G Sharp Design, LLC

G Sharp Design, LLC The freelance graphic design practice of George B. Stevens.
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Sharing some more posterwork this week, this time for my own group. Gigs are few and far between these days so I jump at...
08/06/2020

Sharing some more posterwork this week, this time for my own group. Gigs are few and far between these days so I jump at the chance to pull together a poster when the opportunity presents itself. This one was an experiment with negative space and a limited color scheme. The result was this mesmerizing oddball figure in a night sky setting that doesn’t really mean anything, nor is it particularly representative of our sound. But it’s got some cool birds and there’s a good mustache in play, so that’s gotta count for something. If you need an event poster that makes no sense, or even one that does make sense, G Sharp Design is here for you.

Thanks to Bird Dog Property Management for commissioning this logo for their new operation in North Carolina. It’s nice ...
07/28/2020

Thanks to Bird Dog Property Management for commissioning this logo for their new operation in North Carolina. It’s nice to see dogs and ducks working together for once. Both critters were sketched in sharpie and Micron and then shaped up in Illustrator. Man I drew so many dogs that week. And you know what? They were all good boys.

Here’s a poster assembled for longtime G Sharp client James Anderson, who’s as quick with a fiddle as he is with a well-...
07/22/2020

Here’s a poster assembled for longtime G Sharp client James Anderson, who’s as quick with a fiddle as he is with a well-timed Simpsons quote. James is always throwing together bands that sound like they should be headlining festivals, and this one’s sure to be no exception. Jam Grass All-Stars are debuting at the Charleston Pour House this weekend, performing the music of blue/new-grass titans Belá Fleck, David Grisman, Tony Rice, and the ever-mysterious “more”! If you know anything about these instrumentalists, you’d think no musician brave enough to recreate such peerless pickery. Well as a Charleston music scene tryhard, I can vouch for James, Joe, Justin, and John being among Charleston’s best-suited musicians for the task. Close your eyes and you might just think you’re at some bygone Merlefest.

The poster’s anchored around a whimsical piece of folk art, retired into the public domain some years ago. The typography sits proudly against it, conveying the boldness and splendor of the sounds you’ll hear if you venture out to the PoHo this Sunday. By the way, they’re handling live music vis-a-vis social distancing about as well as anyone on the scene right now. Mask up, wash up, be smart, and bask in the glory of Jam Grass!

I’ve been a Professional Graphic Designer™ for more than 13 years now, and this week I experienced a first: a client fro...
07/16/2020

I’ve been a Professional Graphic Designer™ for more than 13 years now, and this week I experienced a first: a client from North Dakota. To commemorate, here’s a little collage celebrating some North Dakota facts and culture:

1. First off, the patron saint of North Dakota: William H. Macy in Fargo.
2. The Western Meadowlark is the state bird of six states, and North Dakota is one of them.
3. The worlds largest bison statue is in Jamestown, ND. The hulk is 26 feet tall, or about 4.5 William H. Macys.
4. This one blew my mind: the KVLY-TV mast in Blanchard, ND is the tallest man-made structure in in the western hemisphere. What!
5. Another wild fact: North Dakota is either the 39th or the 40th state to enter the union. Both Dakotas were granted statehood at the same time, and President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the paperwork so no one would know which came first.
6. North Dakota’s incredible highway welcome sign. That type! I don’t know if I’m entering state or chugging an energy drink.
7. Finally, the state flag which is sorely underrated. Bold and beautiful!

Very much looking forward to my collaboration with a proud North Dakotan. Incidentally, South Dakota, still waiting on a client from your state. A similar collage awaits.

It’s Horn Tootin’ Tuesday! 🎺 Digging through my archives, I unearthed this relic: an award from scholastic journalism ca...
07/07/2020

It’s Horn Tootin’ Tuesday! 🎺 Digging through my archives, I unearthed this relic: an award from scholastic journalism camp. Yes, journalism camp was a thing I attended between junior and senior year of high school because my social calendar was, let’s say, “a bit light”. I enrolled in the design track, having served as a page designer for my high school paper the previous school year. Camp consisted of a three-day crash course on design and layout principles. It all ended with a banquet and lo and behold, one of my projects took home an award for best design. This was probably the first time I thought, “Maybe there’s a career here.”

This experience encouraged me to head to USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications and pursue a Visual Communications major, a hybrid of journalism and graphic design. After graduating I embarked on what’s been an enriching career in design. More than thirteen years later, here we are.

That little award, a simple printout, was the seed for a livelihood. A reminder to encourage the young people in your life, because you never know what might be the catalyst for a lifelong passion.

Here’s a new logo for my client Troy, a licensed professional counselor whose practice “Let’s Talk” Health and Wellness ...
07/01/2020

Here’s a new logo for my client Troy, a licensed professional counselor whose practice “Let’s Talk” Health and Wellness aims to support first responders, diabetics, the chronically ill, and indeed anyone in need of mental health counseling and coaching. His background as an EMT drives his passion and understanding when it comes to the mental rigors that can burden both first responders and those who need consistent medical care.

Troy’s philosophy is all about meaningful conversation, which led me to exploring a talk bubble form. We stripped away unnecessary elements until we arrived at this simple, resonant design that relies on a thoughtful use of negative space to create cohesion.

It’s worth mentioning that the first look I showed to Troy was well off the mark. But we talked through it, pulled some valuable direction out of it, and wound up with our winner. I shouldn’t be surprised that someone anchoring his business around the power of conversation used it to such great effect. But it served as a reminder that great design is about collaboration and communication. Thanks to Troy for embracing both!

I’m proud to have partnered with Joel Garfinkle, one of America’s most sought-after executive coaches. He’s worked with ...
06/25/2020

I’m proud to have partnered with Joel Garfinkle, one of America’s most sought-after executive coaches. He’s worked with the Googles, Amazons, and Oracles of the world to help their executives and employees work better and smarter. He’s also published a library’s worth of material in the service of empowering individuals to thrive in the workplace. His upcoming title, and the first fruit of our partnership, seeks to help readers slow down in the name of success. It’s all about defragmenting your day, setting a healthy pace, and for all that is holy, setting down that smartphone for three seconds. (Wait til after you like this post, though.)

The cover’s meant to convey urgency and distress. The blue sky, ripped away to reveal coal-black brickwork and intense lettering, should speak to those who feel like calm and clarity’s been torn asunder. The title’s meant to be read as if it’s been blurted through a bullhorn. Because that’s how you get the attention of the stressed and hurried among us. It’s a typographical backhand that seeks to snap you out of hyperspeed and take a deep breath.

Joel and I have lots more in the hopper, so keep an eye out for plenty of fresh covers in the upcoming months. And if you need a ringer of an executive coach, call Joel and tell him I sent you.

FAN ART FRIDAY: Bob Dylan — Digital Sketch(Adobe Illustrator)Ask my favorite musician and my answer could change on any ...
06/19/2020

FAN ART FRIDAY: Bob Dylan — Digital Sketch
(Adobe Illustrator)

Ask my favorite musician and my answer could change on any given day, but philosophically it all starts and ends with Dylan. Bob wove more of my creative fabric than anyone else. As a connoisseur I’ll vouch for all eras of Dylan: the wide-eyed folk wunderkind, the wild-maned nasally hipster, the countrified hermit, the Rolling Thunder gypsy, the grizzled latter day sage. Even 1980’s Leather-Daddy Dylan had his moments, I swear!

Today Bob Dylan’s newest album drops, some 57 years and 2 months after his first. I felt a simple homage was in order to a man who had the audacity to rhyme “to be employed” with “Delacroix”.

For the record, Desire’s my favorite Dylan album, but Blood on the Tracks is the best. And New Morning is the most underrated. What say you?

With so many books out there about financial planning best practices for Massachussets bio-tech industry executives, it ...
06/17/2020

With so many books out there about financial planning best practices for Massachussets bio-tech industry executives, it can be hard to know which one to trust. Thankfully, people are still judging books by their cover in the literal sense, and I’d like to think this one did the subject justice. This cover was a bit of a balancing act in terms of the verbiage. There’s the title, the overline, the subtitle, the author’s name and accreditations. All essential copy, but the challenge was finding a home for everything. Many a business book cover has suffered from a chaotic and sloppy layout where cover lines are jockeying for attention.

Balance, symmetry, and strong sight lines were employed to establish order. The resulting design feels as clean and organized as a Northampton chemistry lab, with a couple moments of intrigue (the off-centered money, the word ‘boom’ dipping just behind the glass) sprinkled in to give the concept some gentle pizzazz.

The hardest part was cramming that dang dollar into the test tube. Just kidding, it’s a stock photo!

Some heroes don’t wear capes. Some wear t-shirts dotted with marinara sauce. For the past year, I’ve watched my buddy Ni...
06/10/2020

Some heroes don’t wear capes. Some wear t-shirts dotted with marinara sauce. For the past year, I’ve watched my buddy Nick—owner of the legendary D'Allesandro's Pizza—document his quest to eat pizza every day to prove his passion for pie. A leap year, no less—366 days! Yesterday he completed this sustained display of slicemanship, and I felt it warranted a celebratory illustration. Nick, may it serve as a lasting reminder of your dominant run.

Here’s a book cover design from a few years back. Ad-itude by Peter Daboll, in a general sense, is about data analytics’...
05/27/2020

Here’s a book cover design from a few years back. Ad-itude by Peter Daboll, in a general sense, is about data analytics’ role in advertising. My hope is that you gathered as much from one glimpse at the cover. You probably first saw the giant “AD” with the colored-bar overlay and assumed the subject was TV advertising. Maybe you saw the words “data” and “ad creative” highlighted in the subtitle. Maybe you took the yellow divider that looks like part of a schematic to suggest “precision and analytics.”

Or maybe you just thought “This looks cool, what’s it about?”

As far as I’m concerned either is a win. Like a fine dish, a powerful book cover should layer and combine its ingredients in a way that results in a singular memorable experience. Some folks will appreciate the subtleties of craft and applied expertise. Others will enjoy it even if they don’t know exactly why. To a great chef or a skilled designer, either of these paths is acceptable as long as the user is satisfied.

I do my best to support my clients via return business. But there’s one in particular I hope to avoid patronizing: Drenn...
05/22/2020

I do my best to support my clients via return business. But there’s one in particular I hope to avoid patronizing: Drennan Law Firm. And that’s not because I don’t trust them to deliver top notch legal representation, but rather because tapping them most likely means I was in some sort of vehicular incident. But if such an unfortunate circumstance comes to pass, these guys will be my go-to. Why? Something about their brand speaks to me. One look at their logo and I think, “These guys are fighters and they’re on my side.” I also think, “Hey, I made that logo.” Drennan’s been a terrific partner to G Sharp and I look forward to working with them for years to come. Ideally as a designer and not as a client.

Halfway through my thirties as of today. Teaser poster for the saga’s second installment.
05/18/2020

Halfway through my thirties as of today. Teaser poster for the saga’s second installment.

Today’s feature is one near and dear to me: the cover design for a compilation that a group of Charleston-area artists r...
05/06/2020

Today’s feature is one near and dear to me: the cover design for a compilation that a group of Charleston-area artists released. Holy Corona! seeks to generate a bit of income for this bunch of musicians who, like so many service-industry folk, are out of work til things reopen. Full disclosure, my band secured a spot in the mix alongside nine other local acts. The response has been superb, and it’s received coverage from the likes of the Charleston Scene, Holy City Sinner, and Charleston City Paper.

I was eager to provide some pro bono design work for the cause. Many of the featured artists are friends, and all of them are high caliber musicians whose talents bring life to this community. My goal was to create a design that felt as big their impact on Charleston’s cultural mix. In design, the illusion of scale can be encouraged by the likes of strategic cropping and visual juxtaposition. Note how the title dwarfs the massive Ravenel Bridge, and the letters bleed off the edges of the cover. The result is a feeling of enormity and significance. It’s as if the title should only be hollered into a Shure SM58 stage mic.

The community’s support of the project has been significant and for that we’re all grateful. The featured artists have been able to pay a few bills thanks to you. The effort continues, so if you’re interested, head over to holycoronachs.bandcamp.com and snag a download.

What do you miss most about life before shutdown? For me it’s gigs. Playing music out is something I am very fortunate t...
04/28/2020

What do you miss most about life before shutdown? For me it’s gigs. Playing music out is something I am very fortunate to be able to do as a means of supplementing my income. But for now, like so many threads of life, it’s offline.

As a gigging musician, I rarely get to play for critical audiences. More often, I’m posted up at a bar or event space or some other locale where music is a part of the atmosphere but not the focus. For example, last year my band booked a run of gigs at a hotel rooftop bar. One Tuesday a month, we’d fill up a luggage rack with sound gear and instrument cases, and ride the elevator to the lounge level. We’d set up near the utility closet and play for business travelers and tourists who, for some reason, had a few hours to kill on a Tuesday evening. Did this series need a poster? Probably not. Did it get one? Yes, yes it did. Since I was my own client here, I got playful with the style. Scribbles and cotton candy colors framing our portraits. A layer of yellowed highlighting accented key components like the gig info and our dumb faces.

This wasn’t the most glamorous gig, but hey: you’re getting paid to play music with friends. Combine that with a primo view of the Ashley River sunset, a cool coastal breeze, and a comped bar tab…suffice to say there are a lot worse ways to spend a Tuesday evening. Right now I’d give anything to get out and gig, be it at a hotel or bar or bridge club (which I also did once.) But we’ll continue to wait like everyone and hope the local music scene picks right up where it left off.

Meanwhile, life soldiers on! If your events (including digital ones) need postering, give me a shout.

Fitness: more important now than ever! The value of boosting immunities via exercise has been underscored by this recent...
04/22/2020

Fitness: more important now than ever! The value of boosting immunities via exercise has been underscored by this recent unpleasantness. Plus if you’re like me, the snacks are flowing. If I don’t maintain an exercise regimen, the calories have already won.

To that end, it’s the perfect time to round out your fitness wardrobe. In that spirit, my client Two Fists of Iron asked me to design a shirt using the rallying cry, “Two fists of iron and a heart of steel”. I knew it had to avoid the trappings of innumerable corny graphic tees cluttering Ross Dress for Less racks the world over. The goal was to create something that would look fiercely stoic gliding through a weightroom or sparring gym, like a shark fin cutting through the shallows. The resulting design shows a gauntlet blasting across the verbiage, an interaction of visual might and poetic power. One deliberate decision was to make the slogan secondary to the overall visual impact—an equation that most graphic tees get wrong in my humble opinion.

The design’s available on tees, hoodies, and merch on TFI’s Etsy store at https://www.etsy.com/shop/TwoFistsOfIronGym.

Go forth and grind!

Here’s a cover I did a few years ago that I’ve always liked. The book’s a professional memoir of a retired private inves...
04/14/2020

Here’s a cover I did a few years ago that I’ve always liked. The book’s a professional memoir of a retired private investigator, so I wanted it to feel like a crime document, but it needed an element of whimsy in order to capture the playful voice of the writing. I appreciated the author letting me have some fun with this design. Of note: he supplied me with some actual polygraph test results in case I could use them. How could I say no to that? Talk about the perfect background for a detective’s book cover. I threaded one of the squigglies through the title treatment which, to paraphrase Jeff Lebowski, really tied the cover together.

I often wonder what became of whoever’s test this was. Anyone know how to read a polygraph? Did they do it?

#gsharpdesigns #bookcoverdesign

We lost a legend yesterday when John Prine passed. I think every band I've been in has covered Prine at some point. I wr...
04/08/2020
How John Prine Reshaped My Creative Thinking | G Sharp Design, LLC

We lost a legend yesterday when John Prine passed. I think every band I've been in has covered Prine at some point. I wrote a few words about the impact he had on my approach to creativity.

There are plenty of brooding, cool-guy musicians out there and if that ain’t you, brother, just lean the other way.

G Sharp Design, LLC's cover photo
04/02/2020

G Sharp Design, LLC's cover photo

BEER! 🍻🍺🍻🍺🍻 Those of us who imbibe are especially indebted to it these days, so I thought I’d highlight a can design. Lo...
03/31/2020

BEER! 🍻🍺🍻🍺🍻 Those of us who imbibe are especially indebted to it these days, so I thought I’d highlight a can design. Local brewpub Dockery’s recently staged a design contest — not normally my thing, but this one spoke to me. The brief was to design a can for the beer they were brewing in conjunction with the Volvo Car Open, a major women’s tennis tournament held down the street from Dockery’s. The design should encompass tennis, music, and their homebase of Daniel Island (think coastal South Carolina splendor.) Of course, the tournament has since been canceled. I assume the contest is still happening, but I don’t know! What I do know is this is the can I designed for it. Since the design brief requested a bevy of thematic elements, the trick was striking the right balance. The result here is inarguably tennis-y, framed in musical whimsy, and set against a classic Lowcountry sherbet sunset. All anchored by a GIANT hop. I thought all the themes blended into a vibrant design that would look just a snappy in your hand as it would hurtling through the air at a nearsighted line judge. Who knows if it’ll ever see the literal light of day, but at least it’s seeing the light of your device.

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Looking Sharp : The G Sharp Story

G Sharp Design is the graphic design practice of George B. Stevens, also known as me. I began it in 2019, after I spent almost twelve years as a graphic designer and creative director for a leading publisher of business and self-help titles. I know serve as an experienced and reliable graphic design resource for busy people.

The seed for G Sharp was planted back in the late 90s. I was 12 years old or so, and visiting my uncle’s home in New York. A successful cartoonist, he worked for himself. His commute began in the kitchen, where he’d pour a cup of coffee and walk one room over into his studio, and begin doing excellent work. This lifestyle instantly resonated with me and I knew someday I’d be doing something similar.

After discovering a knack for graphic design in high school, I studied it in college and then entered the workforce. I knew I need a bit more refining before I could successfully run my own shop, so I took a job with a small publishing startup in a junior designer role. I became invested in helping grow the design presence of the company, as well as sharpen my design, management, and client service skills.

Suddenly ten years had flown by. I was creative director and leading a team of talented designers for a bustling enterprise. As fulfilling as it was, I was beginning to feel ready for my next chapter. So after eleven years and ten months, and with the support of my company, I exited in September 2019 and founded G Sharp Design. I currently work out of my home, serving clients the world over.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to duck into the kitchen. The coffee’s ready.

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