MeekManor.com is my wife, Valerie’s, project. She created it originally as an information website for our wedding, and it has morphed over the years into our home base where she shares our lives and projects. In early 2015, we completely redesigned the site, and I am quite proud of the assets created for this redesign.
When creating the Meek Manor logo, I was inspired by a design article that referenced responsive logo design (http://www.responsivelogos.co.uk), a new trend in logo design, that really intrigued me as a designer. Responsive logo design just makes sense: if a website needs to move and respond to different screen sizes, the logo should too.
I took the Meek Manor redesign as an opportunity to do a responsive logo design study. I made a pot of coffee and, like I do with all my designs, I sat down with a sketch book, and made many, many sketches to work out just how the graphic would change as it was resized. Below you can see the original mockup design to get an idea of the tone and feel of the design. I used Adobe’s Photoshop Sketch app for the iPad.
Valerie and I talked a lot about the feel of “home” we wanted for our brand. We also wanted a softer, almost pastel, color scheme. There are some subtle elements included in the design, such as our “BatBug” heart logo that is on the front door of the house and our favorite dream car that we hope to own some day–a 1956 Ford Fairlane in pastel 2-tone blue paint, with a special license plate that is our wedding date.
The final product included four logo designs that build on each other, creating a cohesive brand and a set of graphics that would fill different sized and shaped needs for Meek Manor.
The Adventures of Daring Didi Darling is a webcomic that chronicles the life of the rescued Sato puppy Didi Darling–a collaboration between illustrator Lloyd W. Meek and writer Valerie R. Meek.
Our puppy, Didi, has captured our hearts and imaginations with her daily hilarious antics. Shortly after adopting Didi, my wife, Valerie, and I started talking about sharing Didi’s antics with everyone, and we settled on creating a webcomic. I sat down to come up with the look for this new cartoon. I went through many sketches and approaches to find the right style and tone–experimenting with realistic, very cartoony, and something simple. I thought about what what I read and liked as a kid, and I drew inspiration from the comics of my childhood. I love the less-than-perfect printing process, where the colors and ink lines didn’t always quite match up, so I carried that style over to The Adventures of Daring Didi Darling.
Recently we decided to play with a superhero persona, one that she believe to be true in her head. I drew from another icon of my childhood, Snoopy. My favorite scenes from the Peanuts cartoon were when Snoopy would pretend to be the World One Flying Ace, shooting down the Red Baron. I wanted to give Didi a world of her own in her head, imaging what is really going on in that head of hers.
Valerie and I went back and forth about what her hero style would be–traditional superhero with cape, or something more like a princess, playing with the “Darling” aspect. The more I sketched and worked up some comps, I thought about the women I look up to, and I thought about Amelia Earhart. I drew a sketch of Didi wearing goggles and a scarf, and her final look grew from that initial sketch.
Each week, we brainstorm a story, fleshing it out as a sketch. Then I create the illustrations in Adobe Illustrator. When the illustration is complete, Valerie adds the text and publishes the webcomic to Meek Manor.
Quite often I receive a Powerpoint deck that is in dire need of help. Layouts are completely jumbled, slides have paragraphs of content, fonts are wonky or completely missing, and there is clip art and pixelated images everywhere.
Typically the slide masters were never created or used. If you’re not sure what a slide master is or does, not to worry, I do. I have come to embrace what most people fear and loathe and have completely mastered the finer points of Powerpoint.
I approach each presentation like a story–putting the arc in place and the emphasis on the reveals. I have created decks for the smallest of businesses, shown in side rooms to small audiences, and I have created decks for international businesses that are shown all over the globe in theaters and arenas. No matter the final deck or audience size, they have one thing in common: they tell a good story.
For Throwback Thursday, I am posting a project that I did about 11 years ago. I was hired to design a series of trading cards, with a total of over 40 cards. I was given full creative control over this project. Each card featured a character conceptualized in appearance even their names were creations of mine. The cards ranged from heroes and villains characters, heroes in civilian clothes, to scenic cards showing battle and rescue scenes. Each card began with several traditional pencil drawings that were then scanned into the computer and inked and colored with Adobe Photoshop, which I now use Adobe Illustrator for. This project was extremely fun for me as an artist. I was hired to create pretty much everything, the characters, their personalities and even their world.
For Throwback Thursday, I want to talk about the time I was given the honor of teaching art and illustration to both children and adults. I originally fell into teaching to supplement my freelance design work. My classes included comic book illustration, cartooning, perspective drawing, and figure drawing. I created a curriculum with a foundation on the basics. The use of basic shapes, squares circles, triangles and rectangles is what I built my classes on.
I offered these classes to the local community starting first at the Art Center of Chelmsford, then grew to the Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, which led me to the Westford Public School system, where I was involved with the after care program teaching basic cartooning. I also taught at the Sgroi Art Gallery in Billerica, and Middlesex Community College’s summer camp program. My cartooning students ranged in age from eight-years-old to 16-years-old.
The figure classes were taught to adults for obvious reasons, that I hired models to come and pose for my classes. I don’t mean to sound conceded but my classes were very successful, and I am proud to say that I have former students who have gone on to start their own art and design careers. I don’t think I’ll ever teach professionally again, but not because I don’t love it, it’s because I feel I can dedicate the time my classes deserve.
The Boston Modern Quilt Guild approached me about creating a new logo for their website and materials.
They wanted a logo that distinguished them for other Modern Quilt Guilds around the country, reflecting Boston’s maritime history in color (navy, black, and white with a pop of red) and representing a quilt block in a very simple and graphic way, with a nod to naval signal flags. The collaboration resulted in a sleek and graphic logo that captured everything the guild was seeking.
Writer Octavious Ramos hired me to create a total of 42 illustrations for a zombie-style trading card game, a fairly extensive project. I was given a brief description of the characters, which included both zombies and heroes, then gave me free range on the illustrations.
I sat down with a sketchbook and let my mind go wild. Everything from clowns, waitresses, rap stars to an Elvis Presley impersonator was depicted in these illustrations. The sketches were drawn in a traditional black and white pen & ink style, which added to the darkness and grittiness of the subject matter
Quilter’s Way asked for a refresh of their existing logo, as they were about to move to a new location. I was challenged to keep the integrity of the existing logo, but update it for the new space and promotional materials. I wanted to give it a modern look but still reflect their business. I started with numerous sketches and narrowed those down to the final designs in the photos to the right.
Color choices were selected from a few different concepts in different color schemes. Each logo is available with or without a tag. Once the logo was finalized, I incorporated it in a sign design for the new location. Quilter’s Way’s brand has been built around their new logo and is reflected in all of their interior and exterior promotions.
Underdog captured my imagination as a child, becoming one of my childhood heroes. BearManor Media INC. offered me the position of Design Director for How Underdog was Born’s book cover.
I worked with Underdog creators, Buck Biggers and Chet Stover. My concept was designed with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon as the focus. The black and white sketch was the rough I used to develop the final design. Then a color draft was created for final approval from the publisher.
The other color concept was a optional design, it was passed over for the one you see as the final. Designing this cover, and working with the Underdog creators, fulfilled both the fan and designer in me. I saw the concept sketch through fruition, and the positive feed back from Mr. Biggers and Mr. Stover inspired me as an artist.