From April 2017 through January 2019, I had a dream job—Creative Director on a book of photography telling the story of Kenny Chesney’s touring life. The photos were all shot down through the years by three incredibly talented photographers—Allister Ann, Glen Rose and Jill Trunnell.
It was a small team—Kenny, editor Holly Gleason, me, and print consultant Twyla Lambert-Clark. All of the printing and bindery work was done right here in Middle Tennessee.
Here are the crazy specs for this book:
456 Pages, 571 Photographs, 9.4 pounds Limited Signed + Numbered Edition of 3500 Art Quality 100 Pound FSC Silk Stock paper + book jacket stock 80 Pound Cougar FSC cover paper for end sheets 5/4 color wth matte scuff-free film laminate cover process 5/5+ Satin Aqueous Process on pages, another protective coating Embossed Linen Cover * Premium Cowhide Binding Silver Gilded Page Edges * Custom Cobalt Blue Headbands Shrink-Wrapped * Delivered in Custom Protective Carton
Created, printed, bound in Middle Tennessee
This is the cover, which shows in a nutshell what this book is about—Kenny’s incredible relationship with No Shoes Nation, his dedicated fans.
A double-sided dust jacket means I could design for an awesome, colorful “Easter Egg” of backstage passes on the inside of it. A silver foil stamp on the spine mimics the design on the dust jacket.
The spine is high grade leather, and the foil stamp on the front cover is Kenny’s logo. We went with a blue linen cover to reflect Kenny’s love for the water.
Silver gilding on the edges keeps it snazzy—and keep the page edges from turning brown as time goes by.
Every picture tells a story. And boy, does Kenny Chesney have a great story to be told. I’m so glad I got to help.
Year in Music
The Year in Music is an annual special issue of the Nashville Scene newsweekly. I art directed and designed the cover and the seven-page cover story, in addition to all the regular columns and stories inside. It was a lot to achieve in a week.
I enjoyed working with photographer Daniel Meigs on the photo shoot with Adia Victoria, and sourcing and then using all the imagery in the timeline infographic, which spans five pages.
Adia is an elegant, thoughtful artist, so I wanted the overall presentation and typography to follow suit. For the gold graphics that tie the various stories together, I drew inspiration from the level meter used to monitor amplitude on soundboards in recording studios and radio stations.
In addition to the version for print, I also designed a timeline for the Scene'swebsite, which ran vertically instead of horizontally.
I am proud of my contributions to this issue, and am glad I got to work with the awesome Scene team for three great, fun, fast-paced months.
A spread from the Year in Music issue.
The beginning of the timeline, which spanned five pages.
2016 Boner Awards
While serving as the Interim Art Director of the Nashville Scene newsweekly, I art directed this annual special issue named for a former mayor of Nashville, Bill Boner.
Boner is infamous for going on The Phil Donohue Show with his mistress and playing "Rocky Top" on harmonica while she sang along. The Nashville Scene uses his name each year for the Boner Awards issue, dedicated to dumb things people did in the previous year.
I hired talented illustrator Jeremy Lancaster of L2L Creative because I thought he'd be able to nail the lurid, irreverent tone I was looking for.
The cover immortalizes former State Representative Jeremy Durham, who was expelled from legislature for alleged sexual misconduct with at least 22 women.
Durham has been nicknamed "Pants Candy" after a lobbyist said he rummaged around in his pocket before suggestively offering her a dirty, unwrapped mint.
Detail of one of the spots.
I worked for three months as the Interim Art Director for the Nashville Scene while their usual AD was out on leave, and this was my first cover design.
The story was an insightful essay about the author's experience in relation to the changing landscape of Nashville as a city undergoing significant growth. My idea was to use one of those old snowglobes from the souvenir shops to symbolize "old Nashville," and to have construction cranes—which litter our downtown landscape—exploding out of the top of the snowglobe.
I really enjoyed going to work on the snowglobe with a Dremel tool, cutting away the shattered top, and then working with talented photographer Eric England to style and capture a great photo of the snowglobe. I took the hero shot into Photoshop to composite the photo illustration with the cranes.
Morley's Dog is an icon in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small city that is probably best known for the catastrophic flood that occurred there in 1889. Morley's Dog, a small zinc yard ornament, was found after the flooding in a pile of debris downriver, far from the yard where he belonged.
For two years in a row, I was hired to design posters and T-shirts for the Johnstown Folkfest, a community festival produced by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association. Morley's Dog seemed like a natural motif.
The first year, I gave Dog some sunglasses and a nifty studded collar. In 2004, he did his best Willie Nelson impression.
The 2003 poster.
The 2003 T-shirt.
A marker sketch for the 2004 identity.
The 2004 T-shirt.
I art directed and designed this comprehensive campaign in 2013.
The Flatrock neighborhood in Nashville is a popular one for immigrants from many different countries, so my idea was to show hope and people working together for a bright future.
Originally, I was just hired to design the poster, but my client was so happy with the design, and positive feedback he received when putting the posters out around town, that he decided to spend some money to advertise the event in print and on the web. He even got some T-shirts printed up.
The original poster design.
Facebook cover image.
The Cairo Project
In 2007, I designed and produced this website and hardback book for The School of Journalism at Southern IIlinois University Carbondale as part of my Master of Arts degree.
The Cairo Project was the culmination of six semesters of student journalism work—a critical and unsparing investigation into one of the most unique cities in America.
My role began as a journalist, going down to photograph the town every weekend for a full semester. I then helped edit the photos, and handled all aspects of print and website design and production for the entire project.
Bandwidth was and remains a problem for the citizens of Cairo. I built the site in BBEdit, using Soundslides so that the site would load quickly on slower configurations.
The book's front and back covers show the two sides of Cairo in the 20th century—the bleak desolation of its formerly-grand streets, and hope for better days to come.
It was everyone's hope that we could effect positive change on a political level by shining a light on the dire living conditions in present-day Cairo. I chose an American red, white and blue color palette to reinforce the fact that Cairo is an American town, worthy of consideration and care. I used an Egyptian typestyle as a sly nod to the fact that this part of Illinois is called "Little Egypt," but also to underscore the town's rich industrial and cultural history.
A soundslide page about the Cairo Regional Airport. Photo is mine.
Front and back covers and spine of the 76-page hardback book.
Book chapter introductory spread.
Cairo's formerly-grand architecture on the left, and spaces used to hide people escaping slavery on the Underground Railroad on the right.
I designed a system of two logos for the Nashville Community Darkroom, a grassroots community 501(c)3 that I also helped co-found.
Since the organization is a non-profit, I thought it best to use just one color—black—for the brand because we could generate materials inexpensively on a copy machine. The black against white color scheme is also symbolic of the black and white film being processed and printed in the darkroom.
I decided on two marks instead of one to show that the darkroom is open to amateurs as well as more experienced photographers. So the SLR camera can be used for beginners' classes and workshops, while the twin-lens Rolleiflex works for the more advanced classes.
As the Brand Manager—Creative Identity at Cokesbury, I branded the company's Furnishings and Project Services department, a new growth opportunity for the company. One of the problems I had to overcome was the perception that Cokesbury is an old and out-of-touch retailer, so my first job was to provide a modern feel for the department and its materials, keeping the church audience in mind.
Through a series of meetings, we determined that the goods and services being offered were for three kinds of spaces—rooms for worship, learning, and various kinds of gathering spaces.
I used images of surfaces on the cover to frame the context immediately. The maroon, gold and navy blue became the department's brand colors.
Without a real budget for artwork, I had to source vendor photography for this piece as well as a printed look book that can also be seen here.
Solitare Records Logo
Jim Glaser self-released a CD called Me and My Dream, and he needed an identity for his label, Solitare Records (the spelling is his).
I thought the label name suggested playing cards—and since he played on the recording, which would then be played by the audience, I ran with that iconography.
Of the four suits, a diamond felt most appropriate since it's precious, and a heart would be too twee for Jim's company. I wanted to stick with a red suit to bring verve and excitement to the mark.
I wrapped an S around the diamond to soften up its angular edges a bit, and then encompassed the mark in a banner that also includes a nod to record grooves.
The mark works well at small sizes, against dark and light backgrounds, and the diamond and S stand up without the banner on a CD spine.
The CD tray inlay.
I was hired to design and produce a series of posters for a traveling museum exhibit, A River Through Illinois. The exhibition was comprised of both photographs and texts, many of which were included in a companion 238-page hardback book.
My challenges with this series were several. Each poster had to look different, as the museums were all in the same part of the U.S. Each poster was paid for by a different museum (with a different budget, and applicable sponsors), and each went to a different press to be printed. And each poster was jam-packed with text, as the writer needed to be represented as well as the photographer.
The layout and color palette of each poster was designed to be responsive to, and support, the hero image being featured.
This poster is 37" wide and only 16.75" tall. It's an odd format, meant to reinforce the long horizontal photo's shape.
This is a blade used to dredge the riverbottom. I designed the supporting info to bring the idea of rotation to mind.
The horizontal flow of texts and information on this poster support the action of the camera, as it swiveled on its axis to create the panoramic hero image.
I served as the Interim Art Director for the Nashville Scene newsweekly for three months, October–December 2016. It was an opportunity to really get creative and wrap my head around some great content created by the Scene's writers and staff photographers.
I also got to tap the uber-talented Holly Carden to illustrate our Election Issue, which was such a treat!
I have one empty square on my site, so here's a gallery of some of the work I did at the Scene. Those weekly deadlines make you work hard and smart and focused, and it was a challenge and a pleasure keeping the presses rolling for a while.