Last Updated on 6 October 2009

This is Part 1 of a 2-Part article about illustrator, Chris Gash ( He is one of the talented people who helped me re-design the Idea Sandbox websites. Chris created the cool images that appear in the “starbursts” in the headers of key pages.

SandBlog Icon

If you enjoy learning about “the work behind the work” – what it takes to produce something – you’ll enjoy this story.

The Story:

In January of this year, I re-launched the Idea Sandbox website and blog with a new design. I kept the 1950-ish, “mid-century modern” style, but wanted something cleaner.

Part of this design included art work and visual elements. While there is 1950s style clipart out there, it all sorta looks the same.

50s Kitchen

I’m running a business with a core value of creating things that are remarkable, I knew I couldn’t use “sorta looks the same” artwork.

Long story short, I decided to hire an illustrator.

The Process:

I surfed the interweb looking for artists styles I liked. I cruised stock photo galleries and came across – among several illustrators – Chris Gash.

Chris has a retro drawing style that is a perfect match for Idea Sandbox. He has prepared illustrations for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times: Science Times, and more…

He is especially good at turing a complex idea into a simple graphic. (A picture worth a thousand words).

Here are a few samples…

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution causes urban birds to sing at night.

Tasting Machine

New tasting machine can detect subtleties in the flavor of coffee
such as nutty, woody, flowery and acidy

Chris and I exchanged emails and conversed… Once we knew we “got” each other, we started to work…

I provided Chris with the list of main sections of my site… He took it from here.

  • Problem Solving Tools
  • Grow Your Business
  • About Us
  • Contact
  • Blog
  • What We Do

Here are a few of the sketches Chris sent on the first round. I’ve also provided a link to view the entire gallery of first drafts.  

What We Do
What We Do
This one was a no-brainer for me.
I love the use of the bucket and sand.

Grow Your Business
Grow Your Business
What a great image, a profit line busting out of the idea lightbulb.

About Us
About Us
I absolutely think this idea is brilliant,
reading the side of the lightbulb package as an ‘about us’ icon.

While Chris offered a slew of great options, we realized having “sandbox” related icons would align closer with my overall brand. Furthermore, while he created some pretty cool approaches to using the idea lightbulb icon… the idea lightbulb thing had been done before.

Here are the draft versions we selected. You’ll recognize them from browsing the website.

Idea Sandbox Icon Suite

And here are the final versions!

Idea Sandbox Icon Suite

Finally, here are some icons from the “sandbox” collection we have not used yet. I’ll bet these make their way onto the site eventually.

Gallery of Unused Sandbox Icons

Tomorrow I’ll post Part 2 of this article – an interview with Chris Gash: The Man Behind The Icons!

Images © Chris Gash and Idea Sandbox.