Corporate though (i)t may be, I’ve decided to stop squirming at the word “brand.” If we humans are to discover our own idiosyncratic voices and images—the ones that seem like a speech bubble from our souls—then I, for one, have no intention of letting that measly little word be a scorpion in my shoe. So here I am in 2021, establishing a “personal brand.”
The centerpiece of that brand is, of course, my name. But what’s a name without the right font? Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be another Winzie Howard out there, so “the right font” for that human being must refer to something quite particular. But how particular? Could there be 10 possible candidates? Five? One?
You’ll never guess, but I found the answer to be zero. So I started with six elemental shapes (pictured above): a little circle, a big circle, a horizontal line, a vertical line, a diagonal line, and a square. Then I refined these shapes until they met the understatedly high standards of the human eye. And then I constructed my own font. It looks like what I imagine would result from asking a 15th-century monk to hand-letter an illuminated manuscript using only a photo of a 1994 squiggle pattern and a verbal description of the IBM branding sensibility. Sounds like me, doesn’t it?
Next, my editorial icons evoke the simple geometries of the wordmark. We have quotation marks for quotes, legal pad lines for notes, an open book for tables of contents, a dictionary for dictionary entries, and scissors for edits—each uniquely shaped and color-coded, so that even somebody scrolling at hyper-speed can tell which type of “block” they’re passing.
After that we come to the non-logo branding font: Michelle BF, by Bomparte’s Fonts. Like the logo, it arranges thick and thin pieces in unexpected places. And I’ve tracked the letters much closer together than the default setting, evoking the tight ’90s look (à la Apple’s advertising at the time, or, for a modern, intentionally retro example, this New Balance collaboration campaign from clothier Aimé Leon Dore)—which, when paired with the squiggle aspect of the logo, pays quiet homage to the decade of my birth.
Then we come to my image templates. Right now, you’ll find my blog populated with only four posts: all chapters of my popular 2016 essay series on the decline of Apple’s user interface design discipline. Meaty claims require meaty evidence, which means that I’ve illustrated my criticism with over 50 images—most of which simply show parts of the operating systems in question, with comparisons to previous or subsequent versions. This pattern will also apply to future essays, of which there will be many, so I thought it best for the 2021 launch of Winzie Howard Dot Com to include an image-making system. To that end, I’ve created a watermark and a grid, viewable above in only their simplest form. Does that strike you as typical designerly post-hoc gibberish? I assure you it was very much pre-hoc, but if your eyes are still performing a 7-10 split, know this: I can only hew as closely to the grid as other people’s images allow me to. Some of Apple’s interface elements, for instance, have a certain fixed proportion, thus requiring me to balance the integrity of their systems with the integrity of mine. I believe I triumphed. You be the judge.
Last, I will address the photography style. I don’t believe in confining my rather wacky aesthetic principles to only some parts of my life, so they creep out in my clothing, my designs, my music, my language, and, in this case, my portraiture. This is my “personal branding,” after all. All I needed to do was to be myself, point a lens at my face, and snap the picture.
Like Jurassic Park, my upcoming miniseries involves a fictional corporation, and also like Jurassic Park, the branding for the fictional corporation is the same as the branding for the real miniseries—which means I have the unorthodox obligation to create the logo and marketing materials before shooting, rather than after. That may sound like the bane of my existence, but it is in fact the boon of my existence. Why? Because this way the branding and marketing can be a full-fledged ingredient in the vision, rather than a tasteless garnish grafted onto the end in order to make everything seem a little prettier. Or worse: purely to sell.
The logo is complete, but, until the unveiling of the title, a secret.
Among other maturations, I’ve spent our COVID epoch training myself to be a better designer, and frankly, I have succeeded. Therefore, please think of everything below this note as an “acceptable” pre-2021 highlight reel. May it whet your appetite until I have enough new projects to fill this page.
I designed and coded a website for Coco’s Cottage, the local oasis for women’s clothing, gifts, and accessories. Visual inspirations included cottage rooflines, fabric textures, non-ostentatious jewelry, clothes hangers, and cool color schemes that evoked the mood of the shop. The owner, Carol Perkins, died in March of 2021, and the site is now defunct—but I hope the snapshots above give you a sense of the craft.
This advertisement, for upholsterer Lynn von Conta, appeared in the January 2017 issue of the New England Antiques Journal. In 2021, its life continues as a business card—reportedly a hit with sharp-eyed customers.
As a communications intern at Berkeley, CA’s Kala Art Institute during January and February of 2016, I put my best efforts toward this image suite promoting Camp Kala, a summer program for children ages 6-17. Kala provided the course titles and basic information (instructor, dates, times), then entrusted me with the visual design. The images ultimately went out with Kala’s e-mail newsletter, and on their Facebook page.
If you found yourself at Bennington College in August or September 2015, you saw this logo. And some rusty signs. And probably a flash of fall foliage, as only Vermont can deliver. Natural inspirations for the color of the t-shirt.
The proudest moment of my internship at eccentric New York advertising agency The Fearless Group: an animated version of the logo for neurofeedback glasses maker Narbis, viewable at the end of this video. I also drew on my audio production training to create the lamp-chain sound effect.