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In the middle of art/science projects, I do say yes to doing graphic design, especially for awesome people. Creatively speaking, it’s a good break from the grind and practically speaking, it’s good to know that I can still do things like logos.

So this is a logo design project for a shop called La Monja Loca.

Yes, The Crazy Nun.

It’s the gift shop of Carlos Celdran. You may have gone on his tour. You may have seen the headlines. You may have seen him with his iconic top hat.

Years ago, I designed the logo for his Intramuros tours. Yes, it’s a top hat. And if you’ve received his Intramuros poster, yes, I designed that, too, many, many moons ago. Fun, fun project.

So. La Monja Loca. The brief given to me by Ria, the project manager / producer, was to generate an iconic crazy nun with one eye that was a cross between Clockwork Orange and Twiggy’s spiky eyelashes. In the beginning, I sketched out variations of eyes.

Version #9 was chosen. I also did some research on the wimples that Carlos wanted. These are called “cornettes.” (Hey, I didn’t know that! Now I do.)

The fourth one was the one they picked. I tried sketching out three different poses. First was one facing right (viewer’s angle). It was a bit too Clockwork Orange.

I sketched another version facing left.

Finally, I sketched a frontal symmetrical version, which was ultimately chosen. I like that version best, too.

They also liked the script lettering from the second version. It fits because a lot of script calligraphy fonts recall the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, which is the time period that the store evokes.

To make sure things are symmetrical, I sketched the nun on graph paper. I always feel more connected with my work when I first draw them.

Afterwards, Carlos wanted the wingtips flattened so as not to resemble horns. He also took out the bib. I gave him a number of time-appropriate script fonts to choose from and he chose Flemish Script.  I then worked to make the resulting logo a bit older, “inkier” and less sharp to match the period. Carlos, Ria, and Tesa Celdran offered feedback last weekend. And voila, here we go:

Next time you’re passing through the Walled City of Manila, do check out the store! It’s located at the Plaza San Luis, Calle Real, Intramuros, Manila. Follow the store’s Tumblr here.

This project made me think of all the logos I’ve ever made. Check them out here. *tears*

Ok, now back to my regular sketching and prototyping and making grind.

You know you’re home when old projects haunt you like spirits.

While my work is primarily about the “intersections of science and art,” I do, from time to time, do design work for things I care a lot about. Here are two of them that have appeared on my radar, physically and online, almost as if to say, “Hi! Remember me? Look at me now!”

It’s as though they were orphans I raised and gave to caring homes.

So, here are the children I gave away:

1. A logo for the Philippine Taekwondo Association 

As my friends and colleagues know, taekwondo is something that’s really important to me, but not in a competitive way. I think it has helped me a lot personally and professionally. I wanted to give back, not through competing (which I assure you, does not suit me) but through something else—design. Around 2008, I reached out to my old teacher, Coach Jobet Morales, a former medalist and currently the Philippines’ national coach, who said that coincidentally, they needed a new logo. I already had something in mind, but I also met with Coach Morales and Grandmaster Sun Chong Hong who discussed what they needed. (I remember that day! It was lunchtime and I thought that being with these two black belts was the safest place in the world. We had Korean bibimbap.)

The logo they approved has the association’s initials, rendered in the colors of the Philippine flag. The blue letter has the profile of a bird, symbolic of the Philippine eagle. The red letter is a roundhouse kick, which was a compromise because I initially suggested a side kick (better suited with the T shape), though was told that roundhouse kicks were more frequent in taekwondo (actually, true). The yellow letter has a sun from the Philippine flag.

Now it’s 2012 and, training at the central taekwondo headquarters in Manila, I keep seeing it all the time. On certificates, belts, chest guards, banners, etc. It’s quite an honor, and I’m thrilled they’re still using it.

2. A poster for Carlos Celdran’s Intramuros tour

My friend Carlos, who does these awesome tours in Manila, tagged me on this photo emailed to him by some European tourists and newlyweds. The poster on the right was my first graphic design poster, which Carlos gives away on his tours. I did this around the same time as the taekwondo project, and both remain among the graphic design projects closest to my heart. What he has done for the Philippines is fantastic, and while his tours are primarily performance art, it has contributed to the discourse of critical issues in the country.

(To the people in this photo, shoot me an email if you’d like to be identified. And thank you so much! You made my day. Oh, and congrats!)

A Disclaimer

I did these projects without any graphic design education at the time. The only things I had experience in were molecular biology and journalism. I was just a girl with a curiosity for Adobe Illustrator and a thing about “making the world a better place.” Years have passed and I’m done with an art residency and an MFA in Interaction Design, and looking at back at these projects made me both smile at the exuberance of youth and cringe at some tiny mistakes. (The kerning! Rats. I need to fix that.) But my friends / clients still seem happy about them, so I suppose that’s what counts. That brief time I was in Manila, I just loved their work and what they’ve done for me, and I thought that this was the best way to help them out. I may never be in the Olympics or Games of any sort, but at least my logo will! And helping cultural gems like Carlos’s work is something that’s always rewarding to do.

I have a cold. And this is probably why I’m sentimental.