Many hours of research and conceptual pencil sketches went into each U-Haul graphic before they ever made it to final production. Below is a glimpse of rare sketches and renderings that were changed or completely omitted.
My original sketches have always been more creative and fun but were compromised through a process of elimination from the managers. The end result was usually a more conservative approach.
In my first drafts for the Connecticut graphic I wanted to give the appearance that the dinosaur was breaking out of the truck. He was considered too aggressive and I was asked to tone it down. After many new drafts the final result was a disappointing textbook style rendering.
#132 Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island was challenging with its "Singing sands" theme. I decided to incorporate a singing woman made of sand in the graphic. The artwork was created by drawing one sand particle at a time to get that "stipple effect". The woman was considered sexually offensive and they asked me to replace her with children.
#130 Nova Scotia
The final rendering of the ship I presented to the board was armed with cannons along the side walls, I was asked to remove them. Even though the subject matter is a myth the ship design was based on historical research during the 1700's, It was common for most ships to have gun ports at the time.
Original rendering with gun ports:
Final graphic without gun ports:
For many years I have watched the very word “Graphic Designer” morph, twist and get watered down to it’s very meaning. With so many new ways to create a subset of visual communication, the term itself has become muted over the years due to interchangeable and overlapping skills. Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer of embracing all of today’s creative programs and expanding your creative problem solving techniques, but we are still in need of specialized experts that work together as a team.
These days the assumption is often that "have computer and software, anyone can do it," the downside of technological advances.
I see more and more request for designers who must have illustrative skills and know all aspects of web developing with the same pay rate as if it was one skill. It has snowballed and I have seen job posts requiring a extreme list of skills and abilities: design, illustration, web coding, video, 3D Cad programming, photography, motion graphics, editing, camera work, audio, planning documents, coordinate systems data, copy writing, and bookkeeping.
My concern is there are too many "ignorant executives, clueless about design" trying to fuse it all together to save a few bucks". Where and when does it stop? These people have no idea how much time it takes to learn, master, composite and execute an idea with just one skill, let alone all of them. To increase profits The fad of requiring all employees to be “Jack-of-all-trades and masters of none" is effecting quality. Standards descend as profits rise.
In a forum a few months back I raised this question and it seemed to hit a nerve and got a huge response. Some comments from that forum below show this is a subject that is of major concern to a LOT of people: freelancers and staffers alike. What are your views?
As the creator of the iconic images on the side of U-Haul trucks, I have had many people request the whereabouts of a little character I have been hiding in the graphics. The character is referred to as "Sammy U" within the company itself. Due to popular demand, I am sharing his location with you in the images below (they are in the order in which I created them from most recent).
I rebranded and created the new look for U-Haul's imaging campaign called "Supergraphics" Venture Across America/Canada (modern series) for 15 years from 1997 to 2013. The series was retired in 2013.
The first four graphics I designed (Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, and California) do not have the little guy incorporated in it. It wasn't until the fifth graphic (Arizona) that the character appeared in the artwork. While researching reference I stumbled across a logo stamped in a computer microchip under a microscope. I decided to incorporate the mascot in the graphic and it became a "must have" in every graphic. At the time, my six year old daughter Samantha (no relation to "Sammy U" just a coincidence) would tell me where to hide "Sammy U" for each graphic. She has been hiding them for me through the entire series, she is now 23.
The actual size of the character on the trucks is a little smaller than a dime and is strategically incorporated in the design for you to try and find. His colors change based on the background he is placed in.