Once Oregon legalized recreational cannabis in 2014, the entire industry shifted into high gear. One CO2 extraction company in particular took a 'tortoise and the hare' approach.
While other extraction company's raced to be the first to market with subpar (and unsafe) products, Critical Source in Eugene, Oregon took their time to improve extraction formulations to produce the highest quality oil from the highest quality growers.
Their story is an homage to the native tribe that inhabited southern Oregon hundreds of years ago. The Calapooya tribe farmed their sustainably, including the use of fire which they used to burn off grasses to make it easier to access camas cakes.
We dug deep into their story and chose to go in a direction that reflected as many core values that connected the brand to the ancient tribe.
The patented child-resistant packaging is completely recycled stock with water based ink. There are 15 farms supplying high grade cannabis flower to Critical Source. We created a vintage matchbox package to play off the fire motif and took it a step further to design a vape pen and battery that looked like a match stick inside the matchbox.
Each farm has a unique collectible design on their matchbox, making these packages not only sustainable, but desirable.
In 1996, Denver Broncos came to NIKE and said, "I want a horse that looks like it's going to kick your ass".
A small group of core designers took on the daunting task of creating a swoosh that was a horse. Through careful consideration, we were able to understand the Denver Broncos' story as well as everyone in the organization.
The resulting identity reflected a native american legend of a 'ghost horse of the plains'. A horse so spirited, it couldn't be tamed by man. That's why the horse is white—it's a ghost.
And the eyes are the windows to its soul. The soul is full of fire bubbling beneath the surface like a volcano, one of nature's greatest uncontrollable forces. That's why orange is a key color to telling the Denver Broncos' story.
After wrapping up the Denver Broncos identity, NIKE chairman approached our design team and asked us to do the same thing for the University of Oregon Ducks.
Rick was able to step into the lead designer role on this project and work across multiple NIKE departments to create a forward-thinking head to toe design package that would grow into one of college football's most iconic brands.
The graphic language for the University of Oregon features the 'O' which combines the shape of the university's legendary track and the shape of Autzen Stadium's footprint.
As a University of Oregon architecture student, the project was personally gratifying for Bakas, who attended the school from 1988 to 1991.
Kalapooya Fire is a high quality cannabis oil vape pen line from Eugene, Oregon. The story Kalapooya Fire wanted to tell is a nod to the native tribe that used to inhabit southern Oregon. The tribe lived near the Calapooya mountains outside of Eugene. They used fire to sustainably farm their land. The tribe would burn off the top layer of grass allowing them to dig up camas cakes, which were used as currency.
Kalapooya Fire features CO2 cannabis extraction from some of Oregon's finest sustainable cannabis growers. By working with the best growers and the best extraction method, Kalapooya Fire wanted to highlight each farm in a series of collectible vintage matchboxes.
Expressing fire in a high end luxury brand is fairly challenging. Fire as am image or icon has been overused and often appears unsophisticated. We worked to represent fire on the horizon in, what we estimated to be, a unique way by using bars instead of actual flames.
The resulting logo can be applied digitally or embroidered on apparel. We took into consideration how it would appear as an avatar in the news feed of cannabis lovers. There was an intention to give it horizontal and vertical weight.
The American Cannabinoid Clinics are global leaders in cannabis as medicine. The clinics were founded by the CannaMD's out of Oregon.
They wanted a timeless mark that represented the highest level of professionalism and innovation, while keeping a feeling of being a health brand. Their in-depth knowledge of integrative cannabinoid medicine is represented by the primary mark, which is a drop of oil doubling as a tree.
Critical Source is Oregon's highest quality cannabis extraction lab. Their relentless quest to perfect the extraction process has attracted the best growers in the state. By working with the best growers, and by using the best formulation, Critical Source has set a new benchmark for cannabis oil.
Their new identity represents the molecular extraction of oil.
SWEET CO2 approached Bakas Media looking for a refresh of their packaging. Colorado dispensaries were having a hard time stocking the old packaging as it couldn't hang from a rack or sit upright very well.
SWEET CO2 loves Colorado, and wanted to proudly represent they are based in the first U.S. state to legalize recreational cannabis. The resulting package design features white aspen trees in the background, with clean easy-to-read information on the front. The packaging is child-resistant and offers a bit of surprise and delight. When the tray slides out and the vape pen is removed, there's a hidden message under the pan reminding you to have a 'SWEET' day. After all, isn't that what cannabis is about?
In 1998 the New York Giants approached our design team asking for a subtle brand refresh. They were specific about not wanting a dramatic step away from their long heritage opting instead for a replacement for the italic GIANTS that was on their helmets.
After exploring options, the team decided to bring back their classic NY from the 1950's. We updated the uniform design to be more modern, and improved the color consistency to make sure everything was "tight" head to toe.
While taking night classes to learn more about design and art history, Portland State's AD approached Rick Bakas about updating the university's identity.
Thor is the most iconic Viking. In battle, Thor would scrape his hammer across the sky creating lighting to come from the head of his weapon.
Bakas took that story and created a modern looking Viking helmet shooting forward leaving a trail of lightening.
As a premier college sports program, Florida State at one point had 32 different sports logo—one for each sport. The university approached our design team and asked for one single logo system to unify the entire school under one umbrella.
Over the course of 8 years at NIKE I was able to work on a wide range of products from team identity design to packaging and shoe graphics.
I left NIKE in 2003 to move back to Boulder, Colorado to care for an ailing parent. The Sports Authority in south Denver offered an opportunity to explore in-store branding and story telling.
One project that was especially satisfying was the 2007 winter magalog with a print run of over 2.5 million copies.
After leaving NIKE and moving to Colorado, I took the challenge of creating high end creative direction and design to the financial sector. It was outside my wheelhouse, which turned out to be a good thing.
Over my 20 year careers I've been able to work on a wide range of brand identities. Here are more in no particular order.
ABBI the medical cannabis chatbot is the industry's first chatbot designed to answer patient questions about medicating with cannabis.
Around 1999-2000 NIKE footwear designers were experimenting with dye sublimation. It provided a unique opportunity to work with the designers by adding graphics around the 3-D shoes in a way that told the story.
Jason Kidd's Zoom Comet shoes featured a printed sleeve wrapped entirely around the shoe. The idea was the inside shoe stayed the same, but the person wearing the shoes could swap out different 'skins' for their shoes depending on which player they wanted to represent.
The Kidd design was inspired by Neo from the Matrix. That was the most popular movie at the time, and it fit nicely with how Jason Kidd played the game. He could see the floor and everything moving in real time.
The Air Turbulence II design is a graphic wrapped around the shoe suggesting the foot is breaking the sound barrier as it moves forward.