Recreating the Wheel

Graphic design is about the clients.

Welcome back one and all. 

Recently, I received a message from Cole, Mr. Oregon State Leather 2015. He has been fairly busy, working with a great new group here in the Portland Metro Area, Flaggers. He will be competing in the upcoming International Mr. Leather (IML) contest in Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend at the end of next month. This is Cole, in a photo by Matthew Booster.

Having been at the same contest/pageant back in 2008, I understand some of the things he will need for this competition. One of them is a logo that can be used to present to the very large crowd in attendance, so people in the audience can see the organization who sponsors him is.

One problem: the logo that his org, Blackout Leather Productions (BLP), gave him is woefully inadequate for the specs that IML needs to properly make this happen for Cole. Adding to the problem: The original files, fonts, etc, cannot be located, and all that we had to work with was a physically small, slightly pixelated JPEG file.

Cole sent me a very professionally written request asking if this could be done, as he was unaware of my skillset. I love these kinds of letters, as they give me an opportunity to flip some wigs. 

Of course, for those of you who are designers and typographers can easily see, the kerning is atrocious and the effects on the obviously modified large part of the logo are sloppy. Adding another layer of challenges to this project were the IML specs: this logo had to be at least 1500 px high. The logo has the truly odd ratio of 42/15. 

I could not match the fonts exactly, so in order to recreate this wheel, as I had to go in and recreate the letters one by one using appropriate shapes and merging them together. Here is what the final piece looks like in Adobe Illustrator using only outlines to give you an idea.

Now, this may sound like a 180 degree way of recreating the fonts, but what many people fail to realize is that typography is the visual representation of spoken language. Here's a short clip I created some time ago that demonstrates, with three questions what I am attempting to describe with that statement, dancing optional.

Was it work, why yes, you're damn skippy it's work. These are some of the truly run-of-the-mill, everyday kinds of requests that graphic designers receive. Some call it drudge work. If that sounds bitter, trust me, a great many people in this field are bitter, and more than half drop out of the field within 5 years of graduating. Graphic design is about purpose and client needs, and the purpose of this project is to make Cole and his org be properly represented in an official capacity. He didn't need me to reinvent this wheel, only recreate it. Here is the finished product.

The plus side of this is that now BLP now has a scalable logo that is not restricted to size limitations, as vector art is beautifully scalable with no loss of resolution while still maintaining a very small file size. In fact, if they wished, they can also modify the color scheme if they wished with relative ease, as demonstrated here:

This is an extreme example, but understand that this modification took me all of 90 seconds to do, compared to the 4 hours it took me to recreate the logo itself, not including the time it took me in my attempt to match the fonts themselves.

Cole, I hope you have a wonderful time at IML. They say it will change your life. I thought that was a bunch of hogwash until I was a contestant. I can honestly say that it did, in ways that still scare the living shit out of gaystreaming, heteronormative exploiters in the leather community. Because sometimes it takes something like IML to help you recognize why we do this at all. 

Love to you all. 

In leather,

Ben "Bear" Brown Jr.
Mr. Oregon State Leather 2007


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