What was I thinking?

Every designer and artist has a dark corner of their hard drives or storage bins wherein lurks the sort of wickedness born from the formative days of our craft. They are the rather embarrassing fragments of our work as either amateurs or untested professionals.

Ultimately, there’s really nothing to be ashamed of. Hating some of our old work means that, by comparison, we like our new work a measurable amount greater. Having this sort of dreck to look back on means we’ve improved! How positive!

In the spirit of that optimism, I introduce what may become a recurring segment entitled “What was I thinking?” The concept: I show a piece of work that has since been ousted from my portfolio, accompanied by a dialog between my current and former self. Ready? Here we go!


Tell us about this piece.
Yes, great! Well, being in high school, I was just excited to get paid for anything at all. I really consider myself more of a cartoonist, so it was exciting to try some graphic design.
Was this the first design you were ever paid to do?
Yes! The “Can Do It Team” was what the school district called all of the facilities and maintenance people. They had an idea for a patch design that had a mallet and saw intersecting. They made it up and it was sewn into everyone’s jackets. They might still use it today.
So the overall composition wasn’t your idea?
No, they gave that to me, but I added the lightning bolt when it was mentioned that it was a bit “blah.” I think it gives it a nice sort of ka-pow!
Yes, quite literally. What’s with the uneven lines? Did the vector art rasterize poorly for some reason?
Yes, vector. You’ve got nothing but simple shapes, solid colors and a linear gradient, so this must be…
I used Photoshop. Is that vector?
(Sigh.) So why are the lines uneven?
I think they look pretty straight, considering I drew them by hand!
By hand? You mean, you scanned an initial sketch and then digitally inked it?
No, it was all traditionally inked. I used a ruler, except for the teeth on the saw, because that would take forever. I figure no one would care if the nub on the top of the mallet was uneven either, as it’s such a small detail. Then I scanned the art and bumped the contrast all the way up, then filled the shapes with the paint bucket.
(Pops a couple Advil.) I see you went with the black text and a white stroke on blue.
Yeah! It makes the text really “pop,” since the black was too dark to read.
If the black was difficult to read, why didn’t you just make the type itself white?
Well that doesn’t sound very difficult. People won’t pay you money to design something unless they can see you put some work into it.
(Slams head in flatbed scanner.)