For ten years, Audi USA has been a team sponsor for The Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, an annual 15 to 100-mile cycling adventure along the Pacific Coast Highway, from Carmel to San Simeon. For the second time, I worked with Team Audi to create a custom Audi-themed cycling kit for them to get down the coast in style.
As the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Best Buddies Challenges are as much fun as they are athletic challenge. Team Audi wanted to get away from the dark plain designs of the past and make a kit that was loud, proud and most importantly — FUN!
Early on, Team captains presented “Audi Kids Pajamas” as a potential theme to consider but getting from an initial concept to a full-blown execution includes a lot of steps in between. Beginning with sketching Audi’s best-selling models, I wanted to experiment with how simplified I could get before an illustration of the car became unrecognizable from the brand. Happily, the final sketches stayed true to Audi’s unique look and feel – but connecting the cars to the overall theme proved to be another challenge altogether.
Halfway through I was stuck. The individual illustrations were looking good but that fun energy key to my clients’ vision was feeling like an engine that wouldn’t turn over. Inspiration is a tough one, it comes whenever and wherever it wants, often times in the middle of a sleepless night.
On my screen were exact sharp aggressive lines characteristic of my past work, but strategically I was at an impasse. Something had to give and I went back to my original thinking and design research figure out where I made the wrong turn. It was there that I found the Best Buddies logo, created by a true inspiration – Keith Haring. His energetic work full of movement that almost jumps off the canvas is where I needed to steer my thinking.
By modifying each car to feature thicker rounder line work, and adding expressive lines to communicate movement and excitement, I was able to achieve the fun pattern Audi wanted. Additionally, I drew a dot pattern similar to Keiths to wrap the cuffs and ground the wild pattern overall. In the end, the whole piece came together and spoke to the brand, the event and stayed true to my original style.