Simple Stamp Timebox

I often face a problem in my day to day work life. The problem stems from two separate realities:

  1. Terrible To-do List. There are many many many things I want to create. The list is endless and overwhelming.
  2. Perfectionism – the archenemy of progress. Even with small things, I often won’t take them on until I know I have time to do them perfectly. This prevents me from tackling my Terrible To-Do list. Is all lost?

foreverNot quite. An effective solution is called timeboxing. In short, you choose a task (or deliverable) and give it a set amount of time. At the end of that time, whatever you’ve accomplished is the final deliverable. In other words, you create a deadline and then stick to it no matter what. When your time is up, you’re finished with that project – forever.

Okay not necessarily forever. And it doesn’t work on every task. But for the right projects, I love this technique. It forces you to focus on the essentials and cut the fat. It works especially well if you’re deadline-driven, as I am.

Last week, I had an extra hour or two and I challenged myself to time box a small project I’d been putting off: create (and order) a return address stamp. Since the stamp isn’t expensive or something I’ll use forever, I figured it would be a great project to timebox.

sketch of hand drawn stamp

Here’s how it turned out. First I did the sketch. Then I scanned it. Then I converted it to a digital vector program and played around with it until my time was up. I placed the order just in time to hit my deadline.

handmade return address stamp

Is it perfect? No, but I love how it turned out. I had fun making it. And, of course, now I can cross something off that Terrible To-do list.

Have a great week,

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SIDENOTE: One interesting application of the timebox concept is used in creating indie (small time) video games. I’ve participated in a couple of these contests. Both times, I worked with a developer to create a simple, playable computer game in three days. You might be able to play one of them in your browser here (doesn’t work in Chrome).

Fishy Field Trip

The other day, I couldn’t bare to look at my computer screen for one more second. Not one. I blame early spring. I was feeling burned out. So, reluctantly I gave myself permission to go on a field trip. It was 10AM on a Tuesday — very much out of the norm for ABD.

I grabbed my sketchbook and headed down to the local aquarium. It’s an amazing place and their slogan is “Cheaper than a therapist!” Okay it’s not, but it should be.

I lucked out — no screaming kids. For the next couple of hours, I roamed the exhibits, sketched out various creatures that caught my eye and generally tried not to look like the creepy bearded guy by himself. It was a great afternoon and very relaxing.

Here’s some scans from my sketchbook:

aquarium sketches

Fast forward: a few weeks later when I was looking back through my drawings all these ideas just started flowing. I scanned in my drawings and made a short illustrated series for fun.

colored sketches of fish and an eel

colored sketches of fish and a jellyfish

colored sketches of fish

Then a few days after that, I ran out of business cards. Time was short so I grabbed my fishy friends and turned them into some new business cards. Take a look:

andrew barton business card

blue fish with one red fish

side of card

The moral of the story: sometimes it’s okay to give yourself permission to do something out of the ordinary. You never know what kind of creative ideas a little “me time” will spark. Try that on your boss and let me know how it goes.

Have a great week,

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PS – I really want to do some creative work for the Aquarium so if you’re reading this, SC Aquarium, swipe right.

Hatman Direct Mailer

Every year I mail out a New Year’s Card. It’s one of my favorite annual projects. Check out previous year’s designs here and here.

For 2017, I wanted to take it to the next level. I also wanted to tie the theme back to Charleston history. At some point during the brainstorming process, my fascination with the lapel pin craze and the Charleston Hatman coalesced into an idea that I was really excited about.

I was riding high until the realization that this project would be double or triple my budget. By this time, I was emotionally attached to my hatman mailer so I reached out to some partners to collaborate. Kimberly Hopkins from RR Donnelly printed the mailer and Michelle Harris from Karst Promo handled the enamel lapel pin. We all serve similar customers and used this opportunity for cross promotion. It was a win win… win.

Here’s how the project turned out:

direct mail front

happy new year design

charleston hatman history

hat man lapel pin

hatman lapel pin

BONUS – Watch a time-lapse video of the making of the Hatman vector artwork:

I was super pleased with the final product.

To summarize – need something printed? Call Kim. Need a customized lapel pin (or anything promotional)? Tell Michelle. Need some graphic design love? Nothing rhymes with Andrew. 😢 But here’s my number – 843.882.7627.

Have a great week,

sig

 

 

SEWE VIP Brochure

front page of brochure

front and back of direct mail brochure

gatefold design and insert

brochure flat inside

This brochure was designed to support VIP membership sales for the 2017 South Eastern Wildlife Exposition. The 5-panel mailer, printed on Sappi Flo 80lb Dull Cover paper, folds up and fits nicely into a #10 envelope. Inside the brochure hides a colorful invitation to a Gala event.

I’m particularly fond of the gated fold (center panels) with the avian artwork by this year’s featured artist, Ezra Tucker.

Have a great week,

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Inktober 2016

This year, I participated in an art challenge called Inktober. What’s Inktober?

Inktober is a time when artists draw an image a day using traditional inking tools (biro, marker, ink wash, etc.) throughout the month of October.

For my theme, I chose isometric architectural and landscape drawings. For more information on what that means, check out isometric projection. That’s pretty boring stuff, but you may recognize the isometric perspective from video games like Simcity 2000.

sim city

In keeping with inktober, I stuck with black ink and gray markers. Here’s a few examples of what I drew everyday:

isometric house

isometric charleston houseisometric castle house isometric mushroom house isometric icecream truck  isometric indian camp

After a few days, I put 9 of these “tiles” together to form a little scene.

neighborhood isometric

As we approached October 31st, I even created a Halloween themed scene.

isometric haunted house

At the end of the month, I finished 31 isometric ink drawings. It was a great challenge. It was a great fun! You can see them all on my instagram feed. You may need to scroll down a bit. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #inktober2016 to find all the other great artwork that was being created too.

One last thing, if you’re interested to see how these were created, I recorded some of the process. Check it out here:

Making of "the School". #screencapture #inktober2016

A post shared by Andrew Barton (@andrewbartondesign) on

 

Have a great week,

sig

 

 

The Dreaded Holiday Card

What’s worse than seeing Christmas decorations on sale before Halloween? Waiting until the last minute to work on your Holiday Card!

So what is your plan for some festive self-promotion over the holidays? A Thanksgiving card? A Christmas basket? Personally, I skip the Christmas, Hannuka, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia fiasco and send a New Years Card instead. I learned this little trick from my time living abroad in Japan in my 20’s. More on my most recent New Years Card later.

Holiday Card Ideas

Good news – you have lots of options. I’ve scoured the web and gathered a few examples of fresh Holiday promotional ideas.

holiday graphic vector

This hipster line art design is great for a trendy holiday card or email blast. (Source: Justin Burns)

hot chocolate

Or you could add some practical value by giving your customers an illustrated recipe. (Source: She Knows)

 

christmas graphic design

Or go minimalist with a simple design and outstanding typography. Bonus points if you get this printed on letterpress. (Source: Jay Roberts)

Or Tell a Story

For the 2016 New Year, I told a story and inspired my clients. I wanted my mailer to be unique and practical. To do this, I ordered custom-printed pocket sketchbooks from Scout Books.

happy new year card

The illustration on the front is an arrow head. Then I added a belly band with a short explanation about the arrowhead. It told a simple story about how I had achieved one of my life goals in the previous year: finding an arrowhead.

hand sewn envelope

Next, I engaged my master-seamstress mother-in-law to create some hand-sewn envelopes out of packaging paper. Finally, I addressed, stamped and mailed them. Done.

pen and envelope

I loved this project and so did my clients. It helped me stand out in a crowded marketplace by making a memorable and personal impression.

So what’s your plan? Don’t wait. Take some time this week and think about how you could take it to the next level. Ask yourself how you could really WOW your clients. Or better yet – let’s do it together. Give me a call – 843.882.7627

Have a good week,

sig

Pulling the Horse

Marketing a business can feel like the Wild Wild West. Your business is this wagon.

wagon

And your logo is the horse.

logo horse

Your logo should be making your journey easier. Like this:

wagon

Your logo should do at least two things:

  1. Symbolically convey your company’s identity
  2. Build trust with your customers by being consistent across all platforms

Sometimes, though, I run into marketers and business owners who’ve got it backwards.

wagon pulling horse

They’re pulling an untamed horse!

Here are a few examples of what that might look like in real life:

  • You don’t have a one color version of your logo for special occasions (e.g. on a charity 5K t-shirt)
  • Your logo is too detailed and doesn’t look good small (e.g. on a promotional pen or a car decal)
  • You don’t have the original files (e.g. you’re always scrambling to find the right format)
  • You don’t have a “locked up” font, color or icon (e.g. the logo on your business card is different than your website)

If you have any of these problems, you’re working harder for your logo than it’s working for you.

It doesn’t have to be that way

Let me suggest that you need a visual identity system (a.k.a. logo) that uses typography, color, space, and icon(s) in a consistent and organized manner. If you’re working for a larger institution, your guidelines could look like Clemson University, Boy Scouts or LinkedIn. If you’re a small biz, you may not need to be that organized, but – whatever you end up with – should be written down, easy to understand and make your life easier. Your guidelines should be an instruction manual that accommodates all of your marketing channels: from tradeshows to letterhead to web apps.

brand guidelines

So take a few minutes, hop down off the wagon and take a good look at your horse. Is it pulling you along or slowing you down?

Might be time to put that horse out to pasture. Start fresh. If so, give me a call. 843.882.7627

See you on the trail,

sig

Stranger Typography

stranger things logo title

Think about your favorite tv series. Now think about the title sequence (or opening credits) for that show. Do they suck you in? Do they put you in the mood for the story? Great title screens do. A few of my favorite title sequences are Sherlock Holmes, anything Star Trek and The Walking Dead.

But let’s take this a step further. What if you took your favorite show’s title sequence and removed all the fancy effects, shots of the actors and any scenery. Would that title screen still be able to do it’s job? If that title screen belonged to Stranger Things, then, yes it’s doing the job amazingly.

Stranger Things is Netflix’s new fantasy suspense drama set in the 80’s. It’s very very good. And it’s simple intro does a spooktastic job of setting the tone for the show. You can watch it here.

I want to note three great design aspects of this sequence.

1. So much with so little. While the design is minimalistic, the mood and tone completely draw us in. It takes serious skills to be able to communicate so much with typography, three colors and an – admittedly incredible – sound track.

2. It’s a mystery. The title sequence, like the show, is itself a mystery. At first, the shapes floating around look remarkably familiar but not entirely recognizable. A few scenes later, they reveal themselves to be letters, but what do they say? The mystery isn’t resolved until we zoom out to see the whole picture.

3. It’s retro AND contemporary. The title font, if you’re curious, is a Benguiat variant. And as this excellent blog post points out, it was pulled directly from the cover of multiple Stephen King Novels. It’s also contemporary because the designer elegantly paired a serif and a sans-serif. The sans-serif, Avante Garde, is the font used to render the names and roles.

Imaginary Forces, the team that made this sequence, really nailed it. Now it’s your turn. You can have some fun with this Stranger Things logo generator to make your own title screens. Here’s a few of mine:

typography rules

dumband-dumber

huckleberry finn

Have a great week,

sig

Grand Slam Poster

Did you know Charleston used to have a baseball team called the Charleston Rainbows? I didn’t until a few weeks ago when I collaborated with the awesome team down at Wine + Food Charleston. They commissioned me to design a poster for their upcoming ticket launch party on Sept 15th: Grand Slam Jam.

The event theme was the Rainbows, baseball, retro, etc. They put together a mood board to help give me an idea of the what they wanted. From there, I developed some rough sketches:

sketches of charleston rainbow poster

They picked one, a bunch of graphic design happened and we ended up with this for the final poster:

final wine + food poster for ticket launch

Additionally, we used the poster as an animated graphic for their email promotions.

charleston baseball jam

Great people. Great project. Don’t forget to buy your tickets to the Grand Slam Jam!
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