Chicago Tribune Neon

Neon Just for Fun

JT's favorite album cover had these photo-rendered neon letters that were totally '80s. I set out to re-create them for our in-house design group at Chicago Tribune, and make a surprise gift for JT. Why not?

My Role

Original Lettering

Photo Illustration

Art Production


Sunny Kang: Art Production

Chicago Tribune script napkin sketch by Katie Wasserman
Chicago Tribune script vector by Katie Wasserman
Chicago Tribune script vector with gradients by Katie Wasserman
Chicago Tribune neon type by Katie Wasserman
laminating the box
cutting and folding the box
the t-shirt in the box
JT and the neon

Custom Type and Rainbow Neon

I sketched the letters freehand on note paper with nothing but a baseline and cap height. I vectored them as monoline paths with uniform stroke width, outlined the strokes, and added the gradient in Illustrator. Ginett bravely volunteered to help with the photo illustration, but I took too long to draw the letters and missed the window of opportunity! I had to do the photo illustration myself.

When the type was finished, we thought it would look totally '80s on a raglan-sleeve baseball tee. And we thought it would look even more awesome in a matching gift box. I ordered the tee and started making the box with a standard package template. Sunny helped me laminate, cut, and fold the box. We tried three different laminate finishes: light gloss, heavy gloss, and matte. The heavy gloss made the sturdiest box, and it was the shiniest of objects.

Successes and Achievements

JT was pretty surprised alright. That was the only metric for success!

Lessons Learned

We guessed at JT's size for the t-shirt. It ended up being a knee-length muu-muu and completely unwearable. That was a fail.

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