Call for Exhibitors

Call for Exhibitors

VMA Design Conference - Call for Exhibitors

Come and meet creatives and showcase your products/services at the VMA Design Conference 2017: Storyboard – Stories of Design Across All Media.

Contact Jim Frey at or 415.489.7615 for details on exhibiting or view the Exhibitor Sales Sheet here.

This year’s conference is held at Bespoke in the heart of Downtown San Francisco on June 14, 2017 during SF Design Week.

Willoughby Gets ‘Fresh’ with Type Lovers

Ask any creative and they’ll tell you that designers are among the pickiest audiences to impress. So imagine the challenge involved with not only impressing designers but inspiring them? That was the task faced by Willoughby Design when they were approached by Neenah Paper about creating a campaign that would entice designers to create their projects using Neenah’s signature line. What they came up with was “Fresh Takes on CLASSIC Type,” a promotion that uses contemporary typography to demonstrate the versatility of Neenah’s CLASSIC paper.

“Instead of going over the classic typefaces that everyone knows, we wanted to talk about the new classics and show their paper line in a new, fresh way,” says Zack Shubkagel, creative director and partner at Willoughby. In the process, they proved that the right paper and type have the power to be a designer’s dream.

An Ode to Paper
The Neenah campaign had a cross-media appeal, consisting of a book, paper promotions and video to spread the word. One of the first steps was determining which typefaces to include in the project.

“Typographers are doing some real cool things whether they’re doing open source to share their typography around the world or using algorithms to design more complicated typefaces,” he explains.

In collaboration with writer Alyson Kuhn, Willoughby designed six spreads that capture how the digital and analog worlds are united in an unlimited possibility of expression.

“What you see in this book are a selection of new examples of typography that have been influenced by the digital era,” Shubkagel says. “These typefaces demonstrate how designers are blurring the lines between pixels and print.”

Various typefaces were selected to represent the “new classics,” including those created by Jessica Hische, Matthew Carter, Erik Spiekermann, Luke Lisi, Nicole and Petra Kapitza and Mika Mischler.

They also wanted designers to imagine all of the possibilities when it came to the various paper promotions they could create.

“If you look at a lot of paper promotions, almost every trick has been done at some point,” Shubkagel says. “We wanted each of these to be something interactive, tactile and something you can play with.” For example, a coffee cup sleeve with the words “Dotting My Eyes and Croissant My Teas” showcases the type on paper while providing a tangible use for a caffeine-ready audience.


For the Love of Video
Since Neenah only printed 15,000 books, they needed a way to share the concept with an even broader audience.

“Video is great because you don’t have to have a book in hand to see how it works. Still photos only do so much. So we worked with a videographer in Kansas City to help animate our story,” Shubkagel says.

When producing the video, “we needed to make a fun visual story that made you smile and made you see, for example, how giftwrap wraps around the box and how things move around. In the end, we said, ‘let’s just show off the book and the fun things you can do with it.’ ”

Shubkagel’s favorite part of the campaign was “just thinking through who we were going to put into the book,” he says. “We started off with a list of 50 different typefaces and designers and typographers, and we wanted to hone it into a story where we were representing typography today.”

The finished product has more than lived up to expectations. “We’re getting great feedback from Neenah. They’re very happy with the promotion and how it’s showcasing their paper,” he says.

And the response from that pickiest crowd hasn’t been so bad either, he adds. “We’re getting great compliments from designers.”

Now that’s something to type home about.


Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.

Rock & Brews: Suds, Sandwiches & Consistency

Few things go together like great food and rock ’n roll, so it’s little surprise that the restaurant chain Rock & Brews has made the mark that it has in the restaurant industry. It’s a family-style restaurant with a rotating menu of 52 craft beers and a real rock ’n’ roll pedigree: it was foundered by KISS’ Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, legendary concert promoters Dave and Dell Furano, and restaurateur and hotelier Michael Zislis.

“When you go into a Rock & Brews, it is a tribute to classic rock. There are live concert videos playing on multiple screens throughout the restaurant,” explains Laura Missioreck, chief creative officer of The Graphic Element, a branding and design firm in Manhattan Beach, Calif. When Rock & Brews was ready to open its fourth restaurant, the owners wanted to make sure the branding reflected the chain’s unique proposition. Luckily, The Graphic Element knew how to play up the restaurant’s legendary appeal and has been their outsourced creative agency for more than two years now.

The Value of Consistency
The first thing The Graphic Element did was create a brand style guide. “There were several instances where the logo was inconsistent across the different restaurant locations,” says Missioreck. As the chain opened new locations, it became even more imperative to take a consistent approach.

“You don’t want to cause confusion in the marketplace by the logo appearing in a different font, color or different style,” she says. “Because it is now a franchise operation, it’s very important for the public to understand what the brand is about and for it to be consistent so people start to recognize what Rock & Brews stands for.”


To provide that consistency, the creative agency worked with Rock & Brews on standardizing the color palette, the fonts and logo usage. That meant determining such details as the minimum size for the logo and its relationship to the tagline. They reworked the original, “Proud to Serve,” to “Serving Those Who Rock,” which better reflected the restaurant’s positioning.

After completing the brand guide, The Graphic Element went to work re-designing the 12-page menu, which included art directing the food photography and developing the layout. The finished product elevated the look and feel from a “bar” menu to something better representative of the restaurant’s high-quality American comfort food, which includes burgers, BBQ, sandwiches, wings and pizza.


Creating a ‘Rocking’ Experience
Next they focused on the website. Not only did they want it to be interactive and informative but it was important that it matched the visual style of the restaurants as well. For example, brick is an element in almost every restaurant, so they incorporated brick into the website interface. They also chose to create a blog-style website “similar to what you might see on a rock band fan website,” Missioreck says. The home page features nine boxes or sections for content where corporate can feature promotions, as well as what’s happening in the world of rock ’n’ roll, Missioreck adds.

Other elements of the campaign included Rock & Brews’ major promotions, and food packaging elements such as the to-go pizza boxes and wax paper that sandwiches and burgers are wrapped in.


“We designed really large text-based graphics that highlight the different aspects of the particular item and also relate to the brand,” Missioreck says. “For example, we emphasized the word ‘pizza’ and adjectives that relate to it like ‘delicious’ and ‘hot,’ but it’s written in the kind of font that’s specific to Rock & Brews.”

One of the main goals of the campaign was to ensure that every graphical element conveyed an accurate representation of the iconic brand. “It was more about taking what was already existing and making things consistent along with coming up with standards for the future,” she says.

That future looks bright as the brand is enjoying tremendous success. Rock & Brews was named one of the top 10 fastest growing small chains in America by Restaurant Business in July of 2015. They just opened their 19th location and they have no intention of slowing down, Missioreck says. “We are super excited to be along for the ride!”


Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.