Archive for the ‘Design Tricks and Tips’ Category

Guide to Business Card Shapes

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012


WordPress Resources

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Stuck writing a post or editing a page on your WordPress site? Help is on the way! has a ton of “how-to” content to help you accomplish what you need. Here are a few resources to get you started:


Recent Work

Monday, March 5th, 2012


Recently, we had the opportunity to design the identity, website and business cards for a new store: Forget Me Not In Stillwater. For the design, we drew upon a combination of trellis-style frames and old world illustrations with fresh, contemporary colors. Here’s the result:

Forget Me Not Business CardsPin It

Ten Pinterest Board Ideas for Retailers

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Ten Pinterest Board Ideas for Retailers
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The Magic of Photoshop

Thursday, March 1st, 2012


Photoshop is the tool of design professionals for all kinds of reasons, but this video illustrates—in humorous fashion—the amazing retouching abilities of the program.


5 Inspiring Sites I Love

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

HeartIN HONOR OF VALENTINE’S DAY, here are a few design and marketing-related sites I love (and hope you’ll love, too!).

  1. Sure, there are a lot of free font sites out there, but this one only has the best. Count on Veer fonts to have all kinds of great character alternates and lots of faces from which to select. Plus, with the addition of low-cost images, their well-curated image library is a must for designers on all budgets.
  2. This is a gallery of exceptional website designs that will inspire and amaze. It’s a great starting point for any design project.
  3. Whenever I’m feeling stuck, I know I’ll find inspiration from any of the thousands of stories and videos from thought leaders of all walks of life on this site.
  4. Paper Source is always on trend when it comes to colors and invitation design. Their unique envelope shapes and sizes help me to think more creatively about print mailers.
  5. Netted by the Webbys. An e-newsletter that presents top websites and apps that are out there. They search the internet and bring the trends to me, so I don’t have to!

5 ways to rethink the standard business card

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Tired of the same old business card? Get creative! Here are some great ways to break the business card mold and catch the attention of your audiences.Magnetize your business card

  1.  Magnetize it.Pin It Why not harness the earth’s intrinsic polarity to influence others to let your card stick around?
  2.  Make it a gift card. Your services are valuable, why shouldn’t your cards be? Prospective clients and current customers alike will appreciate receiving a business card printed with your contact information on one side and a gift card for your services on the other. Consider either a cash gift or an offer redeemable for a promotional item, which will be viewed as more valuable than percentage off offers.
  3. Luggage tag business cardShow off your product.Pin ItOwn a nursery? Consider printing your cards on seed-embedded paper that can be planted. Sell stationery? Make the other side of your card a gift tag. Travel agent? Why not make the reverse of your card a luggage tag insert? Recipients will remember your innovation.
  4. Customize it to your networking event. Frequent the same BNI group, Chamber event or Women in Networking get together each month? Customize the back of your card to say “Great to meet you at the WIN event!” It’ll help to jog the memory of people you give the card to.Mini brochure card
  5. Opt for a mini-brochure that folds to a standard business card size.Pin It
    You can include bullet points of your services, photos of your work, or even a map to your location inside. It’s unexpected, and likely to be kept if it’s a valuable reference.


With printing prices dropping, there’s no need to have a “one-card-fits-all” philosophy. Order several types of cards for different occasions or prospects; your creativity will be remembered!

From Our Portfolio: Invitation Project

Thursday, January 12th, 2012


We don’t often do work for individuals, but when lovely Samantha Eichenburg called me up and asked if we’d design her wedding invitations, we could hardly say no. Samantha’s vision was an invitation mailer with RSVP card that reflected a 1920s vintage feel that fit with their choice of venue—an historic supper club in Northeast Minneapolis. She requested gold and silver to match her wedding colors, and a sense of traditional elegance.

In designing the concepts, we researched the era and were drawn to both neo-classic and art nouveau styles that were popular at the time. We combined hand illustration with vintage illustrations to create custom borders for each concept. We selected type that fit the era after a search of hundreds of fonts. The following are the two concepts we presented:

Concept 1: Neoclassic Revival

A mixing of classic fonts, ornate, Roccoco-era borders, and updated colors (pewter and gold), create a balance between classic and contemporary. The Italian-inspired ornaments are a nod to the country where you met.

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Concept 2: Art Nouveau

Retro to the Art Nouveau period, this concept feels like a perfect pairing with a reception at Jax Cafe. Fonts and decorative flourishes suggest the period, and a subtle linen pattern in the background adds a layer of texture. Muted colors and copious white space suggest updated elegance.

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Samantha and Joe selected the first concept, which we used to inspire the rest of the project’s pieces. The result is below:

Mockup of full invitation

Selected invitation: one-sided invitation, two-sided reception card, and rsvp card.

Bride and groom were pleased with completed pieces, and we had gained a new appreciation for an historical era past.

Type smack-down! Competitor borrows brand font

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011


I was getting ready to enjoy a cheese and onion enchilada at my local Zantigo the other day, when I noticed the following holiday graphics:

“Hmm,” I thought, “That sure looks familiar.” And then it hit me: they were using the logo font from Erbert and Gerbert’s. The characteristic “AND” was a dead giveaway:

Erbert and Gerbert brand font

Does this mean Erbert and Gerbert’s should have a legal smack down with Zantigo? Nah…I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. Nevertheless, it has the potential to cause some brand confusion among consumers who frequent both restaurants. So what can designers learn from this?

Well, while big, multinational companies can afford to have font designers create a custom font for their brand, smaller businesses will likely need to draw from the existing type pool. And huge as that pool might be ( has over 90,000 fonts from more than 900 foundries), chances are that some designer out there is going to select the same font as you.  If you’re lucky, it’ll be in a totally different industry and application, and the two fonts will never meet the same consumers’ eyes. However, as the example shows above, this isn’t always the case.

One option is to alter the font you select for the logo design in some meaningful way: create a custom swash, elongate or compress letters, embellish the letters, or even mix fonts. The more creativity you bring to the design, the less likely the font will be the most distinguishable aspect of the logo. For example, while I adore the treatment of the word “AND” in the Erbert and Gerbert logo, the designer may have been wise to alter this highly recognizable character (which I’m sure is a glyph available within the font) to make it unique to the brand.

Another option is to avoid common fonts altogether when creating a logo design. This includes any of the fonts that come with Microsoft Office, Windows, Mac, and Adobe Creative Suite (except, of course, if you plan to alter the characters). You may also do well to avoid relying heavily on free fonts from sources like (which typically has restrictions on commercial use of their fonts anyway), opting for fonts purchased from type foundries instead. This can get expensive, but typically when I’m mocking up concepts, I’ll either use a sample of the type or buy a single face for the comps, then buy the full font when a client selects a logo. Purchasing off-the-beaten-path fonts may help you in your quest to avoid the “oh my gawd she’s wearing the same dress!” syndrome, but it’s still no guarantee.

A third option may be to restrict the use of highly recognizable display fonts to a logo—perhaps even penning your own logo type—then relying on more generic, less recognizable font for the bulk of the brand communications. With this tactic, other brand elements and colors do the work of communicating the brand to consumers.

Before I close, I should probably fess up to two things. First, this has totally happened to me! A recent Target holiday circular used one my clients’ logo fonts in their ad. Luckily, Target is likely to drop the font after the holiday promotion. Second, as a designer, I’m far more likely to notice these type twins. Will the consumer even notice? Chances are if they do, they won’t be able to communicate more than that a design “feels familiar” (unless it’s my 11-year-old, who seems to have a photographic memory for all things advertising!).

Noticed any type smack downs of your own lately? I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below, or post examples on our Facebook page:


New Work: Surround Sound Concert Poster

Friday, November 4th, 2011


Surround Sound Concert Poster

Mix Creative designed a concert poster for the upcoming Twin Cities Women’s Choir’s 15th Anniversary concert, Surround Sound. The concert will celebrate the choir’s 150 women’s voice and the richess of stories and sound established over the choir’s 15 years. The concert will blend with the gospel/jazz of the Bruce A Henry band.

In creating the design, Mix Creative’s creative director, Katrina Hase, conceptualized sound as waves, emanating from a central source: the choir’s 15 years. “Sound wave” design elements lead the eye toward the concert name, which is intentionally broken after the SUR- to emphasize the relationship between “round” and “sound”, thus implying a fullness of the auditory experience. Superimposing these graphic elements over a duo-toned image of the choir, the design captures a sense of the excitement of viewing the choir.

Hase referenced the Choir’s brand elements through use of the brand’s color palette, solid bars, brand mark, and brand fonts (text about location, etc.). “The challenge in designing a poster for the Twin Cities Women’s Choir,” Hase explained, “is to create an exciting and independent sub-brand—the concert—while staying true to the Choir’s overall branding.”