Blog Archives

New Work: Green Teen Bus

Last year, we were thrilled to be asked by a well-known local after school teen program to “decorate” the new school bus that had just been donated to their organization. The bus carries the students to various activities, including two gardens that they manage as well as local farmers’ markets that supply vegetables to underserved local communities. Of course we said “Yes!”

We were initially inspired by the doodles the client showed us on the students notebooks. That gave us the direction to have an iconic “doodly” feel, and originally there was more artwork filling the sides of the bus. However, our vision doesn’t always align with what’s possible, and after speaking with the vendor who did a great job die cutting and installing the decals, we scaled the amount of artwork way down to accommodate our tight budget. The result still maintains the feeling of vibrancy and activity we were going for, and shows all the elements that make Green Teen a great program!

Green Teen Bus

Green Teen Bus

Green Teen Bus

Green Teen Bus

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Iconography: Guiding a Tour through a Landmark Building

During my last real job, I got to work in this lovely building in the Pearl district of Portland Oregon in the early 2000s, when building was booming there. My employer, the conservation nonprofit Ecotrust, purchased the old warehouse and renovated it to LEED Gold specifications. It was the first U.S. Green Building Council’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for a renovated building. And it is beautiful.

NCC Building

Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center, Portland Oregon

I had the pleasure of designing a self-guided tour for visitors to the landmark building. We started with a big welcome sign in the lobby that distributed “Field Guides.” Reclaimed wood, of course. The Field Guides were fun — they contained interesting facts and history about different aspects of the renovated building.

Iconography 13-0430-NCC-fieldGuide

Sand blasted steel icons marked the various stopping points around the building. 10 stops in all.


Transportation Icon


Community Icon


Neighborhood Icon

And a final dropoff place for the field guides on the third floor.

Field Guide Drop Off

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The Importance of Design Consistency across Collateral (or Why We Are Such ‘Control Freaks’)

Phew, that’s a mouthful. Basically, we want everything to match. When you hear the disappointment in my voice when you tell me “Oh, I took care of that part of it!” it’s not because I want to spend my weekend working on your postcard design. It’s because we carefully craft a design approach for each project, and we want to make sure our vision is executed perfectly!

“Perfectly” might be overstating it. But when it comes to resizing layout for different uses, we are the experts. It’s our job to pay attention to details that you may not notice, and this is why you’ll get great results every time. If you let us take care of it. We can do a lot, let us do it for you.

Here’s an example. Our client, the amazing horse photographer Lisa Cueman, was very excited to land a show in New York City this year. She had recently caught an earful from me about misusing the logo we did for her a few years ago. So she asked us to create some materials she could use to promote the show. Great idea, Lisa!

First, we designed a postcard for her, setting up the design concept….

Greensquare Tavern Show PC

Then we did an email announcement, translating it to HTML…

Greensquare Tavern Show Email

Third, we created an evite she could post on her website…

Greensquare Tavern Show Invitation


Lastly, we scaled it up into a sign she could post at the show, so everyone would know whose photographs were on the wall!

Greensquare Tavern Signage

You can see how the type and image treatment are consistent across all the various items. This is the way we visually brand an event, company, product or nonprofit. Easy peasy!

Here’s how the show turned out. If you’re in the city before the end of May, stop by and take a look. Her photos are stunning!

If you don’t know where the show is by now, either you need glasses or I need to do a better job 😉

Greensquare Tavern Show


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McDonald’s Sundial Billboard

McDonalds? I haven’t been a customer in years. Sworn off McDs and such competitors ever since I read Fast Food Nation, watched Food, Inc., and stopped eating anything with legs. Despite my personal feelings toward the leading fast food chain, I applaud their execution of this exciting billboard designed by ad agency Leo Burnett. It displays McD’s breakfast menu in a sundial, with the dial shadowing the ubiquitous golden arches. Talk about the intersection of business and design! This is a great example.

McDonalds Sundial Billboard

It makes me wish for more time. More time during the work week to infuse more thought and inspiration into our communications design. “If only our clients would give us a little more time to…” conceptualize… create… execute some exciting, fresh ideas.

Let’s give our work it a little more time and space for innovation. You can see how cool it can be! See more innovative billboards here »

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