Friday, June 12, 2009

Some old memories and the inaugural Quill & Varnish project

Back in 2003, I started working for my college newspaper on the second floor of a run-down building that has since been demolished. I loved that old office. The filthy, 1992 sofa was a Godsend when you were stuck trying to get the next issue out -- waiting on a slow/procrastinating staffer to finish up a story or a ridiculous FTP error to magically resolve itself. And the window that allowed us to climb out onto the roof to look at the stars and spy on students walking across campus after dark felt like the entrance to an exclusive club. (What can I say? We were easy to please.) The Lance was one of the only places where I, as a first-year student, had the chance to talk to (okay, eavesdrop on) out-of-my-network, darn-near brilliant upperclassmen discussing the woes of the world and the shortcomings of our Christian liberal arts university.

But really, what drew us all to that hot upper room were Mac desktops. At the time, it was the only place on campus where they resided (as far as I know). If you weren't already aware: All journalist-type people love a Macintosh computer. Staffers could complain about virtually anything and we would all chime in (journalism students, critics; potato, po-tah-to), but if someone expressed discontent with their Apple machine, most would look down and shake their heads. This person obviously had a lot to learn.
I had a lot to learn as well (some things will never change). I had never used an Adobe Creative Suite product and my torrid relationship with Photoshop began in that very office. Friends (who must not know any real designers) have approached me for help on personal projects and have been the motivation behind Quill & Varnish. Now that I work as a technical writer and spend my days glued to Microsoft Word documents, any time spent with design elements and color (!) is considered very welcomed play time.
This is my friend Emily (and her husband, Curt).

She works for a lovely church where they wanted to do some re-branding for their womens group. They were looking for something fresh. So imagine my surprise when she asked for my help! After spending a few minutes thinking about the hundreds of other people who would do a better job, I told her I'd give it a try. And here is what we came up with ...

This looks so straight-forward. Ya. Okay. The True Hollywood Story of this logo is that I purchased the dandelions from iStockphoto (God bless the artists who can draw those perfect vector images. I would love to learn how.) I found new respect for them when I just had to figure out how to draw vectors to make the little frame. But, the hardest part was definitely the color. Finding the right shade of coral -- not too pink, not too orange -- is no cake walk. (Sidenote: I'm a bit nuts about color. I have painted our living room three colors and will always be surprised by how different colors look with various types of lighting once it's all over the walls. Sometimes I want a color to look a certain way, and I'll convince myself it really does!)
But, neuroses aside, I really like how the palette turned out. It includes my current obsession with gray.
Following the basic logo, we also worked together to design a huge upright banner to grab gals' attention when they came in for service Sunday morning.

And that same Sunday, the church also announced the launch of the new Web page. I love what the designer did with the original idea. It's so happy and welcoming!

Thanks Emily for the chance to work with Women at Central.I learned a lot and I enjoyed myself to boot!
More design-work-for-friends projects to come. Have a splendid weekend!


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  2. Not only am I a fan of your design work, but your clever writing is always a blast to read. I am now a fan of this new blog and all future projects you will put your fabulous mind to. Glad we're friends, Jan.