March 2010
Maplewood Memorial Library
my proposal
They call me Freelix.
Welcome to another addition of shit I did for free lately. This is our local library. My neighbor Barbara (nice lady) works there. She wrote me last week:

Hi Felix,


As I mentioned to you earlier, a committee of librarians is working to redesign our website, and we see it as an opportunity to “rebrand” ourselves with a new visual identity.  We are hoping for either a logotype or just a typographic identity; we want something that would work both on our website and other electronic communications (email newsletter, for example) and also on our printed communications: letterhead, business cards, etc.  It should look good either in color or black and white.  In addition, we would appreciate a color palette that might work for us online.


Up to now our graphics have usually featured some kind of maple leaf and a green palette.  We want to continue to reflect the community with a “Maplewood” kind of look, but we are hoping for something lighter, more modern, more “open”.


None of us has much experience working with a professional designer.  We are reaching out to a couple of designers in our acquaintance, asking to see their portfolios, and eventually asking for quotes.  I showed your website to the committee a few days ago and they were enthusiastic about your work and asked me to approach you.  The Friends of the Library has provided us with a budget for the website project and this is part of that, but as you can imagine given the current economy our budget is “bare bones”.  Can you give me an idea of how you think we might proceed?


Thank you for any help you can provide. And please give my regards to Brooke and Natalie-- I enjoyed our conversation.  They are really adorable!




Barbara didn't know it but someone on her staff had heard about me (Freelix) and e mailed the week before asking if I might entertain the idea of drawing a new logo for the library. My first thought (as you'll see below) was to use some "Esquire book club" scrap from a job with Dragos Lemnei many years ago. Here was my process:

I like doing these cut paper ideas. This one is a little bit old school (boring?) but I think it has broad appeal and the library could utilize silkscreened prints and raise money to fill the budget whole. Or not.
Maybe I just wanted to feed my new Yudu machine some ink.
See those blue and red amerbliths on the window? thats how i did these. I cut them out and tape them onto the screen. Clean-up time is a breeze. The fish design you see is something Vasquez and I are doing for Heller/ desigNYC that I'll be posting soon. Freelix out.
my boring job
Paula Scher wrote an interesting piece over at Identity Forum recently. "Identity design, for any organization containing more than three people, is the act of diplomatically negotiating personal egos, tastes, and aspirations of various invested individuals against their business needs, their pre-formed expectations, and the constraints of the market place. Making something formalistically beautiful, while desirable, is a more private part of the process, something that the designer needs to achieve incidentally, not something that can appear to be an overt motivating cause."
You're looking at two week process; 12 revisions for four icons" volunteer, vote, donate and share. The client, American Express (via Ogilvy, NY) has created a social action network (from site); "Actions happen when people like you feel inspired to do something. If you feel passionate about the environment, or if you want to help raise awareness about a violation of human rights, we can point you in the right direction. We feature actions addressing issues such as homelessness, dolphin capture, food safety, world health and more. Our aim is to provide resources needed to motivate change. But we can’t do it alone. If there is an action that’s not on our site, and you feel others should know about, we encourage you to add it. Whether you have five minutes or a few hours, there is something you can do. This is your planet, so please, TakePart."
(above) in context. icons were also used in TV spots during the Oscars®.
I realize this work for Take Part is the least sexy, most boring work I have ever done. But, screw it.  I like (and trust) the creative director (Sung Chang), its a worthwhile initiative from Amex, and it functions as simple, clear communication. 
But somehow, somewhere I'm reminded of Paula. If I'm going to do something expressive and original, well, thats a "private part of the process". Yet somehow I can never get used to the idea.
bryan christie
Do you know Bryan Chrystie? You've probably see his work. He's quite amazing.
He does a fair amount of editorial, primarily covers, for the New York Times magazine, Wired, GQ and so forth. This one for Newsweek is quite amazing. 
You may've seen this one on TV during the Olympics. I don't know what program he uses (its ain't Photochop) but no one can do what he does. 
Bryan lives here in Maplewood, NJ. I remember getting a call a few years ago from one of his assistants (at the time he had a staff of FIVE) asking if I could come in and talk to Bryan about doing a logo for his design firm (imagine that, an illustrator calling his studio "design"). But it works. He is a designer or sorts. And a fine artist too. And a bad ass jazz saxaphonist (he plays regularly at one of our local haunts, Cent'anni). 
Anyhoo, I was perplexed by the call and I ended up just giving him an au gratis stack of (logo) type. And he returned the favor several times in the form of large format printing (one of which, my Miles Davis portrait, will be up tonight at the Society of Illustrators Advertising and Institutional opening). 
I've convinced Bryan to come on out tonight and see what happens at the Society.
Yeah. This is something he whipped out on a napkin.
Good stuff, eh? I was showing someone his stuff the other day and they said "oh I love that clean, infographic type stuff". Bullshit. I think his "work" rises to the level of "art". Sure, its problem solving to a degree but if you've been to the guy's studio (he actually has TWO studios) and see how he works you get a real sense of what inspires him to create these images. 
Ironically, one of the pieces he had on his wall was something I had too- this Matisse. It never gets old.
In background are some mini-stretched canvasses from Thomas Fuchs, Gary Taxali, Thilo Rothacker, Joel Castillo, Greg Mably for my 40th a few months back. 
OK, thats all. See you tonight at the Society. Say hello to Bryan. Heres his mug. And is where you can tool around on a website.
The Neediest Times
This is the New York Times. Strong. Bold. Recognizable.
This is the Neediest Cases Identity. Not Strong. Not bold. Not at all recognizable. Below is the story of The New York Times Charity that inspired the mark. Take a second. Read it:
Here is the mark again. Does it remind you of something? Something other than what it represents?
Are we getting there? You know it reminds you of something.... some... thing...
Slightly religious in gesture, a bit sugar cubey in form, this is the "handle with care" icon most often seen on the side of cardboard boxes that house the homeless.
This is the main area where the identity lives, online. It takes on a life of its own doesn't it? Really stands out, right? To me, it says a few things:
1) Chinatown massage "parlor"
2) U.S. Hand Clapper's Assoc
3) packing material safety instruction graphics
4) pillow fluffers society logo
5) director's guild forum
6) anything but nothing to do with caring or giving.
Before I show you my new solution (designed au gratis) I want to show you the assets I have designed for the New York Times which are in current use both in the paper and online. More often than not, the linear style that I often work in is chosen to represent a good deal of content, mostly local things, like "City Room" (typewriter) or "City Critic" (thumby hands). What I find compelling about Ochs story is that it is personal. Much more personal than the "handle with care" box graphics used to flag the charity.
Here is my solution. It had to be simple or it wouldn't read. I chose Gotham Condensed designed by the brilliant Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones.
Here are some sketches I did before deciding what was right. The hands come off as trite, and ethnicity-charged whereas the two people interchanging something is a better representation of Ochs's story.
There you have it, New York Times. You didn't ask for it but you needed it. So take it and go make some money for Neediest Cases. 
In other "donated" news, I'll soon post about an exciting redesign venture with Timesman Steven Heller (via desigNYC) for the Bronx River Alliance. Pictured here: yours truly, Devona Sharpe (client), Maggie Greenfield (client), Tom Vasquez (co-designer) and Heller. 
If you have a worthy cause or need something "handled with care"  give me shout. I promise not to toss you into a douchebag container.
Opinionator, New York Times
We've seen this huge, clunky waste of real estate for a while now. Don't quote me, but its high time for an opinion.
It took me one guess. Franklin mother fucking gothic. Did you know Franklin gothic was named after Ben Franklin? By all biographical accounts, Franklin, although revered, was no saint. He had an eye for the ladies; despite the fact that he was married. He was said to have consorted with a number of ladies outside of his marriage and was not above paying for whores every now and then. In addition to being a member of the Freemasons, an ancient fraternity linked to the occult, Franklin was also a member of "The Hellfire Club," when he lived in England. The Hellfire Club was an exclusive, English club that met sporadically during the mid 18th century. Its purpose, at best, was to mock traditional religion and conduct orgies.
While the above factoid may be just an opinion or a complete fabrication made up entirely in my mind, the fact thus remains; the current design Opinionator graphic sucks Ben's giant balls. New York Times, take this free key (sorry) and let us please electrocute (sorry) this testicular cancer and handle opinionator more astutely, carefully, and with both hands. yer lovin', F
the recycled (s)crap i used for this. from real simple and ad age jobs. good night. thank you and have a pleasant tomorrow.
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