The dozens of awards Hammock Inc. has won over the years for its design work attest to the talent concentrated in our art department. But in what well do they find inspiration for the seemingly endless flow of fresh, invigorating designs for our print and web work? Turns out, inspiration springs from all around:
Art Director Kerri Davis recently turned a postcard pitch from an artist into a stunning illustration for American Spirit, which we publish for the Daughters of the American Revolution. The article was about Eliza Pinckney, an unusually independent and modern South Carolina woman who took over running an 18th-century plantation after her husband died and devised a method for efficiently extracting precious indigo dye from the source plant. Only one image — a painted miniature — survives and that didn’t have the right tone for the design Kerri had in mind.
“I had an illustrated postcard from an artist, Zela Lobb, that included a kind of floral image promoting the band Coldplay,” Kerri says. “I thought that style and the cool blues and greens in the illustration would be perfect for this.” She commissioned the artist to do an illustration portrait of Pinckney amid indigo plants, to set a context for her achievement.
“The illustration filled the first spread, and I used parts of the illustration throughout the layout, as well as some of the colors in the typography,” Kerri says. “When you don’t have real imagery or what you have isn’t very good, hiring the right illustrator can really help tell the story.”
For designer Lynne Boyer, textures of tangible objects often inspire backgrounds and elements in a design that subtly reinforce the content. “I’ve always loved old papers, photos and similar things. Several people here have a lot of old letters and books and photographs that came down to them, and I’ve used a lot of those as backgrounds or in other ways.”
“It started with American Spirit, to give some articles a period feel, but I’ve used it elsewhere, too. Recently in GX Magazine, which is for Army National Guard soldiers and families, we had an article about a group of soldiers scaling Mt. McKinley. The writer, who was one of the climbers, wrote it like a journal and wanted that feel in the design. I used different kinds of paper and tape and positioned them to give the layout a kind of scrapbook or journal feel,” Lynne says.
Ben Stewart, our newest graphic designer, drew on his experience as a student at Middle Tennessee State University to illustrate a feature story in American Spirit about the birth of magazines in the United States. MTSU’s print department has a large collection of old carved and cast type fonts, as well as a reproduction of a Colonial era printing press of the sort used by Benjamin Franklin. Since Ol’ Ben is regarded as the Founding Father of American magazines, our much younger Ben created the opening spread and headline with a collage of fonts. He also photographed the replica press.
He did run into a bit of technical difficulty as a novice printer’s devil. Each font character is reversed, so when printed, it will read properly. After photographing the assemblage of letters and characters “I saw that I had some reading the wrong way,” Ben says. A little 21st Century image magic set everything right.