Ian Ransley
Ian Ransley has won Zachary’s poster design competition 11 times
Ian Ransley has won Zachary’s poster design competition 11 times

By James Corr

Berkeley-born and raised designer Ian Ransley loves Zachary’s Pizza. Who in Berkeley doesn’t? But Ransley has found a way to graphically express his admiration for the famous deep-dish, Chicago-style pies — not once, but a dozen times.

First-inspired in 2005 by his then 7-year-old son, Dylan, Ransley has become a frequent entrant in the periodic contest that Zachary holds to design a poster for the walls of its four restaurants. And he has won the competition no less than 11 times. So, when 2013 rolled around and Zachary’s sought out someone to create a special look for their 30th anniversary T-shirt and related items, they naturally turned to Ransley, who came up with another eye-catching illustration.

“Ian is one of our VIP artists,” said Leandra Schuler, executive vice-president and general manager of the employee-owned company, which recently opened its fourth location in Pleasant Hill. “We have always loved the graphic quality of his designs and he excelled again this time. The look is sharp, clean, and playful and the message pretty straightforward: the head with nothing but Zachary’s on its mind is clearly thinking ‘I “heart” Zachary’s.’ And the pizza slice is literally made with love, which we like to think captures our relationship with our staff, our customers, and the broader community.”

Ransley’s winning T-shirt design for Zachary’s 30th birthday
Ransley’s winning T-shirt design for Zachary’s 30th birthday

The art contest is one of several ways Zachary’s has stayed engaged with the local community over the years. “It’s a huge part of what we do,” says Schuler, “and the caliber of work is truly amazing. The artists put hours of effort and get a lot of joy out of their creations.”

“Perhaps surprisingly,” she adds, “in the midst of all the very creative submissions we have seen, we don’t get many designs that actually show a human figure eating pizza! We liked that aspect of Ian’s work too.”

Ransley said what he appreciated most about the commission was the creative freedom that Zachary’s allowed, the selected T-shirt being one of several designs he submitted, along with ideas for other anniversary materials such as beer glasses, stickers, and postcards.

“They did not suggest certain colors or a particular theme, or say ‘Place the logo here’ and so on,” he said. “It makes for a lot more freedom of expression than you get in many corporate projects.”

Ransley is a senior designer at Flying Colors Inc., a Berkeley environmental graphics company that specializes in branding sports venues and events. He grew up within a pizza pie toss of Zachary’s Solano Avenue store and is said to have once streaked the length of that thoroughfare.

Zachary’s hopes that the new anniversary T-shirts will be available to the public at the end of March, with profits from the sale of merchandise (T-shirts and baseball caps) this year being donated to local community food banks.

And Ransley? He plans to keep entering the contest for years to come.

Jim Corr is a Berkeley writer and photographer, an avid lawn bowler, and a fanatic supporter of Glasgow Celtic Football Club.

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