The Prairie Pedal is a yearly family event benefiting the Liberty Prairie Conservancy. It is a day long bike ride on the trails winding through the natural areas of my community-Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Illinois. I was commissioned to design the t-shirt graphic for this year’s (2011) event. The parameters were to create a graphic limited to a 2-color silk-screen and appropriate to the feel of the festivities. Being a long-time fan of the work of Alphone Mucha, the iconic graphic artist from the arts-an-crafts era, I take every available opportunity to riff on that them. Therefore, my first pass on the graphic was a more complex story telling image. Also, my goal was to “milk” the opportunity to take the maximum advantage of the color restrictions. The concept pitch is 2 colors-black and gold on white, with an additional half tone (light screening) of each to create the effect of a 4 color work on a white shirt. Click on each image to enlarge.
The committee’s response was positive, but they expressed a preference for a simpler graphic and asked if I could take a pass at using the upper portion of the first concept as an independent graphic. Following are versions of this exploration, first a bolder, then a more “natural toned” treatment-
Part of my goal was to keep a vintage flavor to the piece- a graphic that had artistic merit beyond just being a practical reference to the event. My observation is that people will hesitate to wear things like screened graphics, regardless of their feelings about an event, if they don’t look good while wearing them-t-shirts, humble though they may be, are still fashion accessories. The committee was concerned that men would not wear a graphic with a woman on it, and asked if it would be possible to to do a treatment without the figure and remove the “vintage” elements such as the basket on the bike. Since the figure was the element that I was counting on to “soften” the logo feel of the piece, I had to switch gears on my concept. My decision was to re-craft the piece around the bike as the “vintage” element. I decided to do my own take on a classic Schwinn Panther- beautiful art-deco styling and a piece that a bike enthusiast would enjoy wearing. I simplified the graphics to work strongly as a two color piece and furthur refined the graphic to have a wood-cut feel. Here is the initial work-ups-
The comittee was very enthusiastic about this version. Their final choice was Navy as a shirt option. Here is the final, rebalanced for the dark navy shirt, with gold and light blue as the screen colors-