Brief project retrospectives – told from the viewpoint of a dog-eared business card – pulled at random from the sample pile.
PART ONE IN A SERIES
Summerfield was billed as a premier, upscale apartment complex. Nicely appointed, large and spacious rooms with surprising amenities. The client was awesome to work with and hired Phillips Design to do everything – identity, signage, promotional, newspaper ads, and radio.
Business card is two PMS colors, printed on a colored, cast-coated Kromkote stock. Mini folders, floor plan inserts, other related collateral were produced with a similar look. We worked with a small PR agency to coordinate newspaper and radio for an exciting grand opening. The theme was “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and the radio ads featured a Robin Leach impersonator. It was a great success – the complex was almost full shortly thereafter.
LET’S TAKE A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE
The owner of a competing apartment complex attended the grand opening – and won the very substantial grand raffle prize. And took it. (Classy!) I had to take a banner/flag maker to small claims court for failing to deliver – and we never got our money back. (Ouch.) We also had to modify the beautiful calligraphy (at the very last moment, of course) to make it drive-by readable on signage. This required changing everything. (Stop the presses!)
Waaay baaack. Maybe there was a Macintosh 128 in the office, but all art and production was done by hand.
Print Broker, Sacramento
For many years, I insisted on working through an independent print broker on big, complicated jobs, especially annual reports and catalogs. Nothing’s better than having a competent rep on your side who knows what to look for, knows when to stop the press and knows how to negotiate costs. This person will save your ass – and your sanity – and Robin was the better than the best, she was the bestest. No… the bestissimus.
The identity is the proverbial CMYK register mark, but twisted nicely. Printed four-color process on white Kromekote, solid red on the back. Still modern. Timeless. Really proud of this one, considering how long ago it was done.
ONE OF LEE’S OFT-REPEATED, EYE-ROLLING MANTRAS
“Going on a press check is like being in the jungle; You never know what you’re going to run into – and you’re always afraid.”
ANOTHER OF LEE’S TOO-MANY-TIMES-REPEATED MANTRAS
“If you’re not afraid on a press check, you’re either a fool, a damn fool, or a liar.”
Early color Macintosh, FreeHand 3 production, images still stripped into position.
Discovery Gardens – Reinventing the Potato
Phillips Design did a lot of agriculture and biotech for several years, including several forays into the world of potatoes. Discovery Gardens genetically bred a unique yellow potato – that was going to revolutionize the industry! It was bred to have a yellow-buttery look and texture. We were privy to extensive marketing studies with the tabulated results of numerous taste testings and focus groups.
A major food industry agency in the Midwest got the retail packaging, (which was heavily influenced by focus groups) and this was done first. The brand identity was then reverse engineered, using type and elements from from the plastic packaging. Phillips Design put together the identity, product display placards and a website. The display placards required photography, which ended up being an interesting aspect of the project. I mean, how do you make a potato attractive? (But Bill Santos knew how. As in, “Damn, that’s one sexy potato.”)
IN THIS BUSINESS WE SURE DO GET THE PERKS
We finally got real samples of the potato to eat and were very excited to try them. We’re not professional ‘tater tasters with sophisticated potato palates (they actually exist) but we did our own taste test and… Yum, they were damn good eatin.’
Singer Law School
Singer Law School was a new, independent start-up, the brainchild of a dynamic, entrepreneurial individual who was also a lawyer. The school opened in a business facility, built an impressive curriculum and hired some real talent. But the school never really got off the ground – it was closed when the primary backer disappeared. (Yes, disappeared. As in never heard from again.)
Legal logos, in general, tend to be awful (i.e. ugly type, thermography on crappy linen stock). This one got gold foil, a sculptured emboss and a dark blue Pantone on a smooth, cream-colored Cranes Crest. We also produced a curriculum, course catalogs, brochures, etc.
THE VUJA DE PROJECT MOMENT
Sometimes people have a hard time understanding exactly what graphic designers do and the misconceptions can be astounding. Case in point:
We got a call from the school on a Wednesday afternoon, with a request for a large, solid, cast-bronze monument sign of the logo – to be delivered by Saturday at noon. (Three days later.) When we said that wasn’t even remotely possible, it would take much longer, but we could probably do a cut vinyl logo for the glass door. We got this response: “Well, how about cut vinyl for the center, with thirteen 2″ bronze stars surrounding it?” When we said we couldn’t do that either, we don’t know where we would get the 2″ bronze stars, the response was, “You call yourself a graphic designer?!?! What kind of designer doesn’t have solid, cast-bronze stars in stock? In different sizes? No? (Sighs of disappointment…) Then just do the vinyl.” Which we did. No problem.
Sorry, but even to this day we don’t have bronze stars. In stock. In any size. And never will. So don’t ask.
Late 80′s, color Mac.
Eclipse Seed Company, Inc.
Eclipse Seed was started by an former employee of Plant Genetics, another long-time client of ours. He was an experienced plant breeder and all-around great client. The design was to be reminiscent of the classic produce labels used by growers on crates and cardboard boxes.
The project included stationery and packaging labels. The stationery was printed on a heavily textured and flecked stock (can’t remember what, but it was all the rage) with a gloss red pigmented foil and a dark blue PMS color. Came out great and still looks damn good today.
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
The entire job – letterhead, envelopes and business cards – was printed and delivered. It was a perfect job without a single hiccup. (Let’s get ice cream!) But wait… hmmm… something’s not right… okay, the ink color is right… the foil is an exact match… what the hell? OMG, it’s the stock! It’s was the wrong stock – and nobody noticed, not even the client. Turns out the stock – a different color shade from what was ordered – was mislabeled and incorrectly packaged by the paper company. They paid for the reprint. It’s unusual, but it happens.
Early color Mac IIci. FreeHand 3.
More to come…