Graphic Design by Bob Pierce

When I first got into the graphics field, we didn’t call it “graphic design,” we called it “commercial art” because back then, the technology was a tool to express the design; one went to art school which would just as readily teach oil painting and sculpture as it would teach advertising psychology and photo retouching. Today’s graphic artists are technological wunderkinds but their training and experience rarely venture into artistic layout, balance, typography, and other elements of design that would make an project a powerful and successful one. Truly, there is no school like the old school.

And that is what I bring to the table with my designs. Most of the projects I work on these days are publications and books; laying out page after page of text with illustrations and eye-catching covers. Every bit of my training and decades of experience are poured into each and every one and I will bring that expertise to bear on your project be it a novel, a periodic magazine, advertising campaign, package design or…whatever it is you may need.

Another shift in the paradigm of the design field is the easy use of the internet. Once I would have to meet with a client across a conference table and map out all of the details of a proposed project and then have them return to see mocked-up proofs. Today everything is digital. I have many clients that I’ve never met face to face who rely on me to meet their deadlines and produce award-winning work for their businesses, events and publications.

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Vehicle Graphics & Wraps

How best to promote your business or organization than to have your logo emblazoned on the vehicle that you use each day. A delivery vehicle, work truck, company car, a race car that you sponsor. By far, it is some of the very best local advertising that you can possibly do. It can be as simple as some creative lettering and your logo or it can be as eye-catching as a complete vinyl wrap covering your vehicle from roof to rockers with your image. When this technology first came on the scene it was quite expensive, especially for a smaller business, but today automotive accessory shops, sign companies and even some printers are offering it and costs have come way down so that almost any business can afford it. And if you’re sponsoring a racing car, wrapping that car in vinyl has been the go-to way to get your presence known and seen on the track, television coverage and promotional opportunities.

Needless to say, I’ve been on top of this technology from the very beginning which was not all that many years ago. Vehicle graphics was (and still can be) simple cut-vinyl lettering and logos and that’s how we all started out. With a little bit of creativity and strategy, simple cut vinyl can look far more sophisticated and make a powerful impression. The Cavallino Graphic company car was lettered with cut-vinyl graphics. The rear of the car is splashed with an irregular black flash of color with the vinyl lettering set over it in a second layer. Likewise, the hood was done with a corner image. The car appeared in local parades, was parked in prominent places at various events and, when it was in a minor accident and needed a fair amount of bodywork done, the simple cut-vinyl was easy and inexpensive to replace.

Likewise, the RennServ trucks were lettered and decorated with cut-vinyl. I used the same sign-maker to do these trucks as I did for the Cavallino car. RennServ was a company that provided specialty tools, parts and supplies for racing teams trackside who raced German cars (BMWs, Porsches, Audis, etc.). I created a stylized silhouette of a Porsche GT1 racing car to use across the back windows of the pickup truck caps and across the big roll-up doors on the tool trucks that they would park inside the track’s paddocks. Four trucks in all and the project was highlighted in an  article in the PowerStroke Registry magazine.

 

The FotoFactory camera store decided to do their black pickup truck as the technology for doing actual vinyl wraps was becoming much more accessible. To keep costs down, however, we chose to do partial segments and not a full wrap. The gigantic graphic of the camera was created from scratch as Nikon could not provide a scalable image that could be blown up that large. I meticulously recreated the camera and all of its details in a drawing program that I could scale up as large as I might ever need it to be. Speaking of affordability, if your company is a dealer for any particular national brand, this sort of advertising often has “co-op” money available to help. After all, you are advertising their product for them along with your own dealership.

 

FotoFactory also sponsored a local stock car for a couple of seasons. They came to me to design a livery that would be bold, stand out on the track, use their logo and company colors prominently and be done in such a way that when (not “if”) the car was crunched in a race and body panels needed to be replaced, it would be quick and easy to replace the vinyl so that FotoFactory would never miss out on a presence in any race that season. I don’t know how well the driver did as far as wins or losses, but I won a trophy at the pre-season car show for the best livery design for that year! I even got a trophy – pretty cool.


When I first did the SUV for The Light Radio, we chose to do just a partial wrap to keep costs down. The vehicle was wrapped around each side, the rear tailgate and the hood. It was a used vehicle with a bit of rust in some places which was well hidden (at first) by the vinyl but it was a daily driver and it wasn’t long before it started getting a little rough-looking around the edges.

A few years later the radio station got a new general manager and I redesigned the station’s logo, created an entirely new corporate identity and the old SUV was traded in for a minivan. This time, we did a full wrap. The windows were covered with perforated vinyl. Because the design involved a graduated tint base from front to back, we even wrapped the bumpers to keep the look contiguous.

Vehicle wraps are now the standard for local advertising. Gigantic photographs, bold logos and bright colors can make you stand out anywhere and everywhere you go. My experience includes many such projects as these including racing cars, rally cars, trucks and vans and I use some of the most experienced and professional vinyl companies to be sure to get a perfect result. So if you really want to make an impact, this is a great way to do it. Need a new logo? A new corporate identity? Bold, custom graphics and photos? No problem – I do that.

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Magazine & Periodicals
Layout and Design

 

For over twenty years I’ve been working with a few different titles of periodical magazines for a couple of different publishers. Typically, their writers would dump text files and photos on me (by deadline, hopefully) and my art direction would translate a sea of paper and computer files into high-quality, bullet-proof designs that go to press on time and without drama. These are the things that magazine publishers and their advertisers want and that is what I deliver.

Over the years, my magazine and periodical designs have garnered three Communicator Awards for excellence.

As the magazine business has ridden a pendulum that has swung toward the on-line web-based world and mostly abandoned the print world, that pendulum has swung back again and the magazines that I worked with rode it to keep up with the technology and the shifting styles that have resulted.

Many such magazines have started out as kitchen-table layout projects (maybe yours?) but today’s expectations are far higher and if you are a small-run publisher, particularly a “buff-book” publisher or club magazine, my services are precisely what you need. Not only do I handle the layout and design and all the art direction, but also work as liaison with printers and can help with contract negotiations when the need arises.

The ink-and-paper periodical industry is enjoying a resurgence. Is your publication ready to take advantage of that? Let’s talk.

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Photo Manipulation

For virtually every project these days, special images need to be created. Most folks wouldn’t think of the possibilities of what could be done in PhotoShop by a professional until they see it. Just putting a snapshot on a book cover or promotional piece is all well and fine but how much more eye-catching would it be with some creative attention. Here are a few examples of some “before” and “after” images that have been used on various projects recently.

Obviously, these images have had a ton of work done on them. Cutting, re-configuring various elements. The space suit was colored to look more like a running suit for the cover of a book for marathon runners. I added the number bib to the front of the suit and, if you look closely, you can see the scene of the marathon runners ahead reflected in the visor.

Obviously, these images have had a ton of work done on them. Cutting, re-configuring various elements. The space suit was colored to look more like a running suit for the cover of a book for marathon runners. I added the number bib to the front of the suit and, if you look closely, you can see the scene of the marathon runners ahead reflected in the visor.

The girl is from the cover of my book “Ascention,” the raw photo from the photographer is on the left untouched. Her hair was red but not red enough, I added color and also changed her eyes to a brilliant green. The image was then processed with a couple of different filters to create the final image that I used for the book and all of the promotional materials that went with it.

Sometimes the project doesn’t require quite so much creative alterations but just a few fun alterations.

The vintage Ferrari engine was an interesting project. The photo was shot directly overhead. To be used for a CD cover, it needed to be perfectly symmetrical and square. In PhotoShop, the image was distorted from what I started out with (on the left). Let’s face it, even the most talented and well-equipped photographer can’t be sure to get the camera perfectly centered and paralell to the image when he’s leaning over the fender trying not to actually touch the paint with his belly. Trust me. The photo was also enhanced to bring out some more of the detail, as well. 

It’s hard to say that one could even dare to suggest that they could improve on Leaonardo DaVinci, but for my book “Pieces,” I needed to use the master’s painting (since it’s central to the story line) but make it say more. By adding the Roy Orbison shades and a sub-machine gun, it really did. The shades were drawn in a drawing program and inserted. The machine gun was lifted from a photo from a different photo session and color-shifted to have the same warm tones of browns and beiges that the painting had and then blurred to give it a softer look. Once pasted in place, the hand was cut and lifted from a copy of the original photo file and set in place. Finally some shading and shadows and one can hardly tell that Leonardo himself hadn’t painted her just like that. Though it’s obvious that the Mona Lisa did not have bright red lipstick, purple streaks in her hair and a machine gun, it’s still important sometimes to make the alterations – even really heroic ones – appear as if no alterations had been done at all. 

And sometimes that’s just the ticket. Sometimes we just need to give the camera’s eye a little help.

For his next book, the author wanted to use this photo of himself running in the Boston Marathon on the cover. It’s not a bad image as it stands but the background is a bit busy and distracting. I selected out everything behind the foreground runner and motion-blurred it and cut the contrast down a bit. Again, don’t want to make it look like it was fooled around with, it wants to still appear natural. The book cover will have a transparent band going across the middle of the image with the title lettering on top of it and the “Team Rett” lettering was way too bold and competing even with a ghosted band so it was airbrushed out and the fading yellow spots duplicated and extended down into the blank space. Also, the bright white “adidas” logo was darkened to avoid conflict with the title. If one did not have the original photo to compare against, one would never know that the finished product was messed with.

So what sort of project do you have in mind? Is your book in need of a dynamite, eye-grabbing cover and you need to use some sort of image and just can’t make it happen? Well, I probably can. I’ve done hundreds of PhotoShop manipulations like these for books, magazines and advertising and I know I can make it happen for you, too. 

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Packaging Design

Not every design job has pages and a spine, some are unique in many ways. One of the projects that have come into my studio from time to time are CD package designs. It’s sort of become a sort of sub-specialty around here. I’ve worked for a number of independent artists and various CD production companies and distribution companies. A design that I did a few years ago for a regular client was actually nominated for a Grammy Award for packaging design! No, we didn’t win, but he told me that an indie artist almost never gets nominated for anything, so this was really a pleasant surprise.

CD SamplesCD package design is much like book design, particularly the covers, as certain philosophies and design strategies apply to both. As with book cover designs, I have worked with photographers, models, original artwork (some of my own) and some pretty ambitious digital graphic treatments.

Independent musicians today are able to record themselves with some pretty sophisticated recording equipment that has become small, inexpensive and easy to use. Tracking their song mixes on a home computer with readily available software, today’s indie artist can produce a very professional-sounding album in their living rooms and basements. Shouldn’t the cover for that CD look just as professional? If you want to put as much into the image of your musical product as you have the music itself, you need to get in touch with me. Really.

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Trade Show & POP Displays

One of the largest, most involved projects that I’d ever undertaken for a client was the trade show booth for Norton Pike Industries. It essentially went through three annual variations. The first step, of course, was to get the blank canvas, the collapsible back wall. The marketing vice president of the company allowed me to research and make recommendations and then his company ordered it. The national industry trade shows generally provided ten foot by ten foot spaces for attendees. He reserved two spaces next to one another on a corner for Las Vegas’ food industry trade show.

I worked with a sign-maker to generate a pair of full-length, larger-than-life images for either end. Eye-contact attention getters which also demonstrated the mainline products. I also needed large signs with the newly redesigned “professional” logos. That was the easy part.

I needed a pair of display tables built with tops curved to fit into the curved shape of the back wall. I contracted a local kitchen cabinet company who did custom kitchens to build these two tables and the same sign maker to produce the strips across the front of each one with the logos.

I also had the cabinet company build a three-sided monolith with halogen lights and formica surface onto which I would mount samples of each of the three types of sharpening stones that Norton offered. Again, the sign maker provided blue and white strips  with the logo and identifying panels with the same photo images of the giant prints on the back wall to tie everything neatly together.

Oh, and I had to design it all had to break down and fit into a crate that could be shipped to the convention hall.

The folding tables that they used for demonstrations were readily available tables from a department store with blue drapes and signs made for each by the same sign maker.

After the experience in Las Vegas, the marketing manager wanted to make some changes for year two when he planned to also do shows in New Orleans, New York and San Francisco. The girls got scrapped and replaced with close-ups of amazingly sharp knives being used in a lot of contexts. As I explained, it’s more important to promote the benefits of your product than the product itself – that’s what sells. The vinyl logo banners that went across the top of the back wall were replaced with real stainless steel panels that bridged across the curves of each panel and hid the halogen lights. The monolith, demonstration tables and the sample tables were all replaced by one large demonstration table. I designed it with a black Corean top and birch sides with a matching stainless steel strip across it to reinforce the logo and tie it in with the rest of the booth’s design. And, too, I had to design it to come apart and fit into a shipping crate.

 

Norton had partnered that year with a kitchen gadget company as a tie-in. Wire racks were added as wings on either side of the booth. I got two ten-foot tall racks and four eight foot all with legs so that they’d free-stand. When they arrived, I cut two of the eight footers down to six feet. The sign maker made stainless steel strips to top each one and I got gray carpet material from the manufacturer of the back wall to hang on the backs of the racks to make it as contiguous as possible.

For the third year the alterations were fairly minimal. I changed the photos that hung on the back wall, re-worked the shelves on the side racks to have a stainless steel front face and recreated some of the collateral stuff on the demo table to neaten it up some and make for a cleaner presentation.

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Yeah, I Can Do That

Tall Poster SamplesIn addition to the specialties that I work in, my studio is known as a “can-do” operation and so I have produced all sorts of projects: Trade show display booths, posters, packaging, point-of-purchase displays, logos, signs, graphics for apparel, vehicle wraps, etc., etc., etc.

Bottom line is, if you have anything that you need designed and you want it to look professional, to be effective and at a reasonable cost, drop me an e-mail. I’m happy to work up free estimates and even send you some larger, higher-resolution samples than these pixelated thumbnails on this page so that you can get a better look at what I can do for you. Let me hear from you.

 

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All images on this website are copyrighted by Bob Pierce and cannot be used or duplicated without prior written permission.