As it is the 10th anniversary of AGRAPH 3, I thought it'd be interesting to look back at some of the key design moments for the development of the brand. Let's dive in!
In the spring of 2005 I severely cut my left ring finger - a tendon and a nerve - that sent me to surgery and 6 months of rehabilitation without any work. Let's just say that I had a lot of time to think. This is when I came up with the name AGRAPH 3.
The first card was, in retrospect, a literal graphic disaster. From the bad mix of colors, the inappropriate Canadian-medical-card-ish Isocteur font choice, the logic-less proportions, to too many photoshop overlay layer effects, the design was, I must admit, pretty faloush tabarloushly bad! Nothing short of horrendously atrocious! However, I could argue that I was like a kid playing with its toys for the first time, exploring limits and endless photoshop possibilities. Playing with graphic elements & ideas is something that still drives me every time I turn on my "brain-storm" neurons and the illustrator machine.
Here we see the first version of the logo with three staples. Although I was happy with it at the time, I remember a friend telling me : "They look like clips". Doh! Not! Well, they kind of did look like clips, a little. A hint of a "clip sign" might have been the black line within the "staples" or maybe it was the too large rounded ends of the staples. A mystery, it will remain.
In this version, we can see a back with the name and info for the first time. I guess I had enough money to make the print go both sides. :) However, the logo in the background on the back side wasn't needed but the overall organization was improving. The font, too crisp and way too horizontally stretched, contradicted the somewhat "loose-foldable" staple concept. I should add that various letter heights is something I will never repeat again even though it gives somewhat of a playful rhythm. I was still in the juniors playing and experimenting. On the other hand, the monochrome colors were on the path to betterment.
2009 - In Japan
After a couple months in Japan, I had to make a Japanese version. I chose to compact all information, English and Japanese, to the detriment of simplicity. The Calibri font aloud more suppleness than the previous one but the Japanese MS gothic didn't. This is still a recurrent problem I face when dealing with Roman based syllabaries and Japanese ones: how to match both in the same space. As the 2007 back side version, we can still see three separate fields: the name, the specialties and the information. The background staples should have been discarded but they remained. Why? I have no clue!
2010 Fall Semester at Kyoto Seika University
After finishing my 3 year contract teaching English at high school with the board of education of Kyoto prefecture, I entered the exchange student program at Kyoto Seika University in the graphic design department. There, I had classes in Japanese calligraphy, Japanese font making, an "idea-development-experimention" studio. It was during that semester that I really started to design the staple font.
On this version below we see the introduction of three colors for the first time. This might be in part due to the fact that when I made a portfolio to enter the program, I separated my works with red, blue and green sections. Moreover, at this point in time, my first website was under construction with these easily recognizable colors. The peculiarity of this two-sided design, it seems, is the ambiguity of dominance of front and back. If there is a high contrast to be had, a black background, heavy in itself, should carry the weight of the "main event" of the brand: the logo. The white background, light at heart, should on the other side contain secondary information like my name, telephone number and email address. Here again we might recognize an advanced beginner, at best, an intermediate graphic designer.
On the front, font wise, there is a mixture of upper and lower case letters within the AGRAPH that seems well balanced but a bit off real staple shape. The "3" is higher in height than the rest because it was always meant to be a separate entity from other letters as it connotes another "level", similar to math exponents. Also, it is the only version of all made up until now that had a ".com" in the "main" title: another rookie mistake. On the back side, the logo changed a bit, with no middle line in the staples but with still too much roundness to the staple curvy ends. It also slightly rotated anti-clockwise. The three fields of expertise at the bottom right referring to the color code on the front, and AGRAPH meaning, connects by recognition but is an action too many for quick comprehension.
2012 Masters in Graphic Design Kyoto Seika University
After entering the master's program in the graphic design department at Kyoto Seika University in 2011 I dove into, among many other things, the making of the staple font. You can refer to that process in the "graphic design/staple font" project to learn more.
Below is what the card looked like.
The same characteristics of the previous version appear on this one, namely the Calibri font, black & white backgrounds and Japanese & English contact information. However, two details made all cards original ones.
I punched cards with three small staples randomly disposed adding depth and an amusing clin d'oeil to materiality.
The second detail is even more subtle. It's a silkscreen print of my family "sound-name" in old Japanese characters that I had designed and carved in a stone to make a stamp : Mayrand : Mei-Ran (明-嵐). The first character means "light, bright" and the latter signifies "storm"
On the picture below we can see that the ink used on the cards was transparent so the card has to be tilted for the print to appear.
After graduating from the Masters Program I did a group exhibition, a solo one presented at Pechakucha Night in Osaka and Kyoto so I wanted to have a clean and new business card that we can see below. In this final version I separated the English card and the Japanese one. The logo is reduced in size compared with previous versions. The other side has the name AGRAPH 3 and below my contact information. The backgrounds, all white, leaves space for a comprehensive reading of the three main components: logo, name and information.
Voilà! Longue vie à AGRAPH 3! Wonder what kind of changes will be made leading to 2025!