Archive for the ‘What I’m Doing’ Category

Oh, sorry about the length of the title on this post. I couldn’t stop.

Louis Bohannan and Alan Ahtow are my dear friends who recently took a media class through Fort Bragg’s local television station, MCTV, to add yet another layer to their already incredible skill sets, and gear up for additional services they offer through their marketing-hospitality consulting-graphic design firm, ImageMendocino.

Louis produced the video and Alan was the host. I am really impressed with the results of this first project. Not just because it’s about me me me, either. These guys are great at whatever they take on and I am very grateful they chose me as the topic of their first go-round with this new art form they have chosen.

Click the button below to see the video interview, which has a link on my home page.

Or you can also see it here on YouTube.


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Kip Beelman is a photographer and a sweetheart. There is no question about it. The guy is pure creativity and unmitigated, self-taught skill, endowed with an eye for the astonishing and a talent that also has in it an aspect of all-heart-ness. It’s something you can feel the minute you read his “about” page on his blog, and when you hear his voice on the phone asking about getting some letterpress printing done. Oh, you have not had that experience yet. Well, I did, and, after the initial getting-to-know-you conversation revealed he’d had my Moldovan genius friend, Ross Tanner, design his logo and do his website and blog, the prospect of working with him became even more enticing. I love that Ross and knew collaborating with these two was going to result in a very special project, a funky triangle of artistic partnership. My special psychic powers were not off, either. It was a blast to work with the spectacular Ross-candy logo and Kip’s good nature and laser-perfect feel for what he wanted. He surprised me by requesting that I use a raspberry pink ink. “You’re a guy. The K with a crown on it looks like a masculine, kingly thing. But you want it pink.” Yes, he wanted it to appeal to brides and their moms, his main demographic of clientèle, ergo: pink. I suggested a further refinement: metallic, deep raspberry pink FOIL. OK. ok ok ok! Then I ventured a little further out: How about edge painting? Yes, OK. It was no holds barred on the square business cards. Look what happened:

We did his business cards on Cranes Lettra 600 gsm, the gorgeous, super-thick paper we favor over all else these days, and matched the edge paint to the foil about as perfectly as it is humanly possible to do.

Then we finished the project with not one, but TWO, kinds of stationery. This amounts to a Stationery Wardrobe in these modern, email-ish times. We made Correspondence Cards (large, horizontal, flat cards, with matching envelopes), AND smaller, folding Informals, also with matching envelopes. Each piece has its duty in the rapidly vanishing art form of handwritten correspondence, which, the savvy Kip knows, packs even more of a wallop because of its rarity. Kip even sent ME a thank you note and I was THRILLED to receive it, may I just say. How fabulous to get something in the mail that is not trying to sell me something or make me pay for something. That is the treasure of a hand written note. You jump to open it, devour with pleasure and blushes the compliment of appreciation expressed in a fine hand. Here is the actual thank you note, which I keep on my desk still:

Above you see the flap of his Correspondence Card’s envelope. Below is the Correspondence Card and the front of his envelopes, onto which we foiled his kingly K right next to where the address will go. Kip took all of the pictures here, by the way.

And below are the fronts of his smaller Informals’ cards and envelopes.

Below are the front and back panels of his folding Informals.

Here are Kip’s own words about his experience working in the triumvirate of himself, Ross and herself:

Through the process of working with Ross at Flosites and coming up with a graphic identity to match my brand, I had to apply some thought to what I wanted my business cards and paper correspondence to feel like. I’d been standing on the sidelines for awhile admiring the elements Sarah Rhoads, Fred Egan and the Popes were adding to enhance their brands. And what was the common thread between all of these guys (besides being great photographers or amazing people)? Ms. Zida Borcich and her letterpress at Studio Z Mendocino.

“Whoa” is the reaction each time I had one over.

Well, yes, Whoa, don’t you think? This is really such perfect branding, it could go into a textbook. Thoughtfully accomplished, each element building on the last, a careful choice of craftspeople to collaborate with and carry out the vision, and a brand that distills the essence of what he cares about, which, in the end, is love.

My pleasure, Kip!

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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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All I can say is, get your tickets early this year for the Mendocino Music Festival. As the designer and printer for the Festival these last three years, I’m one of the first to be privy to what’s coming. Lemme tell ya: It is going to be so fantastic. You can read all about it on their web site (designed by Studio Z Mendocino!!): mendocinomusic.com

Every year for the last twenty-four, the Festival has mounted a gigantic white tent right out on the headlands on Mendocino Bay. Inside that tent, for a couple of weeks in July, occurs the most gorgeous, inspiring array of musical offerings you can imagine. From classical orchestra to opera, from world to blues, from folk to JAZZ, we get to feast our ears and eyes on music music music, making our world go round a little bit faster and happier in the middle of summer. I LOVE the MUSIC FESTIVAL!! Here is the inside of the ticket brochure I designed for this year’s Festival.

Yummy, no?

OK, I have to go get ready for the Ball. Oh, didn’t I tell you? I am going to a masquerade ball in San Francisco tonight! Wait till you see the invitations we printed for it. I will tell all when I get back to town. Meanwhile, get your tickets so I can see you here in July at the Mendocino Music Festival!!

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Taylor Dutra, Fort Bragg entrepreneur, pizza house owner, daddy and, newly, MAC technician… Is there anything this guy can’t do? Taylor wanted us to make business cards for his new business that would stand out from the ordinary and make prospective clients want to keep them forevermore (rather than throw them out when they clean out their wallets). Super-thick, scrumptious black museum mount paper was foil stamped in shiny, light- and attention-catching silver foil. Clean and modern typography makes them extra-Yum. Almost as yum as one of his pizzas!

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WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_1

WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_3WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_4WAYZGOOSE! 2009_Page_5

We just stuffed all the envelopes and put the stamps on and it was like a bubbling cauldron of activity in the shop today. The invitations are going to land in a bunch of people’s mailboxes in the next day or two. Are you all excited???

They are so HAPPPPPPYYY! They are so GAaaaY!!! They are ICONOCLASTIC and not PLASTIC. They are SUPER FUNNNN, just like my Wayzgoose is going to be. O gee…I am really getting excited about this. It’s going to be a mob scene at the print shop. It’s going to be a big ho ho ho 25-year celebration party of being in business and doing letterpress printing and beautiful designs and ad campaigns and ephemera and the craziest things, and having the most interesting clients and the greatest time in the world for all these years. Well, we hope you will come on Friday, November sixth, and have champagne and beans and see our work, and celebrate with us. If you can’t come in person, you can see some of our work here on the blog  and on our web site (that is ALMOST finished being redesigned so please excuse our construction zone over there).

Let us know if there is anything your heart has been hankering for, like a fancy new business card or Christmas cards specially designed just for you. Or perhaps someone in your family is getting married next year and needs a gorgeous wedding invitation. We can do all that and lots more.

If you want one of our letterpress printed invitations to the Wayzgoose and don’t get one in the next week, please write us a comment here, or send an email, that includes your name and address, and we will be sure to send yours out right away.

Oh…still don’t know what a Wayzgoose is? See my blog post from October 3  that gives a little historical perspective.

I hope you can come to our party!!!



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We are throwing a Wayzgoose this year. It’s going to be in my shop in Fort Bragg on First Friday, November 6th, starting at 5 pm. Several people may ask the question, What’s a Wayzgoose? In the olden days of printing, it was a printers party; the print shop boss would take his crew out into the country for a big picnic or feast to celebrate, around the time of Saint Bartholemew’s Eve, marking the time of when they would have to start printing by candlelight.

Here is a quote from the OED: “Carriages were chartered, an enormous quantity of eatables and drinkables provided, and away we
went, a regular wayzgoose or bean-feast party.”

The Cruise of the Cachalot, by Frank T Bullen, 1897

And here is another quote about Wayzgooses:

“It is also customary for all the Journey-men to make every Year new Paper Windows…; Because that day they make them, the Master Printer gives them a Way-goose; that is, he makes them a good Feast, and not only entertains them at his own House, but besides, gives them Money to spend at the Ale-house or Tavern at Night. These Way-gooses, are always kept about Bartholomew-tide. And till the Master-Printer have given this Way-goose, the Journey-men do not use to Work by Candle Light.”

Oxford English Dictionary

A Wayzgoose has a long tradition in the history of printing. The first time we heard the word we had to look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then, we proceeded to throw a whole series of Wayzgooses, with different themes each year.

These days, a Wayzgoose is more often a dinner where letterpress printers gather to talk about the art they love, and believe me, that is some talking. A keepsake is often printed to commemorate the occasion, sometimes printed up right at the affair, & there can be entertainment as well. Always ready for an excuse to throw a party, Studio Z Mendocino long ago adopted the idea, turning it into an appreciation of our customers & an opportunity to show off the beautiful craft we still get to practice.

When we saw the part about the “bean-feast,” we had to look that up in the OED too. It actually means a feast, but we decided that it meant beans, and that is what our tradition became. A bean-feast with actual beans, and we would spare no creativity in serving beans from every corner of the world.

Everyone was very, “Oh, ho ho, beans and champagne!” but then they would just eat the whole feast up and drink up all the champagne, even though it was quite cheap champagne (which is what we serve instead of giving out money to go to the Ale-house), and a regular Wayzgoose was had by all, in Fort Bragg. Somehow, with all the printing and designing and whatnot, we let our Wazygoose tradition go by the wayside, but for our Twenty-fifth Anniversary, how could we not revive it? We won’t be making paper windows, nor printing by candlelight at the Studio Z Mendocino Wayzgoose, but there might be a lagniappe to take home, if all goes well. We certainly look forward to seeing you here on November 6th, to showing you our recent work, to serving champagne and beans to you and to ushering in our next twenty-five years. We hope to greet you at our party.

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As part of the ad campaigns I have been creating for the Mendocino County Lodging Association and the newly named Visit Mendocino County, Inc. I was charged to design a 10 x 10 foot booth. Look!!


It was design on a much bigger scale than usual (from business cards to billboards in 60 seconds) so it was a fun and interesting project for me. Mendocino County is overflowing with richness: our beautiful blue Pacific, of course, the interesting little towns and villages, the vineyards of our Anderson Valley wine country and our splendid redwoods — getting the message in a non-jumbled way is the trick. We used shots from our incredible local photographers, John Birchard and Rita Crane to tell the story.

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We just finished up Pam Amante’s reprint on her business cards. It’s people like Pam who keep printers in business. She passes them out wherever she goes, and she goes to lots of places where lots of people who like to travel go. She passes out so many cards that we had to replenish the supply! Most recently, she visited a convention of 25,000 travelers, all potential guests for her place On the Beach, here in Fort Bragg, CA. She told me this great thing that corroborates everything I have always believed about good design and typography. She told me that she had a lot of rack cards and other materials out on a table at the booth she was working in and noticed that people gravitated to the prettiest rack cards and took those, leaving the less gorgeous ones where they lay. I suppose it should not come as a big surprise but I loved to hear it…especially that the rack cards that flew off the table most quickly were The Beachcomber Motel’s, which we designed here at Studio Z Mendocino. Here is another view of The Beachcomber Motel business cards:


We love the gleam of truquoise foil that hints at the sweep of waves you can spy right from one of the decks of Pam’s perfectly located lodging place. We deeply impressed the type into her cards by letterpress in gray ink (sort of sand colored gray) and overprinted her “swoosh” in the blue-green metallic foil, on thick white paper. We think these “little ambassadors” speak volumes about the fun atmosphere, the nearness of the beach, the comfy vibe you will find there. This is the essence of what we do, creating a visual mood that expresses what a business wants to say about itself. Yay for the power of letterpress!

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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.


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