Week 7: Emily Nagel

Towards the end of my practicum, professional sailor, and Mustang Survival Brand Ambassador, Emily Nagel visited Mustang Survival and talked about her experience of racing a sailboat around the world for the Volvo Ocean Cup. I grew up sailing with my family, but have never done anything close to what she accomplished: 45,000 nautical miles in 9 months, on a boat with no running water. She talked about why she did it, and how she did it. It was an extremely interesting and inspiring story.IMG_4368.JPG

This is a picture of her team arriving at one of the checkpoints. On the brutal side of things, she said: “there’s a lot of sacrifices.” When on board, food is simple, and gear is minimal. Each bag of food can’t weigh more than 25 kilos and must fit food for 10 people for 2 days per each bag. All of the food and gear is stored on one side of the boat to maximize speed, and every time the boat tacks, all of the gear has to be moved to the other side of the boat. Her crew contained 8 people and each of them shared a shift of 4 hours that would rotate indefinitely: 4 hours on, 4 hours off. In that 4 hours of off time, she said you would have to eat, organize your gear and try to maximize the amount that you slept in order to be ready for the next shift. As well as the conditions on board, she said the injury was fairly common. “Rather than resting, sometimes you have to just swallow a shit-load of pain killers and get on with it.” Though the rough times of pain, and conditions such as 10+ meter tall waves, and things such as the mast which broke on the boat, it’s a brutal mental and physical battle. She says, however, “the reason I wanted to do this is that it was my childhood dream. It absolutely terrified me, but if something isn’t challenging, it’s not a challenge.” With high risk comes high reward. She says “we’re aware of the risk, but we still go out and do it because we believe it’s worth it.” She said it’s the small victories that keep her sane. “This was my childhood dream, there was so much excitement.”


The day After this, on the last day of my Practicum, she went to Jerhico with us and we did a product shoot with a professional filmer an photographer. I didn’t make it on the sailboat this round, but I still got a behind the scenes look at what a filming/photography production was like, which was a super valuable experience. Overall, my practicum was a blast. My mentors were incredibly inspiring people to be around and really helped me to progress my ideas, skills, and designs. For anyone thinking of working at Mustang Survival for their practicum or other, I would highly recommend.



Practicum Week 6

One of the best parts about working in an outdoorsy studio is that it’s super inspiring, and the team is always into going out and doing different activities. At the end of my week, the team went to Deep Cove and we did a team-building exercise where we all rented kayaks and paddled around Deep Cove. I also got to use Mustang Survival gear which helped me gain a better understanding of their gear from a hands-on perspective. Although the rest of the week was pretty rainy, we got a break in the clouds and enjoyed a nice day outside on the water. It was great to get out of the office for a day and build relationships with the team in a different way.


This is us just around from the Cove.


A view from on the water.

IMG_4290.JPGA panorama from my Kayak.

As well as learning about Mustang gear from a hands-on perspective, it was also a really enjoyable experience and really made me appreciate the team that I work with.

Week 5: complete draft

I’m super stoked because I finished the draft of the product guide this week!! As well, I was able to review the book with my two mentors: Joshua Horoshok, and Jared Rhind. They said they were pleased with my progress and impressed with my work ethic, which I was also stoked to hear!


After I got some of the basic structure down, I started thinking more about the function of the book. I thought It would be an interesting idea to show the product in a different way. Then, I thought back to the Made From Scraps project I did with SPACE on Clark Drive. I went for a walk down to the production facility with Jared and found out that Mustang Survival actually has a lot of fabric that they cant use, and have to throw away.


I wanted to use this scrap in the product guide so that the consumer could literally feel the strength of the fabric. I think it would be really cool to make the outside of the book into the fabric, as well as some samples throughout the book, and since it’s going to be MADE FROM SCRAPS, the production cost will be low. My mentors were stoked on this idea. Here are some photos of how that might look:


I’m also trying to infuse some wordplay into the copywriting of the book:


Week 4: Development & Progress

This week was pretty much the same as last week, however, almost the whole office went to the Bass Master Classic, which is a massive sport fishing tournament that was first held in 1971 in Nevada, and was held this year on the Tennesse River, Knoxville, this year. Since the team was away, some of the design work that they would normally do was sent to me. One of the things I got to do was a poster for a glove offer that was being handed (unintentional pun) out at the Bass Master Classic. During the time they have been away, I have been steadily working on the product guide, and will review my progress when they get back. Below are some things I’ve been working on:



These pages are pretty text heavy, so I’m going to try to space the content out a bit. Again, this is just a draft and will most likely be changed, but this is how it looks for now (:

Week 3: Research & Development

After completing the mood boards for the product guide, I reviewed them with my mentor. Overall, the design team at Mustang Survival was pretty satisfied with my concept, and I was approved to start designing. Before any designing takes place, I always try to get the research out of the way first. I learned a lot about the different flotation devices and how each work, which was surprisingly interesting. I also learned about fabric layering, merino wool, and gore-tex, which I’ve always been interested in. Merino wool is the base layer that Mustang Survival uses for many of their apparel products since it keeps body heat in during cold weather, yet also allows you to stay cool while you sweat, and also during warmer weather conditions. You learn something new every day!

It took me a couple of days to research all about the products, but after I got that out of the way, I started the design. As shown in the mood boards, I wanted to reflect a design aesthetic that used lots of rules and guides, giving the book a scientific feel, yet also allowing it to be highly functional, just like Mustang Survival’s Products.



I chose to use a blue overlay, as well as an inverted photo style to reference what blueprints look like. So far, this is just a draft, so I’ll have to see what the design department thinks before moving forward. In the photo above, you can see my use of rules, as well as color-blocking with black. I chose to do this to give the book a more premium feel. On screen, the blue text on the black background looks pretty good, however, when I printed it out, the text was a little harder to read, so I’m going to have to adjust that. Here are a few more spreads:




Practicum Week 2: Getting Creative

The first week was interesting but it wasn’t insanely creative. They had a few different brand standards documents so I was tasked with redesigning the book and layout and everything. It was a big project, but It wasn’t heavy on the brain side of things. On the 2nd week,…well, let me tell you about 2nd week.

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This is a page from the brand standards manual talking about personality
and sentence structure.

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This photo shows a page from the brand standards manual talking about logo use

I got to attend a few different meetings. One was all about google analytics and SEO, one was all about product advancement and marketing, and another was about campaigns. All of the meetings were really interesting, but the one about campaigns was really great because it included a brainstorming session which got my IDEA brain working again, starting to think bigger and more creative. Initially, I was creating concepts for online and print campaigns however, later in the week, they asked me to start on a print guide. The print guide acts as a direct touch point with consumers and includes information about the technical side of their products. It doesn’t talk about the products directly, but rather, the details of fabric, the strength of materials, waterproofing, etc.

Mustang Survival is well known by their older target audience for their quality and consistency, however, the younger generation doesn’t exactly know them or engage with them. Mustang Survival wants to change this. Super creative design is something that hasn’t ever really been a thing for Mustang Survival, but they want to change this; and why wouldn’t they! To start, showed me an example of a product guide that Arcteryx did. It was nicely designed, however, it wasn’t super conceptual. Although they want me to design the guide in a way that’s creative, I know that I must also design it in a way that it is super functional. They are a tech wear company that puts function first, so the design should respect that.

The concept I came up is to create the guide in a way that looks super scientific, like an exploratory mission out on and in the ocean. The guide is meant to look top secret to establish a premium feel with consumers, while also showing that their products are rare in the tech wear landscape. The insight that inspired this concept is that there are a lot of companies that are creating fashion that looks like tech wear but isn’t highly functional. Mustang Survival is (and has been for over 50 years) a company that focuses on functional solutions.

The product guide will focus on a series of different aspects such as Float and Safety, but there will be a series of volumes that make up the total book. This product guide will be available to consumers and stores that sell the product, as well as at tradeshows, events and brand experience activations. The guide will be designed to look timeless so that sections can be taken out, put in, and not have to be redesigned in 2/4/10 years.

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This mood board shows what decisions I’m making in terms of layout.

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This mood board shows the decisions I will be (and not be) making for
photography style.

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This mood board explains decisions for diagrams. I have 13 mood boards, but you only get to see 3. Check out my Instagram story to see me scroll through more.

As well as a product guide, this idea will be flushed out as an entire company campaign including a brand experience campaign, a series of videos (including motion graphics), print campaigns, and more. I am super excited about this project and have more ideas surrounding the physical landscape which I will release incrementally. Check back here for updates and also my Instagram stories where I will show process about my
day-to-day work process.

Practicum Week 1: Look Ma, I’m An Intern

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Above: Myagi training test overview

The first week was exciting and went by super quick and was also super enjoyable. It started off with a tour of the office and an introduction to everyone at the office and jumped into a training document that all the new people have to complete. That part wasn’t super fun, but I did learn a lot about the company, and scored #2 on the test! Next up, I was briefed on the first set of projects: editing some files on Indesign for printing, creating a promotional offer for lifejackets, and creating brand standards for the company. Although Mustang Survival has been around for over 50 years, they’ve only had a dedicated design department in recent years, which is their excuse for not having a Brand Book. In any case, this is an exciting project which I’m thrilled to work on!