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Posts Tagged ‘Graphic Design’

Bella Viva Business Card

Bella Viva Business Card — Seafoam green ink with gold foil stamping

Interior designer Deanne England recently contacted Studio Z Mendocino because she wanted a new look for her branding of her business, Bella Viva Interior Design, and a new business card. She found us online, and we were both surprised that we live and work only an hour-and-a-half from each other. From the first minute we talked, we knew there was a special spark in the quality of our communications. We “got” each other in the special way that makes you know things are going to be really exciting if you get to work together.

Deanne wanted something elegant that also showed her slightly quirky side too. We talked about the myriad possibilities, the infinity of choices doing any design project … and then I set to work over the weekend.

Right off the bat, I drew this little conundrum of a mark…a flower, maybe?…but if you look closely, you will see the initials “bV” for Bella Viva hidden in the leaves. She loved the mark, even before she saw the initials; then she loved the game of having to look and find the little mystery. She also was very clear that a “seafoam green” be included somehow. The card you see above is the result of our very flowing, mutual creativity.

If you have ever worked with interior designers, you know that there is no detail too small to suffer over until it’s perfect, and that is how we are about printing too. We got along like peas in a pod. Her meticulous attention to keeping things clear guided the project to its happy conclusion.

Ms. England works with clients in both northern & southern California on full scale remodeling & building projects, as well as design consultations in property investment evaluation, home staging analysis, professional organizing solutions, and even event design. Deanne is available by appointment only and welcomes all inquiries regarding her work, design philosophy, and design process. She can be contacted at 626 722 7809.

Deanne was immediately in love with the feel and look of Cranes 600 gram, super-thick Lettra, which takes the “bite” of letterpress techniques like nothing else, and feels wonderfully substantial in the hand.

Bella Viva Business Card Back

The backs of the cards had to be as pretty as the fronts, and they are.

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"We Just Got a Makeover!" post card

“We Just Got a Makeover” post card

Shortly after I opened my first shop, in November of 1984, Carol Hall moved her little restaurant in next door, in the north end of the old Coast Hotel. That was the first time I met her and it was plain love, right from the start. Those were lively days on Franklin Street, with the irresistible aroma of roux wafting out of her doors and into mine, driving us all mad with desire.

I had never even heard of pepper jelly before, and when i asked Carol what you are supposed to do with pepper jelly, she said, with her sparkly Louisiana accent, “Why I put it on my red beans and rice!” — like it was perfectly normal. Needless to say, I was a convert instantaneously. Sometimes we would just have a red-bean-and-rice attack around three o’clock, close the doors to my shop, and go over and beg.

Carol’s spicy New Orleans home cookin’ perfumed the street for blocks. Gumbo, jambalaya, andoille sausages…it was hard to pick one thing off the menu, once you had tried it all. Every single thing made you want to die from pleasure.

Lucky me…Carol asked me to make her logo when she started putting up pepper jellies to sell to the NOLA-starved throngs. I used a lead typeface i had bought from an old hobby printer, called Chic. I was just starting out on my own and everything was so exciting and fabulous. Sorry I don’t have any photos of that long-ago logo to post here.

Eventually, Carol moved over to a little shop on Main Street and called it by the same name, Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company. Her line of preserves grew and grew. And grew. By that time, she wanted the labels to reflect a more handmade character, so she had her husband Albert draw the label art that would last for years and years, with a darling, naive rendering of red and green peppers and vines.

Albert Hall's lable design

Albert Hall’s label design

She sold all kinds of jams and jellies there, mustards, chutneys, vinegars, and she brought in other products too, locally made wine jellies and salsas, interesting, food-related stuff, pottery, but the Red and Jalapeno Pepper Jellies, now joined by Ginger, Peach, Mango and Roasted Garlic Pepper Jellies, held their own, and still do to this day.

Fast forward: business was good, the name well-established, and many honors and awards had been bestowed on her scrumptious products.  Carol decided she wanted to slow down a bit. She had been working her tail off for a couple of decades. That’s when she passed most of the business to her daughter Leslie Hall.

The labels changed again when the Halls all sat down and together hammered out a really different look for their products that was a little more upscale. All the labels were on cream colored paper, with burgundy type, small gray drawings, accented with gold foil, and die cut in a distinctive shape.

White label from the 1990s

White label from the 1990s

The store too was passed to a long-time employee, and now Leslie was just doing the wholesale end of things, with part-time help from Carol on bookkeeping and consulting. “Just” is the wrong word to use…Leslie figures she has made over a half-million jars of jam, jelly and preserves in the years she has womanned the stove.

Leslie is a dervish in the kitchen. She is so organized and fast that nobody can keep up with her. Four or five pots of various jams are bubbling away on the stove, she is sterilizing jars, cleaning up constantly, putting the labels on by hand, answering the phone incessantly, making plans for trade shows, and taking care of her granddaughter, all at the same time. I could go on but…

Well, finally we come to the actual point of this blog post: A few months ago, Carol and Leslie called me up and said they wanted me to redesign their branding, to spark it up with a more modern look. WoW! Was i ever happy to revisit this with them.

They had had a family meeting and talked about all the things they liked about past labels as well as what was not working. They knew they wanted an updated look, but it needed to keep that trademark handmade quality as well. With a lot of experience in redesigning labels (and a certain amount of dread — it’s really an upheaval, you know), they leafed through lots of clip art books, culling for that special wood engraving look they loved, thinking about typefaces, whether to use foil or ink, and etc., etc., and so on.

When I went over to the kitchen to meet with them, Leslie was all ready with a carefully drawn label on a jar to show me. She was pretty happy with it and wanted me to do something to adapt it a little bit — but she also said she wanted me to use my own imagination too… OK. I said, “You know, Leslie, this looks nice, but it has this wood engraving from what looks like the 1600s, of a woman wearing a snood, stirring a black pot over a fireplace. Umm…do you think it’s modern enough?”

I took the drawing away and lots of notes and ideas and went to work. Honestly, I dont know how this happens, how i get these notions for designs. Really, I can’t even begin to figure it out. Something starts coming through, I play with type, colors, layouts…really I don’t know. The first thing that happened was, I made a square out of the long name, Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company. I tried a bunch of faces out. I got a little feeling about this. Something started to jell, as surely as a pot of bubbling plums and sugar starts to set up…

I took the idea over to Carol and Leslie to see how I was doing. At first, they were in shock. They didn’t know what to say. It was so different from their idea that they could hardly absorb it. They kind of had to push back against it. Then they started to look at it and think about it, warm up to it. Then they said a lot of stuff that I had not known about originally.

Number one thing: the word HOT is NOT a good selling point. People are often scared of HOT (I am not one of them). After thirty years of doing this business, they had a firm grasp of what did and did not work. HOT had always been problematic, and HOT was in the name of the company. In my first rendering, HOT was the biggest thing on the label.

OK, back to the drawing board with more notes and admonitions. As I said, this was jelling. The process, however it works, is always a back-and-forth, a conversation and a communication. I am a medium between what the clients want and what the logo wants to be. That is such a fun position to be in. Witchy!

After more messing around, I called them again, and went to meet with them, this time with a bigger concept. Each label would be a different color. All of them would have the product name in white letters on a black rectangle, with “HANDMADE” floating in a separate rectangle underneath. The “Hot Pepper Jelly Company” part of the name would only appear on the back of the label. The name Carol Hall was all that would be on the front. Each label would have the name of the contents in big enough letters to be read from an aisle. The colors would be vibrant and coordinated so they would look beautiful all together, or by themselves, or in a gift basket. Oh la la! They liked the idea more and more, warmed to it, and finally embraced it. It was thrilling, as exciting as the first time we worked together when I was brand new to having my own business and so was Carol.

Carol and Leslie went to work picking the color palette. I loaned them my Pantone ink books and they went on an exploration of colors, trying various hues on the various products to make sure the label looked good with the jam or mustard color, leafing through William Morris books in search of saturated, sophisticated combos, making sure that everything harmonized and popped.

At last, we put the whole thing together. Like this:

Cherry-Amaretto Jam label

Cherry-Amaretto Jam label

Carol Hall's Hot Pepper Jelly Company's products are Yumminess in a Jar

Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company’s products are Yumminess in a Jar

(The painting in the photo above is a portrait my friend Bob Ross did of me in the ’80s.)

So that is a kind of (not really “kind of”) lengthy synopsis of my relationship with Carol and Leslie Hall. A big, long love affair of mutual admiration and respect, with a happy ending. They love the twenty-six labels we have finished so far and they are getting rave reviews from most of their clients (some people can’t stand change, of course, but overall, it’s a home run), and orders are rolling in like crazy. We already had to order a reprint of some of the most popular items. This is the best news to me. That the labels are beautiful, exciting, popular…and, truly the acid test, effective.

If you are looking for really great presents for the holidays (with good looking packaging — wink, wink), I cannot give you better advice than to find Carol Hall’s Hot Pepper Jelly Company and buy a bunch for all your friends and yourself. As the seal I designed for the labels says “Still cookin’ — Small Batches — Family Owned — since 1985.” It’s an amazing product line that comes from an amazing family. Yummy in every way. I am so honored to have been given this assignment.

Pumpkin Butter label

Pumpkin Butter label with my ONE pumpkin from my garden this year. A volunteer.

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Embossed pattern is a replica of Carole's wedding ring

Embossed pattern is a replica of Carole’s wedding ring

Sometimes being in business brings the nicest surprises. This is a case in point. Carole King, Ph.D. was my best friend in first grade. We were inseparable chums in high school, tooling around town in Lee Wanda Milbradt’s dad’s gigantic Cadillac (with fins half a block long) with all our friends at lunch time, being slightly (in my case, very) dorky, and considering each other the funniest people in the world. Then, for whatever reasons, we went our separate ways after graduation. Fast forward about thirty years to when Victoria Magazine did that article about me and my shop. Carole read it and contacted me and we never looked back. We are back to the old, dear friendship, made so much deeper for our long absence from each others’ lives. We see each other as often as possible and it’s that old familiar feeling. We love each other!

Carole loved reading the article in Victoria, too, and loved knowing that her old friend did letterpress printing. After re-finding each other, it was wonderful of her and her husband Dennis to come to the San Francisco Public Library twenty-year exhibit of my work several years ago. That was a fabulous show, may I just say. And it made her want some letterpress printing of her own. So, of course, she could have her heart’s desire from little ole me! She met my friend Cynthia Wall at that show and the cards I had made for Cynthia had an embossed image of her wedding ring design on them. It just sparked for Carole. She wanted HER wedding ring on HER business card.

The embossing

The embossing

We got an artist to render a drawing of the design (Carole actually sent her ring IN THE MAIL — I could not believe it) and we made the drawing into an embossing die. This is the second run of cards we have done for Carole (AKA Creeeollee), this time using a pool-aqua colored paper and deep navy blue ink. She wanted the backs to be blank so she could use that space for extra notes or whatever.

Carole recently told me that when she got her new cards she passed them out at a gathering and it’s all anybody wanted to talk about the whole time.

Magical powers of letterpress printing

Magical powers of letterpress printing

I have often suspected that my business cards have magical powers for drawing attention to their owners. See?

 

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Carsten Mol Photography Business Cards

Carsten Mol Photography Business Cards

Danish photographer Carsten Mol found Studio Z Mendocino online and contacted me about a year ago. He wanted to have some really special business cards, and, of course, that is what we do here. We instantly felt a rapport, even though separated by many miles and much water and emailed enthusiastically about what he had in mind, ideas I had for the design and materials, colors, possibilities and his dreams. It was sort of like meeting an old friend I didn’t know yet. Carsten was rebranding and got back to me after several months when his website was completed, as he promised he would.

Edge painting put the icing on the cake

Edge painting put the icing on the cake

His website was the inspiration for the design we finally landed on. go see: Carsten’s website

The backs are equally yummy

The backs are equally yummy

When the cards arrived to Denmark, this is how Carsten started his blog post about them: “Today I got my brand new Business card! And what can I say more than, I just love them!!!! They are small pieces of art.” The nice things he said about working with me almost made me cry! He immediately sent me these wonderful shots he took of them and I feel proud to post them here today.

The first cards we have done for someone in Denmark!

The first cards we have done for someone in Denmark!

I often say, “I love the modern world!” and, really, I mean it. Never before have we been able to do business in this way, to connect with like-minded people in any corner of the world and relate to each other, feel into others’ lives in this marvelous way, affect each other and even affect each others’ friends and colleagues and, of course, clients, most importantly. It really seems like some sort of miracle, a miracle we take for granted every day, that allows unprecedented communication and relationship to occur regardless of geographical location.

Thank you, Carsten, for reaching across the ocean from Scandinavia to the USA, to California, to Mendocino County, to my little office at Studio Z Mendocino, and to my heart. It’s a beautiful miracle to know you.

 

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ProTalent Thick Black Business cards with three foils and green edge painting

ProTalent Thick Black Business cards with three foils and green edge painting

ProTalent Sports Group’s Sean Bertrand came to Studio Z Mendocino almost a year ago, inquiring about our deluxe, super-thick black business cards. Christopher and Sean work with big league baseball teams internationally, matchmaking players and teams, and they wanted a card that really stood out from the pack. Sean, having seen someone’s card we did knew down to his knees that we were the right printers to do their cards. There was, however, a small snafu.

Chris's business card backs

Chris’s business card backs

They had had a designer working on the cards but somehow something had fallen between the cracks and the design firm was no longer in business. They had a sort of half-done idea but needed it completed and made into a file I could use as a letterpress printer. No Problem! I redid the design using some of the original elements (the shields), changing up the typeface, and laying out the backs. All of this took some negotiating and time, but, by and by, we did arrive at THE design everyone agreed was IT.

Thinner black paper, edge painted

Thinner black paper, edge painted

Then, Sean did not want the super-super thick cards we are used to doing. He wanted cards that were about half as thick as our Museum Mount paper. So, a quest ensued, which also took a bit of doing but was very instructive for me and allowed me to find a thinner paper (also less expensive) that we like to work with. Eventually we did find a thickness and quality that everyone agreed was IT. To make the edge painting really do what it’s intended to do, paper needs to have some heft so the edges are not lost. This paper lets the edge painting shine without taking up major space in pocket or wallet (or chewing tobacco pouch).

Gloss foil, silver foil and grass-green foil

Gloss foil shield background, silver foil and grass-green foil

In the final analysis, these amazing business cards were worth the time and challenges that brought them into existence. Their impact cannot be measured nor can it be denied. They are certifiably Awesome, with three gleaming foils and green edges that evoke baseball fields and dreams, substantial paper with just the right heft, deep impression, and a moxie-filled attitude.

Sean's back

Sean’s back

Thanks, Sean, for coming to Studio Z and for being an awesome player agent. The whole process was made fun by working with you on this project that came out so very beautifully.

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Attorney Marc S. Albert opened his law offices in Queens and Long Island, New York, earlier this year to the fanfare of this letterpress printed announcement from Studio Z Mendocino. We used white opaque foil on slate-colored paper, for a gray-flannel-meets-Cary-Grant-chic-meets-Old-World-meets-New-World mailing piece. We mounted the printed piece on a slightly larger backing sheet of black cover stock, giving it an attractive, attention-grabbing frame and more substantial “hand.” For even stronger effect, we printed the back flap of these textured Americana A-7 envelopes in a matching gray ink.

When announcing the opening of a new office, it’s imperative that the announcement’s envelope make people want to open it. So much mail gets tossed before it arrives at the desk of the final recipient, so the “packaging” of an announcement like this needs to look very inviting…like  an invitation, not a bill! The address should be hand written or calligraphed and real stamps should adorn the upper right corner. These measures will insure it will get a closer look than other ordinary bulk mailings.

Be sure to include a business card inside the envelope too, so your contact information gets stored forevermore. This is effective marketing for attorneys at law, understated and beautiful, yet it unabashedly stands out from the crowd. At the same time, an announcement like this should never be flashy or “advertise-y” looking. It must inspire confidence in your abilities and talents, and your attention to detail. And a little creativity showing in it never hurts, reinforcing a message of resourcefulness. A really fabulous business card furthers the effectiveness of the message as well. We recommend letterpress printing on very thick paper (of course) for maximum impact.

Post, and get ready for the phone to ring!

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Dallas interior designer Sheryl Maas is best known for her perfect, inspired interiors, sleek lines, stylish furnishings and polished, contemporary combinations. She is one of Dallas’s top designers for both residential and commercial properties. We helped her decide on the name Maas Modern and designed her new logo, which, of course is very chic and simple and less-is-more, with sans serif font letterpressed in gold foil on super-thick black paper.

 

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ForEVER Studio Z Mendocino has been associated almost exclusively with letterpress printing. The truth is, we have always provided all types of printing services to our clients. Sometimes letterpress is not the perfect solution, and we know how to accommodate that. Sometimes people will order a wedding invitation with the main piece letterpressed and other pieces done offset or by laser printer. Sometimes the $1 or $2 a piece business cards don’t fit the budget of a start-up company, so guess what: we can find another way that doesn’t break the bank. Because I’m a graphic designer with a pretty strong letterpress aesthetic, I can determine the best solution for whatever issues come up and deliver a beautiful product in a big range of prices. A good design will work in many ways, and the third dimension of letterpress, though so very fetching and desirable, is not always necessary to make a great impression with your printed work.

Photographer Mel Cabili came to me for a new logo and we made these fantastic, eye-catching, very strong business cards for him. These cards would not work as well if they were letterpress printed. Big solids just don’t. Having the two-tone effect on either side gives them extra punch and personality. These glossy, thick cards are smashing when handed over to a prospective client — modern, snappy, and affordable.

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Alexia and James got married in Mendocino last month in one of the great celebrations the town has seen. We were so happy to work with them on their invitations, which they wanted to be very luxurious and traditional, but with a modern flair. We kept a very muted palette of cream, cappuccino and chocolate brown, and of course printed everything by letterpress on our thickest, yummiest paper, 600 gram Lettra Pearl White. The motif of a graceful olive branch held it all together beautifully.

Everything about the wedding was so romantic, happy, fun and gorgeous. The whole wedding party went out on the headlands then paraded through the village back to the big white tent at the MacCallum House for dinner and dancing to a totally get-down funk band. Very much fun working with this beautiful couple on their amazing day.

Their folding thank you notes finished the wedding suite and they got lots of extras so they could use them long into their marriage for many purposes…invitations to dinner, thank you notes, quick messages to loved ones, announcements of important events, condolences, congratulations and happy birthday missives. There are still times when a nothing but a hand written note on real paper, with a stamp, in the mailbox, will do. Yes, really. And it’s great to have some beautiful paper to grab when the moment strikes. No more going to the store to look for that perfect message: you make up your own and put it on your own personalized informal, which is what this smaller folding note is called.

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Sheesh. Am I a dilettante or just diverse? So, today’s post is about many topics and me me me, I guess. But I have all these things going on right now that are so exciting and fun that I want to tell you about, and, after all, this is MY blog, right?

First: My beautiful, amazing, virtuoso piano playing friend-accompanist Ira Rosenberg and I will be playing Torch Jazz at the Westport Hotel on Saturday, November 19th, starting around 7 pm. The last time we played there it was so packed that there was LITERALLY no room at the Inn. Every room upstairs was booked and every chair in the dining room and back rooms full of at least one person. Ira and I have been working on a bunch of new material and having our usual blast together getting ready for this gig. So please, if you want to come and hear some of the most beautiful songs ever written in the history of the world, songs that take you to another time and place, make reservations asap!!! Here is the number: 707.964.3688. (I gratuitously also mention that we made their website, just so you know we also do that.) Here is us at the September performance:


Second: My show of my new project, My Baby’s Love Letters, has been extended through the month of November!!!!! The opening is on Second Saturday, November 12, from 5 pm. I may or may not be able to be there to tell you about it, but really it doesn’t matter so much. The display tells all:

They make the most love-fest Christmas presents and unparalleled wedding gifts too, not to mention bar and bat mitzvah gifts, baby shower gifts and just about whatever event you can think up. Don’t wait to get that shopping list out! Bring it to the Highlight Gallery and make your orders now. I just made a fabulous initial for a wedding gift from an aunt to her niece. It had the bride’s and groom’s names (which both started with the same letter), their wedding date, the name of their favorite song (You and Me), and a few secret messages from the Tia and Tio. The report was that they LOVED their Love Letter and were so, so surprised. Of course!

Well, listen, I have to go for a walk in a minute. Loving these last warm Indian Summer mornings along the headlands. The tides are so high right now that the waves are sloshing right up to the cliffs. It’s exciting to watch them crash up against the rocks so closely that spray travels right up to me.

So, Thirdly: The November issue of Real Estate Magazine comes out TODAY and it is SO fabulous I can’t even believe it. You can pick it up all over the county over the weekend or read it online at Real Estate Magazine. The magazine is packed with all things real estate in Mendocino County and our feature story, which, this time, is about Maureen Gealey’s experiences in adopting  and helping others adopt orphaned children from China, and her missions there on medical teams that do cleft surgeries on little kids from the poorest villages out in the countryside. I was crying half the time as I designed the layouts for the cover and the story.

And finally, (sorry this is so long! It’s like four posts in one.) I just want to encourage you to call with your ideas and questions and dreams about our graphic design and printing services. The end of the year is a great time to rebrand or freshen up your present image with a new logo or breathtaking business card or thank you note or website, all of which we can help you with. And don’t forget that we have lots of boxed Christmas and Holiday cards now, all at, as they say, rock bottom prices.

I will have some new business card posts here very soon and also law firm announcements and wedding invitations.

You should also know that we will be vacating our building on Main Street in Fort Bragg very soon. After twenty-seven years, we are ready to make things smaller. But we will continue to provide our same amazing printing and design work from a littler venue. We hope there will be very little interruption in our services during the move but if you need something soon, this is the time to make your order.

OK, must get cracking! I hope your Thursday if full of fabulosity and music and fun and creativity.

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