What’s in a name? A government document, an email signature, and a chance at reinvention.
Back in May 2018, we became Field of Study after almost 10 years as Spindletop Design. We had initially planned on simply updating our portfolio and website, but after all was said and done and the dust settled, a new brand was born. But let’s back up.
A Spindletop is Born
Before we were Field of Study, before we were even Spindletop Design, we started off as Product Superior in Brooklyn in 2008 (as a collaboration between our principals Jennifer Blanco and John Earles) to work on stationery and artistic pursuits outside of their studio day jobs. Then in 2009, we moved to Houston and shared a space with a photographer and, later, a videographer on the northern outskirts of the city.
Over time, demand for letterpress printing and freelance graphic design work increased, so Product Superior evolved and renamed into Workhorse Printmakers to focus on printmaking, and we formed Spindletop Design to work on the increasing number of requests for freelance projects.
Jennifer and John both had personal connections to the name, “Spindletop”. John’s father, an engineer, would make spindletop toys on his wooden lathe; as a child, Jennifer spent her time at her grandfather’s business, where a small oil derrick—etched and folded to stand from a thin sheet of brass—would be burned into her memory.
Because of the proximity to Houston, the name is also an homage to the Spindletop salt dome in Beaumont (a town a few hours outside of Houston), which, according to some historians, ushered the United States into the oil age. When the Lucas brothers first set out to find oil in the late 1890s, they were told they wouldn’t find anything. But they persevered in their quest until, in 1901, the Lucas Gusher blew the biggest amount of oil the world had ever seen and forever changed history. This idea of having the discipline to see things through and having it impact the world in a big way was really a huge inspiration.
And from that, Spindletop Design was born.
Around 2015, we decided to redesign the Workhorse Printmakers brand with a nod to mid-century modern and Heidelberg-inspired aesthetics. We were so pleased with how right the new Workhorse identity felt, that we were inspired to reconsider the Spindletop brand.
Perhaps it was a seven-year itch, but everything we were doing at the time was just not fitting with the tone of our brand. Over time, our design work had become more holistic and academic leaning in approach, encompassing the entire brand strategy from top to bottom. At a certain point, we realized we had outgrown the Spindletop name. It was almost hard to think of ourselves as just graphic designers anymore.
We had gone from simply providing design assistance to clients to being trusted advisers, strategists, and consultants. “Spindletop” no longer reflected our focus on continued learning, evolution, experimentation, and problem-solving via good design and smarter thinking.
The only thing left was the name.
After combing through a list of possible names for months, Jennifer found the answer when she googled “design” and discovered the succinct definition under it: field of study.
It was perfect because it was so obvious and simple, yet, encompassed what has driven us to this day: Design as our field of study.