Archive for the ‘News from Mix’ Category

Winner of 4 Design Awards!

Friday, November 6th, 2015

I’m incredibly excited to announce that Mix Creative won 4 graphic design awards for work we completed in the last year! Three are Graphic Design USA American Graphic Design Awards and one is in a new competition, the Graphic Design USA Health + Wellness Awards.

2015 American Graphic Design Awards

According to the letter that accompanied our awards certificates:

For five decades, Graphic Design USA has sponsored competitions to spotlight areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals. GDUSA’s American Graphic Design Awards™ is the original and the flagship, open to all in the community: design firms, ad agencies, corporations, non-profits, institutions, and more. It honors outstanding work of all kinds and across all media. Just a shade under 10,000 entries were submitted; a very highly selective 15% are recognized today with a Certificate of Excellence.

Here are the winning entries: Logo and Branding


Art Direction: Katrina Hase, Programming: Mix Creative with Evolve Systems
Special thanks to our client, Dave Netten

Matt & Nate Logo and Business Cards


Art Direction: Katrina Hase
Special thanks to our clients, Matt Stabenow and Nate Stabenow


Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop Logo Design


Art Direction: Katrina Hase
Special thanks to Aimee Pelletier and all of the participating businesses of the


2015 American Health + Wellness Design Awards

According to Graphic Design USA:

The American Health + Wellness Design Awards are presented by Graphic Design USA, for more than five decades the trade magazine for creative professionals. The awards program honors the importance of design in communicating the value of health and wellness, and the organizations, people, products and services that foster better health.

[Mix Creative's HealthSource of Hugo advertisting campaign] was selected from more than 1,000 entries to the annual competitions, just a small handful of design and communications were selected as winners.

Here is the winning entry. You can also see it on the Health + Wellness Awards website.


Art Direction and Copywriting: Katrina Hase
Special thanks to our client, Dr. Erik Carlson D.D.S at


The Price of Success

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

It’s a question many a small business owner hears frequently:

“How’s business?”

My response in 2014 has more often than not been:


A response to which the non-business owner would inevitably smile and praise, saying something like, “That’s great” or “Good for you!”.

An experienced solopreneur may have a different take, such as, “Cool. How you holding up?”

You see, being a small business owner, you find yourself wearing a lot of hats: business manager, customer service representative, account manager, billing, vendor manager, purchasing agent, advertiser, social media manager….and of course, creative director and graphic designer (the thing you actually set out to do!).

When business is moderate, it’s fairly manageable to perform all of these duties well. Sometimes it gets brisk, so you push back billing a bit or maybe halt some of your marketing efforts until things slow down.

But in 2014, business stayed brisk. And my, oh my, I had to start shifting my priorities big time! At first I struggled, I’ll admit it. I realized that I needed a new solution for some of my systems that were in place for handling a smaller business load. To start, I exchanged my part-time web developer (don’t worry…he’s doing just fine with his own work!) for a partnership with a full-time web development firm that could work with Mix to build new sites and to provide excellent technical support for existing sites. I put in place a project-tracking system that utilizes Basecamp to assign tasks and milestones and communicate more effectively with clients. And I learned to say no to new projects that were outside of my target expertise, so I could focus my work on existing clients and new work that utilized my knowledge and skill sets best.

I haven’t got it all figured out just yet…my website needs an update, my Facebook page is a virtual ghost town, and my e-newsletter is circling the drain. But my clients’ needs are being met, and I’m proud to say that my quality of work has never suffered.

The lesson here? Being busy is good. But being busy and having the help and systems in place to handle the workload is better.

Here’s to a better 2015!

Succeed at Failing

Monday, May 12th, 2014

I recently spoke at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s portfolio show (really amazing, by the way…you should check them out!). Melissa Hickert asked me to speak on what happens after graduation and to offer any words of advice to the graduates.

My answer was to put together a speech about turning failures into success. Why? Because in those first few years (and beyond!) after graduation, I made quite a few mistakes. But instead of throwing in the towel, I took to heart Arthur Gordon’s wisdom in the book A Touch of Wonder and used my failures to inform me how to improve my decision-making, my processes and my business.

It was great fun sharing my faux pas with this very talented group. May all of their failures bring them great success!

Here’s a pdf of my presentation for anyone who’s interested.


RIP, Williams Company Store Site

Friday, April 4th, 2014


Williams Company Store award-winning website design by Mix CreativeSometimes, for reasons beyond our control, a company changes hands or goes out of business all together. While it’s certainly primarily the business owner’s concern, I find myself mourning the work we’ve done to help them shine. After all, a lot of work goes in to each of the brands we create! We sweat over each and every color, font, photograph and piece of code.

When a site is published, it’s like sending a child to school for the first time, with all of the worry and expectation on how it’ll be received. In the case of the Williams Company Store’s site, we not only sent our child off to school, but it went out and excelled—and came back with a Graphic Design USA American Graphic Design award!

And now, as the business has changed hands, the new owners have opted to make their own mark on the Williams Company Store brand, complete with their own designers. And without so much as a eulogy, our site design has been discarded into the great pixel bin in the sky.

So, I’ll remember the site here and thank former owner Pam Williams for the opportunity to create something together that had a bit of an impact in its short, digital life. Adieu! (*sniff!)

Mix Owner to Speak at Freelance Design Class

Friday, October 4th, 2013


I was delighted to be asked by Bill Hendricks of the Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s Graphic Design and Visual Communication program to come and speak to the Freelance Graphic Design class again this year, on October 31st. Last year’s students had some really great questions for me, from how to register your business with the state to how to find new clients.  I’m planning to talk to this year’s class about:

• How to determine what to charge for your design services

• How to market your design business in social media


2013 American Graphic Design Awards

Monday, September 16th, 2013


We’re SUPER excited to announce that Mix Creative has been selected to receive two 2013 American Graphic Design Awards from Graphic Design USA. This is Mix Creative’s third consecutive year to receive this award.

The winning entries, honoring outstanding work of all kinds and across all media, were selected from more than 8,000 entries submitted from across the country. Award applicants were from advertising agencies, graphic design firms, corporations, associations, universities, government, publishers and more. Only 15% of entries receive a Certificate of Excellence.

Mix Creative was honored with two awards for the same company, Mama Luna Natural Apothecary in Stillwater, Minnesota. The awards were presented for:

Mama Luna Natural Apothecary Logo Design

Graphic Design USA 2013 Award of Excellence for Mama Luna logo.

Mama Luna Natural Apothecary Corporate Branding Program
Graphic Design USA corporate branding program design award for Mama Luna Natural Apothecary

Kiva Sherr-Nelson

We gratefully share these honors with our client, Kiva Sherr-Nelson of Mama Luna Natural Apothecary. Kiva came to me with a beautiful vision for a store that provided a safe and welcoming atmosphere for mother and families to select and purchase botanicals, nutritional supplements, organic and natural children’s products and handcrafted gifts. This lovely store is now just over a year old and a favorite among local mothers.

Special thanks also to Steven Ray, Mix Creative’s web developer, for his great work in bringing the Mama Luna Natural Apothecary website to life!

More Design Profession Q & A

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013


Here’s another interview I recently completed for a student at the Art Institute International MN. Enjoy!

1.  Tell me about your career path. How did you get to where you are today?

I went to Winona State University and graduated with a major in Psychology. I went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota to work toward a PhD in Neuroscience, but left after two years (and straight As!) to take a job at the Science Museum of Minnesota as an exhibit developer. I led the development of new exhibits, working with copywriters, builders, programmers, designers and marketing professionals.

In the process, I fell in love with the design aspect of my work. I enrolled in the Graphic Design and Visual Communication program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College to pursue an AAS in graphic design while still working my full-time job at SMM.

I graduated in 2005, and worked for a year as a freelance graphic designer for a number of Twin Cities design firms. I later landed a job as an Art DIrector at a St. Paul-based advertising agency. It was a dream at first—great digs, fun clients and challenging work. But later, I realized the owner was over billing, encouraging us to cut corners on the design to make a quick buck, and not providing the type of service our clients deserved.

So in 2007, I left that job and founded Mix Creative, with a commitment  to provide clear, effective and consistent brand communication across media, while delivering top-of-the-line service with integrity.

2.  What is your job like? What challenges do you face as a designer?

My job is rewarding and demanding. I love getting to know my clients and their businesses and feel a great reward in being a part of their success. On the down side, when you’re good at what you’re do, you become in demand. It’s difficult to manage my time and projects to keep everyone happy at once.


B2B Examples

Friday, April 19th, 2013

At Mix Creative, our primary focus is working with direct-to-consumer companies, particularly in the retail industry. However, we’ve had opportunity over the years to work with select business-to-business companies and have found it to be quite rewarding. Literally, in fact—our website design for Halleland Habicht, PA won an American Graphic Design Award!

Here are some examples of our B2B work. Note: click on images to see larger examples.

  1. An early project for us was working with the upstart internet company, The site achieved a significant amount of success in a short time, but ultimately was a victim of the early 2000s recession. A memorable comment from our client about the project was that the design of the site and accompanying collateral was “New York” design at Minnesota prices.

    Commercial real estate B2B example media kit, website refresh and direct mail design.

  2. We’ve partnered with marketing firms on several occasions to design collateral for their clients. One such firm was M Design Interactive, for whom we created many works, including this brand refresh for Anchor Capital Management and a brochure for a marketing firm in South Dakota that caters to hunting clubs.
    Anchor Capital Management brochure

    Anchor Capital Management brochure


    Above the Creek branding and brochure design

  3. Another marketing firm we’ve collaborated with in the early days of Mix was All Out Marketing. This firm specialized in medical markets. We created this over-sized brochure for one of their clients.


    Possis Medical brochure

  4. Chromis Fiberoptics has been, and continues to be, a client of Mix Creative. The firm first hired us to create custom graphics for their website. Since then, we’ve created dozens of custom illustrations, spec sheets, product sheet templates and more to help communicate their unique positioning in the fiber optics marketplace.


    Clockwise: Website Refresh, Illustrations and Diagrams

  5. Halleland Habicht is a current client. They came to Mix Creative to establish the look, feel and voice of their brand through their website design, advertising, communication pieces and more.


    Clockwise: Website, E-invitation, Pocket Folder, Print Advertisement

See other examples of our work on our portfolio page.



Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

When I attended my first White Bear Lake Downtown Business Association meeting, I jumped at the chance to refresh the image of their current “Girls [sic] Night Out”. I’d received their emails in the past, and—being the branding snob that I am—knew that the emails weren’t doing a good job of appealing to their target audiences or communicating what the event was about. So I—gulp—volunteered to give the program a refresh.

As I wrote about earlier, stereotypes and cliches abound in Girls’ Night Out (note correct use of possessive apostrophe) marketing. As far as I could tell, marketers and their designers everywhere took the theme a little too literally—with all of the flowers, Barbie-like images and pink thrown up everywhere, you’d think they were marketing to 4-12 year olds. I made a conscious effort to class it up and de-pinkify the identity. (more…)

RECENT WORK: Holiday Ideas

Monday, November 12th, 2012


All Seasons Wild Bird Store customers will receive a holiday gift guide for bird lovers this week. The eight-page direct mail booklet highlights gift ideas for all kinds of bird and nature enthusiasts, from seed and feeders to decorative gifts and nature books. Included on the back are two coupons—one for a free 2lb. bag of Cardinal Mix, and another for savings in-store.

Mix Creative wrote, photographed and designed the holiday guide with an eye towards spotlighting winter birding. “My favorite gift idea in the book is to sneak out on Christmas morning and fill your friend or family member’s bird feeders,” art director Katrina Hase mentioned. “Knowing how cold it can get when you go out to fill  feeders, I think that would be nice to wake up to!”

All Seasons Wild Bird Store Holiday Gift GuideGift guides are a great way for customers to visualize your products in a new way and generate enthusiasm for shopping your store over the holidays. Besides Christmas, you might consider preparing a gift guide for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day, or even the typical wedding months of June and July.