Product Design Revamp

There comes a time in (almost) every brand’s life where a little bit of updating is required. Just like people, sometimes the things that we have become accustomed to grow old right before our very eyes. Does this mean they need to be killed? Absolutely not, but a little bit of tender love and care certainly go a long way. As such, I decided to rebrand one of my all time favorite hot sauces: Valentina.

Selected Target Group

Hot sauce is a young man’s game. Or young woman’s game. No gender bias here. Hot sauces are targeted at people aged 18-35 and that is where the inspiration for the new design came from. Younger people are more likely to use the design of a product to determine whether or not to buy it. Valentina’s initial design was not bad, but it left something to be desired. As such, I believe that a more modern approach is the way to go.

Big Idea to Redesign the Package

Hot sauce is market that is full of competition. It seems as though there is a new hot sauce craze every couple of years. As such, keeping a heightened brand image is vital for the success of the sauce. A hot sauce from Mexico has the capability to show off the heritage of hot sauce in Mexico. The Aztecs used sauces made of chili peppers and salt that are the origins for hot sauce today. Valentina’s ingredients are simple, like those of the ancient Aztecs, which could be used to showcase that legacy. I redesigned the label for Valentina Hot Sauce to bring forward this legacy and show that hot sauce is the future, because it is the past. People are interested in the story behind a brand. Promoting this story can drive more sales as the information leaves more lasting impressions on the consumers.

Now, package redesign isn’t something that happens all at once. Inspiration is key. As such, I created a Pinterest board and looked for inspiration from people that have already been successful at rebranding. A link to that board can be found here

Color Scheme and Swatches

Redesigned Logo

From this point (after I redesigned the logo and determined color schemes) I needed to create the rest of the design for the label. I needed to make a label that would fit and that would match the theme and feel that is produced from the logo.

Process of Flat Design

In order to make the design appear more clean and professional (and after some critique from colleagues), I upped the font size, fixed some of the issues with leading, got rid of old branding materials, and worked to make everything more legible and clear. I then swapped the one label out for two, with the nutritional facts being located on the back. This is the final version of the flat design:

Then came the process of actually getting the label onto a bottle of Valentina to see just how successful the design was. After about 8 rounds of printing, I got to a place where I was satisfied. I then took an Exacto knife and trimmed the label out of sticker paper and secure it to a freshly de-labeled bottle of Valentina.

Overall, this project taught me a lot about how to adequately design packaging and labeling for products, which was an area I had never ventured into before. There were definitely unexpected areas that caused problems, like the printing and cutting as securing the label, but in the end those things helped me grow.

Pitch Book


Infographics: A Screamin’ Good Time

The Idea

People are looking for ways to ingest information as quickly as possible. As the world becomes more and more fast paced, people are turning to infographics more than ever before. This is because they allow for a quick transfer of information and are easily accessible. I have produced only one other infographic before, so I figured it was time to try my hand at it once more. As I started work on this project, I realized quickly that the road ahead was not an easy one, or one that would be done quickly. I was in for the long haul. The hard, long haul.


Whenever I start a new project I start with paper and pencil. I feel like I am going back to my roots in the classroom in elementary school. I’m fine with that, because I feel like a lot of people peaked creatively in 4th grade anyway. Before I could actually start sketching though, I had to do research. Quite a lot of it.

I knew that I wanted to choose a topic that was timely and relatable. It is newly October and as such I decided that an infographic on the history of some Halloween traditions would be an effective topic to test my skills. So I set off sketching potential constructions for the flow of the design, vectorizable graphics for easy-to-receive information, and typefaces for potential use. At the end I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do.


From here, I worked on turning my physical drawing and sketches into a vectorized graphic. That all started with the background. I did all of the design work in Adobe Illustrator, because I am familiar with it and I knew I could make the end product scalable based on the vector nature of Illustrator. I initially started with a creamy colored background, but after some critique from peers I figured that having an “action” filled background would be more aesthetically pleasing. As such, I set out making a lot of fun stuff for the background. I had the whole design as a night sky with a moon and some gnarled trees at the bottom. The whole overall feel matched the design objectives, so I felt better about it.

I pulled the design of some of the objects from popular reference points. The witch flying by on her broom is a classic view, as is the view of the moon coming out from behind the clouds. Everything else was created entirely by me to practice my skills in Illustrator. I made a color scheme in the early stages of digitizing and made myself stick to it to simplify the design. Another thing I wanted to include was a stylized graph. Most people can take data and run it through Excel and make a chart or graph. I wanted something a little more substantial. As such, I chose to take a statistic about the amount of Americans that celebrated Halloween in 2016 and make it into a chart made out of the United States.

I then took the entire vector project and applied a texture I have of some old and weathered canvas over the top in photoshop. This brought an aged look and feel that I feel helped the design overall. I then went through a second round of peer review and critique. From what I received, I changed the amount of text for each point made in the infographic, did a better job of bolding the text to bring the information out of the rest of the text, fixed the leading on the graph, and redesigned some of the icons to made the design more cohesive.

In the end I really enjoyed this project, even if it was fairly time consuming and demanding in terms of effort. It made me consider things like flow and color schemes in a way I never had before. I uploaded the design to Pinterest on my Graphic Design board. You can check that out here.

Personal Identity Project

The Reason

I’ve always been drawn to brands that have consistent and appealing design. Call it the graphic designer inside me. Call it being drawn to the beautiful, to the neat and tidy. Regardless of what you call it, I always wanted that. I always wanted something to call my own. Something to set me apart from the rest. That was the end goal of this project. I wanted to brand myself in such a way that made me that neat and consistent brand.

In order to do this I had to start somewhere, and what better place to start than to create my own personal logo? I needed it to be refined and professional, versatile, timeless, and a good representation of myself and my abilities to design. I needed it to be scalable so I could stick it on a business card or a billboard, so vectorizing it was essential. Lastly, I didn’t want to be like the thousand other designers that throw their name on a business card with a neat sans-serif font and call it good; I wanted more. 


With all of this in mind I set off to work. I started with sketching. A lot of sketching. At first almost all of my efforts were directed at creating a logo with my initials. There was enough steam behind this idea that it almost ended up being my final concept, until I started to loathe it. I don’t know if it is the curse of the graphic designer, or some subliminal hatred of everything I create, but the longer I spend trying to refine something, the more I start to resent the work, and then I start to resent myself. To keep my sanity, I went a different direction in the end. 

I decided to scrap this idea because I am more than just my name; so I went back to the drawing board (or sketchbook in this case). I thought about who I am and what I represent. As I was sitting there stewing over potential identifiers and branding the word “Apex” came to my mind. Normally I don’t think that epiphanies are the best source of valid design choice, but this time the word just wouldn’t leave. Plus there were some subtle connections: I’ve always been a big guy and I like to think I can make myself a presence in a room if necessary. As such I went along the route of including an animal mascot to accompany my logo, and I settled on a gorilla in the end.


At this point I vectorized the logo and settled on the name of Apex Design: feeding from being an Apex predator, having the word APE within the name, and showing that the design I create is at the top of its game (and I’m humble too). I then received critique from colleagues and peers and fixed things about the design until I felt like it was refined. I struggled slightly with making sure that the balance between realism and simplicity that I was going for was met. The critiques I received helped in that regard.

When I had the overall shape and layout firmly in place I went through and played around with some color schemes. I won’t show them to you here, because frankly none of them worked. Despite my best efforts on the front of implementing good color theory, I was unsuccessful. As such I settled on a deep gray with a white contrasting logo to work on darker backgrounds. 
Overall, I am proud of the way that the logo turned out and I believe it is a fair representation of who I am as a designer and as a person. There were numerous changes and redos that occurred over the course of this project, but I believe they were all for the better and helped me learn and grow along the way.

Photobook Comm 300

Learning how to capture and edit images has brought me extremely useful skills that will carry me far in my communication career. In order to showcase some of the skills that I have gained over the semester, I designed and printed out a photobook. This way, I can show my work off to potential employers as a representation of what I can do.

I designed this photobook using primarily Adobe Indesign (I also used Adobe Photoshop). I used the sans serif font Lato as the font for the whole book, but with differing weights to add variability and contrast. I used MyPublisher’s software and services to get the book printed, and I quite pleased with the results.


This is a link to my photo book.


Portraits & Enhancements

Learning how to model people and get nice portraits is a really good skillset to have as a photographer. Working with people from a variety of backgrounds (age, gender, past experience, etc) makes for an interesting job. But the practice was good. I had three separate photoshoots that I did for this assignment. I did one of two high school buddies of mine, one of my nieces, and one of my nephew. Getting even more familiar with the editing process and getting the workflow down helped a lot too.

Side Composition 


Individual – Head and Shoulders


Individual – Full Body


Group – Candid


Group – Posed 


Individual – In Their Natural Environment


Portrait Touch Up


Portrait – Color Match (Original and Source Image) 


jacobhayes-matchcolor           jacobhayes-portraitfix

Portrait – Color Replace



Practice with Reflectors

White Reflector – The clouds were acting like a natural light diffuser at this point in the day and we used a white reflector on the right side of the model’s face to bring greater contrast and visual interest to the image. jacobhayes-white

Diffuser – The sun decided to come out and play its harsh games with shadows. We had someone stand about 6 feet away from the model and hold the diffuser above their head to cover up the model’s face to get rid of all of the harsh shadows that had formed to soften everything off.


No Reflector – Pretty self explanatory. No reflectors were used in the capturing of this image.


Gold Reflector – For the second image we used the gold reflector to bring some warmth. The sun was directly behind the model, so the majority of light on her face came from the reflector. jacobhayes-gold


Close Up & Personal

Being able to take a photos of things up really close opened up a whole new world to my eyes. It was fun challenge to get some of the images for this project. I found myself looking at everything to see if it would be a good candidate for a macro shot, from toilet paper to the nasty backside of a carrot. I had to really try to get shots that were enjoyable to look at, which forced me to be more creative in my composure.

Macro Photography 

A Current Engagement: This was my favorite shot to capture. I got an engagement ring for a certain someone in my life, and figured it would be a great subject to capture images of. I set the ing inside the case it came in and tuned on a desk lamp to get the sparkles off the side like I wanted. I actually merged two photos together: I took one underexposed on purpose to get some sharp shadows and one on a normal exposure and masked the two together.


The Queen of Sass: This was one of many shots of currency that I captured, but this one was my favorite because it looks like the queen is looking at me with slight disdain, and I find that humorous. I chose to only focus on one of the eyes to let your brain fill in the gaps as to what exactly the other one looks like.


Wet Carrot Backside: I had a very limited supply of “vegetation” due to the amount of time that has elapsed since I last bought groceries. I had carrots, peppers, and spinach, and I figured that carrots would be the best subject for a photo out of the options available. I thought that the back of the carrot was the most visually compelling to take pictures of, albeit the nastiest.


Pepper Me Timbers: While carrots are probably more visually interesting, I also chose to moisten up a pepper stem to see if I could get a nice, sharp area of focus on a water droplet. You can ever so slightly see the reflection of a bottle of medicating powder in the water drop, as well as the blue tint of the bottle in the background. You probably would’ve found the image a little more interesting without knowing that fact, but there it is.