Monday, December 9, 2013

Still getting excited over Denver projects after 10 years!

Today I designed my first Denver bull banner of the year, and it was for a Shorthorn bull named IFS Robjoy Copyright owned by two of my favorite Shorthorn friends...the Ippensens and Larry Wilson. As I was sending out their first proof today, I got to thinking fondly of how awesome of a feeling it is that I still get excited over doing Denver bull banners even after nearly 10 years.

As a designer, I guess I've gone through lots of phases in my Denver bull banner design career. I remember vividly my very first one: Bleeding Purple for Matt Lautner. Ironically Matt and I had dated, and just broken up right after the Nebraska AGR Show. A few weeks after the breakup, he called me and said he had this awesome bull and even though we were broken up - I had to do the banner. That was good for me on a couple of levels -- first, a good way to get over the breakup and second, I had never done a bull banner. Matt assured me that between he and Phil he could direct me on how to do a killer bull banner so there we went. I remember seeing that Bleeding Purple banner up on display in the yards....and I have to admit it seriously was the best ever Denver bull banner at that time.

When we did Bleeding Purple, it was one of the first full color digital banners ever done in the yards. For lots of "yards" history buff you probably remember the standard old white banners the NWSS offerered. Or the awesome handpainted or hand-lettered ones that Christy Collins would do on her bulls. Those were exquisite and so professional. But for that time, no one had digital full color banners. Bleeding Purple had that totally eye-catching banner and those purple really was a sight to see.

After I did Bleeding Purple and everyone fell in love with that banner, we pretty much got a reputation as one of the best Denver banner designers out there. I remember how in our early years, my sister Catherine and I would spend our Christmas holidays sitting at a laptop designing bull banners at her kitchen table. I probably designed over 100 banners for Phil Lautner over the phone while he was showing down at the Arizona National.

Or, I remember how after maybe 3-5 years of doing Denver bull banners that we would keep a running tally of how many banners we had to do....Catherine and I. The highest value I seem to remember was something over 50 banners. Now days, I really don't keep up with the final number count, but it's still a lot. Every year around this time my dad always asks me..."How many Denver banners do you have to do?' and every year it's always fun to talk about the banners we have coming up and the exciting bulls we are working with.

Those early years, I tried to make a point to walk through the yards and picture every bull banner I did. My friend Charlee Jo Teague did this for me for several years...she and I would walk together and look at all the bulls and banners and get pictures.

Or, I will never forget the feeling when I first saw the "Wave Goodbye" banner I designed hanging in the yards in that corner Habeger spot. A banner that I got to design with Ryan and Marti Habeger to honor a man and a client that I loved working with so much.

In a way, it's sad that I have gotten so busy that I don't have the chance to leisurely stroll through the yards and study every banner, or know the exact count of banners we do in a year. I guess that's a downfall of age and experience. But no matter what, anytime I do a Denver bull banner, I still get that feeling of excitement. And that to me is the most important thing...more important than making sure I get a photo in the yards.

When I design a Denver bull banner, I can't help but think how excited my clients -- the bull owners-- are. I mean, how cool is it to take a bull to Denver? I think about the excitement, the preparation, the money that goes into it. When people take a bull to Denver, it's because they feel so strongly about that bull that they want to show it off to the rest of the industry. And I guess that's why I take my job so seriously...because I've seen both sides of the spectrum as both a person who displays a bull, and a person who walks through the yards to look at bulls. I feel like my job as the bull banner designer is just as important -- if not more important -- than the person who's back there rinsing the bull, or clipping him for the show -- because my job is to help get the bull noticed. Not just noticed...but remembered. And a great design can do that. Because let's be honest, if you saw Bleeding Purple's banner in the yards that year, you probably still remember it. You can probably still picture that purple dripping blood on the black background onto the purple shavings.

So, I've got my first Denver bull banner of 2013 under my belt. 49 more to go hopefully :) And each one is just as exciting as the other!

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