Blog Archives

Introducing The Dog Studio

Introducing The Dog Studio

AJ-MT-Shopped-SMA fresh approach to greeting cards and social stationery for dog lovers.

I’m excited to finally share my big news with you! For the past few months, I’ve been working hard at starting up an exciting venture with my sister, renown dog photographer Amanda Jones, and my brother-in-law Chris Jones. Our new company, The Dog Studio, pairs Amanda’s stunning dog portraits with my enthusiasm for beautiful design to create contemporary stationery and cards — and eventually gifts and home items. Very soon we will be releasing products that dog lovers (and lovers of dog lovers) across America will go crazy for! We hope.

Ultimately, we want to influence the quality of dog imagery used on products everywhere. And make beautiful cards and gifts. Our goal is to create products that are unique, smart and beautiful while giving back to the dog community. For that, we have created a “Royalties to the Rescue” program that makes financial and product donations to groups that help shelter dogs.

Here’s an example of our cards…

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

The Dog Studio Greeting Cards

We will be launching to the resale trade in May at the National Stationery Show in New York City. In September we hope to launch our online store so everyone can buy one! Or two or twelve.

We hope you’ll come along for the ride! Learn more about it and how you can keep up with us at www.thedogstudio.com.

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The Workshop Workshop: “Facilitation by Design”

Facilitation by Design Workshop

This week I attended a workshop on…workshops. A part of AIGA‘s Design for Good initiative, “Facilitation by Design” was led by service design superstar Renna Al-Yassini of user experience firm Adaptive Path. With loads of experience under her belt leading diverse groups to successful solutions, Renna led us through her process of how to prepare and execute a productive collaborative session.

Workshops can help with…

…gathering information
…making decisions
…clarifying direction
…generating new ideas
…building consensus
…creating compromise
…making a plan
…gleaning knowledge
…engaging teams
…boosting morale

Why a Workshop?

Collaboration. Workshops (like designers!) are by nature collaborative. As opposed to a regular old sit-down meeting where people may discuss a topic, a workshop is designed to resolve a specific challenge question by engaging invested participants. Problem-solving is approached with pre-conceived activities designed to gain perspective from diverse participants. It’s the perspective of the participants that brings the most value to the session. Whether it’s designed for morale-building or to conceptualize improvements for the staff onboarding process, getting the right people in the room who can speak to the details of the problem and offer constructive insight toward a solution is key.

Problem-solving. Workshops solve problems, or at least one specific part of a bigger problem. They can be used to bring different community groups together for consensus-building and planning (like building a local dog park), or strategic planning for companies or nonprofit organizations. They can be used in the very beginnings of a project, such as the start of a new design initiative, or checking in on the progress of a longer-term project to see if the roadmap is on track. Or it can be used at the end of a project to set final deliverables and a launch plan.

Flexibility. The beauty of the workshop is its flexibility of application. Once you get that the collaboration can be designed to target any specific challenge question (that is, what do we want to accomplish by coming together?), you can see that it can be used to approach any business problem…or community or organizational challenge, for that matter. The problem can be big or small, involving many participants or just a few. Which brings us to…

Who Needs a Workshop?

Workshops are not limited to launching a new design initiative. Here are just a few examples of who can benefit from a workshop:

  • Nonprofit organizations for strategic planning
  • Banks for new line of business ideation
  • Community coalitions for creating a roadmap
  • Marketing departments for successful brand rollout
  • Corporate mergers for information gathering
  • HR departments for troubleshooting internal processes
  • Product development teams to review & refine product design

What’s your main business challenge right now? Maybe it’s time to reach out to an objective facilitator to create some structure and collaboration around tackling it.

For more information:

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New Work: Green Jay Landscaping

Green Jay Logo

Green Jay Landscaping called me in need of some help refining their brand and identity design. While the company had been founded a year before, the logo their web design company had created didn’t quite hit the mark in reflecting their brand. While there are always budgetary concerns when starting up a new business, it’s important to get the brand and design straight right off the bat.

In any case, we kicked the project off with a Brand Workshop, then worked closely with the client to develop a Brand Frame that reflected the values and personality of the company. Then it was design time! We showed them five or so options for the logo and business card, but there was one clear winner, which reflected their approach to ecological landscaping the best.

Green Jay Landscaping Business Cards

New Business card

 

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2013 Wrap-Up: Our Creative Year in Review

For me, 2013 was kind of a slog. But despite the challenges this year brought, we got to work on some very awesome projects. Here’s what stands out.

Wwwordpress!

2013 brought responsive design and some really great WordPress themes that we designed for clients — seven total, five that have already launched.

Stylo Furniture & Design Website

We helped Stylo Furniture & Design launch their first e-commerce site, powered by WordPress.

townecrier.com

Our local client Towne Crier Cafe opened in Beacon in October. We designed the new website in conjunction with the grand opening. Full site coming soon. View site »

lisacuemanphotography.com

We helped our one of our favorite animal photographers Lisa Cueman launch her new portfolio site and blog this year.

mpoweroregon.com

Portland client MPowerOregon launched their new site in June. We also helped pull their logo and corporate identity together.

Branding & Identity Design: Alexander Project Services

What’s more fun than a branding and identity design project? One where we get to rename the company! This project also included a website (more WordPress), the proof of concept which drove our design. Read more about the project here »

Alexander Project Services Stationery

www.alexanderprojectservices.com - launching any day now!

New name, brand identity and website for Alexander Project Services (formerly BAF) in 2013.

Event Branding: Windows on Main Street 2013

This year was the 100th birthday for Beacon, and my town celebrated in style. We jumped on the bandwagon with Windows on Main Street and created a retro branding theme for the 2013 version of this annual community art event. The branding brought high visibility to the event!

WOMS Main Street Banner

Banner in the middle of Main Street announced our presence with authority!

WOMS Coasters

Coasters were distributed in all the pubs through the summer to promote the event.

WOMS Ad in The Paper

We even did a wee bit of advertising this year.

New Product Launch: MinderPet

This might have been my favorite project from 2013. It hit our sweet spot of combining product development, branding, and communications design. Read more about the project here »

MinderPet Packaging

Logos

And finally, a few new logos…

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Design Trends: Simplify the Logo

2012 and 2013 brought stripped down logos to the design world. You might recognize this in some of the corporate logo redesigns that have been released recently. But is this a good thing for the world of design?

You might remember that the original Google logo had a bevel and a drop shadow. Both have been stripped out now, leaving us undistracted from its signature typeface and bright color range. To me, this is an improvement, reflecting the original advantage Google had over other search engines: a simple interface and web search functionality. Thumbs up!

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New Google logo

The Windows logo recently got an update from Pentagram, evolving from black text paired with a wavy 4-color flag, to a flat 4-color flag, to now a one-color blue logo with the flag in perspective. To me, this most recent version dulls the brand — with the bright colors, I had hope that using Windows would brighten my day. Now I feel dread that I might have to use Microsoft products all day at work. Thumbs down.

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New Windows logo

The original WeightWatchers logo was definitely due for an update. This was a complete redesign: the logo mark was dropped; new color; all lowercase approach to the typography. I assume the gradient approach was to convey losing weight…or fading away to a shell of oneself? In any case, you can’t get much simpler than a grey color, and lowercase sans serif typography. I’m on the fence about this one, with slightly negative feelings.

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New WeightWatchers logo

New logo FAILs!

The Gap released a new logo in 2010 that was completely rejected by the public at large via Twitter and social media. They restored the old logo within a week. This might be an example of stripping down a bit too much…it doesn’t feel sophisticated whatsoever, especially bad for a much-beloved 40 year old brand. It does remind me of a couple of logo projects I did in design school…ouch! They are still using the reversed GAP text in the blue square.

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Failed Gap logo

In my opinion, the UAL (University of the Arts London) logo suffers the same problem as the Gap logo. It looks like someone in the administration office proudly did some designing in PowerPoint. Too bad for such a prestigious institution. To me, this is a very disappointing Pentagram design. Lesson learned: maybe stay away from the too-familiar-yet-beloved Helvetica for the typeface? You can see it’s the same as the Gap logo above.

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New UAL logo

The University of California recently overhauled its logo as well. This logo was also completely rejected by the public, which I think is too bad — it’s a nice piece of identity design and could have gone a long way to unite the disparate UC system. But alas, a petition was roused by Change.org to drop the logo and the university eventually withdrew it. More like Change.not. Oh well!

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Failed UC logo

So…to simplify or not? Personally, I prefer a simple logo. The goal is for the logo to be useful and memorable. It’s easier to maintain brand standards with a simple logo, and it’s easier to use for various purposes. But simple still needs to feel professional, and the logo should always reflect the goals, history, and brand of the company or organization. That’s what we prioritize.

See samples of our logo work here »

Via Creative Bloq

 

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