Photographer David McNeil was the first-ever wedding industry client I had the opportunity to work with many years ago and we bonded immediately over the fact that he didn’t want a traditional, cookie-cutter website and branding. No pastels or frilly type in sight! Branch just revamped his website with a more modern, inviting format and I’m sharing more about the outcome over there. Click through to view the project!
Category Archives: Graphic Design
One of the questions I get asked most often is for design book recommendations. And while there are a million books out there that are great for different reasons, I always come back to the titles by Jan V. White.
Design trends come and go and styles change but underneath it all, the fundamentals of design are still there. Understanding these fundamentals is always the base and from there, you can take your work in any direction. I love Jan V. White’s books because they’re not preachy or dry. He doesn’t use obscure lingo and best of all, he mixes in a lot of images and thumbnail sketches for those of us that are more visual learners.
While he has written over a dozen books (most of which focus on editorial design), the one that should be on every designer’s bookshelf is the Graphic Idea Notebook. If you’re ever feeling stuck, it’s a treasure chest of quick, clever ideas ranging from type styles to images to page layouts. Sometimes, you just need to turn away from another “designspiration” site and be one with your own ideas.
It’s been a few years since I first shared this news so it bears repeating for new readers: Jan V. White made his books available for download, free of charge. Pretty amazing, right?! If you’d still like some print copies, most titles including the Graphic Idea Notebook can be picked up used on Amazon for under a dollar.
These books prove that learning design can be fun and engaging. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Today, a project Branch partnered up with Gala Darling on went live. A full year in the making, this was the most comprehensive project we’ve ever worked on to date! You can click through and see even more of the process here but I also wanted to take the opportunity to talk about the more personal side of things.
Gala and I met on Live Journal back around 2002, both in our early 20s, both not quite sure where we were headed. I was working in a mauve wallpapered corporate office during my summer breaks from college, helping the accounting department with their filing. Shortly after that, I moved onto working in a shoe store. Gala was working a string of unfulfilling retail jobs. I loved reading her posts oversharing every detail of her life, which at times sounded like a made for TV movie.
I didn’t really know anything about blogs outside of Live Journal at that time and in 2006, she was the first person I knew who made the leap over to her own, self-hosted domain. If I remember correctly, she even linked me in her first-ever article about fashion advice for recovering goths (haha).
Still not quite sure where things were going for me (I had just started my design program), I read her blog religiously every single day while standing around at my shoe job, killing time. It kept me inspired and gave me hope that I could find a way to just maybe get into design studios and ad agencies and find my spot in the world.
During the spring of 2007, I flew to LA for a Courtney Love concert (oh, the stories I have!) and spent the afternoon hanging out with my friend Star, who also knew Gala. Star said blogging was going to blow up big time and I needed my own domain. I mean, I had that already but no self-hosted blog. Star happened to be the best developer I knew. Thanks to her persistent pestering, this blog was launched later that summer.
Gala and I read each other’s blogs but we’d never met. Finally, we were going to be in New York at the same time. We spent an afternoon exploring the city together and it was so natural, I felt like I’d known her my whole life. We had different accents and were from opposite sides of the world but everything else was basically the same.
We both had other friends that were into blogging. To be fair though, we weren’t just “into blogging”…we were full-on obsessed to the point that our nonstop discussions around the subject would have driven anyone else completely nuts. We found that bond with each other and carried that through our friendship.
I watched Gala’s blog take off and flourish and evolve. When we first started blogging, most people didn’t yet view their blogs as a full-time business. We came from the era where blogs were a place to share personal stories and snapshots — they weren’t the slick money-making, marketing machines we often see today. And because of that, most of us quickly cobbled together our own branding, if you could call it that. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought behind it at the time.
For Gala, things really started shifting when she began launching digital products a few years ago. I saw her business grow way beyond “just a blog” and when that starts to happen, there needs to be more consistency.
Last Spring, we finally started discussing what she needed to do to have that added polish while keeping the branding feeling rooted in her personal style which included a love of fashion magazine-inspired type, fuchsia and an obsession with “snail mail.”
It’s been inspiring sitting back and watching Gala put all the pieces of her new look to use, from the branding to the blog to the product graphics — she’s always had such strong content and cohesive branding is the ultimate cherry on top.
Congratulations, Gala. I am so proud of you!
More visuals can be seen here.
It’s been a little quieter around these parts because I’ve been wrapping up what seems like a million different projects with Branch. When I say a million, it’s actually probably more like ten but that is still a lot when it comes to finishing identity guides, fine-tuning websites for launch and prepping print files for books! There are no complaints here, though. I’m humbled every day getting the opportunity to do what I love most — design. While I’ve been posting all of the finished projects over on the Branch blog, I think the in-progress shots can sometimes be just as interesting. So today I wanted to give you a peek into a few things I’ve been working on!
Above: This branding for a videographer just wrapped yesterday!
The first Blogcademy workshops of the new year are quickly approaching. That means custom graphics for the totes, sponsor cards and posters. See you soon, San Francisco!
I’ve been working on some abstract collages for a client’s imagery. It’s been fun exploring a more organic style.
Kat wanted an updated media kit…and then it ended up nearly doubling in size! It’s now more like a mini magazine.
This is the pattern for the videographer I mentioned above. CUT! Haha.
The week after Blogcademy San Francisco is…Blogcademy Chicago!
For the last year, Branch has been working with a fine art photographer, designing everything from her branding to a coffee table book. We did some custom collages for her website, too.
Working with Gala is always fun — her new branding officially goes live soon and this is an alternate icon. Yes, there is a postage theme throughout!
If you want even more behind the scenes peeks, I’m always updating Dribbble.
This project was such a labor of love. My design studio, Branch began working with Kitty Cavalier last September and today we’re finally unveiling her new branding and website! There are a lot of parts and pieces to this one so click on over to check out the whole thing and read a little more about the process.
When most of us think of newsprint, cheaply printed weekly papers or tabloids come to mind. We wouldn’t usually push it into the realm of high-end promotional pieces. That view is starting to shift, though as creatives want a more tactile way to share their work. While glossy, magazine-style paper looks great, some folks want something with a little more edge and grit. In a way, it’s exciting taking an old-school, tried-and-true medium and turning it on its head.
Until recently, I knew nothing about the world of newsprint. I’d designed magazines and stacks of promo pieces but never anything that made its way to newsprint. But then Luke Copping, who always seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to these sorts of things, came to me with the idea of doing a 32 page piece. It was time to scour the internet for suitable printers! Here’s what I learned along the way…
We quickly narrowed down our prospects to two printers and a combination of their samples are featured in this post.
The first is Linco Printing, which is based in New York. Linco is great if you’re located in the U.S. and want to work with an established printer with a great reputation — they also did the Design Sponge paper, which turned out beautifully. The downside is that traditional printers are used to doing huge runs (think weekly papers) so for it to be cost effective, you’re going to have to commit to a lot of papers, probably a thousand at the very least.
After getting an exorbitant quote back because our run was just too tiny, we did some more digging and landed on Newspaper Club. Now, this site has major style and is easy to use. Not only that, but they’re able to produce small runs in multiple formats. Score!
Because this was a higher end promotional piece featuring Luke’s photography, we went with the traditionally printed tabloid in the improved format. The improved format is on brighter, whiter stock and really pops. The weight of normal newsprint is about 30 gsm and this is 52 so it definitely has a more premium feel.
For you U.S. folks, Newspaper Club is based in the U.K. so when dealing with their guidelines, be warned that they are in millimeters. Their templates are super easy to use and as long as you follow their export instructions, you’ll end up with great results.
The one tricky part is that Newspaper Club doesn’t offer traditional proofs so triple-check what you’re uploading! Their customer service also checks your files and gives you the thumbs-up before it hits the press.
• Always start with a template provided by the printer if possible. A lot of them have specific margins set up and if your design moves into them, it won’t be able to be printed.
• There’s no need to have your images placed at any higher resolution than 300 dpi. Newsprint isn’t meant to be the highest quality so you won’t see improved results with higher resolution.
• Most newspapers are printed in multiples of 4 pages. Design accordingly!
• What you see on your brightly lit computer screen won’t always translate as well to newsprint. Newsprint tends to be thin and absorb a lot of ink so coverage can vary.
• It’s a good idea to stick with images that have a lot of contrast. If they’re too dark, they can look muddy on newsprint.
• If you use any black and white photos in your pieces, they have to be set to grayscale.
If you do print anything, let me know. I’d love to see it! And I’ll be sharing the outcome of Luke’s piece on the Branch blog soon!