Tim Ritz Graphic Design
The Online Design Portfolio of Chicago-based Designer Tim Ritz

Split-Rail Proposal

At the core of this concept for Split-Rail's identity is a simple goal: To follow the work of the restaurant itself, both as a purveyor of the creative and new, and a reflection on the spirit of the past. I attempted to craft a careful visual ode to the industrial forebears of West Town —to embrace the inherent eclecticism of Americana —but also to distill a brand identity that fits the voice of your innovative drive. 

To this end, this proposal features a system of design —a holistic set of interconnected visual themes— rather than just a singular, monolithic logo and accompanying menu. The main typography serves as the consistent anchor of the identity package, set in a sturdy 19th-century serif with a deep shadow embossing.

Taking a note from industrial aesthetic, in particular the cement stamps on sidewalks throughout Ukrainian Village, this iteration uses a broad horizontal orientation to frame the wordmark, which is literally split in two and skewed to emphasize the relief of the embossing. Repeating diagonals echo the dynamic stance of the letterforms and obliquely reference the split-rail fence that inspired the name. The broad diamond frame forms a critical piece of the design vernacular in this system. 

Here the wordmark is laid in a slight arch (though straight horizontal also works well with this same open framing). The diamond is pulled in as a stamp element for an S-R monogram (the 16 references 2016, but is oblique enough to give a little industrial flavor while not making the identity seem overtly young or immediate) Geographical markings - the neighborhood, the address - are pulled out as "extras" to frame the main wordmark. The accompanying typography features railroad-inspired letterforms.

This ornate logotype truly evokes the spirit of Americana as exemplified in West Town. A reference to the surveyors' maps and world's fair posters of yore, deco lines tie together the various elements of this iteration and compliment the historical typography. I can really imagine this etched on a window. 

Compact versions. Excellent for drink menus, specials sheets, coasters and napkins, these compact logos tighten and compliment various iterations of the primary logotypes. The roundel features an interlocking SR monogram icon that stands out as a compliment to the stark lines of the primary marks. The "SR" can be broken out and used independently, as I did on an effect stamp in the menu mock-up below.

Be sure to click on this one and see the expanded version. The grayscale effect of a crosshatched ribbon evokes a pleasant old-timeyness while feeling fresh. 

Menu. The menu mock-up here is, above all other things, simple. Clean lines and plenty of breathing room let the dishes speak for themselves. Pre-computer-age documentation standards, like broad line section grids and stark headers, keep things structured and effortlessly readable. More purely aesthetic cues from industrial paper goods include the offset stamping and half-tone fields (squares of tiny dots) that give the piece a viscerally personal and authentic feel. 


Since the space inspired so much of the thought that went into crafting this identity system, I thought this little photoshop facelift mock-up would be a fun way to close out the proposal.

First of all, thank you so much for your patience and communication during the course of this project thus far. I have appreciated having the time to bring inspiration into being. I hope this proposed identity set contains some facets that you love, and a multitude of aspects that you like — but cannot wait to refine. Please enjoy your review of this work!