Tell us about your daily creative life. What’s a day in the life of a freelance graphic designer?
My daily creative life is shared with my wife Shannon, we run a boutique design studio together called Parallel-Play. Designing in a bubble can be dangerous, so it’s good to have somebody to bounce ideas off of, and rewarding to have someone to share the victories with.
Right now, there is no routine “day in the life,” which means there is always room for serendipity (the stuff that keeps the creative mojo going). The daily routines that do exist have little to do with work, I have coffee, I walk my dog, Miles, and I’m at my desk by 10AM. Sometimes I know what is waiting there for me and sometimes I sit down, sift through my email and discover that I just won the Brooklyn Circus Fillmore 5 Year anniversary T-Shirt design contest.
How did you find out about the contest and why did you decide to enter?
I received the e-mail blast for the contest. I immediately wrapped up what I needed to finish for that day and dove into the design challenge. We lived in the Lower Pac Heights neighborhood in SF in 2010, and we would take these evening strolls through Fillmore—that’s when I first came across the beautiful gold-gilded sign on the storefront for The Brooklyn Circus S.F. After peeking through the window, I walked into the store and was struck by the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that have become the brand’s standard. It made me think about my grandfather’s handsome swag, and how I tried to steal it by wearing his clothes in high school. It was then, that I made it a personal goal to collaborate with The BKc someday—this contest put that goal within my reach.
What did you think your chances of winning were?
First off I want to give props to the other two finalists in this year’s contest, their designs were great and it was definitely a nail-biter ‘til the end of the competition. Deep down I just felt it, I knew I would at least make it to the finals. I am a passionate designer, and when I find something that inspires me, I know the work I create will be my best. I have a deep admiration for the brand, and knew this was a great opportunity to create something that would represent my personal style as well as The Brooklyn Circus. As soon I found it that I was a finalist, I did my best to let people know and left the decision up to the public.
Are you familiar with The Brooklyn Circus’ 100 year plan? If so how did it affect the approach you took on this t-shirt design. (if it didn’t it’s ok!)
Yes indeed I am, and it is essentially why I love the brand. I think having a business model that’s driven by quality, passion, and community while keeping the next generation in mind is something that I truly admire. I can honestly say The 100 year plan was the driving force for the design I submitted.
Specifically walk us through the creative process you took in designing this anniversary t-shirt, did you research San Francisco, The Brooklyn Circus, vintage sportswear, our 100 Year plan?
All of the above, and then some. After receiving the design prompts from Gabe, I took a focused look at what The Brooklyn Circus has done, what they’re currently doing and thought about what could possibly be in store for the future.
Using the 100 Year Plan as the foundation, I knew what I created had to be classic and timeless; something that would look great paired with the companies past and current garment pieces, but would also make for a beautiful poster or painted on the side of a wooden crate.
One of my favorite parts of the creative process is doing the research and understanding the visual landscape. I spent hours looking at printed ephemera, typography from the 1920’s-40’s, vintage product packaging, shop signs, maps, clothing tags, whiskey labels, sports brands and equipment—you name it and I probably have an image of it stored on my desktop. It felt natural to create something that was type driven. Typography of the early 1900’s through the 40’s was an art-form practiced by highly specialized craftsmen. A typographer was more than a person with some software. It makes sense that the brand takes not just clothing cues, but design cues from an era of craftsmanship. Once the visual research is finished (when my computer is exhausted of its drive space), I move on to loose pencil sketches to play with compositions and then I move on to the computer to develop a type palette. After countless iterations on the computer, the final design is reminiscent of Ivy League sports championship patches. Knowing that the purpose of this shirt is to celebrate The Brooklyn Circus’ successful 5 years on Fillmore, it was only fitting that the design celebrated both the shop and the 100 Year Plan.
What more would you like to see happen from this? We are fine if you say ” I never want to design a Brooklyn Circus shirt ever”
Ha, are you kidding me!? I would love to design another Brooklyn Circus shirt, and that’s for starters. Ultimately I would love for this to be the beginning of a lasting relationship with The Brooklyn Circus. Just knowing about the history of the company and the cannon of talented people you’ve worked with, it would be amazing to take part and contribute to the 100 year plan. I can’t help but to want to collaborate with folks that are motivated by passion and craft and put that foremost into the work they produce, that’s why I love my job.
Do you have a 100 year plan for your design career and interest, if so what does it look like?
We have a 1000 year plan! We live by 2 mottos: “Work is love made visible.” (Kahlil Gibran) “Design is thinking made visual” (Saul Bass).
We are passionate about our work and what we leave behind. If we just wanted money we would be working in-house for some big corporation, working way fewer hours, and we would probably get handed a bigger paycheck (fonts are expensive yo!). We live for the challenge, and right now, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to bring some positive change to the world through design. Last year we partnered with 826LA.org and were awarded a $15,000 grant from Sappi Fine Paper to produce a project that creates change. Together with 826LA we published a book of essays inspired by J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in The Rye written by high-school students from Downtown L.A. Those kids got to graduate from high school and put “Published Author” on their college applications. Sales from those books raised enough money for 826LA to partner with new designers and re-create the whole project again. Those are the seeds of a 1000 year plan.
What are you inspired by: Movies, the internet, our economy, our president, fashion?
Being a visual person and a creative maker I feel like I’m always being inspired on both conscious and subconscious levels. I try to keep an eye out for everything; design, fashion, fine art, illustration, architecture, music, a good meal, being outdoors, the list goes on. Sometimes I like to throw on the Goodfellas dvd and just listen to the dialogue while I work, that never gets old. Something that inspired me for this particular project was a masonry stamp in the concrete on the sidewalk outside my door. I just so happened to kneel down to tie my shoe and boom, inspiration—It’s everywhere.
Who are your favorite graphic designers or illustrators?
Ah, there are so many talented people who I admire that are just overall amazing visual communicators it’s hard to pick favorites, so here’s my current list. For starters my all time favorite designer would have to be my wife Shannon Losorelli-Doronio; a tenacious maker of beautiful things, relentlessly passionate about her craft and always pushing to outdo herself. Massimo Vignelli, Daniel Eatock, Saul Bass, Deutsche & Japaner Studio, Stranger & Stranger, Anagrama Studio, Strangeways Academy, the talented folks over at Friends of Type, Jessica Hische, Charles and Ray Eames, the typographers over at Type Together Foundry and Latino type, Parra, Justin Sloane, JAW Cooper, Julian Callos, Jessica Dalva, Allison Reimold, Alessandro Echevarria, Septherhed, Haunted Euth, Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta, …just to name a few.
Who is Jay Doronio?
Creative problem solver. Designer and Illustrator. Fighter for Love. Scotch and cigars. Family man. Husband. Most recently a woman who reads auras told my wife I am a blue whale, exploring the deep, moving at my own pace with great purpose. I’ll take that.
To learn more about Jay and his work check out his site at Parallel-Play.com