Every L.L.Bean T-shirt, water bottle, bike or boot that needs a pattern or logo comes through Brian Sailer and his four-person graphic department here in our Freeport, Maine, office. “If it has a graphic on it, my team has touched it in some shape or form,” says Brian.
Sailer moved to Maine almost three years ago to come to work at L.L.Bean. Before moving here, he worked as a professor and then as a CAD and Graphic Designer in New York and the Midwest. “Working for L.L.Bean was always in my scope. I wanted to be a part of an outdoor company with heritage,” he says.
The graphics department at L.L.Bean supports every product area in the company. The group works on patterns found on apparel, handles the packaging and hang tags of products and even works on top-secret designs, like the Red Sox L.L.Bean Boot. “We had only 48 hours to come up with the logo for the Red Sox L.L.Bean Boot and we had to keep it hush-hush,” says Sailer. “The highlight was seeing Jonny Gomes wearing it on Conan!”
Seasonal “trend boards” are the starting point to any project. Each season the team scours blogs and what’s happening in the marketplace. They travel to different cities, take photos of signs – anything that gets the creative juices flowing. “Once we put our boards together, we work with developers to see how many graphic tees or new packaging requests are coming up,” he says. The L.L.Bean archives also serve as a prime source of inspiration. “I tell my team to design things that will be archive pieces for Bean’s next 100 years. Try to develop items that can be instant classics as well as inspiration for future designers,” says Sailer.
When it’s time to put together designs, Sailer says they “start Frankenstein-ing” ideas from their trend boards, putting together type styles with different visuals, pulling together favorites and trying to make it their own.
Authenticity is one of the most important elements when it comes to their designs. “If we have an image of a trout on a shirt, we run it by the fishing team to make sure every fin is correct,” he says. “We stand behind everything we design.”
“It’s amazing that we get to work creatively on so many different facets here,” says Sailer. “We’re proud to work here.”