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,

sig

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,

sig

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,

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!
sig

2016 Print Trends by Paperspec

This month, Paperspecs put on a webinar about the hottest print design trends in 2016. Paperspecs is a website dedicated to all things printing and paper. And by paper, I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill Staples multipurpose. No, this is more like the TMZ of the paperworld: what’s hip, mill news, swatch book scandals, who’s printing who, etc. Real design nerd stuff.

I’ll save you 45 minutes and sum up their “Top 5” print trends. Or if you like, you can watch the original webinar here.

Number 5: Kraft Paper

It’s got that artisan, handmade, enviro-friendly feel.

kraft paper wedding

Number 4: Go for the Gold

It isn’t just for Grandma’s bling anymore.

gold menu items

gold ink brochure

Number 3: Soft Metallic Sheen

According to the webinar, this is silver label paper printed on a digital press. Pretty slick.

 soft sheen label
Number 2: Tone on Tone

There are many ways – in various price ranges – to achieve this next level effect.

 spot varnish

emboss

Number 1: Hand Sown Thread

This is called smyth binding. It’s not new, but this treatment (exposed) is the rage. Juries out for me on this trend.

smyth sewn

smyth2

 

Hope you enjoyed this recap. Have a great week!

sig

 

 

 

Gradients Are Back!

have you noticed that gradients are making a comeback in the world of commerce? Perhaps, you didn’t know they were ever out of fashion. Or even more likely, you’re not 100% sure what a gradient is? Never fear.

Simply defined, a gradient is a slope (or fade) that displays a smooth transitions between two or more colors. Here are some examples of simple gradients.

graphic design gradients

In the early days of computer graphics, gradients were rampant… and bold. Any old desktop publisher with a copy of Photoshop could pop a rainbow fade into their design with the click of a button. The effect was so easily achieved that it lost it’s appeal as a sophisticated element of design. And sometime during the rise of minimalism, the gradient was cast to the background along with other aesthetic rejects like the Drop Shadow and Comic Sans. It also probably didn’t help that professionally printing a design with a gradient tends to increase production cost because it requires at least 4 layers of ink.

The gradient is indeed back. Truthfully, they never went away completely, but now you can find them featured prominently in many types of graphic design. Proof of their status: big brands (i.e. people with money to lose) are using them. A fresh example is the new Instagram logo suite.

instagram

As with many things, the old is now new again. There is one key difference though: the new gradients are almost always highly saturated and very colorful. Here are some examples that really struck me.

website with gradient

(source: https://mixpanel.com/jql/)

f8 gradients web design

thank you typographygradients web design

(source: https://www.fbf8.com)

Not to be left behind, I’ve dipped my toe in the water when the situation was appropriate. Take a look!

south carolina graphic design

let's get to play

Go forth! Upgrade your marketing materials with large swathes of fading color! A word of warning though – like any fashionable trend, please consult a professional to make sure you’re “doing it right”. Luckily, I happen to know one.

Have a great week,

sig