Fantasy Branding: VideoVenture

There was something special about going to the video rental store... the smell of a blockbuster,  seeing all the movies on the shelves, inspecting each cover, picking out candy in the checkout line. It seems like a lot of kids who grew up in the video rental store era are incredibly nostalgic about it, and for a good reason. It was such a special experience that is now completely dead. Combining my passion for VHS and storytelling I decided to create my own video rental store. Blockbuster was an iconic rental powerhouse, but my favorite places are the little local stores. Some of them are still hanging on out there, time capsules of a past decade. 

After playing around with this idea in my head for awhile, I decided to consult my friend Kevin, a VHS expert. I text him and asked him what he would name a fake VHS rental store. He immediately responded "Video Venture" 

"I first thought: video adventure, then that"


I decided to stylize it as one word. I used Pump Demi Bold for the logo type. To me it's very reflective of the 80s. The address is written in Futura Heavy. I used the old address of a Blockbuster in Chicago. Kevin just moved there so it's a tribute to my crazy VHS collecting best friend and the midwest is very 80s/90s cool to me. Ferris Bueller, Home Alone, Breakfast Club, Adventures in Babysitting, Wayne's World. 

I started to think about the logo and how it would be used. Where it would be applied. I started to imagine what the inside of the store might look like. Eventually I thought about a marquee light box with the logo, maybe behind the counter. So I made a colorized version of the logo. 


Now what would the staff be wearing? 


Ringer tees, to me, are super reflective of the time period I'm going for. I used Souvenir font on the back to indicate that they're staff. Souvenir is a perfect 1980s font. It was used in E.T. for the  credits and on the poster. 

Next I made a name tag and once again used Souvenir. Years of working at theme parks definitely influenced this part.


Now that I had created all these digital materials, I wanted to make something real. I started to think about things I could actually make myself. Well, every video rental store had a membership, and with it came sweet membership cards.

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I weathered the card to try and make it look like it was actually 30 years old and poorly laminated. 

Next I wanted to recreate one of my favorite things about old VHS tapes from rental stores. Stickers. 

So I went out and got some sticker sheets to make some actual stickers 

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I wasted a few sheets due to misalignment but eventually I got it. My be kind rewind stickers are a little offset and I decided to keep them that way to add a little homemade charm to them. I weathered the silver foil sticker based on some actual stickers I have in the same spots and of the same type. 

Once I branded a tape, I wanted to make a box. 

At Blockbuster, they had all the beautiful boxes on the shelf, and you're sent home with a generic Blockbuster branded clamshell. Most VHS rental stores would do this, keeping the plain, branded boxes behind the counter. So I wanted to make my own VideoVenture version of those. 

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My "Campout at Walt Disney World" VHS was missing it's box so I decided to give it a home. I used Andale Mono on the insert and tried to include all the information that would actually be on one of these rental boxes. The shell itself was old and used so I didn't even have to weather it. 

For now, that's all for VideoVenture. It's a project I think I can always expand upon, and maybe even make actual shirts in the near future. So if you're interested in this little project, let me know.


HHN26 Dead Man's Wharf Story Elements

Originally Published Friday, August 25, 2017

As HHN 27 is quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on last year and dig up some art that I made, but never did anything with. The stories in the scare zones last year were incredibly rich, and it filled me with this desire to expand upon them. Dead Man's Wharf might've been one of my favorite scare zones ever, so it was easy for me to create some story elements that would exist in this world. Not every scare zone comes with a sign telling you the entire story of the zone, so that was definitely a unique opportunity that Dead Man's Wharf presented me. 

During the event I was going through my records and found my Swiss Family Robinson storybook and record. Inside the book are these beautiful line illustrations, and on the actual record there's a drawing of the ship. This immediately lit a spark of inspiration inside me and I wanted to apply Dead Man's Wharf to this concept. 

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First thing I did was make a line illustration of the boat from the scare zone. I did it using only single stroke lines with the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator to try and replicate that beautiful line work from the storybook. I laid the line illustration right over this picture of the boat to make sure I was capturing the correct details and to help with the angle. 

Once I completed the illustration I need a page to put it on, and instead of printing it on specific paper, it's easier for me to replicate and weather it in Photoshop and just print it on regular paper. So I used the same method I tried for the Vamp '55 yearbook pages.  I lay down a simple off-white color, add a high resolution scan of a paper texture, then I use a feather brush in a darker color to add some weathering around the edges. 


This page is acting as the very first page inside the cover once you open up the story book, so I decided to just use what was on the sign in the scare zone, as it gives a good overall synopsis of the story. Once I put in all the text, I ran it through Retro Supply Co.'s action set "Ink Champ" to give it a little wear, and recreate the effects of older ink printing methods. 

Here's a before and after comparison of the text effects

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And here's the finished digital file


I intended to print this out and make it look like a page ripped right out of the book, but I never got around to doing it last year. In light of my excitement for this years original content, I dusted this project off and finished the job.


Initially I tested it out on card stock, but regular 20lb copy paper was a closer match to the actual storybook. I took my earth tone soft pastels and rubbed the edges, folded the corners, ripped one side, and bent it around to simulate wear. In the end I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. 
While I was at it, I had a file for a newspaper clipping that might've been published in the town that this happened a few days after the actual event. Luckily I had some newsprint laying around, so I sent it through the printer, and cut it out.


Since I couldn't use a photo of the wrecked boat I found a comparable vessel on google images, and halftoned the image. This might not necessarily be accurate to the time period, but I tried my best when thinking about the font choice. 

So, there ya have it. Some great examples of how something that can be viewed as just a silly little theme park Halloween event can actually contain some brilliant story telling that I know inspires and captivates more than just me. 

Thank you to the Halloween Horror Nights team for coming up with this story, and to all the scare actors in the zone that brought it alive. 

I can't wait to see what new stories will be told this year at HHN 27

Fantasy Rebranding: Oceanic Airlines

Originally Published March 22, 2017

One of my favorite things to do is to dig into a story and reimagine designs. Maybe go back to a time before the movie takes place, back to when a fictional company was founded. So far one of my favorite examples of this is Oceanic Airlines from Lost. 
The actual canon history of the company is pretty thin, and I'm basing most of this off of promotional material from Comic Con in 2009, but it's all I have. 
Oceanic Airlines is shown in the present day 2004 Lost storyline with this, in my opinion, HORRIBLE logo.


If you read into it you find that there's actually a reason for this strange arrangement of circles, but I still don't find any of this design appealing. It's very reflective of the early 2000's. But, what would the logo have looked like if you went back to when the company was supposedly founded in 1979? 

1970's graphic design is incredible. Thick strokes, lots of lines and shapes, earth tones. It's an amazing sandbox to play in. 
I went into this wanting to make a specific kind of logo. A single self contained image with thick strokes and simplified imagery. 
The old Philippine Airlines logo was a huge inspiration to me. The logo and the type immediately take you back to the time period. 

OceanicType.jpg has an incredible catalogue of fonts under the 1970s tag so I found a very bold display font that I found evoked the spirit of the 70s, and a complimentary sans serif font.

Once I started to compile all of these elements together I decided to flesh it out and make a style guide for the fictional company.

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So that's all for my fantasy Oceanic Airlines rebranding!

You can purchase pinback buttons with this logo on it on

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HHN26 Cast Yearbook Concept

Originally Published November 10, 2016

Ever since I started graphic design I've tried my hardest to replicate vintage styles of art. So much of my time is spent referencing work from the 1950s, so when Halloween Horror Nights announced that there was going to be a 50s scarezone, I was obviously very excited. Design aspects aside, I've romanticized this decade just like so many other people have, and I've done so for as long as I can remember. I fell in love with this scarezone before I even saw it, and as I spent some nights sitting on a bench and soaking up the sights, sounds, and story of the zone, I imagined what a yearbook would look like for this fictional high school. The content of the zone was very easy to play off of and the yearbook wasn't the first idea I had. I sat around and designed physical education shirts and posters for the school before I landed on a yearbook. I thought it was a fun way to include the entire cast of the zone and really expand on the story.

So I started looking through old yearbooks online. Luckily, it's easy to access pdf's of entire 1950s yearbooks so I had a lot of material to go through. All I had for reference as far as the scarezone goes were the banners that hung on the lamp posts in the area, and the homecoming parade floats.  


The name of the school was "Hollywood High School" (which turns out is a real high school in Hollywood, CA). The rival school was referred to as the Bats but I don't think anything more than their mascot was mentioned, which is a shame because that could've lent itself to some fun designs.


I started out by taking a yearbook cover I really liked and kind of emulating it with some different elements. After attempting to replicate the texture on the cover I ended up sampling the actual texture and tiling it. The maroon color on this yearbook matched the style of the zone perfectly, so I kept the color scheme. It's also coincidentally from the same year! 



I was so taken back by the streamline script font on the cover of this book that I had to trace it out in Illustrator and include it on the cover of the book. Most 50s yearbooks had a clever name usually based off of their mascot or their name. Mars High School had "The Planet", the Northwest School of Agriculture had "The Aggie" so I called this one "The Sun"


I took the banner from the lamp posts and traced the sun, but decided to replace the word "suns" inside because it already says sun once on the cover, and doesn't state the high school name anywhere.


All of the text was sent through Retro Supply Co.'s Ink Champ action to give it a little rugged feel. The font used for "1955" and "Sun" is called Pilsner. I stretched it vertically up to about 130% I think. 

Here's a WITH and WITHOUT texture comparison on a very small part of the cover. Just to show how even a little weathering can make a big difference. 



Once I got to the interior pages I had the challenge of replicating the kind of paper that these books were printing on. 

I used this as my blank page format. It's just three simple layers. 


A plain color background. Paper texture. And a little weathering around the edges with a simple feathered photoshop brush and a darker color. 

I started it off with a classic title page and included a photo of the actual Hollywood High School. 


Here I used Filmotype Leader for "1955" and "The Sun" and "Hollywood High School" is Brandon Grotesque font. Once again I used Retro Supply Co.'s Ink Champ action, this time on the gray rectangles. 
I had originally planned to print this myself, so I was designing it as it would be printed. The next page I did was the last. 
Every 50s yearbook I looked at had local sponsors in the back, so I decided to have some fun and put in some fictional sponsors and references to other original HHN content


I took a creative liberty by adding a business from Carey, Ohio in this Hollywood, California yearbook, but in my head Meetz Meats distributed their meats to high schools around the United States.
The quote I used was lifted from an actual yearbook, and it felt eerily appropriate. 
The body of the book would've been portrait photos of the entire cast, photographed and edited just like a 50s yearbook.
I copied a format from a yearbook that listed everyones name, nickname, and a few other things. We chose "favorite saying" and "noted for".


Wanting to photograph the cast brought up a challenge, as the actors in the scarezone are outside at night, and aren't generally encouraged to stop and pose for a photo. So I got in contact with my friend that was in the zone and the actors were interested in the yearbook, so we tried to set up a time and place for photos and get approval, since we would have to do the photos in a back-of-house area at Universal. At the time of the photos the cast was split into two groups. I photographed the first group very quickly before they went out to do their set, but when I showed up to photograph the second group I was told I had to stop taking photos, and that there was miscommunication between people who told me I was allowed to take photos. So unfortunately this project fell through in the end. But some of the photos I got are incredible.


Trying to replicate the poor quality of the 50s film was hard, and I don't think this really looks anything like it, but I'm happy with the end result regardless. I turned down the clarity a lot to smooth out a lot of the details and added film grain. 

I really wish this would've been made. It would've been a very cool momento for the cast, and an incredible piece of memorabilia for a fan like myself, but nonetheless I had a lot of fun playing around with this. 
I can't thank the cast of Vamp '55 enough for being incredibly helpful and supportive of the idea. 
And of course I have to thank the creative team at Halloween Horror Nights for building this sandbox that I was playing in.