Last season the Mendocino County Lodging Association (MCLA) commissioned me to design an ad campaign. Most people identify Studio Z Mendocino with letterpress printing, but, as we like to say, there are many ways of getting ink onto paper. And one of those ways doesn’t involve our doing any of the inking at all, but creating graphic design that’s compelling, informative, subtle and, of course, beautiful.
The project was on a tight deadline. Working closely with Project Manager, Louis Bohannan and MCLA director, Scott Schnieder, I went into my creative trances over the inspiring work of several local photographers. I feel I have actually rediscovered my home place through looking at it through the eyes of these talented artists. In the ad above, “it seems like a dream,” I used the photo taken at a beach north of Fort Bragg, done by noted Argentine photograper, Pablo Abuliak. You might notice a certain similarity to my blog header. Pablo let me use his photo for this because the person in the shot is someone very close to me.
Working on this project put me in even closer touch with how incredible my County is, how beautiful and full of wonders, north, south, east and, of course, for me, west, where I love to live.
“Show, Don’t Tell” was my watch phrase as I pored over images that told the big story, that Mendocino County is not only about the justly famed eponymous town (can a town be eponymous? In this blog it can.), but that everywhere you go in Mendocino County, you will encounter compelling gorgeousness that makes you never want to go back home. The ad above appeared in Diablo Magazine. The photograph of that Lone Tree near Boonville is by Anderson Valley author/photographer/philosopher/logger Bruce Patterson. I accidentally found him secluded away in a web site of Anderson Valley artists and totally fell in love with his work. You have to buy his book, Walking Tractor. You can’t believe how funny and smart, true and heartbreaking his stories are, and how distinct and rich his voice.
Nature, Nurture, Amazing Wines, Unpopulated Beaches, Little Towns, Homey Atmosphere, Redwood Trees, Famous Skunk Train, Fabulous Eating and Lodging, and Swoony Romance — let’s put the word out about this spectacular Place. The lower photo of Main Street in the Village at sunset is by Mendocino photographer, John Birchard.
This ad, with pink sunset photo by Mendocino local photographer, Rita Crane, was in South Bay Accent Magazine, and says more about the west side of the county, about getting away, and away from it all.
When I came up with the tag line, “Come see. Come stay. Come back.” everyone just sighed a sigh of rightness. Yep. Copy writing While-U-Wait. At Studio Z you get the whole enchilada with your ad campaign.
The ad above emphasizes again the allure at the center of our County, a shot of a wisteria covered barn in Anderson Valley by Rita Crane. Bet you didn’t know all this before, right? OK, here is one more. This is about the South Coast, an often-missed section of Mendocino County. This appeared in On Magazine. The awe inspiring photo of the lighthouse at Point Arena is by Eric D. Sharp.
We are hard at work just now creating the next campaign for the newly named, and differently assigned, Visit Mendocino. The organization must be doing something very right. With almost every county in the state submitting significantly downsized contributions in bed taxes, which herald how their tourism industry is doing, from 10% to 30% down, in fact, Mendocino County showed only a 4% drop from last year. Can a well placed ad campaign have anything to do with this? Can a story this graphically gripping pull those numbers in a weird economy? I wouldn’t mind taking a tiny bit of credit for it, honestly.
Here is the last one I will show you today, though there are many others. This one also was in On Magazine, a different month. The pet-friendly photo of Hairy Putter, canine restaurant critic, super-model, Mendocino County dignitary and extra-cute bon vivant running on the beach with his new compadres, was taken by my friend Alan Ahtow, one of Hairy’s People.
In the many worlds of places to go, I am blessed to live in this sublime place. That we get to share it with visitors, and that I get to work with all these fabulous artists, what a bonus. I hope you have fun when you come see, come stay and come back.