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How Art Changes Consciousness

Posted by on Apr 22, 2017 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

How Art Changes Consciousness

by Jacob Devaney, October 14, 2015 Art can heal us, inspire us, and alter our brain chemistry With so much talk about the evidence of the positive effects of yoga and meditation, you might be surprised at what scientific research also says about how art effects the brain. Long before modern neuroscience, artists were creating works to inspire people and today complex brain imaging scans can show us just how art changes the physiology of our brains. Contemplation, observing, and taking in beauty all stimulate pleasure centers within the brain while increasing blood flow by up to 10% in the medial orbitofrontal cortex. This can lead to an elevated state of consciousness, wellbeing, and better emotional health. The blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love. It tells us art induces a feel good sensation direct to the brain. – Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London Observing Art Mirror Neurons  are neurons that fire both when a person acts and when the person observes the same action performed by another. This brings us back to a very basic concept in human evolution which involves modeling. When you observe a profound piece of art you are potentially firing the same neurons as the artist did when they created it thus making new neural pathways and stimulating a state of inspiration. This sense of being drawn into a painting is called “embodied cognition”. Art accesses some of the most advanced processes of human intuitive analysis and expressivity and a key form of aesthetic appreciation is through embodied cognition, the ability to project oneself as an agent in the depicted scene, – Christopher Tyler, director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center Detail of Banks of the Siene at Jenfosse by Claude Monet This explains why we might feel like we are dreaming when we look at impressionists like Claude Monet, or having an ecstatic vision while looking at a painting by Alex Grey. The ability of art, combined with our own imagination, to transport us to other realms is astounding. Artists have the ability to show us new worlds but we shouldn’t put them on a pedestal because each of us is an artist. Making art activates the whole brain and can foster integration of emotional, cognitive, and sensory processes. – Joan French MA NCC LCPC Detail of Arise by Amanda Sage Creating Art The act of creating art is also therapeutic which has been the impetus for the art therapy movement. Every one of us lived like artists as children and we have the ability to bring back this powerful form of expression and self-healing if we allow ourselves to. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy smearing paint on a canvas and letting your pleasure centers light up like a child! Art therapy, sometimes called expressive art or art psychology, encourages self-discovery and emotional growth. It is a two-part process, involving both the creation of art and the discovery of its meaning. – Paula Ford-Martin Modern Visionary Artists are applying the idea...

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7 Good Reasons to Work with a Professional Graphic Designer

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

7 Good Reasons to Work with a Professional Graphic Designer

(Adapted from a 2012 post) I so appreciate entrepreneurs and the courage it takes to launch a new business. The vision it takes. The optimism, commitment, drive, passion, sense of purpose, confidence, resiliency … It can be quite a ride and it’s not for everyone. I especially love the energy that comes with a start-up, and have collaborated with many on their branding and print promotions over the past 20+ years. But I’ve also seen new entrepreneurs neglect the critical step of creating a solid graphic identity as a foundation for their organizations, and end up projecting an embarrassingly unprofessional image right out of the gate. Here are my top 7 reasons to partner with a professional graphic designer: 1.  A professional look and feel communicates quality. It generates trust and credibility. Your graphic identity makes that all-important first impression. Sophisticated audiences recognize, value, and respect quality. If you opt for a homemade look with your own company image, where else might you cut corners in your business practices? Having the right software to do the job is not enough. A solid knowledge of design principles and an eye trained for detail can make your branding and promotions shine. 2.  Collaborating with a professional designer saves you time, freeing you and your staff to do what you do best. Most small businesses can’t ‘do it all’ in-house. An experienced creative partner can help streamline the process of developing marketing materials by interfacing with commercial printers, photographers, and other specialists, and providing project management services as desired. 3.  Hiring a designer can save you money.  An experienced designer can usually hammer out a project quickly and efficiently, having already climbed the learning curves involved. (S)he also has the right tools and skillset for the job and knows where to find the right resources (fonts, graphics, photographers, illustrators, etc.) for your project. 4.  A professional image gets you noticed in a crowded marketplace. A great graphic identity or promotion rises above the noise and clutter to grab attention, pique interest, stoke desire, and prompt action, while making your organization look good. That can’t help but impact your bottom line. 5.  A graphic designer is a professional communicator and problem solver. Clear, strategic, user-friendly layouts, impactful visuals and precise, persuasive language help guide the reader through to acting on your offer. 6.  You get not just ‘production’ but a treasure trove of creative ideas, resources, and inspiration based on broad and deep experience in the world of design and marketing. This includes, not only cool visual approaches and effects, but communication strategies you may not have considered. 7.  Your business is worth it! Your graphic identity is more than your signature…It’s your reputation. A client review:  “I feel Linda was the right choice for me as a start-up business. Her understanding of marketing in general and for Kauai specifically is a great asset. Her patience, guidance, and timely responses have helped me feel comfortable and confident as a new business owner. I would highly recommend Kauai Design Graphics to any new or established business for design and marketing services.”  ...

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The Revenge of Analog

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Revenge of Analog

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter By David Sax Review by MICHIKO KAKUTANI, NY Times, December 5, 2016 Editor’s Note: As one who designs almost exclusively for print, I appreciate the revival of analog ‘technologies.’ Author David Sax reports that the resurgence is not driven so much by the nostalgia of older generations. It’s digitally hard-wired-from-birth young adults embracing real life, low tech, tactile, hands-on experience. Read on. “Sooner or later, everything old is new again,” Stephen King once wrote — an observation that’s never been truer than today. Far from being dead, vinyl records sales rose to $416 million last year, the highest since 1988, and artists like the Black Keys, Lana Del Rey and Beck are eagerly embracing the format. Instant Polaroid-like cameras have caught on among millennials and their younger siblings. A new Pew survey shows that print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats. Old-school paper notebooks and erasable whiteboards are the go-to technology among many Silicon Valley types, and even typewriters are enjoying a renaissance in today’s post-Snowden, surveillance-conscious era. In his captivating new book, The Revenge of Analog, reporter David Sax provides an insightful and entertaining account of this phenomenon, creating a powerful counternarrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world. Mr. Sax argues that analog isn’t going anywhere, but is experiencing a bracing revival that is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex. “Analog experiences can provide us with the kind of real-world pleasures and rewards digital ones cannot, and sometimes analog simply outperforms digital as the best solution.” Pen and paper can give writers and designers a direct means of sketching out their ideas without the complicating biases of software, while whiteboards can bring engineers “out from behind their screens” and entice them “to take risks and share ideas with others.” “The choice we face isn’t between digital and analog,” Mr. Sax asserts. “That simplistic duality is actually the language that digital has conditioned us to: a false binary choice between 1 and 0, black and white, Samsung and Apple. The real world isn’t black or white. It is not even gray. Reality is multicolored, infinitely textured, and emotionally layered.” And it’s often analog — perhaps less efficient, less perfect, less speedy — which best captures those human imperfections, creating a tactile interface with the world. A growing number of artists have noticed that music made on old tape machines and vintage studio equipment sounds different — “more heartfelt, raw, and organic,” in Mr. Sax’s words — than music made with the latest, most sophisticated technology. Listeners, too, as the musician Jack White has observed, find that vinyl has a romance, a magic that doesn’t come with the click of a mouse: “With vinyl, you’re on your knees.” He continued: “You’re at the mercy of the needle. You watch the record spin and it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire. It’s hypnotic.”          ...

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Print Helps Protect Forests

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Print Helps Protect Forests

by Gerry Bonetto for Graphic Design USA, August 2016 There’s a very popular myth out there about the relationship between print on paper and forests. You may have even heard your clients say, “Cutting trees for paper threatens forests.” Lots of people think this. Many companies have even used this myth to motivate customers to switch from paper bills to electronic bills. But the reality is, it’s just not true. Here’s why.   THINK IN TERMS OF “TREE FARMS,” NOT “OLD GROWTH FORESTS”  In the U.S. today, trees are grown as a crop. As Bob Lindgren, President of Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California (PIASC) explains, “When we consume vegetables, whether that be wheat, corn, spinach or broccoli, that farmer is going to grow more wheat, corn, spinach and broccoli. In the same way, if we’re using paper by putting ink on that paper, this means that a tree farmer is going to grow more trees.” Strong wood markets, including the demand created by print, provide an incentive for private foresters to hold their land rather than sell it for other use. With over half of U.S. forestland being privately owned—and 62% of this private land owned by families and individuals—this financial incentive is vital.1 “By using print on paper,” adds Bob, “we are giving that tree farmer income so that they can manage, renew and take care of that forest in a very responsible manner.” MILLIONS OF TREES ARE PLANTED EVERY DAY In spite of the ongoing demand for wood-based products, there are actually more trees in the U.S. today than there were 100 years ago. According to the USDA Forest Service, four million trees are planted every day in the United States. Of this amount, the wood and paper products industry plants an average of 1.7 million trees daily.2 The people who believe that cutting trees for paper threatens forests don’t realize that our industry plants more trees than are used. For every tree that is cut down, three or four are planted. The obvious benefits are huge: cleaner air and less carbon footprint. The benefit is not only from a sustainability standpoint for our environment, but also sustainability for the mills. After all, if the mills are going to cut down trees and never replant, they would be going out of business. CONCLUSION The bottom line is, cutting trees for paper does not threaten forests. The real threat to forests is that people will stop using paper, thereby reducing the market for wood products and making it economically unviable for landowners to continue to grow trees. 1Two Sides North America, Print and Paper: The Facts 2Paper Because, Truth or Fiction?, accessed May 2016 CHOOSE PRINT is an educational campaign designed to promote the effectiveness of print and to reinforce the fact that print on paper is a recyclable and renewable and thus a sustainable environmental choice. Choose Print reports that: •  Only 33% of the fibers used to make paper comes from virgin trees; 33% comes from wood...

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Blue Space

Posted by on Jul 17, 2016 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

Blue Space

Science Explains How Staying Near Water Can Change Our Brains Excerpted from an article by JENNY MARCHAL Editor’s note: Many of us are instinctively drawn to the water for renewal, refreshment and a connection to something primal.  As John F. Kennedy said, “when we go back to the sea, we are going back from whence we came.”    Have you ever felt at peace when you’re walking by the ocean? A sense of rejuvenation when you stand by a waterfall? How about taking in the view of a breathtaking lake from your window? We often feel a sense of calm when we’re around water. And scientists report that it has a positive effect on our brains. Looking at water and listening to its sound puts our overloaded minds into a relaxed and hypnotic-like state. Our brain processes generate more calm and creative states and increase our sense of well-being. Often referred to as blue space, the impact of the sea, rivers, and lakes on our happiness and well-being is being researched by neuro-scientists and psychologists. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, has discussed and published the different ways bodies of water positively affect us and many psychologists have researched how just having blue space in front of us can boost our mental health. Water Induces Meditative States When we hear the crashing of waves by the ocean, it can put us into a mindful, mediative state. The sound of waves has been found to alter brainwave patterns, invoking a meditative, relaxed state. Simply observing the movement of water causes our minds to calm. This contributes to improved mood, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting mental clarity and sleep patterns. Water Invokes Inspiration and Creativity When we’re near water, our brains switch from busy mode to relaxed mode. In this relaxed state, weʻre more open to inspired and creative thoughts. In essence, we are switching our busy brains, providing a more receptive mental environment for insight and introspection. Water Gives Us A Sense of Awe Awe is an important factor for our well-being according to the science of positive psychology. The emotion of awe contributes greatly to our happiness because it not only allows us to be in the present moment but it causes us to think about our place in the world around us. This can invoke feelings of humility, a connection to something beyond ourselves and the pure vastness of nature. Water Increases The Benefits of Exercise Exercising is obviously a good way to improve our mental well-being. However working out by the ocean will increase these benefits ten fold. Going for a swim in a lake or cycling along a river trail will give you more of a mental boost than working out in a crowded city or gym environment. Being surrounded by blue space adds positive benefits to exercise, with the increased exposure to good-feeling negative ions. Water Is A Rich Source of Negative Ions Exposure to positive and negative ions influences how we feel. Positive ions are emitted by electrical appliances such as computers, microwaves and hairdryers, and...

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Top Ten Reasons to Use Print

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Top Ten Reasons to Use Print

Guest post by Robert Campbell, Maui Printing Company. Given the rate at which advertisers and marketers have been jumping on electronic media bandwagons these days, it seems that print (still the most effective communication medium thus invented) has to justify itself. The Print Council’s recent “Why Print?” campaign of “Top Ten Ways Print Helps You Prosper” is a case in point. While there are certainly more than 10 reasons for advertisers and marketers to prefer print, we’ve taken a tip from the Print Council and present our own top 10 reasons to use print. 1.  Print Gets Delivered Studies have shown that even requested e-mail marketing is not delivered as much as one-fourth of the time by ISPs’ spam-blocking filters. Yet the Post Office—so-called “snail mail”—boasts 99% deliverability. Imagine: the marketing campaigns you have worked so hard on can actually be delivered! 2.  Print Generates Higher ROI Studies conducted by the Direct Marketing Association and the Wharton Economic Forecasting Associates have found that advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail marketing and sell $2,095 worth of goods per person. That’s an ROI of 13 to 1. And an RIT study found that 67% of respondents said they liked receiving printed mail about products from companies with whom they do business. 3.  Print Drives Other Media Studies have repeatedly found that customers who receive a printed catalog from a given retailer are nearly twice as likely to go to that retailer’s Web site and make a purchase. Print’s role in “multichannel marketing” is a crucial one. 4.  Print Is Credible Print takes time, skill and money to produce. This imparts a sense of importance and credibility to printed messages that electronic media lack. Anyone with a computer can send e-mail; it takes effort to produce a print mailing. 5.  Print Is User-Friendly No one has ever received an error message trying to read a catalog. No one has ever needed to consult a help file to figure out how to use a postcard. Print is the ultimate in user-friendliness. 6.  Print Is Permanent Batteries die, computer screens go black, e-mail gets deleted and disk drives fail. Electronic files are ephemeral, but print endures. 7.  Print Is Portable No one needs a special device or application to use print. Print never suffers from file or platform incompatibility. Flyers, catalogs and brochures are the ultimate in “grab and go” and can be consumed anywhere at any time. And when the power goes out, print will still work. 8.  Print Respects Privacy Print never interrupts someone’s dinner. “Do not call” lists have reduced the effectiveness of telemarketing, and government regulations have made “cold e-mailing” difficult. Print is the perfect medium to open the door to other media, introducing a potential caller or e-mailer. Customers can specify the best time to call, or indicate that they don’t mind receiving e-mail. This “respect for the customer” leads to a more meaningful relationship—and a sale. 9.  Print Is Personal Customized publications and personalized printing can give...

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Six Writing Secrets You’re Born Knowing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Six Writing Secrets You’re Born Knowing

Guest post by John Forde, Copywriter’s Roundtable On my way to the AWAI Copywriting Bootcamp recently, I thought back on just HOW MANY things we’ve covered from that stage. One of the many things my frequent co-presenter, the great Jen Stevens, and I revealed are six “natural born” copywriting secrets. “Natural born” because, far as we could tell, these are the kinds of things you don’t really need to learn… because you know them from birth. What kinds of things? Well, it starts by simply acknowledging to yourself that persuading somebody in print, in video, in real life… is often just about having a keener understanding of what makes humans tick. People are complicated, of course. But we picked these six because seemed to get to the core of what a lot of what we — and you — do when writing copy. Without further ado, here’s the rundown… 1) “THE SPARKING MATCH” At the start the movie The Usual Suspects, Gabriel Byrne’s character touches a cigarette to a book of matches. They spark then flame across. He drops them onto a line of gunpowder and the flames race across a burning shipyard dock. The “natural born” insight? We’re programmed to use little details to help us sort out what’s going on. Which is why using them to tell big stories can help make those stories feel present and real. In copy, we call them “actualities.” And using them judiciously has an added bonus: they can also help fix other copy problems automatically. How so? It turns out that, to pick the most compelling details, you also have to think more clearly about the message you want to convey. 2) USE YOUR “SANTOKU” A Japanese “santoku” knife — you can buy one at any kitchen store — does three things well: It chops, dices, and minces. Imagine if you had a mental santoku you could use to chop, dice, and mince your copywriting projects down to a more manageable size. We know this instinctively, when we tackle all kinds of other projects one thing at a time. The secret many writers don’t reveal is that they often write in small pieces too, rather than in a linear way. 3) THE RIVER OF RELEVANCE While details have value, you still need to make sure it’s only the emotionally relevant details you use. What’s “emotional relevance?” It’s the way your prospect needs to feel to be open to your message. For babies, it’s pretty obvious that feelings trump logic. But the truth is, that natural directive never really goes away. It’s how we select what we’ll listen to and what we’ll ignore. That’s why your sales copy has to take those relevant emotions into consideration too. Don’t seek to MAKE a prospect feel. Look for — and return to — those details, metaphors, and stories that connect to emotions your reader is already likely to have. 4) SLAY THE BLOATED MONSTER William Zinsser warns about “bloated monsters that lie in ambush for the...

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20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

In 1996 I was having a blast doing creative projects for friends and family on my first personal computer, while studying the principles of design from library books and the occasional seminar that came near my rural part of northern California. My brother Tim mostly taught me the basics of Adobe Pagemaker (precursor to Adobe InDesign) from across the continent via email. It soon dawned on me that if I started a ‘desktop publishing’ business, I could justify all the toys (hardware and software) I needed to take the fun to the next level. After five years of operation in California’s Napa Valley, constantly honing my craft, my (now) husband and I made the jump across the Pacific, and Kauai Design was born. As I celebrate 20 years, I’m looking back at a few of the essential lessons I’ve learned along the way. CLIENT RELATIONS 1. Listen… …to understand my client’s goals, products, services, and target audience so we’re on the same page, solving the right problem 2. Inform Share design expertise, technical knowledge, and resources, give honest feedback, and communicate throughout the process. I’ve learned it works better to err on the side of over-communicating than under-. 3. Be Generous After meeting with a new client, I summarize our agreement in a written proposal, spelling out the cost, scope of services and timeline for their project. Then I strive to exceed my promises and over-deliver on the goods. 4. Be open-minded Design is subjective. As with all art, personal taste looms large. While I find long-standing principles of good design valid, and generally worth heeding, sometimes they must be over-ridden by the client’s preferences or an inspired but offbeat idea. 5. Small business owners rock I am continually impressed with the vision and commitment, the willingness to take risks and do what it takes to launch and maintain a business. Entrepreneurs are a special breed and I’m honored to have collaborated with so many on their branding and promotional needs. THE CREATIVE PROCESS 6. Get psyched Get my head (and body) in a good space before sitting down with a project. Approach the work with the mindset of being receptive, curious, interested, eager, and open to relationships between the parts. 7. Be willing to walk away For me, a swim in the ocean is the best way to clear my mind, work out my body, and re-boot the creative process when I’m feeling stuck. 8. Stay open to possibility Allow for the unexpected flashes of inspiration, the seemingly off-the-wall ideas, and the breakthroughs that emerge from “mistakes” 9. Trust the process Know that the unfolding requires incubation and marination and sometimes even divine intervention. Stretching to take on something I’ve never done before, though sometimes intimidating, has always made me a better designer. See let-it-incubate-germinate-marinate/ INDISPENSABLE DESIGN PRINCIPLES 10. Start with art The reader’s eye will be drawn to a picture first. Make it count. Fonts, colors, and other graphic elements can take their lead from the art....

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Let it incubate, germinate, marinate…

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Let it incubate, germinate, marinate…

I’ve long been a believer in immersing myself in information and images related to a design or writing project, then backing off, focusing on something completely different. The data then simmers and churns in my unconscious mind, connecting the dots (as Steve Jobs called it), generating new associations and relationships, insights and revelations. In my 20 years as a designer, I’ve learned to relax into a receptive space, to trust the natural ripening or gestation process. In September 2015 I shared a post about the little book, Free Play by Stephen Nachmanovitch. (See “Free Play and Creativity”) That book is packed so full of intriguing ideas that it holds the record for the number of stickies I’ve ever stuck in a half-inch thick book. I marked dozens of passages I wanted to re-read and re-think. Nachmanovitch notes that our language of nouns and verbs contributes to the illusion that we, the subjects, control the creative process (the object). But in the act of creation, there are unseen, unconscious forces doing the heavy lifting. Our job is sometimes to give our analytical, judging brains a rest and let the muse, our intuitive wisdom, our DNA, and the collective consciousness speak. RIPENING In a chapter called “Ripening,” Nachmanovitch writes, “In one phase of the [creative] process we exercise technique and try things out step by step. In another phase the conscious working of ideas sinks down and assimilates with the unconscious. Then there is  the seemingly magical part of the process in which the material resurfaces, enriched and ripened by its unconscious sojourn. It is not, of course the material that resurfaces, it is we who resurface, more ripe and ready to bear the material.” Our stuck places may well hold the greatest potential for creative breakthroughs if we can surrender, drop the struggle, and walk away. The process then goes ‘underground’ to cook, incubate, germinate, marinate (choose your metaphor…) the raw material and emerge with fresh connections, insights and aha moments. “Like a birth, creative expression bursts out, of its own accord, when you and it are ripe.”      -Stephen Nachmanovitch Solutions usually come when we are NOT focused on the problem. Answers usually come when we are NOT focused on the question, but when we are mentally relaxed and open. We could be showering, driving, taking a walk, meditating, lying in bed, floating in the ocean. The bottom line? Take breaks. Chill. Let go. Trust. It’s one of life’s paradoxes that the secret to creative productivity is ‘non-productive’ down time, incubating, germinating, marinating ideas. And I find that having faith in the mysterious creative process is good practice for building faith in the perfect unfolding of life in general. See also How Creativity Works and Learning to Trust Be Sociable,...

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Why Designers Love the Ampersand

Posted by on Jan 22, 2016 in Blog, Copywriting, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Why Designers Love the Ampersand

A ROMANCE THAT DATES BACK TO POMPEII by John Brownlee for Fast Company, January 20, 2016 Cheerily nuzzled above the “7” key like a pear-shaped pill bug, the ampersand is perhaps the most intriguing character on the keyboard. While all letters and punctuation marks look similar enough in abstract, the ampersand feels unique, like a shape-shifter that could transform at a moment’s notice. For type designers and aficionados both, it isn’t so much a character as it is a character, “usually a tirelessly entertaining one, perhaps an uncle with too many tricks,” as Simon Garfield wrote in his 2012 book, Just My Type. No wonder the ampersand attracts such endless fascination. There are coloring books about ampersands, ampersand-a-day Tumblr blogs, and a whole cottage industry of t-shirt makers working in ampersands. Perhaps the most epic undertaking of ampersand-ian tribute came in 2010, when over 400 different designers came together to create an entire font made up of nothing but distinctive and unrepeated ampersands. The project speaks to the ampersand’s individuality: a font of nothing but ampersands is easy to imagine in a way that a font of only lower case “j“s could never be. But if an ampersand feels like it can be anything, what makes an ampersand an ampersand? Where does it come from? And why, exactly, do type designers love it so much more than other characters? Flickr user arnoKath EVERY AMPERSAND STARTS WITH “ET” Ampersand design may seem infinitely variable, but no matter how stylized or abstracted, every ampersand is, at heart, an et—or Latin for “and.” Some typefaces (especially handwritten-style ones) make this more obvious: it doesn’t take too much squinting to see an “et” in the ampersands of Trebuchet MS, Garamond Italic, Casalon Italic, or even Papyrus. But you can see the Latin DNA of “et” even in an Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman ampersand, where the “e” has become a half-closed figure eight, forming the cross of a “t” with its bottom descender. And if you’ve ever handwritten an ampersand, chances are you’ve done so by drawing a loopy cursive “E,” bisected lengthwise by a straight line: another stylized “et.” The first known ampersand was scrawled on a wall in 1st-century Pompeii by an anonymous graffiti artist practicing his Roman cursive. It is related, but not identical to, a rival mark created during the same time period by Marcus Tiro, a former slave of Cicero who proposed what is known as the Tironian et (or “⁊”) as part of one of the world’s first shorthand system. Although the Tironian “et” eventually fell out of favor—except, bizarrely, in Ireland, where it is still used in Gaelic signage today—the Latin “et” continued to gain popularity, perhaps because it wasn’t tied to a larger shorthand system that scribes needed to learn in full. Instead, by the 8th century, they had stylized the Latin “et” into a symbol that looks very much like a modern ampersand. But it would take another thousand years for the ampersand to get its modern name. AND PER SE & Technically, the word ampersand is a mondegreen—meaning...

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Ellen DeGeneres Invites ʻEverybody Design Nowʻ

Posted by on Nov 21, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Ellen DeGeneres Invites ʻEverybody Design Nowʻ

Fresh News | November 15, 2015 Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s new campaign initiative to take its Design in the Classroom program nationwide has gained substantial support from television host Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres recently matched contributions up to $100,000, and to date, more than $325,000 has been raised toward the museum’s $500,000 goal to launch the national program. The program itself introduces classes K-12 to design thinking and learning through interactive hands-on workshops. “As the nation’s design museum, it is our mission to ensure every student is introduced to the power of design and understands how it can be used to solve everyday problems,” said Caroline Baumann, director of the museum. “We’re so pleased to have the commitment of Ellen DeGeneres, her brand ED and countless other friends in the design world. Their support will enable us to bring this free program to schools across the country. We’re hopeful that with the public’s help we will reach and inspire even more of tomorrow’s designers.” “This program encourages students to think like designers as they engage in the design process through active observation, critical discussion, the act of making, visual communication and presentation and critique,” said Caroline Payson, director of education. “It has been a longtime dream to bring the unique experience of Design in the Classroom to every student in America.” Through Design Challenge kits, children are tasked to use common materials to build a prototype that solves a design problem and learn that design thinking can be used to solve problems faced in daily life. The 45-minute workshop instills creative confidence and encourages students to approach the world in a visual way. The program imparts essential 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, visual literacy, teamwork and problem solving, and can be used to enhance the teaching of any subject matter, including mathematics, science, environmental studies, language arts, history and visual arts. In year one, the museum’s educators will conduct four regional trainings, appoint select educators as regional ambassadors and conduct in-person follow-up visits to evaluate the integration of design into the curriculum. The national objective for the program will be accomplished through a “teachers training teachers” model. With every 100 educators trained, the program could reach 7,500 students per year. If each of these educators went on to train 10 of their peers, that’s 1,000 educators per year and 75,000 students. The museum is now inviting the public to support the campaign through the crowdfunding platform Razoo. Photographs: Jessica Nunez Copyright: Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Be Sociable,...

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What John Cleese, Stephen King, Paul Simon and Anthony Trollope Can Teach You About Creativity

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

What John Cleese, Stephen King, Paul Simon and Anthony Trollope Can Teach You About Creativity

BY JAMES JOHNSON • AUGUST 13, 2015 • blog.shareasimage.com Anthony Trollope was one of the world’s most creative writers. In the 1800’s he regularly released novels over 700 pages in length, multiple times a year, and wrote whole series so long that Lord of the Rings looks like a short story. And, he did all of this while working a full time job for the British Postal Service. According to Stephen King in his book On Writing, he was able to stay so creative for one simple reason – his process: “He wrote for two and a half hours before work. This schedule was ironclad. If he was mid-sentence when this two and a half hours expired, he left that sentence unfinished until the next morning.” If he finished a book in that time too, he’d simply write The End, set it aside, and start writing his next book. Now you’re probably thinking, “Wow, that’s insane! How can you be that creative, that often?” And, you wouldn’t be the only one. The truth is,  a creative process is all you need to be more creative. In fact, it’s the only part of creativity that you have any control over at all… The Creative Process John Cleese is a comedy legend – you might remember him from Monty Python, Fawlty Towers and A Fish Called Wanda – but he’s also a keen psychologist. And, not too long ago, he did a lot of research into the realm of creativity. And in this research he came to the conclusion that: “Creativity is not a talent, but a way of operating” That is to say that you creativity isn’t a feature only a few people have. It’s something you can unlock. For example, in comparisons between people who are deemed intelligent, such as Engineers and Writers, and those who aren’t, there was no difference in I.Q that suggests the smarter you are, the more creative you are. As long as you have a base level of intelligence, you can be as creative as anybody else on the planet. Which is great news. But how do you unlock this creative potential hidden deep inside of you? Well, Cleese points out there are 5 ways you can become more creative if you arrange them correctly. These are: Space Time Time (Again) Confidence Humour Now, there are no guarantees that any of these will give you your big idea instantly. As is the case with anything creative, there are good days, and there are bad days. You could sit around for hours and get nothing, or you could sit down, sip your coffee and be hit with a freight train of original ideas. As the man himself says: “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” But what all of these steps will do, more importantly, is get you into an openmind. Which is the breeding ground for all creativity. Open Your Mind… There are two types of thinking when it comes to...

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Free Play and Creativity

Posted by on Sep 8, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

Free Play and Creativity

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” -Carl Jung My husband read that quote to me and then the first paragraph of ‘Mind at Play,’ a chapter in Stephen Nachmanovitch’s dense yet liberating little book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. I was hooked. I’m fascinated and infatuated with the creative process and adore being in it. Now I’m inhaling the rest of the book, and sharing some highlights with you. May it inspire your own inner child. Here’s that first paragraph: “Improvisation, composition, writing, painting, theater, invention, all creative acts are forms of play, the starting place of creativity in the human growth cycle, and one of the great primal life functions. Without play, learning and evolution are not possible. Play is the taproot from which original art springs; it is the raw stuff that the artist channels and organizes with all his learning and technique. Technique itself springs from play because we can acquire technique only by the practice of practice, by persistently experimenting and playing with our tools and testing their limits and resistances. Creative work is play; it is free speculation using the materials of one’s chosen form. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. Artists play with color and space. Musicians play with sound and silence. Eros plays with lovers. Gods play with the universe. Children play with everything they can get their hands on.” Nachmanovitch, an improvisational musician, suggests that, although each art form comes with its own language and lore, there’s a kind of ‘metalearning’ and ‘metadoing’ that transfers across art forms, where the essence of creativity dwells. No matter the medium of expression, “what we have to express is already with us, is us, so the work of creativity is not a matter of making the material come, but of unblocking the obstacles to its natural flow.” He writes of creativity, knowing that “our subject is inherently a mystery. It cannot be fully expressed in words, because it concerns the deep preverbal levels of spirit. No kind of linear organization can do justice to this subject; by its nature it does not lay flat on the page.” “We are all improvisors,” he observes. “The most common form of improvisation is ordinary speech. As we talk and listen, we are drawing on a set of building blocks (vocabulary) and rules for combining (grammar). But the sentences we make with them may never have been said before and may never be said again. Every conversation is a form of jazz. the activity of instantaneous creation is as ordinary to us as breathing.” There is a zen quality to this material. Regarding being in the moment, Nachmanovitch notes, “When we drop the blinders of our preconceptions, we are virtually propelled by every circumstance into the present time and the present mind: the moment, the whole moment, and nothing but the...

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Recipe for a Perfect Logo (infographic)

Posted by on Jul 25, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Recipe for a Perfect Logo (infographic)

Image credit: David Joyce | FLICKR Original blog post: Kim LaChance Shandrow | ENTREPRENEUR Close your eyes and imagine Apple’s logo. Now think of Nike’s. How about Target’s? We’re willing to bet that you conjured up images for each in your mind’s eye in less than a second or so. They’re that memorable. As you can see, logos are so much more than simple symbols. They’re epic icons. Logos are the face of your company, the deliverers of the all-important lasting impression, crucial visual representations of your business, what you do and what you’re about. Accordingly, the utmost care and meticulousness should be taken when designing yours. If you already have a logo, the same goes for redesigning it. Spare no attention to detail. Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Company’s Logo From the font to the color, to the use of negative space and beyond, the aesthetic elements of a logo greatly impact how your company (and its offerings) are perceived by customers. Does it attract them or repel them? Does it stand out or fade into the background? Does it distinctly identify your brand or confuse it with your competitors? These are all critical questions to ask during the research and design phase, but far from the only ones, only a smattering of the main ingredients for the master recipe for cooking up a successful logo. Check out the famous logo-packed CompanyFolders infographic below for a complete list of specific, actionable tips and ideas to help you design the best logo possible for your brand.   Need help with your organization’s ‘signature?’ Logo design is one of our favorite kinds of projects. Let Kauai Design help make it shine!   Be Sociable,...

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The Power of Branding

Posted by on Jun 28, 2015 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

The Power of Branding

17 selected quotes on the nature and impacts of a solid brand identity MICHAEL EISNER. “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” STEVE FORBES.  “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.” UNKNOWN. “Your entire company should be considered your branding department.” MALCOLM FORBES. “There is just no way any management with any intelligence and foresight cannot recognize the value of a corporate image. It is the best, single marketable investment that a company can make.” SCOTT COOK. “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” JEFF BEZOS. “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” KIM TIMOTHY. “A brand is how one customer describes your business to another.” CHRISTOPHER BETZTER. Brand equity is the sum of all the hearts and minds of every single person that comes into contact with your company.” SCOTT TALGO. “A brand that captures your mind gains behavior. A brand that captures your heart gains commitment.” ZIG ZIGLAR. “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” PAUL RAND.  “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” DAVID AAKER. “Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition. If branding is ultimately about the creation of human meaning, it follows logically that it is the humans who must ultimately provide it.” AL REIS & LAURA REIS. “What is the single most important objective of the marketing process? We believe it’s the process of branding. Marketing is building a brand in the mind of the prospect.” SCOTT BEDBURY. “A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product.” KEVIN THOMSON. “Organizations in the future will manage feelings, beliefs, perceptions and values – the asset of emotional capital – as the hidden resources with the power to translate people’s knowledge into positive action.” CHARLES R. PETTIS III. “A brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational and cultural image that you associate with a company or product.” UNKNOWN. “The three key rules of marketing are brand recognition, brand recognition, brand recognition.” For more on branding, see Brand Thinking, The Right time to Rebrand, Branding Your Organization, and Your Organization’s Image   Be Sociable,...

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Social Media Images That Work

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Social Media Images That Work

by James Johnson, ShareAsImage.com If you’ve been looking to supercharge your social media strategy, you probably know a lot about the benefits of using images. But, how much do you know about actually creating scientifically shareable images? Turns out, there’s tons of actionable, research-backed advice on how to create social media images that get shared—the ideal colors, fonts, text, and more, all leveraging what we know about design, psychology and the Internet to get more shares and engagement. By the end of this article you’re going to be fully aware of how to make images that your readers can’t help but share. All backed by science.   What Makes A Shareable Social Media Image? A shareable social media image is made up of five components: Emotion: When your readers feel it, they’ll share it. Relevance: Your image should not only fit your niche, but fit your audience too. Colors: Using the right colors, to get maximum shares. Typography: Choosing a font that not only looks good, but also says what you’re trying to say. Hashtags and Text: Using the right words, phrases and hashtags that will make your audience interact. In the article you’re going to learn how you can take advantage of all of these elements, and put them together to create the best social images you possibly can. 1. Emotion Create Epic Content (Or Nobody Will Share It) Before I carry on, there’s one thing I do need to mention: You need to treat your images as content. And not just any sort of content. I mean the epic kind, that’s going to add a ton of value to your reader’s life. Because that’s the only content people share, right? If you’re creating images because you feel you need to – and just scatter them throughout your news feed – you’re not going to get anywhere. Your images should:    Back up points you’ve made    Show statistics    Provide tweetable (or valuable) quotes    Add depth    Go above and beyond the content you’ve written So, be sure that the images you use – or make – aren’t just there for the sake of it. Treat them as content and put a high value on what goes on them. What Makes An Image Emotional (And Shareable)? Emotion is the biggest piece of the sharing puzzle. And it’s the driving force behind all five points on this list – so it deserves a lot of attention. So, what makes an image emotional? As it turns out, there are a lot of factors: Color: Studies of abstract art have shown that the way color is used and distributed across a piece controls the emotions you feel. For example, black creates feelings at the despair end of the spectrum and bright primary colors can create joy and happiness. Font Choice: You’ll learn about this in depth in section four. Complexity: This isn’t complex designs – more on that next – but emotionalcomplexity. Research shows that the more feelings your images can convey,the more viral it will go. Showing one of these five things: Research from Harvard studied what makes marketing campaigns, and their images, go viral. They found that: Admiration, Interest, Serenity, Amazement and Astonishment were the most shared...

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10 Proven Persuasion Strategies

Posted by on Apr 20, 2015 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

10 Proven Persuasion Strategies

A guest post by John Forde, Copywriter’s Roundtable Persuasion, the good kind, isn’t about manipulation. It’s about tapping into those natural instincts we all have for self-preservation, and aligning those interests in somebody else with your own. Does that mean there are “click, whir” built-in triggers you can use to persuade? It does. Here’s a checklist with a few… ROUND UP THE HERD Teenagers all want to wear the same sneakers, only the crowded clubs seem cool, everybody wants an iPod. What is it about humans that they love to run with the herd? Trigger this response with statements about how many customers you’ve had so far, how orders have poured in, how high you rank in popularity compared to the competition. THE BUDDY BUMP You can “bump” up the likability of your product if friends, authorities, or even similar customers give your product a conspicuous nod of approval. Include pictures of people like your prospect using the product, tell the down-to-earth success stories of those similar customers. This technique is everywhere for a reason. FORCE THE POSITIVE Ask a question, any question, that’s going to get a “yes” response. And ask it early. Relevant questions may work even better, but research shows that almost any time you can get someone to say “yes,” they’re much more receptive to the rest of what you have to say. Just saying the word has a bond-building effect on both people in the exchange. IRRESISTIBLE CONSISTENCY We hate to be seen as inconsistent, simply because consistency is key to building trust in a relationship. Which is why so many who use the “yes” technique above ask small questions that they know they’ll later refer back to so they can get a larger commitment. e.g. “There’s nothing like ice cream on a hot summer day, am I right? It’s one of the sweetest memories any child could have.” And later, “You agreed with me about the cool satisfaction of a cone of ice cream in summer, I’m sure. Or you wouldn’t have read this far. That’s why I want to show you the new auto-cranking ice cream maker from…” THE BECAUSE CLAUSE Dr. Robert Cialdini found, in one of his studies, that dropping the word “because” into a rationale — even for an explanation that’s irrational — had the strange effect of getting people to respond to even unusual requests. In his case, his students used the trick to get other students to surrender the copy machine in the library. (e.g. “Can I jump in front of you and copy these 25 pages in my book? I need to because my parrot has dysentery…”) MAINTAIN THE MYSTERY No matter how cliché you think it is, teases and opportunities that are “hidden”… “undiscovered”… and “secret” have pulling power. Secrets capitalize on our fear of missing out or not being included. Shared secrets (real ones) help develop bonds. ACHILLES HEEL Have you ever noticed how the comedians that make fun of themselves make us laugh harder and...

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Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Posted by on Mar 22, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

A review of the book by Daniel Pink As a longtime student of human motivation, I donʻt know why it took me six years to get around to this book. It’s game-changing information that researchers have known since the late 1950’s, but that business and educational institutions have largely ignored. Pink describes three levels of motivation: Motivation 1.0 is the most primitive “operating system,” based on our basic biological needs: food, water and sex. Motivation 2.0 is all about motivating with rewards and punishments: the carrot and the stick, the predominant model for human behavior since caveman days. The new paradigm Pink illuminates so well in this book is Motivation 3.0: instrinsic, internally-generated motivation driven by our needs for automomy, mastery and purpose. In this ambitious book, Pink explores four decades of research on what boosts performance and creates satisfaction in our lives…and what doesn’t. He shares the pioneering work of research psychologists Harry Harlow and Edward Deci, who demonstrated that the performance of a task can be its own reward. Harlow proposed this radical idea back in 1949, based on his studies with rhesus monkeys, but it was not widely accepted by the scientific community. Deci picked up the investigation twenty years later and ultimately concluded that we have an “inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise [our] capacities to explore, and to learn.” Pink makes the case that the carrot and stick approach can actually be detrimental to motivation, in that it can: extinguish intrinsic motivation diminish performance crush creativity crowd out good behavior encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior become addictive foster short-term thinking He convincingly spells out why external incentives are no longer the driving force they once were. A growing number of aging baby boomers are looking back on their lives so far and finding a lack of meaning and purpose. We, and the generations behind us, are seeking jobs and projects that are creative, interesting, and self-directed. Pink shares ways for both individuals and organizations to transition into a Motivation 3.0 framework, building more intrinsic satisfaction into our lives. He explores a variety of alternative business models that enhance performance and address the human inclination to perform tasks for their own sake. These incorporate Pink’s three elements of motivation — autonomy, mastery, and purpose — and include: ROWEs (results-only work environments) where the employee determines when and where they work, as long as their work gets done 20 Percent Time where workers spend one day a week (20 percent of their time) on projects of their own making “Homeshoring” where customer service reps take calls from home, doing their work with greater autonomy and no commute Creating flow-friendly environments where the creativity and mastery of employees is encouraged. Building in opportunities for workers to derive purpose and meaning from their jobs by contributing to a cause larger than themselves Pink also provides alternative educational models and a 70-page “Toolkit” including: Nine Strategies for Awakening Your Motivation Nine Ways...

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Acting Happy Helps Us Stay Healthy (Duh.)

Posted by on Feb 27, 2015 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process | 0 comments

Acting Happy Helps Us Stay Healthy (Duh.)

One of my favorite subjects: happiness. SO many benefits SO worthy of cultivating. Dr. Anderson lives it and backs it with science. Ok, so how exactly is this subject related to this blog’s stated parameters of graphic design, marketing and the creative process? Well, there’s some creative writing in here…you start writing your own scripts where you’re the hero or heroine (not the victim) and there’s always a happy ending. And what could be more creative than creating your own quality of life? As Dr. Anderson models (and Pollyanna before him), attitude is always a choice. Guest Post by JEFF STRICKLER, MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE February 25, 2015 – 9:32 PM Acting happy helps keep us healthy, says a [Minneapolis] doctor who employs the upbeat philosophy in his practice — and in his own life. Dr. Dale Anderson’s background includes extensive training in surgery, family practice, emergency medicine and the Stanislavsky method for actors. No, he’s not a frustrated Broadway star. In fact, other than for a couple of roles in school plays 60-plus years ago, he’s never done any acting. At least, not on stage. But every day he acts happy, which helps keep him healthy. “A happy body produces endorphins,” he said. “Endorphins are part of the opioid family. That’s the same as opium and morphine. We have our own internal pharmacy that is always open and has no copay.” A retired clinical assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, Anderson has focused on studying and promoting the connection between a happy outlook and a healthy body. He’s convinced that we have the ability to make ourselves happy — or, more to the point, make our bodies react as if we were happy — and, thereby, make ourselves feel better. “By learning to act as if you are happy, healthy and vital, even when you don’t feel that way, you can change your body’s chemistry and begin to feel the way you act,” he argues. The flip side, acting unhappy and making ourselves unhealthy, can happen, too, he warned. “The surly bird gets the germ,” he said. (Anderson is a master of the pun, a verbal machine gun throwing out terms such as the “individu-well” and the “well-derly,” along with directives to “inner-tain” yourself for “the health of it.”) His interest in acting happy for better health stems from treating a patient who made him unhappy because he couldn’t help her. “She was an actress who came to me complaining of aches and pains,” he said. “We tried everything from physical therapy to chiropracty, but the pain didn’t get any better. It’s very hard for a physician when you can’t do anything to help.” She mentioned that her current role involved playing someone who was angry. A few weeks later, that play closed and she switched to a role that was upbeat. “All her aches and pains went away,” Anderson said. “I started reading everything I could about method acting.” He conducted a survey of the Twin Cities acting community. The performers who described themselves...

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Reflections on a Product Launch

Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Reflections on a Product Launch

Maybe it’s a little early to be ‘reflecting’ . . . this venture is barely two months old. But the launch of Kauai Design’s product line has been consuming my daydreams lately. After 18+ years of designing for my fabulous clients, I’m having a blast creating images for my own self-expression . . . and hopefully another income stream. For one thing, it’s putting me in the shoes of my clients who are launching products of their own. And it has made me more sensitive to the needs of local retailers. It has also brought me into the world of the ‘maker’ culture on Etsy.com. I’ve never called myself an artist. Although I’m pretty good at manipulating vectors and pixels onscreen, I still can’t pick up a pencil (or stylus) and draw much of anything to my satisfaction. As a graphic designer I’ve always been a curator, editor and assembler of visual chunks of information into a cohesive message. Until now it has always been someone else’s message. Now it’s what resonates with me, starting with my love for things tropical and earthy and simple. My first project was a series of mahalo (thank you) cards featuring six simple, colorful icons of island life. The boxed sets were released the day after Thanksgiving with the intention of helping to extend the season of . . . well, giving thanks. I’m a believer in appreciation, in focusing on the good in people and situations. The term “Pollyanna” is usually used derisively but I think Pollyanna was on to something with her glad game. Appreciation is an uplifting state of mind that generally makes me feel better and makes my life work better. My current bedtime ritual includes writing down what I most appreciated about the day, which sends me off to dreamland in a peaceful and positive state of mind. And there will always be a special place in my heart for the seven retailers on Kauai who purchased my first product, the mahalo cards. The next series was a set of whimsical seascapes featuring different moods of the the ocean and skies. Close on its heels was a series of marine animals, a whale, a dolphin, and a honu (green sea turtle) in their element: the rippling, flowing, sparkling sea. The ideas continue to churn. I’ve been immersed in Hawaiiana and island images for awhile now, incorporating tasteful touches into client projects whenever appropriate. And decades before moving to Hawaii, I was already enchanted by vintage Hawaiian art. In the 1980’s I acquired an original Gill airbrush (Woman in Sarong c. 1940’s) from a colorful character I knew in Austin Texas. He collected vintage Hawaiiana and always wore aloha shirts. He would bring his found treasures to the frame shop I was managing for archival framing, although he couldn’t always afford to get them out of hock. In the end, he had to sell some pieces to pay his mushrooming framing bill, and I found myself in the right place...

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The Element of Surprise

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 2 comments

The Element of Surprise

SURPRISE DELIGHTS US, PLAYS WITH OUT HEADS, de-rails our train of rational thought, throws our expectations and stories about the way things are out the window. Studies suggest that incorporating an element of the unexpected (something surprising or novel) into messages helps make them stick in people’s memories. (See Making Your Message Stick.) The element of surprise was also famously called “the secret to humor” by Aristotle. A sudden, unexpected twist (or surprise) underlies much of what makes us laugh. Surprise gets our attention, it’s memorable, often funny or ironic, and it stimulates our creative juices. In his book Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention, Mikhaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests that the first step toward a more creative life is to cultivate more interest and curiosity. He writes, “On this score, children tend to have the advantage over adults; their curiosity is like a constant beam that highlights and invests with interest anything within range.” Experiencing the fresh perspectives and insatiable curiosities of youngsters can reawaken us to the large and small wonders of life on earth. Csikszentmihalyi proposes that interest and curiosity can also be boosted by 1) trying to be surprised by something every day and 2) trying to surprise at least one person every day. If we deliberately invite more novelty into our daily lives (in the form of playfulness, exploration, adventure, openness, humor, spontaneity, fun), it’s almost sure to generate more of the connections and associations that seed creative ideas. Similarly, cross-pollinating different disciplines and cultures with fresh influences often generates fresh, innovative breakthroughs. Number 4 on Csikszentmihalyi’s how-to list for cultivating more interest and curiosity? “When something strikes a spark of interest, follow it.” Of course it’s a luxury to have time to pursue one’s interests. For many, basic survival needs preclude any in-depth commitment to a craft or creative direction. “But often the obstacles are internal,” writes Csikszentmihalyi. “If a person is concerned with protecting his or her self, practically all the attention is invested in monitoring threats to the ego.” Albert Einstein believed that “the most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” If we believe it’s a friendly universe, we need not bind up our time, attention, resources, and psychic energy in defending against others who we think are out to take us down. We can instead spend that energy focusing on what we want, and create positive change for ourselves and our societies. A sense of safety allows openness, expansiveness, receptivity, attunement to our intuitions, gut feelings, and glimmers of genius. Once the brilliant idea is born, however, we must paradoxically flip into a closed mindset to implement it. After the creative breakthrough, the work is generally reductive, highly focused, defended against distractions, analytical, judging, and detail-oriented. So the creative person must be skilled in both opening the mental gates to receive the input and generate the vision, then closing them to successfully execute the plan. “Graphic design allows me...

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Lessons from Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 0 comments

Lessons from Burning Man on How to Unlock Creativity and Think Big

Guest Post by Catherine Clifford Entrepreneur.com November 30, 2014   If you aren’t already an entrepreneur, you might become one by the time you leave Burning Man — in some shape or form. You won’t make money in the desert; the exchange of money isn’t allowed at the annual, weeklong arts festival held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. But you will have created something for someone. You will have seen a need and met it. You will have innovated a solution to a problem or decided to spontaneously create a new service or product for yourself and your fellow Burners (that’s what attendees are called). And that energy, that entrepreneurial spirit, is priceless. It’s what so many management consultants charge top dollar right now to bring to stuffy corporate offices. As a business owner, it may not be feasible to take your entire company out to the desert to get them to start thinking more entrepreneurially. So, what is it that Burning Man has? How can you set the stage so that kind of innovation will grow in your community, business or brain? Related: Think Like A Startup: Look for Ideas Everywhere, Be Decisive. Image credit: Jared Mechaber Whether your goal is to get your creative juices flowing, or to facilitate a more experimental and productive workplace, you need to start by eliminating unnecessary regulations and burdensome structure. At Burning Man, “an entrepreneurial spirit is going to come to the forefront very easily because there aren’t a lot of rules, but there is opportunity,” Harley K. Dubois, a co-founder of the event, told Entrepreneur earlier this fall at The Feast, a social innovation conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. In the nearly three decades that the Burning Man festival has been around, 10 philosophical principles have emerged as guideposts for behavior in the community. But there aren’t expectations or schedules. The community self-regulates, encouraging creativity and discouraging judgment. “It is unrealistic to think people aren’t going to judge. People are people and they do, but when they do and somebody calls you on it, you have to reflect on yourself,” says Dubois. Related: Indiegogo Co-Founder: When What It Means to Be a Fearless Entrepreneur Changes Burning Man, like entrepreneurship, is an event that requires equal parts organization and whimsy. Festival participants — of whom there are tens of thousands — dress in elaborate costumes and spend significant amounts of time and money preparing accommodations for their stay in the desert. They have to bring everything they’ll need to camp out in the desert and, at the end of their stay, clean up so that the desert is exactly as it was. Participatory art installations dot the landscape of the “playa,” as the area used for the festival is called, and the weeklong celebration culminates in a massive structure of some sort being burned. Part of the entrepreneurial culture at Burning Man, says Dubois, is that there are no repercussions or penalties for failure when you are out in the middle of the desert. “Failure is part of it. I mean, you...

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Borderless Layouts

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Borderless Layouts

bleed (n.)  In the printing world, a ‘bleed’ is an extension of the artwork 1/8″ or so beyond the outside dimensions of the layout, to be trimmed after printing. The design, including bleed, is printed on oversized paper to allow for trimming afterwards. This way the ink runs all the way to the edges and cleanly ‘bleeds’ off the page. Bleeds are necessary because printers can’t print all the way to the edges of the paper. If you don’t have the luxury of a bleed, you typically have to reduce the size of your full page layout a bit and live with uneven white margins. Your impeccable design can end up looking amateurish and unattractive. So what do you do? Disconnecting the edges of the design from the edges of the page can minimize the white border effect while giving your layout a more compelling look and feel. Here are some alternate approaches…   The variations shown above are just a sampling of many possible layouts that eliminate the need for bleed, by uncoupling the design’s edges from the page’s edges. (Crisis Outreach is a fictional organization.) Be Sociable,...

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Learning to Trust

Posted by on Sep 28, 2014 in Blog, Graphic Design | 2 comments

Learning to Trust

[New poster series included below] Though this blog claims to be about ‘graphic design, marketing and the creative process,’ sometimes I want to color outside those lines (parameters that I just made up anyway) and explore topics beyond. Maybe it’s time for a larger ‘container’ to hold more depth and breadth. But meanwhile I share posters about these rogue, outlier topics and categorize the posts as graphic design. After recently reading the wonderful little book, ZEN AND THE ART OF HAPPINESS, by Chris Prentiss, I want to jump in, both feet, and practice ‘trusting the universe’ moment by moment. Not just generally trusting in a hopeful, optimistic way, but trusting that it is a friendly universe and that the process is working for good in this (fill in the blank) specific situation in this time and space, even if I can’t see it from here. In hindsight, I can almost always see a “negative” event as a jumping off place to something “positive” in my life. So to wedge my topic in through a crack in the door, and to help keep me focused on my practice, I made these “Today I will trust…” posters for myself (and anyone else who needs them). I know firsthand that you can change a habit in 30 days…even a habit of thought. Reminders help light the way. In my explorations of the theme, I found an inspiring guest blog post, “Trust that the universe has your back,” by Linda Ford, who suggests that the same trust issues that cause us to hold back in romantic love may also cause us to hold back from a relationship with our larger-than-life partner, the universe. An excerpt (shared with permission from Pam Grout, author of E Squared, on whose site it appeared):      Some of us show up with high expectations knowing that the universe has the potential to be one great partner. We dive right in. We’re optimistic, unabashed, playful, trusting, and eager to do whatever it takes to keep our relationship vibrant. We take the risk because we know that the price of missing out on the possibility of joy would be too great a loss.      And then there are those of us who just never quite relax, let go, and trust that the universe really loves us and has our back. We hold the relationship at arm’s length…just in case something goes wrong…just in case it’s not as benevolent and honorable as we had hoped. We dilute our true feelings, we don’t ask for what we really want, and instead, play it safe. We put on our armor, because the fear of disappointment is too much to bear.      How would you describe your relationship with the universe?      You may think it odd to know that you have a relationship with the universe. But you do. In fact, it’s actually one of the most important relationships you’ll ever have. Think about it. You’re interacting with it at every single moment. You’re getting constant feedback about how you’re showing up. It never ignores or...

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In Print We Trust

Posted by on Aug 19, 2014 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 1 comment

In Print We Trust

Last year when I helped my Cousin Cindy create her new logo, we started with my usual logo questionnaire. Now we’re collaborating on a brochure to showcase and promote her consulting services. She expected to start with a questionnaire for that too. I don’t have one. But I did unearth this buried old post from a 2006 Graphics Grapevine  that 1) summarizes some benefits of having a printed promotional piece to share with a potential client, and 2) suggests possible content to include.   The first bullet got me wondering anew about the trust factor (or credibility) of information shared in print vs. online communications. Gordon Kaye, publisher of Graphic Design USA writes (emphasis mine): “Print uniquely engages the emotions and stimulates the senses with its classic strengths of permanence, tangibility, sensuality and physicality. Print is hot and touchable, rich and textured, held and felt, in contrast to the cool and ephemeral nature of the Internet … Print feels more trustworthy and credible than other media, and the very tangibility and permanence suffuses the content–and the content creator–with a sense of authenticity.” What’s credible or trustworthy or authentic about the printed page? Kaye goes on: “The message feels real, it looks real, it springs from an identifiable source, a real person, a real location, an act of craftsmanship, an intelligence to which one can relate, a human connectedness.  And the result is something visible, permanent, touchable, an archive, a reference, a resource that does not arrive via thin air and will not disappear into thin air. “ A March 7, 2014 Wall Street Journal article theorized that Americans are “renewing their relationship with paper,” particularly for special, important or personalized communications. The relative rarity of print is beginning to imbue it with heightened potential and power when the message demands an emotional connection, authenticity and permanence.  Graphic Design USA periodically surveys its subscribers about the place of print media in the communications mix. Here are a few observations made by graphic designers working in the trenches: “People still want to touch and hold paper products as it is more immediate. It is more personal, like a meeting or a conversation.”  -Tim Spruill, Tim Spruill Creative “Inherent in paper is a certain credibility and accountability.”  -Craig P. Brenard, Craig Communications “People still like print. I want to walk away from my computer at the end of the day and relax with a real printed magazine, newspaper or book. The medium is still part of the message.”  -Judith Dollar, Jude Studios “Paper appeals to the new ‘maker’ generations we see growing in numbers, though in admittedly online commoditized spaces like Etsy…Paper is present with us, in our space, in the real world.”  -Adrian Constantyn, MeMyself&Co. Design “Printed materials don’t require ‘special devices’ to access them.”  -Greg Gilpin, Graphic Art Center, Oklahoma City “Reading print is easier than reading on a screen.” -Barbara Moser, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa FL “Unlike mobile or computers, I cannot find the ‘off button’ on the brochure that has been sitting on my kitchen table for weeks. Its work ethic is outstanding. 24/7 and without even asking...

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18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

Posted by on Jul 12, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process | 0 comments

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

by Carolyn Gregoire, Huffington Post, March 4, 2014 Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process. Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don’t have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works. And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it’s not just a stereotype of the “tortured artist” — artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person. “It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self,” Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. “The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self … Imaginative people have messier minds.” While there’s no “typical” creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. Here are 18 things they do differently. 1. THEY DAYDREAM. Creative types know, despite what their third-grade teachers may have said, that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time. According to Kaufman and psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, who co-authored a paper titled “Ode To Positive Constructive Daydreaming,” mind-wandering can aid in the process of “creative incubation.” And of course, many of us know from experience that our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are elsewhere. Although daydreaming may seem mindless, a 2012 study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state — daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it’s related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Neuroscientists have also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity. 2. THEY OBSERVE EVERYTHING. The world is a creative person’s oyster — they see possibilities everywhere and are constantly taking in information that becomes fodder for creative expression. As Henry James is widely quoted, a writer is someone on whom “nothing is lost.” The writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times, and said that she wrote down observations about people and events as, ultimately, a way to better understand the complexities and contradictions of her own mind: “However dutifully we record what we see around us,...

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High Touch

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

High Touch

In my 18 years as a professional graphic designer, I’ve felt many times that I ‘should’  move into web design, but resisted.  (Whose voice is that anyway?) The programming aspects of web development are not a good fit for me, for one thing. But even more, I love the look and feel  of the printed page—how it engages multiple  senses and is so enduring compared to the fleeting, virtual world of pixels on a screen. I am even more kinesthetic than I am visual (perhaps unexpected in a graphic designer) or auditory. I learn best hands-on and am most strongly rewarded by movement and touch. So tactile engagement works for me. And I am not alone. Graphic Design USA magazine recently put out an issue focused on product packaging that spoke my language. “Humans were designed to touch and feel. Print—an extremely tactile media—caters to this need,” writes Gerry Bonetto, of the Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California. Maybe the pendulum never swung as far as we thought from high touch to high tech. Four years ago, five major magazine companies—Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corporation, Time Inc., and Wenner Media—launched one of the largest print advertising campaigns ever, to promote the vitality of magazines as a medium (See below). It was published in 90+ magazines reaching 112 million readers per month. The goal? To “reshape the broader conversation about magazines, challenge misperceptions about the medium’s relevancy and longevity, and reinforce magazines’ important cultural role.” The ‘Magazines’ logo, created by Y&R NY, combines the distinctive typographies of multiple magazine logos. How many can you identify? (Answers: M from Time, A from Vanity Fair, G from Rolling Stone, A from Entertainment Weekly, Z from Harper’s Bazaar, I from Marie Claire, N from Fortune, and ES from Esquire) Bonetto goes on to share the latest data on print vs. other forms of media: “Print not only provides a warm and friendly experience that no other medium offers, it also offers a sense of permanence that simply feels more trustworthy.” Recent studies show that consumers find print ads quite a bit more trustworthy than those they see online. While 60% of consumers trust newspaper and magazine ads, just 48% trust search advertising or online video ads, and only 42% find online banner ads worthy of their trust (1) Another recent study shows that newspaper ads rank noticeably higher than ads on radio, TV or online-only sites when it comes to measures of advertising effectiveness such as “usually notice ads” and “likely to purchase.” (2) Magazines outperform TV and online for critical purchase drivers such as brand awareness, brand favorability and brand purchase intent. (3) Social media—the darling of the marketing world—may not be that darling after all. In a 2014 study of more than 1,700 social media marketers, less than 8% were actually happy with their efforts and 21% were so dissatisfied that they’re ready to replace their social spend with more traditional buys. (4) (1) Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, Sept. 2013 (2) Nielsen, 2013 National Cross-Media Engagement...

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How to Create Advertising that Sells

Posted by on Apr 12, 2014 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

How to Create Advertising that Sells

By David Ogilvy [Editor’s Note: David Ogilvy has been called “the original Mad Man.”  Read and heed his now classic advice, originally shared in an agency ad from the 1960’s. As a student of copywriting, David Ogilvy was required reading. Take it away, Mr. Ogilvy…] Ogilvy & Mather has created over $1,480,000,000 worth of advertising. Here, with all the dogmatism of brevity are 38 of the things we have learned. 1.  The most important decision. We have learned that the effect of your advertising on your sales depends more on this decision than on any other: how should you position your product? Should you position Schweppes as a soft drink – or as a mixer?  Should you position Dove as a product for dry skin or as a product which gets hands really clean?  The results of your campaign depend less on how we write your advertising than how your product is positioned.  It follows that positioning should be decided before the advertising is created.  Research can help.  Look before you leap. 2.  Large promise. The second most important decision is this:  what should you promise the customer?  A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan.  It is a benefit for the consumer.  It pays to promise a benefit which is unique and competitive, and the product must deliver the benefit your promise.  Most advertising promises nothing.  It is doomed to fail in the marketplace.  ”Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement”  – said Samuel Johnson. 3.  Brand image. Every advertisement should contribute to the complex symbol which is the brand image.  95% of all advertising is created ad hoc.  Most products lack any consistent image from one year to another.  The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand gets the largest share of the market. 4.  Big ideas. Unless your advertising is built on a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. It takes a big idea to jolt the consumer out of his indifference – to make him notice your advertising, remember it and take action. Big ideas are usually simple ideas. Said Charles Kettering, the great General Motors inventor: “this problem, when solved, will be simple.” Big, simple ideas are not easy to come by. They require genius – and midnight oil. A truly big one can be continued for 20 years – like our eye patch for Hathaway shirts. 5.  A first-class ticket. It pays to give most products an image of quality – a first-class ticket. Ogilvy & Mather  has been conspicuously successful in doing this – for Pepperidge, Hathaway, Mercedes Benz, Schweppes, Dove and others. If your advertising looks ugly, consumers will conclude that  your product is shoddy and they will be less likely to buy it. 6.  Don’t be a bore. Nobody was ever bored into buying a product. Yet most advertising is impersonal, detached, cold – and dull. It pays to involve the customer. Talk to her like a human being....

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The Psychology of Storytelling

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Marketing | 2 comments

The Psychology of Storytelling

10 PROVEN WAYS TO CREATE BETTER STORIES (AND WHY STORIES SELL) Guest post by Gregory Ciatti  Stories are a very integral part of being persuasive. You’d think that as a guy that loves research and data, I’d be averse to storytelling as a whole. As a marketer though, I can’t be: those in sales and marketing have known for a long time that stories trump data when it comes to persuasion because stories are easier to understand and relate to. Are you incorporating stories into your copy? Are you utilizing them on your blog? WHY YOU NEED TO INCORPORATE STORYTELLING Storytelling works. But a lot of folks are averse to telling stories because they believe that “the facts” are the most persuasive pieces of content they can deliver. It’s not. How you say something is just as important as what you are saying. While we are all often resistant to the idea of being told what to do, we are very susceptible to agreeing with the “moral of the story” due to how it is presented to us. HOW STORIES AFFECT THE MIND The reason that stories work so well on us is that we are susceptible to getting “swept up” in both their message and in the manner of their telling. Quite literally, stories are able to transport our mind to another place, and in this place we may embrace things we’d likely scoff at in the “harsh, real world”. Think about this example: You’ll often see politicians create a “story” for their campaign, and focus a lot of their efforts speaking with the public in crafting and standing by these stories. Creating the story of “tough guy who is harsh on crime and supports states rights” is easier to understand than discussing the complexities of how the administration plans to actually tackle the crime rate. You see this being utilized every day on platforms as big as TED talks to speeches by world leaders. Instead of only discussing the “information”, they begin talks with phrases like, “Imagine if you will…” Stories help sell arguments of all types. HOW TO CREATE BETTER STORIES The #1 trait of a persuasive story is how “engaging” the story is. A study conducted by Green & Brock addresses just what makes a story engaging. 1.) Suspense Our brain just can’t “get over” suspenseful moments: it’s a relationship that just won’t die, we will always want to know what happens next! In fact, suspense works so well that the hotly debated Zeigarnik Effect would have you believe that it’s the best way to kill procrastination. Research in that area seems to point to humans being much more inclined to finish something that has already been started (researchers interrupted people doing “brain buster” tasks before they could complete them… nearly 90% of people went on to finish the task anyway, despite being told they could stop). Suspense in stories really allows you to create addictive content, as long as the suspense appears early enough...

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Surprises in the ‘Negative Space’

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Many of these have made the rounds, but on the heels of a recent blog post referencing surprise design elements in the ‘negative space,’ here are some playful logo examples:   CIRCUS OF MAGAZINES   Circus tent doubles as open magazine. FLIGHT FINDER   Mirrored ‘F’s’  create plane silhouette SPARTAN GOLF CLUB   Golfer’s swing creates Spartan helmet shape FOOD WRITERS GUILD   Writing and food come together with the spoon/pen nib ED’S ELECTRIC   The ‘E’ joins the electrical plug and socket ART PEAK   The pencil point doubles as a ‘peak.’ FED EX  The arrow between the ‘E’ and the ‘x’ implies action BASKIN ROBBINS   (Thirty one) …derful flavors! NORTHWEST AIRLINES   The circle is a compass with the arrow pointing __________? PITTSBURGH ZOO & PPG AQUARIUM   A gorilla and lioness face each other in profile. MILWAUKEE BREWERS   The baseball glove is formed by an “M” and a “B.”   Be Sociable,...

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Now you see it, Now you don’t

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Blog, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Now you see it, Now you don’t

(Scroll down for 2 new posters.) I love a good metaphor. And the Gestalt concept of figure and ground (object and non-object) in two-dimensional images strikes me as a pretty good metaphor for duality consciousness. Our jumping off place, at least, is graphic arts. Gestalt theories of visual perception and organization seek to understand how we humans interpret abstract or symbolic images in the context of what surrounds them. The FIGURE/GROUND principle specifically explores how the eye differentiates an object (a figure) from its (back)ground. Graphic design sometimes plays on this relationship, by including a surprise visual element within the ‘white space’ or negative space of the ‘canvas.’ Optical illusions are often based on seeing only one or the other of these complementary parts. In the classic examples below, we can perceptually flip back and forth and see either faces in profile or a pedestal, a young woman or an old woman, a man playing sax or a woman’s face, an Eskimo or (Native American) Indian.           There is an on-and-off-ness to this seeing, like flipping a light switch. Now you see it. Now you don’t. Which one is the illusion? Which one is real? Identifying with a physical body, seeing the world through culturally conditioned eyes, and measuring ‘reality’ with a handful of very limited senses seems to switch off access to the non-physical, egoless oneness-consciousness that I know I also am. The fleeting experiences I’ve had of the latter are few (and have, at times, been assisted by drugs or meditation). But it’s always blissful and expansive, a luminous melding into Love, and feels like coming home to the real me. So which ‘me’ is the illusion? Which is real?                                                 Mystics, poets and scholars have explored this concept of nonduality in great depth for eons. Some thoughts to ponder: WHAT IS NONDUALITY? “Nonduality is the modern day western interpretation of the eastern spiritual teaching of Advaita. Nonduality is often referred to as neo advaita. It means not two or one and essentially is a search for truth and reveals the oneness of universal creation and reveals the illusion of separateness. It is basically what all the major religions point to but transcends the story telling and the I am right you are wrong mentality. It actually transcends the I and the you altogether.” Read more of this forum thread THE TROUBLE WITH TALKING ABOUT IT “It is extremely difficult to adequately discuss no-boundary awareness or nondual consciousness. This is because our language — the medium in which all verbal discussion must float — is a language of boundaries. Words and symbols and thoughts themselves are actually nothing but boundaries, for whenever you think or use a word or name, you are already creating boundaries. It is for these reasons that the mystic-sages stress that reality lies beyond names and forms, words and thoughts, divisions...

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Food for Thought

Posted by on Dec 31, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Food for Thought

I’ve collected quotes since my teens, and soaked up graphic design ideas like a sponge for decades. These posters are the merging of those two streams. They are my sandbox and my therapy. For 8.5 x 11″ print resolution pdf versions, click on the images below. Sixteen other posters (so far) are available for download here. If you’re inspired to share them, feel free. With aloha from Kauai Design!       Be Sociable,...

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Evolution of a Logo

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Four incarnations of the Kauai Design logo over 13 years bring us to a clean, lean, spacious and minimalistic look. The series is shared here as an example of keeping what still works over time, while distilling the message to its essence.   See also John McWade’s recent post ‘Simplify’ for Before & After magazine. Be Sociable,...

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How Creativity Works

Posted by on Nov 30, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

How Creativity Works

In his book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, author Jonah Lehrer takes us on a ride through the creative process. He shares research on innovation at both the individual level (in Part One: “Alone”) and the collective level (in Part Two: “Together”). Following are some findings from Part One that may surprise you. ON BEING STUMPED The author reminds us that every creative journey begins with a problem to be solved, and that before there can be a breakthrough, there must be a block. We tend to leave out this frustrating but essential part of the experience in our stories about creativity and jump to the happy endings.  When the aha! moment of insight finally arrives, it’s typically fully formed and seems surprisingly obvious. Thirty milliseconds before such a breakthrough, the brain generates a spike of high frequency gamma-wave activity, which is thought to be generated when neurons bind together in a new neural network. ON ALPHA WAVES AND BREAKTHROUGHS Research at Goldsmiths, University of London, has  shown that eight seconds before an insight breaks through to consciousness, the brain emits a steady rhythm of alpha waves from the right hemisphere. Alpha waves are associated with relaxing, unfocused activities such as daydreaming, meditating, and taking warm showers. When we’re emitting alpha waves, we’re more likely to be focused inward, connecting the dots of stored data that might lead to solutions. An outward focus may be necessary for analytical solutions, but it actually interferes with innovation by inhibiting the creative associations that generate insights. “Trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight.” Taking stimulants is known to sharpen one’s attention and external focus, but it simultaneously shifts attention away from the bubbling network of stray associations in the brain’s right hemisphere, making creative breakthroughs far less likely. It seems insights only arise when you’re not looking for them. In one study, eighty-six Harvard undergraduates were tested on their ability to ignore outside stimuli, a skill typically considered essential to productivity. But the students that had a tougher time ignoring distractions were seven times more likely to be rated as ‘eminent creative achievers.’ Another study at University of Memphis found that subjects with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) scored higher on measures of creativity (i.e. winning prizes at juried art shows or being honored at science fairs) than their “normal” counterparts. The conclusion? “The inability to focus helps insure a richer mixture of thoughts in the unconscious.” Our minds are very busy during the so-called absentminded state of daydreaming. When we aren’t engaged with the outside world, our relaxed, de-focused brains go exploring our inner databases. Right brain activity increases. There seems to be an elaborate electrical conversation between the front and back parts of the brain that isn’t there during other patterns of thought. In addition to being a prolific daydreamer, a successful inventor has to be attentive enough to capture the glimmers of insight generated by those daydreams. Alcohol induces its own state of mind-wandering or zoning out, but a solution...

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Color Tricks

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in Blog, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Josef Albers’ classic book, Interaction of Color, invites us to experiment with color and see with new eyes. Two of the many visual effects he invites us to explore are shown below. Be Sociable,...

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Graphic Designers on Graphic Design

Posted by on Oct 26, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

Graphic Designers on Graphic Design

Selected observations from some leading American graphic designers, shared in interviews with Debbie Millman in her 2007 book, How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer.   NEVILLE BRODY:  A graphic designer is an opinion former.  All graphic designers hold high levels of responsibility in society. We take invisible ideas and make them tangible. That’s our job. We take news or information or emotions like “hope” or “turn left” or “buy this” or “be sexy” and give that tangible form. We make it real for people. • DEBBIE MILLMAN:  Design is one of the few disciplines that is a science as well as an art. Effective, meaningful design requires intellectual, rational rigor along with the ability to elicit emotions and beliefs. Thus, designers must balance both the logic and lyricism of humanity every time they design something. • DEBBIE MILLMAN:  There is one trait shared by each and every person in this group of designers [the twenty top graphic designers interviewed for How to Think  Like a Great Graphic Designer]: high levels of empathy. Their sensitivity has given them the ability to logically, poetically, and telegraphically transfer ideas from one mind to another. • BONNIE SIEGLER:  Graphic design allows me to use every part of my brain…As designers, we get to do the analysis and the problem-solving. We get to take a blank piece of paper and transform it into something else. Something magical. We get to work with interesting clients. We use our management skills and math skills. Everything. • EMILY OBERMAN:  I love it when we put our talents to good use, and when we get to work on something that changes how people think. I love it when we get to work on something that helps people. I love when we get to use our skills in order to help change the world. One other thing: I love that with every new project we undertake, we learn something. We learn something new every day. How lucky is that? • DEBBIE MILLMAN:  Do you feel that there is any objectivity in assessing design? JOHN MAEDA:  I think the one point of objectivity, as Paul Rand always said, is relevance. Not just relevance to message, but relevance to cultural timing. • PAUL SAHRE [on his process]:  I’m a firm believer in logic and creative thinking and being able to think your way through the process and arrive at a solution that makes sense and is going to be effective. It’s applied design. I think you have to operate with both of those things working—if not simultaneously—at least one letting the other play for a while. • CHIP KIDD [on his process]:  If I don’t have a clear sense of what I should do, I’m instantly filled with dread, which hangs over me like a thin, stinky fog until I either figure out a way to solve the problem or throw in the towel. I will say, though, that those ‘eureka’ moments—when it all comes together in your head and you realize the...

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Introversion & Creativity

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process | 2 comments

Introversion & Creativity

There are dozens of research findings and stories worth sharing from Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain… Like the notion that temperament has as profound an impact on our lives as gender or race, and that where we fall on the introversion/extroversion continuum is the biggest contributor to our temperament. Like the fact that one third to one half of us are introverts. So if you’re not one, chances are you are raising, partnered with, managing, or otherwise engaged with one. Like the discovery that there is zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. Like the finding that introverts, even as infants, show highly reactive alarm responses to novelty in fMRI brain scans. Like tracing the bias toward extroversion to the industrial revolution, when Americans flocked from farms to cities. Until then, people often lived their whole lives amongst the same neighbors, in rural, agricultural environments. They valued the quiet, thoughtful individual of character, who thought before speaking and had a rich inner life. In the fast-paced cities, there was competition for leadership and resources, and the social go-getter had an edge. Character and contemplation were devalued. Personality was “in.” It was an era when great salesmen were the role models and everyone wanted to know How to Win Friends and Influcnce People (by Dale Carnegie, 1937). I could go on. But to fit the parameters of this blog (allegedly about graphic design, marketing and the creative process), probably the most relevant angle on introversion is its relationship to creativity. I used to think that introversion and extroversion were about levels of sociability and assertiveness. But the terms, popularized by Carl Jung in 1921, are actually more about how much arousal a person is comfortable with. Introverts like less stimulation, are drawn to the inner world of thoughts and feelings, tend to work slowly and deliberately with high levels of concentration, and recharge with solitude. Extroverts like to crank up the novelty and are drawn to people and activity. They knock out tasks quickly, tend to make fast decisions, and recharge their batteries with external stimulation. Cain calls our attention to the trend toward work groups and teams in both corporations and schools. Walls have come down and personal space has shrunk as pods of individuals are required to work and learn “cooperatively.” One 5th grade teacher reported, “This style of teaching reflects the business community where people’s respect for others is based on their verbal abilities, not their originality or insight. You have to be someone who speaks well and calls attention to yourself. It’s an elitisim based on something other than merit.” Not everyone wants to be a group leader. Some people want to fit in harmoniously with the group. And the most creative people in both science and the arts often prefer to work independently in solitude. Do “The New Groupthink” practices and processes enhance creativity? Cain makes the case that most...

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A Creative Personality?

Posted by on Sep 3, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process | 1 comment

A Creative Personality?

Is there such a thing? Last spring, Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen of BI Norwegian School of Management published a personality profile of creative people he found in his research with 481 subjects. ‘Creative’ was defined as the capacity to come up with ideas to serve a purpose. He identified seven traits common to performing artists and advertising students (the creative group) that were not prominent in lecturers and managers (the baseline group). These included: Associative orientation.  Imaginative, playful, have a wealth of ideas, ability to be committed, sliding transitions between fact and fiction. Need for originality.  Resists rules and conventions. Have a rebellious attitude due to a need to do things no one else does. Motivation.  Have a need to perform, goal-oriented, innovative attitude, stamina to tackle difficult issues. Ambition.  Have a need to be influential, attract attention and recognition. Flexibility.  Have the ability to see different aspects of issues and come up with optional solutions. Low emotional stability.  Have a tendency to experience negative emotions, greater fluctuations in moods and emotional state, failing self-confidence. Low sociability.  Have a tendency not to be very considerate, are obstinate and find faults and flaws in ideas and people. By far, the two strongest predictors of creativity, as measured by a 200 question survey, were associative orientation and flexibility. Martinsen links associative orientation to ingenuity and flexibility to insight. Flexibility also reflects the ability to re-frame a problem as a challenge or an opportunity. Having an ‘associative orientation’ means having an active imagination. “You can fluctuate between daydreaming and perceiving reality,” says Martinsen. “You’re playful and have an experimental attitude.” But you are also able to become deeply absorbed in your work. Mind maps and other brainstorming techniques encourage an unbridled run of loose and playful free association before exposing ideas to critical thinking. (See also Defining the Design Challenge) Associative orientation may involve connecting the dots in new ways, seeing new relationships (i.e. metaphors, visual puns), and opening to non-cognitive ways of knowing such as intuition, emotional feedback and visceral responses from the body. The other five traits describe emotional inclinations and motivational factors that influence creativity or spark an interest in creativity. Martinsen suggests that management training could benefit from more emphasis on visualizing, generating new ideas (or re-combining existing ones), and fantasizing. He also reports that a typically non-creative person can become much more so when his or her surroundings encourage rule-bending and free thought. “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of  life’s coming attractions.”  -Albert Einstein “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”  -Dr. Seuss Reference:  The Creative Personality: A Synthesis and Development of the Creative Person Profile, Creativity Research Journal, Volume 23, Issue 3, 2011, 185-202, doi: 10.1080/10400419.2011.595656. Be Sociable,...

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The Right Time to Rebrand

Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Marketing | 1 comment

The Right Time to Rebrand

Editor’s note: I’m in the thick of a rebranding project for a client. Of the 8 Good Reasons to Rebrand (below) 5-6 might  apply to them. What about your organization?   By Mike Wicks  (previously published in Douglas magazine, Victoria BC  •  re-printed with author’s permission) When it comes to rebranding, there can be big risks and big rewards — and timing is everything. When a press release about the rebranding of Accent Inns hit my inbox recently, it made me think about the do’s and don’t of changing, or updating, your brand image. Many people are under the impression that you should never tinker with your brand for fear of losing customers who might no longer recognize the new you. Several years ago, I helped rebrand a town, a golf course, and a Chamber of Commerce, all successfully, so I thought I would share with you some rebranding tips. First, let’s remind ourselves what constitutes a brand. Essentially, a brand is the sum total of what people see and feel about us when they see our corporate image, our marketing materials, and when they interact with us. Budget or high-end? Friendly or formal? Like it or not, people have preconceived feelings — good, bad, or indifferent — about us based on our brand. Internally, a brand is the visual representation of our corporate culture, our philosophy, and the standards that form the basis of our brand image. When I rebranded the town of Golden, it was suffering from an image problem because people felt the downtown core was not attractive. However, Golden is special because it’s surrounded by some of the best outdoor recreation in North America, so out went “Town of Opportunity” and in came “Kicking Horse Country.” This helped prospective visitors focus on Golden as a place to experience outdoor adventure, not to walk along main street. GOOD REASONS TO REBRAND There are more good reasons to rebrand than bad ones, but the most important reason to rebrand is when your current brand is confusing, or worse, misleading your current or prospective customers. Rebranding is not something you do because you want to, it’s because your customers need or want it. Let’s take a look at Accent Inns: they thought their brand was working, but when they decided to renovate their inns and held focus groups to find out what potential customers really thought, they were shocked. Mandy Farmer, CEO, thought customers would immediately recognize that the inns were affordable but also high quality, eco-aware, socially responsible, locally owned, one of the best places to work, and above all else “cool.”  She was crushed to discover the focus group thought Accent Inns was an “American bottom-of-the-barrel budget motel line.” If any of you have ever stayed at an Accent Inns, you’ll know how very far from the truth this is. The misleading red, white, and blue logo was changed to softer blues and orange (to correspond to the B.C. flag) and its edges were rounded for...

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The Golden Key of Persuasion

Posted by on Jul 4, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

The Golden Key of Persuasion

Excerpted from Gary Bencivenga’s Marketing Bullet #25  •  www.marketingbullets.com As Aristotle said about the art of persuasion, “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor.”  Nothing persuades as quickly, effectively, memorably, or permanently as a well-crafted metaphor. With a good metaphor, you fuse at the hip two different things and, by a mysterious alchemy, instantly transfer the qualities of one into the other. Good metaphors are wizardry that work real magic in your prospects’ minds. That’s because this process of transferring the qualities of one thing into another takes place instantly, bypassing critical analysis and resistance. All you do is compare A to B in an effective way and voila! your point is made instantly without disagreement. This can make you a magician of persuasion! Let’s say you are writing about the wisdom of starting early to invest for retirement. You could write a sleep-inducing treatise on the subject. But look at how effectively master investor Warren Buffett does it—with a simple metaphor… “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Or consider Ben Franklin on the wisdom of frugality… “Small leaks sink great ships.” Do you see how tight, how irrefutable, how powerful such arguments are when phrased in an apt metaphor? They yield instant agreement, and that is their magic. Muhammad Ali in his prime was as quick as his left jab. In prefight banter with reporters, Ali could verbally out-shadowbox even the cleverest reporters, leaving them laughing with metaphors like these: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.” A personal story: When Pauline and I were young, we came upon an adorable little cottage for sale on a little bluff overlooking the ocean. We fell in love with it. We bought it, signing a contract to close in May. We couldn’t wait for our dream summer at the beach. But as the closing date drew near, the scheming seller realized he could make even more money if he rented the cottage out to someone else for the summer, so he insisted that he had to postpone our closing until mid-September. “No way!” howled my lawyer. And then he lowered the boom on the seller’s gambit with this telling metaphor: “You want to sell Gary and Pauline a toy store on the day after Christmas. No fair!”  The seller caved; we closed in May and enjoyed the first of many enchanting summers in our cottage by the sea. Your richest sources of metaphor include the Bible, fairy tales, sports, the movies—any source of images that we all know by heart. And I do mean “by heart,” because the mere mention of certain images will automatically trigger in your audience powerful emotions they already harbor, which often enables you to persuade instantly. For example, when writing to investors, I would shamelessly massage their greed glands...

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Stretching My Comfort Zone

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 3 comments

(Scroll down for a collection of “quotes, quips and words of wisdom” on Adversity) The quotes above, from The Designer Says, were standouts to me. They made me want to thank the clients who have pushed me out of my comfort zone into alien territory. The ones who have sent me scampering up all kinds of learning curves and challenged me as a designer. You know who you are. Since my 20’s I’ve had a personal philosophy about seeking out challenge, believing it would help prepare me for those challenges I did NOT seek. And I’d say it’s worked pretty well. I hitchhiked through Latin America for three months at 21. I went for a Master’s degree at 33. Post-divorce I moved from Austin, Texas to Napa Valley, California where I didn’t know a soul. At 40 I white water rafted and mountaineered through Oregon for two weeks with Outward Bound. At 42 I launched a graphic design business, and at 47 made the jump to Kauai. Though I am much less demanding of myself these days, I still don’t let myself get too comfortable. I still like a good challenge. Who would have thought graphic design could be one’s means of ‘pushing the envelope?’ I know it keeps me on my feet and stretching continuously. So thanks to you client visionaries who hold to your visions until I can meet you there. It’s collaboration at its best! COLLECTED “QUOTES, QUIPS AND WORDS OF WISDOM” on ADVERSITY You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity.  (Golda Meir) A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.  (Eleanor Roosevelt) Crisis doesn’t develop character, crisis reveals character.  (unknown) Life is trouble. Only death is not.  (Zorba) It’s only as bad as you make it.  (Benjamin Carey) Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.  (African proverb) He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity.  (Ben Johnson) The gem cannot be polished without friction.  (Chinese proverb) What does not kill me only makes me stronger.  (Friedrich Nietzsche) A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.  (Helen Keller) The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.  (unknown) If you face the thing you fear, the death of fear is certain.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.  (Anais Nin) Fears are the little darkrooms where negatives are developed.  (Michael Pritchard) Then the day came when the risk to remain in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  (Anais Nin) Adversity introduces a man to himself.  (Albert Einstein) There is no education like adversity.  (Benjamin Disraeli) If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence every one must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart.  (Solon) One thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. (Haruki Murakami) Every adversity,...

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Brand Thinking

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Brand Thinking

Excerpts from Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, by Debbie Millman Debbie Millman is a design visionary who has shaped global brands like Pepsi, Gillette, Colgate, Campbell’s and Nestle. She has authored several other books (including How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer) and hosts a weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet,“Design Matters.” She is President Emeritus of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design, a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In her latest book, Millman interviews 22 thought leaders in the fields of marketing strategy, corporate identity, design, art, anthropology and related disciplines, extracting nuggets of insight from a veritable ‘who’s who’ of branding professionals. Their dialogues explore human nature in relationship with the material world, why we make the choices we do as consumers, and why we affiliate and identify with symbols. They examine the role that branding plays in society, politics, economics, psychology and technology and consider why, in this age of infinite choice, brand remains more essential than ever in advertising, marketing and public relations. Millman writes, “Ask anyone in the world what the definition of BRAND is and you will likely get a different answer every time. Why is that? Brand is a squishy word with a lot of associations and meanings.” Here’s a sampling of what her interviewees offered up as definitions and observations about branding in the 21st century: WALLY OLINS   Branding is a profound manifestation of the human condition. It is about belonging: belonging to a tribe, to a religion, to a family. Branding demonstrates that sense of belonging. It has this function for both the people who are part of the same group and also for the people who don’t belong…I need to belong. And when I belong, telegraphing this affiliation demonstrates loyalty, affection, and the durability of my relationship. It’s not cerebral at all. It’s visceral. We don’t even know we are doing it. The commercial, anthropological, and sociological branding process that professionals engage in now creates visceral distinctions to evoke immediate responses in people. GRANT MCCRACKEN   Branding is a process of meaning manufacture that begins with the biggest, boldest gestures of the corporation and works its way down to the tiniest gestures.   PHIL DUNCAN   A brand is something you have an unexplained, emotional connection to. A brand gives you a sense of familiarity. STANLEY HAINSWORTH   A brand is an entity that engenders an emotional connection with a consumer. Every brand has a story, whether it’s the founder’s story or the brand’s reason for being. Some brands have never told their story well, or have lost their story. CHERYL SWANSON   A brand is a product with a compelling story—a brand offers “quintessential qualities” for which the consumer believes there is absolutely no substitute. Brands are totems. They tell us stories about our place in culture—about where we are and where we’ve been. They also...

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A Visit to My Past Self

Posted by on Apr 6, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 2 comments

A Visit to My Past Self

(Including advice I would give her if I could) As I hit the 17-years-in-business marker, I got inspired to look back on how it all came to be. I wondered, who was that younger me that launched it? From journals I’ve kept since my 30’s, I could peek in on the thoughts and feelings and experiences my ‘past self’ was having while this graphic design business incubated and hatched. THE ANCIENT HISTORY My older sister and younger brother drew well as children, but my visual expression was through photography — from my first Brownie camera (age 8) to my Kodak Instamatic (age 12) to my Mamiya Sekor SLR (age 17). My eye for composition developed over the years and my friends, who groaned when I pulled out the camera, loved seeing the snapshots when the film was developed. My dad had a darkroom set-up and taught me the basics of photo processing. It was one of few things we shared, so pretty special. As yearbook photographer in high school I saw my  world through the viewfinder. I spent much of the 1980’s managing a do-it-yourself frame shop in Austin, Texas, immersed in art and working alongside artists. I learned about color, layout, the creative process and much more. (I’m really good with fractions for example. And estimating distance in inches, which, it turns out, is a transferrable skill. More than once I’ve won the baby shower prize for guessing the girth of the mama-to-be with a cut piece of string.) In the mid-80’s I started teaching aerobics on the side and soon found myself back in graduate school studying Health Promotion & Fitness. An internship for that degree took me to St. Helena, California (Napa Valley) where I led fitness and recreational activities, and later coordinated one of our live-in lifestyle change programs. I continued to shoot photos and collect other images and layouts that inspired me for cut-and-paste creative projects. When the personal computer came on the scene in the 90’s, I was an early adopter. NOW I could bring my skills in the visual arts together and do some serious creating! A huge array of digital images, type options and cool graphics programs were now at my fingertips. I began doing “desktop publishing” (DTP) jobs for my employer and fun projects for friends and family, honing my skills as I dove into learning everything I could about design. THEN, IN THREE WEEKS IN FEBRUARY 1996, MY JOURNAL ENTRIES WENT FROM:  Wed 2/7/1996.  Maybe I should start freelancing so I can get the toys I want and write them off on my taxes. I’ve collected tons of  images I’d like to play with. Been reading up on design and layout and researching printing services… TO Wed 2/28/1996.  I got my seller’s permit from the state and it’s official: I’m in business! Say it with style!  I learned how to scan images into digital files today and I set up my books on Quicken. Also got a PAID rubber stamp for...

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This is How

Posted by on Apr 6, 2013 in Blog, Graphic Design | 0 comments

This is How

An excerpt from Augusten Burroughs’ unconventional, entertaining, and sometimes brilliant self-help book, This is How  (and a related poster from Kauai Design)  HOW TO BE CONFIDENT Confidence is not the presence of anything at all. Confidence is a reduction of your own interest in whether others are thinking about you and if so, what they’re thinking…to be more confident you need to give a whole lot less of a shit about what other people think of you…Confidence is being at ease, fully yourself, and not self-conscious but rather task conscious…You will never experience one instant of confidence in your lifetime. Instead of thinking about confidence, focus on exactly what’s happening in the instant. Even painfully shy and awkward people are not painfully shy or awkward when they are alone…Access this natural, comfortable alone self [by forbidding] yourself to wonder what ‘they’ are thinkng. Instead force yourself to exist in the instant, then take it—and give it—as it comes. Be where you are when you’re there, doing whatever it is you’re doing. It sounds like advice made out of mist, I know. Just try it in the most literal way possible…Never be afraid of space or silence. They are merely the cool side of the pillow during interacton: a refreshing mental nap. [But] delay is deadly. Delay is a gun pointed at the temple of confidence…Worrying about what you’ll say means you’re out of the moment. Unscripted, unedited, and wholly authentic people…are not afraid to make live, red-blooded mistakes, and rather than trying are busy simply being. View and download four other 8.5 x 11″ print resolution posters in the “Authenticity” series here.     Be Sociable,...

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FAQ’s

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

FAQ’s

We don’t know what we don’t know, right? And being in the dark about a process or a discipline can keep us from taking advantage of its many benefits. So, if you’re considering an upgrade to your organization’s graphic identity or advertising strategy or packaging, here’s what others in your shoes have asked about how things work at Kauai Design. Q:  I don’t know where to start. How does this work? A:  Part of my job is to take the ‘overwhelm’ factor out of the process. I offer a free consultation to explore your needs and wants and discuss possible directions. Once the conversation gets started, juicy, creative ideas typically bubble up to inspire and feed the process. My 17 years of experience gives me a broad and deep perspective on solutions that you may not have even considered. Kauai Design has professional relationships with local printers, sign makers and publishers and can shepherd your job though the printing / fabrication process or prepare it for publication. To get started, just call me. Q:  I know exactly what I want. Can you help me bring my ideas to life? A:   I love working with clients who know what they want. Nobody knows your business and your clientele like you do, and you probably have ideas about what could take you to the next level. You can be as active in the creative process as you like, or just share your vision and turn me loose to flesh out your concept. When appropriate, we may invite an illustrator, photographer or web developer into the collaboration. Q:  What’s the process and what do you need from me? A:  I start by gathering all the information I can related to your objectives, the ‘look’ you’re after, and your positioning in the marketplace. If it feels like a fit, we move forward with a written project proposal, which includes a cost estimate, project timeline, scope of services and a list of any graphic or text files to be provided by you. A signed proposal and a 50% deposit gets you on the production calendar and off we go. I stay in close communication throughout the project, and you have multiple opportunities for input and feedback. Q:  How do you charge? A:  The initial consultation (up to 1/2 hour on the phone or 1 hour face-to-face) is free. You get an estimate in writing before we begin. Though I may quote a flat rate on a large or complex project, most smaller jobs are estimated at the hourly rate of $80. Along with the more tangible (and billable) design and production services provided, you are also likely to benefit from the ideas, experience, education, expertise, writing skills, contacts, design resources, and local market knowledge that I bring to the table. Q:  Why is professional graphic design important to my business?  A:  Your visual identity serves as the solid foundation on which to build your business and makes that all-important first impression. It communicates quality to your customers and generates trust and...

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Benefits 101

Posted by on Mar 10, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Marketing | 0 comments

Benefits 101

Three or four years ago, I invested many, many hours in sales copy writing self-study courses. Clayton Makepeace was my first teacher. I recently re-discovered this gem of a post, “Benefits 101” (from THE TOTAL PACKAGE, 9/27/2010), and I’m sharing the complete “semester” here. One of the first things a new copywriter learns is to emphasize, not the  features of a product, but its benefits. This crash course takes benefits many layers deep. If you have a product or service or even a cause to promote, read on. Thanks for everything, Clayton!   Benefits 101 Let’s start with four basic facts … Every product has features: Features are merely objective facts about a product (or the company behind it). In three-dimensional products, features include size, shape, weight, construction, color options and more.In information products, features include number of pages, size, frequency of publication (for periodicals) and the types of information that are presented. Fortunately, most features are there for a darned good reason: Prospects don’t want features. They want you to change their lives for the better. Product features are merely the means to that end. That means features can have a place in ad copy – like telling prospects how many issues they’ll get per year … how many big pages are in your book … or that your widget is made from carbon steel for strength or carbon fiber for lightness.Beyond that, features are a yawn because they’re about the product; not about the prospect. Or, as in the examples above, they can help demonstrate how your product delivers a benefit. The good news is, just about every product fact – every feature – is there to provide a benefit that your prospect IS willing to pay for. There are more benefits associated with each product feature than are dreamt of by most copywriters: Benefits are like bunny rabbits: Give them a little time and they’ll begin multiplying – each benefit or combination of benefits producing one, two, three or more new benefits you never thought about before. The secret to kick-butt sales copy is to identify each and every benefit a product provides – and then to look at each benefit and ask, “What does THAT do for me? What additional benefits does that benefit provide?” Your prospect has strong feelings about every dimensionalized benefit you present: Connecting each fully dimensionalized product benefit with a strong emotion that your prospect already has about the benefit (or the lack of it in his/her life) makes sales copy irresistible. Benefits that sing and soar – in five simple steps Here’s a little exercise to help you drill down to the benefits prospects are willing to pay for … fully dimensionalize those benefits … and then connect those benefits with powerful response-boosting emotions that your prospect already has about those benefits (or the lack of them) in his life. By the time you’re through, you will have a complete list of company and product features … you will have squeezed every possible benefit out of those features … you will have fully dimensionalized those benefits … and you will have connected...

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What if…?

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in Blog, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 0 comments

What if…?

(Includes 4 new poster designs) A running theme of this blog is the exploration of “the creative process” which usually refers to birthing new and original works and ideas, or re-combining old ones in new ways. But what if we also create the very circumstances of our lives? One prerequisite to harnessing this power might be having what the psychological literature calls an internal locus of control: the belief that we are in the driver’s seat in our lives. Another might be knowing that each of us is part of an intelligent field of energy that science is only beginning to understand. Quantum physicists are consistently observing phenomena at the sub-atomic level that defy our current “laws” of physics. We are made of the same stuff as those particles and waves and, at its most basic level, all matter is energy. What if we humans, by aligning our energy with our desires, can also create in ways that that defy our current understanding of how things work? What if the most challenging part is getting out of our own way? What if our thoughts, feelings and beliefs are the language through which we communicate with this creative field of energy? What if we get what we expect in life and attract the very things we think about and believe to be true? Would we let our minds run on their default programming, simply accepting the conditions and conditioning of the world around us?  Or might we intentionally focus our energies (consciousness) on choosing and imagining the things we want in our lives, and releasing our limiting beliefs? “Reality” is obviously not static, but constantly changing. What if “what is” is simply the result of our (individual and collective) thoughts, feelings and beliefs from the past? What if today’s thoughts, feelings and points of focus are creating our future realities? This line of inquiry has led me into the thick of the happiness and positivity research, which in turn has inspired previous blog posts and poster projects. Sages throughout history have tapped into the power of thought as a force of creation. Now quantum science is beginning to explore a realm that mystics and poets have embraced all along: a force that connects everything and gives us the power to influence how matter behaves. All that we are is a result of what we have thought. –Buddha As a man thinketh in his heart, so he becomes. –Proverbs Imagination is the preview of life’s coming attractions. –Albert Einstein What you think you become. –Gandhi Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. –W. Clement Stone Whether you think you can or think you can’t do something, you’re right. –Henry Ford You create your own universe as you go along. –Winston Churchill Your world is a living expression of how you are using and have used your mind.  –Earl Nightingale We are what we think about all day long. –Ralph Waldo Emerson Every intention sets energy into motion whether you...

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Graphics Grapevine Makes Top 100 List

Posted by on Jan 26, 2013 in Blog, Graphic Design | 1 comment

Graphics Grapevine Makes Top 100 List

The Graphics Grapevine just made a list of Top 100 Design Blogs to Follow in 2013. I say “just” because it just happened, but also because it just made it, coming in at #99. Still, as a small fish in a big pond (a freelance designer on a tiny rural island in the middle of the Pacific) I’m pleased to be included. How The Grapevine differs from most of the other blogs featured is that it’s not written for designers at all. It’s not about the latest Photoshop tricks and techniques or the superstars of design and typography. It’s about 1)  raising the bar on graphic design for interested non-designers and the many consumers of their works 2)  sharing small business marketing ideas related to design, copywriting and the art of influencing others 3)  exploring the creative process itself It’s dedicated to business people and others with an appreciation for good design, and an interest in the psychologies of persuasion and/or creativity. Started in 2004 as a quarterly newsletter/e-zine, The Graphics Grapevine morphed into a monthly blog in 2012. The best of the archived articles were re-formatted for the blog and can be found, along with the latest posts, at www.graphicsgrapevine.com. For bite-sized content on these same topics, I invite you to visit (and “like”) the Kauai Design Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kauaidesign. The Top 100 Design Blogs to Follow in 2013 list was created as an infographic and can be viewed here. Thanks to CouponAudit.com for including The Graphics Grapevine and for the wealth of resources shared in this compilation. And to all Grapevine subscribers, Facebook  fans, and other followers, my deep appreciation! Be Sociable,...

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The Art of Planting Ideas

Posted by on Jan 7, 2013 in Blog, Copywriting, Creative Process, Graphic Design | 1 comment

The Art of Planting Ideas

Guest post by Donnie Bryant As a marketer or copywriter, can you imagine anything more powerful than the ability to plant an idea directly into the minds of your prospects? An idea they think is their own? One that makes selling your product or service effortless? I remember when I first heard about the movie Inception, this thought came to mind. Inception, if it were possible, would be the ultimate tool for marketers (not to mention politicians, teachers, lawyers, etc.). But I couldn’t see any real, practical way for it to work in real life. After seeing the film and reading some of the commentary, I see that I was dead wrong. Not only is inception possible, but it’s happening every day. THE SCIENCE Dreams are places of … unreality. Dreams don’t have to be realistic, logical or even possible. That’s one of the reasons we like them and their daytime counterparts. To the human mind, dreams and Hollywood movies are pretty much identical. In his article for Wired, “The Neuroscience of Inception,” Jonah Lehrer explains that the processes going on in the brain while watching a movie are the same as the ones that taking place while dreaming. In other words, the movie theater is a “dreamshare” device, like the one used in the film to steal secrets and implant foreign ideas. The thing that needs to be noted is that during the movie-watching experience, while the visual cortex is working at peak levels, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) goes dormant. Why is that significant? The PFC is where the executive control of your brain is housed. “’Executive Control’ is the ability to guide thought and action in accordance with internal goals.” Can you think of a better time to introduce a new idea into someone’s mind than when this function is in hibernation? Rather than guiding your thoughts according to your own internal goals, the producer can theoretically guide your thought with external objectives of his own. Watching Inception may be the perfect opening to have inception performed on you. THE SUSPENSION Funny how Jayme compared marketing to theater with regard to the suspension of disbelief. When you’re selling something, the biggest hurdle you have to overcome is disbelief in one form or another. People are: skeptical (disbelief in you and/or your proposition) risk adverse (doubt about whether they’re making the right choice) and resistant to change (disbelief that they need to do something different than what they’re doing now) An effective marketing message or sales pitch gives the potential customer enough reason to suspend that disbelief and make a purchase. (People have a strong desire to believe in certain things, so they may be very willing to suspend their disbelief in some cases.) In theater, you voluntarily suspend disbelief so you can enjoy an experience that is fiction/fantasy. Without hesitation, you put your critical thinking cap on the shelf – for 90 minutes or so. The forces that work in theater can also add strength to your...

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What is Graphic Design? Part 2

Posted by on Nov 28, 2012 in Blog, Graphic Design | 0 comments

What is Graphic Design? Part 2

The premiere issue of The Graphics Grapevine (January 2004) included the classic essay by Jessica Helfand, “What is Graphic Design?” Five years later John Wade, the brilliant designer and teacher behind Before & After magazine, put that question to his readership, probably all of whom are graphic designers. Of the 251 responses, here are some of my favorite definitions:   a combination of visual and information architecture art with an ulterior motive clear thinking made visible a way to communicate that engages both the left and right sides of the brain not just making it pretty but making it work visual translations the art and architecture of visual communication what puts the sizzle in the steak bringing elements together to make something greater than the sum of its parts the interface between consciousness and matter the distillation of  complex information taking information (what goes to the head) and adding emotion (what goes to the heart) a communication language using visual grammar to craft effective statements making people feel, touch, hear, smell and taste through their eyes visual explanations capturing attention, organizing information and transmitting concepts and passions motivating, informing and persuading communication in the form of art and art in the form of communication What are  your thoughts? See John Wade’s original post  here. VIDEO. For more from the designer’s perspective, see PBS Off Book’s new release, The Universal Arts of Graphic Design (6:27) Be Sociable,...

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