Graphic artist designs iconic Charleston images

Pop in to some of the many great restaurants in Charleston and a little bit of Gil Shuler ’83 might be looking back at you from the menu, a coaster or a sign. Take a walk through the renovated City Market and his handiwork is all over the place there, too.

Gil Shuler

Shuler, pictured in his office, is a graphic artist. Since 1985, he’s helped merchants, corporations and municipalities with the help of his imagination and his hands, sketching out concepts that eventually morph into iconic images. Among some noteworthy ones are the popular Charleston RiverDogs logo of a dog gripping a broken baseball bat with his teeth inside the letter “C.” Or the black-and-white Poe’s Tavern logo featuring Edgar Allan Poe’s face with a raven on top that looks like hair.

“I love graphic design,” said Shuler, who operates the four-person firm Gil Shuler Graphic Design in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

As a child, he loved to draw, and began taking private art lessons in the second grade. A WCU professor urged him to follow a graphic design curriculum. “I didn’t want to pursue fine art as a profession,” Shuler said.

Shuler’s best sketch pad is in his head, and he does some of his best thinking when he’s not in the office. He usually starts doodling on a 3-by-5 notebook he carries around with him, penciling out a sketch of what comes to mind before transferring it to the computer.

“I love the whole idea of taking an idea I come up with from scratch and creating it for a client,” Shuler said. “It’s very satisfying.”

At any given time, Shuler is working on about 40 different projects. About 95 percent of his work is local, but he also has worked for Packaging Corp. of America in Texas as well as the Discovery Channel in Washington.

Shuler readily acknowledges that drawing comes easy to him. It’s the day-to-day business grind that encroaches on his creative juices. “If it was all about just creating art, it would be the most wonderful job in the world,” he said.

Reprinted in edited format from a story by Warren Wise with permission of The Post and Courier of Charleston.