Lettuce introduce you to: a plant-inspired graphic designer

This is the first in a series of pages in our Power of Plants comic, highlighting the judges of the Green Schools Lettuce Challenge.  We’re so lucky these green heroes can come be a part of the Buttercrunch Awards on April 19th.  They’ll be marking plants and posters ahead of time with special Green Thumbs, Green Hearts, and Green Minds awards but they’ll also be there in person.  We’ll hope you’ll come meet them and learn more about what they do, and how they take inspiration from plants in their careers.
Lettuce Introduce you to
plant-inspired graphic designer, Patty Sechi
Patty is the founder and president of the Greenwich Community Gardens.  When we asked her to be a part of the lettuce challenge she offered us advice from her experience as a gardener, a community organizer, an educator, and she even designed a logo for us.  We had to learn more about how this logo came to be:
Read our Full Interview with Patty Sechi below:
How did you come up with this logo?
I started several years ago doing very graphic, colorful representations of vegetables for a client of mine, and then for the Greenwich Community Gardens signage. Everyone seems to be able to relate to it and like the style, so I just kept it up! It isn’t a realistic style, it’s just fun and makes the vegetables look really happy and healthy. As for this logo, I tried several very different ideas before I decided to go with this one. I thought about how the kids are growing their vegetables in little pots and we decided that the version of a big, fat, full head of bright-green lettuce in a pot would be really fun and exciting.
What are some of the steps involved in designing a logo?
I always start with research. I look on-line for photos and illustrations and/or I look through my own “inspiration” files or some of my past design work. I know how to draw in the classical sense, so sometimes I even start with a sketch that is more realistic, and then I break it down to the simplest lines and forms I can use to convey what the object is—in this case—lettuce and a pot. I often “push” the colors into a very happy, bright palette. The process usually involves several versions before things get to where I can say that I am ready to show my work to my client. Since most logos involve words too, I think about how the words will fit into the picture. Sometime they can be the main part of the logo, sometime they can almost “play” with the logo and sometimes they can frame it, as they do in the “Lettuce Challenge” logo. I love fonts, so I tried a few styles before I decided that I found a really good font for this logo.
Which tools did you use?
I start with paper and pencil in many cases. Then I scan my sketch and draw over it, using a graphic program called “Adobe Illustrator”. Then I create a color palette and I start applying the color where I think it looks right. There is some back and forth on this, and sometimes I continue to simplify the artwork, as I think the most successful work is often the simplest forms.
How did you look at lettuce plants as reference?
I know lettuce pretty well from many years of gardening and eating it, so you might think I would be able to conjure the image of lettuce straight from my head. But I have to admit, I am still most likely to look at images to try to decide what I want to draw. I considered different types of lettuces, a single lettuce leaf or different shapes of lettuce leaves and then I start trying different things.
How long have you been doing this, and how does gardening affect your work?
I started working as a graphic designer and illustrator almost 30 years ago, but I always drew a lot as a child too. I started my first vegetable garden when I was nine years old. I have always found gardening to be a creative endeavor so it doesn’t seem so separate for me from art. There are a lot of the same principles involved: color, space, line, design elements and texture, for instance. For me, art inspires nature and nature inspires art. I am lucky to be able to use my love of nature and gardening so much in the work I do professionally as a designer.
What are some of your favorite artists and designers that work with plants for inspiration?
Andy Goldsworthy is a great artist who uses natural materials in his large-scale design work. Nils-Udo is another artist who does site-specific art using natural materials. For painters, Matisse comes to mind for his organic shapes and colors and of course, Monet for his waterlilies and beautiful garden paintings. I love children’s book art, like the wonderful, colorful artwork in books like, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. I also like Merimekko fabric designs and the often whimsical, simple and elegant designs of Lotta Jansdotter. Both are inspired by nature and bring a fresh, modern approach to the design and color choices.

Fellow lettuce challengees:  Don’t forget to take photos of your own lettuce story. 
You’re all green heroes for creating and improving green spaces – even if it’s one small lettuce plant.  It’s all part of understanding what our first featured green hero, Patty Sechi and her fellow gardeners at the Greenwich Community Garden mean when they say, “Know the story of your food.”
Remember this post?  Now it’s in the comic!  Thanks to JC Media Specialist, for introducing us to Comic Life through the parent newsletter.

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