Take a Whiff: The Allure of Great Package Design

Thymes has been creating beautiful, botanical bath and body products with artisan fragrances for more than 30 years. In that time, the marketplace has become flooded with competitors, all vying for the same customers. To continue building excitement amidst a stream of new brands in the category, Thymes sought an elevated, modern aesthetic, so they reached out to Minneapolis-based, Wink. Initially, they only wanted their catalog redesigned, but principal Scott Thares asked them about their heritage and what they wanted to accomplish with a new catalog. “We spoke about how the vision needed to evolve into a more contemporary look and feel. They kept wanting to elevate their brand presence,” he recalls.

So he asked them what they felt they were doing better than the competition. “They kept coming back with this statement that they create artisanal, botanically-inspired fragrances—in house—versus other companies where fragrances are created in an outside chemical lab,” he says. “Everything they do evokes a memory; certain smells take you back to a particular moment in time. So we said we should capitalize on that.” Read the rest here.

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HOW Chicago: How Sweet It Was

If you weren’t at HOW Design Live in Chicago, here’s what you missed.

What a whirlwind. As I travel home by train from the HOW Conference in Chicago, I’m exhausted, inspired, and energized by what I saw and heard. For a conference that’s now in its 25th year, it isn’t tired or trite. In fact, it’s one of the best HOW Conferences I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a LOT of them in the last 15 years). So, without further ado, here are some of the highlights.

Dr. Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, talked about the importance of being vulnerable and letting people see and know the real you. It’s difficult to be vulnerable—to open yourself to criticism, shame, or guilt— she reminds us, but doing so allows people to know what you’re thinking and how your feeling, fundamental facets of creative expression.

By the end of conference, I think everyone finally realized that I, Emily Potts, am just a shy, gentle, reserved design journalist with a boundless capacity to see the best in everyone I meet. Well, I’m working on it, okay? Back off! Read the rest here.

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Here’s artist Molly Z, signing her beautiful posters at the Neenah Paper booth.

Business Cards That Pack a Punch

Your card should make a bold statement about your business and ideals, because it’s still one of the most important and essential components to any business, especially designers and artists. Truly great business cards all have three things in common: good design, high quality printing, and durable, beautiful paper. If you want to make a good first impression, your card needs to be printed on a nice, rigid stock, not something that’s floppy and dare I say, impotent when you hand it to a potential client.

I’ve witnessed designers inspecting each others cards, studying the impressions, feeling the paper’s texture, and mentally guessing its weight. It’s the proverbial tinkling match to see who has the nicest card. Here we feature the best of all worlds when it comes to design, printing, and paper. Each card has a story to tell and the printing and tactile qualities are something to behold.

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Design: Abbey Fowler

Client: 6.25 Paper Studio

Printer: Zeeland Print Shop

Abbey Fowler is a owner and creative force at 6.25 Paper Studio in Grand Rapids, Mich., so of course when she designed her business cards, paper was of utmost importance, and Neenah is her go-to paper choice for all her products. “With business cards you have to go thicker,” she says, adding, “Otherwise if you die tomorrow, you’ll eternally regret it and say, ‘Damn, I should’ve used that luscious 220 lb paper. Now my life legacy is a flimsy 80 lb business card!’” Read rest of story here.

Perfectly Imperfect: Human Connection

Although letterpress printing is a traditional, laborious process, and flies in the face of modern technology, it’s never been more popular. People crave the beautiful imperfections and sensory experience of this timeless media, and designers value the handiwork and intrinsic qualities it adds to their creative output. In this feature post, we show the designs of Felix Sockwell, Gary Rozanc and Chad Michael, plus the printing talent John Selikoff (Vote for Letterpress Press, South Orange, NJ), the craftsmen and women at Studio on Fire (MPLS), and Gary Rozanc himself. Read the article here.

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NPR poster detail by Felix Sockwell.

Good Book Design: “Trust Your Gut”

For the past few years those in the publishing arena have been bemoaning the demise of print, claiming e-devices will take over. Thankfully that hasn’t happened, and it likely never will. According to an article in the March 2 issue of Forbes, “ebooks make up only an estimated 23% of the $35 billion dollar industry–and Pew Research reports that just 4% of Americans are e-book only.” People still like the tactile qualities of books and they put their money on it.

Penguin Books creative director, Paul Buckley, says, “Originally there was reason to worry, but that worry is a thing of the past. It has become clear that most titles will sell in both mediums, and neither will destroy the other. Print lives another day!”

There are many factors leading to a successful book, marketing, shelf presence, good cover design, and of course, content. But what makes a successful cover design and what is the role of design and paper selection in the book buying decision? I asked Buckley to weigh in. Read the rest of the article here.

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Cover design: Buckley; Illustration: Shout (Alessandro Gottardo); printed on Neenah Paper.