“It is scary as hell to work with someone else”

22 Nov

I recently had a group project for an advertising class. It is always interesting being placed in group projects for school because the groups are typically random, and end up with a mix of work styles. There is always one person who takes the lead and a few people who do absolutely nothing. This project was different in the fact that we chose our own groups. I was with two other designs who have similar interests and we all get along. This could have gone either way as far as group dynamics, and it turned out great. We were able to bounce ideas off each other and discuss problems and obstacles that arose in them. The end product turned out better than it would have had we done it alone. This got me thinking about all of the benefits of collaboration.

This is a video from The 99%, which is a think tank of the Behance network. Named after Thomas Edison’s quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” and founded by Ji Lee, author of Making Ideas Happen.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/16979026%5D

Husband and wife team Masamichi Udaagawa and Sigli Moeslinger, founders of Antenna Design New York Inc. discuss why collaboration is important and how to make is successful. Here are some main points:

*It has to come from a need, seeking a complimentary skill

*A complimentary skill doesn’t make a partnership work, there most be compatibility

*Need to align values and goals

*Have a mutual respect

*A good friendship doesn’t mean it will make a good working partnership

*Talk about expectations upfront, before the work starts

*Disagreement is important because it provokes discussion and leads to a better outcome

*Partners allow conversation to be a need to advance ideas

*Another person gives your idea perspective

Antenna Design strives to encourage collaboration in the workplace. The couple designed furniture for the office with board room length tables and open rooms. I think this is a trend that many creative businesses are starting to get involved with.



21 Nov

I am a sucker for great product design. For some reason if I see a brand that has beautiful product design, I transcend this to every other aspect of the brand. For example, Target has some well-designed brands in their store like Method soap. The soap is no different, I simply buy it for the bottle. I know this is superficial, but I think a lot of consumers judge a brand by the packaging. Here are some packaging examples that have caught my eye. They range from interesting, to artistic, to brilliant. Take a look.

This may look like boring food packaging, but look closer. It is actually t-shirts that are packaged to look like food. It is from an Asian design company called  Prompt Design.Their website was a little confusing so I could not find out the reasoning behind this packaging, but I am sure that it caught a lot of people’s eyes. When doing packaging like this I think it is important to align it with the brand values. This was probably for a unique and non-traditional t-shirt company. This would not fit for say a Gap or Abercrombie.

These are from Francis Ford Coppola Winer.

I love these wine bottles. I also love Francis Ford Coppola and had no idea that he owned a winery. The reason for the bottles aligns with the brand in that everything should provide a unique experience (according to their website). The wine could taste like Kool-aid and I would still buy it because I think these bottles are so interesting and cool.

I think this stuff is brilliant. It is designed by Helms Workshop in Austin Texas and is made for Frank. The tag line is “purveyors of pork”–great. Their signage above also has brilliant copy. “It seems to me that some people want champagne and caviar when they should have a beer and hot dogs.” “If you ask me a hot dog at a ball park is better than a steak at the Ritz.” The cups, also clever.

This is more an example of great integrated branding than just package design, but that is what I think package design should be a part of. Simple product design can not carry a brand, but if signage and decor coincides with the product design and accurately portrays the brand; it is brilliant. The personality of the restaurant are captured by the design work and the copy. Helms kept with the simple design aesthetic to meet the hipsters, bikers, local celebrities, and lovers of hot dogs that come to the restaurant.

“Sausage is not a modest food, and the brand collateral reflects its pride and majesty. Our goal was not just to create a celebration of food, but to also build a culture and community.” -Helms Workshop

The Graphics of Information

19 Nov

I never really thought about infographics until I worked at a Portland Monthly magazine. There, it was far more economical to create an illustration to illustrate a concept than to take a picture. Often, it was easier and made more sense to explain something with a picture. A lot of the time when I was working, the designers and I would brainstorm about what would be the best way to illustrate a point. In fact, my first day of work was spent researching and illustrating a hiking trail map. Although a map is the most simply kind of infograhic, it still is considered one. Infographics are praised by writers for providing information in a visually pleasing way, that is also compact and conveys the knowledge quickly

Here are a couple examples of infographics that I like. A great source is Good magazine (I posted a few below), but almost every publication uses infographics. Anywhere from the New York Times, to Cosmo. It is a fun design exercise to think of what the content is saying, and coming up with a creative infographic to portray the same information.

This is from Good magazine. Althought it about credit and mortgage rates, not too interesting, it does it in a simple way. That is what I love about infographics. The take a complex and boring concept and turn it into something understandable and visually pleasing.


Also from Good. It’s about Portland (my hometown) so that is why I like it. I also love mixing photos with illustration, I think it creates a cool contrast.

From information is beautiful. Great site, definitely check it out.

And this one is a typographic infographic from Wall Stats. This is about the evolution from slavery to the election of an African-American president. Nearly four-hundred-years. Wow. Although this is more information than graphic, it takes 400 years of history and presents it in a concise manner that illustrates the point. Cool stuff.

Dave Allen-difference of digital

19 Nov

So today Dave Allen came to my creative strategist class. Dave is the director of insights and digital media at North, a Portland, Oregon full service ad agency. They both conceptualize the idea and create the product. Aside from that, Dave was, and actually still is, a member of the band Gang of Four. They mainly produced music in the 1980’s in England. More recently their music is used in an XBox commercial.

Allen’s talk focused on the differences between traditional  media and digital.

Traditional media is:

-The medium is broadcast and about the message.

-It is expensive, complex, and static.

-You can only reach the right people with the right placement.

-Feedback is cumbersome.

-And last, changing mistakes is difficult.

The Effect of traditional media on Agencies:

-The message is focused.

-There is limited competition

-A standardized approach.

-Post-launch analysis is limited.

-Focus is on the campaign.

The digital landscape:

-The experience is focused.

-It is simple, low cost.

-Competition is everywhere and is not limited to brands.

-Technology and context are in constant flux.

-Experience is the critical factor.

-Data is readily available.

-The most successful projects take a long term view.

How does an agency respond to the digital landscape? Ask how a person will consume this type of media and what the purpose is. If you are creating a website, what are you trying to accomplish and what does the user want to see. Allen discussed work he did for Timberline Lodge. He talked to consumers and they wanted to know about hiking, weddings, history, and share their experience. None of this was explained on the website, so he was able to determine a direct purpose and actions he needed to do.

Another thing he said is that a brand should not act like a person. They do not need to have a Twitter or Facebook making a large company appear to be an individual. It is not and is ineffective. Also, companies online should not respond to spoofs of their ads. Part of the glory and downfall of digital media  is that there is zero barriers to entry. Agencies need to learn to work around this and expect it. It comes with the territory.

Ultimately, “Technology just shortens the distance between us,” says Allen. We are social creatures and technology just changes the way in which we interact, but not the interactions. Advertising needs to evolve with the technology, not fight it.



17 Nov

Let me start off this post saying I do not like chocolate. In fact, I hate it. I always feel singled out because of it, like it’s the equivalent to not like puppies, or babies, or sunshine. I just simply do not like it. The reason I am saying this is because I DO love this campaign for Sugar in the Raw by Mother New York. They tell stories about chocolate, so while I can not relate to baking brownies specifically when angry about a cheating ex-boyfriend; I can still definitely relate. Their audience is obviously women, and the whole concept is around the stories that lead to sugary products (way more interesting). It is brilliant, humorous, and interactive. I just hope people take the time to read them.

The ads are in a series of give. The first is my favorite, for ironically brownies (chocolate).

“Count the years you dated. If it exceeds 5, double the recipe…In a bowl: 1/2 cup unsalted butter. Not margarine, butter. Diet starts tomorrow…Let them cool for ten, then devour that pan of chocolaty goodness, girlfriend. Uh, we mean friend.”

The next ad is for apple cider. My favorite line, “…and find that fancy schmancy pitcher. The one in the pantry? Top shelf? Still in the box? Tada.”

Okay last favorite line, the chocolate chip cookie ad, “Add 1 1/2 cup flour. Yeah. The white stuff. A little bit won’t hurt.”

I guess you could read those yourself, but I just thought I would share the highlights. Here is what Mother had to say about the campaign:

“We wanted to do a different take on recipe ads by incorporating human truths and how the product and food in general play a role in daily situations,” said Bobby Hershfield and Michael Ian Kaye, creative directors at Mother. (source)

Media Bistro did not have kind things to say about the campaign, nor did many visitors to the site. Their response was studenty work, too much copy, not clever, and so on. To this, I agree that the copy could have been styled a little differently. It does not look like a recipe and that is what it is. Also, I think the ad would be completely transformed visually with a white or other light solid color background, and a different main copy typeface. On the content side of the copy, I think it is smart and funny, and something different. The realness of the copy is something that a reader can relate to. It is the stories around WHY someone would use sugar in the raw that makes the product interesting and creates a relationship between the consumer and the brand.





Advertising Clean Air

16 Nov

This sculpture, created by Seattle architecture studio Lead Pencil Studio, is now on the U.S./Canadian border near British Columbia. This was not funded by an advertising agency, or an environmentally active company, but the government. This piece was funded through the Design Excellence Program, which seeks creative design and engineering in the public sector. Who knew this existed?

According to Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio,

“Borrowing the effectiveness of billboards to redirect attention away from the landscape… this permanently open aperture between nations works to frame nothing more than a clear view of the changing atmospheric conditions beyond.”

I think the negative space is awesome and the only way to make this sort of statement. I am so happy that the government has a program like this because great art and design should be appreciated. I also hope that there is more done to this clean air initiative than a piece of art. However big of fan I am of this piece, other things need to be done to lower our emissions. If this “billboard” had been placed in Los Angeles it would have been a joke.

That environmental rant aside, I love this.

Logo Design Love

14 Nov

This is next on my list of things to buy. Logo design love is a book written by Irish graphic designed David Airey. He discussed his work with clients, as well as other designers and how they came up with some of the biggest brands today. Airey already has a successful and fascinating blog at http://www.logodesignlove.com. A great little bonus is he is previewing a chapter of his book here. Download the PDF, it is insightful, brilliant, and yes, free. Here are some things that I thought I would share from the chapter preview:

The chapter is titled ‘From Pencil to PDF’ showing the process and sketches.

“To be a good designer, you must be curious about life; the strongest ideas are born from the experiences we have and the knowledge we gain from them. The more we see and the more we know, the more ammunition we can stockpile for generating ideas.”

The first step in creating an identity, mind mapping. He suggests taking one main word from a creative brief, and branch out with other words. He then highlights words that he can take and develop into a concept in the next stage of sketching.

The next thing he says could have come out of my college advertising professor’s mouth, use a sketchpad because it is more creative and fluid and provides you with a ‘conceptual playground’

After mapping, skteching, THEN getting on the computer, here is the final result:

The final logo represents what the organization stands for of worship, welcome, transformation, outreach, and of course the cross.

Other advice, leave the color until the last because it is an easy thing to change and usually not the most important. He also suggests to show your logo to you client in the context of which it will appear. Say you are making a sign for a truck, show it to them on a truck. You want to SELL your creative idea. Designers are also given jobs because they are more creative. It is important to present your ideas with the mindset that these are people who do not visualize things as easily. Great stuff, I wish I would have read this a few months ago.