This is a pro bono piece for local VW club, Cascade Kombis. They put on the best vintage VW show I’ve ever been to. I’m looking forward to attending again this summer. This poster was part of a cohesive promotional package including T-shirt designs, stickers, etc.
I’m excited to announce some new custom glass bottle designs for my wonderful clients in the spirits industry. Here are a few samples of what we’re up to – all original designs, from sketches to 3D models right here at Cole Creative world headquarters in Seattle. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, and of course the selected design is still a closely-gaurded, eyes-only, super secret. Look for future custom glass mold designs for beer, wine, spirits, specialty foods and cosmetics.
How do you differentiate a small, local hops producer from all the others? For a company who’s primary market is with home brewers, that means standing out from the competition in one particular place: In that old refrigerator, in the back corner of the home-brew shop. So we took a little trip down to the local home-brew shop, Bob’s HomeBrew Supply. I haven’t brewed a batch myself in quite a few years, so I thought I’d better get reacquainted with the other hops available, and how they are presenting themselves.
I found two things:
1. Wrinkly, ugly, frozen-plasma-like packets of pelletized hops. Actually they look more like freeze-dried rabbit food than anything else. The labeling was very low budget, low effort, low style. Small, white no-nonsense labels, printed on a black and white laser printer, with the name and net weight in whatever font happened to default. Certainly cost effective, but you couldn’t tell one brand from another. Very much a commodity approach.
2. Overwrought, mirror-glossy, mylar packaging with full-color graphics, edge to edge. These just screamed “BUY ME” in a desperate tone, and smelled of big budget agribusiness. These products looked like they’d be more at home somewhere between the macro-brew soda cans and the candy aisle.
There was a glaring hole in the market: A well-crafted, well-designed, quality, humble, local product that you would actually WANT in your home brew. Perfect. Because that’s exactly what Spring Canyon Hops is.
Next we had to contend with the how to affix a label to this very irregularly shaped packed. The lumps and bumps of the vacuum packed bag would not receive a typical label very well. It would either fall off due to lack of adhesion surface, or – if you stuck it down with all your might – it would become so lumpy itself that it would be unattractive and difficult to read. We started to discuss using a heavy label stock – even a very thick paper board – something rigid enough to hold it’s shape over all those lumps and bumps. And it was that line of thinking that lead us to the winner: A fully usable, blotter paper coaster glued to the front of the bag.
What better way to entice known beer drinkers to choose one otherwise indistinguishable bag of hops from another than with a freebie: A well designed, branded coaster. The coaster will not only create a more enticing product at the point of sale, it will continue to give brand exposure in the home of the buyer, long after the purchase. And to take advantage of economies of scale, a large order of coasters will ensure ample promotional materials for pubs and other drinking venues.
The packaging system was finished off with a rubber stamp for each species of hops. An elegant and cost effective way to package 15+ different varieties.
Seattle’s Experience Music Project (EMP) is a forward-thinking institution, driven by Paul Allen’s vision, and executed by the tireless work of their curators, promoters, engineers and creatives of all stripes. I was happy to be invited to help them promote some upcoming exhibits. This effort, and a few others, not yet released, are for the purpose of fundraising and sponsorship opportunities. EMP reaches out to many other local institutions, businesses and interested individuals for support and cooperation in bringing their exciting (and expensive) exhibits to life.
This piece was a designers dream: Work with a respected local institution, take creative freedom, and one goal held high above all others: Make it FUN – and interactive. Create something that will stick in the minds of the audience. The traveling exhibit, created by the Smithsonian Institute, features artifacts, art and gaming consoles from the beginning of electronic gaming to current day. We want to relate to people who will be interested in this content and we want to draw them in.
To that end, a concept was selected that might conjure up cherished memories of adolescence: A custom-designed Lego kit that allows the user to assemble for themselves a “pixel mushroom” that just might remind them of another similar mushroom they know and love from the classic and well-known Mario Bros games. Instructions on how to assemble the mushroom kit are hidden amongst EMP’s offer, in the included booklet. To play with the toy, you will be exposed to the message. Along the way, images and information related to the exhibit are revealed.
This concept was conceived in perfect partnership with creative genius (and my wife), Nikki Cole. Her ideas were critical to the core of the concept as were her design and layout efforts. Together we brought the idea to life, from nothing, all the way through to engineering a custom carton and packaging system. Many thanks to her – and to EMP for including us both on this project.
View these and more photos in the related portfolio entry.
About 8 years ago I had the pleasure of naming a startup tea brand and designing their logo and packaging – while under the employ of Redmond’s illustrious Papugai Creative. Those were good days for a young designer.
Unfortunately, the investors behind the tea project decided, at the last minute, to buy an existing tea company outright instead of creating one from scratch. So they took on the existing company’s identity and packaging, went on to great success, and all my work went to the wayside.
After all this time it’s still one of my favorite design pieces. I was bummed that it never came to life – mostly because that means I would never get one of my favorite things out of the deal: Portfolio photos!
Well, I’ve been playing with some fantastic 3D modeling/animating software and it’s changing everything. Photo-realistic digital comps are now a possibility. This is great. Lots of fun and super useful.
Both the white-background, “studio” shot and the “in store” image are digital comps made entirely with 3D software.
Have you seen these trucks driving around Seattle for the last 12 years or so? So have I. This has gone on long enough, it’s time to redeem what must surely be my most ubiquitous piece of work: The Charlie’s Produce truck of happy fruits. I don’t claim to have invented the idea of a truck full of amicable produce. The original logo idea and a previous version of the artwork have existed for many years (see green truck image at left). However, sometime between 1999 and 2001, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to re-render the image. I don’t recall who’s decision is was to proceed with ink and watercolor. That was pretty much the medium of choice at the studio where I worked, so it’s likely we never even questioned it. I was still in the art department at Central Washington University, working after classes under the employ of Record Printing & Design. I loved that job. I produced more watercolor fruit, berries, pies, biscuits, cookies and grapes for the specialty food and wine packaging industries than I care to recall. Looking back, that was quite a gig and I’m very thankful for it. Besides being ridiculously fun, it was very educational and I remember it very fondly.
So now, about 12 years later, I keep seeing these trucks (and some packaged salads from time to time) with that old watercolor painting on them. It was a long time ago, I was just a student. No doubt I would do it quite differently today, but I don’t care. I’m calling this one in. This must surely be my claim to fame. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them around town as much as I have. And I hope we continue to see them a bit longer. Happy travels, fruits. See you on the road!
I chose this little case study to highlight how far an idea can go from sketch to final art, while still remaining mostly true to the original vision of the sketch. This was one of the least interesting sketches in my book, a bit sloppy and not that unique. I can’t imagine anyone would have paid it any mind amongst some of the other, more captivating ideas. It looks pretty plain. And I almost forgot about it completely. But at the last minute – just before rounding up all the comps for presentation – I realized that this was the only one that addressed the client’s interest in the landscape, geology and sun – all of which are important to them and their product. So I figured it was worth a crack, although I wasn’t convinced I’d end up liking it. So I dove in.
I’m glad I did.
I’ve never really explored this scratchboard style of illustration much before – I’ve admired it, but never really tried it myself. Since this project is a bit of an experiment for me, I decided now was my chance to give it a whirl. It turned out better than I would have predicted. And that’s why we do these low-pay-but-high-interest jobs, right? Skill development, experimentation, maybe a portfolio piece and hopefully some fun. I’m getting all that and more (and hopefully some fresh hops) out of this one.
So here’s how the sketch translates to final art. I have 3 or 4 other examples from this same project. Maybe I’ll post those in the future, after it’s all said and done. I really love seeing how they can evolve, it gives me hope that some of my other sloppy doodles might have a future as well.
I’m really loving working on this, and will be back with updates as things progress.
While re-organizing my office, I stumbled upon a few old decks of cards – samples from a 2005 design project involving local indie publisher Raconteurs Press. Looking back 7 years I can’t believe I even pulled this project off on my own (while simultaneously employed full-time). The project started with an unsolicited inquiry for 52+ illustrations, a card back design, single carton design, shipping box, point-of-purchase display and various other printed collateral – Oh and the “Washington Wine” word logo as well. I guess I wasn’t totally alone. I was able to procure the assistance of local illustrator Michael Parry, who was a magnificent help with the many paintings involved (a unique piece of art for each card).
After all this time, I found I was still a little bothered by lacking a single photograph that shows off the back of the cards, the back of the cartons or any of the fantastic illustrations on the front of each card. Now, with more experience under my belt and some new camera equipment, I snapped a few photos. Here they are.
I do this about every decade or so – so it looks like I have some catching up to do. Look for a lot updates in the very near future (Sept 2012). I just got this thing wired and will be flowing in a lot of interesting content as time allows. But first…. there is a lot of client work to do!
Here’s an old logo project image – just to test the blog. Looks like it works.
With a hot new rolling mill sitting on my work bench, I was looking for designs to imprint into just about anything. So I grabbed a recent monogram design that I did for my own Imagination Hardware, had a die laser cut from 6mm acrylic, backed it up with a sheet of rubber and rolled it through with a piece of watercolor paper. Viola! Hand-made embossing!