“Design is taking over everything.”
Jason Snell, founder of graphic design company We Have Become Vikings
(WHBV), is more than qualified to make such a statement. The Dayton native and DAAP grad has literally been in the middle of Cincinnati’s coolest happenings, from Lumenocity to ArtWorks murals to the All Star Game, and his design work is everywhere. Although WHBV has been in existence since 2007, Snell’s celebrity status has just recently picked up major steam.
WHBV is an ArtWorks Big Pitch
finalist hoping to take home some of the $20,000 in cash prizes in August. The company is focused on building identities for their clients, whether that involves designing a logo or redefining a brand.
“I’ve always been drawn to illustration work and graphic marks, and helping a client feel good about putting their logo and their name out into the world is very rewarding,” Snell says. “I love seeing their confidence soar and knowing I’ve helped them achieve this first goal.”
Snell came up with the company name through a little etymology research. With an agency background and grand familiarity with the term “branding,” Snell discovered that the term was born in Viking times, when the warriors used to “brand" their shields with family crests. Much like how we now brand our coffee, shoes or companies, the Vikings created visual statements that would make them recognizable and set them apart.
Snell and WHBV have a slew of recognizable projects over the next few months.
The new Ezzard Charles mural
at Republic and Liberty streets in Over-the-Rhine is the company’s second ArtWorks-affiliated mural; this one features the Cincinnati boxing legend with an affinity for jazz music. Snell is also playing a big role in Lumenocity for the second year in a row, collaborating with the guys at Brave Berlin
. And his design work, in partnership with Jake Staubitz, is appearing on widely-distributed All Star Game snapback hats.
As a sports fan himself and a regular on WCPO’s The Fifth Mascot
sports shows as “Mr. Satin
,” Snell is well-suited for the ASG job.
“Brian Niesz (of WCPO) asked me if I wanted to be the 'Superfan on the Street,’ and I said yes,” Snell says. “I love to act silly and I’m big sports fan, so it was a good blend.”
The next step for WHBV, Snell hopes, is to transition from a one-man show to a true creative team. He entered the Big Pitch competition to get things moving in that direction by learning accounting and operations. After many years of solo hustle, the boost could mean an even bigger presence in Cincinnati and beyond.
The time Snell spent building the business — now housed on Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine — is apparent in the company’s growth over the last decade.
“Getting out of my dining room to Vine Street was a big win,” Snell says. “Learning to ask for what I’m worth and sticking to my guns was not always easy, but it was a must.”
Until Big Pitch announces its winners Aug. 27, you’ll most likely see Snell and the WHBV logo just about everywhere. And when he’s not designing or collaborating with other local artists, he’s usually spending his money at Northside Tavern or eating with his dream team of culinary compatriots, including Jose Salazar, Jean Robert De Cavel and Dan Wright, to name a few.
“The journey has been the reward,” Snell says of his work, “and now I’m in my eighth year of WHBV and having a blast.”
Soapbox is profiling each of the eight finalists in the 2015 ArtWorks Big Pitch, a 10-week mentorship program that offers artists, makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs a chance to claim up to $20,000 in cash prizes and professional services. The program concludes Aug. 27 with the finalists giving five-minute presentations to a panel of judges and an audience.