Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kill Fee Week, Part I

Kill fee: |kil fē| noun. Payment made to a creative for work done but not used.
Stuff happens. Some projects die before their time. No harm, no foul. No fee, except for the starting payment, for services up to that point.

I learn something no matter what — in a technique, a relationship, step more skillfully taken. And I have fun.

Here's one project that didn't go to production, for a bicycle motocross racing group in Sydney, Australia, which sought a jersey redesign. Things didn't work out. Here are some of the sketches.
This is from round 2 of illustrations, in which decision makers in the club asked for
designs which hearkened to the look of other racing jerseys. I tried — but I wanted
to give the club something out of the ordinary, harnessing the print capabilities (left) and
riffing off of dazzle camouflage designs (right).
The club asked me to explore Sydney-ish visuals. The city is known the world over
for its still-stunning opera house, for example, like a nautilus disarticulating on dry land.
I played instead with the stylized image of the rainbow serpent that appears on Sydney's city coat of arms.
The rainbow serpent is integral to the myths and creation stories of
the Australian aboriginal people. As fascinated as I am by aboriginal art, especially the "x-ray" style that seems to expose creatures' bones, I'm uneasy about using it.

I feel the same about the entrancing art of the Pacific Northwest, in which native cultures have advanced an extremely spare graphic style. It demonstrates life's interconnectedness, depicting animals whose limbs and parts are made from other animals, all distinctive by their ovoid black, white and red eyes.

I'd love to draw inspired by that art, but I don't feel it's mine to mess with, that it's sacred to those cultures. Maybe I'm glad the racing club didn't choose this.

These designs are inspired by Reko Rennie, a Sydney artist known for his aboriginal-inspired geometric
forms, so simple yet so unsettling in their vibrancy. It would be an obtuse reference, but I figured the
Sydney folks would get it. Just in case, I tucked shapes of the opera house room, the Sydney Tower
and the Sydney Harbor Bridge in among the lines.
A threatened species of frog has become a sort of anti-mascot for the racing club, which rides at part of the
park where the 2000 Sydney Olympics took place. The frog's habitat limits the club's use of its track. I thought
the kids in the club might like themselves enveloped in the frog's long slimy tongue, eventually catching
one of their teammates.
The shirt would have been printed using dye sublimation, which affords subtle variations in color and detail.
I tried to take advantage of this with transparent angel flame-wings, and a gradient behind the repeated
hex nut pattern.
More frogginess
Because who doesn't love a monstrous eyeball on a racing jersey?
The project included the possibility of a logo redesign, from this:
Two-color version of the original full-color look,
featuring a frog.
To some of these possibilities:
The club benefits from a wealth of impassioned supporters, but ultimately the collective passion from many directions could not provide direction for the jersey design under the agreed-upon budget.

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