Category Archives: Design
St. Patrick’s Day was smelling particularly good around here a few days ago – SEDA’s 2013 St. Paddy’s Day mailer featured close to 200 bags of freshly roasted and ground coffee from local craft roaster PERC Coffee.
What better Post-Celebratory pick up could there be than a hand-roasted brew fresh from the hostess city? Exactly – that’s what we thought. And this year’s little extra something something was that the coffee would be mailed in a pop top can. Nice.
So, some background. Every year SEDA sends a St Patrick’s gift out to clients and prospects. Savannah hosts the second biggest celebration of this March happening, you know. And every year, we find a locally made product to feature. This year we worked with local coffee brewer Perc and they were great! So knowledgable. So delicious (the coffee). Did you know freshly roasted coffee releases carbon dioxide? No. Neither did we, but Roast Master Philip Brown did, and it was good to know, because if we’d canned them too soon we would have had exploding coffee cans. Which would surely have displeased the postal service.
The can label promoted Savannah while the coffee bag label was specific to SEDA and the programs and resources they offer.
Text you’d traditionally find on coffee cans was reworked – wait – I’ll show you:
And now the bags:
Never one to shy away from a challenge, we bought ourselves a canner (and a lot of cans in order to fully master our craft). The model that arrived was surely the very one used by canning enthusiasts at the turn of the century, and I mean 20th, people. And we have the instructions to prove it.
We’re seriously considering whether or not a future project should involve translating the instructions into something a lay person could understand. You know, sort of like a service to the community.
Once this antique torture device (Truth! It has thumb screws. Two. I’ll wait. Go read the instructions again, part # 13169) was assembled (no mean feat alone and we know about working in 3-D) we spent an unfortunate amount of time mangling can after can. It was grim. Then a mechanically-minded staffer (and heck no, I ain’t naming no names…ok, it was Phil) came to the rescue of those containers manufactured from earth’s third most abundant element (so it’s OK, plus we recycled the casualties anyway).
Canning debacle aside the final outcome was exactly as we envisioned! And more importantly SEDA was thrilled as were the lucky recipients.
Can’t wait to see what happens next year, and in the mean time, if you need any canning done, you know who’s got you covered. Call our amazing SCAD student helper Nikki (thank you Nikki! So much!!) She did a bang-up job.
Oh! And happy St Paddy’s!
For Paragon’s annual holiday mailer we opted to design a collectible, entirely custom deck of playing cards as a “Thank You” to our clients. The four suits were designed to represent the 4 elements (earth, air, water, fire), and included traditional icons incorporated into the face cards as well as new embellishments like latin text and intricate symbols of the four elements. The backs of the cards featured a graphic pattern created using our logo mark. Both the deck and custom box were printed on Shine paper appropriate for the holiday season.
The goal of this deck was to incorporate the symbolism and philosophies surrounding the Classical Greek Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Once we began digging into the historical significance of each element we decided the only way to do it right was to allow each traditional kingdom (Hearts, Spades, Diamonds and Clubs) to represent the elements.
I began with sketches to update each of the traditional suits (Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds) so that they can represent the Classical Greek Elements (Water, Fire, Air/Wind and Earth). After establishing each of the kingdoms, I began working on how to create the royals.
Ignis Aurum Probat (Fire Tests Gold)
I love this latin quote, and thought it would be fitting to represent both fire and hearts. It is from Roman Stoic philosopher and statesman, Seneca, and reads in full “ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes homines”, in English translation,”as gold is tempered by fire, so strong men are tempered by suffering”. The meaning is that in order to become pure gold, the original gold-bearing ore must go through the tempering process of fire; the analogy being that for a man strong in spirit, adversity and suffering are the tempering agents necessary to refine his character and bring out his true potential.
The king of Fire bears a Phoenix on his shield. This enduring symbol of fire represents both death and rebirth. While fire is commonly associated with passion, the philosophy represented here is that of peace and order. The wrist of the king bears PAX (peace) and he is holding two fingers upright. His shield also features the phrase “Ordo ab chao” (Order from Chaos) and the powerful and mystical number 33. The king is holding the weapon of fire, which is the dagger.
The queen is clasping the offering for fire, which is a single candle. I tried to keep the heart as a central focus, which symbolizes passion and understanding.
The jack is holding the tool of fire, which is the bow. The traditional bow represented in literature is the staff or wand – but I loved the visual of the recurve bow and arrow. His arrow is on fire, and he is carrying a guitar, another traditional symbol of the fire.
- Cardinal direction: South
- Season: Summer
- Time of life: Youth
- Time of day: Midday
- Correspondences: blood, the guitar, thunder, drum beat rubies and in writing fire is sometimes represented by a red upwards triangle. Other mythic and legendary creatures of fire include phoenix, dragon and occasionally the hawk.
Generose puer sic atur ad astra (This is the way to the skies)
The ace of clubs has been transformed into a cloud to represent the air and sky. The symbolism of this kingdom focuses on the rational, scientific and observable. This is the kingdom of science, medicine and exploration.
I may have gone a bit overboard with the king. There is just so much to pull from history that I wanted to include. His shield features a snake, the traditional animal associated with wind, and the latin motto “Cogito ergo sum” (I Think, therefore I am). The philosophy of this kingdom is truth, which is why the king’s hand is pointing down at the earth (what we know and can observe) and his wrist features the latin word “Veritas” (Truth). The inspiration for this (and the placement of the left hand for all kings) came from Raphael’s painting “The School of Athens.” One of my favorite features of this painting is the conversation between Plato (pointing up to the heavens) and Aristotle (pointing down to the earth). Read more about the meaning of the painting here.
The king is holding the weapon of wind, which is a sword. Over his shoulder is a telescope, observing the movement of the stars and sky.
The queen is holding the traditional offering of wind, which is incense. I really tried to incorporate movement into the designs of this suit, which you can see in the central ornament of the queen.
And here is Harry Potter, the magical Jack. While magic may seem to conflict with the philosophy of this suit, the traditional tool of wind is the wand. I love the simplicity of this card, but because the Jack is focused on magic and arcane knowledge, instead of science and modern knowledge, I removed some of the ornate patterns that his parents feature.
- Cardinal direction: East
- Season: Spring
- Time of life: Infancy
- Time of day: Sunrise
- Correspondences: mind, intellect, study, consciousness and communications.
Terras irradient (let them illuminate the lands)
Full disclosure, the actual meaning of the representative quote for this suit is actually talking about the word of God, an allusion to Isaiah 6.3: plena est omnis terra gloria eius (“the whole earth is full of his glory”). But, I loved combining the idea of “illumination” and “earth” to represent diamonds.
This is the rich kingdom. The Lannisters, for those of you who watch Game of Thrones. They represent power and might at all costs. I think I actually like this suit the best, and had a great time designing each of the figures. The king features a symbolic animal of power and earth, the Stag, and the quote on his shield is “Audaces fortuna iuvat” (Fortune favors the bold). He is holding the traditional weapon of earth, the staff, and his sleeve features the latin word “Potentia” (Power). There are also 3 hidden symbols in this suit, which I will not discuss (I need to keep some secrets).
The queen is holding the traditional offering of earth, which is the Pentacle (an amulet used in magical evocation). She also has a tree growing over her shoulder, since harvest and nature are supporting symbols for earth (reference the king’s shield again).
The Rich Jack, he is holding the traditional tool of earth, which are coins.
- Cardinal direction: North
- Season: Winter
- Time of life: Aged
- Time of day: Twilight
- Correspondences: strength, stability and abundance. In rituals earth is represented by burying objects in the ground, carving images out of wood or stone, herbalism or using animal fur and bones. The manifestations of the earth element are found in plants, trees, mountains, forests, caves and gardens. The bear, boar, bull, sow and stag are also thought to personify the element as are all burrowing animals, such as the mole or rabbit.
Aqua Vitae (Water of Life)
This is the kingdom of believers. They are healers and have faith in higher powers. I had some trouble with this suit, because the weapon, offering and tool are all the same (a cup), so I had to try and find ways of showing the same object in different styles.
The king features the weapon of water, which is the cup. His wrist shows the philosophy of this kingdom with the latin work “Fides” (Faith), and his hand is pointing up to reinforce this. His shield has a fish, an obvious symbolic animal for water, and the latin phrase “Deum fons et origo” (Source and Origin, or God). Over his shoulder is the symbolic Rod of Asclepius, a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine.
The queen of water is holding the offering of the element, a cup. Her cup is overflowing, which symbolizes not wealth of power or money, but abounding faith.
The Prodigal Jack, he is pouring his cup out, which represents a rebuke of the symbolic water. The tool of water is, again, the cup.
- Cardinal direction: West
- Season: Autumn
- Time of life: Youth
- Time of day: Midnight
- Correspondences: emotion, compassion, divination, intuition, healing, dreams and psychical abilities. The manifestations of the element of water are rivers, oceans, lakes, wells, rain, fog, ice, snow, streams and all drinks. Animals, especially the seal, dolphin, crab, turtle, frog and all types of fish are also thought to personify the element of water. Other mythic and legendary creatures of water include the Mermaid, Oread, Naiad and Sea Serpent.
Mundus vult Decipi (The World Wants to be Deceived)
This is a common phrase in magic, but its origins and original meaning are what make it important to me. The philosophy of the Joker is that of self preservation, deception and self gain. The full quote is Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur (the world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived) is talking about religion as a tool to control others. According to the pontifex maximus: people should be deceived in religion, there are many truths which it is useless for the vulgar to know; and many falsities which it is fit the people should not suppose are falsities.
Probably my favorite single card, the joker has a few fun adornments. His face is both smiling and frowning – to illustrate the duality of mischief (deception). He also has an ace up each sleeve. He is adorned in the symbols of all suits, because his nature is apparent in every philosophy.
Along with a unique King and Queen, the box features the hidden alchemical symbols for each element on the closing flap. The queen is holding a flower, a symbol for peace, and the king is holding a sword, symbolizing war.
So that’s it, I hopefully covered most of the symbols and meanings for this deck. To get a better look at each card you can view the entire deck here:
As has become tradition, the Paragon end of year mailer has to be a lil’ off the wall. 2011 gave us a chance to do a totally rad throw-back to our childhoods via some bodacious custom ViewMasters from Image3D. In line with the mission of educating friends and family about unknown aspects of the Season, the theme this time was Holiday movie classics. We all lovingly remember the standards like A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and of course, Die Hard. But what about those lesser-known gems? Like …
or the breakout hit of 2008…
Never heard of them? We’re not surprised. That’s why we put together a collection of these and 4 other undiscovered soon-to-be-classics for our mailer last year. (Trust me, they look really cool when you see them in 3D.)
The whole package included an insert, the viewmaster, the reel, a box to hold it all and a sticker to seal it. Some assembly was required of course. Santa has elves, we have each other, so we sat down in an assembly line formation and got to work.
Box, sticker, insert and viewmaster shown above (not actual size).
Image3D did a great job with the printing, and they were really helpful throughout the entire process. So that’s how we ended 2011. Here’s to a Happy New Year filled with more great shenanigans. The rest of the movies and some preliminary sketches are below.
Our favorite futurist, Frank Spencer over at Kedge, has written a thought-provoking post about the emerging marriage between our two fields. I’ve always been intrigued, yet a teeny bit mystified, by the idea of strategic foresight and “Futures Thinking.” So this article, along with the links he’s provided to other institutions on the vanguard of this trend, helps to bring it into a bit more focus. If you’re like us and get excited about discussions on design thinking and other ways we can use our powers for good, then his approach to the topic is a great conversation starter.
The challenges for us designers, is firstly, how do we educate ourselves about the wonderful world of Futures Thinking, and secondly, how do we begin to incorporate the methods and techniques into our own practice? Our suggestion, bribe your nearest Futurist with dinner and beer.
One of the advantages to living in an old city, is that you get see bits of history peaking through in the most random of places. And I’m not just talking about the grandeur of Victorian architecture, but the great unassuming signage painted on old buildings. These gems tend to fade into the background after you’ve lived here a while, but I think it’s good to recognize these unsung heroes of place-making. So here are two to get us started, spotted around MLK Blvd.
Just 2 fonts. All caps. Like a mayun! Sure the kerning leaves a lot to be desired but it’s reassuring to know that there were people choosing to keep it simple even back then.
Ahhh, the good ol’ days when you could run out and get your lime and concrete and pick out some fetching cabinets all in the same place… and for rock bottom prices!
This greeted me at the Green truck pub last night.
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The Chatham-Savannah Citizen Advocacy group recently held their much anticipated annual gathering, and this having been my first experience with them, I’d say the title is well earned. It was an honor to be a part of the festivities in a small way, having designed the invitations and program for the event, and humbling to learn how valuable they are to our community.
Have you ever noticed how much freshly cleaned sidewalks stand out? They really get your attention, right?
The people at Mister Wilson (the dutch agency responsible for Fresh Green Ads) noticed that too, and came up with a way to use that space in an innovative way, turning it into a platform for new ads.
The previous MO of the advertising world has been to staple, stick and hang pieces of paper or plastic on already existing structures. That means ADDING more waste and visual clutter to an already busy landscape.
Fresh Green Ads is SUBTRACTING color from sidewalks in order to reveal a message that is only readable when it rains…. how awesome is that?!
I’ve tried to get more info on how the process actually works. I’m guessing it might be a sealant, so that water is repelled and doesn’t absorb into the concrete making the spot lighter. I’m not 100% sure, but I guess that’s why it’s a secret: if they keep us guessing, they can get the credit they deserve!
Raincampaign is only one of the methods they use to get the message across. They also create ads in crops, water drops, sand sculptures and sand printing, each of which produces a high-impact piece with minimum environmental costs.
St. Patrick’s came early to Paragon, as we were working on a cool St. Patrick’s Day card for SEDA that was accompanied by an oyster knife wrapped in a custom designed tartan-like wrapping paper.
SEDA came to us with a few awesome ideas, but it was a challenge to figure out the best way to make them happen. In the end we thought: Who wouldn’t want to receive this oyster knife around March 17th? There will be plenty of beer and what better companion for the beer than a bucket of oysters.
The card was printed using a metallic ink, and the front looks like an oyster, because we weren’t able to eat 150 oysters in time to include the real shells with the package.
The guy in the picture is Taichi. He is an advertising student at SCAD and he was brave enough to accept the challenge of helping us pack and wrap all 150 of these boxes!
Great job everyone!
In this profession of sharing precious visual ideas, there are instances in which a little extra protection is needed in order to avoid future headaches. This is the idea behind Creative Barcode.
Creative Barcode is a company based in the UK that offers a system to help creatives protect their work in it’s most fragile stage -when it’s still unpaid. It integrates barcodes, ftp services and intellectual property rights.
From what I could gather on their website and in other online articles, it provides a paid way to add an electronic signature to your work, and once the client has agreed to pay for it, it provides a way for your to sign the rights over to them.
By buying the rights to use their barcodes (it involves an annual fee plus a pay-per-use model), you can send your files to your clients (or prospective client) using their file sharing system, knowing that they will bear a digital signature that identifies them as your property, and that your client will have electronically agreed to the terms and conditions of your relationship. Their system also tracks when the client accesses the files, and since they have signed an electronic agreement, it can be used as evidence of when the file was viewed in case that the relationship resulted in a legal battle.
You can read more from about the idea here. And below is a picture of what the barcode looks like.
I personally didn’t understand the extent to which this system solves the complex problem of protecting and eventually defending your intellectual property.
Lets say an industrial designer who present their ideas to possible investors and routinely require confidentiality agreements embeds this bar code into a sketch. The client can just take that same sketch and show it to another industrial designer who can replicate it, or modify it so it flies under the patent infringement radar.
There will be an electronic agreement, but that puts us right back where we started, because the designer would have take the client to court (still very a difficult thing to because of the chance of being stuck with legal fees).
In the world of graphic design, it seems like it would be useless if people receive a graphic piece with a barcode somewhere in the image, because they can a). cut out the barcode and use part of the image or b). replicate the image using design software.
I started out thinking this was certainly a step in the right direction, but now I’m going into all the possibilities for foul play and I just don’t see how this adds a level of protection to any creative product. Feel free to disagree with me in your comments below!
Last Thursday I attended a presentation at SCAD’s Entrepreneurial Forum by David Sherwin, a Senior Interaction Designer at frog design.
I didn’t really know what to expect since I was mostly drawn in by the title “Being an Agency of One”, but I found myself connecting with a lot of the experiences he shared during his presentation.
It was a mixture of experiences and advice that he came up with along with team of professionals in the design and marketing industry. It also had a strong focus on project management and profitability.
David offered in his lecture a lot of information that one would be able to obtain only after having coffee or a few beers with the owners of an agency or creative studio.
At the beginning of the lecture, he explained how agencies make money.
Well… by creating cool stuff, one may think. But in reality, lots of companies make their money from a variety of sources such as re-selling services (media buying, hosting), giving away content (blogs, tutorials) or selling proprietary assets (software, processes, etc.). Depending on what areas are more profitable and also depending on the level of involvement, staff hours need to be allocated accordingly.
After each agency has the materials they use as their currency, they need to figure out how they will engage in business with others. This part involves setting the rules of engagement and having a talk with clients to let them know what they can expect from the agency and what the agency is expecting from them. It is incredibly important to have this conversation because a lot of professionals in the creative industry wrongly assume a client is a client, and when they contact the agency, the agency is obligated to bend over backwards to accommodate their needs and expectations.
David also touched on the importance of saying no, whether it’s because the client needs something outside of our field of expertise, or because they have a very limited budget that won’t allow for our best effort. This will help the client understand we are a creative partner, and not just a vendor.
The main point I walked away with was that it is very important to know that whatever your structure (large agency, medium agency, small agency or freelancer) you need to position yourself as what you are and play on your strengths.
Each structure is specifically designed for different types of clients.
Large agencies usually are best for large companies, because sometimes the volume of their needs is only manageable by a really large team with very specific functions within the organization.
If you are a freelancer or a small agency, your full attention will be focused on the projects at hand, and the client will get personalized interactions every step of the way. There are varying levels of quality at this “size”, but generally if you find a good freelancer or small agency (i.e. Paragon) you’ve hit the jackpot.
Here’s why: generally with large agencies, you will get the best and most seasoned creatives at some point in the process, but the bulk of the work will be done by young and sometimes inexperienced employees, and there will be a huge cost associated with the agency’s service, not only because of their reputation, but also to cover their humongous overhead. With small agencies, you get all hands on deck, all levels of experience collaborating, because usually each person has a specific strength and for most projects, a variety of strengths will be needed.
I think I’ve covered only 20% of what his presentation contained, and maybe 0.02% of his extensive online materials, so if you want to know more, and get it straight from the source, I highly recommend following him on Twitter @changeorder and visiting his website.