Things have recently been quiet on Hanscompark.com while every spare moment is spent on a living and dining room remodel. That hasn’t stopped some fun client work. This issue’s Hail Varsity cover features one of the most fun illustrations I’ve done in while:
I worked with Brandon Vogel on a graphic showing the coaching histories of new Husker football coach Mike Riley’s assistants for the issue of Hail Varsity that hit newsstands this week. He’s got a strong history with almost all of them, and we wanted to show where everyone’s careers intersect.
I couple weeks ago, Vox published a few sets of aerial photos showing Rust Belt cities before the interstate system cut through them compared to now. The University of Oklahoma has some more here. But without Omaha represented, I decided to compile a few myself.
An original plan for Omaha’s freeway system had I-480 cutting through Hanscom Park on a path a few blocks west of its final location. The park (and my home) were save when the plan was nixed because Andrew J. Hanscom and James Megeath stipulated the land could never be used for anything other than a city park when they donated it to the city in 1872.
The Omaha Public Library has a 1958 aerial plat atlas on their site. Using its images, I set them next to contemporary aerial imagery.
I love finding great design in everyday places. While traveling down an internet wormhole while researching Omaha history, I came across the Douglas County Engineer’s site. It hosts plats and surveys of the whole city. This gem is the original plat George Smith submitted to the city in 1873 after surveying my house’s subdivision. This thing looks like it should have an “X” marking where Red Beard buried his treasure and a notation over the Hanscom Park lagoon reading “HERE BE MONSTERS.” Let me tell you, the plats of west Omaha suburbs have nothing on this.
I’ve always been a big fan of old maps (especially Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps) for the history and detail they show. But this one is gorgeous. The lettering is fantastic. I love the detail of the compass rose. I also get a kick out of seeing the old names for the numbered streets (Liberty instead of 33rd St.; Madison instead of 32nd Ave.; Delaware instead of 32nd St.; Duane instead of 31st St.; Catherine instead of 30th Ave.; Georgia instead of 29th St.; Virginia instead of what used to be 28th and is now I-480; Mt. Pleasant instead of Pacific St. and Baltimore instead of Hickory St.).
This map may not match contemporary tastes (though there’s certainly a revival in the precise hand lettering Smith used on his map), but it’s interesting to see a very utilitarian object created carefully and in a visually pleasing way. There’s a notion that professional graphic design as we know it originated with the Vignellis, Glasers, Basses and Fletchers of the world. But while they were all in short pants, artists created amazing WPA posters, and before that ethereal lithographs advertising liquor and theaters and bicycles. And before that, craftsmen like George Smith took care care and pride in drafting clerical maps that were unlikely to be seen by more than a handful of real estate and engineering insiders. Today draftsmen digitally export shiny new clerical maps from AutoCAD that are far from anything that anyone would want to hang on a wall, which is exactly what I plan to do with the Hanscom Place plat (perhaps with my addition of a sea serpent in the lagoon).
As Nebraska continues to do well in Big Ten play, Hail Varsity has had some fun design opportunities. The team is stacked with Kenny Bell (the most charismatic and popular player in a generation), Ameer Abdullah (who has been in the Heisman Trophy race for much of the season) and Randy Gregory (who may well be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft if he leaves school early), among others. We’ve had a good time putting together the past few issues.
After a few weeks of work, the my new home office is ready to use. Fresh paint, new drywall (in some spots), new crown molding, new picture rail, new light fixture, new switches and plates, new shades. I added an old door on rails to close off the bedroom. Liz found a sweet typewriting desk for a few dollars at a thrift shop and helped me pick out a couple new rugs. I picked up a new (to me) desk chair from The Humble Home to complete the look. There are still a few finishing touches that need to be completed: refinish the white door, build a transom above it and install molding on the curved part of the wall above the bay windows. But it’s pretty close.
Look at the middle of this post to see some pictures of the office at move-in a few years ago.
Our friends with Lincoln Calling asked us to design a new logo for the annual week-long festival that draws more than 5,000 people. Playing off the shape Nebraska capitol building, the idea was to keep it simple and easy to use and apply year-after-year.
The football season is in full swing, which means Hail Varsity is, too. For the most recent issue, we tried a new approach with our cover: we did two of ’em. Art directed by Ken Jarecke and photographed by Paul Bellinger, we were inspired by Richard Avedon and worked one of the covers up in the style of his 1968 Look Magazine cover portrait of John Lennon. The interior spread is full of Kenny-Bell-meets-GQ-style fashion images with him wears a bunch of gear (and sometimes not very much gear at all) from Omaha men’s stores. The whole thing was a whole lot of fun to put together.