Design Process - Heartsick Case Study

As a designer, working within a set of parameters is really important!

Parameters are important because they help you align design choices to goals. Also, without parameters, you'd be inundated with infinite options! This feeling can be very overwhelming and in the end result in a product that doesn't properly represent the brand! Yikes!

Establishing these parameters can be challenging depending on the client and project. Sometimes, it's not feasible! When this is the case, you have to do your best at making your own!

One of the first things I do to establish parameters for a new project is document a list of brand descriptors. It's important to align your design choices with the established brand descriptors. In the case of Heartsick, the list looked something like this:

  • Intense
  • High-energy
  • Dark
  • Heavy Metal Genre
  • Passionate
  • Angry
  • Aggressive

The next parameter I set for myself was how to keep it consistent with their existing brand presence, while still creating something new and exciting. It's important to think about the big picture that your brand communicates. Every asset should be cohesive and be part of communicating a central theme/story/idea.

It was at this point, I started to get a little more granular.

Heartsick's branding often utilizes the Triangle art element. This element replaces the "A" glyph in their logo. I thought this would be a great opportunity to use the art element as a "heart."

"You'll never rip the beating heart out of me"

The line, "You'll never rip the beating heart out of me" from the song, "Rose Casket Diary" was a huge inspiration for the heart/blood trail concept seen on the front of the shirt. I wanted the trail of blood to create movement and make the eye traverse the art element from the beginning of the trail to the "heart". I did this through the use of diagonal lines. Since humans are accustomed to looking at vertical and horizontal lines (sunsets, structures etc), diagonal lines draw a lot of visual attention/interest. This, in a subtle way, reinforces the "high intensity" brand descriptor of the band.

When it came to choosing a color palette, I again thought of some parameters. The red/white/black palette is popular in heavy metal (satisfying the "heavy metal" brand descriptor). To reinforce the figurative "dark" brand descriptor, I opted to use red against the black background to further intensify the "'blood" and "heart" art elements.


The back features a coffin, which was used to reinforce the themes of the two single tracks, "Coffin Chaser" and "Rose Casket Diary." The white version of the logo was needed in order to bring overall balance to the composition, and to ensure the logo had the appropriate visual weight.


Overall, this was a really fun shirt to design based on the many sources of inspiration and brand assets to draw from!

 Heartsick backstage with legendary frontman, Tommy Vext sporting the shirt! Oh hey, there's me on the right! \m/

Heartsick backstage with legendary frontman, Tommy Vext sporting the shirt! Oh hey, there's me on the right! \m/