Posts Tagged ‘graphic design’

All is Not Equal

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

THE IMPORTANCE OF HIERARCHY IN DESIGN

The other day, I came across this sign at the entrance of a Sports Authority:

HierarchyExample

 

The two equally sized signs seemed to have conflicting messages: “Welcome/Come In” and “Not an Entrance/Get Lost”. I literally had to study the handles on the doors to determine what I was expected to do. Eventually I figured it out, but I was still left with a rather jarring sense that I wasn’t wanted here.

The problem with these signs is that they failed to communicate a hierarchy. Yes, it’s important that folks not get smacked with customers exiting the door to the right, but it’s MOST important that customers feel welcomed into the store using the appropriate door, right?

Hierarchy is a principal in design in which messages are communicated visually in the order of importance. A design with no hierarchy leaves the observer to their own wits to decipher meaning. A more appropriate visual hierarchy of the above example would look something like this:

Improved-HierarchyThis example clearly welcomes visitors to the left door, while also appropriately discouraging use of the incorrect door. The message is quickly read and deciphered and the visitor feels welcomed.

Make sure you consider hierarchy in the design of everything you present for your company. Know which messages are most important to communicate quickly to your audiences and make sure graphic layouts support those messages!

 

 

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. Veer.com. 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. Thebestdesigns.com. This is a gallery of exceptional website designs that will inspire and amaze. It’s a great starting point for any design project.
  3. Ted.com. 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.com. 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!

From Our Portfolio: Invitation Project

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

WEDDING INVITATION TAKES A CUE FROM THE PAST

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.

2011 American Graphic Design Awards

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

TWO MIX CREATIVE PROJECTS REPRESENTED IN DESIGN ANNUAL

GDUSA American Graphic Design Awards 2011 coverThis year’s Graphic Design USA American Graphic Design Awards Annual (November/December 2011 issue—in print and online) features roughly 1,000 pieces, selected from among nearly 9,000 entries, from design and advertising firms across the United States. Featured categories include: annual reports, advertising, announcements/invitations/cards, brochures/collateral, calendars, catalogs, direct mail/direct response, editorial design, identity/corporate identity/logo design, internet, multimedia/broadcast, packaging, POP signs/environmental graphics, posters, public services, sales promotion, and students.

Mix Creative is proud to be among the firms represented, with recognition for both Corporate Naming and Identity Design (Ditto & Co), and Internet Design (Halleland Habicht, PA). Credits include Katrina Hase (art direction), Rod Wilson (photography), Diane Autey and Barb Prindle (copywriting), and Steven Ray (web development).

This year’s  judging panel included leaders in the graphic design community, including Walter Porras (Walmart), Jenn David Connolly (Jenn David Design), Steve Perry (Bailey Brand Consulting), Lee Gobbi (Daymon Design), and Martha Heath.

A big thank you to Gretchen Ditto from Ditto & Co and Katheryn Gettman/Natalie Wyatt-Brown from Halleland Habicht for their insight and collaboration in their respective projects. Each of these companies truly understand and appreciate the importance of visual branding for reaching their critical target audiences.

Fun Interactive Direct Mail Piece

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

HYUNDAI SCORES A HIT WITH THIS FUN INTERACTIVE MAILER

Looking for graphic design inspiration? Katrina Hase of Mix Creative shares a fun, interactive mailer she received from Hyundai recently. (Please forgive the mirrored type—we’re new to this video thing!

Here’s a transcript: (more…)

Announcing Mix Creative’s newest website design

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Mix Creative is proud to announce the launch of our newest website design for the Minneapolis law firm, Halleland Habicht PA.

Halleland Habicht website design by Mix Creative
Rationale
The site design centers on the theme that Halleland Habicht is a part of their clients’ teams; Halleland Habicht staff go the extra mile, getting to know the client and their needs. The design expresses the team approach and a sense of going the extra mile with warm colors and dynamic images. Headlines emphasize the firm’s dedication to their clients, while the rest of the copy reinforces the underlying conviction that the client comes first. (more…)

Missing Missy the Cat

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Today’s post is a re-creation of an email I received today from a fellow graphic designer; it’s a spoof on graphic designers being asked to do pro bono work. Unfortunately, I don’t know who submitted the original email, in order to give them proper credit!

Anyway, the premise of the email is a correspondence between a secretary, Shannon—who has just lost her cat Missy—and a graphic designer, David, who has been asked to create a “lost” poster.

As graphic designers, we get called upon by friends and family to do some pro bono work from time to time. Sometimes it’s an honor, and sometimes, well, it’s just a burden. For anyone who has felt put-upon by such requests, you’ll appreciate this!

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.15am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Poster

Hi
I opened the screen door yesterday and my cat got out and has been missing since then so I was wondering if you are not to busy you could make a poster for me. It has to be A4 and I will photocopy it and put it around my suburb this afternoon.

This is the only photo of her I have she answers to the name Missy and is black and white and about 8 months old. missing on Harper street and my phone number.
Thanks Shan.

From:David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.26am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
That is shocking news.
Although I have two clients expecting completed work this afternoon, I will, of course, drop everything and do whatever it takes to facilitate the speedy return of Missy.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 9.37am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Poster

yeah ok thanks. I know you dont like cats but I am really worried about mine. I have to leave at 1pm today.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.17am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
I never said I don’t like cats. Attached poster as requested.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.24am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

yeah thats not what I was looking for at all. it looks like a movie and how come the photo of Missy is so small?

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.28am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
It’s a design thing. The cat is lost in the negative space.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.33am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Thats just stupid. Can you do it properly please? I am extremely emotional over this and was up all night in tears. you seem to think it is funny. Can you make the photo bigger please and fix the text and do it in colour please. Thanks.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.46am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

Dear Shannon,
Having worked with designers for a few years now, I would have assumed you understood, despite our vague suggestions otherwise, we do not welcome constructive criticism. I don’t come downstairs and tell you how to send text messages, log onto Facebook and look out of the window. I have amended and attached the poster as per your instructions.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 10.59am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

This is worse than the other one. can you make it so it shows the whole photo of Missy and delete the stupid text that says missing missy off it? I just want it to say Lost.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.14am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.21am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Poster

yeah can you do the poster or not? I just want a photo and the word lost and the telephone number and when and where she was lost and her name. Not like a movie poster or anything stupid. I have to leave early today. If it was your cat I would help you. Thanks.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.32am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Awww

Dear Shannon,
I don’t have a cat. I once agreed to look after a friend’s cat for a week but after he dropped it off at my apartment and explained the concept of kitty litter. I have attached the amended version of your poster as per your detailed instructions.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.47am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Awww

Thats not my cat. where did you get that picture from? That cat is orange. I gave you a photo of my cat.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 11.58am
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Awww

I know, but that one is cute. As Missy has quite possibly met any one of several violent ends, it is possible you might get a better cat out of this. If anybody calls and says “I haven’t seen your orange cat but I did find a black and white one with its hind legs run over by a car, do you want it?” you can politely decline and save yourself a costly veterinarian bill.
Regards, David.

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.07pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Please just use the photo I gave you.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.22pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.34pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

I didnt say there was a reward. I dont have $2000 dollars. What did you even put that there for? Apart from that it is perfect can you please remove the reward bit. Thanks Shan.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.42pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.51pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Can you just please take the reward bit off altogether? I have to leave in ten minutes and I still have to make photocopies of it.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 12.56pm
To: Shannon Walkley
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

From: Shannon Walkley
Date: Monday 21 June 2010 1.03pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Awww

Fine. That will have to do.

Pioneer Press: Oh No You DIDN'T!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Poor Pioneer Press. I mean, they’ve been through some major shake-ups in the past years. They’re a tiny, home town paper. They have less popular comics than their competitor. And they made the mistake of trying to woo us, die-hard Star Tribune readers, by sending us a free copy of their newspaper.

So it was that one Sunday morning I got up exceptionally early and realized that while my Star Tribune carrier was still happily slumbering, my dutiful free Pioneer Press carrier had already delivered the goods. And so this morning, I opened the Press and started reading.

The article about White Bear Lake’s waxing and waning lake levels caught my eye. Following the breadcrumbs from the cover of the local section to page 3B to finish my article, I was greeted with a graphic designer’s nightmare! Surrounding what otherwise was quite an attractive and well-designed advertisement for Pella Windows, were…CROPMARKS! PAGE INFORMATION! GASP!

Ok, for those of you who are not design geeks like myself, here’s a little background info. Crop marks are little lines, placed at each corner of printed artwork, that tell the printer how to position, print, and trim the artwork. They are not intended to be seen in the final product. Page information tells the printer the name of the digital file, as well as the date and time the information was printed. Also not intended to be printed in the final piece.

I frequently include crop marks when submitting art to publications, so they know how to place the art within their design. These are particularly helpful if you’re submitting an advertisement intended to have a white border around the edge.

Ok, so here’s the mess itself:

Printed crop marks!

See the crop marks and page information? (circled)

Lest you think I’m a terrible nasty person for pointing this out, I’d like to point out that we all make mistakes from time to time (see my previous article about apologizing!), and in the world of newspaper publication—when turnaround times are quick—a mistake here and there is bound to happen.

And, little mistakes like these make great gems for educating design students about the print process. So thanks for that.

On the flip side, I’d hope that the Pioneer Press made concessions to the advertiser for their error, which clearly had a negative reflection on the advertisers’ brand. And, unfortunately, their mistake cast a poor light on their publication to me—their potential subscriber—when it mattered most.

The lesson here? Well, never skip the step of careful editing and proof reading when you are publishing something to be seen by your potential audiences. It’s that expression your mom loves to use: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Designing for the Times: Changing Design Formats

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

This morning I’m thinking back on projects I’ve completed in the last few years, and it’s made me realize that part of being a graphic designer is constantly learning and adapting to accommodate the huge variety of media available for presenting our clients’ brands.

It wasn’t too long ago that a designer went to school and studied print, with maybe some schooling in television or animation. Then came this new-fangled category of new media, which largely meant websites and interactive CD-ROMS (remember those) and later, DVD interface design.

Today’s designer must understand the ins and outs of designing for ever-evolving printing presses, digital billboards, competing browsers, and do-it-yourself-ers, just to name a few. Some designers select to work within a single medium, while others—like Mix Creative—keep adding to their skillset. Here’s a sampling of the variety of projects we’ve worked on in the last couple of years:

PRINT

  • Offset and Digitally-printed business cards
  • Direct mail (including personalized pieces)
  • Booklets, catalogs, and magazines
  • Bookmarks
  • Magnets
  • Bag stuffers
  • In-store and exterior signage
  • Print billboards
  • Brochures (offset and digital)
  • POP
  • Pocket folders and media kits
  • Print ads
  • Microsoft Word stationery, flier templates, forms, labels, etc.
  • Printed address labels
  • Envelopes
  • Package design
  • Tradeshow graphics
  • Notecards
  • Buttons

Social media avatars

Social media avatars created for a client

An html e-blast template

A custom Twitter Background

A custom Twitter background

DIGITAL

  • Desktop icons
  • Avatars
  • Email signatures
  • Custom Facebook pages
  • Custom Twitter backgrounds
  • Digital billboards
  • Profile images
  • Browser window icons
  • Websites
  • Custom blogs
  • Email stationery
  • Email newsletters
  • Fliers printed to pdf only
  • Email fliers
  • Email ads
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Video graphics
  • Animated gifs

I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but hopefully you’re getting the idea: today’s designers are VERSATILE!

So, for all of you designers out there: what’s the most unusual product you’ve created in the last two years?

Lands' End: Pros at marketing to women

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010
Lands End Catalog

Lands' End proves it understands how to market to women.

Paging through a Lands’ End catalog, it’s clear that the folks at Lands’ End understand how to market to women. Products and descriptions reach three demographics of women, (for example: “Fit 1: Modern”, “Fit 2: Original”, and “Fit 3: Traditional”), and leave it to their readers to self-select a category. The different fit categories are clearly labeled and illustrated throughout the catalog, and are accompanied by images of women with different body shapes and ages.

The copy is helpful and non-condescending. It anticipates issues women are likely to have about their clothing, and addresses them directly. For example:

“Straps stay securely in place.”
“Wide waistband lies smoothly over sides — won’t dig in.”

The copy also understands what aesthetic qualities women are searching for:

“Adorable details make these modern tops as cute as they are comfortable.”

Graphics and typefaces are contemporary and readable and colors are fresh and allow the products to take center stage.

Overall, well done! Good job, Lands’ End!