Whiskey Series Takes Inspiration From Wild West


Born in upstate New York but “like many freedom loving Americans before him,” Josh Jevons made the journey west. Now based in Denver CO, Jevons has used this as an inspiration for packaging for the Grand Teton Distillery that captures the spirit of the Wild West.


The series visualizes stories and myths of legendary pioneers, frontiersmen and adventurers of the wild American west. Says Jevons: “From Teddy Roosevelt’s dagger-clad bout with a puma to a bloodthirsty manhunt by Blackfoot tribesmen, these labels celebrate the western spirit of adventure, tenacity and grit.”


The labels feature custom diecuts and metallic ink, and feature custom illustrations and handcrafted type. Continues Jevons: “The aesthetic is intended to communicate the rugged nature of the stories as well as the place in which the whiskeys are made, the Teton mountains, while maintaining a modern feel.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

Coca-Cola Packaging To Sing a Different Tune


This summer, Coca-Cola will again try to teach the world to sing — this time with a little help from its bottles and cans. In a new phase of its “Share a Coke” campaign, the cola giant will put song lyrics pulled from more than 70 popular songs on packaging. Lyrics cover a range of music, from rock ‘n’ roll classics like Queen’s “We are the Champions” to patriotic songs such as “Proud to Be An American” by Lee Greenwood. Coke will also include lyrics from some of its iconic campaigns, such as I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke.


The campaign, called “Share a Coke and a Song,” will be supported by music-themed spots, social media and a summer-long experiential tour. The campaign will encompass Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Life, advancing a new one-brand strategy that unites multiple varieties together in the same marketing.


Agencies on the campaign include Wieden+Kennedy, Portland for creative; Universal McCann for media;Arc Worldwide for shopper marketing; Cornerstone for music; Fast Horse for PR and FortyFour and Irban Group for e-commerce. Coke plans to extend its campaign to mobile by encouraging consumers to use the Shazam app to scan specially marked 20-ounce bottles and in-store signage. That will allow users to record a 15-second digital lip-sync video that can be shared on social media using the hashtag #ShareaCoke, according to the brand.


This post was originally viewed on gdusa.

Ten Things You Should Do Now To Get More Clients

I get tired of fielding questions around how to get more clients, so I’ve decided to write an article on things you need to do right now before going online and asking, “Help. How do I get more clients?”

Before you go hire a business coach or sales person, enroll in an online course, follow a get rich quick scheme, do this first. Warning, this is a long list of things to do. No easy answers, no quick fixes, but the bare minimum of what you need to do before looking for more help. Remember, people hire who they know, who they like and who they trust. So time to get known.

1. Build a website. State what you do clearly, then back it up with great examples. Show me. Don’t tell me. Make sure the site is responsive, avoid anything that will slow down or impair the ability for someone to navigate your site. This includes: Cinemagraphs, parallax effects, tricky animation or unconventional interfaces. A simple hamburger menu with the following will work: work, about, contact. Use a legible and neutral typeface. Limit the number of colors you use. Have a simple logo. If you don’t have one, just typeset your name in Helvetica Bold using upper/lower case. Make your site SEO friendly. Name the images on your site with descriptive names. “Untitled” or “Final_final_03” doesn’t count as being descriptive. Instead, try “Los-Angles-Design-Branding-Anime-Expo”. Basically, help Google classify the images so that if someone is searching for you, they can find you.

2. Update your LinkedIn profile. Start with having a professionally shot photo. Keep it simple (white, grey or black backdrop). It’s worth the investment since you’ll be able to use this elsewhere. Ask yourself, would I hire me based on this photo? Would I dive deeper into this persons’ profile? Do they appear professional, credible and friendly? Is this someone I can trust with my money? Is this someone I can see myself being around for a long period of time?

Write a captivating headline instead of a job title. Focus on a user/customer benefit vs describing what you do. What do you do for them? An example could be “I help small brands look like big brands.”

Update your education, work history, awards and accolades. Get a few, well written, but sincere testimonials.

3. Get on Behance. Have 3-5 in-depth case studies of outstanding work. Make sure they’re labeled and tagged appropriately to make sure others can find you. Keep the photography or mock-ups simple to make your work shine. Where appropriate, document the creative process. Put the time and energy into designing every component so that it looks as attractive (and expensive) as possible. Look at your work through the lens of a prospective client. Would this excite them? Could they envision working with you through the work that you presented? Is the thinking clear? Are you focused on craftsmanship and detail? Is your typography excellent?

Not sure about the impact of Behance on your sales leads? Watch this video with Farm Design Founder Aaron Atchison.

4. Ask for referrals. Reach out to current and past clients and ask them for a referral. Tell them that you’re growing your business and have additional capacity to take on more work, that you’d appreciate any referrals or recommendations to anyone that could use your services. If they know someone, offer to contact them directly vs. leaving it in their hands to follow through. People are busy after all and you don’t want to add any additional work on their plate.

Why would you say this? One, it’s fun to share exciting news. Two, they won’t worry about sharing you since you are growing your team. Some clients actually do worry that you won’t be available any more, or that you’ll become more expensive as a result. You can address by saying that, “Yes, our rates are going up, but I appreciate your business and loyalty. I will do my best to work within your budget moving forward and will give you preferential pricing.” Lastly, people don’t always think to refer you. It’s just not top of mind. So if you want something, you have to be willing to ask for it.

5. It’s old fashioned, but have a business card and use as a tool to engage with others. Keep it simple and tasteful. Make sure you say what you do and that your contact info is legible. Other than that, avoid using additional photography, illustration of artwork on your card. It’s a name card and not a billboard. Use 1-2 typefaces (max). When you are at social functions and have an opportunity to meet a prospective client, don’t give them your card. Instead, ask for theirs. Say, “I’d love to follow up with you after this event. Do you have a card?” When they give your their card, hand them yours.

It’s more important to get their contact info than to give them yours. This way, you can follow up vs. waiting by the phone or inbox for them to reach out. The next business day, follow up by connecting with them on LinkedIn. Add a short note reminding them of who you are. Keep it short and simple. Close the note by inviting further dialogue if there’s interest. You could close with something like, “If you would like to continue our dialogue about rebranding your company, I would love to help. Please let me know.”

6. Join communities and organizations. Be active in both social groups (Facebook and LinkedIn) and trade organizations. Chances are, there’s a professional organization within a few miles of where you are located (AIGARGD (In Canada), Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Meet up groups, etc…). Build relationship with people without trying to sell. Find out more about who they are, goals and challenges. The people that you form a genuine relationship will become your best resource for leads, people and resources. This is a long term activity that will not appear to be helpful or productive in the short term. If it’s online, post relevant articles. If it’s in person, volunteer to help. You can do simple things like set-up or clean up an event. You can help find speakers or be one yourself. Whatever you do, make an investment in the community to which you belong.

Here are some others you can join: Futur NetworkFutur Feedback/CritFutur Pro Members($75/mo.).

7. Invest in a good interchangeable lens camera (ILC or DSLR) and start taking pictures. Take photos of everything you do, places you go and things you see. Why buy a camera? One, your eye will become much more aware of composition, color and lighting. Two, you’ll learn a new skill. Three, you’ll be motivated to visit new places and do exciting things. Four, you’ll start to learn the value of having beautiful photography and how powerful a single image can be. Five, your social media posts will look much more interesting. I’ve had good results with the Panasonic Lumix cameras Gh4, Canon 5d Mk III (or even their entry level Rebel line), Sony A7s and Sony A 6500.

8. Read these 10 books:

9. Subscribe/listen to these 10 podcasts:

10. Watch these 10 videos:

Congratulations, if you’ve made it this far. If you’re thinking to yourself, yeah, I’m doing all of this and I have a ton of leads but am having trouble closing prospects. Or, if you struggle with overcoming objections or pricing work, you might want to consider the new Business Bootcamp we just launched. Click here for the details.

Finally, find a mentor and offer to work for free (for a period of time). Apply your skillset to help someone you admire. Reach out to them and offer to help them with something specific that taps into your strengths. Getting access to someone that you really look up to can change the way you think, but it can also open doors for future opportunities. You never know where this will lead.

This article originally appeared on Futur’s Website. You can hear more from Furtur’s Chris Do at the VMA Design Conference on June 15th in San Francisco. Join us.

How Mixed Reality will change your perception of public and private spaces

We live surrounded by messages and we consume them everyday in private and public spaces. Communication streams hit us everywhere from the brands of the clothing we wear to signs on the street, instructions on the oven, traffic lights, etc. Anywhere the eye can see it’s likely to see an ad or intentional message. MDI estimates a normal American consumes around 4,000 to 5,000 ads a day but that doesn’t even count all the other visual clues and indicators we see and seek with a purpose (i.e directions, bathroom signs, exit signs, etc.).

In this abundance of messages we have learned to navigate through them and we have almost become numb to their effects. Just like users tend to ignore banners online we ignore street signs if we know where we’re going or we ignore traffic lights if we are not driving. All these messages visually clutter our environment by targeting everybody when in reality they are only relevant to some of them. With the arrival and spread of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality a few things can be expected to change.

At the risk of describing a dystopian future I believe traditional communication platforms will be the first to feel the burn with the arrival of these new devices and that they will soon affect the design of private and public spaces as we know them.

How — Information depth in Mixed Reality

To disrupt everyday communication platforms and therefore our living spaces, Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality devices will need to follow a series of principles and perceptive rules so users can immediately assimilate how they work and see its value. Just like with any other new device the golden rule will be familiarity plus progressive enhancement. Find a hook and little by little it will become a habit. To achieve this I believe Mixed Reality devices will operate at three different levels of our reality.

1. Anchored to your view

Your most personal space ever that won’t ever be occupied by anything other than what the user decides (maybe notifications / alerts).

2. Anchored to objects to reveal contextual info.

Objects will trigger their own interfaces depending on the user and their intent. For example the interior of a car will be different if you are the person driving it or sitting in the passenger seat.

3. Anchored to physical spaces to reveal extra info.

Street signs, landmarks and any other physical representation will potentially be enriched by MR and AR.

From context to intent — A mindset change

Since the users are the platform themselves physical spaces will no longer need to be designed around static platforms and the contextual clues that normally feed UX studies will become irrelevant. Context (demographic information, time of day, location, etc) will no longer be the only source of information used to define UX.

A given space can have distinct meanings to different people. When designing spaces different types of use are prioritized and that is translated into its design. Take an airport for example, its primary goal is to get people through a series of planned steps (checking to boarding) and its spatial design and signage is articulated accordingly.

However the goal of a given space is not always that clear and its type of use isn’t either. What’s relevant to you if you are in the middle of a street? Everybody around you shares the same geographical context but depending on their purpose their attention will be focused on different aspects. Are you looking for a subway station or are you waiting to cross a crosswalk? Different purposes will seek different signals.

With the introduction and mainstream adoption of MR devices the current paradigm is likely to experience a structural change. As soon as the individual people become the platform, physical spaces will no longer need to display lots of messages for different uses. Instead, users will shape their space according to their current intent, independent from their geographical context. Walking in the street will be a different experience if you are trying to find a restaurant or if are trying to catch a Pokemon.

Private spaces are also designed based on contextual assumptions. Apartments for example are organized according to the most common living patterns (sleep, rest, leisure, dine). Most living rooms for instance are organized around entertainment- last century it was the radio and more recently it’s been the television.

Cars are probably the best example of contextually designed physical layout due to their limited space and capabilities (mi4 car interaction with map). Traditionally there are up to 3 main roles in a car, the driver, the passenger, and the cargo. The driver needs focus and has total control, the passenger shares some controls with the driver (complementary to the driving experience) like maps, music and heating and AC and the passengers in the back seats have no control whatsoever and only sometimes have their own individual entertainment sets.

Cars dashboard and interior experiences are defined by their physical limitations. Now let’s imagine how AR/MR devices could help ease the cognitive load of driving a car. How would a car look if we could define controls and indicators based on your intent? I bet it would be less cluttered and more focused since it wouldn’t need to show every single control at all times. Also voice activated UI will alleviate the cognitive load of presenting every single choice all at once.

By looking at the user intent each space can become what the user requires at a given time with no room for interpretation or messaging hierarchy needed. Intent is ultimately the most accurate description of the user needs and the physical world should be the canvas users look at to meet those needs (instead of their phones).

Drivers will be able to define their experience according to their needs. AI doesn’t need to look fancy, it just needs to work. Photo: Alejandro Gonzalez
Passengers on the other side could totally opt out of the driving experience and focus on entertainment. Photo: Nathan Anderson

Why might this happen?

1.Economic Reasons

The internet made real targeted marketing possible and created better ways to target relevant users with more personal and behaviour based messages. It created digital spaces and introduced new financial models (CPC) helping advertisers getting the most roi out of their budget.

Advertising, for better or worse, will play as big of a role with MR devices as it has done with the internet over the years. With the arrival and popularization of MR, digital spaces will finally break out their physical constraints and find a place out in our world. Media companies will jump at the opportunity to finally being able to talk to the right users in the right places.

2.The Final step to Owning the ecosystem.

Big tech companies are trying to engage customers throughout their most common living scenarios. I.e. Apple has Carplay, Homekit and has pushed for Apple TV since 2007. Google on the other side has Android TV, Android Car and NEST. In the quest for being present throughout the user’s life, tech giants have put their efforts into creating as many devices as necessary to reach the user wherever he’s at, (home, transportation, on the go, exercising). The flexibility and portability of MR devices will render all those devices obsolete making it easier for these companies to be omnipresent.

3.The burden of owning multiple physical platforms

For the most part users update many devices at home once in awhile. A new TV, faster phone, and more powerful computers are just examples. Marketing tells customers they are major breakthroughs in innovation with each new iteration but reality says their evolution is closer to sales cycles than it is to true innovation. While planned obsolescence is not going to go away, a MR device could unify many of the devices we use throughout our day therefore simplifying the device ecosystem we are part of.

Collateral effects on society

If we entertain the idea of communication platforms becoming obsolete, how would that affect us anyway? Back in 1964 Marshall McLuhan suggested that not only the content being delivered by the media affected society but that the medium in which that content was delivered and its characteristics were also affecting society. The internet is a good example of this theory. The mere existence of the medium and its characteristics (immediate transmission and consumption of information anywhere in plenty of affordable devices that allow consumption and creation), is far more important to define the current society than the messages transmitted through it.

With that in mind, if we are able to detach the medium from its physical stationary platforms and liberate public and private spaces of the burden of hosting these devices (tvs, computers, billboards, etc.), what effect would that have in our society? How would “restructuring our living spaces” impact the definition of our society and its members?

Personal shared spaces and privacy

Considering experiences are better enjoyed when shared with others the adoption of MR/AR would also redefine how social events are experienced in a group. A physical shared space in a group would not be fully shared since each individual would be able to define the space based on their personality, intent and needs. How much of that digital entity is shared among users vs what other parts are strictly private would be up to each person.

As we expand our digital profile to our physical reality those levels of privacy would define what other users know about us and also what 3rd parties could use to better target their messages to us. If you find yourself on the hunt for Thai food in the middle of the city and as part of your profile you indicated you’re allergic to nuts the results displayed in your field of view should be defined by your needs.

A clutter free world

One of the most exciting prospects of this future scenario is the idea of removing persistent callouts from the urban layout. What would a city without billboards look like? What could be defined as an essential part of our cities if we could redefine them without the burden of indicators, marketing callouts, traffic signals and any other unnecessary message now present?

Advertising was first introduced to the Times Square area in the early 1920s. Since then Times Square has become almost a pilgrimage destination for tourist visiting NYC from all over the world. What once was considered advertising today has become part of the culture and identity of the city. When MR/AR devices become mainstream, will we consider Times Square a vintage reminiscence of a past time?

What will happen when people are able to individually recreate visual experiences equally as impressive or without the need of a physical set up?

And specifically when looking at private spaces…

What would your living room look like without a TV?

This post originally appeared here Hacker Noon

Data and Design: How to Tell Stories that Get Heard


By: Theresa Christine

The way we consume information is changing at a rapid pace. As a kid, you went to the library and flipped through encyclopedias for a research paper. Then the internet put even more information within grasp. Now, videos from around the world are right in the palm of your hand, literally.

But because we are bombarded with information daily, it often means we tune things out. So how can designers clear out the mess and actually reach people with their work?

Jessica Bellamy knows this struggle all too well. After fighting to have her work heard, the Adobe Creative Resident and Designer sought a more effective way to share information.

“As a college student who was constantly writing long papers on topics that intersected with race, I understood that no matter how well-written my papers were they were still going to go unread,” she said. “I wanted to find new avenues to have meaningful and transformative conversations about race, so I started making some of my papers into infographics.”

Jessica developed a way to harness information to tell visual and personalized stories, especially when it comes to ethnomathematics—the relationships between culture and data. It’s not merely about using charts or graphs, though. “People appreciate a visual narrative rather than just a data visualization; however, from a design perspective, beauty should never be the only goal,” she stated. “Aesthetics should never be placed above function. Data can be made less intimidating by incorporating allegorical illustrations that speak to the issue.”

While some creatives may shy away from numbers, she insists it’s an integral part of design. Graphic designers use the golden ratio when creating layouts, and architecture and product design couldn’t exist without data.

Jessica also highlighted the crucial role math plays in the industry. “Its role is to be accurate and well-researched,” she explained. “It also must be accountable to the negative or positive effect of the design narrative.”

Naturally, as an infographic designer, Jessica loves complex problem solving and system design. This led her to create the infographic wheel, a tool which would allow people to create more effective infographics—what she called her most exciting and challenging project to date.

“To create the infographic wheel I had to do weeks of research and experimentation,” she said. She read through several books and referred to multiple web portfolios, compiling a master list of ways to create this type of visual experience. “Once I had a list of 113 infographic layouts I started categorizing them based on use. I also began to identify the types of data that typically were associated with each of those layouts.”

The result? A wheel which features a refined list of 36 essential, familiar layouts to use when creating an infographic.

Social change drives her work, which helps topics like race become a part of the conversation—a conversation which engages people, one they’ll actually pay attention to. Jessica even started her own video series, Designing from the Margins, about the intersections between men and women of color and design. “I’m hoping to find as many Creative ways to both inspire conversations around race as well as instill pride in Black people,” she said. “The content that I’ve created acts as a mechanism for reconciliation and healing, which is a result that I’ve not always had the opportunity to work towards with design.”

It might be a slow process, but it’s important to continue breaking down the barriers and highlighting the work of people of color. “When we start to recognize the many contributions of Black and Brown people,” Jessica mentioned, “we begin to dismantle our internal bias that limits whose faces we show in our designs, whose perspective is explored in our work, and whose voice is heard through our projects.”

This work is invaluable, especially when it’s no secret the design industry isn’t exactly the most welcoming for people of color or women. Jessica’s advice to them? “Collect mentors, eat as much media as you can, and get past your self-doubts by finding your ‘why,’” she advised. “You are limitless.”

Jessica Bellamy who will be speaking on June 15 at the VMA Design Conference in San Francisco as part of San Francisco Design Week.


Theresa Christine

Theresa entered the world of design through The Dieline. With a background in writing and journalism, she has a passion for discovery and cultivating human connections. Her work for The Dieline is a constant journey to deeply understand all facets of the design process and to investigate what makes designers tick. Theresa’s writing has taken her snorkeling in between the tectonic plates in Iceland, horseback riding through a rural Brazilian town, and riding an octopus art car at Burning Man with Susan Sarandon as part of a funeral procession for Timothy Leary (long story). When not writing, she is planning her next trip or taking too many pictures of her cat.


Whiskey Series Takes Inspiration From Wild West


Born in upstate New York but “like many freedom loving Americans before him,” Josh Jevons made the journey west. Now based in Denver CO, Jevons has used this as an inspiration for packaging for the Grand Teton Distillery that captures the spirit of the Wild West.


The series visualizes stories and myths of legendary pioneers, frontiersmen and adventurers of the wild American west. Says Jevons: “From Teddy Roosevelt’s dagger-clad bout with a puma to a bloodthirsty manhunt by Blackfoot tribesmen, these labels celebrate the western spirit of adventure, tenacity and grit.”


The labels feature custom diecuts and metallic ink, and feature custom illustrations and handcrafted type. Continues Jevons: “The aesthetic is intended to communicate the rugged nature of the stories as well as the place in which the whiskeys are made, the Teton mountains, while maintaining a modern feel.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

Jessica Bellamy – Adobe Creative Residency Recipient Tells Her Story

Winning an Adobe Creative Residency is no small feat. This year, Adobe increased the program to six residents, including two from Germany, but it is still highly competitive. Because the perks are pretty incredible: The software company provides a salary with health benefits, full access to its Creative Suite, relevant hardware, travel to Adobe MAX and other conferences and mentorship from established creatives in your field. You get to stay where you already live, you get creative freedom … it’s kind of like having a Medici on your side for a year.

So what does it take to earn one of these coveted spots? As the 2017 group of residents have settled into their year, I asked three of them, Aundre Larrow, Jessica Bellamy and Natalie Lew, to describe their work, how the residency has enabled them to lengthen their creative reach and what advice they have for future residency applicants.

Here is the interview with Jessica Bellamy who will be speaking on June 15 at the VMA Design Conference in San Francisco as part of San Francisco Design Week.

Jessica Bellamy, Graphic Designer

Courtesy of Adobe

Adobe’s Description: Graphic designer Jessica Bellamyof Louisville, Kentucky, is a translator of ideas. Her work tackles the challenge of communicating complex service and policy information from non-profits, to the general public. During her residency, Bellamy plans to work towards design-focused social change. Her plan is to create a toolkit for non-profits to tell their stories and help designers learn how to work with the non-profits in new ways.

1) What was the first thing you did when you heard you got the residency?

I was with my friend Angela when it happened. We were on our way to Zanzibar to play pinball to peel some of the stress off of the day. My phone rang. I was very professionally excited on the phone and then promptly screamed once the call was over. I felt like I was in a movie. The sun was setting, the air was warm, and a playful 90s hip-hop song was in the background. We weren’t allowed to talk publicly about being selected for the residency until the official announcement, so this instantly became the most thrilling secret I’ve ever had.

2) Tell me about some projects that you plan to work on this year?

One of my focuses is hackathons, and I’ve been leading Graphic Ally Hackathons across the country this year. The hackathons are a collaboration among creatives, a nonprofit/community group that needs an infographic, and myself. As a professional infographic designer for social change initiatives, I’ve been teaching designers how to make hand-drawn infographics, as well as how to embed principles of conscious and responsible design and data equity into design work. 

Already, I’ve completed three Graphic Ally Hackathons. I’ve done one in Detroit, MI, at the Allied Media Conference; one in Louisville, KY, for AIGA Louisville’s Design Week; and one in San Francisco, CA, at Chronicle Books. I’ll be facilitating more sessions in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Los Angeles before the end of my residency, and I may schedule two more in 2018.

In regards to motion graphics, I’m also making a shareable social media video series that teaches people how to replicate successful social change projects. These videos feature “Bubble,” a living and breathing infographic that morphs into maps, icons, charts and more. I’ve worked within communities for years now as a community organizer and as an equity-focused designer. It has been my dream to consolidate suggestions for policy change and addressing local problems into short, digestible tutorials. This Creative Residency is me living my dream.

3) How much of that plan was made possible (or at least a lot easier) because of this residency?

All of it. If it wasn’t for this residency, I would never have had the opportunity to create the motion graphics series nor share my skills on such a national level. Adobe gives me a generous amount of financial support as I work on my project, and connects me to software experts and esteemed designers when I have questions, need feedback or if there is an opportunity for collaboration. I also have an array of advisors and mentors with a variety of different skill sets that check in with me regularly. This has been an amazing experience and a huge opportunity for creative growth and development.

4) Thinking from the perspective of your own work, or any other inspiration, what does being “creative” mean to you?

Being creative means being ingenuitive and brave. Creatives are resourceful and inventive people who see possibilities in their failures. 

5) Why do you think Adobe does this program? What’s in it for them?

Adobe created this program because it fosters informal feedback cycles and shares skills between creatives internationally. The Creative Residency also creates a personalized method of showcasing new ways to use their design software. 

6) If you were to give advice to creators who are going to apply for next year’s residency, what would you say?

Your proposal should be and do four things. It should 1) be ambitious but realistic, 2) build off of your unique skills and point of view, 3) challenge your creative process, and 4) be about something that you’re passionate. If you get the outstanding opportunity to be a Creative Resident, be excited to work your butt off. 

Writing about the creators and data behind digital entertainment. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors, where this article originally appeared, are their own.
Jessica Bellamy who will be speaking on June 15 at the VMA Design Conference in San Francisco as part of San Francisco Design Week.

VMA’s Design Conference – The Story

By Barbara Silverman

It just seems to get better each year! The VMA Design Conference was held on June 14, as part of the opening day of AIGA’s SF Design Week. This year the conference was moved to Bespoke, an amazing new hi-tech venue conveniently located in the center of town, in the Westfield Shopping Center.

The event began as our high energy hostess-with-the-mostest, Lauren Elliot of Wicked Good Print Partners (WGPP) kicked off the sessions, introducing the “Large Man” and creative visionary Aaron Draplin of The Draplin Design Co., who shocked the audience with his unconventional delivery along with creative approaches to earning a living in design.

Dava Guthmiller from Noise 13 facilitated the recovery, discussing a sane yet creative approach to achieving meaning in a new brand identity. It was a perfect segue to Brian Dougherty who filled us in with stories of his quests for environmental and social impact design. Who would have through that packaging light bulbs could be both fun and environmentally sound?

David Hogue from Google presented some thought provoking ponderings as he asked us to consider what’s next? Where is all this going? And what should we really expect from our connected world in the future?

Corey Lewis of Black Flag Creative set his pirate ship afloat as he reviewed his methods of smooth sailing when dealing with design that would span many different channels.

Among the many highlights was IDEO’s Neil Stevenson. Stevenson’s mission is to understand creativity and find new ways to enable and encourage creativity in others. He shared some of his own stories, about stories to help us learn to apply storytelling in the service of creativity.

The founder of Social Media Trackers, Mark Schwartz opened the eyes of many of us as he shared real life experiences of how amazing Facebook can be for not only personal (how he met his wife) but business success. And he has the data to prove it.

When Neal Haussel followed, he shared what he believes to be the future of packaging, considering the rise of e-commerce. His Unboxing videos were both amusing and convincing.

Barbara Stephenson from 300FEETOUT offered us a lighthearted look into the workings of a functioning design studio and how to keep the creativity flowing. It was the perfect segue for Michael Osborne of Michael Osborne and one of our regulars, who challenged us to find our creativity and keep it flowing. Perhaps that is easy for Michael but it’s not always that easy for many of us and we certainly appreciated his insights.

We had a fascinating discussion about AR and print by Erica Aiken of Rods and Cones and Cindy Walas of Walas Younger, LTD. They proved that amazing possibilities are now within reach with their own magazine “Out of Chaos” where attendees got to experience AR first hand.

Zooka Creative’s Director of Strategy, Santiago Sinisterra provided an overview of what a brand really is and then went on to share a fascinating case study of the rebranding of Union City. He was swamped with questions in the panel discussion that followed.

Peleg Top closed the day by enrapturing us all with his own story. We were almost there with him as he shared his history that led to a 2-year sabbatical from our overly connected world and then the wisdom he acquired from it. He focused on how we can get more out of life by having less.

Among the bonuses of this conference were the breaks! Along with visits to the wonderful exhibitors, attendees had ample opportunity to mingle and learn from each other.

It was quite a day. Word on the street is that this event was clearly one of great inspiration and education and a perfect kick-off to SF Design Week!

See ya next year!



Barbara Silverman is the Director of Education at VMA (barbara@vma.bz).


GET GONE – Building a Brand that Inspires Adventure

There are endless possibilities at your fingertips when you travel, and if you’re like us you want to go past the touristy surface and delve into the culture of the place you’re visiting. Think of Get Gone as the “Airbnb” of food travel — connecting travelers with hosts who want to share their love of food and local tradition. Hosts can list their tours on the site, similar to someone listing their home on Airbnb.

Noise 13 was excited to take on a project that is so close to our hearts, developing a full brand identity for Get Gone including a logo, color palette, photography style and website.


The client wanted to provide an authentic and local experience for both hosts and visitors alike. This is reflected in the branding, imagery and overall style of the website. The spoon-compass logo, accompanied by rustic type, conveys an organic feeling and personifies the brand. The muted color palette brings sophistication and was inspired by vintage travel maps, further solidifying the theme. Vibrant, romantic photography was selected to excite the eye and make mouths water. The images you find throughout the site reflect real experiences that are captured while traveling.

It was important to keep the visuals consistent, so we developed a booklet that would guide the hosts through the best practices for success — including what makes a good profile image and photo styles for tour postings. This booklet ensures the host is well equipped to navigate the site on their own and provides them with the tools to create a profile that maintains brand integrity.


The ultimate goal of the website was to build an intuitive, user-friendly experience for both hosts and guests. The Get Gone brand is personable and down to Earth, so it was important that the website not be too flashy or tech-centric like some of its competitors. We also needed to consider audiences in countries where the Internet may not be easily accessible, therefore the user experience needed to be seamless and pain free.

Keeping all of this in mind, we thought out the functionality in great detail, and began by crafting an in-depth user flow chart before diving into front and back end development. We designed an account page for hosts to easily create their own profile, list tours and keep their information up to date. A robust search system allows visitors to easily filter through a myriad of tour categories to find one that best suits their appetite.


It’s always satisfying to see a project come to life and Get Gone is no exception. Our team stakes a lot of interest in preserving local food traditions and so it is a pleasure to work with innovators who are making a difference. We look forward to watching Get Gone continue to grow and keep tradition alive!

Dava Guthmiller of Noise 13  will be presenting at the VMA Design Conference in June 14.

So You Think You Can’t Write: 8 Writing Resources for Non-Writers

By Dara Fontein

Can you draw? When asked this question, most people scoff and answer a definitive “no.” However, take a pencil, connect it to paper, and leave a mark. You have drawn. Writing is a skill much like drawing in this sense. Many believe that they simply cannot write, or that they aren’t a “writer,” when the truth is that they really just believe they are not a good writer.

For content marketers, writing is obviously an integral component to most, if not all, aspects of the job. Everything from drafting blog posts to crafting the perfect video script requires the ability to write. While of course the act of stringing words together to form sentences can satisfy the basic requirements, writing is a skill that with time, dedication, and a desire to improve, can be mastered to an exceptional level. Just like the perfect set of graphite pencils helps with  drawing, there are numerous tools available to help you improve your chances of writing success. The following resources will help those of you who don’t consider yourselves writers (yet!) create enviable content that just begs to be shared.

Book it

An integral part of the writing process is inspiration, and the top source of inspiration for any writer is reading. As Stephen King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Just as you schedule yourself time for other career development and education purposes, make room in your calendar for the time to read. As content strategist Mike Hanski shares in his Huffington Post article, reading can help you become a better writer. When you read you:

  • Find inspiration
  • Gain new knowledge
  • Learn your genre better
  • Expand your vocabulary for your own works
  • Understand language better
  • Learn from real gurus of writing
  • Reveal the secrets of this job in practice

Two books that I have personally found not only to help the technical aspects of my writing, but which have breathed new life into my passion for the craft, are:

Everybody Writes

If you are in content marketing, Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes is a must-read. With every sentence in this writing guide worthy of repetition and consideration, Handley provides a thorough and approachable guide that proves that yes, everybody can write. She nails it on the head for content marketers who insist they can’t write with the following passage:

“Good writing can be learned—the way trigonometry or algebra or balancing a balance sheet is a skill most of us can master. In an essay at the Neiman Journalism Lab, ‘How I Faced My Fears and Learned to Be Good at Math,’ Matt Waite writes: ‘The difference between good at math and bad at math is hard work. It’s trying. It’s trying hard. It’s trying harder than you’ve ever tried before. That’s it.’”

Bird by Bird

Whether writing a blog post on social media strategy, or the great american novel, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird provides a narrative on the writing process from beginning to end. One of the biggest assets of any content marketer is creativity, and Lamott offers insight into ways anybody, natural born writer or not, can foster this into their writing. Lamott declares that “writing is nothing more nor less than a sensemaking mechanism for life,” which most likely relates to the core principles of your content marketing strategy. You aim for clear, easily digestible, but memorable writing, and Bird by Bird will help guide you along this path.

Blog busters

It’s safe to say that one of the key parts of your content marketing strategy is most likely a blog. As Social Media Examiner declares, “Blogs are your home base; they are the center of your content marketing system. Whether you’re a small business or a Fortune 100 company, blogs should be at the heart of your content marketing because blogs fuel social media, search optimization, and the sales process.”

However, blogging obviously requires a certain level of writing prowess, so if you consider yourself a non-writer you might feel like you need some help in creating quality content. Thankfully, the following resources are available to guide you through the blog writing process painlessly.

Portent’s Content Idea Generator

The first step in writing a blog post is, of course, coming up with a topic to write about. While reading, brainstorms, and other organization’s content can act as great inspiration for your ideas, if you feel that your genius well has temporarily dried up, Portent’s Content Idea Generator can be a saviour. Simply enter the subject you want to write about (such as “social media”) and click the arrow submit button. This will generate ideas for blog topics, and even if none of the suggestions are exactly what you are looking for, they will offer a solid jumping off point for your writing.


Called “the bible of content marketing” by VentureBeat, Copyblogger is a high-quality site that all content marketers should have bookmarked. The Copyblogger blog provides advice and guidance from top experts in the field of content marketing, which has helped them gain the title as “the most popular content marketing and writing blog on the planet.” The editors lay it out by sharing what their readers can expect from Copyblogger by understanding that:

  • It’s not (just) about SEO.
  • It’s not (just) about social media.
  • It’s not (just) about blogging or email marketing or conversion.

“Today, it’s always a bigger picture. You need to understand all the facets of effective content marketing, and we cover the gamut, daily… for free.”

Some of our favourite posts from Copyblogger, which will help non-writers master the craft, include:

Content Marketing Institute

The Content Marketing Institute is a comprehensive resource for all social media specialists and content marketers. The site offers tons of resources such as: career advice, research areas, event listings, training resources, a magazine, podcast, and consulting services. Looking under the “content creation” tag, you’ll find numerous articles and posts from content marketing experts offering guides on writing and general content creation. Here are a few of our favorite posts from this section of the site, but you’ll easily find countless other resources by exploring the site yourself:


Crew matches creatives, designers, and developers with high quality companies that require their services. As a destination for so many within the realm of content marketing, the Crew blog offers a wealth of information for such professionals. The post that solidified Crew’s position on this list is one of their most famous, entitled Write ugly: How to write 20 posts in 2 days.

This post is especially groundbreaking for those who don’t consider themselves writers, as it emphasizes the practice of writing fast, and with mistakes. Author Jory Mackay focuses on the free-writing approach as a way for writers and “non-writers” to crack through whatever is holding them back from getting words down on paper. As Mackay explains, the key principles here are:

  • Just start working (and don’t stop)
  • Set out a block of time to work
  • Write how you think
  • Follow your thoughts

In addition to this key post, Crew has a number of posts in their repertoire that will undoubtedly contribute to your writing success:

Hemingway App

Hemingway App is one that I’ve discussed before, but which deserves another mention. This free tool allows you to copy and paste in a block of text, which will be evaluated in its readability. As explained on the site, “Hemingway makes your writing bold and clear. It’s like a spellchecker, but for style. It makes sure that your reader will focus on your message, not your prose.” As all content marketers definitely aim for the focus to be on the message rather than the construction of said message, the Hemingway App is an invaluable tool.

Hemingway App

CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

One of the most significant components of any piece of writing is the title or headline. Unfortunately, it can also one of the most difficult parts of the writing process. While eight out of 10 people will read a headline, only two out of those 10 will continue reading the actual article. Due to this, you want to ensure your headline is working for you, rather than against you, and CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer can help you do just that. To find out if your headline makes the cut, you just need to enter it in the submission box and the Headline Analyzer will give you a score based on quality, SEO, social shareability, and increased traffic potential.

Headline Writing

Now that you have all of these resources at your fingertips, it’s time to confidently put these fingers to keyboard and write on!