“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?” bobsmith


“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?” bobsmith
“ AVE Y ”
H E?!?
h: lif
I was born June 12th, 1963 at 2:46 AM, in Hollywood, California; the second of three children. I’ve been
married for 13 years now to the patient and humble Christina Grucella. Chrissy’s a pediatrician, which
is a good thing, because I also have two children: Owen, 10 and Daisy, 7
I am largely experience-educated (i.e. I didn’t go to a fancy design school) in graphic design and
illustration through various occupation related activities which includes:
• Meier & Frank, Fred Meyer, Nordstrom - visual window display; 1985 - 1993
• Wieden+Kennedy, adidas, Avia, Columbia Sportswear – freelance design and illustration; 1992 - 1995
• Nike, Inc., Senior Graphic Designer; 1995-2006
After spending 11 years at Nike (after my wife, my second longest relationship), I made a decision to
pull back a little and go back into business for myself as a freelance designer, which I’ve been doing
since April of 2006. Ditching the long work hours and 40 minute commute left me more time to
spend time with my family and to volunteer at my children’s school teaching art, among other things.
I like to read, write, travel and take pictures; study history, anthropology, and profoundly arcane
trivia. I also enjoy telling fantastic lies to my children, just to see if they’ll believe me.
I play drums with “Blutonic,” a jazz trio that plays gigs around the Portland area, as well as with the
worship band at the church my family attends. I also enjoy playing and following almost all sports,
but especially tennis, basketball and running. I’ll have to admit that the sport of golf is still a bit of a
mystery to me, especially watching it on television.
(Handsomely paid references available upon request.)
UR FAMILY LIVED IN L.A. until my dad
took a job with Tektronix in Oregon
when I was 10 years old. When I got
out of high school, I was pretty serious about
playing music, whilst employed in all manner
of arty “McJobs” to support myself. Over the
next several years, I dressed mannequins, built
department store window displays, painted
signs, and even did a stint at Kinko’s among
other things (i.e.: it’s how I learned to use a
computer). Later I freelanced as a designer and
illustrator for most of the usual suspects in
Portland: Wieden + Kennedy, adidas, Columbia,
Avia, etc. During that time, I also paid a visit
to Nike. I knew the apparel creative director at
Nike from an old girlfriend who worked there,
so when I ran into her out having dinner one
evening, I asked if I could drop off my portfolio.
In 1995, they offered me a full time position
which I accepted thinking that if I hated it I
would just go back to freelancing.
I now know for certain that God has a sense of
humor because, almost 11 years later to the day,
that’s exactly what I did.
Left: Yours truly with parents and sister, Studio City California, 1966. Above: 4th grade.
group the next few years, I began to realize that Nike didn’t have a particularly
strong reputation for quality sportswear outside
the company. We’d go on market trips and fawn all
over the stuff other street brands were doing, but
when we’d get back and try to create product at
a similar level of execution, it was almost impossible to get it through our system. As a designer
with a heart for the company, it got to be a little
Then in the fall of 2000, Nike trend advisor
Amanda Briggs brought Karen Kimmel and James
Bond of KBond in L.A. (now closed) out to Nike
to brainstorm with a small group of designers
around how to get some of these small, off-line
projects to retail. I’ve always loved vintage clothing, and had always wanted to do something with
vintage Nike apparel. Up to that point I felt we had
been missing a chance to talk about our history
through our clothing. Nike has always excelled at
technically advanced performance garments, and
we had a small White Label group in Europe doing a
heritage-inspired fashion line, but there were some
authentic product stories about our history as an
American company that were being neglected.
When Adidas launched their “Originals” line that
Fall, it just solidified my resolve –– I was on a mission from that point on.
Over the years I’d seen lineart for apparel concepts dismissed out of hand, seemingly because
the ideas had only been toner on paper. The concepts seemed disposable –– people couldn’t “feel”
them. It struck me that the way to put this idea
over the top was to build a full-blown merchandise
concept room, samples and all; someplace you
could walk into, close the door, and be completely
immersed in a fully realized vision of a vintage
Nike retail collection, all the way down to the music
playing and the smell of the room.
Right: page from “The Rebirth of Cool” concept book showing a young Phil Knight at a 1970s company holiday party.
nce upon a time, we used to
not take ourselves so seriously
Imagine Phillip bustin’ loose like
today. What the hell is that on his head
The thing is, Phil would tell you
that he
misses those days more than
but for some reason, whenever
we talk
“heritage” around here, we dust the
iron off and call Ken Burns. Waffl
schmaffle iron. I humbly sugges
we tell Mr. Burns to go to hell, an
Spike Jonze on the phone right no
Nike charged with bringing new product
concepts to market. They put up some
seed money to make samples and build out a
concept room and asked me to present my idea
back to them when it was complete. During my
research I had met the Campus Display Manager, who had access to the Nike Archive, and
they were able to supply me with actual vintage
apparel and footwear. Whatever we didn’t have
we re-created using thrift store blanks that we
then screenprinted and distressed, using old
catalogs and videotapes for reference.
The next challenge, of course, was to find
a space where we could show all of this stuff
without letting the secret out before it had a
chance to be presented. As luck would have it
just down the hall from where I sat, there was
a vacant manager’s office. I wanted to create
a space that felt like what the first Nike “Athletic Department” stores looked like in the
early 1970s, so I built display walls using fake
wood paneling and painted pegboard from the
Home Depot down the street. I picked up old
office furniture from around town, and a few
other choice props to complete the story, and
we were ready to roll. (The years of building
displays for Fred Meyer and Nordstrom proved
useful—all told, I wound up spending under $500
for everything.)
I also put together a take-away book titled
“The Rebirth of Cool” which summarized my
market research, a few of the logos I wanted to
use and a proposal of the concept as a retail
Right: Nike Re:Issue concept room, built from home-improvment store materials for $500 in an vacant manger’s office.
the first Re-Issue collection was launched
in the spring of 2004 to great success. To
our delight, the line started showing up in style
and fashion magazines where Nike apparel had
never been seen before, and we started getting
phone calls from Nike executives who wanted personal samples.
The line grew and evolved over the next several seasons, but we endeavored to stay true to
our personal mandate of storytelling. Eschewing
the use of just a line of boilerplate history, each
piece had its own specially written hangtag insert,
which detailed the significance of each garment or
graphic. Every season we interviewed personalities
connected to the stories to draw out the unique
insights written into the hangtags.
While doing research to write these stories I had
the privilege to talk with people with deep roots
to the company—from Phil Knight to Linda Prefontaine to Walt McClure (Steve Prefontaine’s high
school track coach!). It added significant labor to
the process every season, but we felt that if we told
the story right, the garment then became almost
like a souvenir of your knowledge and experience
of the brand.
Above: Re:Issue hangtag, using Nike Apparel Group’s original orange and navy colors, and ressurecting the “Sportswear” branding.
Right and following: the first Re-Issue season, launched in the Spring of 2004.
This and following pages: Re-Issue press coverage and personal interviews in various international design,
style and fashion publications.
K, SO WE DID THAT — thank you for your
At any rate, I’m sure I’m not the first
person to say I find it difficult to do work that
holds my interest for very long without it having some sort of storytelling element to it — a
concept, a “big idea.” Sadly, there seems to be a
trend of tossing this component of the creation
Small run poster for jazz trio “Blutonic.”
process overboard in tight deadline situations.
Having said that –– which isn’t to say that none
of these were rush jobs, because many of them
were –– the balance of this book represents
some of my favorite projects, both for Nike and
for others, that I’m confident you’ll find literally
bursting at the seams with profound meaning…
Nike “Ginga” campaign; collaboration with São Paulo Aprendiz School artists: used on apparel, footwear and bags.
2005 Prefontaine Memorial 10K Run promotional apparel graphic.
Nike Apparel graphic featuring Steve Prefontaine and his coaches Walt McClure and Bill Bowerman.
McClure was Pre’s Marshfield High School coach and Bowerman coached at the University of Oregon.
Designs for Nike Apparel group.
llustration for Nike Apparel group.
Derek Jeter retail poster, printed enitrely with metallic spot inks.
Special project for Nike CEO Mark Parker; collected, redrew and catalogued more than 300 Nike sub-brand and product logos
applied to Medicom “[email protected]” sculpture for Medicom’s 2005 [email protected] World Tour.
4-color hand-printed letterpress poster for Bob Dylan.
3-color screenprint poster for heavy rock group “Floater.”
Poster for Wayne Horvitz’s progressive music group “Zony Mash.”
Black & white office copier print with color copier “overprint” poster for blues/folk singer Kelly Joe Phelps.
CD package designs (clockwise from top left):Kelly Joe Phelps, Tom Grant, Reclinerland and Craig Carothers.
CD package designs (clockwise from top left): Paul Mazzio, Jamey Hampton, Jack McMahon and Mark Alan.
Identity and website for R&B/funk band “Intervision.”
CD package design for Nashville singer/songwriter Craig Carothers
Clockwise from left: J. Christopher Wine, voted Sunset Magazine’s 2005 Best White Wine $15—$50, Pendelton
Home 100 year celebration; Helping Hands; a cleaning and small repair service, Willamette Falls Pediatric Group,
Oregon Denim Company; a fashion denim line.
[email protected] * 503.481.7034