Michael Lassiter is a graphic designer living in Durham, North Carolina. While still taking on interesting freelance projects, he works fulltime at French West Vaughan, a public relations and advertising agency located in downtown Raleigh.
Track House is an all-ages live music/art space in Wichita, Kansas. Situated next to railroad tracks in an industrial part of the city, it was important for the identity to reflect the out-of-the-way location.
My approach to most identity projects usually begins with simply allowing ideas to spin around in my head for a few days before sitting down to sketch. For me, it is usually not too helpful to start off with developing a long list of words or to develop any sort of mind map on paper/screen. Of course, what is referred to as “mind mapping” is most likely always happening in some form or another despite not being put to paper. After all, aren’t we as designers hired because of our ability to make connections that may not be immediately apparent to non-designers? I’d like to think so.
My initial ideas for the Track House logo were focused on railroad tracks. I attempted a solution using heavily spaced-out type to convey a pattern of railroad ties, but this proved to be way too clunky and difficult to read.
These first sketches led me to thinking of railroad crossing signage and associated imagery such as the flashing lights, warning signs, etc. Thinking in terms of how the logo could be used as exterior signage, I felt that it had to be simple and bold in its form. Using just the T and H, I started to explore various interpretations of railroad/traffic signage but, again, decided that the execution wasn’t having the impact that was needed.
It then occurred to me that I could simply create the T and H letterforms in a way that would convey the sense of railroad signage that I was after. I created the forms on a grid, which would allow for both horizontal and stacked orientations depending on the application.
The final logo uses two weights of Bell Gothic Standard, which I chose not only for its clarity, but for its sharply defined uppercase K, which I’ve always loved. I limited the color palette to black and white, so as not to compete with the diverse range of artwork that would be featured on posters or gallery invitations. Most importantly, the client loved the concept and ran with it right away, painting a large scale version inside the Track House performance space.