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CHS by design: Where the crow came from

As part of our sponsorship of the ByDesign10 Series at Northwest Film Forum, we’re looking back at some of the roots of CHS’s design — the formulation of the CHS crow banner. The ByDesign10 Series kicks off Friday night with a free party at NWFF’s 12th/Pike theater and will feature a week of film and discussion exploring ‘the intersection of graphic design and moving image.’

Much of the design of CHS falls into the function end of the spectrum with form waddling far behind. The crow isn’t much different. Born of constricted space and utility, the little bird sprang to life in November of 2008 thanks to the generous work of Capitol Hill designer EmilyP. The secret shoes came along then, too. Here’s a look at some of the back and forth between CHS and EmilyP as the idea for a new CHS masthead was shaped — including some of the early ideas that were (thankfully!) rejected. The ideas below played out over a two-week period and involved around 26 e-mails:

EmilyP: These are pretty self-explanatory. I wanted to pick some iconicHill-associated imagery, hence the Chuck Taylor shoes and electricbuslines. The dots represent the seven hills of Seattle with the onehighlighted. And the graffiti one obviously borrows from the city’s”Capitol Hill Welcomes You” signs. I’ve kept the need for tiling inmind, too; even the photographic banners should be able to tile to theright with some further production work.

>>jseattle: Birds: I like this. I’ve seen the bird on wire imagery a lot, though, so kind of think if we go this way, we need it to be more unique Capitol Hill (shoes on wire too?) or more clearly ravens??? Dunno. But it looks cool.Bus wires: This is right on if you can get look and feel to be a little more gritty but I really like the cable idea. Probably my favorite concept.Shoes: Good idea but I feel it’s too individual — as if those are the blogger’s shoes perhaps when really the site is about everybody.7 hills: I’ve been told the 7 hills thing was marketing BS made up back in the old days and there weren’t really 7 hills :)Graffiti: This if fun but given the ambiguities around tagging (and some of the non ambiguous stuff like anybody who tags a mural is a dipshit), I’d rather not.

EmilyP: These directions are developed from the “bus lines” and “crow on wire”directions I sent you in the first round. First, a couple of points:

I’ve mentally gone over this challenge multiple times, but I can’tthink of a good, clear symbol for Capitol Hill that differentiates itfrom other places in the city. One way would be to use a landmark,like the Noguchi sculpture at Volunteer Park, but I want to steer awayfrom obvious solutions that lack originality. Therefore, I hope we canagree that the last solution may be generic to a certain degree. Thatleads me to the “crows” directions:

With crows and shoes hanging on wires, neither are specific to CapitolHill. I think, though, that the original design will be enough to setthe banner apart from other city blogs, and it does speak to the mixof urban and wild that Capitol Hill has over other neighborhoods. :D Ialso included a plane in one design for our beloved flight paths. ;)

I wasn’t entirely sure how you wanted the “bus lines” direction tolook more gritty, so I took a stab at it. If you’d prefer that direction, I’d like to discuss further what look  you’re interested in.

>>jseattle: 2-b is very cool. I’d like to lose the plane and move the red shoes into this design. And make everything black (so no teal power pole) but the red shoes. And I think we’re pretty much there.

EmilyP: Including the shoes in the b version is a little tricky: they have tohave something to hang off, and the only line in b was too low in theimage to show them. I’m giving you a couple of options to remedy this.

I also wasn’t sure if you wanted the power pole out completely, so Ileft it in (and black).

>>jseattle: It’s wonderful. I like it best w/o power pole. The area will be busy enough when we add banner ads.

>>jseattle:  I’d like to have three wires running across page so please restore middle cable


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4 thoughts on “CHS by design: Where the crow came from

  1. A coincidence perhaps, but I saw a big old fat crow on a wire yesterday during my run. I thought of CHS and wondered about the graphic. Thanks for telepathically receiving my question and answering it the next day with a well-written post. I can’t wait for you to answer my next question.

  2. I haven’t been around here for long, but the crow on the wire is perfect for me as I see crows perched on a line outside my apartment every day.

  3. I find crows fascinating as a species, and enjoy feeding and interacting with them here on the Hill. I was delighted the first time I visited the site, to see the crow silhouette in your banner. And it always makes me smile when I return to the CHS blog.

  4. Hello, old friends! Man, I haven’t worn those Chucks in a long time…

    Thanks for doing this, J. Moving images as part of design are something that particularly interest me, so the NWFF series will be right up my alley.