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Iowa History Journal Cover Art

I’ve had fun working on cover art for the Iowa History Journal on a freelance basis. My first job was colorizing a black and white photo of Smokey Smith. I used Photoshop to remove any major dust and scratches. Then I added extra background so there would be room for the cover elements before adding color. I did not design the final cover, but I am showing it here for context.

My second cover for the journal was to come up with a cover that would illustrate a feature story about Iowa’s baseball history. The owner of the magazine collected and provided several scans of vintage baseball cards that he wanted to use. I curated them down to reflect the time range and made sure to include the players most mentioned in the article. I chose to tie them all together with a weathered background that mimicked an old baseball glove. I also mocked up the cover to show how I envisioned text being placed, but I did not lay out the final cover.

For this cover, I was again commissioned to colorize a black and white image. I searched online for images to get the uniform colors accurate. Again, I added vertical space to the image so that it would fit the dimensions of the cover.

This issue told the story of how Japan attempted to send bombs to the US during World War II. I was provided an image of the balloon and decided to take an illustrative approach — combining an ink rural landscape and the rising sun of Japan’s flag.

"What's your more?" campaign

In 2015, Athene worked with a content marketing agency to use existing proprietary research data in a pilot program that would focus on the positive side of retirement. They developed retirement personas, cards for financial professionals and an online quiz. When asked to simply post the quiz on our website, I worked with a writer to develop a mini journey and content to support it.

The quiz was shared on social media platforms and in email communications. People who completed the quiz had their retirement persona revealed and were invited to receive Athene’s newsletter which contained retirement lifestyle content. We shared tips for each persona and included additional relevant content where it existed.

I designed all of the content, including the PDF downloads.

Leaders of Olympus

The challenge:

Athene wanted to rebrand Aviva's producer loyalty programs. These included an incentive trip, a deferred compensation plan, and differentiated service program. Rather than rebrand each program separately, the Program Manager wanted to combine them into one comprehensive package with a consistent theme. We had to come up with a name and visual system that hadn't been used by our competitors, was in keeping with Athene branding, and communicated what each facet of the program was.

Team approach:

We began by brainstorming and names for the big program. The leadership team liked the words "Apex" and "Olympus", so we moved on to exploring what we would call each of the three sub-programs. The final challenge was what to call the different tiers within each program. Gold, Silver and Bronze we an obvious choice. But maybe too obvious? After exploring many alternatives, we all agreed that the obvious choice was the easiest for people to understand.

For the logo design, we focused on the idea of a three-peaked mountain. Each peak could represent a sub-program or level of achievement. All designers contributed logo options, but mine happened to be the one chosen.

Creating a style guide:

Once we had approval on the logo, I began building out a design system. I created variations of the logo so the identity would be flexible across a variety of applications. I also used color coding and iconography to help distinguish between the different components of the program. All of this had to be documented in a clear manner because execution of the collateral would be spread between designers and two agencies in order to meet project timelines.

Communications:

The marketing plan included several deliverables — brochures for each program, flyers, promotional emails, trade advertising, a website, video, qualification letters, stickers, awards, etc.

I worked with our internal writers and designers and reviewed work completed by agency partners. I even wrote promotional copy for an Aruba flyer. We successfully launched the program in 2015, updated all materials in 2016, and continue to tweak copy to be more conservative in our language due to regulatory scrutiny.

Coffeeberry

Coffeeberry is a unique product. It's a tasteless, odorless powder derived from the fruit of the coffee bean. The client wanted us to design an identity to market the product as a nutritional additive. They wanted their target audience to understand that it was NOT a berry-flavored coffee product. I chose to explore an illustrative approach that would highlight the brightly-colored beans of the fruit. Then I used tea packaging to show it’s potential application as a food additive. This concept was not chosen by the client.

Work completed while employed at Cooper Smith and Company.

Paintpushers

I've been a member of a local artist group for nearly ten years (2006–2015). The group meets monthly to critique each others' work, commisserate and have fun. The group also puts on an annual exhibit, which has to be marketed. For me, these are fun exercises in how to communicate the concept of the show without making an assemblage of photos from each artist. Our budget is pretty low, so we hang up posters around town, hand out postcards and use social media to try and draw an audience.

My role within the group has been to edit press release drafts, set up the website, train people how to use it and then try to persuade them that it's really not that hard to update once in a while. Paintpushers.com is built on Tumblr specifically for ease of use, low cost, and easy sharing functionality.