Xponential Music Festival

Since 2009 I have been working with Philly radio station WXPN on a great many projects, the centerpiece of which is their annual Xponential Music Festival. What began with an intrepid edition of posters led to entire campaigns of branding, collateral, advertising, product design and illustration. Here are a few highlights and details from last year's project, to give you an idea how it comes together. 

The project typically kicks off in January with some logo options. This year we weren't reinventing the wheel; the previous year's logo was pretty sharp and well-received. This will be an evolution of sorts, not a teardown-rebuild. My first round of proofs contains a quick look at the previous year's logo, some very rough ideas and a swipe of inspiration images and colors. This is just a conversation starter.

As I mentioned, we decided at this point to do a refresh more than a complete redesign, so I put together another round of proofs that hit on that, with a couple side roads in for good measure. 

The client ended up liking 3B and 4B, and asked for another round of proofs to test out colors. We ended up landing on the final design below, which I then prepared for use in a number of formats and situations (CMYK, RGB, grayscale, Facebook profile, optimized for small and large placement).


While the logo is still in process I am working on graphic treatments that will run throughout the campaign. This includes and textures, patterns, icons, imagery, and overall concepts that can tie the whole project together.

An early request for a co-sponsored web ad yielded a direction that I would later refine into a simple treatment. Though the imagery is pretty raw, I've landed on some textures, colors, and stacked stripes that work well.

This is about the same time when the t-shirt needs to get moving for an upcoming fund drive and the announcement of the headlining acts. The shirt design does not need to closely relate to the festival brand, which offers a nice opportunity to make something fun and engaging to wear. After two rejected options we hit pay dirt with this wacky bus illustration, something that the old hippies and young hipsters can agree on. Below is the initial illustration, and the design converted to two colors for screen printing.

Because it develops in dribs and drabs over several months, a project like this requires some big picture thinking to maintain a cohesive look. The good news is that it's clear in my head, the client understands what I am shooting at, and they trust me to communicate their message. I'll follow up on the rest of the project in the next post. 

Drawing investigation

Here are some faces that I made as a drawing exercise.

I'd been looking at The Golden Book of Myths and Legends, illustrated by Alice and Martin Provenson and liked the way that they build figures out of rough shapes. Below is an example. 

I made 30 or so quick line drawings and scanned them. Usually what happens after this is that I ink out piles of background shapes and scan them, but I wanted to try something different. I bought a Wacom tablet recently and this seemed like a perfect chance to take it for a spin. I had also just found a few bundles of Photoshop brushes from Kyle Webster that seem to nail the kind of inked line that I like to make. Below are the sketches.

Below is the sketch and the "inked" versions. I like how the Photoshop brushes worked out, I'm going to keep playing with them. Next up I think I'll work on some bodies for these folks and put them in a scene of some sort. Lots of fun!

The Obfuscator

I made this ray gun as an Illustrator demo for my students. The Obfuscator is a short range energy weapon that confuses its targets for short periods of time.

Feel free to save the 2560 × 1440 image and use it as a desktop wallpaper. 

Science Study Series

I recently created a series of book cover redesigns as a personal project. My inspiration was a series of science paperbacks from the early 1960's that aimed to bring scientific study to the laymen. I had found a number of them at a thrift store, and the original covers were pretty good.

Cover designs by George Giusti. Typography by Edward Gorey!

Cover designs by George Giusti. Typography by Edward Gorey!

Cover designs by George Giusti. Typography by Edward Gorey!

Cover designs by George Giusti. Typography by Edward Gorey!

I chose a few titles to work with, and with names like Knowledge and Wonder and The Restless Atom, I had fertile territory for visual exploration. I wanted to keep in a style that nodded to the original series, refreshing the look for a contemporary audience and give myself some new visual ideas to play with. Here are the results.


I love this subject matter because it is so abstract and fundamental. Working with pure forms and symbols can be challenging, especially when you are trying to bring life to somewhat dry subject matter. I'm working through another group of covers from the same series, so take a peek back soon for more scientific goodness.