Thursday, March 24, 2011

dare to be different

In today's tough economy, it's hard for business owners to take risks. It's simply easier to do what's safe, what you know works. Nothing wrong with that. But sometimes it's good to be different, to stand out from the crowd.

When it comes to advertising, it's even more important to differentiate yourself from all your competitors and to grab the viewer's attention.

Recently I finished an ad for B&B Print Source that is sure to make you stop and look:

With the tagline of "we think before we ink," it was important to reinforce that message with a strong concept. Working with super-talented copywriter Erin Codazzi, we came up with a winning combination of a powerful visual and compelling headline.

Another example of (quite literally) standing head and shoulder above the crowd is this ad for Shikosha Dental Laboratories:

Instead of using the typical stunning model with a dazzling smile, we played up their tagline of "where technology and art meet." By showing a classic marble statue and referencing a world-famous artist known for his perfect sculptures, we effectively reinforce the message that Shikosha's technicians are artists when it comes to creating crowns and dentures.

So go ahead, dare to be different.

Monday, March 21, 2011

in praise of helvetica

I've never liked the font Helvetica. I know, that's almost blasphemous, but I always thought it was just humdrum, so-so, boring, meh... well, you get my drift.

Then a couple years ago I watched the film Helvetica and my mind opened up a bit. Hmmm... yes, it's a ubiquitous font that's perhaps slightly overused but alright, maybe it is okay to use here and there, on occasion.

I've now been converted. I love Helvetica. Really! See, it all started while I was working on a brochure for the Oregon Bach Festival. For the last five years, I've designed all their season collateral, from their main season poster and ticket brochure to full-page magazine ads, postcards, billboards, banners, you name it.

So when it came time to discuss the look and feel of the 2011 season, the client wanted to show that the organization was headed in a new, modern direction, different from the way things had been for the last 40 years. The request came to use the font Helvetica.

My heart sank. Not the dreaded H-word... how could I possibly create something fresh and exciting with such a static font? But I accepted the challenge and I'm glad I did: I have seen the light!

Once I started playing with the various weights combined with color and size, I realized that yes, I could create an entire brochure using Helvetica for just about every bit of copy while still imbuing each page with variety and life.

I am quite proud of this brochure. It conveys a TON of content in an organized, visually pleasing manner with an informational hierarchy that helps the reader find what they're looking for.

So yes, I now love Helvetica. On occasion. For this occasion. And likely many more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

going formal

Last week the invitation for a UO black tie event were mailed out and I'm so pleased with how the suite turned out! I posted about the save-the-date postcard here, which set the tone for the rest of the design.

Picking up on the previously established color palette, typography and design elements, I decided to create a two-piece invitation. At first glance, it's simply a large square invite (7.25") but upon closer inspection, you'll notice that the two thumbnail slits on the left and right allow the top card to be removed, revealing additional information on the backer card.

This is a unique way to separate the actual event information (on the first card) from the award recipient bios (on the second card).

The suite also includes a reply card and envelope that is tucked inside the outer envelope. This outer mailer turned out beautiful, using the same Founding Father image from the save-the-date on the front of the envelope, screened back so it acts almost as a watermark.

This look was achieved by having the envelope converted, meaning I designed both the front and back, had it printed as one flat sheet, and then had it cut, folded, and glued to create the envelope.

I love designing converted envelopes since it allows you to really customize the design. However, it only makes sense financially if you're printing a decent quantity (several thousand) since there is a certain cost involved.

Up next is to design the program, name tags, table numbers, etc. We'll continue with this look but to switch things up and add an extra glamorous touch, I think we'll probably switch papers so stay tuned...

Monday, March 14, 2011

going digital

As a designer, I love the quality created by printing a project on an offset press. But when budget, quantity or timing eliminate that option, I'm glad to know I can get great results by going digital.

Case in point is the program book I designed for a University of Oregon event. You may remember reading about the actual invitation, which was printed offset using two Pantone colors.

Now take a look at this digital print run:

The colors are amazingly close, type is crisp and the paper feels nice. Granted, paper choices are still somewhat limited when printing on a digital press but for the time and money saved, this is a perfect solution.

Monday, March 7, 2011

form follows funk

Last week I battled the rush hour traffic and nasty down pours to attend this month's First Friday art walk in Eugene, Oregon.

Okay, I didn't do much walking since I only went to one gallery but it was totally worth the 5-hour stint in the car: my all-time favorite creative director and Guru of Genius Dave Funk was being honored in a retrospective at Opus VII gallery.

The place was absolutely packed with people and despite my best efforts to capture the essence of the show, my photos hardly do it justice...

One side of the wall was filled with Dave's sketches, doodles and ideas from the past 30+ years. His drawings are so cool, it was great to see them all grouped together – they are so much part of what makes Dave Dave!

The opposite wall displayed photos, work, bios, and quotes by a number of talented designers that Dave has worked with over the years. Surprisingly, the work of a dozen or so different artists hung together cohesively and came across as a single unit.

I was honored to be among this mix of graphic artists and had great fun watching people engage with my work.

In between these two long walls were several displays inviting the viewer to partake in mini design projects. There was also a tribute to my former teacher and mentor Thomas Rubick and local design legend Chris Berner.

Kudos to the team who put this show together – well done, very well done!