March Madness is a wonderful time of the year in beautiful East Lansing, Mich. On the first day of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, the university essentially shuts down. Well, the students definitely shut down and shift all of their attention to basketball, even if the classes still run as scheduled.
I was fortunate enough to have experience two Final Four apparences by the Spartans during my four years at Michigan State. The basketball team’s ride to the 2009 National Championship game even coincided with my birthday. They lost to North Carolina, and I subsequently had the worst 20th birthday ever.
But I digress. Tom Izzo has created a family-like culture at MSU, connecting all generations of Spartan basketball players. After leaving my position at the Gannett Design Studio, I was no longer able to produce MSU graphics for the Lansing State Journal. But that didn’t stop me from creating this one, just for fun. I wanted to highlight the most recognizable and successful Spartan basketball player of all time — Magic Johnson. I then included some other prominent basketball players during MSU’s many March runs: Draymond Green, Mateen Cleaves, Coach Izzo himself and Kalin Lucas.
The graphic received a lot of play on social media, and was a big success when my favorite watering hole in EL, Crunchy’s, shared the photo from its Facebook page. That’s definitely in my top five favorite moments as a designer.
Gameday is a special time in East Lansing. Autumn makes it first appearance with the vibrant changing of the leaves, campus is alive with students, alumni and locals, and the spirits are flowing — usually pretty heavily. But for the Lansing State Journal, Gameday is the way to help Spartan fans prepare for the upcoming football game with breakdowns, matchups and analysis.
I had the chance to do a minor redesign with the Gameday section, primarily with the flag and “Bottom Line” matchups. Each week I’ve also been responsible for creating a centerpiece graphic. It first starts with me gathering the photos I think will work best with the story and then assembling the graphic in a few hours on deadline. This is where my knowledge and familiarity with MSU sports has really come in handy — both for myself as well as the folks in Lansing.
For me, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: The beginning of college football, but more specifically, Michigan State football.
As I’ve mentioned many of times before, I exist in a backwards reality where I live in Kentucky, yet design sports pages for the Lansing State Journal. It still baffles me.
Despite my strange geographical situation, I was entrusted with the job of putting together the special section preview for this upcoming season of Spartan football. Let’s just say I didn’t hate compiling the 10 page section on my alma mater.
As a former high school athlete, it was always a big deal to see my name in the local paper. Sure, it was in 7.5 point type and buried with MLB standings and boxscores on inside pages, but for me it sure was special. Personally, I think that newspapers still serve as a great keepsake for prep athletes. What parent wouldn’t gobble up as many papers as they can find when there’s a picture of their child gracing the sports section?
The Lafayette Journal & Courier and the Lansing State Journal both recently named the prep athletes of the year for their respected cities. As luck would have it, I pulled the L & L shift (Lafayette and Lansing) and did the presentation for both papers.
The Lafayette Journal & Courier wrote a great piece in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX on June 24, 2012. Because I helped launch the sports section when they were transitioned to the studio back in May, I’ve formed a strong connection with the paper’s sports editor. He really wanted to do something special for this monumental milestone in women’s sports. He handed over a file of photos and basically said, “Have at it.”
I decided to go with a throwback, old timey look feel for the sports section. I used a torn edge, paper background and carried that look throughout the cover and the two-page inside spread. I even removed the iPhone and social media logo in the flag and replaced it with a rotary phone, just to keep with the throwback idea.
My freelance gig with Michigan Hockey came with the challenge of redesigning the logo, magazine and website for the publication. It wasn’t like I had to pitch ideas to a group of bigwigs — I was on my own. And I fully embraced the challenge.
The square typeface combined with an outdated purple color scheme made the old Michigan Hockey logo look like something straight out of the ’90s. I chose a modern (and overwhelmingly popular) typeface — Gotham for the redesign. I also selected richer and darker blues to give the logo a little bit more of an edge and to evoke a frozen feeling.
It was also crucial to maintain the most important part of the former identity — the hockey player that carved out the “O” in “Hockey.”
The website was very dark and quite clunky. It had been built using Dreamweaver, so it was nearly impossible to quickly add content and update stories. Using a content management system like WordPress was the best option for the needs of the editor. I chose a theme that was very pliable and allowed me to design the site to my specifications. I also used my knowledge of PHP and CSS to embed banner ads that were targeted for specific pages on the site.
I was most excited about getting my hands dirty with the magazine redesign. There were a myriad of fonts that were used in the publication and the color palette more closely resembled a rainbow than anything else. There was very little consistency throughout the publication. The first step was to stick with Gotham as the primary typeface for the stories, headlines and every other piece of copy. The blues used in the logo were carried over to the magazine and were incorporated with other cooler, complimentary colors.
It was a tremendous opportunity for me to brainstorm, develop and execute this redesign all on my own — especially as a freelancer for this publication. To see more clips from my Michigan Hockey experience, click here.