I (heart)... designing swag!

I was given a fun opportunity to design a handbag for a conference hosted by the American Physiological Society. The handbag was to be handed out to attendees during the event.

I was given a few ideas for the design but the client and I ran with one of them. Since the conference was geared toward librarians I used an open book motif and submitted 3 variations. The response came back later in the day that they had their hearts set on one of the other concepts originally submitted. I personally did not like the concept they wanted but agreed to submit a design by the following morning.

Later I received another email indicating that they had changed their minds. They decided that they wanted to keep it simple with something like "I love (heart) Physiology". Hmmm. I was not particularly happy with this change in plans. I was looking forward to designing something original. I quickly laid out the design and just stared at it. Hmmph. "well, that was easy money" I thought. Then I got an idea.

I was a bit frightened by my idea but I decided to play. I found a stock image of a human heart, reduced and simplified it and used it as the heart symbol instead of the standard heart icon. I slept on it and waited until the next morning to decide on whether I would submit the design.

At 5:30 am I grabbed my coffee and headed into my home office. I opened the file and felt so giddy looking at it. I decided to submit both versions with a sales pitch on why they should choose the human heart version:

"…any time you create an 'I love (heart) something design' you are creating a parody of the original 'I (heart) N.Y.' design created by Milton Glaser back in the late 1970's. The design was simple and brilliant and has been 'stolen' countless times over the past three and a half decades.

In this design I have tried to capture the essence of the original 'I (heart) N.Y.' design by using the same typeface, ITC American Typewriter. This cues the audience in to what they are looking at helps them recognize the concept quickly. The use of the human heart illustration instead of the standard heart symbol gives ownership of the design to APS, physiology, science and education. It is a logical visual that creates an easily solved puzzle for the viewer which is a most effective component of design. Your audience will ponder what they are looking at for a couple seconds and then say "Ah, I get it!" and this makes them feel good to have solved the puzzle (even though it is a very easy puzzle). This is exactly why the original I (heart) N.Y. logo was one of the greatest designs of the 20th century. The viewer had to solve the (easy) puzzle of literally reading the graphic as "I heart N. Y." to figuring out that it should be read as "I love New York". Here the puzzle is purely conceptual but it is still the same principle. The audience will see the literal illustration of a heart but through the context (particularly by using the typeface ITC American Typewriter) they will smile and say 'Ah, I get it!... I 'heart' Physiology!'"

The client loved the design and appreciated my explanation! This project taught me to be creative and not take the easy way out, even when it's handed to me on a silver platter.