Images

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

When the dog bites, when the bee stings…

Illustration of a bee flying near flowers, with the title Bee Calm

I had just returned from walking our dog, Maggie, which happens three or four times each day. I unclipped her leash to let her run in the yard and noticed a stray leaf that needed to be picked up. As I bent down, a bee or wasp stung me on the face. I had a fat lip in seconds and calmly drove myself to the ER. 

I drew this “BEE CALM” illustration later that day to remember to remain calm during emergencies. I used Procreate on my iPad Air with several stamp and texture brushes. A nice memory of a scary situation! By the way, I never found the insect responsible…

Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Art, Graphics, Illustration

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

Approaches to branding multiple products or services under one business

I have a client that needs graphic design work for multiple brands, and wants all of their brands in a single portfolio. Their services generally target the same audience, and the audience can choose one or more services; these services do not compete with one another. My client seeks consistency in the way they portray the different services in digital and print media. 

If your organization manages more than one brand, you have different options to manage them. Your branding strategy–key to your marketing strategy–depends on your target audience and customers. 

Whether you already have several brands, or you anticipate new product or service lines, you can find a structure that works for your organization.

Individual Brands or Parent and Sub-Brands

Two options for managing multiple brands are:

  1. a multi-brand strategy with individual brands for each product/service, and
  2. a single, parent brand with multiple sub-brands. 

If the products or services aim to fulfill different purposes or have different visions, you may want to to separate your brands. If your products or services reflect an overarching vision or purpose, you might choose the parent/sub-brand option.

Your company’s vision, values, customers, and market position can guide your choice of options. 

  • Who are your customer segments?
  • Do your products/services target vastly different segments?
  • Do these differing segments want to be associated with one another?
  • If you plan a new product/service, does it reflect your existing brand’s deeper purpose and vision, or does it reflect a new purpose and vision?

Examples

Multi-brand strategy

Procter & Gamble uses a multi-brand strategy, with individual brands for each product line. Some of their product lines include Tide, Gain, Crest, Pampers, Bounty, Swiffer, Oral B, and Gillette. Some of their products compete with each other, for example, Tide and Gain, but Procter & Gamble gets a piece of the laundry market share from both products, aimed at different consumers. 

Parent brand and sub-brand strategy

Adobe has multiple products under a single brand. Creative Cloud, their main product line, includes Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Lightroom, and more. Adobe markets Creative Cloud to very different audiences, and allows individual users and teams to select the apps that best meet their graphic design, photography, and other creative needs. 

 

Adobe Creative Cloud includes over 20 desktop and mobile apps

In closing, if your organization manages several brands, make sure that you have a clear strategy. And make sure to document this strategy and also provide clear brand guidelines so you can communicate consistently and clearly with your target audience. 

References

Pruitt, Jeff, Approaches to Branding Multiple Brands, Inc. Magazine, accessed 02 November 2021.

Pruitt, Jeff, 4 Branding Structures When Multiple Products and Services are Involved, Inc. Magazine, accessed 02 November 2021.

Dearth, Brian, Multi-Brand Strategy: 5 Top Trends in 2021, Vaimo, accessed 14 January 2022.

Adobe Creative Cloud, accessed 14 January 2022. 

Procter & Gamble Brands, accessed 14 January 2022. 

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

A less messy approach to using Adobe Lightroom Classic (LrC)

It’s easy to make a mess of thousands of digital photos, just like cramming a bunch of photo prints and negatives into shoeboxes. Without labeling the shoeboxes and photo print envelopes, there’s no way to quickly find a particular photo. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to organize your digital photos and find what you need when you need it?

I am midway through a fine arts photography class that starts with analog (black & white film) and ends with digital photography. I thought it was time to really learn how to use Adobe Lightroom Classic to my advantage.  With fewer than 2000 digital images taken since I purchased my digital SLR (DSLR), it’s about time to get organized… before the number grows too large to manage!

Today I watched a video presented by Tim Grey on the B&H Photo Event Space called, “Avoiding a Mess in Lightroom Classic.” My thoughts on the video? Tim’s advice is great for mid-level to professional photographers who have LOTS of digital photos. Some of the advice is probably not as helpful for students who will take 1-2 photo classes and not catalog their photos again. 

This post applies to features found in the Classic software. It focuses on organizing your photos, not photo editing capabilities. Read on to learn a few secrets of managing LrC, or as I call it, a Less Messy Approach.

What is Lightroom Classic?

Adobe offers two versions of Lightroom; the newer, Cloud-based known as Lightroom, and the original, desktop software, now known as Lightroom Classic (see screenshot, right). 

Lightroom Classic is more powerful than Lightroom, and geared more to professional photographers. Learn more about the two different products on the Adobe website here

Screen Shot of Lightroom Classic, Adobe Creative Cloud 2021

A Less Messy Approach to Using Adobe Lightroom Classic

Tim Grey is a leading educator in digital photography and imaging. Tim teaches through workshops, seminars, and appearances at major events around the world.

His advice on using Adobe Lightroom Classic (LrC):

  • Initiate everything in LrC. This avoids problems with moved photos and renamed folders.
  • Make sure you understand how LrC works.  The LrC catalog contains information about the photos; the photos are stored separately. If you rename folders and photos on your hard drive, LrC thinks they are missing when you look for them later. 
  • Tidy up photos before using LrC. Get rid of photos you don’t plan to use. Clean up your folder structure. Then import photos. You can create, rename, and move folders after you import photos to the catalog. 
  • Use a single LrC catalog. Tim has 400,000 photos in his catalog, so it takes a bit longer to load LrC, but he does not see performance issues with LrC.
  • Consolidate photo storage. Use a single hard drive or external hard drive as the top level for photo storage. This makes it easier to locate a photo later. 
  • Avoid date-based folders. You may not remember when you took a photo, so easier to label folder with who, what, or where photos taken. You can use dates if needed, just not as the first part of the folder name.
  • Create a meaningful and consistent folder structure. Something that works for you. Keep folder structure relatively flat.
  • Make full use of the import feature. Don’t download photos to your hard drive first. Copy photos from your media card and add photos already on your computer to the catalog. Use file handling, file renaming, apply during import, and destination settings.
  • Back up your catalog. Remember, the catalog is separate from your photos. Backup feature allows you to test the integrity of the catalog and optimize it after backup.
  • Back up your photos. Photos are separate from the catalog. Tim uses GoodSync; you might use OneDrive, iCloud, DropBox, Google Drive, etc.
  • Create a consistent image review workflow.
  • Get familiar with filters. In the Library tab, in Grid mode [G], use the backslash [\] to access the filter bar above the image thumbnails.
  • Preserve metadata. Use Catalog Settings and Editing capabilities. You should include develop settings in metadata inside your image files. This way, you maintain the metadata if your LrC catalog gets corrupted.
Posted by Jill B Gilbert in Best Practices, Guidelines

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?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

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