Okay, I’ve been in this business for a while. I’m hardly what you would call a “precious” designer. I’m here to work with the client, serve the people, make things look and work better. “How can I help?” is my mantra.

Just recently, I had that premise really called into task. I was designing another cover for the nice folks at Temple University. They often call on me with sports titles. This one was a cover for a new book following the Baltimore Ravens title run of 2012. The title, Never Easy, Never Pretty. was loaded with effect and visuals. The best part was when the editor showed up with a fantastic image of a bawdy Ravens defense in a crushing tackle of a Colts running back. The image bristled with football dominance.

I have to confess, I am rarely provided material this easy to work with. The cover practically designed itself. I went to work using my usual fat-back type treatment to integrate with the image. It’s a go-to move where muscular typographic form couples with the image shape. An old trick, but what can I say, I’m sentimental. Sure, I tried styling the type a bit in some of the sketches, but I didn’t really see the need for many alternates. This was one of those rare times when I like my first idea, and I was pretty sure that the client would have have a similar response.

Well, I was right. The editor, the director as well as the entire marketing team were very pleased. What are the chances? We just had one small hurdle, The National Football League had to approve it as well. Wait, what?! I guess because the image showed players with numbers and branding, there were legal/copyright issues? Not sure. I was arrogant enough to think, “what’s not to like? It’s a great title with a great image. Problem solved” I thought.

Long story short, the cover got scratched and we swapped out the image of the players with an image of fans in the stadium after the parade. Well since we were on a tight deadline, things moved fast and I didn’t have time to wallow, but I thought it might be cathartic to talk about it here. Below are some of the rejected sketches.