It was cool for Sean Loose to see flyers around Savannah that he had designed while working for the Lucas Theatre for the Arts.

It’s also nice walking down 2nd Avenue in New York City when Loose sees banners overhead with his design as the 2019 U.S. Open tennis logo. T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, pins, banners and signs, many which appeared to be sold out as of Sept. 3 at the U.S. Open, also bear his design.

“That was something that was definitely really surreal and cool,” said Loose, 27, of seeing his U.S. Open work in public.

Loose, a Florida native who graduated in 2014 from Savannah College of Art and Design with a bachelor’s in illustration, works as a brand illustrator at Indeed.com.

But he is also represented by Illozoo: the visual communication agency, and when asked to submit designs for the U.S. Open, he was excited about the work.

“I really wanted it,” he said.

Most people rely on Loose for his ideas, and for bringing concepts to life through design, according to Mohamed Danawi, a SCAD professor and founder and creative director of Illozoo, which is based in Savannah.

Extra hours for the win

Loose is a creative person anyway. His eye-catching portfolio shows movie posters, "Game of Thrones" fan art, company wall murals and promotional posters for the Moscow Ballet’s Russian Nutcracker.

The U.S. Open mainly asked for Loose because they wanted the poster to be edgy and contemporary, Danawi said.

Loose gave himself time to sketch ideas and find what would work. The process designing for the U.S. Open stretched out about four months with tweaks and feedback from U.S. Open officials, unlike projects with tight deadlines where Loose delivers sketches the next day.

He put in extra hours in hopes of his design being chosen and submitted four concepts.

In the process, he’d design 10 different versions with a tennis racquet, for example. Or, at times, he drew what he says “didn’t make any sense.”

Listens to client, instinct

For Loose, it’s about trusting his instinct a little bit. And it’s definitely good to listen to the client and compromise, he said.

The U.S. Open people wanted to focus on the fans this year, and they didn’t want to feature any specific tennis player. Loose focused more on the crowd than the game for the poster.    

Sometimes he’d think, “They won’t like that. That’s too crazy.”

Other times he thought: “I like this. This is cool.”

“Sometimes you kind of got to go with your gut,” he says.

It worked. The U.S. Open officials liked how Loose brought to life fans’ passion and excitement of tennis.

Illustration style

Loose likes to play with geometry and forms and see elements come together to make art.

Loose is inspired by cubism — think Pablo Picasso and abstract images made from geometric shapes and interlocking planes — and art deco with its bold geometric shapes and strong color.

“Sean is a great designer to begin with,” Danawi said, adding that Loose really specializes in using vector art.

Vector art uses files that are allowed to be changed without losing the quality of the image.

“I’m really interested in how the shape of something can create the shape of something else around it,” Loose said.

For the U.S. Open poster, he took something regular — a tennis ball — and turned it into something else: A stadium full of fans celebrating tennis.

“I would never just draw a tennis ball — you know what I mean? I like the idea of something being hidden in something,” Loose said, then wondering aloud if he had spoken too esoterically. 

’I had a feeling’

Loose stood in a hotel lobby while on a break from his Indeed.com work when he called back the U.S. Open about an email they sent.

Perhaps they wanted to make a tweak to his design.

He and one other artist made it to the semi-final round.

But Loose had a good feeling it was a call to say his work was the chosen design. He had been feeling good about it for a while.

He was thrilled.

But he ends the call and everyone around him in the hotel is simply going about their day as normal.

“People are just working,” he said.

“It was one of those things that I had a feeling it was going to go my way, but you couldn’t really let yourself celebrate,” he said.

’Bottled up fanfare’

But Loose knows that there is an appropriate time to celebrate when it comes to tennis.

He isn’t a sports fanatic.

“What’s a deuce?” Loose asked while watching the U.S. Open on Sept. 3.

But he studied the sport and watched videos to prepare for his design.

Loose learned that it’s not proper for fans to make a lot of noise throughout a tennis game.

He calls it “bottled up fanfare,” and wanted to capture that moment when fans do celebrate.

Picture with admirers

The other day, Loose saw people standing in front of his art as a background for their picture at the fan festival before the U.S. Open games started.

Loose wasn’t planning to tell anyone at the event that he was the designer.

His boyfriend told them anyway.

“They wanted me to get in the picture with them. Very awkward,” Loose said, laughing.