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Archive for July 2010

inspired by . Selby Spaces

I know I’ve mentioned the interesting phenomenon of a creative type’s space, and how important it becomes at times to the creative endeavors that emanate there. Really, I think our spaces are important to all of us, whether we work or contribute to the arts or not. Spaces provide our days and, by extension, our lives context. They offer us tangible dimensions in which we find comfort, nourish ourselves, build our connections with others, rest our bodies, or while away our free time. The elements that make those spaces true places of significance are different for each of us. I’ve often been asked by friends to offer advice on how they decorate their homes or arrange their accessories or choose their wall colors. My best piece of advice has always been: Do what YOU like. Do what makes YOUR space your own. We are so often alternatively intimidated or enamored by the so-called tenets of good design, the appropriate use of space or the fashionable color trends. And, of course, I believe those ideas are important. I know they can draw upon our common tendencies as people to create spaces or visual elements that are more pleasing and accessible to us. However, I also firmly believe that a well-designed space is one that has become the true place of the one who dwells in it.

The website I have to share today really showcases that concept. The site displays the magnificent work of Todd Selby, a portrait, interiors and fashion photographer. His website, The Selby, offers a unique and intriguing view into the personal spaces of various artists and designers with whom he’s worked. Some of the images were produced for commercial purposes and some just for the love of photographing space and its inhabitants. The broader shots are wonderful, but some of my favorites are the details he shows — the lovingly placed precious objects, the whimsical gathering of seemingly random pieces. Those are the photos that seem to offer a glimpse into the designer’s creative spirit. Some of the collections also have hand-written and drawn Q&As with the artists as well. Fair warning: You could spend your whole day on this site. Enjoy a few of the shots inspiring me today… (click the photo to view the full collection for each designer)

inspired by . Carnevale Stretch

When I came across these unique and colorful chairs, I couldn’t resist posting them to the Inspired Pond files. The Stretch collection by Carnevale Studios launched earlier this year and offers a whimsical take on “pull up a chair.”

Jennifer Carnevale is an industrial designer who was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design and has produced furniture and products for a who’s who list of great retail and design companies. Taking inspiration from all areas of design, Ms. Carnevale’s products showcase materials combined in interesting ways. That’s obvious from this collection of chairs. Taking cues from the fashion world, they combine latex, bungee cord and ropes into this vibrant weave. I can’t help but think “summer party dress” when I see that green version.

Be inspired!

princely project . Branding in Unexpected Places

As delis go, Sweet Peppers Deli is a rock star. If you live in the Southeast, you may have had the opportunity to experience one of their restaurant franchises. The Sweet Peppers family includes 17 franchise- and company-owned stores now open in five states. Beyond their fresh approach to the deli concept and their sinful cookies, I have an affinity for the restaurant for two other reasons. Sweet Peppers Deli is the brain-child of two great restaurant companies launched right here where I live in north Mississippi. You can read all about their story here. I applaud any business offering excellent products from the rural deep South. Also, through my position at Dux D’Lux Advertising, I had the privilege of working with the folks at Sweet Peppers Deli in crafting their original brand image and extending it through many of it’s applications on-site and in advertising outlets. I’m honored that they chose to become one of my first clients after launching Small Pond Graphics as well.

I recently completed a painting project for the restaurant group, and it’s a great example of how this client is applying their brand in unexpected places. The Chattanooga, TN franchise is in the process of launching a breakfast line of high-quality coffee and other goodies, complete with a special in-store “coffee station.” The corporate office asked me to create some artwork to display behind the station as a focal point to highlight the coffee offerings and reinforce the brand in a sort of point-of-purchase application. Through a series of iterations, we settled on coffee cups and coffee beans paired with vibrant colors and a strategically placed Sweet Peppers Deli wordmark.

This set of three designs for the coffee station is actually an extension of a collection of paintings completed several years ago for the Sweet Peppers Deli franchise system as they were just getting off the ground. Faced with stores opening with very colorful, but blank walls, the team opted out of choosing the standard restaurant artwork warehouse fare. To their great branding credit, they saw these blank walls as an opportunity to provide the interiors with not only a unique look that was unmistakably “peppers”, but also a prime venue for highlighting the brand’s core value of  fresh ingredients and dynamic offerings. Through Dux D’Lux I produced a series of digitally printed canvases that were then overpainted with scattered brush strokes for a custom look. The paintings applied bright colors and whimsical brush strokes to various fruits and vegetables. They started as small cocktail napkin-sized acrylic paintings on fabric which were scanned at a large scale to emphasize their texture. The result was a series of wall art pieces that really make the table surroundings pop.

In addition to images of produce, I also developed painted versions of the brand’s two logo icons to be hung in-store as well. It was a great opportunity to see this well-developed brand translated into brush strokes — an unexpected and brand-reinforcing solution to the necessary picture-hanging. Kudos to Sweet Peppers Deli for knowing and understanding the importance of branding in unexpected places!

Responsible Facebook Marketing: Page or Profile? (part 1)

I’ve been thinking alot about Facebook recently. Not only have I been launching the Small Pond Graphics Facebook page, but I’ve had several clients seeking my input on how to create or maximize their own pages. With over 400 million active Facebook users worldwide, and the statistics growing for the impact engaging with companies online makes in how consumers respond to products and services, Facebook is indeed becoming a more and more valuable marketing commodity. Just the other day, I saw Google’s statistics on the most visited websites on the internet during the month of May, 2010. Facebook topped the list with over 540 million unique visitors during the month and a mind-boggling 630 billion page views.

One of the pieces of information I shared on the Pond FB page this week was a link to a new application for Facebook profiles that has been released. It was produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and offers a “panic button” of sorts for 13- to 18-year-old Facebook users. The application adds a profile tab that allows the teen to quickly report suspicious users. In the press release about the application, James Gamble of the Centre commented that online predators are often dissuaded by visible deterrents. The hope is that this application might serve to protect young Facebook users from falling victim to the inevitable unscrupulous and sometimes dangerous online realities.

With the news of this new application that attempts to protect young online users from the internet’s worst tendencies, I’ve also been starting work on an online media contract for a local private school. It has me thinking. We have been trained in recent years to consider corporate responsibility and the ways businesses can or should involve themselves in social issues. How does that concern for ethical and responsible business practices extend to online marketing? Given the fact that we have no control over who reads our contributions to the online buzz — their age, their nationality, their proximity, their gender — how do we orchestrate a responsible online presence?

There are undoubtedly many answers and viewpoints to those questions. A full discourse would certainly produce a much longer word count for this post than I would ever recommend for a blogging client. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, but for now, I’ll limit MY answer to just one recommendation regarding Facebook.

Follow the rules.

Facebook is a free service. It isn’t a democracy. It isn’t an “economy.” It doesn’t have juris prudence. It’s an idea that has come to remarkable fruition. And, marketing a business or organization on Facebook is a gift. My number one recommendation to businesses seeking to reach out to customers on Facebook is “don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.” Say thank you, and follow the rules. By doing so, companies promote an ethical and responsible approach to doing business online. They demonstrate that “Terms of Service” agreements aren’t just a checkbox after a password is set. They are guidelines that are important to follow as we take advantage of our internet privileges. I appreciate organizations that set an example in the way they approach online media for the scores of young users we know are watching.

And, I notice when they don’t.

One of the primary ways I’m disappointed by businesses marketing on Facebook is when I see them presenting themselves in the “PROFILE” format. The site offers businesses a free way to promote themselves using the network through their “PAGE” format. The Facebook Terms of Service prohibit an individual from holding two different Facebook accounts. So, if you have a personal profile AND a business profile, you are in violation of those terms. In my opinion, businesses and organizations who violate this policy send a subtle, but immediate message that they don’t mind stepping outside the rules when conducting their business. In this age when the global focus is more and more on corporate responsibility for both large and small companies, that’s just not a good marketing strategy.

Not convinced by my “set a good example” theory? Stay tuned for Part 2 and a few solid marketing reasons why giving your business a Facebook “PAGE” presence is a better option.

inspired by . Christian’s Colors

If this collection of images doesn’t bring a smile to your face, then you seriously need a Blow-Pop. Through the Twitter post of a friend, I stumbled across the wonderful collection of retro everything from Christian Montone captured in photos. It made me smile, and we all need a smile on a Tuesday. Click on the images to visit Christians’ FLICKR SET for a closer look at these colorful flashes from the past.

When I was browsing his photographs, I noticed links to three delightful blogs where Christian shares his love of packaging, retro images and found objects — not to mention his own work. I’m inspired this afternoon by his sense of whimsy, his love of color and his unconventional style. It’s creativity happening! See for yourself…

AJAX ALL PURPOSE BLOG
SKETCHBOOK VAULT
CHRISTIAN MONTONE

Creative Types: Jewelry by Aurora Rogers

I’m privileged to enjoy the inspirations of many “creative types” in my line of work (and in my circle of friends). Their creative pursuits come in all shapes and sizes and mediums, but the ingenuity and innovative ideas are apparent regardless of venue. I like to pay attention to these folks because creativity tends to inspire more creativity, and I like to be a part of paying that forward. For those readers who may say “but I’m not artistic,” I’ll spare you the “creativity” lecture I gave the students from my Starkville Home Educators art classes. But, suffice it to say that I’m a firm believer in the notion that we are all creative beings at our core. We each tap into that creativity in different ways, be it writing, cooking, time management, or any number of more traditional artistic pursuits. I’m always curious when I encounter creative types… “what inspires your creativity?” The answers always inspire me to delve deeper into my own creative bent.

Princessa Handcrafted Jewelry

I met Aurora Rogers when she was still in high school, and two things that stood out to me in her very vibrant personality were her love of making things and her love of jewelry. Over the years I’ve noticed that not much has changed in those two loves, only the way she’s executed them. Her latest adventure in combining the two is the Princessa line of handcrafted jewelry. Aurora’s pieces are created with the “every day princess in mind.” And what girl doesn’t want to be a princess?

Aurora, who is a working graphic designer as well, applies her love of color and pattern, as well as her experienced design sense to each piece. Plus, she donates a portion of all her sales to whatever cause, issue, or even needful family that is moving her heart at the moment. I love the giving nature. I love the bead work. I love the colors. I love the whimsy of the multi-strands. And holy cowboys and indians, folks, I love the boot anklet.

When we were talking about this post, I asked Aurora to answer one question… What’s inspiring you today? Her answer…

“Today, I am inspired by being useful and productive … solving a problem really ignites my creativity and motivates me into action — which does not sound creative at all.

If I dig a little deeper into my “creative intellect”, the things that inspires me most today and any day are color and patterns.”

Well, I’m inspired too. See  more of Aurora’s work at www.honeyandlove.com

inspired by . Sea and Sky

My first exposure to Casey Gunschel’s stunning textile designs was through an article earlier this year in House Beautiful. It highlighted her Palace Papers herringbone pattern created from the delicate textures of fern fronds. I was absolutely inspired by the subtle surprise of the fern leaves awaiting a closer look at the traditional menswear texture.

When I was choosing the “grey” wall color for my office, I looked again at the Palace Papers line for inspiration. Ms. Gunschel’s intricate depictions of ravens and fish (sea and sky) in the “Nevermore” and “Coy” patterns took my breath away. I couldn’t resist the sophisticated neutrals and aquas as well as the vibrant rhythm of the shapes. It’s easy to see the inspiration Ms. Gunschel took from her Cape Cod roots. Enjoy!

Sketchy Ideas

My friends Jennifer and Juliette deserve “thank you” notes. These two fabulous women, whom I most often connect with via Facebook, were kind enough to send me special “happies” last week to celebrate the move to my new home office. Sweets and jewelry–two of a girl’s best friends. The gifts have served to confirm for me the power of acknowledgement, even in the business world. I’ll save the soap box for another post, but the common courtesies we learned from our mothers and grandmothers are just as important for doing business as they were for sweet 16 parties and high school graduations. The fact is; “please” and “thank you” are solid marketing strategies–perhaps even more so in today’s digital age than ever before.

To that end, I decided some custom Small Pond notecards were in order based on a few sketchy ideas. Literally. I think I’ve mentioned that I have been weeding through files (and piles) over the last few weeks. It’s an integral part of moving offices. Sadly, it hasn’t been an integral part of my organizational routine, so the process of late has netted some crazy stuff.

I keep most of my sketches for design projects, especially those “doodles” used in developing logo designs. The sketches are kind of like visual brainstorming sessions with overlapping images and notes, little dots or boxes representing where the text might go, and the occasional note about reference material. These doodles sometimes segue into drawings on tracing paper (or bumwad, as I learned in architecture school) destined to be scanned. Being the design pack-rat that I am, I keep almost all these wrinkled pages. You just never know when they might come in handy.

As you can imagine, I found a considerable set of sketchy blissdom when weeding through my office piles, and dutifully filed them away in drawer #2 of the red filing cabinet. I decided they would make nice visuals for the inaugural “Sketch Paper” series of Small Pond notecards. I may subject you to more of the sketches and their stories here at Plop! as time goes on. Meanwhile, you are the first to have a peek at the notecard designs, and I plan to enlist the USPS in firing off a couple to Jennifer and Juliette this week. Saying “thank you” is important, even if the “look” is a little sketchy. Come to think of it, YOU deserve a “thank you” for reading these Pond ramblings. So, message me your address and I’ll fire off one for you too!

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