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Bold & Fearless Design

Lesson 23 of 26

D.O.P Case Study

James Victore

Bold & Fearless Design

James Victore

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Lesson Info

23. D.O.P Case Study

Lesson Info

D.O.P Case Study

I had a great job for the New York City Department of Probation. Looks like that. And what this means if you if you don't know what the department probation is, that means you've led a very clean life. And good for you. But the GOP is means you were in New York City, and you're having a great time. Cleo knows what I'm talking about. Possibly too great the time. And it involves cops. But not you don't You don't screw up bad enough to go to jail. You're just on probation, which means depending on the level of severity of your stupidity, you have to visit one of the 33 offices of the GOP around New York City. Right, Which at the time look like this. You know, this was their what they what we call what you know, we who are in the know we call that the user interface, the or if you I and I don't know what What, what? What? What a fancy pants designers call a chair. That would be called the Sit your butt here. I don't know, Um, and you're looking at that That bench going, that would be so sw...

eet in my flat, right? But going there, it's a different story. Having to sit there is a different story. So basically, um, the GOP got into ah ah ah! Budget came to them through the through the through the city of New York, And each Department of New York is like a little fiefdom, their own little kingdom, and they're very protective of the money in the budget. And the budget works in a certain window of time because you guys know how budgets work and work in a window of time that if we didn't spend that, they didn't spend that money in that thing. They they don't get to keep it all, and they don't get as much next time. So they try to spend it. And they use the budget to hire an architect to redesign the 33 offices of the New York Department of Probation, which were obviously the most hellish places on earth. Right? Um, worse than the D. O. P. Worst in the department. No worse than the D M V right apartment motor vehicles. But anyway, so the architect Jim Bieber, genius, wonderful architect, hired me for the that thin patina of design, color and typeface because the GOP didn't even have, um, didn't have a logo they didn't have, uh, paperwork was obviously not unified, right? They had No, they had. No, There was nothing that expressed confidence or validity or authority or whatever. It was just a mess. Here's what the Here's what Here's I'll take you on a short tour of the deal. The GOP. That's what it was like. Welcome. Have a seat. Shut the hell up. Right. So this is what they would find. This was a clipboard, a sign that you would find as you got there. And it's like telling you like you have no friends and you have no family. Um, you know, No, he No soap, no. No drinking, no smoking. And somebody in their wisdom got in there with a pencil and said, I think they should sit back straight. Right? And I'm not. I profess that I'm not a fan of the spaces between Where was that? Between letters and current turning or or the spaces? This? What's that one called? Let letting I'm right. Right. Without write that down. Turning and leading. But no sleeping is allowed in this area like that Theo Onley thing they did right here was they said thank you, right. Crazy, crazy like, Yeah, it's just like, welcome to hell. We're gonna make this as confusing as possible and make you feel like an idiot. Really? We're gonna make you feel like you have. Really? This is This is this is we're gonna make you feel like this is the end of the line. Not consciously didn't do it consciously. It was just what happens when no one's in charge. And no one understands what? What? You understand what we understand? So we got the job. Jim Bieber called, called me and said, Hey, I'd like you to help me through this with this thing, And I'm like, Dude, I will Anything for you Because you're amazing and your funny and you're charming. And in his work, it's there's another he's great at put in the work, right? So, um, we get the job and we're working on it, and we get to this point where I'm like, way said may I guess. I guess they need a typeface that you have, you know, a far font for the thing. And I'm like, uh Chris was like, Okay, what do you want to do? And I'm like, Dan was like Don. Okay, so we did in it made sense. And, um then we were having lunch way. We found ourselves. We're sitting in the studio and we're trying. We're trying to figure out what You know what you want to do with this. What do you know? What's your opinion? What do you tell me? What else can we do to make this? We told the type face like and I realized Wait, we're in the studio. This isn't gonna happen. We have to go out and seek the muse, right? We talked about yesterday. We have to go out to a place and avail ourselves for the gods to whisper in our ears and tell us you know what to do. So we went where we always go to the little Italian place around the corner and about halfway through a pizza and a nice bottle of Chianti, we get this idea like I know what would be great. I think I know what they need. The client, they call them what the client needs inspiration and motivation. And I said, I remember when I was a kid, and I remember Hang in there, Kitty. Right? You guys have seen this guy, right? So I said, I'm like, Oh, yeah, let's do motivational posters. That's awesome. But not like those, because those suck. They don't work. We'll do parodies of motivational posters. So our kitty said, Let go Kitty not hang in there, Not hang in there. Hang in there. Means, you know, it's like, Hey, you're the GOP. Whatever you did here, just keep trying. You're doing great, right? We're our kid. He says, let go. Whatever is brought you to this point, possibly whatever you're thinking is wrong, right? So he wrote text that says text in there and we put fake logos again because it makes it, you know, looks like authority. They all have a disclaimer on the, um um So I was at the gym the next day and I saw the eagle and I thought, Oh, eagle for you. I'm gonna do 10 more push ups, right? Cause this stuff completely works, right? So So we did a parody of the Eagle. I love an eagle vision because eagles have good eyesight. Right? So our eagle says there are no shortcuts. Also says no smoking in the corner because that's just pretty good advice. And there's the jets is a teamwork and I'm like teamwork. How about ask for help? This is the place You don't want to come back here. The people here don't want to see you again either. And going backwards in this project, The previous office, How would it? Why would anybody want to work there? Could you imagine having to show up there every day and talking to people through a piece of glass like this? Like you're like, you're buying vodka in Russia or something like and I haven't been to Russia s Oh, sorry. If you don't talk through glass, I'm an idiot. And here is a funny thing. You see the little son in the moon when the moon is farting in the corner and it goes Oops. This is This was where Chris came in because I was like, I'm like a closet perfectionist. I would have redrawn that this horribly drawn typography and this horrible painted thing I would have horribly painted about 15 or 20 different ones. And he just, like, took the 1st 1 from me and did a high res scan and I had doodled on the paper and he left the doodle on the paper. And we're in the first client meeting and I'm sitting next to Crass. And Jim Bieber has talked about the architecture. So I'm not going through the slides and also and this one comes up and I'm like, the way you talk in meetings, I'm, like, poop on. And Chris is like this. It's OK. And it was It was okay. They didn't mention it at all. They're like, Okay, obviously, you know, they're like they they knew I knew what I was doing. Now we have, you know, the landscape that says vision because landscapes have good ice guy. So we did a landscape which turned it sideways and called it a lesson in perspective. And the perspective is you have no friends. You have no enemies, you only have teachers. If you can get that in your head, you will succeed. And that comes from Victor Frankel. That's like a Victor Frankel idea, right? Learn from your worst tormentors. Probably in university, your worst teachers, meanest teachers, the ones you learn the best from the most from footprints in the sand. Who can forget Dez Dorada? All these wonderful poems. So we have a We have a footprints in the sand. It's called Improve yourself. Change the world. Start here. So start small and we actually turned a photo upside down to just to kind of change a little bit. Goofy little logos The sad part about this whole campaign is actually there is no sadness in this project at all. The fact that it got through and the fact that it's up in the offices and still continues to go up in the offices is amazing because we had a great client and even the interim between us and the client was great cause they trusted us. Um, but the kitten died because at one in one of the meetings there was there was a situation where we had gone to three different meetings and everything had gone through, and they finally said Vince Schiraldi, who was running the d o P. Vinnie. Sure, all the amazing guy came and said, Listen, James, there's one more meaning we have to do, he says. I'm sorry about this, but, um, you know, other parts of the city. You don't are not getting a budget. And we've got a budget. So we kind of have to, like, present this to, you know, some of the people in the GOP. I said, that's fine. I said, How many said 40 You ever present to 40 people, right? I say, Okay, but listen, this is how it goes. No good work comes out of a committee. Communities are not concerned with greatness. Committees are concerned with safety and comfort, and this interests me not. So if stuff gets killed, you gonna have a big dot in line on the wall that says poster goes here because they're not enough budget, Not enough time. He says no, no, no, it won't be like that. I'm gonna be in the meeting. It's gonna be fine. Okay, let's do it. So a couple days later, we go in, go into a big meeting. Bieber shows his furniture, You know, the kind of big, heavy stuff that you can't stab anybody with. That was a concern, right? Can't be lightened. Kind of like Oh, yeah, I could Really? Yeah. This chair is good. Right? Um, so I start my dog and pony show and I get this tap on my shoulder. I look up and it's Vincent is like, It's going great. Go to I'm like No, just like in the movies, Just like crazy like Okay, here we go. So we finish the thing. And one of Charlie's 2nd 3rd in command did what she was supposed to do and she said, Are there any questions? 2 40 people And there were some. There were some softballs and there were some weird questions. And then in the end, um, no one puts up her arm and she says, I think we have some mentally challenged clients and I think the kitten would inspire them to commit suicide. And I'm like, I don't know how to respond. I'm good And meetings. I don't know how to respond. I should have just gone. I should have just broken out in laughter and go. That's hilariously the poster made me do it. That's funny. Probably would have been wrong response, Um, but then again, we create We give other people permission whether we know it or not. So somebody else said, I think I see that too. I'm like, Oh, are you kidding me? So they killed the kitten. Couldn't couldn't couldn't do it. Um, and I had told him that I wasn't gonna fill it up again. But we did, of course, because I wish more common eyes guy. So we put it in the universe. This was an early when this is just doesn't even have the real textiles. Just has, like, a blah, blah blah. But it says you are here, and your dream is here. And we just had this idea of, like, misalignment, right? And then the ultimate joke is there's this tiny planet circle there and it says this is Uranus. So in case any 10 year olds get arrested thinking I love going to GOP Mommy, look. So this is what stuff looks like big and sexy. And we there was, like, a really tiny little budget when there was enough to get the work done. Basically, was No, there was no cake and beer after, So we bought really small rez, low res images, and we just put a dot pattern and because I liked it. So everything had this kind of moray and it, which was kind of nice, except the painted stuff was nice and clean on top of it, Um, we unified all their all their paperwork, chose a typeface and spelled everything relatively correctly. You can see the things are big, and that's the thing about there's one thing about posters that I don't like anymore. They if they need a poster, if they repaint a d o P and they need a poster, they hit a button. One dead Indian. 5 10,000 of them racism. 3 5000 of them Hang man, 15,000 of them GOP through. You know that's sad, but there's, I think, one. You can see this, this color treatment that Bieber put in. There's the furniture that you can't stab anybody with. And funny, you know, things that you don't have to think you have to think about. So we're in a meeting and Bieber showing the furniture, and he's showing this green stuff and they said, Oh, we can't use green, Can you screen? Why not? Said it's a gang color. Oh, well, it comes in this really nice bright orange to says no problem. They're like, Oh, we can't use orange like it's a gang colors. They're like, Yeah, so basically said, How about we do this, how about we go backwards and you tell us the gang colors first and then we'll, like, basically said, um uh, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, brown and gold Like it was like it was like, uh, Jim, do we have any see through furniture way? But we they you have to. When there's a color restriction like that, you have to make what's it called Compromises. So So this is in Manhattan, the green. But you can't have the green in the Bronx so different things like that. Weird, we're so there's the ask for help. Poster. There's the improve yourself. Start here. Start small sign Egx with these goofy basically tape the arrows and things. We need some graphics that were just boxes and now a couple things that are interesting in this, um, the tone of these posters. That's the text that we put in here we wrote, and that we wrote them in the tone of a stern, cool father because I felt that that audience possibly had not been spoken to that like that. That audience possibly had not been spoken with the truth. I told the truth in a long time. Um, I thought the motivational thing. A unique set of motivational not putting up. You know, uh uh, you know, I have a dream or something that they've seen before, and what happened is in the different meetings that we had, there were questions about the text like, Why is it there and why does it say this? And this And this and the text survived the conversations, but we went to ridding cutting ceremonies, right? So we go to the one of the ribbon cutting ceremonies, and Vinny Sherali says, You know, he's like, he's like thanking your buddy. Thanks, Bieber, and give him a nice thank you and warm welcoming. And, he says, is in Victoria James. He says, This guy, this guy made the posters and he had this text on the posters. He wrote this stuff on the posters. He says I didn't understand it, he says. And now the client comes in, he says, and we see the client like this reading, reading the text. And then the client looks at their probation officer and says that's what I think. Remember Anthony Borden? That's what I think. And then on top of it, we went and we were interviewed. Number of times about this project. Chris and I and I remember, like, some of the questions. One of the questions particular was about research. You know, James, what research did you do to work with this? You know, in this atmosphere with this client and I said research. What's that? Why would I need to research this? The only difference between that client and me is they got caught. They want the same thing I want. They want to be treated intelligently. They want to be treated with respect. They want to show up in a nice place and do there penance in their paperwork. And Charlie says also, what would happen is when they first opened up, the GOP is the elevator would open and the client would walk out and then look around and then walked back into the elevator and let the door close. You know why they thought they were in the wrong place? Do you know why they thought they were in the wrong place? Because they've never been treated like that. Exactly. Ed Zachary. You know him, Ed Zachery, we can do this. We have that every day. I can look at anything out in the street and I can change it in my head and go, That's sucks or it's good. I could make it great. I can make it saying I can make it sexy, powerful and memorable. It's not that hard. It just takes the subjective. They're only concerned with the objective, not the subjective right. You guys can completely do this. Just gonna be taken being brave and scared shitless. And the reason I'm showing this before we do the crit is this coming up is basically the same opportunity to talk with an audience, right to treat him like coffee notes like Love notes. Right? I said, I want all of my all of my jobs to be love notes. I got a coffee note this morning. Lauren made Laura figured out how in the in the room were saying figured out how to use the little coffee maker. And there was a coffee. No, no, it was really cute. I gave her a B plus A for effort, maybe, plus visually comically shape. She's watching. We've got a few minutes for some questions we actually had. One question here is we kind of talked about your definition of success. Lorena had this question. Five people voted on it. And they say you you say that your definition of success right now is being a good dad. But what was your definition of success 10 years ago? And how do you think that this shape over time? Oh, Who is it? Lorena's? Yes. Lorena. Lorena. Awesome question. Yeah, how about this? I'll show you my I'll show you my ego if you show me yours. When I When I was 19 I moved to New York City and I had a 15 year plan, right, which is crazy. Nobody has a 15 year plan. People say I want to get a job in three months and I gotta get department. Right. But I had a 15 year plan in the 15 year plan, included a lot of things, and basically it was I wanted to be the best posters on the planet. That literally that was it. And by the time I was 35 quite frankly, I'd kick the shit out of that plan. And the reason was because I had a plan. But that was it I wanted I wanted to be the best posters on the planet. I was just committed to kind of Pac Man style. Just get in there. And I found myself a 35. I wasn't in the moment yet, but I had my first exhibition in Osaka, Japan. I had another exhibition, You know, somewhere else around the world. Um, I was considered one of the best, and I had there were other. There were other smaller things, But what I'd never said Lorena and what I never and I will will will admit to you I never said money that was never in the plan. And then I woke up at 40. That's 35. I welcome it. 40 and I was floundering. I was floundering in my relationship. I was floundering professionally as a designer and financially, and I realized I didn't have a plan. So I made another plan, and this plan takes me to, you know, probably 75 if I can, if I can last. And it includes money, because I have, you know, because there's things that I need. Now there's thing I'm gonna have it. We're gonna have, um, a little little baby little Patrick Swayze, the Victoria. It's a good name, right? Patrick Swayze. Victoria. Even if it's a girl, I don't care

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

An empowered designer is a truly creative designer. Let designer, author, artist, and activist, James Victore show you how to trust your instinct and embrace imperfection in Bold & Fearless Design.

When you follow the trends your ideas stagnate and you don’t create the kind of memorable pieces that get you noticed. Victore knows the antidote to that creative rut. Victore has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is represented in the permanent collections of museums worldwide. His commercial work continues to wow by being sexy, strong, and memorable.

Learn how you can make work that is captivating and uniquely you by taking a behind-the-scenes look at this renowned designer’s method, thinking, and inspiration. Victore will talk about playing with different tools (not just digital ones) and rethinking the role of a designer. 

You’ll learn:

  • Exercises for generating concepts and design solutions
  • How to incorporate your hand into your work
  • Unexpected image-making tools and techniques
  • Software strategies for turning the analog into digital

Poster design inspiration is the perfect blank canvas for experimentation. Posters can be adapted for anything from a book covers to dinner plates. In this class, the poster format provides a launching point for discussing by-hand design and reimagining creative possibilities.

Don’t be boring. Watch Bold & Fearless Design with James Victore and energize your unique creative spark.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

James Victore - 10 Type Rules

bonus material

James Victore - Bold and Fearless Poster Design Course Supplies.pdf

James Victore - Litter Poster Client Brief.pdf

James Victore - Suggested Reading List.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I am not a graphic designer, I'm an artist, but this class translates beautifully. James' teaching style is nothing short of delicious - fresh, alive, fun, exciting - while being full of depth and poignant, valuable content, much of which transcends medium and brings value to any creative individual. I found particular value in the lessons around tools (and altering tools), the criteria for good work, the need to infuse your opinion into your work, the value of abandoning perfection, paying attention to cancer that is one's ego and that we are meant to be creators, and not 'the help'. More than anything else though, I benefited from being reminded, with such a burning passion, that we are not put on this earth to pay a mortgage and support a family, but to identify our true work and to bring it into existence in this world. So nice to reminded of something I know but forget on a regular basis. One of the best online classes I have ever taken - a real home run.


I loved this course! Exceeded every notion I had. The design, concepts and principles were fun, funny and insightful. But James went so far beyond the "poster design" and into the philosophy, thinking, inspiration - huge! I am so glad I watched this course not only for the quick wit and fast humor (Jame's is smart! Sharp... And Really Funny - compliments his teaching and design), but the reading list he suggests, ways to nudge your creativity and the fashion with which he gets you thinking... Invaluable! Organic, Rich, Impact and message - this course has the design "how-to" covered, the real pearls are Jame's humble experience and generosity. Great Course... Oh, and check out his book! "Victore! or, Who Died and Made You Boss?" Inspiration and fun!

a Creativelive Student

Came to this course (and site) via Anna Dorfman's blog. Loved the motivational and philosophical aspects of the course. Very entertaining and inspirational. Also loved listening to Victore discuss his own work and process-- the stories of how he got specific ideas, tinkered with them, perfected them, etc.. As for the critiques of student and online work, I didn't find them very useful. I would love to see him pick out a few of the very best, and then give his own short and sweet-- and specific-- insights into how HE would improve them. Or just abandon the critiques entirely and instead show and discuss more of his own or other successful designers' work. Overall, fun and inspirational, with some helpful tips.