Monthly Archives: March 2015
Design #288, Portfolio Entry #5
I’ve been on a sales trip in Florida for the last couple weeks and from what I can gather fans and customers have been enjoying my weekly Bird Call Blog. I’ll continue to make time to churn these out whether from bohemian coffee shops drinking overpriced coffee so I can take advantage of their Wi-Fi, or wedged between two strangers on a flight as I write feverishly in my trusty sketchbook between pencil scrawls of race horses juggling mint juleps and monkeys reenacting hear no evil/see no evil for future silk drawings, to as of right now, sitting at a picnic table at Longboat Key’s Coquina Beach, choking back a terrible cup of coffee waiting for the sun to peek over the mangroves. Far from the world of the sporting birds featured in today’s design, unless you consider these two fat seagulls perched on the recycling bin throwing me suspicious looks. Their only sport is endless cawing as I try to finish my equally questionable breakfast sandwich so I can focus on typing this blog on my laptop.
I’ve been drawing sporting birds my whole life, I almost went into the profession of medical illustration in college, never considering myself a great “artist” but more of a technical “illustrator”. I stumbled into my current trade as a necktie illustrator, which happened to be very suiting of my drawing capabilities, while studying art and graphic design at the University of Illinois. While growing up in my small town of Sleepy Hollow, IL I just happened to have one of America’s most renowned bird sculptors, Bob Guge, living down the street. I was always inspired by his work and enamored by his three-dimensional wildlife art. Plus, my father, although mainly a potter, was also a wood sculptor. Surely I was the only kid in town with several potters’ wheels in the basement and an endless supply of fire clays. As a child, I could watch him endlessly as I barked out different birds and animals for him to sculpt while he peddled the wheel and created the entire Lincoln Park Zoo in muddy sepia colors right before my eyes. Unfortunately though, I didn’t pick up the knack for the three-dimensional arts like my father and naturally leaned toward soft leaded drawing pencils as well as pen and ink work. I also grew up with stacks of encyclopedic books on wildlife animals and bird species field guilds for inspiration, books I still have and use today as reference to work out what exactly the visual difference is between a flying grouse versus upland quail.
In today’s featured design you’ll see the flying pheasants that I grew up admiring as my endless line of crazy Irish Setter’s flushed them from the brush in the horse and cow farm in my back yard. Never in all my years do I remember one of our goofy dogs ever catching one mid-flight, just a collection of near misses. I drew this tie to match our new collection of gingham dress shirt patterns. Print ties are traditionally designed as tight step and repeat patterns, but pheasants in flight are so visually impacting I thought this beauty needed a little space to breathe which, in-turn will make it easy to sister with complicated shirting patterns more like a classic English woven club tie. My mill was beating their head against the wall trying to register all the colored screens to hand print this design seeing I drew it without a filetto, the typical black outline that is the original width of my drawing pencil that traps the bleeds of the inks. This affect gives the design a softer appearance, which I try to use whenever possible with animal designs like birds, fox and setters that naturally have a lot of feathering. Either way, I hope you like this one; it even has matching socks for you advanced dressers. Win. Win.
All right, the sun is officially up, I’m down to my last sip of caffeinated swill and my now disinterested feathery companions are pecking at the cool morning sand. Time to head back up to the frozen tundra to start drawing Spring 2016, maybe I’ll draw some new sporting birds for next spring or maybe some fat morning seagulls attacking a hapless typist at the beach in classic hitchcockian fashion. Stay tuned; I’ll keep you posted.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at Bird Dog Bay! Whether you’re in the office or out on the town, there’s no reason not to have some fun today. With brand new Green Gus Caps, Four Leaf Luck Socks, or our Lucky Horseshoe ties and , you’re sure to make your coworkers green with envy! This day of the year is always a celebration for us in Chicago. Our river is dyed green, our streets are flooded with loyal patron of our famous Irish pubs, and everyone seems to be in a jovial spirit.
Tie one on today and for spring break, which is just around the corner, with Hoppy Hour. May the luck of the Irish be with you today, tomorrow and every day.
From all of here at Bird Dog Bay, have a Happy and Safe St. Patricks Day, wherever you may be. Slainte!
Next wednesday is Saint Patricks Day. Growing up, this was never a big event for myself, other than the awareness to wear green so Joey Fleener would not pinch me on the bus. Yet, a couple of years back, I moved to Chicago… Lets just say, it is a big deal in this town. So big, in fact they die the river green. Thats right, the river that cuts through the city like a knife through a loaf of bread is dyed the greenest green you can imagine. It is quite a site to see. every pub in town is jam packed, the streets are overflowing with people of every walk of life singing. dancing, and drinking pints of guinness. If the sun is out, most people just chalk up a vacation day to celebrate. Here at Bird Dog By a we like to get ready for the big day by showcasing our fun collection of St. patrick themed ties, shirts, and accessories.
I will definitely be wearing green next week, not only for the slight chance that Joey Fleener flies up to Chicago to pinch me. but just to be in the spirit. Bird Dog Bay has quite the outfit if you really want to show off the luck of the Irish. Start off with our newest dress shirt the “Barrington” in green and blue check… pair it with our “lucky horseshoe” bow and “lucky clover” four leaf luck socks…Not to mention of selection of green goods and accessories to complement your outfit for the office or the bars… Wherever you are, tie one on! You will be the talk of town, when folks see you jig dancing down Division street in this snazzy outfit. We at Bird Dog Bay would like to wish a safe and happy St. Patricks Day to everyone, and Cheers!
Good Morning, This is Steve Mayer, the guy behind the Bird Dog Bay brand. Frequently, the question I’m asked to field most when chatting with fans is “What’s your inspiration for your designs?” After years of our marketing manager hammering me to write a weekly blog describing my illustrations and the stories behind them, I’m now waving my white flag. Every week, I’ll provide fans with a bit of a glimpse into the hundred or so designs I create each year. I’m known among friends to be a bit of an embellished story teller, so bear with me: short and sweet is not the Mayer way! Anyway, I hope you find it interesting as the rest of my team thinks you will enjoy it…
Elephant Club Med
Design #287 – Portfolio Entry #5
What is it with fans of Bird Dog Bay and these Elephant patterns? Who’s buying these? After hunting and fishing themes, the other animal theme I’m encouraged to cover when illustrating my collections are goofy little elephants. Year in and year out. Why? I haven’’t have the slightest idea…
What started with a Christmas tie with elephants balancing wrapped gifts on their noses called “White Elephant” tumbled into “Elephant Bath” then “Out of Africa” then “Poll Position” then “Wet Trunks” then “Big Five” then “Lucky Trunks” then “Pink Elephants” getting us to my current design of “Elephant Club Med”.
We have elephant everything: socks; cufflinks; linen pocket squares; belts; bow ties; key chains and cummerbunds. I was just commissioned to designed a custom elephant themed shirt for one of our accounts. If I’ve learned anything in this crazy business it’s that Elephant patterns sell. I saw more of that Lilly Pulitzer shift dress pattern last year than any other clothing pattern in public, although that may say something about the circles I run with while on the road peddling my wares. We have a nice footprint in the state of Alabama for all those Roll Tide fans, and of course, all you staunch Republicans. But, even then, it doesn’t seem to add up to the strange volume of elephant themed products we move from my Chicago studio. One thought may be that PT Barnum has an enormous extended family of men’s clothing accessory horders. That seems like a plausible answer.
It’s not as if anyone has any personal kinship with them, they aren’t walking on retractable leashes down Michigan Avenue, you don’t see them swimming north up the Mississippi delta, people generally don’t like seeing them in captivity at zoos or at the circus. Their jokes are famously known as terrible and for some reason an upward elephant trunk is considered good luck, though nobody knows exactly why.
I start designing the Spring 2016 collection this week and I have a few ideas for next year’s new elephant tie. One is of our hapless little guys drifting down from the sky with umbrellas clutched in their trunks, some with their umbrella folded outward as they plummet South. Not sure where I thought of that one, my childhood orthodontists wallpaper? Was that a jacket cover for an old Shel Silverstein book? Or maybe I’ll have our little gray scuba swimmers with trunks above the surface while one confused little bird perched on a single trunk peers down into their hypothetical blow hole. With 2016 being an election year, I recently sketched a cartoonish elephant mid swing at the tee box driving golf bal ls at a hapless donkey hauling down the fairway with his tail between his legs. Though that would require I’d have to do the complimenting design of that same frustrated donkey bucking our little African swinger into a water hazard full of chomping alligators. I’ve had worse ideas… At this point, it seems I could swap “Dogs Playing Poker” with our wrinkly gray friends and our fans would think that’s perfectly acceptable and send in their accolades. It seems the odder the better for our fans as our elephant portfolio continues to grow.
Either way, you’ve got our whimsical Serengeti heroes on a well deserved holiday at “Elephant Club Med” to hold you over until I put pencil to paper for next spring’s collection. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy thinking about and drawing them. I especially like the turquoise and fuchsia colorways when paired with small bright colored Bird Dog Bay gingham shirts.
While silk neckwear has been our bread and butter for years, we’re always looking to grow using the best materials possible. Composed of 45% linen and 55% cotton, this blend ensures the tie holds its hand and knot beautifully, all while featuring a lovely embroidered motif at mid-chest. Spring is just around the corner… and that means Easter, Father’s Day, and all the other colorful festivities that mark the arrival of warmer weather, flowers, and bright colors! Our new linen panel ties have a unique and handsome construction with an embroidered emblem placed strategically on the tie to add that extra touch of haberdashery. Steve also designed classic white linen pocket squares that pair with the tie designs. How much fun is that?… The single colored linen panel ties also pair fabulously with our Bird Dog Bay gingham check dress shirts to balance out your outift, and give you a little more pep in your step this Spring. Cheers!