I have to be honest with you. Eighteen months ago, I truly wondered what on earth I was doing here. “Here,” meaning a seat on the Advisory Panel for Modern in San Antonio, dedicated to highlighting the best and brightest of local modern design, art, places, and events. Yes, I’m a Creative Director at the agency that MiSA came to for its brand identity and website design and development, but beyond that, I questioned the value I could bring to a meaningful discussion on modern design and art in our city.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the invitation to join MiSA’s Advisory Panel provided me a great opportunity to reflect on the unbelievably large number of rare chances I’ve had to contribute to projects that have helped to shape our city’s skyline, define its commitment to the arts, and fortify its pledge to sustainability.
This made it clear to me that it’s hard to fully comprehend and appreciate the importance and endurance of projects like these in medias res — the deadlines are too real, the work is too intense, and another project is always looming. Here are three projects I’ve been blessed to touch, reflections on which are perhaps more important to me now than when the work was being done.
In 2003, one of the premier Class A office towers in San Antonio approached Texas Creative for an updated brand look and feel. A staple of San Antonio’s skyline since its construction in 1988 with its table-top spire, the building managers were looking to keep Weston Centre at the top of conversation when it came to modern office space downtown. Floor remodels and updates to its sprawling lobby were in the works, and there was a need for an updated logo, building signage, and tenant signage.
The updated logo we produced incorporated a modern interpretation of the building’s unique silhouette.
New building signage was designed and installed, incorporating the brand’s logotype.
A new directional parking sign directs drivers, and inside the building, tenant signs were constructed out of custom die-cut, painted metal, paired with sandblasted limestone.
As a graphic designer, it’s far more common to see your work in a recycling bin four months after it’s produced than standing three stories above a city sidewalk more than 15 years later.
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
In 2013, work began to transform San Antonio Municipal Auditorium into the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, a building that, from its conception, would transform the landscape of performing arts in San Antonio for decades to come.
The brand look and feel was Texas Creative’s first undertaking, resulting in a neo-classical logo inspired by a piece of pottery found on Robert L. B. Tobin’s estate, cast by Tobin himself. The “T” is cradled by an enclosure that “lifts up” the performing arts, representing the building’s impact on the arts community.
Knowing that the Tobin Center would eventually be staffed with a marketing department charged with maintaining the brand look and feel, we also produced a brand standards guide to protect and nurture the Tobin Center brand, outlining colors, typefaces, design standards, custom background patterns, and do’s and don’ts for the Tobin Center brand.
We designed and developed the Tobin Center’s website, which launched before the building opened its doors to the public along the San Antonio River Walk. The site ties in to a third-party ticketing and patron management system used by every resident company at the Tobin Center, ranging from the San Antonio Symphony to Youth Orchestra San Antonio.
The building’s indoor and outdoor stages have been graced by the likes of Paul McCartney and Steven Tyler, and the center offers educational opportunities to students of all ages to continue to emphasize the importance of the performing arts in a vibrant and growing city like ours.
San Antonio River Authority
In 2018, Texas Creative was selected as agency of record for the San Antonio River Authority. The appointment came with quite a challenge: Help educate the public on what this tax-funded agency does to keep the San Antonio River and surrounding ecosystems safe, clean and enjoyable, and reduce existing confusion between the River Authority and other city agencies like the San Antonio Water System. Additionally, this education must also include showing residents across four South Texas counties what they can do to contribute to our river’s health and water quality.
A large part of the River Authority’s contribution towards enjoying the outdoors and promoting sustainable development is its management of public parks, hike and bike trails, and paddling trails along the river’s 240-mile course, including but not limited to:
In August, we launched our Be River Proud campaign, which is anchored by a redesigned-and-rebuilt-from-the-ground-up website, highlighting the River Authority’s maintenance of public parks and trails, as well as storytelling modules that focus on their work regarding river health, care of bays and estuaries, flood mitigation that protects San Antonio and surrounding areas from devastating flooding, and more.
Our digital and broadcast campaign includes twelve different spots highlighting the River Authority’s ongoing work in San Antonio (and Goliad, Karnes, and Wilson counties):
Bike, hike, and paddling trail maintenance and expansion
Ecosystem improvements allowing more than 200 bird species to thrive along the river
Restoring more than 300 native plant species to improve air and water quality
Engineering and maintaining more than 40 dams
Picking up more than 150,000 pounds of trash each year along the San Antonio River
A Humbling Retrospective
I fear that the tables were turned after my invitation to MiSA’s Advisory Panel. My invitation was surely made in hopes of contributions I would make to the furtherment of modern design and art in our city, and the synergy that would be created by bringing together a group of designers, architects, educators, and influencers on the panel. While I surely hope I have and will continue to make such contributions, what the appointment has meant to me is the importance of opening one’s eyes to the difference we all make in our city each day in our own way. When you’re deeply focused on your work, the even bigger picture is sometimes hard to see. I’m grateful to MiSA for the focus it brings to the amazing work being done in San Antonio and helping me to recognize my own contributions to projects that are large parts of our growing story.
Josh Norman is an Executive Vice President/Creative Director at Texas Creative, a contributing writer for Modern in San Antonio, and is MiSA's 2019 Strategic Branding Adviser.