About a year ago now I took a professional practice course and was tasked with creating my own brand. The result was something like this:

Jessica Taylor Old Branding

Looking back, I still like the ideas behind the visuals, but it doesn’t fit as well as it used to. First of all, I wanted to get away from the more traditional feel of the “jt” initials and try to explore a more expressive mark. Also, I don’t like being called ‘Jessica.’ When someone calls me by my given name I either think they are talking to one of the other three Jessica’s in the room or, upon realizing they are actually talking to me,  I conjure up images of an angry version of my mother with the finger pointing and shaking and looming disciplinary action. It’s a nice name and it sounds very professional (that’s what my mom originally liked about the name, ironic that she’s the one who nicknamed me and subsequently conditioned me to not like being called by my full first name) but outside of overly formal situations, I’ve always been Jessi, so. . . just call me Jessi.

Here is my new branding:

Jessi Taylor New Logo h

business card

With this new look I wanted to highlight an element that is central to my design aesthetic: color! I love vibrant colors and I used a range of warm jewel tones to keep the brand happy and open. The structure of the mark also empathizes the coming together of two contrasting sides, this is a reference to that place that graphic designers often find themselves struggling between creativity and practicality. I think both sides often make valid arguments. Creativity is the spark that provides interest and excitement to any design, but practicality is the glue that holds it all together and gives creativity purpose and direction. As is implied in the positioning of the mark, the key to the struggle is to keep both opposing forces working together and in balance with each other.

Look for the launch of my new web site on April 9th at


Abstract IvyThe thought of the senior thesis project is what keeps junior design students up at night. At least, that’s how it was for me. I began thinking/worrying about this project long before I had any idea what I was going to do, which, by the way, was about 90% of the cause of my worry.

As often happens in artistic endeavors, life intervened and gave me something to think about and center my thoughts on for a while.

My grandfather passed away last August, right at the beginning of the Fall semester, almost ten years after my grandmother. This event put several thoughts immediately in my mind, mainly nostalgic thoughts from my childhood. I remembered simpler times in my life, when I wasn’t trying to juggle family, friends, work and school, wondering which ball I was going to drop next. And I wished for those worry-free, idyllic days of irresponsibility.

This line of thought, in the beginning, lead me to focus completely on nature and of the peace/balance that can be found there, in contrast with the hectic, overcrowded schedule I, and so many others, face everyday. Thinking about this as a visual concept, I choose to implement symbolic imagery in the form of a circle. Specifically a ring of wire circles overgrown with live ivy plants.

As my thought process developed, I began to focus more on this struggle for balance and the race against time that we all have to face at one time or another. For some of us it feels like its more of a daily battle.

How did we find ourselves so over-extended? Why are we so busy?

When I’m being honest with myself, I know the answer: I’m busy because I want to be. I don’t like it when I don’t have anything to do. I don’t like it when I’ve only got a couple of things to do. I want to have a full calender.

It’s nice to take a break every now and then, of course, but stretch that out for more than a week and I just start to feel useless. So now the question becomes: how do we balance our busy/overextended lives?

This is where the visual symbol of the circle comes back into play. It is loaded with idealized thoughts of natural harmony, perfection and balance. It is also, as far as I can tell, rather impossible to attain living in today’s world. The best we can do is to order our lives in ways that are meaningful to ourselves.

In ordering our lives we arrange certain pieces to fit in such a way as to achieve our own personal balance. For example, we prioritize our deadlines and try to establish systems of order for relationships, work, faith, recreation, etc. We attempt to construct our own harmonious circles using the pieces that we already choose to include in our lives.

Visually this line of thought is set in contrast to the circles of ivy, by circles constructed of rectangular pieces of acrylic/plexiglass. These acrylic pieces are linear and man-made, thus inherently opposite of the natural, harmonious circle of ivy plants. Yet the pieces are arranged and ordered in such a way as to fill the void left by the circles of ivy with an imperfect sphere of acrylic.Though the acrylic pieces are linear and will never form a perfect circle, each piece is
carefully placed, resulting in a complex, disjointed sphere which is interesting and beautiful in its own right. Some pieces are frosted, some are shiny and completely clear. No piece is exactly the same, but each piece is intentionally placed to create a balanced three-dimensional sphere.

The ideal of perfect harmony is beautiful and admirable, but also to a large degree, unattainable. My only conclusion is to offer the theory that although life is full of complications, your own version of ‘peace’ or even ‘satisfaction’ depends on how you place all your pieces together.

MAINx24 Event

A 24 Hour Festival

A 24 Hour Festival

MAINx24 was a lot of things, but mostly it was a huge party! The event itself was a great success for the southside of Chattanooga and the process and organization of the event was a huge success for everyone involved.

The party was planned by community volunteers and produced with help from CreateHere, which is where I came in. My part in the process was to update last year’s brand and create all the collateral necessary to promote and direct the event. Before all was said and done the whole CreateHere Design team was involved and we had fourty-eight separate events on the schedule, which is double the events from last year. We produced posters, newspaper ads and schedules in English and Spanish, as well as a billboard, banner and teaser handbill of the schedule.

MAINx24 Map of the Southside

ChattanoogaWorks Launch Party

Some of you might have heard me talk about the ChattanoogaWorks project in the past. I’ve been working on it at CreateHere since August. I even gave a presentation on it at Chattanooga’s Pecha Kucha Night on January 22nd. But the wait is over, the time has finally come for the project to offically lauch!

ChattanoogaWorks started out as a small project for myself and several other CreateHere newbies and has transformed into a community wide outreach utilizing all the resources in the CreateHere arsonal. Look for our new public ad campaign to go up around town via CARTA bus ads and several billboards, not to mention this series of posters that have been up for the past couple of weeks around town:

ChattWorks Poster 1ChattWorks Poster 2ChattWorks Poster 3

ChattWorks Poster 5ChattWorks Poster

So what does all this mean for Chattanooga? It means it’s time for Chattanoogans to get out their cameras, and submit their photos to the new and improved site, which launches February 20th. This is not a traditional photo contest. It is not strictly for pros or strictly for amateur photographers, we want everyone’s take on Chattanooga. The end goal is not prize money, although winners will be chosen. The goal is to accumulate as many photos as possible to get a unique perspective on Chattanooga and to display these photos in our online gallery and to ultimately compile these photos into a book.

Inspiration for ChattanoogaWorks came from projects like the Next American City and The Everyman Photo Contest.

I began working at CreateHere in mid-August of 2008, and to be honest, when I took the job I had no idea what they really do. I tried to do some research before my interview and I got the general impression that they were a non-profit trying to get creative people to come and live in Chattanooga.

So six months later I still think that CreateHere is a non-profit trying to get creative people to come to Chattanooga, but now I know what that actually means.

The official mission statement:

CreateHere is. . . re-energizing Chattanooga’s efforts to become a more dynamic city. We put creative capital to work in the revitalization of Chattanooga through programs that:

  • Support the professional growth of artists & artisans
  • Build the capacity of entrepreneurs to develop sustainable ventures
  • Enable the development of visionary ideas for the community’s future
  • Showcase local artistic achievements, entrepreneurial successes, & visionary
    ideas; and create platforms for social action based on them

So that sounds awesome right? So what does that mean to the average Chattanoogan? It means that we’re a resource, a network of support for you. Whether your interested in opening your own business, learning more about how to improve the business you’ve already established, or if your an artist looking for grants and opportunities to show your work or if your looking to get involved in improving your community and need help, that’s what we’re here for.

So CreateHere doesn’t really fit into a nice little box, because it is always growing and adapting to the needs of Chattanooga.

My class of Senior Visual Arts students read an article called “Against Competition” by Marc Fischer and a discussion centered around competition amongst artists, artists’ collectives and the impossibility of a “new” idea. These are my thoughts on the article:

Competition is inevitable, it’s a survival instinct. It’s the reason I cried louder than my brother when I was a baby and also the reason the dog peed on my toys; there was only one Mom and we all wanted her.

In many cases competition fosters creativity by forcing your mind to reject the first thing you think of in favor of the 18th thing you thought of. Competition motivates you to never become complacent.

On the flip side, sometimes competition just produces a lot of screaming babies. When the pressure to preform becomes such that it is impossible to think outside of pleasing a set group of people then any subsequent ‘art’ produced is, to a degree, divorced from the artist and can only be as good as the individual(s) who commissioned the piece.

This brings up the idea of collaboration, which in some ways, distances individual artists from a specific piece/work by doing away with the idea of singular ownership. I struggled a bit with this idea of ownership myself in the ability to categorize what work that I’ve done as “mine” versus “ours.”

I don’t think I’m the only person or artist that enjoys being able to claim an idea as ”mine.” The more you can take ownership of something the more credit you can get and the less you feel you have to prove, because like it or not we’re all trying to prove something, even if it’s just to ourselves. For myself, this idea of ownership has expanded to include collaborative efforts, but on a less specific level. I can be proud of the team and the body of work produced by the team and be proud of my contribution.

Collaboration can take many forms. One that I have found helpful is peer critiques. Being accountable for your work in front of your peers can be brutal, but it makes you better at what you do.

I have been looking forward to this, finally, not just designing but building my own personal website! Since creating my personal brand last semester, I have been thinking about how to translate my designs for the web.

As always, my design process went in several directions, allowing me to flush out all the undesirable ideas and find the best direction for my design. Taking a que from my broad-striped presentation folder, I chose to offset my site content on both sides with a broad blue strip and a narrow magenta strip.

I took quite a bit of time working out my site navigation. I endeavored to create a site that logically organizes a large body of work and intuitively leads the viewer through the site with well placed navigation.

There have been plenty of challenges presented with this project, but the payoff for getting through them was worth every frustration-filled minute.