What started as a university project to redesign the logo for a local business snowballed into a six-year relationship with this awesome nonprofit. Besides being a performer in Wildwood's shows, I spent my time bouncing between the roles of webmaster and graphic designer—sometimes simultaneously. I'd still be working with Wildwood today if not for that pesky age cap, but being a proud alumna will just have to do!
My non-performance work with the company covered a lot of different disciplines—branding, web design and development, posters, t-shirts, newspaper ads, canvassing flyers, social media graphics...I could go on! Below are two particularly memorable projects.
A Total Overhaul
(And Then Another One for Good Measure)
Skills: Branding, Logo Design, Graphic Design, Web Design, Front-End Development
Tools: Adobe CC Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver), Squarespace
Challenge: Help a local nonprofit facing bankruptcy to improve its image and attract donations.
Results: Additional sponsors and a marked increase in donations, ticket sales, and company membership.
Image of the wst.org website circa 2016 shown on a computer screen
The stars aligned one spring in college—just as I realized that the theatre department at my university wasn't really "my scene," I learned of a local community theatre company that was about to hold auditions. And just as I learned of said theatre company, I was assigned a project in school to select a local business and redesign their logo. Thus, two of my greatest passions came together—while the theatre company itself seemed wonderful, their website and branding were...not so wonderful.
Screenshot of wst.org circa 2011

This was the state of the website when I first saw it in early 2011 (not pictured: a splash page involving curtains...). I later learned that their webmaster at the time had gone off the grid and was unreachable, which is why the design looked as though it had not been updated in several years.

I couldn't (and still can't) resist a challenge—I decided to go way out of scope for the original brief and not only redesign my chosen target's logo, but give them a full overhaul! I took a chance and got in touch with Wildwood's producer at the time to share my designs with her and, luckily, she was thrilled! One board meeting later, and my new role of webmaster was being written into the company bylaws so I could get started on implementation. In the couple of months before the 2011 season officially began I got to singlehandedly redesign, rebrand, rebuild, and reorganize the company’s internet presence. It was a marathon to be sure, but who ever really regrets running a marathon?
3 preliminary color scheme options for the 2011 redesign of wst.org at left followed by the winning color scheme at right

While everyone was happy with the branding and website layout as-is, the board of directors had some trouble deciding on a color scheme. Wildwood didn't really have brand colors before I came in, so I presented a great number of options for consideration before the now-familiar blue-and-yellow was selected.

Though this iteration of the site may look a little dated now, I still choose to highlight it because of the impact it had on the company. I'll always remember when an actress new to Wildwood in 2013 told me she decided to audition because she was so impressed with the website! Personal anecdotes aside, Wildwood was pretty deep in debt going into the 2011 season and the organization was facing the looming specter of bankruptcy. Longstanding members were working tirelessly to keep the company afloat, but it's tough to draw talent (or audience members, or donors) when your website makes it seem like you're already dead in the water. This rebrand, coupled with several successful fundraising efforts (including a Kickstarter campaign for which I edited the video using clips submitted by members and alumni across the country), brought Wildwood's online presence into the present and helped ramp up audition signups, donations, and ticket sales to get us back in the black.
Close-up photo of a t-shirt sporting the Wildwood Summer Theatre logo

Unfortunately my process sketches from this logo design are lost to time (by which I mean a hard drive failure...), but I do still have my "well-loved" Wildwood Summer Theatre t-shirt sporting the final logo!

Fast forward to 2015—Wildwood's 50th anniversary. The board of directors intended to leverage the milestone to draw the attention of new donors and subsequently wanted the site to make it easy for donors to find out what they need to know. There was also the matter of my imminent aging out after the 2016 season...given the state the website was in when I showed up, I wanted to make sure it could be updated by anyone so such a state of disrepair never happened again. Long story short: we needed a modern, professional, attractive website that I could hand off to someone else with likely no knowledge of web development or design.
A desaturated screenshot of the 2011 wst.org redesign next to a full-color screenshot of the 2016 wst.org redesign

Out with the old and in with the new!

I worked with fundraising directors past and present to come up with a way to optimize the website for potential donors, and together we came up with a new navigational structure and information hierarchy. I then focused on opening up the design to make it more scalable and did some research on different platforms that would both suit the new style and make it easier for non-technical people to maintain. As a result, I decided to move wst.org over to Squarespace. With a slick new homepage, clearer navigation, and a significantly simpler back-end experience, my work here was done! The person who took over as webmaster has been able to keep up the site without ever needing my help, and Wildwood continues to bring in the big bucks from donors such that they're able to produce two shows per season now—mission accomplished!
2016 Season Poster
Skills: Branding, Logo Design, Graphic Design, Poster Design, Illustration
Tools: Adobe CC Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop)
Challenge: Connect two disparate productions in one cohesive poster that would sell tickets.
Results: Nearly half of all performances throughout the season sold out.
Image of framed Wildwood Summer Theatre 2016 Season poster leaning against the wall on the floor of a white room
Emboldened by a new website, new sponsorships, and a new partnership with the Gaithersburg Arts Barn; the board decided to produce two shows in one summer for the first time since 1991—Grease and NINE. Two very different shows! My task was to bring these two together into a visually-pleasing, balanced package that also allowed passersby to quickly get the information they need.
Image of three logo iterations for Wildwood Summer Theatre's 2016 production of NINE, with the winner enlarged in the center

I was able to put together three logo options for NINE in the short time I had. The director then reviewed the options, gave his feedback, and selected the direction that best suited his vision for the show.

In stark contrast to NINE's lack of a logo (let alone branding rules), Grease has very strongly defined branding attached to its license. Slapping on the word "NINE" in plain text would make the poster feel unbalanced, so I decided to tackle a logo for NINE first. I went to the director for some insight into his vision for this production and how he might like to brand it and he fortunately gave me plenty to work with.
Looking at the image above, the option at left feels a little more like the movie version's branding in its typography. Thematically, it simply focuses on the fact that the main character, Guido, is a filmmaker. In hindsight, it is a little...obvious.
The option at right focuses on the pronounced presence of women in both the show and in Guido's life. He surrounds himself with women, in fact—his wife, his lover, his muse, his critic, his producer, and everyone else around him are women. Guido is the only man in the entire show. In this production, even Guido's younger self was played by a woman.
The option in the center—the winning concept—brings it all together to hint more at the story. The sunglasses play dual roles in that they carry the air of "coolness" associated with a world-famous personality, but also serve as a symbol for the fact that Guido spends a lot of the show hiding—from his producer, his fans, and even himself. The title of the show invokes a "name-in-lights" marquee echoing what he's surely seen dozens of times, but it is merely a distorted reflection—a nod to the fact that "[he] can't make this movie" anymore by the time the show reaches its climax. The silhouetted woman again touches on the strong presence of women in the story, but her placement as a reflection in Guido's glasses hints at how Guido sees the women in his life—distorted through his own lens, existing only (as far as he's concerned) to be what he needs them to be.
Collage including three iterations of the Facebook banner for the 2016 season at left along with the first draft of the poster at right

This early direction for the poster and seasonal branding skewed too dark and utilitarian. To the left are three cover photos I put together for the Wildwood Facebook page while mulling over what I wanted to do with the poster. To the right is the first draft of the poster before any of the information was finalized, just to give the producer an idea of what I was thinking.

Now that both shows had logos, it was time to tackle the issue of bringing them together in one cohesive poster. The Facebook cover photos above explore my first instinct: split the space 50/50 and give exactly half of the page to each show. I had successfully used that tactic for other projects in the past, but these two logos have such different weights and colors that it felt unbalanced no matter what I did. So I decided to try focusing on the company as a whole, using Wildwood's brand colors to frame the poster instead of giving equal attention to each show's tone and risking a clash.
A photo of some of Wildwood Summer Theatre's 2016 company members holding copies of the final poster

Members of the company get together mid-season each year for Poster Put-Up Day: participants are split into teams, each with a stack of posters and a neighborhood to canvas. It's both weird and cool to see a bunch of your friends proudly displaying something you made!

While brightening up the color scheme I was also given the OK to summarize the ticketing and performance information rather than listing it all out in full detail—phew! Less text meant I could have more freedom to create a typographical hierarchy that made sense, put some whitespace back in, give each element more breathing room, and even add that little decorative touch in form of a subtle chevron design rather than straight-edged stripes to separate the segments.
Grease sold out nearly every performance that season and, despite its "second stage" standing and lack of name recognition, NINE came pretty close to selling out too! A fitting final season to close out my Wildwood tenure.

Other Work