Puppies and Promises

14 11 2008

By now you have probably heard that President-elect Barack Obama has promised his two daughters a puppy when they move into the White House in January. Well, so has every major animal shelter, breeder and dog food company in America. Pedigree, is no exception.

Dear President-elect Obama

Dear President-elect Obama

Pedigree has launched a marketing campaign to remind the Obama family that shelter dogs are among the best animals to adopt, and as a designer I believe that they have hit the mark. Their clean presentation and adorable puppy draws any animal lover in. Who wouldn’t want to adopt that dog with its floppy ears and wiry coat. Beyond the adorable image though is a very succinct marketing message that reverberates Mr. Obama’s campaign mantra of hope and goes further to subtly remind all of us of his campaign promises big or small.

Thank you Pedigree for producing a beautifully elegant ad while driving home a marketing message we can only hope President-elect Barack Obama will see and take to heart.

Allison Stulpin

What is graphic design?

2 09 2008

Just last week I was visiting my 86-year-old grandmother, and she asked me (as she has repeatedly for years now), “what is it that you do for a living again?”

Ever since I embarked on becoming a graphic designer, I have noticed a very curious perception about my chosen profession. When asked what I do for a living, I always reply, “I’m a graphic designer,” and I assume my response is descriptive enough. More often than not, I get a blank stare and usually a follow up question with absolutely no legitimacy, such as, “Oh, do you create special effects for movies?” This immediately tips me off that they haven’t the faintest idea what a graphic designer does. Subsequently, I reply with “well, not exactly.”

Graphic design, by definition, is the art (or profession) of visual communication. As designers, we creatively combine images, words and ideas to convey information to an audience, especially to produce a desired effect or reaction. Our main tools are typography, color, photography/illustration and composition. Graphic design can refer to both the designing process and the actual designs that are created.

There are a few reasons why graphic design is such an enigma to those outside the design realm. First off, it is a very broad profession with many avenues to pursue. Typical examples of graphic design include company logos, magazine layouts, advertisements, consumer packaging and Web site design. I try to give a few examples when I am faced with this situation such as, “I’m currently working on a logo for this client and a brochure for that client.”

I could say, “Grandma, I use the Abobe Creative Suite to organize space in order to communicate visual and verbal information with expression and clarity.” I have a feeling that might make matters worse. Since the arrival of graphic arts software applications, computer image manipulation has become the norm. So when all else fails and my grandmother says “what exactly is it that you do again?” I can reply, “I work on a computer grandma,” and she is somehow satisfied.


Holly Davis

Love it or hate it… Helvetica is a force to be reckoned with.

16 07 2008

Designers are constantly faced with the issue of choosing the right typeface for logo design. Basically, a font should support the brand in three principal ways:

1.) enhance the overall visual appearance of the composition

2.) create a compatibility with the other design elements

3.) legibly communicate the name/message

However, these days there are just too many fonts out there to pick from and the process of finding the right fit can become quite cumbersome. So which typefaces are safe? My choice is always the clean sans-serif classic Helvetica. So here is a brief, and I mean brief, history on Helvetica:

Helvetica was created by Max Miedinger (with Eduard Hoffmann) at the Haas type foundary in Münchenstein, Switzerland in the late 1950’s. Originally called Neue Haas Grotesk, it was renamed Helvetica in 1960 from “Confoederatio Helvetica” which is the Latin name for Switzerland. The new moniker was issued to make it more internationally marketable. I think it worked.

Typography since the 1960’s has been completely saturated with the crisp clean lines of Helvetica. Today it is still one of the most commonly used fonts in the world. Look around. Street signs, billboards, storefronts, tax forms, mail boxes, subways and logos everywhere are using Helvetica because of its pure neutrality and subsequently its omnipresence in our global culture.

Of course this extreme infusion into all things type has caused a backlash or two over the last half century. Designers either love it or hate, but no one can argue that Helvetica is not a dominating presence in our world.

For all you type nerds out there that want to watch an interesting documentary on this subject, there is a wonderful movie that I had the pleasure to view a couple months ago called simply Helvetica. It is a feature-length independent film by Gary Hustwit that reveals Helvetica’s transcendent impact on society that goes beyond nation or language as the classic typeface celebrates 50 years. –hd



Holly Davis

Choose to be Great!

25 06 2008

Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer

Doing my daily surfing expeditions into the World-Wide Web I came across a statement that got me thinking about myself as a designer and as an over all human-being.

“Arrogance without humility is a recipe for high-concept irrelevance; humility without arrogance guarantees unending mediocrity.” – Clay Shirky, New York University Interactive Telecommunications Program.

More often than not I’m fighting the urge to be self-loathing of my creativity while quietly, and often in the same breath, giving myself a pat on the back for a job well done. The struggle, I have found, is striking the balance between awareness and acknowledgment. I am very aware, on the basest of human levels, that there will always be room for improvement, while I continue to fight the urge to prove my greatness to others. I know I’m not alone.

This concept of humility and arrogance intertwined to guarantee greatness is not limited to one profession, gender or race. However, not everyone will seek to be great or humble much to the chagrin of others. For those who do seek to be great however, success can be found in the awareness and acknowledgment that both qualities are necessary. It is that awareness and acknowledgment that will ultimately separate the mediocre from the great. So, be aware of the need for improvement, and be ready to acknowledge your greatness in every aspect of your life.

Be great today!

KISS (No – not the American rock band easily identified by their trademark face paint and stage outfits)

20 06 2008

The KISS principle is a basic design rule that is most often forgotten in this overstimulated “make the logo bigger” day and age. KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. Now don’t be offended–it just simply states a concept that good design should be clean and void of unnecessary complexities. The best way to avoid this is through initial conceptualization and planning. Taking the guesswork out upfront eliminates the need–or more accurately the want–to add unnecessary details.

The ultimate goal of a good designer is to convey their message with as few elements as possible with a balance of creativity and interest. There is a tendency in advertising today to load up a layout with a lot of ostentatious features that add little or nothing to the overall power of the composition thus compromising any elegance the design once held. Planning ahead might seem like a lot of work, but in the long run it saves you time and frustration. Initial brainstorming/thumbnailing creates a blueprint for your layout. This eliminates any extras right upfront that might over complicate the concept. The objective is to stick with the beginning groundwork and avoid the extras that creep in. So just remember to Keep It Simple Stupid.


Holly Davis

Green Design

18 06 2008

By Allison Stulpin
Graphic Designer

With all of the talk lately about going green, I decided to contemplate how this might affect design as we know it.

We’re all touched by design on a daily basis from newspaper and magazine ads to billboards and flyers. And with all of this paper floating around it can’t be good for the environment. So, I went searching for some statistics to put things in perspective, because, after all, it can’t be that bad … right? Wrong. The Clean Air Council states that businesses use approximately 21 tons of paper each year, and 1/3 of the waste that Americans toss is from packaging. Those numbers are staggering to say the least, and the thought of my personal contribution is a bit depressing.

You may be wondering, why in the world a designer would discuss the negative aspect of the design world. After all it’s what she gets paid to do. Well, I have to admit I went back and forth quite a few times, weighing the pros and cons of this subject, but ultimately decided that there is an up side to this information.

As a designer, I am constantly searching for new and innovative ways to get a business’ message to the masses, and with the spotlight on being greener, I was energized in my search to find ways to design while decreasing my environmental footprint.

Lettuce BillboardOne site I came across contained a plethora of information about being a green designer. Its tips ranged from recommending tree-free paper stock options like sugar cane waste and straw, to using green ink and reducing the amount of ink used in each project (http://www.green.net.au/srd/#green). I even found an example of what some may think is the extreme of green advertising: a lettuce billboard from McDonalds promoting its healthier food options.

Let’s not stop there though. Because of the push to reduce paper design and printing, there has been some exciting developments in the world of design. Web sites and web videos are becoming a more popular advertising method, along with social networking sites and email campaigns designed to hit a specific market. With new technology emerging every day, it might not be long before I’m back here writing about the latest in hologram advertising.

So you see, it might not be easy to go green in design, but it is possible with research and a bit of creativity. If you’d like to see a few examples of greener designs, check out our web site at www.igpr.com.

The Importance of Color in Design

9 06 2008

With so many topics related to graphic design I was struggling to decide which one to discuss first, but then it hit me … color. Color is everywhere and conveys a message even if we don’t realize it. The idea of color is also one of the least understood concepts of design. In my years as a designer one question has continued to be asked of me: ‘Why did you choose these particular colors?’ And while the surface answer can be as simple as, ‘they just felt right,’ the fact is, an experienced designer knows which colors would be best suited for that particular target market beyond just having a hunch

Let’s start by taking a trip down memory lane. At one point in time we all had an elementary art class with a brief exposure to primary, secondary and tertiary colors, but for those of us who don’t remember what that means I’ll explain. The primary colors are red, yellow and blue, although depending on the industry those colors vary slightly. Secondary colors consist of mixing two primary colors together to create a new color (i.e yellow + blue = green), and tertiary colors are created by mixing one primary color with a secondary color. It is within these three color groups that designers base their understanding of color and their best use in each industry.

At this point however, you may be thinking, ‘How do I choose the right colors?’ Well, this is where an experienced graphic designer can step in and point you in the right direction. Experienced designers know that what works in one industry may not work in another, and by applying a few basic principals they can propel your business in the right direction.

Let’s say your business is an ice cream shop and your favorite colors are brown and black. Brown evokes a sense of strength and reliability, both of which are good business traits, but brown also can convey a sense of isolation and sadness, neither of which are good for a business, especially an ice cream shop (Sensation and Perception – The Color Brown)! The same goes for the color black. It’s widely recognized for stability, but also for mourning. Not many people would associate those colors with an ice cream shop, but the point is that more often than not, people have a hard time seeing past their own personal preferences in color, which can send the wrong message to their customers. Instead, a designer is able to choose the correct colors based on the particular market to create focus, clarity and confidence in your brand and your business.

When you are ready to make an IMPACT…Give us a call. 330.655.5522 or visit us at www.igpr.com