THE MAN BEHIND THE PHOENIX
Please introduce yourself:
I’m Alex Shimotake, I’m 19, and a vigil member of Ut-in Selica Lodge.
Tell us about when you first joined the OA:
I joined pretty young, at least 5 years ago. I didn’t have any plans to be super involved necessarily, but my friend was in some lodge leadership position, and so I was dragged to an LEC. There, I was brought onto the team, as they needed a secretary. From that point, I made friends with people on their way to section and region leadership, and was again dragged into section (though didn’t really know what was going on). I was brought to a COC for the 2012 conclave, and they needed a patch design. I drew up the patch with the only program I had available, Microsoft Word, and submitted it over the course of the meeting. Michael Kintscher and Zach Crosley saw me through the editorial process. In the next year or two, worked in promotions and stuff. I had friends above me who assigned me to those sorts of jobs, and eventually went into social media work (facebook banners, fliers, etc). I designed the 2013 (Lord of the Rings) patch set, and put a lot of effort into TronClave (because of a mild obsession with Tron at the time).I was also put to work formatting newsletters.
How did you get started in digital design?
After my stint in Word, I picked up Adobe Illustrator from a high school digital design course. The class actually started teaching WITH microsoft word, and then moved onto Illustrator. I took the class for personal interest, and it was a happy accident that the skills came in handy. I also can use Photoshop, but prefer vector images to pixel maps.
Tell us about your patch design process:
[talking about the 2015 conclave patch] First, I brainstorm elements that I want in the design (based on what the patch is for). Then, I make sure that things work compositionally, aesthetically, etc. I pick out shapes that relate to theme (raceway) and the phoenix (logo). I try to aim for flexible elements and drive the point home. I also like playing a lot with gradients. Every addition is to make it more visually interesting. Usually I put a lot of circles in, mostly because they’re fun to play with.
What is your favorite memory from the OA?
Conclave is engraved into my head as part of the OA experience, because I put so much effort into it. Going to conclave and seeing what you’ve made everywhere is surreal. \For me, this is especially true for 2014 and 2015. I love hearing people’s compliments on the patches and seeing everyone wearing my shirts. It gives a great sense of accomplishment.
Finally, what are a few tips you can give to aspiring patch designers?
Professionalism can come later. Case in point: I built my first patch design in Microsoft Word! Just make something, and someone can do something with it. Don’t worry about making it polished and professional, that’s not your objective.