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!
Tis the season for holiday cards and charcuterie. Following up on last year’s meat wreath, this year my client Olympia Provisions went for a more pyramid shaped meat art for their annual card – a stack of charcuterie bedecked with a merry star. Meaty Christmas!
On another holiday note, Olympia Provisions is hosting their second annual charcuterie box building party. Get your tickets here if you want to fill your own box or basket with meats galore and either take it home or send it to a lucky recipient.
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Enter METTERULES as a promo code for 10% off online at Olympia Provisions.
My most recent project for Olympia Provisions was creating their consumer catalog – a curated line-up of OP’s best charcuterie in a small, fun digestible size and format. It is used promotionally at farmer’s markets and trade shows and sent directly to customers, and later in the year will also function as a holiday gift guide. From a designer’s perspective it was also a lovely project because it combined a photoshoot with David Reamer, working with one of my favorite food copywriters Jen Stevenson, and detailed page layout (yum, stylesheets!).
While working “out of season” always feels a little strange, many holiday pieces are created in early summer to allow for wholesale order planning, product production, etc. In fact most of my work in May was focused on the Christmas season…
A bright red cover in a hand-held size of 5×7 inches catches your attention merrily and is festooned with a border of bow-tied sausage links. The cover artwork was painstakingly created from scanning vintage cuts, or letterpress images, and piecing them together to create the scene we wanted. Of special note is the The Whole Shebang spread, technically described as half a pig. Read more about the creation of the photo here, and may you never experience a pork shortage again!
Six years ago marked Well Vegan’s launch when Bureau developed the brand from scratch for food-entrepreneur Katie Koteen to market her vegan meal plan subscription service. This spring, with a ton of new site features and her first cookbook under her belt, Katie wanted a refresh for the logo and website.
The first thing on the docket was a logo update. The friendly hand drawn script was a keeper, but legibility was increased by redrawing it on a level baseline and separating the two words with a visual – one of Katie’s favorite illustrations from the initial branding, a white radish. A pop of green was retained in the radish leaves, but the overall impression was more toned down.
The inaugural 2011 branding for Well Vegan included lots of hand drawn elements, borders, spot illustrations and illustration as main images (see it here). In 2017 Katie wanted to update the site based on the increase in photography and recipe posts, as well as make the site feel a bit simpler and cleaner rather than the homespun start-up it used to be.
A major area of focus was paring down the use of illustration and color to allow the food photography to shine. Instead of being the main focus, illustrations were used as accents and often in black & white instead of full color. The fonts also were refreshed – headline and accents were kept in the friendly legacy font (Skolar) while body and informational text was updated to the lighter, brighter Mr. Eaves.
In the instances where illustration is used for main effect, we stuck with the black line-work style with color accents. This also left room for future promotional illustrations which had been a heavy favorite over the years with subscribers and the Pinterest crowd.
The new streamlined feel was leveraged lightly throughout the site and in the cookbook design, featured on the cover and as page accents. The book is currently available.
From full-frontal meat spectacular to a dense foliage-laden tome of vegan cooking knowledge, my last two projects were on opposite ends of the food spectrum. This time the project at hand was designing a vegan cookbook: The Frugal Vegan! It’s no wonder half my blog posts are tagged MMMM, FOOD.
A friend and colleague I’ve worked with over the years recently published her first cookbook. Well Vegan is Katie Koteen’s online vegan meal-planning service. It was launched in 2010 and had been a side project of hers for several years, growing slowly with the addition of Kate Kasbee, then expanding the recipes and features on the site, and finally becoming a main focus of work which led to a book deal: Frugal Vegan: Affordable, Easy & Delicious Vegan Cooking. One of the most exciting parts of working with small business owners is seeing them grow their business and what direction(s) it takes over the years – this one is definitely on an upward trajectory.
Katie & Kate tested and refined 99 recipes that focus on budget-friendly vegan cooking. I got to taste a few recipes along the way, witness an upgrade from an unreliable stove to a gas-top range, and in the end was asked to help with the book design. The project scope was limited but made a nice difference – developing a cover with photo direction and hand drawn typography reminiscent of her Well Vegan brand and creating an inside template for recipes and chapter introductions. Photography was shot by Wonder Jam. The end result is a fresh and easy-to-read cook book with accessible recipes that even (gasp) I could make. Probably.
Frugal Vegan is currently available for pre-order.
A client that continues to provide fun and interesting projects, Olympia Provisions, recently commissioned the Bureau create a holiday gift guide (more to come on that another day). One of the main photo spreads was a compilation of all of their charcuterie in the shape of a pig, with the products placed approximately where it came from on the pig (give or take an artistic license or two).
The image was created by salumist Elias Cairo of Olympia Provisions placing all the meats in their respective areas, then myself adjusting the placement until it looked like your friendly neighborhood oinker if you were looking at it with X-ray meat vision. Photographer David Reamer shot the piece from a ladder, top down on a white sheet. The white marble was added in post production to give the pig a neutral background and showcase the variety of colors and textures (apparently fat marbling is a big deal in the meat world).
Now, I’m not averse to meat. I eat it. I enjoy it. I’ve even spent time in slaughter rooms on Eastern Oregon ranches during my youth and had my dad chase me to the hay barn brandishing a cow’s tongue (scary for an 8 year old). But in my last two decades of life I haven’t handled that much meat because a) I’m not the main cook in the house, and b) I live with a vegetarian. But handling 50 pieces of meat several times each for over an hour is a bit beyond what I ever though my job as a designer would entail. Suffice to say, I fulfilled my meat handling quota for the year on this project!
And, since this was a small part of their annual consumer-side catalog project, you can indeed buy The Whole Shebang (which is technically classified as a “half pig”) when holiday season rolls around. It’s a no-lose situation, and as we described this unique offering in the catalog…
Last minute dinner guests? Need to throw a party for a hundred of your best friends or business associates? Fear not—with our half pig, you’ll never experience a pork shortage again. Includes everything listed! Assembly required.
Olympia Provisions, of famed salamis and several restaurants in Portland, has several meat-of-the-month clubs. You heard it right! Salamis, sausages, pâté and pickles* all get the white glove treatment and can be delivered straight to your doorstep or gullet, whichever is closest to the mailman.
For each club the Bureau was tasked with designing informational brochures so members knew (for example) exactly what was in their salami, how best to serve it, what kind of romantic dates salami likes best, and revealing once and for all what that white stuff on the outside of a salami is (protective edible house flora that has a reputation that precedes it).
Unsure of what to get your sweetie for Valentines to tell them they are that special someone? Say it with meat.
*Not technically a meat.
Here is a headline I lettered for Tofurky (through CD Gary Huck) to use in their holiday ads promoting their meat alternative products geared towards Thanksgiving, Christmas and the like. It was created in the same vein as the lettering library I created for Tofurky, but with a (relatively) more formal feel to the piece.
As a person very focused on food, and traditions, and therefore food traditions, I liked the message of this. Being a carnivore, I skate carefree through each meal eating whatever I please. Pretty much the only thing that stops me in my tracks is a stewed cabbage. For vegetarians and vegans it isn’t always as easy, especially during traditional meals centered around meat or in areas where people aren’t as aware of what being vegetarian/vegan means. So all you vegginuts, Tofurky has you covered for whatever tempeh/soy/non-meat based holiday feast you might want to gorge on. Here is the lettering incorporated into one of the ads.
Here is another snippet from a longer-term lettering project I’ve been working on for Tofurky. Below is the second set of two series exploring their company name in a casual, hand drawn style (see the first set here).
As part of their online content the company posts recipes and tips under the name Counter Culture, which I gave some bling in this lettering piece. I also got to draw a bunch of small ingredients to go along with the type (matching their current brand illustration look), and implement one of the type treatments from above.
This summer I’ve been working with Tofurky on various projects, all rated very high on the level of fun had. Tofurky is a local company from Hood River, Oregon that makes meat-alternative products, including their inaugural product of a non-Turkey that also gave the company its name (a spoonerism of FAUX and TURKEY). While not a vegetarian myself, the brand resonates with me because of its positive and intentional mission as well as the playful way they communicate it. Food should be fun after all!
The first part of the project was to make some logo spin-offs so there was a casual and unique way to insert the Tofurky brand into secondary branding without feeling too serious. Two sets of Tofurky “nametags” were created, the first of which is shown below. For this series the defining feature was mimicking the angle and basic form of the Tofurky logo, but altering the letterforms so they are more playful. It also involved working with Tofurky’s current brand assets, which included an awesome set of illustrations done by Kate Sutton of animals, trees and little beans and lentils just doing their thing. Integrating these brand assets into the new work was both fun and a good way to illustrate in a specific style. Success? Well I’ve never seen a pair of beans high-five that hard, so yeah.
The next step of the project was to build a library of hand drawn lettering assets to use in their merchandise and promotion. Working with independent creative director Gary Huck, we made a slew of brand sayings and lettering/illustration combos, the first of which is being used on a tote bag and is a great representation of the Tofurky mindset: good for people, good for animals, and good for the environment. Hard to argue with that. We focused on the repeated word so it was a quick read and compact compositionally, with details of the saying appearing in banners around the main message: GOOD. A combination of Kate’s and my illustration fill the GOOD type so it’s a complete mash-up of type & illustration. My favorite kind!
That’s it for now – stay tuned for more work from the Tofurky lettering project…