Archive for August, 2009

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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.

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“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.

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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.

South Bay Accent 4.625 x 4.875 4-09 FINAL2

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.

SF 9.5 x 5.625 03 FINAL APRIL

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.

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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.

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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.


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John Ford Poster

Have you seen the movie, Food, Inc.? If not, run, do not walk, to find it; watch it; take your kids; put its admonitions into practice, ASAP, for the good of your health, your family, and the planet. OK, advice column over. This post is actually about the branding campaign we did for the John Ford Ranch, which for years, and long before the sustainable movement took the world by storm, has lived and worked a sustainable, compassionate animal husbandry. Because it was always right, not because it was a trend.

After we created Amy Ford’s business cards for her own project management business, she had an idea that she wanted to surprise her mom and dad by having Studio Z Mendocino design and print up a unified look for her parents’ Grass Fed Beef business.  John and Charline Ford sustainably ranch in Willits, California, and sell their amazing product in farmers markets around the county, living the localization movement as well. They meet their customers face to face, every week.

Amy had drawn a silhouette of her mom and dad when she was just a teenager (“Honestly, I never drew another thing in my life!” she said) and we incorporated it into the logo with great results. It really has the perfect look for what we wanted to achieve, which you can see on their box label below.

John Ford Box Label 2

And here is the front of their digitally printed business card:

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and the back:Pastured BC_Page_2

As you can see, Studio Z Mendocino, though famous for letterpress printing, has many ways to get ink onto paper, and these days, digital printing is one of them. It’s a different look with a letterpress sensibility, honed over the last 35 years of our chequered past. It also has a lower price point and four color, so there are advantages to all the ways we have to get your work into the public eye. If it’s a good design, it is a good thing, and we love the outcome for John Ford Ranch.

We made their meat labels too, and a sign for their truck and for their Ranch too, so everything has this recognizable, attractive, rustically sophisicated look. Call us for your branding needs too: 707.964.2522.

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How Lynette’s Grinch Card Stole Christmas

We are already thinking about Christmas, well, actually, it’s kind of late to even say that. But we have been super swamped and this is the moment I am taking. Here is a previous post to show you last year’s fabulous Holiday offering for our client Lynette, designed by Zoe Bachelor. It is SO incredible. We can do something like this for you too, or something more modest but equally creative. This will help get your creative currents moving. Call soon! We are booking for Christmas cards starting right this minute! 707.964.2522




Studio Z Mendocino designs custom cards for any occasion, pairing a client with one of our two in-house designers so that you can be involved at every stage, from design to production, and the card can say exactly what you mean.


One of our favorite clients, Lynette, of Newport Beach, California, designed her beautiful Christmas card this year with Studio Z’s Zoe Bachelor. The folder was a dark pine green with an iridescent, paler green foil depicting a vintage Christmas scene, a carriage with a top-hatted driver. Tucked inside was a three-panel folder of a lighter green stock, and printed in dark pine green ink was a quote from Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and a reminder that the holiday is about more than just buttons and bows.

A few days ago, we got this note from her assistant: “Lynette LOVES the Christmas card and it has won the prize amongst her friends for the ‘best card of the season. ” So appropriate for the times!”


Over the years Zoe has designed, and Studio Z Mendocino has printed and produced, many invitations to weddings and special events Lynette has planned, and extraordinary Holiday cards for her family that we are very proud of. We are grateful to have been able to work with her and the matchless sense of style, design and attention to detail she brings to each project.

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Most wineries these days want their labels on rolls, but once in a while something special comes along, a smallish run, something so beautiful and perfect, that it demands the extra juju of letterpress. We have been making Chance Creek Winery’s labels for many years and winegrower Lou Bock keeps coming back for new designs. It’s a little more trouble and a little more this and that, but the results are very distinguished. Above, this year’s Sangiovese pops off the shelf with this gorgeous two colors plus gold foil label.

Here is one of the stellar Sauvignon Blanc offerings, their most popular wine.


For a very special vintage of Lou’s Redwood Valley appelation Sauvignon Blanc, which he called “Terroir” — the character of the land the grapes grow on, I devised the following label. What could possibly define an area in this day more than a zip code? What’s in a ZIP? Try a sip!


We have other wine labels we have made for Chance Creek that I will show in another post. Must get to work!

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