Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Identity Project out the door

In 2011, my friend and client M. Shawn Crahan contacted me about a new project underway. He and singer Corey Talor we putting together an independent film company. As expected, Shawn had an enormous energy and many ideas behind what he wanted in the company logo.

The film company Living Breathing Films is now public.
Rolling Stone Magazine Promo

In a nutshell, they live and breath their art. Anyone familiar with Slipknot knows how much they put of themselves into the production, so no surprise. They wanted a number of concepts to (possible) be reflected into their art:

1.Living (Shawn), existing, existence, the soil be come from and return to.
2. Breathing (Corey), inhale reality, exhale until our last breath.
3. When the art is over, they bled and gave everything to it (i.e. the same as when life is over)
4. The end of the film is the end of the art, the film should feel like someone nearly died putting themselves into it's creation.

So you get the idea. Death was not to be represented as grim or 'heavy Metal." it was to be a sign that we are all heading there, so give your all to it.


My concept was to make the identity feel like ancient runes and symbols. I have a large knowledge of ancient 'organic' symbols that have been used in nearly every civilization or culture. Earth and Air were immediately in my mind, and I surprisingly narrowed it down quickly.

Here is a set of sketches from my first brainstormings and studies. If you have any familiarity with ancient symbols, religions, or anthropology, these might seem familiar.

Finally, here is the 'ANATOMY SHEET" of the various componenets behind the seemingly simple little circle and letters.

So on they go, next stop to unveil themselves at Sundance in 2012.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Logos, Identities, Branding 101

Big Red Ape Edutainment Presents:
Logos, Identities, Branding 101

What is the difference and what do they mean?

The design and creative solutions industry is always in flux. Words, meanings, and culture are changing at a continual pace forcing creative problem solvers to stay sharp.

However, one great things about words, is that they DO mean things. Regardless of culture or trends, the design business is built upon specific meanings and principles that customers pay good money for.

I wanted to take a moment to clarify some meanings and words, and help YOU, the clients and business people be better informed.

This word has become nearly meaningless by many designers who don't understand it. TRUE branding is a very complex multi-faceted process. It involves a number of specialists trained in specific areas to help develop the image and reputation of a business. A branding project will involve copywriters, designers, marketing managers, web developers, media buyers, photographers, and many support people (to name a few). It also involves research into the competition, a marketing strategy, slogans, and many small pieces that help reinforce the desired thoughts that the company wants to be associated with.
To simplify for you what the effect of 'branding' is, think of your mother. Do you see her in your mind now? I do not have to say anything else besides 'mom.' Your mind immediately opened up a huge file of memories. Your mother has been 'branded' in your mind as a result of experiences with her on many many levels. Are you still thinking of her....?
A branded business has the same effect. For instance: Nike, McDonalds, Apple, Coke, generic groceries, Kleenex.... You see? The mention of the name evokes a huge internal file of experiences. Notice how they override your thoughts about mom?
If I say, "JUST DO IT," who do you think of? did you need to see the logo in order to make sure? Nope.
Does branding need to be this involved? Not always. But any variation from this needs to still reflect and be built towards the same goal. Branding has many pieces, and they all need to be aimed at that 'mental file folder' in the consumer's head. Brand management is the process of making sure that: a. the branding plan is always consistent, b. the company is not messing up the reputation with deviant behavior. c. if the industry changes, the company needs to adjust and possible 'reinvent' itself.
More than anything, I begin this list with branding, because there are a lot of small boutique design groups out there that say that they provide branding. At best, they create pieces to the branding puzzle. As you can see from above, unless what they offer is building towards the prior description, they ARE NOT doing branding.

This is the category that most design agencies or studios work within. An identity is a visual representation of the brand. The more consistent the identity, the easier it is for a business to brand itself.
An identity is typically represented in (but not limited to) the following way:
• Logo •web site design •letterhead •business cards •envelopes •Facebook banners, tabs, images •Twitter background • packaging •advertising...

A good identity is a smart design; consistent and the same on all levels. It is a SINGLE message. Your logo, colors, slogans, etc are all going to be the same on everything your business sends out. Many small businesses have three or four different visuals for what they produce. Mostly due to having many good ideas and not being able to settle on one.


We are human and we think in images. Don't believe me? Elephant. Car. House. Donald Trump's Hair. Toenails. See, your mind was under my control there for a moment. Logos are visual representations of the business. They are important because in one set of visuals (typography, symbols, or both) they need to communicate to the viewer the values, reputation, and professionalism of the business. A good designer can find that single germane meaning within a business and represent it in a graphical process. Your logo can say to the world:
a. Hi, I may be a great product or service, but my design is amateurish, so I'm really just a low tiered mom & pop shop. I'm so small in fact, that I might not really exist...
b. You have no idea how big I am or what I am limited to, you will be wasting time and money anywhere else. Notice how all my competition looks the same, but I stand out?

A great logo is an asset all to itself. It becomes the focal point of a brand. Cheap logos are worth every penny. They say to the world 'CHEAPSKATE.' A logo is also NOT BRANDING. A logo becomes part of the brand based on the success of a well executed (or huge failure) branding project.

When you consult with a designer, make sure they understand these differences. There is room for variation on these points, but the meaning should remain the same.

Also, don't be a cheapskate, if you want excellence and professionalism, pay for it. Your new logo and identity could truly make a huge difference to you and your bottom line. Make sure you hire a pro and you will be treated like a pro.

Enjoy the following links, and thank you for reading.

A great overview of branding
Really BAD logos
Great stationery

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Special Offer through Big Red Ape

Small Business Special Offer!
Build Your Brand with Custom Skins.

Big Red Ape would like to help you build your visual identity. Your mobile devices will take on a new look, and your business will get noticed.

We will take your existing identity, logos, symbols, photos, and copy and create a comp that will be eye-catching and consistent with your existing design system.

Please look over our Package deals.

My charge for design is separate from the cost of printing and shipping.

The printing & shipping ranges from $22.90-$95.00.

The product will be sent to you, and you will do the installing. It's easy.

PACKAGE ONE / $70.00
Laptop cover and smartphone skin design

PACKAGE TWO / $85.00
Laptop, Smartphone, and Tablet
skin design

PACKAGE THREE / Call for a quote and variations
The Big Package
This is for those of you ready to take your business to a higher level.
New Identity system (i.e. logo)
Logo, Stationery (business card, letterhead, envelope)
Laptop and Smartphone skin.
There are many options, so it's best to talk.

Big Red Ape uses GelaSkins to have these custom skin designs produced.

We are not affiliated in anyway.

If there are any issues with the final quality, you will need to take that up with GelaSkins . However, they have a long record of fantastic quality, thus, our choice in using them.

Message/call me.
let me know what you want skinned.
let me know if you are in the market for a new logo/identity.
Send me your photos, logo files, etc.
I will send you a proof to review. You can make up to two changes.
After approval of designs:
Pay me via paypal:

provide your payment information and address, and I can place your order. You may take care of the payment personally as well, I can send you the link to completed Gelaskins Shopping cart.

Feel free to contact me with any questions!

Monday, May 2, 2011

DuMOL Winery Booklet Illustrations

I was contacted in March by the DuMol Winery in Orinda, California. They hold an annual Wine Tasting event at their Vineyard in San Francisco and provide a small booklet to the guests. DuMOL has been served at the White House and holds great respect within the industry. I was asked to illustrate the owners and their families in a unique and interesting manner. I'm not sure just how many iterations went into this, but they were an outstanding client.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama Long Form Birth Certificate

Ok, I'm really hesitant to bring this up, but since the White House released the President's Birth Certificate, i was interested to discover they released a pdf file. I treated this as if it were a client file. I opened the pdf in Il
lustrator and discovered a big clipping mask was active. i turned it off and discovered a bunch of fields. Check it out. I'm way uninformed as to why these are here, but discovering these does not help me put the issue to rest.

This is one section that will be major fodder for the conspiracy hunters. This graphic field has washed out type, or, if this were a forgery, the gamma is set too low for the other copy.

Most of me would like to think that nobody in the administration cold be this stupid, so I'm more likely to settle for it's authenticity, and these are just artifact issues that are easily explainable.... I sure hope so.

What say you?

Here is the link to the document, please examine yourself and see what you might discover:

I am convinced that these turn out to be OCR and scanning issues that are a result of making difital copies of paperwork originating in the 60s. So at least we have one place on the web offering a pre-debunking of this issue in the event it pops up elesewhere.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Illustrated Lecture

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's a Cavity Search Charlie Brown

I have always wanted to do a line of Peanuts books, so here's my first...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jim Gaffigan Tour Poster Contest

The NODE website was able to offer a Nerdsourcing opportunity to design a Jim Gaffigan poster for one of his comedy shows. Since I've heard so much for free, I didn't mind a contest.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A critique of the John McCain and J.D. Hayworth campaign logos. PART #2 UPDATE

Ok, since critique is always easier than actually producing something, here are my two ideas. I'm rushing out to work, so I'll comment later. feel free to rip and tear....

Ok, here's the thought process:
1. I'm aware of a few reasons that campaign signage looks so bad, and also follows a particular visual trope. Rather than try and follow those 'guidelines,' I wanted to push for a broader and more specific approach.
While there are a few candidates that use their faces and figures on signage, they still come off as whimpy Olan Mills knock offs. A good designer would, theoretically, have a chance of a lifetime to really take a hold of a captive audience. I wanted to create a visually impacting and iconic visual that would demand a few minutes of a drivers eyes before the light turns green.

2. McCain:
His face is like no others. It is unmistakable and quite difficult to caricature (I can assure you). While I have no doubt that his handlers would scoff at something as suggestive as what I tried to create, I would demand they at least consider it. My concept was to take an unusual shot of him, and really make the colors and photography bolder than his normal paste. His name is also just as branded as his appearance, so no need to do more than spell it out. MCCAIN! Since it wasn't about the logo anymore, and far more about a message, I went with Helvetica Nue Black. I also followed OVO's good idea of choosing reds and blues that were far more saturated.

My actual posted final here is no where near the scope I wanted, but no need to justify why. It is what is is, feel free to stab at it.

3. Hayworth:
Well, he lost. I have a lot of ideas why. My concept might have helped... I truly believe that. I was choosing to skip his face in favor of the more germain root of his campaign; i.e. "VOTE FOR ME!" I don't mean or intend to be insulting, but Mr. Hayworth has a very, uh, unique face... one that often seems like he just finished blowing his nose or laughing... And I mean that in regards to the photos of his face that he has already used.

Simply, his name is better branded than his face. Plus he was a radio personality, it fits with the mystery. I tried to find a standard Maricopa County issued Voting Booth, but I could not find one. That's what is in my comp. The slogan I wrote was attempting to be a triple entendre. This is the time for change, this is the time to support him, and to play to the individual who often waits till the election day to decide... "HEY! THIS is the time!" Nothing matters more than the actual vote... well, aside from the one elected actually DOING something.

The negative space was to encompass that huge 'wide open' opportunity that a new Senator might bring.

FINALLY: I take my hits like a man. I did not post the rebuttal promised in part one, but I stand by my critique. I believe that there needs to be a huge paradigm change in the approach to branding a candidate. I believe that either of my proposals would be easily applied to the entire campaigns' brand and production, but it no longer behaves as glorified stationery.

I welcome your comments, and appreciate anything you might share along the way.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A critique of the John McCain and J.D. Hayworth campaign logos. PART #1

Political campaigns are nothing more than buzzing logos. During an election cycle, every intersection in our city becomes a cluttered apocalypse of huge last names in predictable American colors.

The visual pollution of campaign design is always difficult for me to stomach. This year, Arizona has a few very high profile campaigns underway. One of the biggest is between incumbant Senator John McCain and former Congressman, J.D. Hayworth. Arizona will be asked to cast their votes on Aug 24, 2010.

Considering the gravity of this impending election, I would assume that there would be a noticable contrast in the presentations of THEIR huge last names. However, as I have come to expect, the design is flawed.

As a graphic designer for over twenty years, I felt that I should poke my nose in and and see what improvements and suggestions I could make to the candidates identity problems. There is no promise of a home run here,
but I doubt I could do worse.

First, both logos:

OK, Now... Do YOU think they look good? I don't.

1. Off Center? Why? JUST because they absolutely had to fit a star under the 'W?' Does J.D. really need a star to help us know that he is a politician? Will it reinforce his American status? In graphic design, we have a term called 'spacial tension.' This is found when one element of design is pestering another. A circle near a plane, for example, if it is not far enough away OR barely too close, it looks misplaced. It says, "I should be farting around in this space for a reason, but alas, I don't have one." SO! If the designer felt that the o
nly choice they had was to jam a star into the logotype, then I feel for them. Being trapped in a design trope is frustrating.
Consider the subliminal message here... "A consistent conservative juuuuuuuust right of center." Oh goodie, just what we need? AAAAAAND, is it really wise for any member of the GOP to focus on the letter 'W' at this time?

2. The star. Is there a reason we need a star in every campaign? Well, one good idea then, is to hack the top of the star off and reverse it. Nothing like some odd negative space to enhance the reading experience. Well, it's a chance to add more "red, white, and blue."

3. In design, we have a principal of design that helps us in determining the 'visual hierarchy' of our elements. Dominant, sub-dominant, and subordinate. Does anyone following this election need to be reminded that Mr. Hayworth is running for Senate? Perhaps it's an arguable point, but I think it's nothing more than visual clutter. It pulls the off-center star into even greater...uh, misbalance? I categorize this element as sub-subordinate.

4. The slogan seems whimpy. Given the nature of this election, go for it. How about something really jugular like:
"Fighting for more than survival"
"Unseating a candidate who has been around longer than AIDS"
"McCain is so old, he knew Captain Crunch when he was a Seaman"
Perhaps I push, but it should have more social whallop. I mean, if McCain is so ready to be pruned from Congress, why mince words... unless he's NOT really that bad
. I can't tell from the message (presented by the logo), so I assume McCain is still a safe bet.

One thing I notice on the Hayworth signs, is that they look REALLY off center on the roads. It's one thing to have a logo on your screen, and another to be printed on a flat substrate and trimmed in a way that Adobe Illustrator's artboard didn't ask for.

Overall, one HUGE! plus to the logo is the really strong sans serif typeface used. It's nice to see all sans serif for a change. I just think the star and horrible mutation of that poor 'W' is a huge distraction.

Now onto McCain:

1. When I first saw this flaggy-banner-thing, I was shocked. Phoenix based OVO did the re-brand of this identity, and they do great work.

However, consider this...

The new flag shape says to me: "McCain, a long streak to the left with a sudden turn to the right!' Don't think I have a valid point on the "Left Streak" thesis? Consider that images all have two ways to communicate with us. Conscious and sub-conscious. How does the campaign know that people don't pick up on this subliminally? I guess we find out in August.
...and for God's sake, don't forget the stars. Hayworth has one? HAH! We'll have THREE!!!!

2. The logo type is nice. It is very much a typographic embodiment of John McCain. How?
  • a. It learned through horrible error that OPTIMA is only a notch above Cartoon Sans for bad type. So hats off for leaving optima back at the Viet Nam Memorial wall.
  • b. I learned my lesson, so I went for something bolder. However, here in this Eurostyle font, we have my time honored serif traditions married to an almost sans serif modernism.
As OVO was most certainly far more mature that the Hayworth designer, we have the key to message making, and that is simplicity. No reminders that McCain is a senator. If you don't know that already, then go back to the universal remote with the big buttons and cast your vote for William Hung... spare us your poor polluting of the political process.

BUT! I think McCain should try to capitalize on his alleged high-ground. If he has nothing to fear, then slam the opponent. Aside from that thing he did in 2008 to apply for a new job, McCain tells us he fights really hard. Let Hayworth have it across the lips. If Hayworth is milktoast, then let me know it!
"McCain, not Able"
"Senate is not something to do after talk radio"
"Less changes of profession for over 20 years"

In Part #2, I will offer my own two rebrand Ideas. It's going to be hard to not be distilled by the Hayworth star-chunks or the McCain leftie streak, but I will try. And, you are more than free to tear me a new one as well. Critique always help us be better at what we do.... I hope.

Does the logo diminish the message? Many would say no. Many would point to decades of bad design as ancillary to the outcome... I was not a big fan of Obama's branding either, and that was supposed to be otherworldly.

And to make sure that I take care of one thing. This is a flat out critique. Not an expository on my political views. I will be voting in August, and one of these men WILL receive my vote. Both of these men are honorable and I respect them. so, put down your mouse...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ford Fiesta Movement

I was recently chosen to create a mural for my friends Sunny Thaper and Austin Baker. They are involved in the ongoing campaign to relaunch the new Ford Fiesta and this was 'Mission One.' Like all well planned awesomeness, I was told on a Friday that it was due on Monday. Thus, the creation of the '48 Hour Miracle began.' You can find the finished mural (recreated by ZOOM from New York) in old town Gilbert on the side of Joe's BBQ. Here is the link to the PHOENIX FIESTA MOVEMENT.

Monday, February 8, 2010

APS / Campbell Fisher Design / The Renewables Comic

Most of us do our best, work hard, maintain respectable goals and standards and conduct ourselves in a manner fitting our integrity. Along the way, we occasionally face a rare opportunity that allows us to mine these qualities for all their worth. I had the rare opportunity to use some of my most easily expressed skills for Campbell Fisher Design this year. They are working with APS to produce a renewable energy campaign.

As fate would have it, I was contacted to produce a comic featuring the characters they had created to embody renewable energy. CFD is one of the best agencies in the city and it was a very special experience getting to work with them on this.

Please follow this link to view the high quality resolution pdf file of the comic.

I did the pencils, inks, colors and a small part of the story development.
Hope you dig it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Clown from Slipknot / Personal Logos - Big Orange Clown

In 2006 and 2007, I had the opportunity to work with Shawn Crahan on his personal art and design projects. Shawn is most liekly know as 'Clown' from the metal band 'Slipknot.' It was a lot of fun to meet a kindred creative nut. You can find more of this effort at .

I illustrated all of the disturbing clown heads that you will see. Hopefully he will have time again to revisit this concept and take it to another level.
These are two logo proposals I sent his way to brand his personal business "Big Orange Clown." I quite liked them and figured I show them off to my adoring fan.

BIG RED APE Logo and Identity samples

I was realizing that this blog lacks anything relating to the design work I do. So what better way to break the silence than with logos?
(TOP ROW) Left: Old Major Beer label, GOMO Gear brand redesign, , E5 Medical Journal
(BOTTOM ROW) Left: Mobius Agency (web and print design), Blade Techs Inc. rebrand design, It's About Time Corporate Security, Newman Electrical Contractors Inc.

Liquid Napalm

A fun and grotesque project for an award winning hot sauce.

Go and buy the sauce from from my good friend Clement at

Various Arts

These are samples from various publication/magazine illustrations

Various Projects

Projects for Moving Pictures Magazine / 2005-2007

Famous Hollywood Crossdressers

Projects for Moving Pictures Magazine / 2005-2007

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Latest project / Sanford and Son Tell all book

Sanford and Son remains my favorite TV show of all time. I'm not even sure Redd Foxx liked it as much as I did. So, imagine my surprise when I received a call from Demond Wilson (Lamont) seeking to use my homage illustration (posted on this very blog in October of 2007). After a short time of discussion, I completed the Design of the dust jacket for his new book: "Second Banana: The Bittersweet Memoirs of the Sanford and Son Years." Demond was an awesome client and has become a dear friend over the course of this project. Please go and grab a copy of this book ASAP.

The Developer - Father's Day in the fifth

A new installment of my ongoing tribute to fatherhood...

Monday, September 7, 2009

John Whipple / Bible Milk

Here's the cover for my bro's new CD. You need to hear this. Run over to: He's also on iTunes. help a brother out.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Interesting human buffett

I came across a book full of old photos. I'm a sucker for unique human features and the everyday people that become historical novelty. I tried a number of approaches and just let whatever came to mind interpret the images.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Seniors know technology, too

Thursday, May 28, 2009

the developer

A new comic strip to burn the carbon out... more to come.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

How Baby Boomers interpret modern terminology

I.P. Addresses

Electronic Footprint

Looking through Facebook
Data Cloud

Monday, March 16, 2009

Songs made cliché by overuse...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dreaming of Retirement