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2011 HOW Live Recap ChicagoI have to admit that I was a little concerned that I’d be disappointed going to the 2011 HOW Design Conference since it was my third consecutive year to go. I hadn’t planned my schedule of sessions ahead of time as I did for Denver and Austin. I wasn’t sure if that was due to the overwhelming amount of sessions offered at the four conferences, or if I had burnt myself out by going too often. The day before the conference I finally decided to nail down my schedule, which I never really stuck to. It forced me to experience the conference in a fresh way.

Get out of your comfort zone. Way out.

Several of the sessions that I attended involved a lot of interactivity from the audience. As uncomfortable as some of those sessions may have been, they proved to be the most memorable and rewarding. The opening keynote with Kristina Robbins and Jo McGinley had the audience doing design yoga, and being aware of how we interact with others. Sam Harrison, one of my favorite speakers from Denver, followed up with teaching us to play, explore and act silly to find inspiration the following morning. What’s not to love about throwing paper planes, pointing and screaming at complete strangers and sniffing Kool-Aid. Peleg Top began his session later that day, by not only forcing you to interact with a total stranger, but to actually brainstorm about your business with them. His session was terrifying and invigorating at the same time particular since it started with everyone laughing for a full minute while looking strangers in the eyes.

I would have loved to see less designers walking out of those sessions when forced to connect with a stranger, but sadly it happened at these three sessions more than any of the others that I attended. I completely understand how intimidating it is to have a conversation with someone you’ve never met, but every time I do it I’m amazed at how awesome most people are. Designers are shy, and I’m no exception. When you’re at HOW shyness doesn’t count. I’ve met some amazing people just from having the courage to be the first person on the dance floor, and you have to learn to take that chance.

Panning for water in a river of gold.

I didn’t have to look hard to find nuggets of inspiration with almost every session having brilliant insight, practical application and “I want to do that” inspiration. Here’s a list of the biggest nuggets I took from all of the sessions that I attended.

  1. “Decoding the Meaning of Design” Michael Cotton & Rob Swan — Break down brand traits to a molecular level and rebuild.
  2. “Color Strategy, Forecasting & Expressions” Jack Bredenfoerder — Color psychology is bullshit. Context gives meaning to color.
  3. “Designing for Icons” Moira Cullen — Iconic brands have the confidence to be simple, honest, and in tune with current trends.
  4. “To Plan or Not to Plan” Luke Mysse — Make big juicy goals that convince others that you’re crazy.
  5. “Being a 24/7 Creative Pro” Steve Gordon — Always be curious and earn your sleep.
  6. “Intro to Marketing for Freelancers” Ilise Benun — Simplify your marketing approach with daily, weekly and monthly tasks.
  7. “I Want to Make a Million Dollars” Monique Elwell — Define your sales funnel.
  8. “Becoming a Hired Gun” Von Glitschka — Show the work you want to do, and most importantly don’t suck.
  9. “Being Available in the Moment” Kristina Robbins and Jo McGinley — Understand how you influence others and situations with your body language.
  10. “Galumphing, Goats on Roofs and Other Revelations to Spark Inspiration” Sam Harrison — Learn to play and be a kid again through your work.
  11. “Creativity” Peleg Top — Infuse your business with what’s important to you, and take chances everyday.
  12. “Fee + Equity: How to Charge Less and Make More” Kevin McConkey — We don’t sell solutions. We minimize the risk for the solution.
  13. “Who Died and Made You Boss?” James Victore — Design doesn’t happen in the studio, production does. Find your muse.
  14. “Lead Generation 101: How to Make Your Site Into a Business-Generating Machine” Mark O’Brien — Develop personas instead of defining a general target market.
  15. “Letter for a Living” Jessica Hische — Learn your type designers not just the foundries that sell their creations.
  16. “Fascinate: How to Persuade and Captivate” Sally Hogshead — Use the right triggers to attract the ideal client. Be the orange ticket.

Put a bird on it.

Twitter BirdSocial media is an important part of any conference experience, but you should use it as a means to make those face-to-face connections. Twitter is perfect for finding out where groups of HOWies are spending time after the sessions close, or for letting people know that you want to meet them in person. This year I sent a tweet a few weeks prior to the event with a list of people I wanted to meet that I’d been following and, more importantly, interacting with on twitter over the past year or two. I met everyone that I intended to meet, and even a few people I didn’t expect to meet. People like David Ashcraft, Kelli Langdon, Jon Sandruck and Cami Travis-Groves are just a handful of the awesome friends that I’ll continue to stay in touch with over the following year. I’ve already begun setting up a list of people that I need to hangout with in Boston next year like Maria Singleton, Jasmine Wabbington and Crystal Reynolds.

Sometimes you have to get pancakes at 2 am.

A big group of old and new HOW friends decided to get pancakes after the Neenah Paper party, and I was fortunate enought to be invited. I could have easily said, “No, I need to go back to my room and salvage the little sleep that I can get before the final morning panels,” but that’s not what the conference is about. The biggest inspiration of the HOW Conference is meeting and connecting with a passionate group of creatives that have the same drive, frustrations and sense of humor. Von Glitschka told me, “This is what the conference is really about.” Getting together with your colleagues, pushing each other to be better and make our industry better is the true spirit of the conference.Where else can you learn that Emeril Lagasse agrees that corned beef hash always slays chicken fried steak?

The new connections that I made, and the old connections that I revisited help me remember why you can never burn out on HOW Live. I decided to take Luke up on his double dog dare, and I’ve set my big juicy goal to speak at HOW Live. In addition to coming to terms with my fear of revolving doors that I developed in 9 days in Chicago, I’ll be developing my presentation skills to engage and inspire in the same way all of the great HOW Live speakers did this year. I hope to meet you next year in Boston if not sooner.

Like what you see feel free to email me at tad@creativesquall.com and don’t forget to follow on Twitter or stalk me on Facebook.

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For part 2 of my interview with Jeni Herberger we talk about creativity, public speaking, and we even talk a little shit. Don’t forget to check out part one.

What was the impetus behind you becoming a more prominent public speaker particular with HOW and AIGA?

It was quite accidental. I get a high or rise out of feeling other people’s energy shift from being negative to being positive, or to see them overcome fears. Fears that I don’t really have. Or to see them be hopeful about something maybe they weren’t ever hopeful about. I can literally feel the charge in a room change when I’m talking about something.

I’ve done it in different arenas throughout my life. When I was a very young adult it was for my family. Making a difference for my family. In front of people that I worked with as a photographer and creative director. And then when my company got big, as far as employees are concerned, it was about making differences in their lives. About feeling that charge, that energy for my clients, too. I’ve always enjoyed it.

And then, somebody said, “Why don’t you talk about it?”

What would you say is the hardest presentation you’ve had to get through and why?

The very first time that I had to give a client presentation, not a speaking presentation, but a client presentation. My partner couldn’t make it, so I just went and did it by myself. I walked in to this very, very corporate office. You’ve seen how I dress. I dress pretty stylishly and not very much like a designer. (laughs) I walk into this corporate office. I’m like “Okay, this is going to go great! This is going to go great!” I look into the room, and it is a boardroom of about I’d say 18-20 men all wearing blue suits, red ties and white shirts. And they’re all at least 45, 50 years old and up. And I literally thought to myself “Oh shit! This is going to be horrible. They are going to slaughter me.” I’m this little girl, all by myself going to give this presentation. So, I walk into the room, and nobody stood up. So, I just stood there. And finally, the CEO goes, “Well, why don’t you have a seat.”

I said, “Well, a lady just entered the room, and not one gentleman stood up. So, I’ll wait until ya’ll decide to do that.”

That’s awesome!

And so at that moment, everything broke and I put myself on equal footing with them. (laughs) I figured if I could tackle that one I could pretty much tackle anything, right?

So, did the presentation end up going well after that?

Oh yeah. We totally won it, and it was awesome. It was great, but I knew that those guys were going to eat me alive. I knew that they were instantly going to take off on a very chauvinistic approach, and I was like “Yeah, this isn’t going to happen.” So, instead of balking and rebelling against being a woman I just totally played into it. (laughs) It was a lot of fun. It’s one of my favorite stories I think to this day.

Tell me a little bit about you’re companies.

I actually own five companies. Because you’re required to box all of these into separate entities, right? But what’s really, really funny about it is the only one that I would consider to be a business in the traditional sense of the word is Big Fish Staffing.

And you know, that was an amazing adventure. An adventure that really brought me to the place that I am today both financially and just in how it is that I go about doing what it is that I do. It was tremendously successful, which is awesome, because it’s afforded me the opportunity to do what I’m doing right now. It’s become a bit of a ministry for me for lack of another word. To where I don’t have to worry about whether I’m making a zillion dollars when I’m out talking to people. I truly get to be a human advocate. You know, a minister, call it whatever it is that you want to call it.

Jeni Herberger Logo

And then, the whole branding yourself is always a very interesting thing. I’m not branding a design firm. I am literally branding me, and that’s a trip and a half to brand yourself. Because it can have a tendency to be a bit on the egotistical side, and you’re like “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I am not quite that egotistical. We gotta humble this thing out a bit.” So, that’s [Jeni Herberger Creative Concepts] another business venture if you will.

And then, we have an avocado farm in Hawaii which is just weird.

That’s not weird.

Well, how many people do you know that have avocado farms? (laughs)

Apparently just one, but I love avocados. So I wouldn’t consider that weird at all. I could see myself having an avocado farm just to be able to eat my product.

(laughs) There you go! We actually yield about 6000 pounds of avocados a year, and it’s so bizarre to literally have the luxury, if you will, to throw avocados away. When you buy them over here on the mainland you spend two and half to three bucks for an avocado, and it tastes like crap in comparison to what comes off of our farm. It’s an organic farm. It’s just so amazing. So, that’s just another business, crazy side venture that we have. We make like $3000 off of it a year. It’s awesome!

Have you had to learn a lot about farming or did you know a lot ahead of time?

I had to learn a lot of it, although what was so funny about it was, the first house that we looked at over there was a coffee farm. And we decided that that wasn’t for us. We didn’t like the location as much. So, then when we started looking around, and we actually found this avocado farm. I started laughing my ass off when we seriously considered doing that, because my dad and his dad were the first people to ever put an avocado on an airplane.

So, back in the day, in San Bernardino County my dad and his dad and my dad’s brother owned Herberger & Sons which was an avocado processing business where they transported them. And they had a crazy idea of putting gourmet avocados on a plane, and sending them to the east coast. Nobody had ever done that before. And so, avocados are in the blood. So hilarious when I bought this farm. I called my dad and I’m like “Oh my god, dad. I’m going back to our roots.” And I never even grew up on an avocado farm.

Give people the space to be creative in the way that they wantThere’s nothing better than seeing your husband who grew up in Spokane, Washington and had never done anything like that with a pickup truck full of chicken shit. And he’s spreading it around 80 trees. (laughs)

But see that’s when you get back to what you’re talking about and creativity. That’s a creative life. And I think that’s something that we can all pull into. What we have to be able to do, is we have to be able to give people the space to be creative in the way that they want to be creative.

Who’s been the biggest influence in your life, particularly who influenced you to go the route that you did?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, my dad, and right next to him my mom, because they’re so connected as a couple. I grew up in an all male family, meaning I have all brothers. And my parents were pretty traditional, but they had one of the first marriages I’ve ever seen that was truly a partnership where it wasn’t about roles. It was about getting it done. And my dad realized very early on that I had a pretty good head on my shoulders, and not only that (laughs) he called me a hustler. I’d go after things. And so simply because I didn’t have a penis that did not matter to my father. He pushed me in the most loving and wonderful ways, yet always expected me to act like a lady. He didn’t ever want me to change that aspect, but he wanted me to be able to conquer the world however I saw fit.

And right next to him was always, always my mom with that big smile on her face going “Yep! You can do it. You can do anything you want to do.”

Do you find that you have that same influence on your kids?

I hope so! I think so. It’s always hard when you’re in the moment when you’re with you’re kids, because you sit there and you go “Oh my god, do they really love me? Do they really know everything that I’m doing for them and how hard I’m trying.” You know, being in it is very, very difficult. I think the joy comes once you’re outside of it, and you get to look back. And you get to go “Oh thank god they are well-adjusted!” (laughs)

If you’d like to find out more about Jeni visit  jeniherberger.com, or follow on twitter @jeniherberger. And be sure to tune in to Talk Story to hear her do the interviewing!

Like what you see feel free to email me at tad@creativesquall.com and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve put imagination in action.

For the first interview in the Untapped Creativity Series, I was lucky enough to interview the brilliantly talented Jeni Herberger. If you aren’t familiar with Jeni’s show Talk Story, then you need to be. She hosts a blog talk show where she talks to some of the brightest minds in the graphic design world. Often on her show she has brought up the very idea that creativity is something that is present in all of our careers. She even mentioned that she wants her accountant or surgeon to be the most creative person that she knows. In addition to a wildly successful career in the creative industry, Jeni is a guest writer for HOW Magazine, Communication Arts and Business JournalJeni Herberger Logo as well as a veteran speaker for AIGA, AMA, AdClub and HOW. I had the opportunity to meet her last year at the HOW Conference in Denver, and I was immediately struck by her blunt optimism. As she is a person of many words, great ones at that, I’ve split her interview into two parts.

You’ve had an interesting career path and journey to where you are today. Give us a little bit background about yourself.

I grew up in on the beaches of southern California, literally. I was super, über good in science and math and wanted to be a marine biologist. That was absolutely what I wanted to do. I was a cheerleader. I know that is shocking.

Here you go. I’ll give you a little trivia that you can put out to the world that not a lot of people know. I was actually Miss San Clemente in 1984. So, how’s that for funny?

I’m not surprised.

(Laughs) It was hilarious! And I was first runner up in Miss California the following year. So, that was my one claim to “I can’t believe I was that dumb to do this!”

I didn’t end up going into marine biology, because everybody talked me out of it saying, “There was no money in it. You should become a doctor.” So, I got talked into going into a medical school program through UCLA that was for some of the top students in the U.S. which was kind of cool from that standpoint. I lasted about 3 months in that program. I think it was after an organic chem test when everyone was swarming around trying to see what their grades were, and I’m jumping up and down because I got a C- which means I passed. I had a whole bunch of people standing around me crying because they got a 98%. I’m like “Oh my god! I can totally not do this.”

So, I switched my major around to music, but I hated that because it took something that I loved and turned it into something that was far too theoretical. And then from there I actually took photography classes, and I loved it. I took to it. That was the pathway that I started down, and it was also really fun because I had done a small amount of modeling in my past. So for me, it was so fun seeing what was happening on that side of the camera. To me that was where it was all at. That catapulted me into the fashion industry, as far as photography was concerned. I switched my degree one more time and ended up with a degree in theater.

Between my junior and senior year of college, I actually had the privilege of becoming pregnant and having my first kid. So, that kind of accelerated my senior year of college. Made me a mom very early. But you know (laughs), I’ve got a 22 year old daughter. Absolutely, positively, no complaints!

Through photography, I had my own studio. Did a lot of fashion photography, and that led me into sports photography which was really interesting. I did a lot of stuff for the NHL, a lot of stuff for Harley, Marlboro. It was crazy. So, a lot of fun stuff photographically speaking.

Depending on whatever your bent is you’re either going to be somebody who directs people, or you’re going to be somebody who actually does the work. You don’t have to move into directing, but there are some people that will do it. Some do it quicker than others, and some never do it at all. I moved from being a doer to being a director very, very quickly. And I think it’s just because I have a teaching background. So, I started doing a lot of creative directing on the photo shoots, and the next thing you know agencies are hiring me not only to do photography but also to act as creative director on a project. And that’s what catapulted me into the graphic design industry.

Kind of crazy, huh?

You can see all of the skills that you picked up along the way. So it does make sense.

Well, and the fun thing is how those skills breached back. That’s what’s really, really fun, is being in your forties, you know, now I have a chance to look back. And I’m doing things that I haven’t done since my twenties, but it’s so obvious that I had to go through this pathway. Like being on stage. I’m back on stage again, aren’t I? I was a theater major, and I didn’t get on stage for 20 years. Now I’m on stage all the time talking to people. I actually taught high-school biology for two years. I’m back teaching again. So, it’s really, really a beautiful thing when you’re kind of at the height of your career, and you get to look back at that pathway. You can see how everything converged together to make you who it is that you are today.

So, would you say you pretty much live an outwardly creative life?

Absolutely! I think that’s an interesting statement from you. When you say an outwardly creative life, what to you mean by that?

I look at an outwardly creative life as you’re ending with what most people would consider a creative product.

For you, I think that’s a great thing to really build upon is that concept of outwardly creative. And I know with all of the folks that you’re going to be talking to a lot of them are going to be people that might be defined as inwardly creative. It’s like you heard me say on Talk Story all the time, I believe because we were created by God, and God is a creative being, and we are made in his image that means we are innately creative. Whether we want to be or not. And I think that there are some people that literally hold that and stifle it because they’re afraid of it. They just don’t want that. They would rather tap into the more analytical side of life. I think there’s some people that just go hell-bent on the side of creativity, and then I think there’s a whole range of us in the middle, and the levels in our life that we decide to be creative in are really interesting. For instance, some of us have gone down what is considered to be a creative career path where like you’re saying the end result is actually art in some respect or another.

I think a lot of it too, is how you live your life. One of the things I look at in myself is not only am I creative in my career, meaning I chose a creative pathway, but  I’m also creative in how I go about everything. If it’s parenting, people ask me all the time “How do you do it? Have three kids and have a business?” And honestly, I’m very creative in how a make sure my kids have what they need, my business has what it needs, and my clients have what they need. It’s a constant process in my head of actually making the life that I want to make. So, I don’t do things the way the book says. Not because I think the book is wrong, but for me it works better if I create it on my own.

I live in Hawaii, and I live in Seattle. People say, “Well, how do you do that?” Well, it’s really, really easy. I wanted to do it, so I found a way to create that for myself. It’s not about money. It’s not about success. It’s about the fact that I created that pathway for myself, because driving fancy cars wasn’t important to me. Traveling all over the world isn’t something that I can do right now. So, one thing that I can do, one thing that I did want to create, was the ability to go back and forth between two places that I really love. So, that to me is the idea of living a creative life.Creativity is making whatever it is you want.

How would you define creativity for yourself in the most basic terms?

In the most basic terms, it is making whatever it is you want. Whether you’re doing that for someone, or you’re doing that for yourself, it is making something that you want. So, if you’re doing it for a client, you’re making something that they want, but you’re going about it the way that you feel it needs to be done.

So, I think we really get hung up on the word creativity? You could define it a zillion different ways. All being creative is IS creating something. If you want to take a different verb then use making it or doing it. So, for me creativity is really, really that simple.

What do you think is the biggest reason why people don’t view themselves as creative?

I think that humans innately have a need to label, to put a box around it, to make it work. When it comes down to even your faith, and some higher power or something, the biggest obstacle that people have with the idea of God is the fact that they can’t put him in a box. They can’t label it. And if something doesn’t align itself exactly right that must mean that He doesn’t exist. The greatest things that we have are things that you cannot define like love. You can’t define love. Why do I love my husband? Hell, half the time I don’t know, trust me. The other half of the time, I absolutely know. I think that because humans have to define things, innately define things, they end up defining themselves out of things.

Look at the words that we put with creativity. You’re rebellious. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say things like “Well, if you draw outside of the lines, you’re creative.” Why does that make you creative? Isn’t it just as creative to draw inside the lines? I really don’t understand that. “You’re creative if you think outside of the box.” Well, who the hell defined the box in the first place? And can’t I be creative inside of the box, as well as outside of the box?

So, I think that innate need to define things and label things makes human being put boxes around themselves, but then exclude them from being allowed to be other things. For instance, designers do this all the time. Designers think they suck at business. You want to know something? I am awesome at business. And most of the designers that I know out there could be if they’d stop saying they aren’t good at it. Because, honestly we should be the best business people out there, because we are tapped into our creativity. We are comfortable with our creativity. Business is not about numbers. It’s about making things happen. It’s about getting things out to the public. Isn’t that what designers do, hmmm?

Another big part of it is just being able to communicate, which is what we sell on a daily basis.

Exactly! Almost every designer I know says “Oh, I can’t communicate. I can’t really talk to people.” You communicate everyday, so if you can’t talk to people then just draw people’s friggin’ pictures for crying out loud. Yes, you can communicate. You just have opted to do it a different way. And I think what we do is, we then box ourselves in.

My first marriage did not work out, and I got divorced. I had a teacher go, “Oh my god. I had no idea that you’re kids were from a broken home, because they are so well adjusted.” And I looked at her and I said, “Broken home? Are you kidding me? I fixed that home.” And so it was a totally different way of looking at it. But we keep putting labels and all of this junk on top of things. And it’s so stupid, because I think it makes us think of ourselves in one particular way.

If you’d like to find out more about Jeni visit  jeniherberger.com, or follow on twitter @jeniherberger.

Check out part two of my interview with Jeni Herberger.

Like what you see feel free to email me at tad@creativesquall.com and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve put imagination in action.

2010 Rewind books featuring the work of Creative SquallI thought with all of the year end wrap ups, best ofs and recaps that I’d join in on the fun and celebrate what has been an awesome year for Creative Squall. True it’s a little “pat yourself on the back,” but as my friend Jeff Fisher says “If you don’t toot your own horn, who will?” Honestly, while I’m proud of the achievements from 2010, I know that I couldn’t have done it without the great group of clients, friends, family and the inspiration that I get from the design industry that I’m happy to be a part of everyday.

I didn’t write the book on design, but I was fortunate enough to be included

This year marked the first year that I made a concerted effort to actually enter work into design competitions like the The Addy’s as well as submit work for publication. With the results, I’m not quite sure of why I waited almost 15 years to do so. Here’s the list in case you were wondering.

In addition, a wedding invitation design package was featured in May 2010 Issue of HOW magazine for the article titled “You’re Invited” on pg. 74 about paper selection for wedding invitation design. As a long time reader of HOW, I think this was the biggest moment for me all year. The same invitation design was featured on the Finch Paper blog, and appeared in 1000 More Greetings.

I had to draw the line somewhere

Mountain GoatsI completed the year long sketch of the day project in late July which helped me hone my drawing skills, let go of my need to polish everything and reminded me again of just how important music is in my life. If you aren’t familiar with the project, you can see what it’s about here and see what I spent an hour of my day on for over a year. I’ve just finished laying out the book version which includes some finished poster designs. You didn’t think I could let 366 sketches sit unpolished forever did you? I’m hoping to send the book to print in the next couple of weeks which will eventually be on sale at Blurb books. I’ll be posting more info soon.

Tweeting’s great, but talking’s better

I jumped on the Twitter wave in late 2009, and instantly made some great friendships — note I didn’t say connections. I had an opportunity at the HOW design conference in June to meet many of my Twitter friends in person for the first time. It really drove home how important it is to not only connect with people through social media, but make friends offline as well. Jamie Saunders from Neenah Paper has easily become one of my favorite people that I met this way. She introduced me to Jeni Herberger, Steve Gordon of RDQLUS Creative, Jeff Fisher of LogoMotives all of whom I have been following on Twitter and admiring their work for sometime. Jamie and Jeff were nice enough to drop some paper knowledge for “The Paper Cuts Series” on the Squall Line. Jeni and Steve are helping me out with my next blog project about creativity in non-traditional creative jobs which will be starting early next year. Don’t worry I’ll post details soon! But more importantly, I hope to meet many of you in person in 2011.

Next year will go to 11

From everything that I’ve seen and heard over the last few months, I think we’re all in for a big 2011. I hope to keep building on what started for me 2 years ago when I was laid off. So, pop open the champagne and join me in a toast.

Here’s to more awards, strong partnerships, and great friends — past, present and future.

Part 3 of The Paper Cuts Series

LogoMotives LogosThough the design industry has changed in many ways just since the 90’s, printing is still a thriving and vibrant source for connecting with consumers, and paper is the key. For this series, I’ve interviewed some of the best printers, paper reps, and designers to give their insights into how paper can strengthen your brand.

Jeff Fisher of Jeff Fisher LogoMotives has been designing logos and  corporate identities for three decades, and he’s witnessed the changes that design and more specifically paper have gone through, all the while maintaining a focus on print as a predominant part of brand identity. Jeff has seen it all, and done it all when it comes to graphic design, and he was nice enough to share a bit of his experience.

Give us a little background about yourself.

My career as a professional designer began in 1978 as the graphic designer for the advertising department of the daily college newspaper at the the University of Oregon, where I was a design student within the School of Journalism. In an economic climate much like today, when I got out of school there were few full-time design jobs to be had. Informational interviews with the principals of advertising agencies and design firms soon led to a lot of independent work coming my way. Eventually, one of my clients offered me an opportunity to join them in-house to create and lead a new design department. In addition, I was the art director for the group of medical publications. My next position was as art director for a Portland advertising agency. Following a move to Seattle, was I hired as the creative director for a clothing manufacturer. Each previous position gave me the experience necessary to go out on my own in 1987. However, it wasn’t until 1997 that I officially adopted the business name Jeff Fisher LogoMotives, and began focusing on identity design and branding.

In the last ten years I have found myself writing about design a great deal through blogs, design sites, and industry magazines such as HOW. I’ve also written three books on design topics: ‘The Savvy Designer’s Guide to Success: Ideas and tactics for a killer career’ (HOW Books, 2004, re-released as PDF on CD, 2009), ‘Identity Crisis!: 50 redesigns that transformed stale identities into successful brands’ (HOW Books, 2007) and the upcoming ‘Logo Type: 200 Best Typographic Logos from Around the World Explained’ (HOW Books). Other books are in the works.

I’ve also been speaking and teaching about design, social networking and small business marketing for almost a decade. I often make presentations at design schools, universities, design conferences, AIGA chapters and business organization events. For a week this past June, I taught at the © CEDIM design and innovation college in Monterrey Mexico, something I would enjoy doing much more. In addition, I’m a member of the HOW Magazine Board of Advisors, HOW Design Conference Advisory Council and the Art Institute of Portland Advisory Council.

What first drew you to graphic design?

From the time I was five or six years old I was obsessed with art – and always told people that I was “going to be an artist when I grow up.” Of course, everyone discouraged me and told me I would never be able to make a living as an artist. Art teachers in junior and senior high took notice of my talents and abilities and gave me a great deal of encouragement to continue. In fact, after complaining that one of my high school art instructors had told me that I “wasn’t doing my painting right,” I was the first student put on independent study in art in my school district and my advisor, art teacher Ken Collins, had a huge impact in my determination to have a career in the arts. While a senior in high school in 1974, I came across the new book “Graphic Design,” by Milton Glaser, at my local public library. It gave a name to what I wanted to do and showed that someone could have a successful career in such work.

I began my formal graphic design education in the Fine Arts department at the University or Oregon in 1974. Frustration with the program led me to consider quitting school completely. It was suggested that I speak with professor Roy Paul Nelson, the author of well-known books on the design of advertising and publications, who taught in the UO Journalism School. In our first meeting he told me, “Get the hell out of the Fine Arts program and into the Journalism School where you can learn some marketable skills.” To be able to take classes in typography, advertising design, publication design and cartooning I was required to take all the journalism course work. All that I learned in the program still serves me well today. My junior year in college I started working professionally as a designer.

How does paper impact your design process?

I will often have specific papers, or a paper line, in mind throughout the design process. Colors, textures and other paper attributes are usually in my thoughts as I design an identity and consider possible colors and applications for the design. Often the desire for a specific paper color or texture will determine the paper to be used. I’ve appreciated situations where paper reps, or paper houses, have provided sample stocks – and even constructed mock-ups of some projects – allowing me to determine if my design and printing concept is evidence that I am completely out of my mind.

How has the way you spec paper for print projects changed over the years?

Early in my career I would spend a great deal of time in the paper samples rooms of local paper companies seeking out just the right paper for a given project. Later, paper reps would make sure I had complete sets of their paper swatch books. I always enjoyed getting together with them, over a cup of coffee or cocktail, to update my swatch sets. In recent years, I usually request samples of specific papers from the print house producing the final product. Much of my research of paper stock these days is done online, at conferences or by way of those annoying paper stock inserts in design magazines.

Can you think of a project where the paper stock has defined the project or increased the overall impact, and how so?

Barrett Rudich Photographer StationerySelection of a specific paper can greatly impact the success of a designed project. Years ago I worked with a photographer who wanted an extremely unique card. Much of his photography work was black and white, and we ended up discussing a card that would be black on black. It was important to find a heavily textured black paper stock (I don’t remember the specific paper now) that would be almost completely smooth when the photographer’s name, title and phone number were blind embossed. A black foil was used to make the text info on the card “pop” even more. The card was also cut 1/4 inch shorter than a traditional business card; giving the illusion that it was a much different size than normal. It was necessary to work closely with the print house to “test drive” a few paper stocks to get the desired result and give the business card the impact wanted by the client. The card was very successful for the client and appears in several design books. To complete his stationery package, the photographer’s name was imprinted in black foil on a bright white letterhead sheet and envelope.

Can paper be used to define a brand, and in what way?

The texture, content, weight or color of a paper can be an important design element for a brand – just as important as color, type treatment, and actual design elements. How the paper stock is used in branding a business, product or organization can have a major impact on how that brand is perceived by the target audience.

Have you seen a case where a paper choice hindered the effectiveness of a printed piece, and in what way?

I have seen many cases of the wrong paper, or improper ink color, being used for specific project. Some heavy paper textures are not appropriate for the even ink coverage wanted. Ink sometimes soaks into paper stocks, muting the desired impact of a printed piece. I’ve seen nightmare situations where the paper cracked when folded after printing, resulting in an end product being rejected by the client. I know of cases in which designers didn’t take paper weights into consideration and caused postage costs to be much more than budgeted or anticipated.

What has been your proudest use of paper in one of your projects to date?

One of my favorite, and proudest, design moments occurred over a period of six months in 1992 when I was contracted to create the identity for The Governor Hotel in Portland, OR. It was quite an undertaking for a one-person design firm. I was responsible for creating the identity for the hotel and restaurant, and then applying the identities to all branding devices from signage to menus. The client initially looked at me like I was crazy when I proposed printing various project elements on totally different paper stocks. Papers from different mills – with varied textures, colors and weights – were used in producing various brand elements, creating a unique paper family for the hotel. The stocks included laid, linen, vellum and coated finishes, parchments, metallics and others. I designed every piece of printed material for the hotel including a stationery package, computer papers for the reservations office, brochures, a commemorative poster, direct mail pieces, stickers, coasters, grand opening invitations and much more. Many of the pieces were printed on recycled stocks, a bit more difficult to find nearly two decades ago.

The Governor Hotel Identity System 1

Unfortunately, there was a great waste of paper in the process of having items printed for the hotel. For all elements of the project I suggested earth tone ink colors. The interior designer of the hotel butted into the project and recommend a much bright color selection. I did my best to discourage the hotel management, but they went with the brighter palette in the initial printing of 10,000 of all pieces. When the printed materials were delivered, the hotel general manager opened the first box and exclaimed, “Oh my God, it’s the Taco Bell hotel.” The ink selected by the interior designer printed a much brighter orange than she ever expected. All printed materials were scrapped and the entire project was reprinted in the colors I had originally speced. Much of the earlier printing was salvaged where possible to create half-sheets and notepads.

The Governor Hotel Identity System 2My printing rep, Tom Switzer, was instrumental in keeping me sane (and the client happy) during the months of the project. I still work with him as a printing rep 18 years later.

In what way do you collaborate with your printer or paper rep during the design process?

As a one-person design firm, over the years it has always been necessary to create a personal team of collaborators – often including print and paper representatives – to successfully initiate and complete a project. I have paper and printing reps that I’ve worked with for almost 20 years. From the beginning of my career, over 30 years ago, I have almost always made contact with my printing rep and the print house production staff a priority early in the project. I’ve never been one to finalize a design and then drop some production nightmare on my chosen printer. For me it’s always been important to share my concepts with the print house and learn how I can make the process, from design through printing, smooth for all involved.

Having worked professionally as a designer for 13 years prior to a computer appearing on my desk, I developed a very hands-on approach in working with printers and learned a great deal about the printing process. My participation in the process continued when I was able to hand projects over to the printer on disks. Throughout my career incredible relationships developed with print reps when we would be meeting at all hours for press checks for major projects. I’ve spent quite a few hours sleeping on couches in the lobby of print houses waiting for a specific project to go on press. In the two years that I designed all marketing pieces for the Seattle Seahawks professional football team, my printing rep Julie Beaver and I became great friends. All projects, printed in six colors to ensure NFL logo colors and with runs of up to one million pieces, required personal press checks.

Over the years, my paper reps have always been very helpful in providing samples, creating mock-ups of folded pieces and making sure that the stock desired is available. Often that meant the rep was responsible for tracking down examples of a specific paper and hand-delivering samples to my home-based studio to meet a client demand or deadline.

In what ways has your role changed as a designer with online digital printing, sustainability efforts and the economy?

With online digital printing, I do still need to babysit – or lead – the client through the process. I still make paper and printing method recommendations. I don’t like to completely step out of the process of a project until the final product is delivered to the client and meets their satisfaction. I appreciate that many of my clients feel much more comfortable being involved in the digital printing process, than the traditional processes of getting projects produced.

What’s your favorite paper stock and why?

I’ve always been a fan of ESSE – and have only been able to use it on client projects a couple times. I love the watermarked grid of squares in the stock. It’s one of those papers that needs to be particularly appropriate for the specific project to really pull off the desired effect. Your question made me realize that I’m a long-time champion of many Neenah papers. In the past 30 years, I’ve recommended that many clients use papers such as Classic Columns, Classic Crest, Classic Laid, Classic Linen and others in printing their stationery packages.

I would consider myself anything from the French Paper line, because it’s more utilitarian, unassuming and a little rough around the edges. Which paper stock would you be and why?

I also am a fan of French Papers, but if I need to be a specific stock I don’t want to copy you. I suppose it would be the Eames line from Neenah Paper. There’s an ability to convey sophistication or be a bit more pedestrian. The color palette, variety of finishes, patterns and weights, and the way the paper invites closer inspection by those coming into contact with it all seem to convey various aspects of my personality.

Is print dead or just playing dead?

If dead, I think someone forgot to make print aware of the fact. I think it’s funny, and telling, that David Carson’s book, “The End of Print,” is in something like its fifth printing. Print has not died – it is just constantly evolving.

Jeff Fisher LogoMotivesIf you’d like to find out more about Jeff Fisher LogoMotives visit jfisherlogomotives.com. Be sure to follow Jeff on twitter @LogoMotives, and become fans on facebook of LogoMotives. For the latest on upcoming design books and helpful articles on business and graphic design check out bLog-oMotives.

Check back next month when we talk packaging with a New Orleans graphic design firm for Part 4 in The Paper Cuts Series.

Like what you see feel free to email me at tad@creativesquall.com and don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook. Check out the Creative Squall site to see how we’ve helped clients add a touchy, feely side to their brands with paper.

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