2020, what a year it has been. Like so many, I found myself locked indoors, and needed a way to stay sane. Besides working on my indie game, Von Neumann's Catastrophe (more on that later), I decided to use my lockdown to develop a new brand with which I would be able to launch a freelance carreer.
So, how did I arrive at the name? Well, several sources. The most obvious being the classic movie (and series of fantasy books) The Wizard of Oz, which popularised the phrase "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!". But that wasn't actually where I got the name.
Being a big sci-fi fan, one of my favourite all-time series of books is Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos. In that series, the phrase "lions and tigers and bears" was used as a metaphor for an invisible alien species that was lurking beyond known human space.
The origin of the Lions and Tigers and Bears is never fully explained; it is mentioned that they are made up of both organic and synthetic species, differing in their backgrounds but united through empathy. It is possible that the human Ultimate Intelligence, which is supposedly derived from the consciousnesses of all human beings, may shed light on how the Lions and Tigers and Bears came about.
It was meant to invoke a sense of danger, a fear of the unknown. A pop-culture analogue for the ancient "here be dragons", found on old maps to demarkate undiscovered territories.
The phrase resonated with me, and being a visually-minded individual, it immediately conjured pictures in my mind. Always a good sign whenever that happens. It's simultaneously playful and cute, while also strangely terrifying. They're beautiful creatures, capable of preternatural grace, but that will also rip your face off if you're not careful.
Lions also carry a local connotation for me, as lions feature prominently in my home town's flag, on the flag of my locality, Flanders, and is on the national Emblem. While I'm far from a nationalist, I believe it's important to respect and honour one's heritage.
The first iteration of the brand was going to be a stark black & white, using an illustrated style complimented by stylized low-poly 3D artwork. However, I found it lacked a certain appeal, and I wanted to go a bit bolder, a bit brasher even. I ditched the serif fonts and decided to go for a more modern look. I did keep the illustration and used it for my business cards.
I also knew I would want to make at least part of my website using some form of WebGL-powered real-time 3D animation. To accomplish this, I would need to treat this project like I'm making assets for a VR video game:
I knew I'd want to be able to quickly make new layouts using the 3 mascots, so I ended up with a fully rigged lion, tiger and bear model that I could quickly pose. Once I settled on a pose, I could then "bake" the deformed mesh, optimise it further before export.
As a first exercise for the brand, I also designed myself some nice business cards. A bit wishful thinking perhaps, in this socially-distanced locked-down world of ours, but I hope to be able to use these again soon.
Belgium being Belgium I still have a lot of bureaucratic and legal hurdles to jump through before I can start working full-time, but these should be finalised early next year at the latest. In the mean time, have fun exploring the new website, and if you're interested in working together, feel free to drop me a line.