28 February 2012

Just another typical day in design paradise.

I arrived at work by 8:50am and powered up the design office like one would power up the USS Enterprise. I then knocked back a healthy dose of caffinated coffee and turned the afterburners on for another day of break-neck speed designing. 

I quickly got a head start on the guaranteed mass of emails, calls, and visits by trimming 100 event invitations that were requested late the day before. I then reviewed the production schedule to check on the status of 16 works in progress, read ten emails, collected art attachments to reply to one email, and sent ten emails of my own  to keep projects moving along. I critiqued an advertisement sent to me and replied with my review—but not before I was interrupted in the middle of it to have a meeting to discuss the status of three display posters that were already designed, printed, and/or soon to be delivered and installed. Afterwards, I completed my email reply and turned my attention to designing two event posters, one handbill, and printed/trimmed one large format poster—each requested only an hour earlier. Out went email notices with proofs for review. 

It had been a full day. But wait! This was only the first three hours. It was time for refueling. I did this while working on another project and answering emails.

By 5pm I’d reviewed three more revisions to one advertisement sent to me, revised and sent out another ad for approval, edited and printed a blue print for the lighting plan diagram of one of the libraries, exchanged another round of various emails, made two rounds of revisions on a web banner and submitted for uploading, agreed to do an extra cirricular assignment, made plans for a meeting for tomorrow morning, revised and printed an event program for review, sent out another set of emails, sourced and worked on some images for a newsletter and related print advertisement, and updated the ever-changing status of the production schedule as I went along.

You’d think by this time I would have completely cleared my schedule. But I still had 16 more projects on my schedule to complete. For now. You can bet tomorrow will bring plenty more. This is a pretty typical day for me!

19 February 2012

Library Book Talk Event Signs & Bookmark Marketing Designs

Two posters from the library "Book Talk" series.

The adult services department at our Headquarters Library recently developed the idea to hold a public book talk event each month. Each event would focus on a specific topic and/or book and would be presented by one of the staff librarians.

Since there would be one event each month, I proposed we consider the events be promoted as an identifiable "series" rather than a bunch of random, unrelated ad hoc events. This way, I could develop a basic, yet consistently applied visual identity and reusable loosely structured template for each of the promotional elements that each event would use. The idea was approved, and I developed a set of promotional marketing templates based on the very first event: Love A Mystery.

The librarian giving the talk had already picked out the artwork she wanted to use and written the text to accompany it. She wanted to offer large bookmarks to attendees, which I thought was a fine idea. I suggested that the same bookmarks be created and offered in advance, however, to be used to promote the event ahead of the event date, which she also thought was a good suggestion.

So with her nicely prepared text and visuals, I developed a bookmark design and applied the styling to an 11x17 inch poster. She liked them, so those designs became our standard template to apply to the remaining events that would follow later in the series, such as the March Book Talk: Book Discussion event about Electromagnetic Pulse Terrorism.

The artwork I selected for the EMP book discussion wasn't as simple and clean as the Mystery event style. But as intended, the design solution would maintain standard design elements for consistency, while other elements particular to each unique event would be allowed to change. For the EMP event, I included semi-translucent darkened bands to help separate—yet continue to integrate—the text with the art. Another semi-translucent box—only this time in white—would be inset into the artwork to contain the descriptive text.
Front and back of two "Book Talk" bookmarks.

Total collaterals, per event:
2x 11x17 inch posters
1 web banner

Library Anniversary Event Marketing Designs

Library anniversary sign.

Thirty years ago Alachua Branch Library was the Alachua Library. It wasn't until 1987 that it joined the Alachua County Library District. So on February 19, the library branch will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary by holding an event at their location.

Invitation back.
I was asked to create marketing collaterals to promote the event, including an invitation, web banner, and timeline handout. Curious to know what material has been traditionally chosen to celebrate a thirtieth anniversary, I went online to look. Pearl was one of the selections, so I sourced for public domain photography that resembled the sheen of a pearl surface and elected to use one that had a silvery-gray sheen to it.

I wanted the pearl texture to be an enlarged background surface, and for the main visual I selected a watercolour painting of the branch library. Each of our libraries has been painted in watercolour by an artist, and because these paintings are used on occasion by each branch as an easily recognized visual element, I felt it would be the best go-to image to identify and support the event location. By itself, however, the watercolour is unframed, so to add a touch of elegance, I placed a detail of the watercolour image into an oval frame that had some interesting detail work of its own.

Event timeline handout.
Lastly, I designed a motif for the event name using a simple typographical solution based on our corporate typefaces—Arial and Garamond. An ACLD book logo lays behind the event name text, large but subdued, burned semi-translucent into the pearl textured background. This gives the District identity a presence without overshadowing focus on a larger, more complete consideration of this particular library's history.

The web banner utilized the same design elements, only reoriented for the horizontal banner dimension.

The branch library later requested creation of a historical timeline for handing out at the event. The essential text was provided, as well as the request for a half page size. I challenged, however, the request to have the handout printed on pink paper, since pink had no visual connection to the other collateral elements already developed. Instead, I used the same pearl texture on both front and back sides so that the back side wouldn't simply look like cheap, white card stock. The event name motif and watercolour on its oval frame were both added above the timeline text to keep this collateral piece consistent with the others.

Web banner.
Total collaterals:
200 invitations
1 web banner
175 timelines

09 February 2012

New Year 2012 Library Prediction Poster Results

The New Year Predictions display poster results at the end of January 2012.
Just a quick update on the results of the New Year 2012 prediction display installed during January at the Headquarters Library and online at the library's Facebook page (first blogged here: http://librarygraphicdesign.blogspot.com/2012/01/happy-new-year-predictions-at-library.html ). Visitors were encouraged to add their prediction for what may or may not happen during 2012 and the resulting participation was both fun and encouraging. As you can see in the image above, there were so many predictions (114 in fact!) written on Post-It notes and stuck to the crystal ball that they couldn't all be contained within it.

On the last day of the display, the librarian managing it gathered the Post-It notes to tally up the answers. You can see the results here:  http://www.aclib.us/research/blog/what-are-your-predictions-new-year-part-2

Creating a display that encourages viewer participation is a great way to engage visitors in promotional efforts and to get feedback from them to see how you are doing. I receive a lot of positive feedback from the staff about displays like this, so I always enjoy exploring themes and presentations that lend themselves to incorporating an interactive, value-added component to what would otherwise be a static poster and message. It's great fun to see the poster continue to visually evolve during the time it is on display.

03 February 2012

Design Talk: I Sure Could Use a TUMS

Recently, I was reading an old copy of Package Design magazine. The feature article covered how GlaxoSmithKline—one of the world's leading pharmaceutical healthcare companies—worked with outsourced design houses and component suppliers to redesign new packaging for its classic Tums brand product.

I learned that GlaxoSmithKline's US Consumer Healthcare package development group based in the company's Pittsburgh headquarters consisted of a team of 12 package engineers and documentation specialists (the latter are "information managers who provide product specifications, administer paperwork, and coordinate workflow throughout the corporate approval chain").

Design development of GSK's products didn't actually take place at GSK, however. "We do not do any design work in this department," Ed Dunn, associate director of the package development group said. "We work with design houses and component suppliers to achieve the goals that GlaxoSmithKline brands want to achieve." Together, the GSK group, along with its extended association of vendors handled between "500 to 800 packaging projects a year, ranging from simple label changes to big jobs on the order of the Tums redesign."

Wow, I thought. That's a lot of projects per year. Then I caught myself. Hey, that's 500 to 800 projects divided by at least 12 in-house staff and who knows how many out-of-house people. If you divide 12 into 500 and 800, you get roughly 41 to 66 projects a year per person. Suddenly the work load looked relatively luxurious.

Forty-one to 66 projects is within the margin what I create as a single person design department for the Alachua County Library District each month. In fact, during the recent 36 working days between November 1 to December 31, I created 113 projects alone. And during my first annual year at the Library I created 460 projects, resulting in over 45,000 unique printed page and online views. Maybe that means I'm doing the work of 12+ people—well, 12 of GlaxoSmithKline's at least. I wonder how much they make an hour? I could certainly use 12 times the salary! Or a TUMS. How do you spell R-E-L-I-E-F?

01 February 2012

More Black History Month Library Event Design Collaterals

The Library website banner web ad as it appears online.

Newspaper print ad.
In an earlier post ( Library Events for Black History Month 2012 ) I unveiled my design concept for a Black History Month promotional marketing theme, "Celebrate Black History Month: Make The Dream Real." The headline is followed by a tagline that states: "A Dream Worth Having Is A Reality Worth Working On."
One of the 13 branch event listing pages.
The marketing concept follows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech and call to action. Likewise, the thrust of this campaign is to also say: "Don't just dream. Work towards it through action. Make the dream real as best you can."

I chose a simple, yet striking photo of the recently erected Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington DC as the focal point of the design concept. A selection of other historical photos of people and events related to the American civil rights movement are also included in an orange stripe that encapsulates the aforementioned tagline above.

The design has been applied to a variety of print and online collaterals in an effort to promote the Alachua County Library District's celebration of Black History Month through specific programming events and general awareness displays.

The same image above was used for quarter page
handbills, and two different sign sizes. 
In addition to the collaterals shown in my earlier post ( Library Events for Black History Month 2012), post highlights a few more applications of the design to additional collaterals:

A youth services A-frame display shelf sign; an 8.5x11 inch print advert in the Black College Monthly magazine; an online blog icon; a 11x17 inch monthly event listing for most of the 12 branch libraries, each with their own specific listing of events for the month of February on the sign; a series of signs and handbills for a specific annual event called: Outside the Book; a simliar set of 11x17, 8.5x11 and handbills for another event: Music & Dance, and, a general awareness newspaper print advert.

Creating a single design theme and treatment helped to provide a uniform and consistent appearance and message to an entire range of programming events. It also helped to reduce the design department workload from attempting to create an entirely different creative concept for each separate but holiday-related program.

A-Frame bookshelf top sign.