All posts by Thomas Wilson

Sometimes you can’t keep a good design down

Thomas Wilson
November 29, 2016 by

New York City has a weird spot in my heart, a place I have never visited has influenced me a great deal. A lot of the media I consume is created or is based there: comic books(MARVEL), music(A Tribe Called Quest), films(Ghostbusters), art(Warhol), and TV shows(Seinfeld) have all made me feel like I kind of know the place. I do plan on visiting the cultural mecca someday but it hasn’t been in the cards yet.

One thing I look forward to when I get there(besides the great delis and visiting MARVEL HQ) is seeing all the little things that have built the NYC image in my mind such as this iconic coffee cup. While I am not a coffee drinker the Anthora coffee cup design by Leslie Buck for the Sherri Cup Co. has been subtly burned into my mind through years of product placement in TV shows like Mad Men and the many, many Law & Order series. It was first brought to my attention as an iconic design when found the ceramic version for my wife as a gift and now I notice it any time it is on the large or small screen.

It’s that attention to detail I bring to my designs for clients at MasterPlans. If your business plan is lacking that added spark you are looking for perhaps you need a Premium MasterPlan design – ask for it by name and let them know Thomas sent you.


The Growth & Impact of Comic-Cons

Thomas Wilson
August 7, 2015 by

Recently I attended the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) which is the 2nd largest comic book convention in the world (trailing only New York City’s Con) and is considered the crown jewel of the pop culture convention circuit. I have been going to SDCC since 2008 and have seen the steady growth in awareness of the show: today it attracts far more than just people in the comic book industry – it has become a mecca for the general population. As a kid I read about SDCC in my Wizard or Comic Scene magazine and I always wanted to go simply to meet my favorite creators and see some original art. Now, as a professional in the industry, I am able to make that happen for work reasons, but I never dreamed that SDCC would evolve into the large-scale pop culture event it has become.

After starting out in 1970 with a paltry attendance of 125 people, attendance hit around 130,000 each of the last 5 years and could easily exceed that if the San Diego Convention Center hadn’t reached capacity. Tickets went from an easy get weeks before the show to selling out in minutes over the 8 years I have been attending. Preview Night, which starts at 6pm, went from a lightly attended formality to a full-blown attendee day with some collectables selling out completely in the 3-hour window before the real Con even got underway.

Some of the highest grossing films (the Marvel movies) and one of the most watched TV shows (The Walking Dead) have their roots in the comic book world. With more and more of the entertainment industry being fueled by the main content featured at SDCC, interest in SDCC has soared. This interest has helped raise the profile of other Cons around the country and the world since the demand is so great, creating a new “pop culture convention” industry. And you’ll see all levels of entrepreneur at these Cons: a CEO of a successful publisher pitching their upcoming stories, a veteran comics illustrator selling original drawings, an up-and-coming comics illustrator pitching his talents or stories to publishers and Hollywood producers, a cosplayer with a strong social network following selling prints, an actor assuring the faithful that their portrayal of a beloved character will be true to form – all trying to capture the attendees’ dollar.

MasterPlans has written comic book focused business plans and I have been lucky enough to design a few – even adding my own custom illustrations to give it a more authentic comic feel. If you are in need of a business plan or even custom illustrations, MasterPlans is your one-stop shop for all your business plan needs – tell them Thomas sent you!


NBA Logo Revamp

Thomas Wilson
June 26, 2015 by

Since the NBA season recently concluded with the crowning of the Golden State Warriors as the new champions, we’ve officially moved into the off-season. The off-season is a time when teams look to change and improve their organizations, whether it be from a personnel standpoint or simply by tweaking the look of their franchise. With the draft now upon us, some teams will be unveiling updated logos when their picks are announced – and others have already begun doing so.

The L.A. Clippers unveiled their new logo with a humorous video which may have raised expectations too high. To leave behind their history of underachieving, the Clippers wanted this rebranding to invigorate the fan base. But frankly this new logo is a step backward… it would seem that the new owner brought with him his questionable aesthetic taste that besmirched many Microsoft products. I prefer the look of the older Clippers logo – it is a classic and difficult to replace. If you must rebrand, you need to do better than what they settled with, in my opinion.

Another team hoping to reestablish themselves in the league after a prolonged malaise is the Milwaukee Bucks, who gave a preview of their look for next season all the way back in April. Now this is a look that I can get behind. It tweaks what they had to give it a more retro feel, and simplifies the overall image for easier reproduction and use. Plus, the subtle basketball in the antlers is a solid touch.

Finally we have the Atlanta Hawks, who enjoyed a successful season on the court (a surprise to many) attaining the best record in the Eastern Conference before being upended in the playoffs by the Cavs. The Hawks decided to rebrand anyway, introducing something that harkens back to the Dominique era. The new logo is a modification of the “pacman” logo that dominated their look for most the eighties, and I am glad it is back. According to message boards, so are most longtime fans of the franchise, if not the whole league(Uh oh – a great logo can be poorly applied).

Whether you have an established look and feel or have yet to make your mark, let MasterPlans help you improve your logo or begin anew with our professional logo services. Just ask for Thomas!

Font Refresh

Thomas Wilson
May 22, 2015 by

Rumors are swirling that Apple will unveil a new font, simply called San Francisco, to update their desktop and mobile platform operating system font. San Francisco has been seen as the operating system font on the recently released Apple Watch, and people speculated it was a sign of an upcoming brand change when first released. With the worldwide developers conference coming up in June, the rumors and opinions are being heard at a furious roar.

As a designer I am excited when I hear of a new font being developed for a major brand – not everyone noticed, but Apple just changed their system font from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue last year. Of course in this internet age of opinion and hyperbole, that change was decried and exalted much like with these rumors of San Francisco’s impeding roll out. I am a fan of the new font; it appears to be a combo of the classic Helvetica Neue and DIN – one of my favorite fonts.

I am also excited about the chance to try San Francisco out and use it in future projects. Of course it won’t work for every design but who knows, there may be the perfect project for the newly-conceived typeface. I am on the constant hunt for the perfect font from project to project, so San Francisco is at least one more option.

Whether you have a company identity already selected or no company identity at all, using the design services at MasterPlans will provide you with a professional look and feel to grab investors – let Miri know Thomas sent you!


Creating Your Legacy

Thomas Wilson
May 4, 2015 by

Welcome to MasterPlansRecently, the creator of one of the most iconic signs of all time passed away – Betty Willis, who designed the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. For this signage to become an icon there were a few factors at play. Location and timing certainly helped, but most important was that the design was never copyrighted.

If the locals of Vegas hadn’t started using the design on all sorts of merchandise the image might not have spread around the world. Not only is the image used to promote Las Vegas itself, but the design has been re-appropriated in other spots all around the world hoping to relive the magic. Obviously Betty may have missed out on vast royalties if she had copyrighted the image. Although, if she had copyrighted it, would the design have been as widely used as it is now? Probably not, but now she is credited and famous for the design. I hope she was able to parlay that into more than just fame – from what I read, it does sound like she had a long, successful career.

It reminds me of the one of Portland’s little known icons – the statue of Portlandia. The sculptor retains the copyright of the image of the statue for commercial use. Portlandia probably isn’t as widely known as a Portland icon as it would be if the city and companies were freely able to use it for marketing (it does occasionally pop up when the image is properly licensed). Instead the most iconic thing about Portland may be this rug.

When trying to make something iconic you never truly know what will catch on. Here at MasterPlans we provide premium design services for your business plan as well as logo design for your fledgling business to give you every opportunity to become the next icon.

What’s your Monolith? 

Thomas Wilson
March 24, 2015 by


This past weekend I went to a 70mm screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 at the historic Hollywood Theater in Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t help making a correlation between the black monolith’s purpose in the film, and how a business can spring from a simple idea.  

The Hollywood Theater had shown 2001 during its original run in 1968, and there were people in attendance last Saturday who had been there originally. A ticket to 2001 was so highly coveted by Portland-area movie lovers that it sold out within minutes of tickets going on sale several weeks ago – the theater even added screenings, but those sold out just as quickly. Not bad for a movie that is 47 years old, proving that if you provide an experience the consumer wants, then steady demand will follow. 70mm is a rare viewing experience, since not many films are filmed in that format and there are few theaters that can show the film properly – the Hollywood Theater is one of these rare theaters.  

The iconic image of the monolith sparking the next stage of mankind could be seen as a metaphor for the whole experience. The Hollywood Theater – which originally opened way back in 1926 – has seen a revival; after falling into disarray in the 80’s, there has been a slow reinvention of the theater as a non-profit cinema to honor its special heritage. Armed with a rare 70mm projector, showings of classic films and special events, an assortment of local foods, and even local wine and beer on tap, the Hollywood Theater provides a unique theater-going experience compared to a standard cinema chain.

If a monolith in your life has sparked an idea for a business, let MasterPlans be a tool helping you realize your vision.  Your professionally written, expertly designed business plan awaits!

But what image format is best?

Thomas Wilson
February 27, 2015 by

When designing a business plan for a client, the first step to a great design is getting assets from them – specifically, whatever images they’ve already developed as part of their brand. The most important of these assets is the logo. But just having a logo is not enough – it needs to be in the right format. If you have a low resolution logo it will only look good when displayed at a small size; if you have a logo on a white background, that limits where the logo can be placed which handcuffs the design possibilities.

I have had clients tell me to just pull their logo from a website, or ask me to use a logo from their PowerPoint file. Neither of these approaches is a good idea. Logos for websites are generally small resolution, and will reveal a “rough edge” when enlarged. Similarly, with PowerPoint and Word, even if the logo was large to begin with, those programs naturally compress embedded images. This means that a logo extracted from a slide or document may show that dreaded rough edge, even if the logo was large-format when it first got pasted in.

If you have had a logo professionally designed, you should have received the logo in many formats. Which type is best? Common formats include .AI (illustrator vector file), .EPS (could be vector or pixel), .PDF (also vector or pixel), .PNG (pixel but can have an invisible background) and .JPG (pixel with background). As a designer I love it when I get a .AI file, but a high resolution .PNG can also work really well.

People seem to believe a .JPG is the king of all file types, but .JPGs are only best for photography. Most logos are vector images which require a sharp edge. For logo images, the .JPG is the least versatile of the files I listed. When in doubt, go with the .PNG: it is the most versatile and works in print, on the web and in many word processing programs.

How your logo is presented is an extension of your company and its beliefs; make sure you also put your best logo forward.



Go to Helvetica

Thomas Wilson
January 9, 2015 by

Since my father retired he has greatly increased his movie intake. This has led him to watch a greater variety of movies than what he watched before, ones I thought he would never have any interest in. The other day he asked me if I had seen a film than actually deals with my profession – Helvetica, a documentary about the font Helvetica. Yes father, I have seen this film and I found it fascinating.

I am a fan of the font Helvetica. It is easy to read, subtly designed, and can be used in classic or modern designs. As simple as Helvetica is, its versatility can be a godsend for designers.

As much as I am a fan of Helvetica I detest Arial, a font it is often mistaken for at first glance. It’s understandable, because the differences are subtle (most notice the lower-case “a”). Arial just seems slightly off to me, like a rushed copy of Helvetica. I feel this is from the font’s initial design use on bitmap printers in the early 80’s, not precise machines in the own right, but this is just a theory I have.

Even though I am a fan of Helvetica, Akzidenz Grotesk, the font that Helvetica was based on, trumps it for me. I am a recent convert and it is now one of my go-to fonts when I need something simple, legible, and classic. It just works.


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