I LOVE designing for Halloween or anything that just needs to be spooky ooky kooky. When creating work in that space, it's always super fun to play around with the built-in "scary" imagery such as bones, bats, vampires, etc. But "scary" doesn't have to mean gory or bloody; it can be vintage or cute or even cheerful. Crazy, eh? So let's check out some behind the scenes stuff on a few projects in this theme.
The Devil's in the Details
For the justWink/American Greetings Halloween 2016 series of cards, I built a system that was flexible enough to allow each card its own individual quirks but enough structure to keep them all in the same family. This was really important to keep everything speaking the same language, you know what I mean?
So check out the breakdown below. The system broke down into 3 basic layer structure that repeated across all cards but the visuals themselves changed. So Layer 1 was for the hot stamp details, Layer 2 was for the neon orange border to frame all the details and lettering on Layer 3.
The "scary" imagery was super fun and I've got it all in these! I got your eyeballs, bats, bones, chains, and spiderwebs. Notice in the close-up detail shot on the very first image of this post, the Hot Stamp Details keep the same structure on each card, but I got to play with how to create individual corner elements. Which one's your favorite? I'm partial to the bones and gothic-y corbel-like embellishments.
From cards to TV! For this Nickelodeon live action show, debuting in 2013 and lasting a few seasons until 2015, the show called up the spooky imagery of New Orleans. It followed the adventures of a mix of a ghost and living family as they navigate growing up together.
Check out more concepts here on my main site. After research of the area, I really loved the look of the antique wrought iron gates and fences. Because of that, the Gothic Details used in this project were more about structure. I built in bevels and facets for the lettering to really show more of that wrought iron quality. And, of course, using a rougher/scratchier technique on other concepts to flesh out those lettering options worked really great as it added texture and a kind of chaotic-ness as well. Also this has to be a record for the amount of ligatures in one lock-up.
I chose to pull this concept out of the mix to show here because it added another visual element that I hadn't explored elsewhere. And that, my friends, is wispiness. The idea of a ghost that even when floating in place, still wavers as it moves in and out of solidity. A sense of smoke dissipating too! That mixed with spiky lettering was a fun and haunted combination. Plus check out the rhythm of the lock-up. Nick is always big on everything having a rhythm, an energy, so I really pushed myself to have all the concepts have a bouce-y and nestled lock-up. Plus working with all those A's! Hathaways has three A's so how do you letter that without making those repeated A's grab all the attention? Humans tend to focus in on repetition so pushing the shape and sometimes the legibility of those letters was a challenge.
Below is just a fun close-up crop of the visual elements that made up the concepts I showed for Round 1 to Nickelodeon.
All in all, I made 8 concepts for the HH project that included crows and stray cats and antique keyholes on top of classic imagery like spiderwebs!
Say Yes to Skulls on Your Chest
For these shirts, the brand was about vintage Americana mixed with skull imagery as it was named Bones and Ivy. I tried out a stippling technique which was really fun to use to add depth and shading. The imagery is based on the Fugio coin, the first official copper penny designed by Benjamin Franklin back in the day. Two sides of the same coin with its main phrase of "Mind Your Business" meaning stop procrastinating and get your ass in gear!
The other shirt shown below was a play on the dagger through skull imagery seen in lots of media such as tattoo flash. But we wanted to connect it to designers and artists so I changed the dagger into a fountain pen which gave me the awesome excuse to do a lot of embellishments and linework which I love to do so, bonus!
Scary (Cute) Love
And on the opposite end of the spectrum, here's a light hearted "scary" project! For this justWink card, it was fun to illustrate and letter a potion bottle on fire, what can I say. Keeping it a limited color palette also gave it a vintage vibe, like something a fairy tale witch would give to her worst enemy.
There you go, an adventure down the rabbit hole of Halloween and spooky lettering and illustrations so far. Hopefully I have many more opportunities to play in this sandbox, I super love it!