This article was written by Zoë Bishop
Mid-Weight Creative @ FOTW
Well Groomed Beast
NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER! This is what we call our internal creative projects. We team up to collaborate and create internally, allowing us to work on something totally different to our client projects. This keeps our creativity fresh and varied across different products, concepts and art direction
Now let’s talk facial hair – I may not have a beard myself, but I do harbour a long-standing appreciation for them! Lockdown sent us all into a hibernation of sorts; we hunkered down in our homes and with barbers and hairdressers shut, we ‘unleashed the beast’ and let our hair grow. Some of us (myself included) attempted the risky ‘lockdown fringe cut’ and others watched helplessly as colleagues and family members became consumed by their slightly feral, albeit impressive beards. (You know who you are…)
Well, now it is time for us to emerge for the Summer, so the bearded are reclaiming their faces at barbers around the UK, taming their lockdown beast, which, even the non-bearded amongst us, can relate to – (yoga pants and Wednesday wine, anyone?)
So, what better time to work on a styling product to maintain those freshly cut beards. Our Senior Creative, Kieran Clark had this to say about where the concept originated from:
‘Like Bears, we’re emerging from hibernation and as a beard-owner, I know first-hand the need to shed the lockdown look and become a presentable human again! So that’s how our design project ‘Well Groomed Beast’ came about.’
These projects are all about showing our versatility when it comes to process, skillset and execution, so the team wanted to use to dive into design and use an illustrative 2D style to accommodate the product. Kieran took the reins and designed some striking visuals of a bear and man, shown below.
Stylistically the bear is rugged and textured, extruding from the circular mountainous graphic behind, while the groomed man is much neater with finer, more precise lines and now contained within the circle. The colour scheme of black, brown and white also has a natural, organic essence and is in-keeping with the masculinity of the product.
The aim of the product is not to take the beast from within you – no one wants that! It simply tames the user into the best beast they can be! A well-groomed beast, as the title implies, still with the beard but pruned and ready for society! With that in mind the team concluded that the bear was the stronger, more empowering brand asset to use on the product design. See the WIP product shots below:
The copy of ‘Awaken the well-groomed beast’ is a simple bold statement that implies the hibernating state of a bear which lockdown put us into. It’s also holds a self-reclaiming sentiment of re-emerging a beast! The copy is minimal as that makes for the most standout product design with the title and the name of the product – in these examples ‘STYLING PASTE’. The ‘WELL GROOMED BEAST’ text is left-aligned for a structured, purposeful feel, with the bear illustration centred and bold, face on to the world. The version with the wood texture background is also successful, I think… it enhances the axe wielding woodsman aesthetic which, as we all know, goes so well with a good beard! (A checked shirt and braces are also advised.) Perhaps we need to put the bear in a checked shirt… an anthropomorphic beast! I digress…
The team were also keen to develop short brand animation for social, using the bear and man graphics. This is a more playful idea of the transition from the bear beast, to the man beast!
From a technical perspective, the process begun with Kieran creating the 2D assets in Photoshop, using geometric foundations and a variety of textural brushes. The bear was approached using a graffiti stencil style, which makes a statement and gives ‘the well-groomed beast’ a strong, unapologetic, even rebellious presence. Some screenshots of the WIP Photoshop doc below shows the simple, bold style which make for a strong aesthetic base outline. Also, check out the neatness of those layers! – you can totally tell he’s a Designer as well as a Creative…
This is when one of our trusty motion men Nick took the reins (also goes by the name of ‘Bish’). He rigged the characters in After Effects with the puppet pin tool. This tool essentially gives you the power of a digital puppeteer. You can attach anchors to the joints of illustrations and set them paths to follow, much like the string on a traditional puppet, hence the name. The whole animation was achieved in After Effects so keep your eyes peeled as the animation will soon be ready for you to see!!
In face-to-face life there isn’t a ‘video off, audio on’ mode, so the cosmetics market has a niche angle to take with the imminent, bittersweet freedom of the upcoming Summer 2021. Using cultural events like this to latch onto in advertising brings a relevance and edge to the product, and a relatability which is reassuring for the customers.
Let us know what you think of this ‘NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER’ project so far. It’s got tasty design, cut-through copy and beards so, I may be bias but I’m excited to see where it goes. Time to release the well-groomed beast in us all – beard or no beard!