Creative Client ideas

The following projects are examples of creative ideas that I was able to assist in bringing to fruition. I liked them so much that I decided to showcase them here.

DSC_0089-02Display Case

A colleague at a sister department of the University of Cincinnati was retiring and decided to donate a collection of books to the eMedia Department Library. To welcome his generous contribution and commemorate his accomplishments, the eMedia Director decided to create a display in front of the Library, where we also videotaped a small ceremony marking the occasion.

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The display consisted of many photographs, a printed storyboard, and simulated negatives along with various tangible items for the audience to view. I assembled the visual files in Photoshop and printed them out on our large format printer. Since the sister eMedia department offered the same types of classes as we did, the photographs were chosen to reflect the production processes in video creation. The storyboard mockup contained photos of everyone looking through the donated collection. I enjoyed this project because it was a larger culmination of smaller pieces and really put my photography, post-production, and display skills to work.

Stand Ups

When my colleagues in the Career Services division of our college came to me with the idea of creating life-sized cardboard flyer displays for their events, I jumped at the chance to help them! (Keep in mind, this was over 5 years ago, so cameras didn’t have the resolution they have today.) This presented an interesting challenge.

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Woman08In order to create the stand ups, I used a white paper backdrop in the studio and lit the subjects with a nice soft 3 point lighting. We took a number of shots with and without the poster board. And because of the studio setup, I was able to easily isolate the models from the background in Photoshop. After the clients chose which photos they wanted, I sized the images so that they could be printed at life size (around 5 feet tall) and handed over the files. It was fun seeing them around in the hallways–they really attracted attention!

My favorite tutorial for enlarging jpegs is from PhotoshopSupport.com. I’ve used it over many years to enlarge photos for these life-sized stand ups, posters, glossy photos and more.

Baby Announcement

This was one of my all-time favorite client suggested projects; I couldn’t resist including it here. I was contacted by a client to create a baby announcement in the style of the IronMan Marathon. She provided the photo and I provided the design. This was a quick and easy project to create and very rewarding!

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I always like helping out with the skills I have learned over the years, but when I have a client that has a creative idea it is really exciting! Not only does that allow me to work within the constraints of a vision, but as a creative I have a better idea of what a client wants. Keep those great ideas rolling in!

Branding

The process of branding has been a journey of learning for me over the years. I was taught, through my communications design classes, that certain logos, elements and motifs were generally used to portray a brand for a company. So, when I emerged as a graphic designer in the work force, I was armed and able to create branded packages for the company where I was working.

Taking the thumbnail approach, one of my first projects was to create a business card/letterhead set for an online hardware company. The owners were able to choose a design they liked and we easily sent the files off to the printer.

The University of Cincinnati was where I discovered the ins and outs of a larger, more strategic branding system. I learned how and when to use the UC logo and “sweep” motif, the official colors of the university and the official fonts. From this, I was able to create everything from branded bulletin boards (above two examples) to powerpoint sets (bottom examples, above) to video backgrounds. The branding model here was a very loose, fluid interpretation but also kept strict focus on the voice of the brand.

mgs logoIt was at UC that I was introduced to the idea of “personal branding”: everything you do and create is part of your own brand. I carried this idea straight into freelancing. The first thing I did was to develop a name and logo while I was on a creative hiatus from the business world. Through the Mint Green Studios branding, I developed an Etsy storefront (now closed), Facebook business page, Instagram account, and blog. This allowed me to post content that was more relevant to what I was doing as an artist rather than opening up my personal accounts to the public.

I was also able to work with the Miami University brand standards. These standards were a lot more strict and defined than my previous experiences. Miami used badge elements in their branding, as well as tiny simulated hand-drawn embellishments. I leaned on the larger University Communications for examples and then adapted the designs to work for our own division.

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Through my experiences in branding over the years, I’ve been able to learn how to correctly use a logo and company elements to convey the voice and vision of the place I’m working for. I’ve also learned that consistency in design and voice upholds brand standards while also reinforcing the expectations of customers and audience. I really like working within brand guidelines–as a designer I feel it gives me a framework in which to create my designs.

Digital Solutions

One of my first jobs after earning my Electronic Media Technology degree was as a graphic designer for a jewelry company. At the time, tracing and isolating images in Photoshop were relatively new concepts and we were having fun applying it to marketing materials. One of the strategies this company used was to photograph a whole page of product and then typeset the prices/descriptions on top of the flat image. This yielded great product photography, but didn’t allow for flexibility. If we needed a piece moved, the whole page had to be re-shot.

We were also hiring people, at the same time, to trace and isolate product images in bulk. So, the Charms flyer, for example (below), was a relatively new undertaking for the company. Instead of having to send the jewelry off to the photographer for professional layout, we placed it on the page where we wanted. It was really fun developing themes and adding the charms to the bracelets in Photoshop.

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Our catalogues were developed the same way: lay out the jewelry in rough draft page form, take a low-res photo of the page, send the jewelry and rough layout to the photographer and wait for the high-res images to come in for the background to the typesetting. This time, though, we decided to make the Jackie Kennedy mini-catalogue (excerpt below) in a new way. Low-res images were taken of each piece of jewelry and I created a rough digital mockup of each page in the page layout program. We sent the jewelry off to the photographer, I traced each final image, added drop shadows and added them individually to the catalogue. We could move and alter the page as needed throughout the design process.

Likewise, technology wasn’t advanced enough to show different color options to the consumer on a website. To solve this problem, I developed a Photoshop action that could be run on a gem image after it was traced (examples below). This way, you could take a catalogue page of traced rings, for example, that were all one color and have a set of images that showed all colors without having to photograph all of them again. This enabled the company to show all available product on their website and increase potential sales.

“Photoshopping” is widely known now, but ten tears ago it was a relatively new tool in the smaller industry. These examples show how a simple digital solution can cut costs or save time when applied creatively. I’m proud to be able to say I was able to participate in this revolution so early in the game.