Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sugar and Pith

We were approached to update the visual identity for a California-based, small-batch apothecary company called Sugar and Pith, and it was a complete delight to delve into the aesthetic they were looking for.

The client was hoping for an Art Nouveau type of look without too much fussiness, and since the items she creates are based on seasonal ingredients, the identity system needed to be such that she could create her own labels as needed.

The answer to that was to use a warm, hand-lettered typeface with Art Nouveau-inspired botanical ornamentation.

 Larisch is a hand-lettered design by the Austrian calligrapher and teacher, Rudolf von Larisch. The original was used for the title page of the 1903 edition of Beispiele Kunstlerischer Schrift (Examples of Artistic Writing). The typeface has an attractive, casual set of caps of even strokes with rounded terminals. Except for the terminals, it is similar in style to Kunstler Grotesk.

The designer (Larisch) taught lettering at Kunstgewerbescule (School of the Commercial Arts) and Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy for Visual Arts), both in Vienna, and the care and craft he put into his work is evident in the type's warmth and humanity.

Aren't these labels sweet? We were lucky enough to get some samples of the products themselves and they really are fabulous.


Sugar and Pith display at a local farmer's market.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

TWIST 2016 - 5th Anniversary!

This year marked the 5th anniversary of the TWIST festival, and it was a blast to be part of the team that helped to bring it to life! The identity we created for this year's event was the brightest and most exciting yet, so if you weren't able to attend in person, scroll through festival's photos below to see what you missed!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Case Study: TWIST Logo Redesign

It's fun to look back at projects to see how they have evolved over time.

We don't often have the opportunity to cultivate a visual identity over the course of a few years: normally we work with commissioners for a few months to sort out their needs and then hand over the branding we've created for them. As the graphic designers for the TWIST fibre festival, however, we've been able to guide its evolution over the past 3 years.

This is what the TWIST logo looked like when we were brought aboard to audit their brand:

The intention behind the design was to create something that looked handcrafted and fun, as well as contemporary.
Their original designer had chosen a free font that only used repeating characters, and that repetition drew away from the handcrafted, authentic aesthetic that was being aimed for. Additionally, the typeface had a faux cross-hatched effect on it and there were some issues with the logoform's letter spacing.

One major problam with this version of the logo was that it was difficult to implement in different situations, and the tagline would disappear entirely if we tried to shrink it down to a usable size. We fixed that.
A strong brand guideline hadn't been established previously, so we cultivated one for them. We chose typefaces and colours, and defined their visual language.

This was last year's look:

We really wanted to emphasize the essence of handmade craft, so we drew a "Clarendon-esque" typeface by hand, imported it into Adobe Illustrator, and adjusted the letters by eye until the spacing was more optically balanced.
By creating a one-of-a-kind, truly hand-drawn typeface, one elevates brand equity because that typeface isn't one that can be downloaded on any font website.
TWIST has a different theme every year, and the visual identity can be refreshed accordingly in order to reflect each year's energy and aesthetic. This year has a particularly exciting energy because it's the festival's 5th anniversary, so our goal was to embody that by creating something vibrant and colourful; something that reflected the fact that this is a celebration of fibres and the myriad ways that people transform them.

As such, we went for a very hands-on approach: since I have been engaged in all manner of needlecraft since childhood, I went through my yarn stash and embroidered the logo by hand.

The letters were embroidered in a variety of different stitch styles so we could pick and choose among them to create the most dynamic effect. We went for bold, saturated hues this year both to evoke the aforementioned celebratory theme, and to promote the idea that this is a festival for all ages and genders to enjoy.

Our hope was that attendees and aficionados could be inspired by what we've done and make TWIST their own: whether they're knitters, weavers, lace-makers, or embroiderers, we've invited them to be more active participants in the festival by creating their own ...twist... on the TWIST logo. 

...and Ava was a big help too.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Regency Era-Inspired Family Tree Project

I have to admit that working in graphic design is a hell of a lot of fun, mainly because we have the chance to work on incredibly varied projects. Last year, we were approached to create a family tree for a friend of ours, and I'd be lying if I said that we didn't "squee" in delight at the chance to sink our teeth into such a fabulous endeavour.

The tree was commissioned by MK Martin—a writer and naturalist based in rural Ontario—to be a Christmas gift for her parents, and the final piece was created as a canvas print, which was later framed by the family.

Here are MK's own words, describing what inspired her to commission the project:
"My grandmother was the family genealogist, growing up, and had a massive set of filing cabinets full of our history, dating back to the 1600's. Later, the internet set that even further back. Recently, gram was diagnosed with Dementia, then Alzheimer's. Her descent took less than 5 years. Something about the loss of her passion inspired first my mother, and then myself to keep up. Mum's also an avid biography reader, and I'd spend many hours reading the family trees in royal lineages. We were assigned family crest projects in elementary school, and my Irish imagery really spoke to me Also, I wanted to win Christmas."
...and oh, did she win.

We'd never worked on a family tree before, so this was a wonderful new challenge to tackle. Our goal was to create an elegant piece that could be treated like a family heirloom.

Fortunately, MK's mum had been hard at work doing genealogy research on, so we had access to several generations' worth of names with which to work.

The challenges were to determine how many generations back we could go without making a tree that would dominate an entire wall, and how to arrange the very large family lines vertically, rather than horizontally.

Since MK's mum is a big Jane Austen fan, we aimed for a Regency-like aesthetic (...with many artistic liberties taken...) that incorporated iconography from both sides of her family's lineage.

The ornaments used around the border were taken from a collection created by Pierre Simon Fournier; an 18th Century typefounder and typographic theoretician. We used them to make repeating borders that were both utilitarian and decorative.

It's always a pleasure when work we create for someone to give as a gift is truly appreciated by its recipient, and knowing that MK's family loved this piece as much as we loved designing it reminds us of why we went into this field to begin with.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

... and got the T-Shirt!

Spring has sprung, and T-shirt weather is just around the corner. We have the privilege of designing a lot of fun items for our clients, but some of our favourite recent work has been for Paradise City's T-shirt collection.

Not all of these styles are currently available (some will come out for next season's autumn/winter collection), but they're all a hell of a lot of fun. It's great to be able to wear pieces that we've helped to create, especially when they're this awesome. ;)