The Call to Service
People love to steal cool glasses from bars. They break them, too. Some joints go through hundreds of glasses a year. One such place is the fabulous Bulldog in New Orleans.
They have a standing call to create designs for their pint glasses. If they pick your design, you get bragging rights to the glass, a free Bulldog t-shirt, and a gift certificate to use as you see fit.
I like parody, so that’s the direction I decided to take when creating the design I eventually submitted last week. Here, I’ll walk you through the process.
First, the general idea. I make associations…. (to be read in an echo-y voice, like dream sequence narration) “Bulldog. Pub. English. Bulldog…. Hmm…. An ‘English bulldog’ reminds me of Winston Churchill. Churchill reminds me of WWII, and that makes me think of those cool old morale (or “propaganda” depending on which side of a subject you find yourself on) posters. The kind from the war that reminded people to ‘do [their] part,’ ‘keep ’em flying,’ and (in Britain, anyway) keep a stiff upper lip in general.”
Putting all these thoughts together, I decided to create a design based on the look of a WWII poster, featuring a bulldog as the famous Winston Churchill “Roaring Lion” portrait by photographer Yousuf Karsh. According to legend, Churchill looks so pissed in this picture because Karsh had just removed the Prime Minister’s beloved cigar from his mouth. Ballsy move.
I found images via Google, and damned it this bulldog doesn’t look just like Churchill. Look at the jowls, the frown and the shape of the head. Perfect.
So I printed up the images and took them to the Starbucks located on the top floor of our neighborhood Barnes and Noble’s. Bookstore coffee shops are a great place to get work done. Seriously. Just ask Chris Brogan. There, wired on the magic bean and overlooking Broadway, I sketched away. Here’s the first run at it, from the original page in my sketchbook.
I put the cigar back in his mouth for effect. It looked better. Badder. I had a general idea of what those old posters look like, and I wanted to keep this one dynamic and simple. I only had black and white to work with. No shading, no colors. I wanted the name of the bar, The Bulldog, to be big and bold and at an angle, an effect often used in those posters. I decided to put a Union Jack flag motif behind Winston Bulldog. Then I thought, hey, how about something at the bottom… maybe a twist on an inspirational phrase from the Great P.M.? Oh, yeah… he had that excellent speech about fighting the Germans every step of the way…. On the beaches, in the fields, on the streets, etc…. something like that. Hmm…. This is about beer, though. And this bar is in New Orleans, where, indeed, you can drink beer on the streets. Streets. How about quaffing them (beers) instead of fighting them (Germans)? Yeah, that’s kind of clever. Clever enough.
Sometimes going from a sketch in a sketchbook (usually done very loosely with no pressure) to final art (done in ink, under pressure to achieve perfection) can be a travail. Not in this case. I rocked it. It progressed quickly and much to my satisfaction. I scanned the inked drawing, adjusted it in Photoshop (to achieve pure black and white with no shades of grey) and was ready to create the final design.
I found (thanks again, Google) a couple typical WWII posters, which gave me a better idea of the font to use. I also snagged a generic Union Jack motif, and converted it to just black and white.
Putting it all Together
In Photoshop, I created a file and laid the Union Jack down first, then Sir Winston Bulldog, then a couple white boxes, then the lettering. I decided to go with the font “Impact” which is a favorite of mine. It reads well. It’s fairly close in look to the WWII posters’ letters (especially when stretched vertically). It’s strong, bold. It worked. Finally I added my name and the copyright (don’t forget that, my friends) off to the side. Saved it as a grayscale jpeg file and boom. Donesville.
The folks at the Bulldog liked it and will roll them out later this year. Don’t steal them, dammit. (I want some.)