Two thousand sixteen has been a difficult year for lots of people it seems. I spent much of the year seeking work and the latter part of it taking care of my ill older brother. In-between all of that I’ve been working almost entirely on a single project: Ook Ink. It finally launched on the 1st.

Ook Ink is a joint venture of myself and my sister with a purpose of selling decals and t-shirts. My sister has been in the decal and sign business since 1993, and both of us have been around screen printing pretty much our entire lives. Ook Ink doesn’t screen print yet, though. Tees are printed by heat transferring a special type of vinyl cut from the same vinyl plotter used to cut the decals. There are numerous t-shirt websites out there today which sell various screen printed designs; most entice with cheap prices, gouge on shipping, and then ship a thin, cheap shirt with water-based ink which breaks up after the first wash. We wanted to do something different, providing a quality product with a print that doesn’t easily come off.

When first brainstorming the idea of what became Ook Ink a few years ago we bounced ideas as to what to call it. We had a few going, and none of them were catchy enough. I’m known for saying “ook” a lot which came from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. It started when years ago needing to get the attention of friends online; it stuck. I simply joked around saying, “Let’s call it Ook Ink!” It was the only idea all of us liked, so we went with it. Best yet the .ink TLD was recently launched. The domain was available. This serendipitous process for coming up with the name continued with its graphic design.


Early sketches of Ook Ink’s logo
Early sketches of Ook Ink’s logo

The first thing that was tackled was the logo, and it began with doodles. The monkey theme was always a part of it because “ook” is an onomatopoeia for how monkeys sound. Above a photograph of one of the pages of a notebook I sketched in shows many rejected ideas along with one of the first doodles of what became the final logo.

Ook Ink logo in different colors
Ook Ink logo in different colors

We simply iterated on numerous sketches and mockups before arriving at the final. We wanted it funny, able to be displayed in any color, and easy to cut out of vinyl because we intend on providing free small decals of the logo out of scrap material with orders. When we arrived at what we thought was perfect we went with it; that’s it. There was no thought process behind it other than that. I don’t like to come up with bullshit terms to describe my design decisions afterwards like some. It’s disingenuous.


Ook Ink logo in different colors
Clyde, the Ook Ink mascot

Out of the design of the logo came the realization that a mascot could be created from it and again using the colors from the color scheme in his design. Clyde the purple monkey was born. My sister came up with the name. “He just looks like a Clyde.”

My sister has an affinity for old Volkswagen vehicles, especially the iconic bus. I thought it’d be funny to make him drive one. I then hung shirts on the side of it and put Clyde in the driver’s seat. The response to it was overwhelmingly positive, but my initial drawing had just shirts but no decals. We brainstormed a while and came up with the idea to inject Louisiana into the identity. Louisiana has a unique culture all of its own, so I decorated the side of the bus with decals invoking symbols from the state.

Plans are to use him in more illustrations than the initial bus one shown above. I’ll be illustrating more of him in the future which will be nice; it was fun drawing him.


Ook Ink indexOok Ink tee product pageOok Ink decal product page

The website is the bread and butter of this project and the means by which I used to explore the identity of the company. From early on we settled on purple and mint green as the color scheme with a neutral beige color and greys. From this the general design language of the website was fleshed out. The website is built on Shopify and uses a completely custom template. There’s almost nothing that remains in typical Shopify themes. I was always going to do my own design, but I ended up having to almost entirely use my own code as the Shopify templates’ code was a mess. I don’t subscribe to the BEM syntax methodology, and Shopify seems to have embraced it. I initially was going to just go with it, but I eventually got tired of having to edit both the CSS and HTML to change simple styles on elements. Additionally the HTML became difficult to manage because it was filled with esoterically-named classes. There were also entire features of the webpage rendered with JavaScript with no fallback or anything which makes the webpage useless if the JavaScript didn’t run for whatever reason. While I always had custom features in JavaScript I wanted to add I was disappointed I had to reinvent the wheel to get a more accessible template for Ook Ink. I still have work to do on accessibility on my template, so I’m making improvements still. Most of the custom JavaScript was done for the product pages, showing previews of the product as the variations are changed.

Ook Ink shopping cart/bagOok Ink login dialogOok Ink login page

I didn’t get around to doing any HttpRequest work with the cart/bag, but that is forthcoming. My goal was to make it work normally and then implement an HttpRequest version so that if JavaScript isn’t there would be a workable cart, and things would look fine. I applied the same philosophy to log-in and account creation. With JavaScript enabled it shows up as a dialog, without it’s a separate page. This is also because if there is an error when logging in or creating an account Shopify doesn’t provide any means for it to throw the user back to that dialog, only to a separate page.

Ook Ink decal product page on mobile

It should go without saying in 2017 that the webpage is entirely responsive, scaling down from large screens to small ones gracefully. I took special attention to the product page on mobile, making it show the title and price at the top when scrolling so when variants were changed in the form the price was easily noticeable and updated.

This is still an ongoing project as there will be lots more to design for Ook Ink. I’ll be creating designs to sell on the website along with some print material. I’ll update this page as new work is forthcoming.

Visit Ook Ink, and if you’re interested buy some tees and decals. It’s going to be an ongoing project, but I’m happy with what I have done thus far.