Behind the Design: HOW’s Sept. Cover

When the HOW team decided on Might & Main‘s brand identity for Eventide Oyster Company for the Best of Show winner in the Self-Promotion Design Awards, we knew exactly who should design our September cover. The HOW team came up with a few ideas, but Might & Main blew us away with their blowfish concept. What better way to say self-promotion than with a fish that actually puffs itself up?

HOW September cover

To better understand the process behind the cover design, we caught up with Might & Main principal Sean Wilkinson. Here’s what he had to say:

When HOW first came to you with the idea for the cover, how did you get the process started?

SW: We had a good visual vocabulary established for the Eventide brand, and we knew the HOW cover would be rooted in that, but we wanted to have fun with it and take some liberties we might not with the restaurant. We brainstormed together, presented some ideas to the creative team at HOW and jumped into visual concepting. Once we were off in a direction, we handed the file back and forth a bit between all of the designers here to design, refine and hone the concept.

Blowfish sketch for HOW

Did you always think of using a blowfish or were there other contenders as well?

SW: Once we hit on the idea of the blowfish, ideas started flowing pretty quickly. The idea of self promotion, puffing yourself up, scaring off predators … It also lends itself well to the illustration style, especially as a popular oddity of the sea from pre-photography times. Another idea was a jellyfish, but while beautiful, that seems awfully floppy in comparison.

Detailed blowfish sketch for HOW

Is this illustration style a signature of Might & Main or does this vary from project to project?

SW: We’re really lucky to have two great illustrators in house. Arielle (a principal and creative director) has a background in illustration, and she can tackle just about any style. This ‘scientific’ precise style is something she does really well, and we made it one of the cornerstones of the Eventide brand. Morgan, our designer, has a great, whimsical illustration style (as seen on and is a master of patterns.

Concept sketches for HOW

How did you determine the color scheme?

SW: The color scheme is one of the most direct ties to the Eventide brand, shifted slightly for readability and ‘pop’ on the newsstand. It’s that rich world of maritime blues—not just the water and the sky, but the industrial nature of the working waterfront that inspired Eventide: buoys, boats, barges and sails. The overlay of sobering black with the blues is a nod to the documentary style of the drawing and is also seen on the Eventide coasters, letterpressed in black and PMS 309.

Might & Main came up with a lot of clever phrasing for cover lines, how did this come about?

SW: We love playing with language in the office, and we do a lot of writing for our clients. From early brand strategy to social media content, we’ve got some heavy hitters in the wordsmithing department. Like most things around here, we tend to fearlessly throw ideas around and share freely, asking for collaboration, until they’re perfect.

Might & Main process for HOW

How many people were involved in the process? Is this amount of people typical?

SW: Everyone here at the office was involved. The whole team is often brought in on projects, especially at early stages. We recognize that we’ve all got valuable ideas, and we all bring a range of assets to the table. We tend to group-think on almost every project and pass things around without ego. We founded Might & Main based on the idea of making great design even better by collaboration, and we try to follow that rule.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

SW: The project was great fun to work on, and the creative team at HOW was a pleasure to work with. We’re thrilled that we were given the freedom to bring this to life as a project that truly feels like Might & Main, and can’t wait to share this with our friends in the industry.


HOW Septmber 2013 coverCheck out the cover and all 70 sexy self-promotion projects in the September 2013 issue of HOW magazine available in our official online store,

Think you’ve got what it takes to win best of show? Enter HOW’s Promotion & Marketing Design Competition today!