Design

The Eclectic Menagerie is full of whimsical, larger-than-life sculptures

Roadrunner

e•clec’•tic men•a’•ger•ie
:
site south of Houston with an eclectic collection of concrete and metal sculptures

sculpture garden curated by Texas Pipe & Supply with larger-than-life rusted steel and stainless steel sculptures by local artists

Elcectic Menagerie Park. A private collection of massive steel monsters guarding a Texas pipe works.
—Atlas Obscura

Driving south of Houston on Texas 288 over the years, I have marveled at the giant animal sculptures along the freeway. I was excited to see new additions as I drove by, but never stopped to look. Then I researched The Eclectic Menagerie Park, located on a narrow strip of the Texas Pipe & Supply property. I made it my mission to stop and smell the (metal) roses.

Jerry Rubenstein, Chairman of the Board of Texas Pipe & Supply, started the outdoor sculpture museum decades ago with a couple of concrete animal statues. He commissioned local artists Ron Lee and Mark Rankin to create about two dozen metal sculptures, from a giant dinosaur and armadillo to a fishing rod and reel with Jerry's old red pickup truck caught on the lure. A stealth bomber stands at attention as Snoopy flies his Sopwith Camel. A semi truck cab is stuck in the dirt, waiting to be towed out. King Kong hangs menacingly on a crane and colorful cows stand on a surfboard up in the sky.

Enjoy a sample of the Eclectic Menagerie images below. 

Eclectic Menagerie Gallery

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Photography, 0 comments

Entropy. The Beauty in dirt, rust and decay.

Lichen and moss on rock

en’•tro•py 
:
a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder

Entropy. It's a natural phenomenon, a measure of chaos, disorder and randomness in a system. It's part of the life cycle, where things ultimately decay and the cycle starts anew.

life’•cycle
the series of stages in form and functional activity through which an organism passes between successive recurrences of a specified primary stage

I took a series of random walks through manmade and natural settings—in search of interesting lines, forms, colors and textures—and found beauty in rusty, dirty and decayed things.

Some observations from these walks:
  • colorful moss and lichens on rocks improve with time.
  • rust patterns on manhole covers, sewer grates and checker plate metal are attractive.
  • usually overlooked, thistles other weeds have exquisite forms and colors.
  • fungi on decaying trees have unusual shapes and rich textures.
  • earth cracked after months of drought reveals beautiful, random patterns.
  • dirt splashed on a fire hydrant or squashed by giant tires creates uniform patterns. 

Enjoy these things while you can; they are temporary. At the end of their life cycles, they crumble into the earth or wash away, only to start the cycle again. That’s entropy, returning things to an orderly state. Enjoy my photos below. 

Entropy image gallery

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Photography, 0 comments

Old, rusty, abandoned equipment provides great photographic subject matter

35mm filmstrip, abandoned farm

Old, rusty, and abandoned equipment fascinates me. It has rich lines, angles, and textures, even though its colors are faded. A large property south of Houston, Texas provides a backdrop for a recent photo session. Perhaps a farm in its former life, the City has walled off the property with a six-foot fence and planted vines along this fence that, eventually, will obscure the view of what some feel is unsightly. Suburban progress encroaching on this old, rusty aesthetic.  

Rusted steel drums, corrugated metal and giant tires rest peacefully next to a barbed wire fence. A Corvette body sits on the ground, a shell of its former sleek design. A rusty axle reminds me of an old plow. A couple of Case excavators and an old John Deere Tractor sit idle, as if their operators took a lunch break and never returned. But there is life, as Black Angus cows and their petite newborn calves graze near a once-colorful dump truck. They look at me as I snap photos. 

I want to go inside and get a closer look at these interesting items, but the electric fence warns me to stay out. I enjoy what I see from the road…

Abandoned farm Photos

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Photography

Jill B Gilbert delivers stylish slide templates for The Justice Hub School

Custom slide template and presentation for The Justice Hub School
Custom slide template and presentation for The Justice Hub School

 The Justice Hub School provides underserved youth in Houston’s Third Ward with academic and leadership skills to succeed in life. Jill B Gilbert was pleased to create a colorful new brand and a stylish custom presentation templates for this public charter school. 

Our graphic design team created two templates aimed at different audiences–prospective donors and board members, and prospective students. Both templates employ Justice Hub’s new brand and color scheme. The image above shows the second, less formal, template on an iPad Pro. 

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Color, Corporate Identity, Design, Education, Logo Design, Marketing, Standards, Typography, 0 comments

Halloween Thanks to CLHS Teachers and Staff: “No Tricks, Just Treats!”

Halloween Poster in Appreciation of CLHS Teachers and Staff by Jill B Gilbert

The Clear Lake High School PTSA wanted a Halloween poster to show appreciation to the school’s teachers and staff. 

Jill B Gilbert created a 20- x 30-inch poster with a black cat and pumpkins, a haunted house on a hill, and spider webs. The poster, created in Adobe Illustrator, uses various tints of purple for the background, with oranges and yellows for the pumpkins and a hint of glowing green. 

Thanks to the amazing CLHS teachers and staff from the PTSA! Enjoy your treats!


 

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Design, Education, Graphics, Illustration

Questions to ask if you want a new or refreshed brand

A couple of weeks ago, a client selected my design firm to help with getting their brand on merchandise to sell at events and in their online store. I asked if they had their brand in various layouts and file formats for digital and print purposes. If the answer was, “Yes,” they were ready to go. 

It turns out that what they really wanted was a new or refreshed brand, as they felt the current one was outdated. 

If you want a new or refreshed brand, find answers to the following eleven questions before you speak with your graphic designer. 

Great Explorations | Original Brand
Great Explorations | Original Brand

Arm yourself with plenty of information before you start the design process. If you don’t know where to start, seek advice from a graphic designer in knowledgeable in design, business and marketing issues and trends. 

1. What are your business goals?

Believe it or not, a brand is more than a logo or graphic design; it is about your organization’s message, and how you communicate that message verbally and visually. So, it follows that business goals are connected to your brand. What is your organization’s “big picture?” Are you expanding into new markets? Are you planning new products, services, locations, or methods of reaching out to current or prospective clients? 

2. What do you want this Brand to accomplish?

Think about how the graphic design of your brand fits into your marketing plans. If you have an established brand, you might want to update it to capture new markets. If you plan to launch a new brand, how will you generate brand awareness in the marketplace?

3. Who is your target audience?

Do/will you use digital marketing–social media, email, blogs to communicate with current and prospective clients– or traditional print, TV, radio and merchandise marketing methods? Where and how will you display your brand?

4. What marketing channels will you use?

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5. How Do you want your brand perceived?

What 3-5 adjectives describe your brand’s personality? For example, “youthful, urban, and edgy,”  “corporate, seasoned, and traditional,” or something else? Do you see your brand as casual or formal; modern or traditional? Where do you see your product or service positioned in the market?

6. What are your brand/company values and mission?

If you closely tie your business model to your values and mission, then your brand design may reflect them. A preschool might want to incorporate a school or students. An environmental organization might want to use a tree, a leaf, something green, or something related to the earth. 

7. Do you want to avoid certain topics, themes, imagery or colors?

Images and colors mean different things in different cultures. You may think that all firms that cater to your target audience have brands with similar elements, and you want your brand to stand out. Or, you simply might not like the color orange or purple. 

8. Who are your key competitors?

What do you like or dislike about your competitors’ brands? Your graphic designer should create a brand that stands out from the competition, at the same time keeping in mind that you are going after the same audience. 

9. Which existing brands do you admire or want to emulate?

If you are a tech startup, do you admire the designs of Apple, Dell, or Microsoft?All of these are quite different, yet recognizable worldwide–and each has gone through a transformation over the decades. What do you specifically like about the brands you admire?

10. What do you like and dislike about your current brand?

Knowing what you like and dislike is valuable information that will help you to launch your new or refreshed brand. You may think the colors or typeface are outdated, or you may think you want to start over with a new design. Either way, this is a great opportunity to enhance your overall brand strategy.  

11. What is your decision making style?

When you embark on a branding initiative,  your graphic designer will ask you to make a series of decisions, from design choices like brand style, images, color and typography (fonts) to technical choices like file formats, resolution, and the size your brand will be displayed. Where you are on the scale from Decisive to Indecisive will impact your ability to meet project objectives, scope, schedule, budget, and timeline. 

Do you make decisions quickly? Do you make decisions based on feelings or facts? Do you get bogged down in “analysis paralysis?” For a description of business decision making types, read more here

When I say, “You,” I really mean “you and your key stakeholders in this branding effort.” I recommend that you seek input from your key stakeholders before reaching key project milestones, but I do not recommend building your brand “by committee.” 

 

The Justice Hub School | Original Brand
The Justice Hub School | Original Brand

Spending time to answer these eleven questions–including input from key stakeholders–can better position you for success in your branding initiative. Credit to 99 Designs for their original post; I added my perspective to their eleven questions.

Is all this effort worth it? Clients who understand the importance of branding say it is. If branding is new to you, So You Think You Need a New Brand might provide some insight. 

As always, if you lack the internal resources to do a branding project, seek outside help. And, if you don’t know where to start, seek advice from a graphic design professional that also understands business and marketing issues. You will be glad you did.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Best Practices, Branding, Color, Consulting, Corporate Identity, Design, Graphics, Logo Design, Marketing, Typography, 0 comments

Eight Million Stories, Inc. selects Jill B Gilbert to create a brand for a new school

The Justice Hub School | Original Brand
The Justice Hub School | Original Brand

Marvin Pierre is Executive Director of Eight Million Stories, Inc., a nonprofit founded in 2017 to support disconnected youth in Houston, Texas. Building upon the success of Eight Million Stories, he is founding a new school in Houston’s Third Ward. Marvin chose Jill B Gilbert to create a brand for The Justice Hub School that is attractive, edgy and has an urban feel. This project also included development of a brand guidelines document that will grow with the organization.

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Branding, Color, Corporate Identity, Design, Education, Graphics, Guidelines, Logo Design, Typography, 0 comments

So, you want a new website… 30 questions to answer before you build it

Creating a new or updated website to reflect your organization’s identity takes a bit of thought and planning.

Your website is an important part of your organization’s identity. A well-designed website reflects well on your organization, and a poorly-designed website can damage your reputation. I know this is hard, but spend time planning your website before you build it. Understand your audience and design your site accordingly. Make the site attractive and easy to navigate.

Whether you plan to redesign your website or are in the enviable position of designing a new website from scratch, take the time to find answers to the following questions to set your website project up for success. You will be glad you did!

Purpose

  1. WHO is your target audience?
  2. HOW will your website serve that audience? 
  3. WHAT is the compelling marketing message that is tailored to your audience?
  4. WHAT problem does your website solve for each type of person in your audience?
  5. WHAT is the site’s purpose, such as informational, e-commerce, blog, portfolio, news, or a combination of several purposes?

Content

  1. What is the clearly defined goal for each page on your website?
  2. Is your Home/Welcome page compelling?
  3. Does your About page describe the problems that you solve in simple and easy-to-understand terms?
  4. Is your web copy geared to your target audience, clear, easy to understand, and free of jargon?
  5. Do you have a landing page that you can use to collect email addresses and create email subscriptions?
  6. Do you have effective Calls to Action that lead your visitors to a desired action?
  7. What legal content do you need, such as Terms of Use, Privacy, Copyright, and/or other statements?

Design

  1. Is your website “look and feel” cohesive, and consistent with your company’s branding and color standards?
  2. Is your website’s navigation clear and easy to use?
  3. Is the site typography easy to read (fonts, type size, type hierarchy, headings, color and contrast)?
  4. Do you use high quality graphics and images on your website?
  5. Do your fonts and images load quickly?
  6. What is your preferred technical platform, e.g., as HTML + CSS, or a Content Management System like WordPress, Wix, or other?
  7. Is your website responsive—readable on mobile, tablet, laptop, and large screen devices?
  8. Can you maintain and update your website in-house, or do you need an outside specialist?

Marketing Goals and Objectives

  1. What business results you expect from your website?
  2. How do you plan to drive traffic and visitors to your website?
  3. What system do you have in place to track visitor behavior and interactions on your site?
  4. How will your organization generate and capture website leads?
  5. Are your site and any blog posts optimized for search engines?

Security and Backups

  1. What systems will be in place to protect your site from hackers?
  2. What tools or systems are needed to address website crashes and spam?
  3. What user and password security measures will your site have?
  4. What is your backup and recovery plan, including on-site and offsite storage?
  5. What is your periodic site audit plan?

Granted, 30 questions is a lot to answer—but take the time to find answers to every question if you want a website that addresses the needs of your audience and yields business results. If you are not sure how to proceed with your website design and build, please consult a professional that understands the technical, marketing, and business aspects of website creation. You will be glad you did!

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Best Practices, Branding, Color, Corporate Identity, Design, Marketing, Standards, Typography, Web Design

Mississippi Park Connection selects Jill B Gilbert for graphic design work

iMac with screenshot of Mississippi Park Connection presentation slides
Custom, branded presentation template for Mississippi Park Connection

Mississippi Park Connection needed a custom, branded presentation template to convey its mission and message. They selected Jill B Gilbert to design the template. “The challenge was to understand Mississippi Park Connection’s needs, and find a style to complement the organization’s three pillars—habitat restoration and tree planting; paddling the Mississippi River; and youth education,” says Gilbert. MPC is thrilled with the presentation template, which includes over twenty customized illustrations that will appeal to diverse audiences, from prospective board members to volunteers and Park visitors of all ages. 
Read more about the project here.

“Jill was wonderful to work with. She responded positively to our initial feedback on a design and came back with an update that accurately met our needs and vision while incorporating her professional expertise in PowerPoint and graphic design. She is prompt, communicates efficiently, and pushed the project along at times when I felt overwhelmed. We now have a well designed, branded, and functional PowerPoint presentation that will bring cohesiveness to all our presentations. Thank you Jill!”

–Callie Sacarelos, Communications and Marketing Manager, Mississippi Park Connection

Mississippi Park Connection is the nonprofit partner of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (U.S. National Park) and has headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the start of the river. 

 

Jill B Gilbert is a graphic and web designer with years of experience creating impactful marketing communications for both digital and print platforms, for large corporations, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. 

 

the nonprofit partner of Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Branding, Consulting, Corporate Identity, Design, Graphics, Illustration, Marketing, Standards, Typography