Role: Art Direction and Creative Strategy
Project Type: Branding
iiwii (pronouced "ee-wee", an acronym for "it is what it is") is an initiative I co-founded that seeks to bring people together from a range of disciplines to produce unique articles of clothing. It is our hope to connect with a more creatively informed audience of producers and consumers. We want to offer opportunities for individuals to showcase their work when they may not have access to do so. The world has more expressive drive and passion today than ever before. iiwii hopes to tap into this wealth of unrecognized talent.
Mission Statement: The avenues for self-identification and expression are much more nuanced than ever before. We now have the knowledge and freedom to align ourselves with select brands as an extension and representation of our own personal values. At iiwii, we believe there are no gaps between artistic expression and lifestyle. Through collaborations and partnerships with people from a variety of disciplines, we hope to create a world where quality art and design is unbridled, free to roam the streets.
branded t-shirt concepts
With such a unique and intieresting visual, the initials i, i, w, i, and i provided great letterforms to construct the logo. Aesthetically, we knew we wanted a nostalgic and retro style, something that seemed to communicate from the past. I wasn't exactly sure what form this would take, so a lot of exploration was required to hone in on the right vocabulary.
initial concept sketches
I began to get bogged down in color selection, so I took a step back and reapproached the design from a more analytical perspective. I started writing a lot about the essence of the brand in the hopes of getting back on track. I looked to tease out new insights on our design direction. Below is an excerpt of an email I sent my co-founder:
It's still got that pale, chalky, almost pastel flavor to it, but it's unique enough to stay away from those cliches. I also like the fact that, of the three, it's got a feeling that it's a little faded.
I think there's something nice to the iiwii brand that it's a little romantic and nostalgic. Even though we're promoting new and upcoming talents, there's something to "it is what it is" that speaks to the separation between what the world is and what we envision it could be. Today is today, the past is the past, and those two things will never meet, no matter how hard people try to be retro or repurpose old styles. Even if, as a brand, we want to fight against this idea and give opportunities and avenues to fresh talent, I think we should embrace the divide, maybe even "judo" it and use the gap against itself.
I was listening to "Things Done Changed" on the way to meet you guys at the bar. There was something about the line "Damn, what happened to the summertime cook out / Every time I turn around a nigga getting took out" that made me pause. It's easy to talk about the glory and glamour of the hustle, but it's also poisonous. Your psyche can get so far away from those kind of carefree atmospheres that the idea of relaxation becomes nostalgic. It's almost painful to think about having a good time.
I think that's the dangerous undercurrent of Brooklyn. If you look at the way we (25-35 year olds) treat going out, it's basically an obligation at this point. Your friends give you shit if you don't want to go out; bars are basically just trying to get you as fucked up as possible; all this EDM music is about how great the party is because there may never be another one again. Culture is now so self-aware and self-critical even the ever-present buzzword "authentic" comes with the burden of analysis. Does the posturing that something is "authentic" immediately negate its own validity because you shouldn't need to classify authenticity?
I started to explore rusty, pale oranges, which I thought perfectly captured the kind of intangible past and painful nostalgia that I wrote about. It has the qualities of faded fabirc or paint, of late sunsets, and of oxidation. I think all of these notions touch on the transient nature of time. Unfortunately, the logo design and the orange color began to look like a jack-o-lantern.
I knew the essence was there, so I didn't want to abandon either the design direction or the color range. In revisiting my process, I noticed a few sketches had the second grouping of i's upside down. After I deepened the color to a more rusty red and flipped the last i's, the final design clicked into place.