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A Cheerful Retro-inspired T-shirt Celebrating the San Diego Blood Bank's 70th Anniversary
As many of you know, I am an avid supporter of the work blood banks do in communities around the world. As a blood drive host I'm proud to contribute to that mission and it's a great way to stay on track since I'm working to earn my own 5 gallon donor badge. So, imagine my excitement when I got the opportunity to create some original artwork to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the San Diego Blood Bank! 2020 has been a tough year but it hasn't been all bad. For this design I wanted to create something that would be oh-so-San Diego while helping people feel hopeful and inspired. I immediately remembered one of the high points of the year for me, a very special day in February at La Jolla Shores Beach when I saw bottlenose dolphins surfing with pure delight in the sparkling morning surf.
Though I live in North Park, I was at the beach early that morning celebrating the birthday of a dear friend. We were strolling, visiting and enjoying the views from the walkway by the Scripps Pier when suddenly, right before our eyes, several dolphins bolted across the shimmering wave front and launched themselves right out the back of the breaking wave and into the air. It was pure, exuberant joy. We couldn't believe our luck at seeing it and watched excitedly for a long time. What an incredible gift on a special day; happy birthday indeed! I've seen dolphins around the La Jolla Marine Reserve many times but that was the first time I had ever seen them surfing.
With that joyful memory in mind, I quickly doodled out an idea. The first sketch was cartoony but as I brought it into Affinity Designer on my iPad to create the vector art, it became more sleek. Because we're doing a three-part celebration, I thought a retro-inspired design would work well and I have always been intrigued by vintage travel posters and luggage labels. It was great fun working collaboratively with Leslie Eagan and Mike Schayer at the San Diego Blood Bank and with their ideas and input the layout emerged quite organically.
The slightly subdued palette harkens back to a time in printing when inks were less saturated. Maybe it even looks a bit like a sun-faded poster in a travel agent's window? (Older folks, feel free to explain to your youngsters what a "Travel Agent" is.) Anyone who loves fonts will immediately recognize Futura, a tried and true friend when a font outline is called for. After a few drafts we decided to remove the tail flipping up off the back of the wave to simplify the design. The focal point is achieved with the gradient blues that pop the parent and calf out of the wave, but I also love the counterpoint detail of the cousin inside the barrel of the wave. Dolphins do, of course, live in families just like us. And the sun overhead, well, what's more San Diego than a frothy white wave breaking in the sunshine?
Click images for a larger view.
For me, San Diego's natural beauty is a constant source of inspiration. My goal with this piece was to convey the joy of our natural world and the hope of brighter days ahead and that is also what the San Diego Blood Bank is all about. If you've been lucky enough to meet one of the blood recipients you've seen the beauty of a kid with a second chance at life. If you've met one of their parents, like I did when I spoke to Kamila and her mom, you've seen that the San Diego Blood Bank is all about hope. In this organization, people come together to contribute their time, resources and a small bit of themselves for the greater good. What could be more joyful and inspiring than that?
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About the author
As the owner of Pixel Lava Interactive I've helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits with websites, graphic design and more. I hope you'll find this blog full of useful information.
~ Ame Stanko