rally for ally bike run

Rally for Ally Bike Run: VROOM, VROOM.

rally for ally bike logo
The second fundraiser for the Alexandra Smith Foundation, a motorcycle ride through Walpole and adjacent towns, was held June 26th. Everyone had a great time, and we raised more money to help provide extra care services for Ally Smith, who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in December. Since this event was so different from the first Rally for Ally, the event planners wanted a different logo. So I came up with the Rally for Ally bike.

I knew immediately that I wanted to incorporate the event title in the bike, and it wasn't too long before I thought of giving the text a 60's feel—a photo of Ally at an outdoor concert inspired that idea. I found "Keep on Truckin'" at Dafont. I purchased a commercial copy for about $20, but it is free on Dafont for personal use.

It's one thing to know what you want, and another to actually get the effect you want. I had no experience drawing motorcycles. Initially I thought of tracing motorcycle photos in Illustrator but in some cases, I felt like I lost important detail. So, using a photo as a guide, I began with the tires and body, contorting the text into the shape I needed. I decided to give the tires a little spin and to alter them so they were not perfectly round and stagnant. Decisions had to be made on what detail to leave in and what detail to take out. The handlebars were the trickiest part; my first efforts looked like a scooter. Initially, the plan was to keep the logo in two colors (red and orange and red and slate blue were initial options) but we decided to go full color. A few little curly cues in the back for exhaust added a little flair.

Once the logo was set, I reformatted the flyer, poster, and collection can layouts from the first event and carried the bike run theme throughout. We updated the website with the logo and created an easy registration mechanism through PayPal. Printing donations helped us get the flyers, signage, and other collateral into the community. Initially we planned to go with two-color print on shirts, but we got a break on tee-shirt printing too, so decided to go with full color and the logo was optimized for the tees. We promoted the event through various biking websites and event pages.

Event day was beautiful. About 200 bikers showed up for the ride at the Walpole VFW. Food donations allowed us to provide coffee, pastries, and fruit before the ride and a delicious barbecue afterwards. A few local bands provided entertainment. I had a lot of fun taking photos that day, as did other photog enthusiasts! Pictures of the ride are up on Ally's site and there are also plenty of photos on Ally's Facebook page, Ally's Road to Recovery.


serviam magazine

layout page 4
I am really excited about one project that is making its way to the Ursuline Academy community now — the Serviam Magazine. Another makeover was called for, and my focus was to create a clean design which continued make use of color but did not hamper the readability of the magazine. (Pictured at right, page 4)

When creating a design, it’s important to create a good structure with repetitive elements. I chose a 3 column setup and used rounded green (PMS 625) boxes which bled off the bottom of the page on the left hand pages and off the top of the page on the right hand pages. Lowercase headers were used to introduce new sections; on left hand pages the headers were set above the rounded
page 20
box and on the right hand pages were set over the box. The headers were generally set in an opaque tint of the main color.

Inconsistency creates chaos, but too much consistency creates boredom. At some point you have to break the mold a bit — or altogether — so I chose my change-ups carefully. For example, on page 20 (pictured at right), the color scheme became a gold box with some purple text, fitting for a page on spirituality, but in keeping with the basic formula. When reviewing my photographs (scrivophotography.com) for shots of spirituality, Patrice Howard ’04, UA’s Director of Communications, decided to write an article on Liturgical Dance, an aspect of spirituality that had not been strongly featured before.

page 21
For page 21(pictured at right), we chose to highlight UA’s drama club using Dan Busler’s excellent photography (danbuslerphotography.com). Dan takes amazing performance shots and he gladly supplied us with photos he took at two UA plays. I chose a simple red curtain for the background from istockphoto.com, made the box on the right a transparent black, and used yellow text which brightened the page and also complemented the yellow tones in some of Dan’s photographs.

On pages 15, 18, and 22, I dramatically altered the formula or dispensed with it altogether. On page 15, using a backdrop of the famous UA rhododendrons, I created a straight-forward collage of photos shot by Patrice (who took the Serviam cover shot) and myself. After discussing the layout a few times,we went with a full color back and simple white frames around the pictures. Other info on the page echoes elements found throughout the magazine.

Page 18 retains some of the elements from other pages, the round photo bleeding off to the left, the intro header, a pull quote, but we added a light yellow back and brought in a touch of other colors in the header and subhead. In addition to those brick and blue colors just looking right, they are also similar to the colors of the Haitian flag, apropos for an article on service in Haiti.

Patrice wanted a travel picture collage for the trip to Washington D.C., and the focus was on fun. I dispensed with the standard layout altogether. There were so many cool photos, shot by Patrice, from which to choose. I settled on six and set them in frames to give them a Polaroid feel. Handwritten text beneath the photos, a bit of a sassy attitude, a touch of stars on the background photo, and stripes for the main text completed the look. The page was built in Photoshop and imported into the layout program.

Pages 15, 18, and 22 are pictured below.

page 15
page 18
page 22

The Serviam Magazine is 28 pages, and it includes an extra 12 page Strategic Plan with its own cover shot. The cover shot is one of my best and a personal favorite. (Pictured at right.)

While it looked great in its original state, it did require a little alteration to suit the requirements for the cover. More on that “magic” another time. For the strategic plan, we wanted to use a layout to differentiate it from the magazine, but the colors and design elements utilized in the plan “recall” those elements found in the magazine, which results in a more smooth, less jarring, transition.




The truth is rarely pure and never simple. - Oscar Wilde

Annual Report FrontAnnual Report back
I recently wrapped up an Annual Report for Ursuline. I had the chance to create a look with puzzle pieces, something I’ve always wanted to do. I used puzzle shapes in Photoshop CS4 (customizing them to suit each picture) and Puzzle Pro by AV Brothers to make the theme a fun reality. (front and back covers shown here).

Photoshop comes equipped with plenty of shapes and there are a few puzzle shapes included. First, I processed and formatted each photograph in Photoshop, leaving enough room around the subject to accommodate puzzle tabs and indents. Next, I selected the shape I thought would best fit the photo. That created a shape mask layer above the photo layer. I moved the photo layer up above the shape layer, changed the setting from normal to overlay, and voila, the picture appears in the shape. I customized shapes as necessary — rotating, scaling, or using the pen tool to add and delete anchor points and the selection tool to pull the indents and tabs where I wanted them. I also used the pen tool to create side and corner pieces for variety. Clipping paths were created and adjusted. A copy of the layered psd file was saved as an eps, ready to import.

I used Puzzle Pro to "cut" other photos and collages to create the look of several pieces fitted together. The cover was a collage created with Photoshop then processed with the Puzzle Pro filter and saved as a layered psd file so that I could pull the pieces apart. It was necessary to adjust the tabs and indents so that faces were not cut in half and to introduce more variety in the "cut" of each piece. I ended up importing those in separate files, then scrambled them across the page. The back cover is a reduced collage / puzzle intact, with a few "contact" pieces along the side.

I added similar bevels and depth to all the puzzle pieces within Photoshop and the Puzzle Pro filter, and added a drop shadow once they were imported into Quark to make them pop a bit on the page. I would now recommend adding a drop shadow in Photoshop for a smoother, worry free workflow.
Two page spread

Almost every page spread features a one column back photo (two page spread, right) - ice for the hockey player, grass for the field hockey player, pool water for the swimmer, a cello for the musician, etc... Any subhead on the left page picks up the color of the backing photo on the right side. Rules were in a gold tone, listings were set four-column on the left and two-column on the right page.

color of the year: mimosa

Pantone, an authority on color and the primary provider of professional color standards for the design industries, has selected a warm yellow–”Mimosa”–as color of the year for 2009.

The color was chosen for its expression of hope and reassurance in a time of uncertainty. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, spoke of the color yellow’s reflection of the “nurturing quality of the sun.” Yellow is the color of “enlightenment” and Mimosa is expected to be a “hue that sparks imagination and innovation.”

Mimosa, and any yellow in general, is an attention getter, and it pairs well with any other color. It appeals to men and women and to people of all ages.

A yellow background for brochures, newsletters, and flyers will be sure to attract attention to your marketing piece. Yellow can also be a great accent color for logos and marketing material. If used well, yellow might be the perfect accent color to freshen up your marketing materials, signage, and website.

We can all use a little hope and cheer this year, and yellow may be just the trick; expect this popular color to crop up often in design and fashion in 2009 and 2010.

Need to freshen up your marketing materials? Start here!

newsletter redesign

2 page spread
Over the spring, I redesigned Ursuline Academy’s newsletter. One of the biggest changes was to go from a black and PMS interior to full color. The final piece is five color: CMYK plus PMS 625 (green).

With the introduction of color, it’s tempting to focus on the use of color versus the overall impact of the layout. I decided to “let the pictures do the talking” by allowing them to be the most vibrant color source on the page.

I did introduce different pastels, a light blue for the swim article (on the 11 x 17 interior spread shown above), a hint of “brick”, a pale yellow, a little pink and lilac, for some background graphics and article boxes. But, for the most part I left article boxes in a shade of green (the school color) and used the PMS for article headers and for the silhouettes (the theme was “the faces of Ursuline”).

Some common elements throughout the newsletter were: the subject headers at the top with a dotted line and their circle photo counterparts, the silhouettes with facts about the school and the students, green circles with page numbers, green article headers and black subheads, a green frame and shadow around the photos — which pulled them off the page, and several photos of faces around which text was wrapped, like the one in the lower right corner of the sample above. Most of the text in the newsletter appears in black on a white background to enhance readability.

Once a consistent layout was designed, the pattern was occasionally broken to avoid monotony, deal with the requirements of the stories or photos, and to keep each spread fresh.

adding artwork to a design

At the beginning of November I decided it was time to get cracking on my own Christmas card. In last year’s card, I took some of my random photos and placed them into an accordion fold template. This year, I wanted to do something different and toyed with a few ideas. Initially I had an idea that would have required many photos that I did not have in my own archives.

So I turned to istockphoto.com which is a great, inexpensive source of photographs and illustrations. You can purchase credits and then use those credits to purchase artwork or photographs that can be used when designing marketing materials. (Some work is available, at a higher price, to place on products to resell.)

I was reluctant to use stock photos for all the obvious reasons, so I soon turned my focus to Christmas illustrations and found some that I loved and that fit in well with one of my ideas. I opened up the downloaded document (which contained 13 major icons plus a flurry of snowflakes) in Illustrator. This allowed me to make some color adjustments, pull out the desired Christmas icons, or alter parts of the icons to suit my purpose.

Since I’m more fluent in Photoshop than Illustrator and could easily send a Photoshop file to my destination printer, I opted to create the entire card in Photoshop, although I could have created it in InDesign or Quark and then placed the artwork into the layout.

My first step in Photoshop was to create a nice blue background based on my PMS color (reflex blue) for the front and back of the card. Back in Illustrator, I changed the color of the snowflakes from a pale green to a light blue and then placed them into my Photoshop document on several layers, resizing some of the original flakes to fill in.

Turning my focus to the back of the card, (bottom half shown above) I pulled in the North Pole icon onto a new layer. On subsequent layers, which I then placed behind the North Pole layer, I created a few snowbanks with the Pen tool, using the gradient tool to add some shading to the snow banks. I made sure to leave the card mostly white towards the left and bottom and added my logo and information there so it would stand out best.

I reversed the colors on the inside of the card, leaving it mostly white with some blue accents. The red and green colors of the icons set against the blue and white backgrounds gave the card contrast and punch.The process of designing the entire card took some time, but I had a lot of fun putting this together. And this Christmas, I plan to take more pictures so I have my own, more varied stock of Holiday photos for next year should I choose to use a photo or two on a card!

golf tournament marketing

fore the girls

Now that the weather’s warming up (for the moment anyway), I thought I’d share some material done during the winter months in preparation for a golf tournament this coming June.

golf girl
A redesign of a school golf tournament, Fore the Girls! was called for. The look that was sought was more of a “fun” look and there was a call for four color. My goal was to add these elements without detracting too much from the initial brand that golfers had become familiar with over the previous eight years.

The initial logo also featured a girl golfer and to fit the scheme, I colorized the original black and white line art. The girl was later rejected, but I colorized stock black and white artwork to create colorful tees, bags, and tufts of grass. A funky Tekton font also added to a more fun feel to the material.
brochure frontbrochure back

Shown above are both sides of the letter fold brochure.

Shown at right is the letterhead.

This was a small, fun job for a good cause. It was a great opportunity to do design work that gave me breathing room from writing projects and more demanding design projects, and a nice chance to create a comprehensive look and carry that over various marketing materials.

identity materials

For those of you who’ve had the pleasure — or pain — of being my marketing guinea pigs, thank you for your viewpoints and perspective on my evolving design. It gave me much to reflect on and was a great help.

In designing identity materials, the goal is to create a look, a recognizable brand, that you can carry consistently through your marketing materials. While a product (business cards, letterhead, etc.) is the end goal, I believe the process of creating that look can be one through which you ultimately learn more about yourself and your business. In addition to sharing my new materials, I thought I would share the process.

Although I experimented with more drastic design and color changes, in the end I made a few minor changes that made a noticeable difference.
business card before business card after

First, the name. Conventional advice would have me use my name rather than a name like Scrivo. I wrestled with this the first time, when I chose Scrivo! Graphic Design & Writing Services. Scrivo was initially chosen as a nod to my Italian heritage, a unique opener to describe what I do, and to highlight the fact that I wrote copy as well as designed. It felt right to me then, and it still feels right to me, and many of you, now.

My initial focus was on writing and graphic design, but that no longer encompass all I do, so I changed the “design & writing” to design, photography, and writing.

Arguments can be made for and against the choice of the color blue. After playing with other colors,I came back to blue but decided to replace the black. In developing this site, I had chosen a warm gray to offset the blue. I liked the look. For the cards a cooler gray, which worked better, was chosen.

As for fonts, my initial use of Simoncini Garamond and Lucida Casual was meant to convey an idea of practicality and fun. Classic yet sporty. Since I’ve more or less hung up my Chuck Taylors, I opted to replace the Lucida, and looked for a non-serif font which I felt was clean, reserved, and modern. After trying some more unique fonts, I chose a standby, Helvetica.

In my first revisions, the “ink blots” came out. I tried lines. I moved sections around in the layout. People missed the “blots” and I missed them too, so for now, the blots remain, but smaller.

The idea of replacing the exclamation point of Scrivo with a scan of a quill pen occurred to me, and I worked on several variations of the scan, manipulated in Photoshop. I tried a more edgy quill, designed in Illustrator. Lots of fun, but they both took more from the name than they added to it, a feeling also expressed by some of my marketing “team.”

business card frontbusiness card back
The addition of a second side was a must. The cost of adding a second side is minimal and it provides more information for potential clients. A second card was created to hand out at photography events, and the back has space to add the website to which an event’s pictures are posted.

Another change was the card stock. I was tired of the gray granite look and wanted the blue to pop and the gray to be more prominent. So white was the best choice. Other minor changes to the letterhead and the envelope were made.

The tag line posed the most difficulty, and I tried out many before deciding on this one, and I chose to place it on the back of the card but featured it more prominently on the letterhead, envelope, and web site.

“Portraying your spirit and vision in business and life” comes the closest to what I try to do. I believe it is important, in business and in life, to be true to yourself. My goal, through design, is to reflect the mission and vision of your business in a beneficial way unique to you.