services. The main character Mr. Chewy is a lovable dog character who is sort of the guy in charge. He’s had lots of different adventures from vacationing on the sunny Florida cost to sled rides in the frozen north. Once he even ran for President of the United States of America.
The assignment for Mr. Chewy this time was to become a superhero. Does this guy get around or what? Anyhow I discuss the project with the creative director and we’re uncertain if we’re looking for an action pose or a hero pose. I throw out a couple of quick sketches of each.Step two tighten up:
The superhero pose is the winner. So it’s time to tighten up on the sketch. Because I know this character so well and I’ve drawn him so often I find tightening up the sketch in Illustrator is the cleanest fastest way to go.
Step 3 color:
The tight sketch is approved. Time to move onto color. In my head I’ve thinking this guy is definitely a red, yellow white kind of superhero. Kind of a Flash/Shazam color scheme. So I find my colors and submit my art. The client however was thinking more of a blue red yellow combo like Superman. Superman is arguably a much more popular and recognizable figure so I switch things up and resubmit. We don’t want to do a direct ripoff of the color scheme so we change the combo up a little. To help the artwork pop we keep Chewy mostly in red and yellow and add a little blue for accents. High fives all the way around! Job well done.