Finding New Design Inspiration in Victorian Architecture

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with 28 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

A Victory for Design

During a recent family vacation to San Francisco, I happened to stumble across a wonderful cache of very ornate Victorian homes. These homes are quite beautiful in their unique design and each included a vast array of exterior decorative elements.  These elements can provide a great source of inspiration for corporate design, logos and graphical enhancements for publications for print and online. We have created some interesting design elements influenced by Victorian architecture. These can be seen below.

San francisco - Central street

Characteristics of these old beauties can include:

  • bay windows
  • colorful moldings, called dentils, which frame the house
  • a series of columns extending to the roofline
  • cornices where the roofline and wall meet and extension of wood protrudes from the roofline
  • clapboard siding, common wood used along the sides of the house instead of brick
  • windows, called dormers which protrude from the roof.  Each often has its own roof.

ARCHWAY windows

 

Graphical ElementsVictorian Homes3

victorian2BIn addition, most Victorian houses are narrow, have stairs, towers and turrets, decorative trim, asymmetrical design, unique window styles, tiny balconies, and wrap around porches. Queen Anne Victorians often have stained glass windows and have decorative trim painted in a contrasting color to the siding. Wrought iron railings frequently adorn the stairs and porches. Many of these porches also have roofs, called porticos. In short, each Victorian house has its own personality and nothing of this style is ever too extravagant.

What is also so wonderful about these Victorians is that they demonstrate some of the most fundamental principles of successful design:

  • repetition
  • pattern
  • balance
  • contrast
  • unity
  • harmony
  • dominance

Victorians4The architects of the period also employed these elements of design:

  • strong lines
  • geometric shapes
  • vertical direction (showing an upward movement)
  • contrasting colors
  • value consisting of lightness or darkness of color throughout the exterior facade

Here’s some logo samples that we created using Victorian decorative elements.

Logo sheet

With decorative design, inspired by these impressive Victorian houses, you can add visual interest to any corporate communication.  Go ahead and see what a difference Victorian architecture can make!

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If your company or organization needs an innovative or unique creative solution for a promotion or marketing campaign, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more, please visit westdesign.com.

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 28 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

If you have any suggestions for new topics at this blog, please drop us a quick email at hwdesign@west.net

A Great New Visual Effect for Beautifying Corporate Reports: Pairing Grayscale with Color Images

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

 

I did not realize the true beauty that black and white photos can have when they are placed on top of color backgrounds. This effect can really heighten the contrast of an otherwise drab photo.  In the photo of the kiwi below I also added an overlay translucent layer of the color on top of the black and white image.

Greyscale-Kiwi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GreyscaleFlowerswithpinkOaktreewithBluegreenbackground Additionally, I employed some special effects that included knocking out the background to isolate the image, increasing the contrast of the black and white image, layering the grayscale image to give added richness of tone, adding warm gray tones to the black and white image, building gradient of color behind the image and then including translucent patterns of that same color on top of the background. Continue reading

23 Tips for Developing an Effective Park District/Recreational Catalog

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

 

Little girl in the parkI often receive park district catalogs and recreational catalogs in the mail. Having designed several of these magazines, I would like to relay some suggestions to my readers:

 

 

In order to develop an effective park district/recreational catalog you should have: Continue reading

Fashionable Design

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Create your next marketing piece in the best of fashion.

Here’s a great concept. Try drawing inspiration from the latest designs in fashion. pinstripe, polka a dots, plaids, turtlenecks, denim—these make wonderful design elements.

Fashionate3

 

Fashionate1Fashionate2

Fashionate5How about the stylish face of a watch? Watches have elegant ally designed stylish faces in rich platinum, gold or silver. I saw one watch in a magazine with a face in cobalt blue and hands in copper.  This would make quite a sharp graphical element.

Tie one on
Men’s ties, women’s scarfs and leather belts can make great backgrounds. Try scanning and colorizing the pattern.

It’s in the jeans
Even denim and the folds of cotton t-shirts can make for interesting textural elements.

Top it off with a little drama
Hats are like the cherry on a chocolate sundae. They provide dramatic angles for wrapping text around.

Look around you. Fabric stores, fashion magazines, clothing stores, accessory stores make great places to find patterns and new inspiration for artwork.
Here’s some samples of polka dots, paisley and plaids as aesthetic elements in a newsletter.

Is your marketing campaign in style?  Why not add a flair of fashion direct from a Paris runway?

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If your company needs an innovative or unique design solution, please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.

Why Retail is Dying a Slow and Painful Death

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Let’s talk shop!

Creating successful corporate communications for the retail market is very interrelated to the audience and trends in the industry.  That is why today I am tackling the issue of how retail stores are dying away, largely the fault of retail itself, rather than the Internet.  True, the Internet is somewhat to blame.  Yet the Internet is not the primary cause of this slow death, but a beneficiary of the failures of retail establishments and corporate mergers. Yes, retail is slowly dying away and it is the consumer who will suffer the most loss.  Given the current retail trends and consolidation in the industry, I have to say, it is not unexpected.

reatilstores-with-jeansI hear a lot today about how the Internet and larger online retailers are “killing” the sales of local retail merchants. Many articles have been written about “showrooming” where a prospective customer uses the local store to “check-out” an item and then buys it online for a lower price.  But I actually say to you that it is not a matter of just price.  I feel it is even more than ever, a product of seven often overlooked factors:

1) Bad Personnel. Sorry to insult, but many stores today don’t want to pay for talented or qualified help.  Instead, they often hire cheaper “green” workers who have little or no experience and are basically impediments to the purchasing process.  Maybe this is a cost-saving mood but it actually results in more costs due to lost sales, errors and image degradation. More important, they do not “know” the products they are selling.  Sadly, the customer often has a greater knowledge than the sales representative.  Too often the salesperson is just there to get a paycheck and often does not care about the art of “selling” an item. Frequently there is only one of two people “manning” a store. Items just don’t walk off the shelves sell themselves. Sales need to be encouraged, induced and “incentivized.” Customers are sick and tired of going to a store and trying to buy an item only to discover that there is no one to wait on them. I often ask myself, why should I waste my time with someone who can’t answer any questions or who just points to an item “over there?”  We go to stores for service and to experience an item not to babysit an inept employee. It’s no wonder that retail merchants are in trouble. Continue reading

A Well-Designed Interview About Design—Part I

harlanwestblogphotoBy Harlan West, Design and Marketing Professional with more than 25 years of experience designing materials for major healthcare organizations, municipalities and large corporations.

Recently a graduate student from California State University at Fullerton called to interview me about the world of design.  It was a great way to share 25 years of experience with students who are trying to get their “feet wet” in the business of design. Here’s some of the questions and answers from the interview. I am splitting this interview into two parts.  Part two will be featured in my next blog post.

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS—PART I

inteviewPersonal

1. How many years have you been at your current position?
I have been full-time creative director at HWDS since 2003. From 1991 to 2003, I served at HWDS as a creative consultant senior designer while we were growing the business. All in all, I have worked in the field of advertising and creative marketing/advertising design for a total of more than 25 years.

2.  What are some of your experiences in the Graphic Design field?

  • I always give the client one design that incorporates their vision. Then I provide alternative options.
  • I make it a point to give extremely responsive service.
  • I allow for patience and calm when dealing with clients. Clients need to see everything in a visual representation. They cannot simply “imagine” what you are proposing. Be clear and straightforward.
  • I try to be  flexible and at the same firm with my clients’ requests for changes.  Sometimes it is best to just usher the project to completion even if the amount of changes get somewhat excessive and cause lots of frustration. But it is also good to be firm. If you feel that a client us asking for too much, be sure to let them know that there will be an additional charge for the extra time.
  • I make it a point not to be a “prima donna” about my designs. Not every creation can or will turn out to be a masterpiece. Often commercial design has to be highly functional, user-friendly  and largely informative. That does not mean that it shouldn’t be tasteful and clean.

3.  What type of training/degree do you have?
I have formal education in design and the arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where I earned a BFA.  I also was an exchange student at Otis Parsons School of Design where I took courses in illustration and design.  As part of my education, I worked as an intern at a book publisher in Chicago during my last year of college.  Here I learned the ins and outs of how to design and layout book covers and how to set up camera-ready art for printing.  Following my graduation, I continued taking classes at UCLA Extension in publication design, interface design, motion graphics and special effects, photo treatments, advertising concepts, digital animation and marketing.  My career has included work for a printer, production company, advertising agency, public transportation agency (government), regional planning agency (government) and a marketing firm.  In addition, I have served various clients including healthcare organizations, politicians, cable companies, law firms, transportation consultants, investment firms an  municipalities. Furthermore, I have worked on campaigns for air quality, recycling and solid waste, affordable housing, ridesharing, water quality, and other community and quality of life issues.

4.  How did your training/degree prepare you for your career?
I had a varied college career and educational background.  Believe it or not, I went to 10 colleges and universities where I developed a diverse transcript of classes.  I have a diverse background in political science/public administration and graphic design with a bachelors of the arts in each discipline.  Unlike most college graduates today, I use not one, but two college degrees. Having this diverse background allowed me to more marketable and specialized with my art. Indeed, I have worked primarily creating materials for government agencies, public officials, and issue campaigns, hence blending art with politics.

5. What type of skill set have you learned outside of your career that are applicable to graphic design?
Indeed, with just a fine arts degree, I was virtually unprepared for the real world.
I had to learn people skills—hiring and managing employees, customer service, customer relations, problem solving and putting out “fires.”  Next, I had to learn skills for running a business—budgeting, taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, organization, insurance, and banking. Finally, writing a blog helped me to hone my written communication skills.  Writing is critical when preparing project estimates and extensive Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for government marketing projects.


Don’t miss part two of this interview on logo design.  Coming next week…

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If your company needs an elegantly designed publication, for print or online purposes,  please contact HWDS at hwdesign@west.netWe make beautiful things happen. To find out more please visit westdesign.com

Harlan West is the author of successfulcorporatecommunications.com and has been working as a creative director and design professional for more than 25 years and has designed and art directed hundred of publications for both print and online purposes.