I grew up in Madras, surrounded the dusty high desert of Central Oregon. It was a small town when I lived there, and it’s still a small town, although the last two decades has seen the town acquire a few stoplights, a prison, and even a swimming pool and performing arts center.
However, Madras has never been a place that is about the typical amenities. It’s about the various cultures that live there and the natural environment that they share. Originally called “The Basin” from the valley it sits in, with craggy plateaus on all sides, this geographical feature was the visual center of designing a logo for the Jefferson County Cultural Coalition.
A modern style was used to render a logo and a seal. The main hero is the topography of the area that typifies Madras, which forms the “J” monogram for the county seat of Jefferson County and ties back to the previous logo’s monogram. A palette of dusty tans, golds and burnt brown keep things neutral so that any other internally created imagery won’t compete with the branding.
This project was pro-bono, for my mother and other board members who work to support the arts and heritage of the area with project grants.
Every once in a while a project comes along where your intuition lines up just right with the vision of the client, so the creative negotiation that is usually a part of the creative process is….gone. This project was like that, and I think I entered something of a “design flow state” while working on it.
Having roots in Scandinavia means I often veer naturally to the side of simplicity and minimalism (side note: Real Danes might look at this branding and exclaim “oh my! how quaint and busy!”). This turned out to be the perfect match for Friday and Company – a real estate and interior design duo of native Swede Calle Holmgren and American Nicole Wear who has a hard streak of Scandinavian style in her interior design work.
A chunky, friendly logo conveys both the fun Calle and Nicole have at their jobs, but also their approach to working together and directly with their clients. This look also stands out quite a bit in the real estate sector – especially in the real estate signs (below) which are visible from a mile away (possibly even space). To sum up their brand, a series of spreads was created to show the brand from straight-laced to fun-filled in the span of just a few pages.
Online we created a site that was to-the-point and lifestyle oriented, with user flows for selling, buying and design. All roads lead to working with Calle and Nicole, so extra attention was paid to about page and a Q&A section getting to know them (apparently they are very taco motivated). In addition to the site, Friday and Company also has a well-trafficked Instagram feed.
Working with Ryan Galloway on writing and Jessica Berardi on web development was also a real pleasure. Creating a voice, both written and visual, and then having it executed just as imagined is such gift. The print collateral was produced at both Brown Printing and Anders Printing in Portland.
Promotional brochures for each house take on an editorial feel, catering the content of each sales piece to the house it is representing. For this modern house listing I even got to work in this Winston Churchill quote: “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us”.
A series of simplistic blocky icons were created to supplement the other brand elements – namely pink, and two nearly mono-line fonts (Campton and School Script (yes, School Script!)). Between these few simple ingredients, a variety of mixing them up allows the brand to be straightforward and serious or offbeat and fun, depending on the needs of the message and medium.
Earlier this year I worked on brand explorations for Hire an Esquire, an online service for finding the right legal consultant for a project. The illustrations and icons – set on making the legal profession and process of hiring a lawyer seem approachable, easy and fun – helped the internal team decide the overall direction their rebrand should take.
A blocky bold style was used with the companies selected teal and orange palette. With such strong colors, the rest of the elements were kept very simple and used knockouts of white.
Stand-alone icon style was also explored to show how small visual accents could strengthen the brand presence when used consistently throughout their new site. While the final brand look ended up being a little more serious and traditional, the exploration process was key in helping decide how far to push the needle in their field.
For the 4th annual Code/Art Miami event, non-profit client Code/Art wanted a new design for their participant and volunteer shirts. Previously I had made a series of pins and stickers using small icons, but for this project we created a larger Code/Art constellation design in 3-colors that could easily be printed on two different t-shirt colors (purple for participants, teal for volunteers).
The t-shirt features a girl throwing code snippets into the sky to form a Code/Art constellation. Printed at Custom Ink, the design was arranged so that each color on the purple shirt translated directly to a color on the teal shirt to keep costs low on printing materials and time.
Over the last two years I had designed a series of enamel pins and decals/stickers that were given out to participants. These assets were leveraged internally to create a cohesive look for their events – a strong example of how using a few elements consistently can go a long way in creating a recognizable brand look.
Because I still love me a good enamel pin collection, here is a repost of the series of enamel pins and stickers created over the course of a few mini-projects. These were designed for Code/Art participants – girls in their tweens and teens who explore code through art & creativity in guided Code/Art workshops. Read more about Code/Art on their website.
Long term client and collaborator, Gelateria Naia, has extended their gelato and sorbetto into a new format – the 14oz small tub. On this project, their signature orange was used as a background for the color-coding used on each flavor. Presented mostly in a top down freezer in grab-and-go areas, having a strong color presence on the lid was integral.
A major update / minor evolution to this brand was shifting their name on the packaging from Bar Gelato by Naia (also their namesake and inaugural product) to just Naia. Originally Bar Gelato made sense because it was their only product. However with the addition of sorbetto to the line-up, food regulations and approval got trickier with how the brand name only accurately described part of their product line. With this most recent packaging, Naia takes the lead as the brand name, and sorbetto and gelato can be used as the product identifier. Hierarchy on packages is critical for both the consumer, stocker, and fulfilling legal requirements. Pistachio is shown here because it’s my favorite flavor.
From a production standpoint, the cup was designed to be a standard issue brand orange with universal information, with a white scalloped template area into which a circular sticker could be placed to differentiate flavor. This type of design works well for product lines where it is hard to predict exact quantities of specific flavors, where flexibility in quantity/distribution of flavors is key, and when very small runs of speciality flavors are common. Naia often produces seasonal or specialty flavors, always experimenting with local producers to find nuanced and specific flavors. The rim of the cup was also a universally produced element, while the top of the lid was custom to each flavor.
A series of icons associated with each flavor has been used across many of Naia’s products, so they were employed again to provide a subtle indicator of the simple and pure ingredients. The custom lettered blocky font previously used in the logotype is now the headliner, providing some visual crossover recognition, as consumers were used to seeing BAR GELATO large and in charge on the previous packaging. And now, for a National Geographic-esque photo of a herd of gelato/sorbetto migrating across the icy plains of your nearest Whole Foods freezer case.
Over the years I have done many projects and non-projects with my intrepid foodie friend, Jen Stevenson. From her first guidebook and blog, to watching her become an award winning author for The Picnic and The Campout, we have eaten our way through a decade of friendship.
On the side, Jen churns out young adult literature and publishes them as e-books – the latest being Born to Bake, a story about a teen who enters a baking competition to earn money to go to culinary school in France. To add another book collaboration under our belts, I created the cover for it. Bake it ’til you make it!
It’s that time of year again! The time when Danes, half-Danes, quarter-Danes and honorary-Danes go deep into Danish Christmas traditions, as previously documented here, here, here and here.
This year is extra special because I had the opportunity to design some scandinavian-inspired promotional gift wrap paper in collaboration with Laura Luethje from West Coast Paper Solutions and Randy Murray from Brown Printing. So without further ado…
To create a series that was Christmasy without being too over the top, I opted for some patterns that kept it classy – abstract red ribbons and a snowflake flurry. On the back a tiered landscape of wintertime activity is revealed in tonal grays with pops of red, making it easy to mix and match between the three designs.
The WCP holiday wrap promo happens every year, and this year I was lucky enough to have Laura ask if I would create the designs. While West Coast Paper donated paper and I donated design, Brown Printing donated printing for a final product of two 2-sided promotional sheets produced on 70# Titan Dull Text.
As a bonus, I slipped a non-holiday side onto one of the sheets. Hand drawn with black ink and digitally colored, the feather pattern is an excerpt of a twelve feather series from a few years ago. Hopefully it gives the gift wrap a life past December.
Another month, another Launch art show! Last month I showed an excerpt of ever-changing feathers. This month I am contributing a new format of my Love Bird enamel pin – namely giving it a frame and a bit more blue sky. In addition to a framed pin, there will be a gaggle of pins for sale at the very affordable art price of $10. Come to the show (info below), or read more about the original inspiration for my little love bird.
Portland’s First Thursday @ Conversa Theme: Proud as I am
June 7, 2018 from 6-9pm
734 NW 14th Ave, Portland OR
One of my favorite types of design projects is packaging – specifically food packaging. It is also one of the more fickle types of projects. Sometimes products miss their window of opportunity, sometimes start-ups aren’t able to get an investor to put the product on shelves, sometimes budgets fall through or a product line is re-oriented. Specialty products are sometimes explored up until launch, at which point they are deemed unviable. Once an entire project was derailed due to a macadamia nut shortage. You just can’t plan ahead for these kinds of things!
Because of this, I have worked on almost as many packaging projects that have been shelved than have actually reached shelves. Gelateria Naia is my one exceptional client that has taken every product I’ve worked on to market (see a few projects here and here, with more in the works!). Even the packaging projects that make it to market often take a YEAR OR TWO between packaging design and hitting shelves. This is like 1,948,465 years in “designer years” – it’s definitely not an exercise in instant gratification.
Last year I worked on chocolate wafer packaging for a company that packages US and European products for the Chinese market. Because of quality perception and some food scares, the design brief presented an interesting mix of designing in a way the Chinese market was used to (bold, zingy, pop!) while making the product look and feel European-based. Unfortunately the project was put on hold, but I wanted to share a direction from the initial design round (with a placeholder product name). A more traditional approach was selected as the final, where I got to practice drawing the Swiss Alps and milk splashes, but is not shown here because it hasn’t been released. So while not everything makes it to market, it doesn’t mean it isn’t sweet!