Rainbow_Pixel_BG_4200.jpg
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 00.53.06.png
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 00.34.15.png
loverly.png
bulbul10.jpg
SparrenBarCart_Hero.jpg

I'm Matt Danko,


a prolific visual designer and creative generalist.

SCROLL DOWN

I'm Matt Danko,


a prolific visual designer and creative generalist.

JackKnife_Layered.gif

Educated in Toronto and now living in Berlin, I'm a cross-disciplined creative with layered experience in a variety of projects. As a trained illustrator, craftsman, designer and strategist, much of my work is focused on visual identity, graphic design and UI/UX.  

A synesthete and polite Canadian, I strive to constructively integrate clear visual design thinking into development cycles. I like to get my hands dirty, experiment and iterate; my creative process is both analog and digital.

By combining traditional and modern methods, tools and materials, I explore ideas, construct prototypes and scale solutions for intelligent audiences. The following selections exemplify these points, and further elaborate upon my work process, experience, personality and style. 

 
Rainbow_Pixel_BG_4200.jpg

Studio49


Mobile Game Company Corporate Identity

Studio49


Mobile Game Company Corporate Identity

 
 
 
 

combining analog and digital methods, I crafted A UNIQUE logo and brand solution for Studio49.

 

This challenging corporate branding project involved numerous concept explorations, five bags of coffee, power tools, a pile of junk and two skilled hands. 

Let me walk you through the design process...

 

Formed in April 2016, Studio49 was a mobile games studio located in Kreuzberg, Berlin. Studio49 developed fun, whimsical, colourful games for international audiences of all ages.

As the Communication Designer, I was tasked with creating a logo for this start-up organization. My Initial drafts explored literal and thematic elements, sometimes branching into fringe tangents, including iconic Berlin references, mythology,  adventure, puzzles, fantasy and fun itself. Some of the more memorable examples are featured here.

 

Not fully satisfied the direction of these concepts, I hit a creative block.

 

After cranking out an entire collection of digital concept ideas, none of them seemed to strongly resonate with the company values, exemplify the team or our projects.

I was stuck, and I knew it.

To address this, I went on a tangent design spree, entertaining flippant ideas, listening to experimental music and drinking a lot of espresso. Eventually, I landed on a core design element that anchored the rest of the process, and also provided a palette to work with....

 
PixelSprectrum

By combining the 8-bit roots of video game graphics with the playful spectrum of a rainbow, I created this playful, versatile and pixellated visual anchor. 

 

As a long-revered visual element, the pixel is synonymous with video game culture and modern design. Though not enough to form a logo, this visual element became the key influence for the Studio49 visual identity. 

After defining this visual direction, I took a break from logo concept design to explore ways to explore and interpret it, reflecting upon how to illustrate the people, personalities and values within the team.

 

I THEN developed a fun 8-bit pixel portrait style that quickly became immediately popular.

 

After interpreting the likeness of each individual, I then selected a palette from the Pixel Spectrum element, and assigned coloured backgrounds for roles. Developers became Magenta, Designers and Artists were cyan, executives = rainbow, Project Managers = black and HR was coded yellow. (I also created a profile for our beloved coffee machine).

Though effective as static images, these portraits lacked true dynamism. By carefully animating each character, I added a glimpse of personality through simple .GIF animation. The result was overwhelmingly positive, and this playful visual treatment became another component of the Studio49 brand identity.

 
 

At this point, I began experimenting with typography pairing. Based on the digital team portraits, I developed and printed business cards and other collateral to support my existing work.

 

Though aesthetically pleasant, I simply wasn't satisfied with the predictable parallels between pixellated visuals and chunky typography.

 

The complete Studio49 brand required a missing organic element - something truly unique to create an appropriate, viable logo.

For the second time during this project, I found myself in a creative lull. Exhausted, I wasn't sure how to constructively progress,

I reassessed my digital process and resolved to try something new, using analog means, materials and methods to see what might happen. In addition to my digital design work, I am also a craftsman, scavenger and industrial artist, creating furniture and decor. Thus, I turned to this applied skill set to realise a semi-permanent signage idea. 

 

Upcycled from scraps found in office courtyard renovation dumpsters, I built two free-standing, six-foot-tall NUMERALS. 

 
 

A stark contrast to my previous colourful identity elements, this bespoke 49 was then mounted on wooden palettes, braced with rebar and mounted to the studio lobby ceiling.

 

When complete, I knew I'd fashioned something special that might accent my earlier work.

 

I had finally found a potential logo solution for Studio49 GmbH.

 
 

Next, I digitally recreated the installation, and colourized pieces using the existing pixel portrait palette.

To create an app onboarding screen animation. I then ordered the pieces into layers and animated them to appear exponentially faster, as though built from scratch, like the lobby signage itself.

 
 

With the Studio49 logo established, I compiled the company brand guidelines, seen here.

 
 

Finally, I shot photographs of the office space and designed a responsive, scrolling website.

 
 
 
 
 
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 00.53.06.png

Neverdale Park Visual Identity


Mobile Game logo, branding, Graphics & Interaction Design

Neverdale Park Visual Identity


Mobile Game logo, branding, Graphics & Interaction Design

Neverdale Park is a colourful, free to play match-3 mobile game set in a mythical, retro forest amongst fantastic woodland creatures. 

 
 

My contributions to this game included brand and identity design, typography, creature mythology and marketing content. 

 

As the Communications Designer at Studio49, I coined the game title, designed the logo and iconography, created the style guide, shaped the story and helped develop the creature mythology.
I also designed all of the typography used in the game, contributed to UX & UI processes, and created marketing and promotional material for international campaigns. 

After meeting our vertical slice milestones, exceeding investor expectations, receiving positive user-test feedback and polishing the game UI, the Studio49 Team successfully soft-launched Neverdale Park via Google Play in Brasil in the spring of 2017. 

 

 
titles--01.png
 

While experimenting with an ideation cloud of word combinations, 'Neverdale Park' emerged as my favourite title candidate, and was unanimously accepted by the team and stakeholders.

With a definitive title, I began to explore a variety of logo concepts, styles and treatments.
I drew inspiration from existing game art, our working prototype and the initial story drafts.

During my logo exploration, four strong logo concepts developed: The Jackalope, The Spooky Eye, The Retro Badge, and The Wooden Sign, all clearly displayed here. 

 

During logo development, I simultaneously created four game typefaces. 

They're available for review and download available here:

 
Wolpertinger

Wolpertinger is a wonky semi-serif typeface, designed for body copy. 
 

DankoScribble

DankoScribble is a script typeface based on my own shorthand. 

 

Woody

Personified by the character who bears its name, Woody is a playful display font.
 

TeamLogo

Designed for UI indicators, Team Logo is a thick, bold display font that carries the style of the game art.

 

Ultimately, a variation of the Wooden Sign concept prevailed as the team favourite.

 

To finalize it, I worked with illustrators to refine the Neverdale Park logo to match the game art, then applied my Wolpertinger typeface to the game title. 

I separated the logo into layers for later animation, eventually used in the onboarding screen, as well as advertisements, social media and online promotions.

Neverdale_Logo_medium.png
 

 
 

After defining the title, completing the game logo and creating typefaces, I began writing and designing the Neverdale Park Style Guide.
By gathering moodboard content, existing illustrations, prototype screencaps and concept art, I corroborated with all members of the team to refine and release the style guide, shown below. 

Presented by stakeholders to potential investors, the Neverdale Park Style Guide proved an invaluable resource to executives when explaining the project, its scope, design and details.

To learn more, tap the button below the image to download and review the full  PDF.

 
 

 
 

As a visual designer working on Neverdale Park, I helped shape the story of this world, create it's inhabitants and structure their mythology. Selected examples of this lexicon are shown below.

 

Neverdale Park is a classic tale of good versus evil.


Assuming the identity of an anonymous hero, players embark on an epic quest to discover the origins of a mysterious scrapbook, leading to a legendary park deep in the wilderness. Upon learning that the park is cursed, players join and manage forest creatures to battle their corrupted peers, cleansing them in the process. 

As the game progresses, stronger creatures are encountered, teams develop, creatures evolve, difficulty increases and the mysteries of Neverdale Park begin to unfold.

The Gates of Neverdale Park, featuring the game logo

The Gates of Neverdale Park, featuring the game logo

 

Character Mythology

 

Neverdale Park is home to over seventy unique creatures, divided into various classes, dependent on their strength potential and natural affinity. As players progress further in the game, they discover, upgrade and even evolve creatures. These characters define the game itself; I named and co-wrote original backstories for all of the 70+ playable creatures featured in the final game, three of which are featured here... 

To support marketing efforts, I also created promo creature images in the art style of the game. These were then compiled for the international press kit, Google Play and the Apple Store.

 
 
NeverdaleEye
 
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 00.34.15.png

Grand Gin Rummy


Mobile Game Logo, Branding & Visual Design

Grand Gin Rummy


Mobile Game Logo, Branding & Visual Design

 
GGR_Logo.png
 

Set in New York during the roaring 20’s, Grand Gin Rummy is a card game app developed and launched for AndroidApple and Facebook mobile platforms by GameDuell in 2015. The art of GGR is heavily influenced by the architecture, fashion, night life and Art Deco movement of that romanticized, stylized and extravagant era.

Flappers, pinstripe suits, furs and monacles, analog machines, polished wood, oiled leather, smoke and gold were all prominent inspiration for the development of the GGR visual style.

I designed the Grand Gin Rummy Logo to reflect these elements, combining a stylized version of the hotel with cards, typography and rank achievement.

 
 

LOGO DESIGN

 

My logo concept work explored a variety of styles and treatments. The final Grand Gin Rummy logo has five registered variants, each with respective palettes and design considerations.

 
 

Colour variations, simplified black and white, horizontal lock-ups and minimalist versions provided alternation and scalable brand solutions for print, digital, and web.

 
 

STYLE GUIDE

 

Originally devised for investor review, I developed this Style Guide before the game was completed.

Utilized for both internal art reference and marketing efforts, a version was also made for external purposes.

Important features include guidelines for logo usage, iconography, palette, typography rules, textures, buttons and copyright information.

 
 
 

UI & UX  

As the UI and UX logic evolved, so did the graphics and visual elements associated with them.
These examples show some of my iconography and UI design process.

 
 

Finally, I worked with the Marketing team to produce promotional visuals to support the game via social media, web, Google Play and the App Store

 
 
 
 
 
 
loverly.png

Lebenlang Logo


Lebenlang Logo


 
 
LEBENLANGLOGO_white.png
 


PFLEGE. VIELFALT. LEIDENSCHAFT.

 

 

English translation: 

LIFELONG 

CARE. PASSION. DIVERSITY.

 

 

Lebenlang is a digital magazine conceived, developed and launched by Carry-On Trade Publishing (COTP) in Berlin, Germany. 

Focused on health and lifestyle trends for an aging German populace, Lebenlang provides resources and information alongside calm, clear layouts and minimalist design.

 

Following a successful typography collaborationCOTP approached me to design a logo for this new venture.

 

After preliminary research, I remembered the ancient Greek allegory of the Moirai: a trio of sisters responsible for the direction of fate and control of the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death. I drew inspiration from this myth and began working with familiar life symbology, including lines, branches, circles, curvy shapes... and ribbon and string. 

 

Among my initial sketches was a concept with two capital L’s, created from a single, continuous, flowing line.

 

While visiting the COTP office to review these and other concepts, I used a scrap yard of yarn leftover from a previous product shoot to explain and exemplify continuous line. 

By physically manipulating the string into looping LL shapes, I immediately recognized the vast potential of this idea. Combining design and metaphor, this concept calmly conveyed direction, path, horizon, story arc, lifecycle and continuity, a perfect representation of the project.

 

I pitched this logo idea on the spot, and this definitive moment of creative thinking immediately resonated with the client.

 

Together, we conceived packaging applications and video ideas to reinforce the concept, involving knitting, food, toys, gift wrapping and other materials and scenarios.

Following this unexpected brainstorming session, three of these concepts were produced, shown here.

 
 

Next, I refined the concept into a monogram, creating a clear, strong logo for the publication.

 

By inverting the original line version, I created an alternate variant that provided negative space. 

This representation was suitable for colour contrast or image imposition, as seen in the examples below.

 
 

Now enjoying its third year of publication, Lebenlang Magazine is available online in both German and English, and for download via Google Play and the Apple Store

 
 
 
 
bulbul10.jpg

Bulbul


Café Logo Design

Bulbul


Café Logo Design

In February 2016, I created a logo for a new cafe/resto/bar opening near Gorlitzer Park in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

 

 

 
 
 

Bulbul (which translates to 'nightingale') is the family name of the proprietor, and that of the business itself. 

Using the concept of the nightingale as a primary influence, I explored concepts involving bird silhouettes, feathers, wings, birdcages and flight.

 

 
 

Early on, I realized the potential of the capital B as a typographic opportunity to convey wings, or flight.

I capitalized upon this idea and created a stack of variations combining the letterform with a simplified bird, ultimately using uniform, minimal lines to combine the two and emphasize both at once without compromising either.

 
 

The decor was being constructed as I was also working, which allowed us to discuss and review building materials and compare interior design flavours.

Industrial, raw, vintage, antique and modern, the space itself is eclectic and inviting, a mix of german architecture, arabic flourish and Kreuzberg cool.

 

 

The final logo is featured on the front of the cafe, as well as menus, promotions, merchandise, staff uniforms and bar paraphernalia.

 
 
 
SparrenBarCart_Hero.jpg

Tangents


Tangents


Balancing digital with analog 

 
 

In addition to my above portfolio, I also enjoy getting my hands dirty with various mediums.

 
 

A craftsman of sorts, I salvage and upcycle scrap materials found in Berlin to build custom furniture and decor. 

 
 

After developing a style, brand and enough public interest for this hobby, I designed and launched Dankomade.com in April 2017.

 

The logo design involved the D of my existing DANKO logo, encircled by the silhouette of an industrial steel nut (one of the many materials I often utilize).

I took this concept one step further for my business card, stamping wood shavings with contact info, rolling and inserting them into tempered M20 steel nuts, as seen in the video below.

 
 
 
 
 

In addition to these endeavours, I also build costumes, and produce medical, technical and scientific illustrations.

 
 
 

Danke!