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Sac 4.625 x 4.875 sac5

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.

Diablo Mag 5.125 x 4.75 diablo5

“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.

ON 3.625 x 4.5 on4

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.

Z

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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:

Pastured BC_Page_1

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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Studio Z Mendocino is proud to have designed all the printed advertising for this year’s upcoming ART IN THE GARDENS, the primary fundraiser for the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, the only botanical garden in the United States that is situated right on the coast. It’s a beautiful day of Art and Craft, with Pacific vistas, masterful gardens, great wine tastings, food yumminess and community love fest-ing, and, guess what, you still have time to get tickets for the August 1st affair. Here are some of the pieces we created using featured artist, Julie Higgins’s ravishing painting, “Back to the Garden.”

This is the rack card:

AIG Rack Card_Page_1

And this is the paoster:

AIG Large Poster FINAL 18 x 24

We also did this post card:

AIG Post Card_Page_1

We are all so excited for the big day to arrive next Saturday. Will we see you there?

As a designer, there is nothing more exciting than feeling into an event and a piece of art and matching the typography and layout to that mood. My experience with this image, Eve in the Garden with her pomegranates and figs, and the ubiquitous raven… the glowing color palette that just reaches out and whacks you over the head…now, that was what I call FUN, that was happy. Never mind that I totally adore Julie-Higgins-the-person, anyway. This is my first go-round getting to play with her scrumptious work and also my first time to work with the Botanical Garden here, so I feel doubly blessed.

Make sure you get your tickets soon: www.gardenbythesea.com

And if your business or non-profit is planning an event for the next year, please don’t hesitate to call my studio here on the Mendocino coast to see what we can do to increase attendance and get noticed. We love this type of thing very much and get very good results.

Here is the invitation to the unveiling of Julie’s painting:

AIG Unveiling Invite

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Studio Z Mendocino designed the promotional advertising pieces for Mendocino Music Festival for the second year in a row. The logo we designed last year carries through everything, even though we changed the colors and musical image completely. When I do a logo, I like to make it as flexible as possible, so it can be played with in all kinds of ways while strongly retaining its branding mojo. The MMF logo is a perfect example of this. Big, bold lettering, all lower case sans serif, can be split up, run up the side, and really used in every way that’s required of a mark, with no question about who’s boss around here. Set over this year’s egg yolk yellow and deep orange color palette, it draws the eye with a vivacity that echoes the Festival’s eclectic appeal. I love this photo by Nicholas Wilson that shows the great white tent on the glorious Mendocino headlands.

Mendocino Arts Mag 3

If you’re in the neighborhood, may I say there could not be a better way to spend an evening (or two) here this coming week than to get a ticket to one of the concerts at the Mendocino Music Festival…IF you can wangle one, that is. During the first week, the tent was quite often sold out. Aside from the stellar posters and other things we did for them, this year’s concert offerings have been uniformly delicious…thrilling, inspiring, breathtaking, swinging…love, love, love!

Believe me, I hate to listen to people rhapsodize over music they just heard as much as you do, so please forgive my gush…

I have been Festivalized…Wednesday, The Seldom Scene brought down the tent with their full, fat bluegrass sound and harmonies that pulled us into the ecstatic zone. La Boheme made me cry all over the place on Friday night. Alexander Markov produced nothing less than rapture in the village both times he played his violin. And last night’s Big Band night was a triumph, particularly Julian Waterfall Pollack’s breathtaking arrangement of My Funny Valentine. Brilliant piano improvisation by Julian, jamming away with the full band, and his dad, Allan Pollack, the conductor, who blew a scintillating sax vamp that brought down the house. Ja’i Michele chanteused her sparkly red dress through a plummy lot of favorite standards with moxy and verve. This week’s lineup is amazing too. Particularly a coup to have Joshua Redman here from New York on Friday night.

It’s been fantastic to be involved in the promotion of this incredible community event this year and last, and especially to see that sales are actually up. People usually associate Studio Z Mendocino with letterpress printing, but you can also find us doing other types of printing and lots of design and ad campaigns and printed collateral of all sorts. I designed the posters, the ticket brochure, rack cards and a ton of print ads, plus the program cover. Above is one of the ads and below is the poster. We also did the Mendocino Music Festival’s web site, which you can go buy tickets from right now. If there are any.

8.5 x 11 Yellow Poster FINAL

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Baechtel Creek Rack Card FINAL

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshemt.” Jane Austin

Jan Rodriguez, at the Baechtel Creek Inn and Spa in Willits, California, needed a new look, new ads, and new rack cards that really expressed the allure of her location, location, location, which is in the very Heart of Mendocino County, central to everything people want to see and visit, with the extra, added attraction of the beauty and serenity of her place. Her inn is so beautiful and luxurious, a surprise in the middle of a town that is not usually associated with indulgences like spas and gorgeous decorating. The resulting rack card we designed for her captures the mystery (and “verdure”) of northern California’s spectacular redwood forests. We used a photograph taken by noted Argentine photographer, Pablo Abuliak, who also shot the header photo on the beach for my blog. Baechtel Creek Inn and Spa offers a different take on “nature” and “nurture.”

Here’s the back of the rack:  Baechtel Creek Rack Card back

Next time you come to Mendocino County, you can make Jan’s Inn and Spa your headquarters for exploration into every corner of our incredible county. After your hike in the woods, you can get a massage and hot tub — what could possibly be better than that?

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Recently I told you about the Art in the Gardens posters, rack cards and other collaterals I designed for the Fort Bragg Mendocino Coast fundraising event. Here are a couple of views of what I did for them. This is the unveiling invitation:

AIG Unveiling Invite

It’s a 4 x 9 inch card that fit into a #10 business envelope. We didn’t want to give anything away before the Great Unveiling so we just put little snippets of Julie Higgins’s painting Back to the Garden as teasers. It was very economical, yet very appealing with the bright, dramatic colors.

Here is the poster:

AIG Large Poster FINAL 18 x 24

We also did small posters, and more things to come. Everyone is so happy to look at these things. We predict a HUGE success this year!

AIG Rack Card_Page_1

AIG Post Card_Page_1

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I am all excited about the unveiling of artist Julie Higgins’s painting tonight at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. She is the featured artist this year and I got to be the graphic designer of all their printed advertising, which included big posters, small posters, rack cards, post cards, and an invitation to the unveiling. Everything looks so LUSH…Julie’s acrylics have this vibrant inner glow; it was SO much fun to work with this art. I can’t show you ANYTHING yet, not till after the unveiling…Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Wait till you see! I will show you tomorrow after tonight’s festivities. The party’s outside at 5:30, if you can make it. Hope the 40% chance of rain gives over to the 60% chance that this overcast will clear up by then and we can all revel away sans umbrellas.

Z

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Yesterday, Saturday morning, I woke up early and completely tore up a little three-fold brochure I designed last week. Two colors (didn’t need to be, since it was going to be printed digitally — I planned it that way), kind of a cornball Dean-Martin-swingin’ bold script, combined with a nice, clean sans serif for the main information. Not at all my usual style, but I liked it for its straightforward, ‘Fifties vibe, and, though I wasn’t totally crazy about it, it had a certain appealing consistency and rhythm of its own. It was okay, you know,  and since this was a “quick turnaround” thing, a “no big deal” thing, a “let’s get it to the printer, this is an emergency” thing, I dashed it off and delivered the PDF to my clients in record time. They LOVED IT…and then decided it really had to have some pictures.

Uhh. What most non-designers don’t know is that once a design is close to being finished, it is just about impossible to add unplanned-for elements and have it retain any of its original integrity. So, dutifully, and knowing this, I stuck in the tiny photos and it was, predictably, terrible. I could not let it go out that way. No way. NOOOO way!! That is why six a.m. Saturday found me excitedly redesigning it from scratch.

The good news is, it’s a lot better than the first one, actually, and it has pictures and it’s not going to be a smirch on my design reputation…and the clients like it way better too. I feel much relieved and much happier all around.

In spite of the happy ending, this episode reminded me of the hilarious  YouTube video about what if a corporation were trying to redesign the Stop Sign — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwqPYeTSYng–

If you are a designer, you will totally die laughing. It’s our life! But it also makes me curious about this process. It’s almost as if the design, be it a new logo, a flyer, an ad or total redesign of an identity, wants to be a certain way. It’s the designer’s job to find the path to it. There is this interior exploration on the designer’s part to understand and “get” the spirit of the company or client, the intention, the vibe, and translate that so it becomes a truthful, emotional depiction of it, visually. In truth, there are infinite possibilities available, but there is only ONE that will be chosen. This means that every comp the designer delivers needs to be GOLD. The designer ethically must believe in every iteration, because the client could chose any one, and if he chooses the one Ms. Designer threw in as bait, she is sunk. She is saddled with a smirch on her reputation.

Yep, every design concept is completely, absorbingly crucial. It takes hours and hours of creative digging and fooling around and playing and going back and forth, tons of experience and study and knowledge of typography and placement. I have been learning these things for thirty-five years of so now and I still feel such angst over design, such elation when I hit on something that really “sings.”

Hardly anyone but another designer knows the creative tussling this requires. So when a designer delivers something, there is usually a lot of love in it, to tell you the truth. We fall in love with our work, unfortunately, and that is possibly a bad mistake, but a natural piece of creativity too. In a sort of woowoo context, designers are mediums…artistic witches interpreting the clients’ hopes, and passing them through the filter of our own aesthetics and skills, to come out with an ineffable something that does its job with elan and grace. We aim to please, but get our own volition involved in there too.

Graphic Design is a crazy mystery. We love the process and the struggle. We love the work itself, and we love the clients too, almost all of them.

Z

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Beachcomber-Stryker-Ad-2009We have been working with the amazing Pam Amante, owner of the Beachcomber Motel On the Beach, in Fort Bragg, California. We designed a full page ad for the new Visitor’s Guide that will be coming out in our area soon, and rack card for her beach front lodging. This all started because she stopped by to chat one day while on a walk. When she showed Zida her business cards, Zida rather bluntly said, Oh, maybe you need a new logo! Pam, never having given this a single minute of thought before, started looking at other things we have designed and printed and got very intrigued, and suddenly we were working on a bunch of new fabulous things for her. In the process of working on her business cards, her rack card, her new stationery and envelopes, and other ads, Zida and Pam have decided that they are actually “sisters.” “We love each other!” It’s so much fun to work with Pam because she just GETS IT. “I love the ad so much…I almost cried…I should say it moved me to tears of happiness! Thank you so much. I love it, love it, love it!!!!!!!” (7 exclamation marks!) When she picked up her business cards she said the most classic thing ever: “I just never knew these business cards could make me so HAPPY!

Zida’s notes: The thing I go for when designing ads or new logos or anything, really, is something called “fittingness.” I want the layout, typefaces, images or photos, colors and overall  mood to visually express the soul of the person or business I am working for. Pam’s motel is breezy, easy, fun, relaxed and in the most enviable location you can imagine, steps away from the headlands and beaches, just north of Fort Bragg. Her foil stamped “Swoosh” talks about the waves and breezes that play around her place every day. The motel has been in her family for generations and she and her brother Bob have updated and upgraded it to be a place where people come, and come back again over the years, bringing their children and families, friends and relations. It is very special, just like Pam.

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