How Working at Champion Improved My Design Skills

Title Image Saying, "How my job after college improved my design skills." with a picture of a desk in the back with a camera, iPhone and laptop.
I walk into Hane’s Inc. in Lenexa, Kansas, but this time, it’s not for an interview. I got a job. A real adult job! As of June 2016, I am the new Merchandising Designer for the Champion division.
Working here is a blessing because I have the privilege to with an excellent team of designers. Not only are they super friendly, but the typographic style of Champion has been inspiring.

Champion’s Style

The Champion style has a classic look that highlights athletic performance. That’s why we mostly work with collegiate sports teams and bookstores. Generations have gone through this company, and still, Champion continues to keep up with the modern looks and trends. Through creative reach and design experience, Champion designers play with type in ways that I never imagined.
Working at Champion has helped me improve my hand lettering skills, for sure. And here is why:

1. Strokes Are Not stupid

I don’t know why, but in college, I got the impression that strokes do not look good on fonts. Most of my projects were for publications, not screen printing. It’s understandable that books wouldn’t want strokes because strokes can make works look thick, heavy, and uncolored coordinated. But when it comes to typography and hand lettering, strokes can be used in fun, meaningful ways.

2. Adding Elements Within the Letters

One of the best things I have learned is how to apply textures and patterns to letters. Adding details can make lettering more appealing. Finding the right patterned needs to match the mood of the word or phrase.

3. Type on a Curve

Writing type on a circle’s curve is nothing new. But over the past few weeks I have embraced Adobe Illustrator’s Warp, Envelope Distort and Type on a Curve feature more than ever. There are so many options within the Warp tool to make letters bend in symmetrical ways. 

4. Less is More

I have trouble leaving open space. I always want to fill my designs because I feel like I worked harder if there is more to see. More design elements do not make the project better. “Simplicity is what makes design so hard.”

5. Placement of the Design (on garment)

When working with screen printing, there are several options as to where the design can print on the garment. Unlike a piece of paper, designs can be printed on the shoulder, down the leg, and on the hip. This opportunity allows for some fun creativity.

6. Using the Background as a Color

When I design, I have to keep in mind the color of the shirt. It’s easy to forget when I am working on Adobe Illustrator’s gray background. The garment of the shirt also counts for a color. Using the backdrop as a color can apply to hand lettering when deciding on paper to use.

7. Garment gaps

Overlapping elements is one of several basic composition options. Though sometimes when two elements overlap it creates too much attention. By creating a gap between the two objects can help avoid the distraction or imbalance.
These were seven things that I have learned while working on the job. Design school is a great start to anyone’s artistic career.Four years of school is just the beginning and is just enough time to cover the basics.
I’m looking forward to learning more here at Champion and through my design experiences.
Find my work on Hane’s Ink! 
Aa graphic that has the bullet points of what I have learned at Champion

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