Archive for July, 2010

I wanted to share these two emails that came from our client Rob Visjnak, a British Colombia real estate broker, whose real estate business cards are hot off the press, and I mean HOT, and making waves in Vancouver:

Hi Zida! Got my cards today and I love them! I’ve given them to a few people and they were all blown away. The reaction from one person was hilarious! He didn’t want to even put it in his pocket because he said it would be a shame if he scratched or bent the card. That’s exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want people to just file my card in their purse or pocket to get lost in the wash. Everyone has just stared and admired the elegance of the card, which bodes very well for me.  These cards were definitely a big investment that took months of tinkering, but I think it was definitely worth it. I know I was probably a bit of a pain at times but thank you for sticking through it with me. You did an awesome job and I am truly grateful! Thank you so much. Rob Visjnak

Then, a few days later, I got THIS from him:

Just a quick little story for ya… I went out to the club we just opened last night (The Motel) and gave my card to a couple people in the beginning of the night that I was talking to about real estate. Obviously they were blown away by the cards, but that’s not the best part….. A couple of hours later I had random people approaching me and asking if I was Rob Visnjak. They said ‘so-and-so’ showed them my card and were wondering if they could have one! Are you kidding me?!! I knew they would turn some heads but never did I think people would be asking me for my cards just because they looked so good! How good of an advertising tool is that?!!

Thanks again Zida, and I am sure these cards will be the first step of my platform to launch my business to the next level!

We foil stamped the cards in two metals: gold and silver, on the thickest black Museum Mount paper you can imagine. Then followed it up with an electrifying green edge painting. Again, there is NO PHOTOGRAPH OF ROB on these Real Estate Business Cards. It’s shocking, I know, but it remains to be seen if omitting that ubiquitous glamor shot will have an impact on sales. I think the impact has already been proven, but I hope Rob will keep us posted on this burning question that keeps us poised on the edge of our seats!

I have long said that a fantastic business card, though a not inconsiderable financial expenditure, is an investment in how your business is viewed, judged and remembered. The extra attention to detail, to aesthetics, to the actual amazement-value, brings home the message: I care, I will go the extra mile, you should list with me. Rob’s motto: “Get listed. Get sold.” reverberates in the shimmer of metal, the shock of green, the black paper that sounds like a shingle landing when laid down on a desk, the amazing layout he did himself. Artful, resourceful, creative, out of the box = the fellow we want to sell our house for us.

Oh, please forgive the alliteration bonanza in the title. Sometimes I can’t help myself. It’s 5:30 in the morning, for heaven’s sake. I put on my fedora, trench coat, slide an unlit cigarette in my mouth — I’m a hardboiled reporter rapping machine gun journalistic slang in my 1930s interior movie. This kind of thing comes out. Sorry! I know it’s just a blog, but my imaginary alternate career sneaks out here sometimes. “Move over, Moe, lemme at that typewriter! I got a scoop that won’t wait!!!”

all photos by Pablo Abuliak

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Sometimes people want BLIND EMBOSSING, which is a process that pushes an image UP out of the paper, and has no color — that is the “blind” part. It’s a fantastic effect that depends on a high relief effect so that shadow and texture make the impression. It works beautifully on paper that is not massively thick. Massively thick would be many of the papers we like to use nowadays: Cranes 600 gram Lettra and four-ply Museum Mount. The two cannot work together, which is often a conflict for our clients, who really love the super thick papers. What to do????  To get an intense relief effect on these thicker papers, we suggest BLIND DEBOSSING. That means the image gets deeply pressed DOWN INTO the paper. For Rick Lange Graphic Design’s business cards, we did just that, to an impressive effect (no pun intended). His intricate, flowing design went through a couple of trasitions to get it to the point where the debossing would really sing. We think it is very beautiful. Understated and a perfect show piece for Rick’s graphic design work, it utilizes all the best letterpress has to offer, deep relief printing and gorgeous, thick paper.

all photos by Pablo Abuliak

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Kinsey Meredith Piscatelli had us do these exciting, thrilling, iconoclastic, super-fun, sexy, yet somehow uber-classy letterpress business cards for her photography business. She brought the design, which she did herself, all ready to go and we helped her decide what papers to use, colors and materials. Black|white duplex paper with white opaque foil on the black side, zipped up by metallic acid green foil, and on the back, basic black type for her URL.

Love, love the sassiness, playfulness, snappiness of these fantastic expressions of Kinsey’s big, wonderful attitudinous personality, which you can clearly discern in her work and in her wonderfully fresh approach to all things art|life|love|creation.

All photos by Pablo Abuliak.

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Studio Z Mendocino was very pleased and honored to be one of the sponsors of napcp’s fantastic photography retreat at the Meritage, in Napa, California last month. I got to go over and make a small presentation and then to meet so many fabulous Children’s Photographers. Schmoozing was of the utmost during our bus ride to the wine tastings after breakfast. Alice sent me these shots of the pieces we provided to the event, designed by the amazing Jane Johnson.

One of my favorite things, among many things, about the retreat, was getting to meet THREE of my clients in person. Alice Gung Park, Jane Johnson and Eydie Nelson.

Alice wanted to show how thoughtful details mean so much to the success of an event or a business. Our letterpress printed programs, place cards and thank you notes, printed on premium papers in three colors, reiterated their brand and their attention to every beautiful thing. And of course, their big round business cards were a hit. What does printing say about your brand and you…a lot, without speaking a word!

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Julie and Lewis, of Stella Cadente (shooting star) Olive Oil Company, decided they wanted to redesign their labels and came to me last year. We started with some already fabulous elements from the old labels, like the shot of olive leaves and olives and their arresting Stella Cadente logo, but the labels needed to “sing” from the shelves a bit more. You could hardly read “Stella Cadente” on the old labels from two feet away, nor was the information “Olive Oil” clearly evident on the front. The colors were also wonderful, so I had a lot to work with and a lot to reproportion and rethink. We are all happy with the outcome, which you see here.

With the many strictures for legal labeling, I worked with Julie to get the information required by the FDA AND information a potential customer wants to see, all in the right order, then organized the information in a more easily readable (from the grocery store aisle), and aesthetically pleasing format.

I think graphic design is really a form or organizational thinking. What are we aiming for? What is needed and wanted? To whom is the product marketed, what demographic? For what is that market looking ? THEN, what is pretty? All this has to fit together for a successful, salable, easy-to-understand product labeling. Food and wine labeling particularly provide challenges because of strict labeling requirements. On this label we also got the nutrition information label on the back and a blurb about the company and its fantastic products.

The labels, printed at Collotype, in Santa Rosa, were done on a medium with an oil-proof finish that carries a gorgeous sheen. I am in LOVE with this paper!

The six bottles work together in a pleasing interplay of color and design that does what I aimed for: they sing from the shelves.

I love to walk down the aisle at Harvest Market and see this new look harmonizing away into the aisle!

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The Westport Hotel, Westport, California
All photos by Pablo Abuliak

A few years ago, Dorine Real and Lee Tupper bought the old Cobweb Palace, a hard-used, decrepit hotel and bar that had presided over the pristine seaside village of Westport, California, about twenty miles north of Fort Bragg, since the 1800s. They undertook the intimidating mission of transforming it into its twenty-first century incarnation as The Westport Hotel and Old Abalone Pub. Only people who knew it “back in the day” (I am one who visited the Cobweb Palace in the 1970s), and inhabitants of the population-200 town who watched the remodel as it happened, have a grasp of what Dorine and Lee had to do to get it to its newly splendid state. It’s almost beyond comprehension to find the place whole again, serenely overlooking sunset over a rumpled Pacific, as it has since Westport’s glory days as a major logging town. The Hotel has re-birthed to a level of comfort and loveliness that, I am sure, it never possessed, even when brand new. Because of the vision, dedication and, I can only surmise, stamina of its new owners, Westport has become a destination for people seeking a retreat from modern culture and busy-ness, an imaginative and delicious meal, a place to gather in a community that is exactly what it is: homey, substantial, unaffected and really fun.

You enter from The Hotel’s beautifully finished, west-facing front porch to find the Old Abalone Pub gleaming in light that streams from every window: the deep blue room with endless views westward, pressed copper ceiling, red chandeliers, warm woods and even warmer greetings from its staff.

The Old Abalone Pub

The best part of all this is that The Westport Hotel has somehow retained its warm, welcoming, unpretentious soul through its rebirth. It’s a place I want to visit again and again, to drive that gorgeous road to a gathering place for friends and family, locals and visitors, where we all can get something fabulous to eat, something wonderful to listen to, unparalleled natural beauty, something soulful to inspire our lives. There is no place like it. Their tag line is “cozy, casual and a little bit elegant.” Yes, I’m a fan. It succeeds on all counts, exceeds every expectation.

Chef  Shana’s inspired, imaginative, locavoracious potstickers

Get sconed at the Westport Hotel — Dorine’s famous scones
The Arches Room with a View — yummy lodging by the sea

Imagine how exciting it was for me to get to design The Westport Hotel‘s new business cards, ads, rack cards, and just-launched web site. Maybe you can’t imagine it, but I was excited, may I just say. Working closely with Dorine and Lee throughout these various projects is one of many creative delights of this work because their vision didn’t stop at the building, but informs all of it. Yet they are open and welcoming to my ideas, which, if you have worked with me, are kind of never-ending and don’t want to be squished. They never squish. Everything is part of this big, amazing idea that almost takes on a life of its own. Here are the business cards:

The Hotel’s wide front porch is decorated with a huge metal sculpture, forged by a local artist, of seaweed spiraling over a giant replica of an abalone shell. This I took as the motif for the front of the letterpress business cards. To reiterate the pressed copper ceiling, we chose a gleaming copper foil. The the finishing surprise was finding a holographic foil that looks a lot like the inside of an abalone shell. I used Lee’s sumi-e brush drawing of an abalone and filled it with the blue-green-silvery patterned foil, making every card one-of-a-kind. The paper is deep blue on one side & white on the other (this is called “duplex” paper); on the white back side,  contact and schedule information is printed in deep blue ink.

Eco-artist, Erica Fielder, helped me figure out how to redraw the seaweed one night while enjoying a little impromptu dinner party and Photoshop session at my house. A big, collaborative beauty, don’t you think? It continues to be a pleasure to work on the printed materials and web site for this place; to be able to use Pablo Abuliak’s unerringly spectacular photographs, with brilliant styling by my daughter Alicia Borcich Abuliak; and to work with my brother, Joe Neves, on the web coding (see our handiwork at www.WestportHotel.us). Yep, I am so lucky to have such a talented family.

We did not stop at business cards. Below is an ad I made for the Hotel, for the magazine 101 Things to Do in Mendocino County.

Worth the Drive, indeed

If you want to make reservations for rooms or meals, call them up: 877.964.3688 (locally 964.3688). You can discover more, plus see our web design work, on the web site we just designed for them: www.WestportHotel.us

If you want to have a consistent branding context, it makes sense to have a designer who can provide creative design, letterpress printing, a sensitive ear and eye, a million ideas, extensive experience, and one-stop shopping for all print collateral, as well as advertisements and web design capabilities. That would be Studio Z Mendocino. Did you know we did more than letterpress printing? Yes, even digital rack cards like these:

The Westport Hotel offers breakfast when you rent a room, gorgeous Sunday Brunches, afternoon tea on weekends, and absolutely worth-the-drive dinners by Chef Shana Everhart, four nights a week, plus beer-wine-espresso and a brilliant pub menu in the bar. Let’s meet there sometime and talk about YOUR branding over a beautiful glass of wine and something delicious at sundown.

We welcome your inquiries: 707.964.2522

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photos by Dana Goodson

Fabulous Florida Photographer, Dana Goodson, just got the new stationery and business cards Studio Z Mendocino made up for her, and posted these photos on her blog last night. I am so thrilled with how she shot them. She had to get out her macro lens for the shot above. Beautiful. The only thing that could beat them would be for you to hold one of her cards in your hand. We used our favorite Cranes Lettra 600 gsm, foil stamped her name/logo in a shimmering aqua foil, added edge painting that matches the foil to a T. They are amazing and lovely. Here are Dana’s own words (which partly quote me too, so they are kind of some of MY words too. Oh, I love those double ups!):

I received my new business cards and stationery about a week ago.  This has been a project in the works for about a month or two and it has been worth every second of waiting.

Zida of Studio Z Mendocio is the person behind the beautiful creations.  I was referred to her by fellow photographer, Shari DeAngelo out of Philadelphia, whose business cards I thought were the prettiest I’d ever seen.  I was in the process of revamping my business materials and knew I wanted letterpress but also something beautiful and rich in texture.  It had to be classy and a little different than your average business card.  Zida had the perfect suggestion and from the first phone conversation with her, I knew that she was the person for the job.  I felt a connection with her and I knew she would put everything she had into making my cards and stationary beautiful– just for me.

With her permission, I’m sharing a little about her story in her own words:

“In my house, there were hardly any books or newspapers. I practically LIVED at the library in our little town after school every day, checking out stacks of Nancy Drew mysteries each week, but I never thought once about where printed things came from, had no idea even what a print shop was, until I was twenty-six years old. The first time I was sat down in front of a California case full of lead type by my soon-to-be-mentor Al Moise and instructed to set a job, I began (literally) dreaming about type and typography. He offered me a job two days later and I worked for him for over ten years, the master printer who changed my life. Having my own shop now for twenty-five years still gives me a shiver of excitement and wonder every time I think of it.”    -Zida

The stationery cards have a pretty metallic foil for my logo.

Thank you Zida for your vision and giving me the most beautiful cards I could imagine.  I love them and loved working with you!  You’re aweseome!


Hey brides!  Zida does letterpress invitations.  If you want gorgeous invitations for your beautiful wedding day, contact Zida.

I particularly appreciate all the kind words Dana had to say about ME. THANK YOU, Dana. I appreciate working with you too. So fun and so productive. Love how everything came out!

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