2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Serkworks. Over the past two decades Serkworks has seen many changes from its branding to its business model, and the biggest changes are yet to come! The website you are viewing ushers in a bold new look and direction for our little Mad Science Supply Company, but how did we get here?
Let’s take a look back at the evolution of the brand and gaze into the future of things to come…
Serkworks was formed in 1999 to provide a unique approach to branding centering around character design — a relatively novel niche at the time. The company tagline, “Building Illustration and Design with Character!,” its vivid color pallet, trademark gears, and logotype conveyed the idea of a fun factory where characters are created and come to life. As a representation of this, I designed Serkworks' first website featuring the Character Builder 2000, which first introduced the mix and match exquisite corpse motif that would be a staple of Serkworks branding and products to come. The company’s trademark mascot, known at the time as The Serkworker, was also introduced and would later take on a number of changes.
2007 saw Serkworks' first major rebrand. The company's focus remains the same: provide exciting branding with character as its core principle. While the logotype remained consistent new branding elements were introduced. The character builder was upgraded to the 3000 model. The Serkworker received a fresh redesign, and the blueprint motif was introduced.
2013 was a year of big changes. It started to become apparent that trends were shifting where everyone wanted to be a character designer, and the idea of a company focused on character branding wasn’t as original anymore. This was confounded by the desire to move away from a service-based business to one focused more on personal projects and marketing original products. I wanted to focus on creating the things I loved — Robots, Aliens, Zombies, etc. — but how do all of these things fit together under the same Serkworks umbrella? Then it came to me: What if the factory that created characters was not just a factory, but a clandestine laboratory that builds robots, experiments with alien technology, and creates biological concoctions that could potentially result in a zombie outbreak? With all of my bases covered I set forth, re-imagining the Character Builder 3000 into what eventually became the look of the underground lair.
The Serkworker was upgraded to an army of robotic hench-minions. With the growing popularity of mobile devices, a new mark was created using Serkworks’ trademark gear, and the head of the redesigned robot hench-minion. It wasn’t long after that that I started to don my iconic green lab coat.
2015 marked another landmark change. In order to reflect the new direction of the company, Serkworks became Serkworks Art Labs. The funky logotype started to become confusing when presented at conventions. (When people start to ask “What’s Sewer Works?” it’s time for a change.) So an all new streamlined logotype was unveiled with the tag line “The Science of Geekology.”
That brings us to today. Serkworks as a name can be a bit confusing. It’s not easy to explain. Nothing instinctively come to mind when people see Serkworks. Adding Art Labs was a step in the right direction, but I wanted it to be obvious what Serkworks Art Labs was doing. This is a mad science supply company so “The Science of Geekology” was replaced by “Mad Science Supply Co.” The hench-minion/gear mark was also updated by removing the wrenches and replacing them with test tubes and additional art supplies to better represent the fusion of art and science.
As I continued to build a following on social media it became clear the the majority of people who followed me were interested in collecting and creating comics. But how do I merge the comic crowd with the mad science theme? It occurred to me that those old ads in the backs of comic books urge you to plunk down your hard-earned allowance and send away for cheap novelties like x-ray glasses and sea monkeys. So why shouldn’t Serkworks sell its own line of lab provisions and merch and create a retro ad for Serkworks Art Labs in the style of the old pulp comic ads? So the blueprint motif that served Serkworks so well has now taken a back seat to the mad science supply pulp advertisement.
It started to become clear that Serkworks Art Labs was more of a personal brand than I had thought. More and more people associated me with the brand, so I ran with it. I created a cartoon version of myself which would be a little more front and center than the robot hench-minion. However, don’t worry. They aren’t going anywhere, and are still represented in the Serkworks Art Labs iconography. But it’s safe to say that you will be seeing more of my face for better or worse. With my caricature now a prominent fixture of the brand, I felt it was necessary to incorporate more of the trademark lime green color of the lab coat and all but remove the blueprint blue from the brand.
So here we are 20 years later with brand new look, an new website and more exciting things on the horizon for Serkworks Art Labs!