Friday, December 9, 2011

lovely package exchange

A few weeks ago, I vowed to truly enjoy this holiday season. In previous years, the holidays seem to pass in a blur, filled with frenzy and haste. Then comes January and I find myself wondering what happened...

Now we're well into December and things are once again whizzing past me, leaving me twirling in their wake. This morning, however, I had a chance to take a small holiday appreciation break by opening a box filled with goodies sent to me by the talented Julia da Rocha from Poz-Art.

We were swap partners in a "Lovely Package Exchange" organized by Danni over at Oh, Hello Friend and I had a blast! Going through my swap partner's info and website gave me a lots of ideas on how to package my gifts to her and based on what I saw in today's box, I think Julia took the same strategy since it was filled to the brim with lovely items that were beautifully packaged!

Not only was the packaging stunning, all of Julia's gift choices were spot on in terms of my tastes! I can't wait to frame up her original drawing as well as the b&w photos spelling out my name – genius!

This swap was a great exercise and targeted listening and attention to detail and I loved it!!! A big thanks to Julia and Danni!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

sneak peek: day planner

For the last few years, I've collaborated with Brown Printing, WCP Solutions and Neenah Paper to produce a calendar that we could distribute among our clients as a promotional tool and thank you gift.

After working on this project since May, I was super excited to finally see my designs in print during yesterday's press checks.

I'm thrilled with the way everything is coming together:

Stay tuned for pix of the final product later this month!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

reaching the media

Last month I started a project with Maxwell PR for one of my long-time clients, Kettle Brand (yep, the folks in Salem who make the world's best all natural potato chip, yumm!).

Maxwell PR had a great idea on how to introduce the media to Kettle's newest product, their 40% reduced fat potato chips, and they asked me to help them make it come to life.

So I did!

The result is a cohesive visual theme inspired by classified government documents. We hinted at the new product inside the box by using the same green band found on the bags of reduced fat potato chips. The big "confirmed – it's real" graphic (mimicking a rubber stamp) added a touch of intrigue.

Besides the three different flavors of chips, the box contained a file folder with "confirmed findings" for the media, along with a "polaroid" for evidence.

I'm most impressed with the way it all turned out, especially given the fact that we printed directly onto pre-made boxes and folders. A big shoutout to B&B Print Source – great job!

And next time you're at your local super market, pick up a bag and confirm for yourself that the taste of these new Kettle Brand chips is so good, it's hard to believe they're reduced fat!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

party Texas-style!

I just picked up these samples from the printer today and just had to share right away:

My task was to create an invitation for the University of Oregon, who is hosting an event the evening before their football team plays the season opener vs. LSU at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The event takes place at Billy Bob's Texas, a local landmark offering the full honky tonk experience.

After taking a peek at the venue's website, I took the bull by its horns (sorry, couldn't resist the pun!) and used a Western cowboy concept as the visual theme.

Adding a ten gallon hat and state outline to the Oregon Fighting Duck and combining grungy "saloon" fonts with a gritty, rustic background texture resulted in the exact look I was after.

I love the way this invite turned out – cheery and fun yet no mistaking what this event is all about!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

diecut business cards

Business cards are often used to make a first impression. You meet someone, you exchange cards, and you may slip the card straight into your jacket pocket for later. If the design is striking and catches your eye, you may spend a few extra seconds with the card – and at that moment, your mind is forming an opinion about that person, their business.

Clients often want to fill that very small rectangle with as much information as possible but I recently finished a card design where we actually took away content and space, literally cutting out roughly a quarter of the card.

And the result is striking!

This card is for a new cooperative gallery and because each participating artist has his or her own visual style, we kept the design very simple: black ink on white paper with a splash of chartreuse.

In addition, we created a visual tool that artists often use in their work: a cropping mechanism, a way to see what a painting might look like framed in "artist black."

By diecutting this frame, we allow the recipient to actually change their perspective on the world around them, to look at things in a new way through this card. And how often does a humble little business card get to do that?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

trying something new

I'm always excited when I have the opportunity to try something new, as was the case with a recent project for the University of Oregon's Founders Societies.

The request was to design a suite of materials that was simple yet classy, elegant yet understated. No problem, I love doing just that.

Oh, but wait – did I mention that the request was also to include engraving and custom lined envelopes? Hmmm...I had not done either of those types of projects before but sure, no problem! It's all about pulling together the right team, and I knew exactly whom to ask.

The complete suite included executive letterhead, personalized flat cards, lined envelopes, a parking pass and a mailing enclosure for the parking pass.

Initially, it seemed like getting all these elements produced might be a bit of a challenge but after partnering with Brown Printing, we figured it all out. First we had to find the perfect paper that would stand up to the engraving, yet be just the right shade of creamy white, so we chose Crest paper in Natural from Crane, one of the country's oldest and most prestigious paper companies. For the envelope liner we chose a sparkly Stardream (Onyx color) to create a nice contrast and tie in with the black engravings.

Brown printed the taupe color and the watermark, which was a custom ink mix. The logo on the back of the envelope was blind embossed, then everything was shipped up to Washington to be engraved by a master engraver who actually used to work at Crane Paper – small world!

Back in Portland, everything then had to be die cut, converted into envelopes and then the paper liner inserted and glued. Phew, quite a few hands have touched this project but in the end, it looks absolutely gorgeous!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

take note

As a small business owner, I need to promote my company to help create that all-important top-of-mind awareness. When someone is planning a new project, I want them to think hey, I bet Alex would have some good ideas on how to make this work.

So I find different ways to stay in front of my clients. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter along with more traditional vehicles such as newsletters and direct mail are all valid options. But sometimes I like a more subtle approach that still carries a big wow factor.

Presenting...the Defteling Design note book!

I've been using branded note books for years, gifting them to potential clients when we first meet and taking notes in them during client meetings. After I redesigned my logo last summer, I updated my website and business cards but not much else.

Now I finally have new note books to match my visual identity and I couldn't be more pleased with how they turned out! I especially love the blind emboss revealed by the die-cut window in the French fold cover. It adds a tactile quality that really catches your eye.

It feels great to have a promo gift that is well designed, highly functional yet right on target with my brand. So if you're looking for a way to stay in front of your customer, let's talk to see what creative solution lies ahead for your company!

Printed by B&B Print Source.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

russell + hazel goodness

I generally am not envious of the various annual conferences my hubby has to attend every year. So when his travels took him to Minneapolis last week, I thought "better him than me!" But when he returned filled with excitement about an ├╝ber-cool store he and some colleagues visited after the daily workshops had wrapped up, I must admit I felt a tinge of jealousy.

You see, he didn't just visit any old store, he visited the mecca of well-designed desk accessories: Russell + Hazel. You may have seen their binders, planners, note book and pads on the shelves of big retailers like The Container Store. I first encountered R+H online about four years ago and I was so impressed, I promptly ordered some supplies that I use to this day.

"So," I asked full of anticipation, "what was it like? How were things displayed? Did they have an oh-so-cool studio? Show me, show me!"

Well, hubby didn't think to snap any pix but he did bring me back a stash of goodies that more than makes up for the lack of store visuals.

I'm now the proud new owner of a spiral bound note book, presentation folder, note pad and two small daily planner pads.

Everything is so well-designed, all the details well thought out, right down to the cool little envelope that holds the receipt!

And I'm inspired by their innovative tabloid-sized product catalog! Rather than follow traditional catalog design, R+H broke all the stereotypes: theirs is oversized, folded as opposed to stapled, multiple signatures (4-pagers), and printed on uncoated paper that still reproduces rich color and fine detail.

These are so beautiful that I'm seriously considering hanging them on my office wall!

Friday, May 20, 2011

LogoLounge 2011 report

For years, I've submitted work to national and international design competitions in the hopes of winning some accolades from my peers in addition to the many kudos my clients bestow upon me. It's always very satisfying and validating to have your work recognized by other designers, and past awards have included Summit, Creativity, and American Corporate Identity as well as How Magazine.

And while this most recent accomplishment is not an actual award, it does feel great to have one of my logos included in the LogoLounge 2011 Trends Report. LogoLounge is an online resource of over 145,000 logos uploaded by designers across the globe. They regularly publish books showcasing the best of the best, in addition to releasing a yearly trend report.

This report is published in the current issue of Graphic Design USA, a news magazine for creative professionals. It's been very interesting to read about today's trends in logo design.

As a designer, I strive to create logos that will stand the test of time, serving companies for years to come. That said, for some clients having a logo that is fresh yet trendy and eye-catching is just as important, as was the case with Candywinkel.

Amy wanted a slightly nostalgic look that incorporated the popular brown-and-pink color palette, appealing to today's sophisticated shopper. The result has not only served her company well, it's now also caught the eye of the LogoLounge trend spotters!