This year, my seventh in Rochester, I decided to enter in the Rochesterfest button design contest. Having seen the so-called winners of this prestigious competition for many years, I wondered how difficult it may be to be recognized. I learned that it takes genuine cheese, and authentic schmaltz to be considered "elite" and when trying to fake it, you are destined to fail.
The theme seemed simple enough: Memories in the Making. Now I had to get my mind perfectly in tune with the would-be judges. What clever allusion or turn of phrase might catch their eye, or how could the button represent a juxtaposition of contemporary morays with the sheen of antiquity? In other words, what current thing mixed with what older thing?
I chose a literal translation. I thought the humorous twist on "making memories" would be enough to grab the top prize. If I could design a button with a miniature world where my own breed of Lilliputians construct memories for the whole of Rochester to see. The whimsy and sophistication of this concept made me excited to get started.
Little did I know that I had already lost by trying to force a contrived scheme masquerading as original.
After several layers of trace I had a solid sketch that I scanned into the ol' computer box. There are certain things that I find indispensable in the creation of graphics, the first is the hand sketch, and the second is the refinement of the sketch in a digital form.
With the wisdom of Adobe Illustrator and Live Trace, that hand sketch is cleaned up and in a digital format that can be moved forward. Now I am not very confident when it comes to color, and when I do have to add some splash of color I prefer to work with colored pencil. But for this one, because so many of the past buttons were digital, I felt compelled to conform. So I first added some background in Illustrator.
And finally LOTS of painstaking color work in Photoshop until I felt it was believable. And voila! My first submission for the Rochesterfest button design contest.
Needless to say, I did not win. I did not place. I DNF, as they say in the Olympics. Oh well, maybe next year. I mean the one that did win this year was pretty fantastic, even though it seemed to be a blatant rip off of the former Friends of Graham Park logo.
Sour grapes, I guess.