Idea Refinery


The most difficult thing about this project was getting finding a place to begin. When I'm having difficulty with that, I find a place as good as any is looking for direction in the process. I gravitated toward the refining stage as an answer. I've gone back to the basics lately, drawing and sketching before going directly to the Mac.

Often, it can be in something you see every day until one day that thing is somehow different or unique. For me, it was the defunct oil pump jacks that line the ridges of the Baldwin Hills Overlook near my house in Culver City on the west side of Los Angeles. I knew they weren't called derricks, but didn't know what they were called until I looked it up. Something about them is intriguing in way dinosaur skeletons are, a relic of a bygone era. What a lot of people—even locals—don't know is that Los Angeles was an oil field for years but the city required the apparatus to be concealed within buildings. This quid pro quo led architects to get very creative in hiding oil drilling apparatus in places like Hollywood and downtown, but the iron birds are left to peck methodically along the ridges and flats all the way down to San Pedro.

What I ended up with was a pump jack that would pull raw ideas out of the ground to be refined into the oil and gasoline that drive businesses and brands. Examining process, I began with the tools I use every day—Adobe Illustrator, markers, X-Acto knives, mechanical pencils and stick holders, French curves, Field Notes, cutting mats, rulers and the T-square, whose shape naturally lent itself to the most familiar part of the pump jack. Building a jack out of drafting supplies was explored, but without the scaffold tower it became obscure. When making a point, it's usually best to alter the one most recognizable detail and let the rest be.

I wanted to create a vaguely beachy, California vintage surfboard graphics feel to provide levity to the squared-off type. I began with palm trees and a sunset, which fought too much with the intricate silhouette of the pump jack. The french curve could be the surf, or it could be the hillsides, but it is there to reinforce the angle of the T-square, which is again echoed by the outer ring of type.

Completing the bottom of the inner circle, the crossed X-Acto knives behind the D, which has been the mark I have been using on business cards for the past six years and simplified to maintain a uniform line weight throughout.

"Good, fast and cheap—pick two" was something my first boss would say on every project for the reason it is always true.

Thanks for looking and reading.



Please sign in or sign up to comment.