Personal Notes from Awayzgoose 2020

By Tom Walker

Tom Walker of Ramicack Press. Tom has been a professional designer for over 25 years. He has also taught at the university level for a decade. Printing has always been a part of that professional practice and teaching. Tom is now doing more personal artistic and job printing after assembling a modest personal collection of type and a few presses over the last several years. Recent print work and workshops have explored themes of ornament and pattern.

A logo, a bag, a map, and a small program booklet.

Slam dunk for a slightly-long-in-the-tooth-designer, right. I was confident I could do this with one wireless mouse tied behind my back.

The annual Wayzgoose design needs were fairly formulaic (not in a bad way) after 11 years of developing and running this wonderful conference. A few months in advance my friend Jim had asked if I would be willing to throw in with the museum and carry out a few design needs. I was of course more than happy to collaborate. Stephanie, another long-time friend and wrangler extraordinaire, advanced some files, examples of designs from the past few years as reference, and a tidy calendar of deliverables. I started off down the design path by sketching, sharing some options and getting buy in for a single direction. Somewhere during the back and forth the real shock came when we hit the pandemic wall. Back to the whiteboard! The conference would now need to be held completely online and it was obvious I would need to dust off a few other Adobe software applications.

A logo/identity was still the first step and would now need to fit a bit wider scope of media. I found the small finial ornament in some really early Hamilton type specimens...then I saw it had been digitized and added to the HWT Star Ornaments set designed by Richard Kegler. Since the work had already been done I plundered that for goose wings and a tail, then added a gooseneck. The main logo has a little bit of everything and mostly designed by others—I figured this is the project that merited going all out—two geese, two wood type display fonts, star border, arrows, secondary typographic information, date, and a simple system for adding teaser/CTA copy (AND a decorative star in the horizontal logo version for good measure). I included options to strip some of this detail and use acronyms as pixel sizes dropped for smaller electronic uses. Since I hadn’t had much of a chance to use wood type display fonts in much of my commercial work I shot the moon in type for this project. OK, a few typographic notes, nods and admirations now...The bifurcated Tuscan HWT Brylski typeface by Nick Sherman was used for the main titling. The De Stijl inspired HWT Geometric typeface designed by James Grieshaber was used for secondary titling. And HWT Arabesque designed by Terry Wüdenbachs was used for the tertiary/CTA language because, frankly, it reminded me of clouds.

Early rough digital sketches and stinkers
Final logo
Adding tertiary language

Once we settled on a finalized identity I started to play around with a kit of elements and an informal system that would allow for some variety in the various digital and print needs that may come down the pipe. Eggs, clouds, patterns, and goose borders all danced through the Illustrator artboards. And thinking about the saturation on social media and other channels I wanted to write some copy options to offer some variety and make things a little more fun. I was inspired by the punful naming of the conference so my wife and I held some of our own punning sessions. Those usually ended with her rolling her eyes and walking away after I conjured gems like ‘Let your font flock flag fly!’ or ‘Flock, flock, flock ’til you drop!’

Palette notes for system users (mostly me)
Pun cloud
Adding tertiary language
Goose as pattern
Goose as pattern

Now who doesn’t love a client that allows you to do basically whatever the hell you want. The folks at the museum and the APHA were pretty hands off...just letting me know what holes I needed to fill, and by what date. It was probably because they were all trying to figure out how to pull all this off and from a distance and still give conference goers a run for their money, still provide meaningful content, create a sense of community, foster rich presentations, hold dynamic workshops, provide ocean liner size boatloads of know, what we all expect out of the wayzgoose every year. This all looked like a pretty steep climb by about midsummer. I can remember the secret mantra... ’it may not be pretty, but all we have to do is get through it.’ —By the way, I would have to be a gifted poet to think of the words that could describe what a wonderful experience I had being online for those four days of the conference...I was jaw agape with the quality of the workshops, presentations and live action (& antics)...what an incredible effort by all the staff, volunteers, sponsors, speakers, demonstrators, workshop presenters, and attendees. You know it, you felt it too. Still gives me goosebumps!

I made sure to check in regularly with language and tone since I have been known to get a little off the rails when left to my own devices. A few aspect ratios later and we had content for Instagram, Facebook, banners and mainspaces of web pages. Some stop animation stacks in Illustrator made quick work for simple animated gifs that could be swapped out for static posting variations. As the conference inched closer we needed to advertise the speakers and agenda. With provided speaker and workshop instructor photographs and a few personal makeready backgrounds speaker/agenda content was generated for the various digital channels at appropriate pixel dimensions. From the beginning I had tried to create a system in which staff or interns could create content but I tried to take most of this load off of their plates. (I’m also a control freak, still like ‘making’...and was having way too much fun doing it).

Instagram options, 1080 x 1080
Speaker content for Instagram
Zoom Backgrounds

Then our focus turned to the BrandLive interface where the streaming conference would actually be ‘held.’ We got into weekly meetings with our BrandLive support staff (who were also fantastic to work with, thanks Kanchana...and way to go JP and Bill on your work researching and facilitating that relationship) as we started to figure out the logistics of the interface and working within the provided CMS. Options and designs for backgrounds, buttons, breakouts, slide shows, daily schedule, daily intros & signoffs, speaker titles, countdown animations, interstitials and more were all on the menu. I’m far from a developer so I tried to limit the ‘skinning’ of the interface to what was achievable without writing code and doing as little HTML editing on the backend as possible. We tried to break it, met regularly, asked lots of questions, and tested frequently. I had Stephanie and JP on speed dial and probably wore out their ears during this phase. I used Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects, Media Encoder and Premiere to generate all files for everything from animations to slide shows, to populate the CMS, and for elements placed within the streaming content. There were a few other collateral needs (bandanas, sponsor tags, a logo for Field Notes, etc.) that popped up as launch day approached. It was a good kick to the finish but a very memorable and educational design journey. Loads of thanks to everyone that was a part of it.

Never did get around to designing that bag, map or program booklet. Maybe next year. See you at the Goose.

Speaker content for Instagram
Sponsor cloud
Title slides for speakers
Merchandise ads, reminders, thank yous, membership links, donation CTAs
Final bandana design
Bandana color options


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