As a designer at the Denver Art Museum, I was tasked with designing a t-shirt for the 26th Annual Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration. I decided to meet with the Native Arts Artist-in-Residence, Tom Haukaas, for inspiration. I met him in the studio space on level 3 of the North Building. He was sitting in a comfortable reading chair organizing tiny colored beads to be used in a graduation gift for his niece.
He was excited to chat about art, colors, history, and community. He handed me a sketch of a perfectly symmetrical drawing of connected shapes drawn with a Sharpie and colored pencils of an abstract floral symbol.
I could have listened to him for hours explain the meanings behind the patterns of current and past projects. I was delighted to discover, after asking a simple question about color ideas, that Tom does not describe colors in dull terms such as blue, black, or yellow. Oh no, on his list of favorites would be light olive, poppy red, or cornflower blue.
I walked out of his studio with an illustration from Tom, excited to start the design that I hoped would capture the happiness, excitement, and motion of the Friendship Powwow.
I scanned Tom’s illustration because there was no point in starting from scratch when I was given such a great design. I slowly outlined each shape in his drawing in Adobe Design software. I decided to drop the black outline he had drawn on his illustration to make the mark look a little more clean and modern.
I often like to mock-up a few ideas for design projects. Making each design a little different with colors, layout, and type treatment. The final design uses the colors Tom originally decided on in his sketch with a typeface that is strong and slender. The bright colors and a pattern that seems to be stretching up towards the sun creates a welcoming and sturdy look to this year’s Friendship Powwow t-shirt.