31 December 2012

Library Graphic Design Year In Review 2012

The image to the right is a photo that I have had pinned to my desk bulletin board for the past two years. I think it is an incredible shot. It leaves me with a whole host of questions though, such as why are all those chairs there?; how did they get them all stacked up like that?; what are they going to do with them?; is there no fire code for that alleyway?; and…has any of it ever toppled out into the street and buried an innocent pedestrian? 

The image also illustrates a certain sentiment I have about the volume of work I create as a designer for my library district. Just look at that volume. Those chairs could be my projects (although I wouldn't let them all clog up the alleyway like that). And look at that tiny man down below. That could be me. Nevertheless, whatever is going to be done with those chairs, that sure is a glut of work to do...much like my work! Fortunately, we have a much more orderly project request process (when people use it) to provide ample time for the work to be done. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do. But often, I feel like my workload looks a lot like that unruly pile of chairs above.

It has been quite a year for my library and for me as a designer for them. And it has been a privilege for me to help promote my community's library system of 12 libraries. I feel they provide a tremendous resource to our community through their range of events and services. As the sole designer for our library district, I feel I am also a tremendous resource to my library by providing a range of design services at a significant quality and performance level to them as well.

For example, take the following numbers into consideration for 2012: 

Total 54 annual work weeks, roughly 250 total annual working days or 2000 hours.
Total Design Projects (January through 14 December): 766. 
That's up from 679 in FY2011 and FY384 in 2010…roughly 1 project completed every 2.61 hours every day. 

And although I am not a "printer," here is some additional volume:
Total In-House Printing: 28,942 project pages / impressions, many trimmed and some folded by hand afterwards.
Total External Vendor Printing: 80,000 pages.
Grand Total Printing: 108,942 pages / impressions.

1 Designer.

Happy New Year, and here's to seeing how all those chairs will stack up for us all in 2013. (I already have 43 projects due in January that I've worked on—and its not even January 1 yet!).

29 December 2012

Library Newsletter, THINK... Winter 2013

Television PSA appears on a local station channel to promote the library.
The library's free winter newsletter issue of THINK... arrived in branches just in time for the new year. This issue covers current news and over 1,075 scheduled events from January through March. Online copies are also available on the library's website, www.aclib.us. The print edition of 2,500 copies is delivered not only to all library branch locations but also to select non-library businesses to extend its reach further into the community.

The issue's use of a puzzle for a visual theme is a subtle nod toward the library's ability to bring a wide range of entertaining topics and community services together with the library to create events and programs that connect with and serve the interests of a diverse public.

A downloadable .pdf of the newsletter can be found here: http://aclib.us/files/2013_docs/THINKWinter2013.pdf .

Cover of the winter issue of THINK....
Online blog icon.

17 December 2012

Marketing Designs for Library Speaker Series: Life Skills for Teens

An 11x8.5 inch sign initiates the first of a series of teen oriented events.
Librarians from one of our youth services departments wanted to hold a series of events intended to help educate teens about important life skills. While I was being briefed to create publicity materials for the first event I learned the plan was to have more than one event for this purpose, so I proposed developing an identity mark for the entire series. This way each individual event could be easily recognized as part of a larger program—the series of events. 
Black/white and colour service marks were the first element to be made.

With an agreement to first create a service mark, I developed a small, colourful logo that incorporated gears into it to impart the idea of an important component of something greater that works, plus a symbol in the center of one of the gears to impart the idea of "adding" skills. These are of course, small, subtle design elements. So, a tagline was added underneath to further support the visual mark. The entire mark and tagline would appear on all related programs within the series. In the event that the series logo might need to be reproduced in black and white, a version of that was made as well. 

Quarter page handbills print four-up to a page prior to trimming.
As for materials for the first event, "Show Me The Money," I sourced photographic images of piles of scattered money and tried a couple out as background images/decorative borders. I didn't feel they had much visual impact or recognition as bills, however, so I chose a more identifiable, graphic detail element from a single dollar bill instead. Liking what I saw, I used that image as the background and matched event headline text to the bill ink colour. 

I kept descriptive and display text within our corporate standards fonts of Arial and Garamond. The original lengthy event description text I chopped down to a simple, impactful statement. Essential time, date, location information, a website address for more information, and the corporate branding rounded out the required elements.

Web ad as seen on the library website home page.

Projects included:
1 Program series identity mark, 
colour and b/w versions
200 Quarter page handbills
20 11x8.5 inch signs
1 Web page banner

A web ad for the library home page boils visual information down.
Additional information can be provided underneath in caption text.

23 November 2012

Library Grand [Re-]Opening Invitation & Program Marketing Designs

Event program front.
My how time flies. Back in late June through September our Headquarters library was constructing a room inside our largest open public space where most of our collections are. The room was to become a "quiet reading room" and was in response to patron comments asking for such a space. 

The library wanted to hold a grand opening to celebrate the room's completion and I was tasked with the creation of an invitation to mail out two weeks prior to the event as well as a program for the day of the event. That was fine, but by the time design development needed to take place in order to be completed in time to send invitations outthe room construction was still unfinished and the furniture that had been ordered for it still had yet to arrive. 

I was also informed that the game plan had changed; the event would now not only be for the grand opening of the quiet reading room, but would also incorporate a grand "re-opening" of the third and main floor of the library since a variety of "sprucing up projects" had also taken place on the floor, such as recarpeting, repainting the interior walls, refurnishing with new patron computer stations, and the like.

Event program back.

There was a small technicality I couldn't get out of my head, however. The library never actually closed for renovations or redecorating, so calling it a "re-opening" seemed like a bit of a misnomer to me. Nevertheless, that is what they wanted to bill it as. I decided to place the "re-" in brackets to signify their relevance and as an alternative to using quote or parentheses marks. I also added colour the lettering to bring emphasis to and differentiate it from the "grand opening" segment of the event title to call attention to what the "re-" actually referred to: the rededication of old spaces recently "refreshed, renewed, revealed" as opposed to the entirely new quiet reading room.

I took photos of the room while it was being constructed on a couple of different occasions, but it invariably had a variety of construction gear and/or transient shelving temporarily stored in the room no matter when I came. By itself, the room also wasn't much to look at no matter what angle I showed it at, so, without a finished room nor any interior decor to use for identifiable imagery on the invitation and program, I looked for other options. 

I began work developing a blue print concept, but I considered this concept too freshly similar to a grand opening we had for one of our new branch librares only nine months earlier. It also looked too unsophisticated for what I would rather show. I preferred instead to investigate other opportunities and settled on some of the existing, unique architectural and interior furnishing features of the building. 

Invitation front.
Invitation back.
I started by taking photos of some nice, large dome lights, with the notion of using the old tried-and-true "the lights are on/we're open for business" approach. I also shot a selection of the library's large wooden ceiling beams used throughout the large public space. Finally, I set my sights on the centerpiece of these beams that criss-crossed high overhead in the large room. The structure was so tall that to get a full length shot of it would require me to stand very far away—thus making the structure very tiny in larger photo—or, to take a shot of it at an angle where I could foreshorten the entire view of it. I ended up laying on my back on the floor near its base, shooting up at it and the skylights that shined down onto it from above to capture a wonderful illumination from the very early morning light. The actual light was much darker than seen on the final image; thanks to the miracle of photoshop I was able to significantly lighten and adjust image contrast globally to bring out the warm hues of the wood tones without completely blowing out details in the light fixture or skylight areas.

The long vertical orientation of the photo would work perfect for the half page layout I would use for the program, but wouldn't work for the invitation in its entirety, so I took the shot with that in mind so I could use a detailed portion of the overall image that focused on a large lighting fixture as a key feature, playing on the "light on/we're open for business" concept mentioned above. Once I had the detail image where I wanted it on the invitation, I duplicated a very small portion of the larger image and laid it overtop part of the letter "P" to show the rod—which supported the light fixture—pass through the hole of the letter form. I also came up with a tagline to clarify why the "'RE-" was highlighted in a different colour than the white lettering (it used a pale tan taken from the nearby wood). "A re-dedication" was really what I would have considered the event, if it weren't for the brand new quiet reading room component. The event was really a blend of dedicating two featured aspects: the new room as part of a renovation, and the newly refreshed areas in the same public space. Either way, I was bringing attention to the "re-" aspect of the overall effort.

A last few items helped to assist promote the event. These included a home website page banner, a 23x34 inch poster that would be installed into a freestanding post, and the rendering of a new floor plan map that identified locations of the collections that could be found on that floor. Each invitation and program were individually trimmed out by hand to ensure no unprinted white paper excess appeared around the image area.

A new floor plan was created by scanning an old
floor plan, then recreating it by redrawing all the
exterior walls and a few select interior ones.
In all, the project tally included:
235 Invitations
75 Programs
100 Floor plan maps
1 Freestanding 23x24 inch lobby poster
1 Web banner

21 November 2012

FOL Appreciation Week Diorama Display Design

From concept to completion: a cardboard box is transformed into a classic cinema.
Top: mapping out the surface coverage.
Bottom: the illuminated movie screen.
My earlier post covering creative work done for the National Friends of the Library Appreciation Week 2012 touched briefly on a diorama display. Due to its uniqueness, I thought it deserved a closer look, so here's my nod to a project that doesn't come along every day...a three dimensional diorama from the library technical services department that went on display at an event to thank our Friends of the Library organization. 

Librarian Linda Norris came to me with an idea to create a small tabletop display. She wanted to convert a medium sized cardboard box into a small movie theater and asked if I could help her with the creation of it. I thought it was a fun and unique project to add to the many other projects our branch libraries were using to thank the FOL group. While discussing the concept, I sketched out a basic rough of what I understood would be our goal: to find images we could use to cover the box interior and exterior surfaces, and to develop presentation frames on the outside flaps that could contain old DVDs to act as movie poster announcements for coming attractions. 
Three interior images include
(top) installation of large prints
onto wall and floor surfaces;
(middle) a red carpet made of
felt laid overtop a marbled
lobby floor image; (bottom) a
thick red string and cotter pins
set into a foam core board
wrapped with black paper served
as a rope barrier for crowd control. 

Linda provided a black and white printed image of vintage movie-goers wearing 3D glasses which I scanned, then colourized the lenses to be magenta and cyan. Another image of theatre seating I used to type faux versions of commonly over-used critic statements I modified to refer to the library's affections for the FOL. The rest of the wall and floor images I sourced for online, then printed to size using our office copier and large format printer. To give the diorama a little more life and to help identify what library department was giving their thanks, I suggested Linda recruit some of her colleagues to have their photos taken so we could use them as theatre visitors coming to see the show. She liked that idea, so I photographed them in a variety of casual poses and printed them at a scale I thought would be favourable to the boxed environment (roughly 9 to 10 inches each).

Once I had all the surface photos printed to size, the first thing I did was to lay what would be the movie scree/red curtain image on the back side of the box to mark with a stick pin where the corners of the white movie screen would be. Afterwards, I cut that portion of the box away to leave a hole in the bottom of the box. This would enable me to lay the screen/curtain image on the inside back wall of the box so that later we could place a flashlight behind the box to project a light onto the paper covering the hole to illuminate the screen. Once that image was secured into the box, the rest of the box wall and floor images were quickly attached using a few short pulls of double stick tape.

Top left: video DVDs were sandwiched between a 
yellow background mounted on cardboard backing 
and a cardboard frame that used a layer of 
transparent laminator film to act as side panels 
advertising some of the library's movie selection.
Meanwhile, Linda fashioned a rope line using a thick red length of cord and cotter pins, then wrapped a length of cardboard with black paper to sink the pins into so they could stand upright. After that was complete, she worked on cutting out and colouring with a black marker two cardboard poster "frames" to lay on top of printed images stating "Coming Soon" and "Now Showing." Between the paper images and the frames, she tacked down with double stick tape a selection of movie DVDs and a layer of laminator film that I had run through the laminator to make hard. The film would act as the "window" for each of the poster frames. Next, a strip of felt fabric was cut and laid on the bottom marble tile "lobby floor" flap to act as a red carpet runway. As a finishing touch to the now classically inspired movie house, a chandelier was created by combining a selection of jewelry and other mixed media objects donated by other staff members.

While Linda was working out all those details, I was busy trimming out the figurines, double stick taping them to poster board, and cutting out a square of foam core board for each to stand on. This part presented a challenge for us, because the figurines stood tall enough to become top-heavy and tip over when standing them up on foam core board slabs. Eventually, Linda was able to get a few sheets of flat plastic that I broke down to size and double stick taped to the base of the foam core boards to add weight to the base so the figurines wouldn't tip over any longer. I cut a slit into the foam core board base and tucked in a tab of excess poster board left remaining under the feet of the figurines when they were cut out. I added a small movie ticket to the hand of each figurine, taped a couple of movie posters to the sides of the exterior walls, and considered it finished!

Audience creation involved a
photo shoot of staff, printing at a
reduced size, trimming out
silhouettes, and fabricating a
base to stand the figurines with.
Tickets in the hands of movie-goers, an 
illuminated movie screen, and an old poster 
curling away from the wall show how some of 
the small details came together to create a 
unique environment for the diorama display.

21 October 2012

National Friends of the Library Celebration 2012 Marketing Designs

Above diagram shows a large range of collaterals used to promote the celebration.
Descriptions of numbered itemization portion appears at end of this blog entry.
The ALA collaterals sold for promotional purposes.
October 21-27 marks the nationally celebrated Friends of the Library Appreciation Week. The American Library Association describes it as: "Friends of Libraries groups have their very own national week of celebration! ALTAFF will coordinate the seventh annual National Friends of Libraries Week Oct. 21-27, 2012. The celebration offers a two-fold opportunity to celebrate Friends. Use the time to creatively promote your group in the community, to raise awareness, and to promote membership. This is also an excellent opportunity for your library and Board of Trustees to recognize the Friends for their help and support of the library."  You can read more about the celebration here: http://www.ala.org/united/events_conferences/folweek.

Event identity mark.

The ALA offered libraries nation-wide the opportunity to purchase a package of pre-designed promotional marketing materials for libraries to use to promote the national celebration. For the Alachua County Library District, however, the decision was made to develop their own in order to focus more intimately on its own local FOL group. This would require an entirely different design direction.

The first task was to develop an identity mark for the celebration. The design elements of the mark would become  the base design that would drive additional works required for communications and promotion. I had only a couple of hours to explore potential solutions because we already knew we wanted to order pens and wearable buttons to pass out as souvenirs. Production time would take about two weeks and we were already up against that deadline.

An 8.5x11 inch sign demonstrates the primary design
elements used throughout the promotional campaign.
My initial concept was influenced by the notion that this was a national American celebration, so naturally I would be looking to develop something with a red, white, and blue sensibility to it. Additionally, the fact that a presidential election was in high gear at this same time also played into my thinking. I was inspired by the classic "I LIKE IKE" convention button and created one that read "I LIKE FOL." Everything about the button—including the typography— looked the same except the letters were changed. 

Unfortunately, I was asked to come up with a new concept, so, faced with the design of a button first that had content requirements of using our local Friends of the Library logo along with the phrase "Celebrate Our Friends of the Library with Us!" I placed the existing FOL logo under a circular arch that went from one side of the tree to the other. Reversed out of the arch was the required phrase, and as as the arching circle continued under the tree, I added three hearts to fill in the empty space below the FOL logo. This design was accepted and became the base identity that would be applied to other marketing collaterals.

A 45x45 inch large format display poster is flanked by secondary
support visuals of silhouette books and faux polaroids.

Two other pieces needed to be quickly made: an 8.5x11 and a 11x17 sign that would contain varying messages depending on their use. I needed another visual element to compliment the approved identity. I remembered I had used the silhouette of an open book on monthly event calendars for a while, but found the curve of the pages not to my liking, so I created a new book silhouette and used that shape to contain reversed out text of the required messages. 

This silhouette would also become a common design element used on many of the collaterals required to promote the week of celebration, such as decorative elements that contained quotes by famous people, FOL factoids, or library messages.

I wanted the visual appearance of the signs to both have a classic, established quality to them as well as a modern, common quality. To achieve this, I combined an Adobe Garamond italic and small cap style along with an Arial font family mix. 

Requests for primary and support design projects began rolling in. Signs, posters, print and online advertisements, event decorations, certificates, a multi-paged binded presentation booklet, even a slide show. In all, I had over 30 unique items to create within in three weeks—all the while balancing those creations with other promotional projects in the works. The diagram at the top of this blog entry demonstrates the wide range of projects undertaken for this event; a list of those projects are detailed by type and quantity printed at the end of this entry.

Thank you notes and photos of scholarship recipients
were displayed on large format posters as well as
on pages of bound presentation booklets.
Each branch library was supplied with copies of the 8.5x11 and 11x17 inch signs, as well as book silhouettes containing a variety of quotes. They used them in any way they wanted, along with any additional elements they desired to create their own larger posters and bulletin board displays. Photographs of these were then taken to collate together into a bound booklet to be presented to FOL members.

In addition to the library branch display photos, notes of thanks from recipients of scholarships provided by the FOL were also combined together to add pages to the presentation booklet. These same notes, along with photos of the respective recipients were then repurposed into three large posters that would hang on the wall at a midday event at the event for the public and invited guests to attend.

The booklet would also contain photos representing some of the many library projects the FOL supported, as well as a certificate of appreciation. This same certificate would be printed to present to the library's four different FOL organizations, as well as copies made for each branch library to display.

A diorama for Technical Services thanked FOL
 for creating and supporting a popular CD/DVD
movie collection, and in doing so became a
"show stopper" in its own right. 
Perhaps the most ambitious design project was a diorama, conceived by Technical Services Librarian Linda Norris, who envisioned turning a simple card board box into a cinema to highlight her department's appreciation for FOL contributions and support towards creation of the library's very popular movie CD/DVD collection. 

Linda and I worked a few minutes here and there during the next two weeks to fabricate the vision. I started first with sourcing and printing images of brick walls, asphalt, tile floors, theatre screens and curtains, threatre chairs, and scanned/modified a retro photograph of moviegoers wearing 3-D glasses to tape to the surface of the box. Next, a portion of the back of the box was cut away to allow the back image of the movie screen to be illuminated from behind by a flashlight. Old CDs, lamination film, and cardboard "frames" were used to create panels to display the CDs as "Now Showing" and "Coming Soon" attractions. A chandelier was fashioned out of earrings, crowd control ropes were made out of red rope and cotter pins, and even a red carpet over the tile entryway floor added touches of sophistication to the environment. Full height photos of Linda and a few of her colleagues were taken, printed at a reduced scale, taped to poster board, then cut out to become standing figurines that could be placed anywhere around the diorama. And lastly, faux commonly phrased industry quotes and attributions about moviegoing were superimposed over the backs of audience chairs to reflect positive sentiments about the FOL. 

Technical Services Librarian Linda Norris stands with her diorama.
I had been told even before the diorama had left the design department to be viewed by a greater audience that it had become quite the talk of the library among staff members. Even the library director caught a sneak peek of it and suggested that it be set on display somewhere after the FOL Appreciation Event. For everyone who saw it, I hope they all enjoyed it—if not at the October 21 Friends of the Library Appreciation Event, then perhaps wherever the diorama might travel to on its next stop of what could potentially become a tour of show stops all its own.

The Tally (quantity printed):
01. Invitation/Handbill (800) 
02. Bookmark (2,000)
03. 8.5x11 Inch Signs (16)
04. Cake Top Image (1)
05. Event Program (150)
06. Home Page Website Banner Ad (1)
07. 10x10.5 Inch Print Advert (1)
08. 10x10.5 Inch Print Advert Table Top Sign (2)
09. 4x4 Foot Partnership Branch Library Display Poster (1)
10. 21x28 Inch Lobby Poster
11. 48x48 Inch Podium Display Poster (1)
12. Website Blog Icon(1)
13. Wearable 2 Inch Button (1)
14. 7x2 Inch Colour Print Advert (1)
15. 11x17 Inch Signs (14)
16. Presentation Booklet Binder (32 pages each; 
      23 booklets printed in-house, 250 printed via outside vendor)
17. 16x20 Inch Scholarship Thank You Poster (1)
18. Gainesville FOL Certificates (12)
19. Other Municipality FOL Certificates (3)
20. 35x43 Inch Scholarship Thank You Posters (2)
21. 3.25x3.75 Inch Black/White Print Advert (1)
22. Tech Services Cinema Diorama (1 box, 13+ images)
23. 45x45 Inch Headquarters Library Publicity Display Poster (1) 
24. Table Top Wire Decoration Polaroids (8)
25. 8.5x11 Inch Book Silhouette Quotes (5)
26. PowerPoint Slideshow Pages (12)
27. Decorative Book Hang Tags (12)
28. Book Decoration Factoids (144)

Not shown:
Website Blog Page Image (1)
Scholarship Thank You Table Toppers (3)
Writing Pen

Oh, and don't forget that at the same time all this was being done, I was also working on an additional 57 projects from October 1 to October 19!

19 October 2012

Marketing Designs for Author Lauren Groff Library Event

A 45x45 inch large format poster in a main traffic way of the library announces the author event. 

Author Lauren Groff visited the Alachua County Library District in October. I have to thank her for providing high resolution images that allowed for good reproduction, most notably for use on a large format poster scale.

Fabrication of the 45x45 inch large format poster required splicing
two separate prints together using double sided tape. The incomplete
second poster portion above the completed one shows the line where I
cut one of the posters to lay over the other in order to hide the cut.
Groff provided a high resolution black and white image of herself, as well as a nicely designed cover image of her book, Arcadia. To compliment the two, I sourced for a nice image that I was able to use a detail portion of to use as a background.

I began my design exercise with development of a 45x45 inch large format display poster. For the promotional marketing event materials, I used the three photo images and typography that mimicked the fonts used on her book. As a finishing touch, introduced a small cartouche under her name to add a small, delicate detail to play off the curly flourish that sprouted from the apex of the capital "A" on her book title.

The completed 45x45 inch display poster.
Once the poster design was approved, I could continue with the remaining collaterals. I scaled the poster down to become quarter page handbills, and used a a strong horizontal section of her book cover with stylized text for an online web banner. 

On the 8.5x11 inch page I was using for printing the handbills, I had a little excess unused space, so instead of wasting the paper I took the opportunity to create a complementary bookmark, taking the right side section of the poster/handbill design for use as the bookmark. 

Lastly, the poster/handbill design was used as a small 3.25 inch square black/white print advertisement. The colour conversion turned out quite nicely, avoiding any potential muddiness between the typography and the background images. 

Taken as a set, the large format poster, the handbill, the bookmark, the print ad, and the web banner all maintained a cohesive visual presentation that held together, thanks to the strong imagery and consistent typographical use. 

Trimming handbills and bookmarks out of an 8.5x11 inch page.
Total yield:
1x 45x45 inch large format poster
1x online web banner
1x black/white print ad
25x bookmarks
200x handbills