Posts Tagged ‘Web Site Design & Coding’

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Zida Borcich
Artist’s Bio, July, 2006

Zida Borcich is a letterpress printer and graphic designer who lives in Fort Bragg, California. Her printshop/design studio, Zida Borcich Letterpress/Studio Z Mendocio, now celebrating its 25th year, produces logos, stationery, business cards, brochures, and amazing wedding. Additionally Studio Z Mendocino specializes in innovative advertising campaigns, identities for non-profits, business and social invitations and announcements, and, newly, web site design and optimization. In addition to custom design and printing, the shop produces Studio Z Mendocino, a line of stationery and greeting cards that has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including the “Best New Product Award” at the National Stationery Show in New York City.

Borcich’s work is recognized as unique, with its own aesthetic and quirky elegance, while possessing a timeless sense of beauty and proportion. Zida’s design work and printing have received awards and been displayed in national magazines,, and hard cover books of the graphic design magazine, Print.

Zida Borcich Letterpress is respected for creativity and highest quality in its own coastal community as well as nationally, with clients coming from every state in the US, as well as from Europe and Japan. In the last year Studio Z Mendocino has gained favor with wedding photographers and photojournalists, internationally. Many of the business cards and stationery sets printed at Studio Z can be seen on the web site, http://www.studio-z.com, and on this blog.

Studio Z Mendocino’s “Ladies Who Lunch Cards” created their own category in the multi-billion dollar greeting card industry (they can be seen at www.studio-z.com), winning the coveted “Best New Product Award” at the National Stationery Show two years in a row in a competition with several thousand other card lines.

Borcich has done special projects for the New York Public Library, The Chicago Art Institute, Pottery Barn and the Morgan Library, among many others, and important fundraising packages for the Lucile Salter Packard Hospital for Children and for the Monterey Hospital Foundation. Most recently Studio Z has completed a new identity for the Mendocino Music Festival. The newest web site for the MMF will be up and running in mid-March. http://www.mendocinomusic.com. Zida is also putting the finishing touches on a large ad campaign for Mendocino County Lodging Association, which includes ads for numerous California magazines and banner ads as well.

The San Francisco Public Library, in 2005, honored Zida’s work with an opening and three-month exhibit of twenty years of commercial printing and design, in the Rare Books Room. According to Rare Book Room staff at the Library, it was the best attended exhibit they have ever had.

The shop and its work have been featured in Elle Decor, Victoria, Town and Country, Martha Stewart Weddings, Cosmo, and many other national magazine editorials over the years, including Elegant Bride and Modern Bride.

Zida Borcich apprenticed for eleven years at the printshop of master printer Al Moise, in Fort Bragg, there learning to hand set lead type and run the Heidelberg Windmill she later bought and installed in her own shop, and which is still her main press. In 1984, after Al’s death, she opened a 600 square foot shop on Franklin Street, in Fort Bragg, and began her adventure as a business owner. Four years later she bought her present shop, on Main Street, moving literally tons of type and equipment into the sunny place she and her staff now occupy. In 1995, having run out of space, the building was lifted up off its foundation and an addition was constructed that doubled the space to 2300 square feet. 

Over the ensuing twenty-five years the business has shifted and recreated itself many times to fit the strange reality of a technology that is over 500 years old finding its audience in the present moment. Zida’s design sense is informed by her initial training, where, as she says, she held space in her fingers and felt it in the muscles of her hands. The translation of these painstaking tasks to a computer keyboard seemed a seamless and natural movement. The aesthetic of letterpress is retained, somehow, giving the work a timeless and classical balance with a modern sensibility. “I love my work and my shop every single day. It’s crazy to say this after thirty-some years of doing it, but it is absolutely a part of me now. I can’t wait to come into my shop every day and see what is in store for me. It’s so fun to work with my brother and Rhea, who has been with me for half her life, literally. It’s exciting to talk to my clients and find out how my work can help their work, their celebrations, their self expression, their profitability. I have known for years that I am actually in the business of communication, connection and relationship. It is all love, all art, all creative grace. Business and love. What more could you ask for?”

Read Full Post »

Hello, World

I am thinking about letterpress printing today, as usual. It is so much a part of me and my life that it’s a bit like breathing. I have been a printer since 1974 or or 1975, have had this business I so enjoy and love since 1984. It was rare to be a woman in this industry, particularly in that moment as letterpress had already been replaced almost entirely by offset printing. I was not strategic about it; I just wanted to do it, the way Amelia Erhart said, “I want to do it because I want to do it.” Women were not printers, letterpress printing was not revered. Thank goodness that part has changed.

Letterpress printing changed my life and continues to enrich it every day. I am very grateful I get to do this work, have this shop, make these relationships, create something new every couple of hours. It’s so much fun and so hard and so beautiful and people always kind of fall to their knees when they see it. A long time ago I discovered there is a lot of power in letterpress printing. It has the power to capture people’s curiosity. It has the power to make everybody want to come to the party. It has the power to create a desire to know you better when you give them your fluffy, deeply impressed business card. It is an art that is a craft that is a powerful force and hardly anybody knows about it. Even not knowing, when they encounter it, they know it is different, it has something about it that tells something interesting. What is that? I think it is the hand of the craftsperson showing in the work.

Gee, guys, I have a BLOG!

Big kiss,


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: