A GRAPHIC DESIGNER with special interest in type design and illustration. He is currently a Digital Designer living and working in Kansas City.. He has helped develop brands such as Sporting KC, Blue Bunny and Marmot. Luke has a keen interest of studying, writing and designing all things cryptic in which he’s currently developing a puzzle-based mobile game.
DESCRIBE HOW YOU FOUND DESIGN AND IF CREATIVITY WAS SOMETHING YOU WERE ALWAYS DRAWN TO.
I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE. Ever since I was little, I always drew and painted and created. I watched Bob Ross every single day when I got home from school and copied everything he did. When I was a Sophomore in high school, they started offering graphics classes which was when I discovered Illustrator and Photoshop. It seemed that my painting and drawing abilities seamlessly transitioned into the media and from there, my path was pretty obvious. Even though I didn’t really know what “design” was at the time, I was inadvertently doing it. Most people go through college not knowing what they want to do and without ever really finding a true passion, but I was lucky enough to discover mine at a young age. Creating and making a decent living doing it is something that I will never take for granted.
HOW HAS YOUR PROCESS EVOLVED SINCE WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED DESIGNING?
AFTER GOING THROUGH SCHOOL and having a couple years professional experience, I’ve learned to fail faster. Failure and frustrations are part of the creative process, but the sooner you can move on from an idea that isn’t working, the sooner you can get to finding that true solution. This is not only a necessity to maintain sanity, but also just to keep up with the pace of things.
“I've learned to fail faster. Failure and frustrations are part of the creative process.”
HOMESTEAD, THE TYPEFACE YOU CREATED BECAME A PHENOMENON. CAN YOU SPEAK TO THE OVERALL PROCESS
OF THAT PROJECT?
PATIENCE AND PERSISTENCE. At the beginning of the process, Homestead actually started out as a cryptic exploration for one of my puzzles. I was very interested in ‘breaking’ the letters apart in a way that if you physically moved them around, only when they were aligned could you read what they said. I started with the letters, H, O, M, E and posted it to Dribbble. It seemed to be a pretty popular shot so from there, I quickly developed the rest of the alphabet. Honestly, that was only the beginning. I won’t get into the details of turning it into an actual font, but needless to say, there were many frustrations and difficulties. The most difficult (and excruciatingly tedious part) was dividing the layers into 3 separate fonts and getting them to line up. There were some unpredictable and quirky bugs that happened (seemingly for no reason) so learning to deal with those and problem solve as I went was essential.
From there, I’d say I was in the right place at the right time. Riley Cran and Tyler Galpin (who I had become friends with through the social medias) had not long before created Lost Type. I seriously can’t thank those two dudes enough for putting this concept together and selflessly giving myself and other designers the opportunity to contribute. And when you have a typeface displayed adjacent to ones designed by the likes of James Edmondson, Joe Prince and Dan Gneiding (among many other talented designers), it was simply like riding coattails.
I’ve always thought exploring the boundaries of technologies at hand is important. Homestead, being a modular type system, depends heavily on the designer’s capabilities and programs at their disposal. The concept that Homestead hinges on is the idea of creative freedom and exploration. Giving the user the option to layer with so many styles makes for tons of possibilities and aesthetics. It’s been amazing to see how it’s been used and interpreted.
“THE CONCEPT THAT HOMESTEAD HINGES ON IS THE IDEA OF CREATIVE FREEDOM AND EXPLORATION.”
WHAT'S THE BEST USE YOU'VE SEEN OF HOMESTEAD? AND THE WORST?
OF ALL THE QUESTIONS I GET ON THE TOPIC, I don’t think anyone has ever asked this. Best? It’s frequently used well (and modestly) in ESPN outlets and Nickelodeon used it in their 2013 Fall Season Promo commercials—it translated to motion really well. The absolute best is definitely the Ponysaurus Brewing Company identity and packaging. It’s ridiculously amazing. No thanks to Homestead though… they could have used Comic Sans (bad designer reference) and the branding still would have been awesome. And it’s always fun to see it in unique executions. I’ve seen it embroidered, laser-cut, burnt into wood. It’s very flattering to see people utilizing their wonderful creativity with something I’ve designed.
I’ve seen a number of questionable uses. Those are sometimes the best though (ha). Khloe Kardashian used it in an Instagram post which was strange, but the worst? Oh, this honor undoubtedly goes to the use on “DJ” Pauly D’s album cover. Worst simply for the fact that it’s Pauly D. Is it weird that I somewhat feel obligated to apologize to the world for that?
I KNOW YOU'RE A BIG SOCCER FAN. WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE LIKE BEING PART OF THE TEAM THAT CREATED THE BRAND IDENTITY FOR SPORTING KANSAS CITY?
SOCCER’S IN MY BLOOD. I grew up playing, I coached, I still play and since I was little, I looked up to my older brother playing all over the world and eventually ending up in the MLS playing his career for the Red Bulls. This background must have given me a bit of credibility when the [then] Wizards came to us in 2011. And with this, again I’d say right place, right time.
For many reasons, the process itself has definitely been one of the more interesting I’ve been a part of. From my understanding at the time, the Wizards had already been working on ideas with Adidas for at least a year. There were visual elements that the organizations wanted to include and the name was already decided. At the time, the term “Sporting” in US sports culture didn’t quite make sense so this seemed to receive a bit of criticism. (Now, people don’t even flinch at it because it’s assimilated.) Sporting has some damn smart people and in my opinion, I think they were way ahead of the curve and got it spot on.
From the aesthetic standpoint, our design team had certain graphics that had to be incorporated. And with all the layers for creative approval (our agency, Sporting’s Marketing, Sporting’s Ownership, — Adidas also had a say) it was (for lack of a better term) a design-by-committee effort. Some of the specific elements that I personally worked on were typography, stripes, the shape of the crest. We looked at the direction of stripes, the thickness, the order of the words (because it’s not Kansas City Sporting). Literally thousands of iterations were done before a final design was agreed upon. One of my favorite details is that the final crest has 11 stripes (with positive and negative) which coordinate to each player on the field.
As a designer, this is the first time I have truly witnessed a logo becoming more than what it looks like, but truly what it stands for. Kansas Citians wear it proud in every detail imaginable and it’s surreal being a part of it. I never lived up to my brother’s playing ability, but I’m honored to have had the opportunity to contribute and be a part of this great league and club.
“...I WITNESSED A LOGO BECOMING MORE THAN WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE, BUT WHAT IT STANDS FOR.”
AS A GRADUATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS, YOU HAVE TO BE A BASKETBALL FAN. IF YOU COULD CREATE YOUR OWN JAYHAWK STARTING LINEUP OF ANY PAST PLAYERS WHO WOULD BE ON IT?
I READ THIS AND GOT CHILLS, seriously. So difficult to pick so I’ll pare it down and make it an all-decade team. Sherron Collins running the point, Cole Aldrich down low. I still remember Wayne Simien’s senior speech and I think that was the point that really confirmed my blood flows crimson and blue. The remaining two spots I’d go with the Morris twins. Or Kirk Hinrich and Thomas Robinson. I picked two extra. It’s too tough, is that cheating?
IF YOU COULD MEET ONE PERSON DEAD OR ALIVE THAT HAS INSPIRED YOU, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM?
CARL SAGAN. He was a forefather of popularizing modern science and in my opinion there was/is no one on Earth that was more creative and imaginary than him. He was a man that straddled the line between religion and science and devoted his life to understanding the meaning of both and how they related to each other.
He wasn’t afraid to ask difficult questions and really tried to get people to look at things with a different perspective. He was a master at making the most complicated subject matter accessible. In a non-traditional way, he was a masterful artist and designer.
Want to take a philosophical journey that will make your mind spin and question everything you think you know? Read about the Fermi Paradox. I’d ask him, “Where is everybody?”
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT THESE DAYS?
I HAVE AN OBSESSION FOR WRITING AND DESIGNING PUZZLES—all things cryptic really. I’m currently writing a story and working with a developer on a game that will be coming to an app store near you soon. It’s a labor of love and a bit of an ambitious experiment, but I cannot wait to start unveiling details soon.
Other than that, I’m always researching and experimenting with type design. I’ve been working on a colossal family and type system that I’ll (hopefully) be distributing soon. It’s been a long process and I think I’m my own worst enemy, but it’s nearing completion. Keep your eyes peeled for that as well!
UNIQUE TO KANSAS CITY, WHAT IS ONE LOCAL RESTAURANT, STORE,
OR SPACE YOU LOVE?
LOCAL RESTAURANT (and seriously without bias even though I did work with them while I was at Willoughby), is Spin Neapolitan Pizza. It has a really cool vibe and hands down the best pizza in town. Sorry Tad. I normally get the Salsiccia AND the Tre Carni so I have leftovers the next day.
Sporting Park is another amazing place that has converted many-a-non-soccer people. It’s an extremely intimate environment without a bad seat and when it’s full, you’d think there were 80,000 people there. It’s definitely the loudest and highest energy venue in the region that isn’t a Fieldhouse. I also have a soft spot in my heart for it because it’s where my (now) fiancé said, “yes” when I proposed.