Inspiration for DesignInspiration

We are inspired by a lot of stuff. Here’s some of it.

Being in a creative field, it’s pretty easy to find yourself dulled and uninspired – which is why we like to keep a stable of inspirational stuff near. Websites, videos, songs, ideas – inspiration comes in so many forms.

We keep some stuff on our Pinterest boards, and we draw a lot of inspiration from what we post on Instagram. But, really – if we post it here, it’s because it’s something we’re really passionate about – stuff that really inspires us. Hopefully, some of what we blog about can be an inspiration to you.

If not, at least we wrote about it. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Logo Design Asheville NC

Logo Design – It’s Not That Damned Hard…

Logo Design Asheville NCActually, logo design can be horribly difficult. There are so many forms, so many shapes, so many fonts, so many tools, so many colors that it can be a difficult thing to whittle down to the essential, creative process of logo design. We’ve nailed the process – and if you need a beautiful, non-crappy logo, you’re in the right place.

We’ve done hundreds upon hundreds of logos – everything from sports teams to e-liquid companies and pretty much everything in between – but the logo design process remains the same:

Step One: Gather info on who you are, what you are, who your audience is and what your “vibe” is as a person or as a business. We’ve got a comprehensive logo design questionnaire that we use to gather info, and we’re always happy to chat and gather ideas the old-fashioned way. Once we’ve got a lock on what you’re about and what you’re looking for, we gather it up, put it between the ears and get the process really rolling.

Step Two: Think. This is always the hardest part to bill – but it’s the most crucial part. Inspiration doesn’t always come when you’re sitting at your desk from 9 to 5. Sometimes, it’s in the shower. Sometimes, it’s while I’m feeding the chickens. I can spend, quite literally, 20+ hours thinking about a logo design direction before anything ever reaches paper or pixel.

Step Three: The blank sheet. I keep a number of sketchbooks, Moleskines, notepads and Post-it note pads around me at all times. When the ideas flow, they hit the paper as soon as I can get them there. Sketches, roughs, notes, dumb jokes – they’re all part of the logo design process. Ideas about your name, ideas about your audience, ideas for generating more ideas – all on the paper.

Step Four: The pixel. After the sketches are where they need to be (also known as coherent,) the work of digitizing the logo roughs begins. Photoshop, Illustrator and (gasp – 1997!) Freehand round out the tool box. A zillion fonts to choose from – but by this point, we have a pretty good idea of what we’re looking for. We build anywhere from 6 to 15 “rough” ideas and let you start narrowing them down.

Step Five: The back and forth. Once the initial round is done, we let you play with them. Combine, rearrange, add, subtract. It all helps us get down to the final, perfect piece. We usually find that 2-3 rounds of revision are sufficient, but if we need to keep going we can keep going.

Step Six: Done. You’ve got a killer, 100% original logo. We deliver in a variety of formats (PDF, AI, EPS, PSD, JPG, etc.,) and we make sure you’ve got everything you need – color specs, font specs, spacing conventions, all that jazz.

Since your logo is arguably the MOST important part of your identity and marketing, it needs to be good. Hell, it needs to be GREAT. Let’s get started on making something great.

We ran across this video of Aaron Draplin’s process – and while it’s a 15 minute video that shows how some of the stuff is done, it’s the years of experience and his genuine talent that makes the process look so smooth and quick. It’s worth a watch. Now, if you just imagine this guy being a 6′ 4″ graying doofus, about 100 pounds lighter and with a coffee cup permanently attached to his left hand, you get a good idea of what it looks like here when we attack the logo process. Enjoy! Then, when you’re ready to roll on YOUR logo, click here.

 

BRIXTON POUND

Designer Currency? Why Not?

BRIXTON_POUNDTalk about keeping it local! The Brixton 10 pound note, designed by Jeremy Deller, is pretty damned fabulous, and the concept of using local, alternative currency is something that I fully support.

I’m not a huge fan of our current fiat currency (thanks, Federal Reserve – but that’s a story for another time,) and for promoting local trade and keeping money SERIOUSLY in the local system, these boutique currencies hit the mark.

Our current bill designs leave a little something to be desired (white space, anyone?) and the monetary system is obviously pretty broken – so why don’t we burn it down and make a local currency for Asheville? I propose a Lane Reid 20 dollar West Asheville note. If they can do it in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, why not here in our own little town? Imagine, walking into Gas Up to grab a brew and pulling out a $20 Black Wolf. You’d be a superstar almost instantly!

Stay tuned – we’re going to design some money for West Asheville. Nominations for denominations are now open – contact us with ideas on who you think should grace our currency.

I’ll be on the Million Dollar West AVL Buck. Cash value 1/100th of a cent.

 

HAYWOOD ROAD ASHEVILLE NC

9 Reasons You Belong in Asheville

9 reasons you belong in Asheville. We can think of about a million more – and most of them are better than the stuff in this video, but – it’s still pretty cool. We’re pretty proud of our town – and it looks like Buzzfeed dig it, too. Check it out:

We heart Asheville. We heart design. We heart you.

PATH WAY THROUGH FORREST

Love. Now.

Asheville NC

As some of you know, it’s been a tumultuous summer here at Blue Dozen. We’ve had some family issues crop up in our (well, MY) life that have been painful, un-fun and downright distracting. We’ve kept a stiff upper lip in spite of all that’s gone on, and it’s looking like sunnier days are ahead. We’re all back in the office and we’re all ready to kick ass and take names in the manner which we’ve grown accustomed. Projects have still been rolling in and rolling out – and they’ll keep rolling. Since design and development and coffee-drinking is part of our DNA, there’s a great solace in the workaday world here. But, it’s been rough. The creative wells run dry faster when there’s an outside stressor. Then again, we can use the stress to create great things – and we feel like we have. Take THAT, issues!

Through all the garbage that’s been going on, one thing has kept ringing true – love the people around you. When things go haywire and life is cold and hard, you’re going to want to know that you have a group of folks who are in your corner, and you’re going to need to have peace and comfort in knowing that you’ve done your level best to love them, cherish them and show them how important they are in your life.

Friends, family and, yes, clients are all part of that. Spread love to those around you, and when the storms of life arrive, that love will be showered back onto you. We spread love – daily. We love what we do, we love who we do it for (that’s the client stuff,) but our family is, and will always be, priority one. We make no excuses for that – it’s been our modus operandi since we first opened our doors. Love of family – it’s the thing that really gets us through the rough patches.

So, what am I really saying here? I don’t know, really – just wanted to pop in and let you all know that while things have been rough, it’s love that has sustained us. We thank our family for that, and we thank YOU for that.

If you haven’t yet, take a moment and hug those that are important to you. Call someone just to say “I love you.” Be good to those around you and be good to yourself. This world is too big and too complicated to go it alone. We all need support, and we all need warmth and hugs and shoulders to cry on. Reach out to those that are close to you. They’ll be your shelter.

Thanks to our clients. Thanks to our families. Thanks to love.

Have a great week. I know we will.

Heroes of Design: Bauhaus

Bauhaus (both the band and the movement,) have been around my life and work for a long, long time. Bauhaus (the band,) were one of my favorites in college (hell, still are) and Bauhaus (the artsy bit) has always had a heavy influence on my design style, beginning in my days at SCAD.

Bauhaus (the band and the movement) are sleek and sexy and minimalist. Daniel Ash’s guitar was stark and lean and angular – much like the actual Bauhaus compound. Cold and very Germanic. Sweet.

Check out this great video (the whole “Design in a Nutshell” series is pretty brilliant) about the Bauhaus school and movement:

Then check out Misters Murphy, Ash, J and Haskins doing their thing in a song concerning (I think,) over-aged prostitutes while still living at home with mummy:

What does this all mean for you? Not much. Learn a bit about something artsy, something about goth tunes in the 80’s. Consider it school. But more interesting.

Heroes of Design: Antoni Gaudí

Design Heroes - Antoni Gaudí

I don’t think I need to say too much about Gaudí. I’ve always been a big fan of architecture as an art form – and this guy takes that notion to the absolute limit. The Sagrada Familia (the roof of the nave shown above,) the Park GüelCasa Batlló and the Colonia Güell all stand as masterworks of a man who understood the power of architecture and who knew how to think “outside the box.”

I’ve never been to Barcelona. Hell, I’ve never been to Los Angeles – but experiencing this guy’s work in person is ABSOLUTELY on my bucket list. His organic style is really something to behold, and the motion and fluidity of his lines are incredible. What else can be said other than this guy was an incredible artist with an eye toward the future – but not in a strictly modernist way. His work transcended modernism then, and it holds up even today.

Check it out. You’re going to spend a LOT of time looking at his stuff. Time very, very well spent.

Shutting Down 2 Successful Businesses at the Same Time. Yes, We’re Nuts.

On December 1, there were 2 deaths in our family. And we couldn’t be happier. The deaths were 2 successful businesses – Independent Studios and Lily Giggle. Were they mercy killings? Were there troubles? Eh – sort of. Read on, intrepid design fan…

Mister Terwilliger

One of 5 Reasons to Shutter LilyGiggle

First – Lily Giggle. Beth (my wife and one of the principles here at Blue Dozen,) shut down her very successful PDF sewing pattern business. Why would she close doors something that was working? Why leave money on the table? The answer here is very simple: family. Beth decided that it was time to refocus. Lily Giggle had grown far beyond her (or anyone’s for that matter) expectations and had started taking too much time to maintain properly. She faced a decision: Keep the business rolling the way it was and be forced to spend too much time with admin, upkeep and all the trappings of success, or go on hiatus and risk being unable to fire the boiler back up. The first choice was the easy path. “It’s business. My family needs the money, and it’s my job…” It’s what the world tells you is the right. It’s what most folks would do. It was successful. It was rolling. It was good. But, it was hard – and it kept her from what she really wanted to focus on: her family. Our family. The second choice was hard: stop, breathe, refocus. Beth decided to take the path that requires a lot of explanation and sacrifice. She pressed pause, not knowing if the tape would resume. It might, it might not. We don’t know right now – but what we do know is that she made the right choice. She put her money where her heart is – family. She had a sale and shut it all down Saturday night. It was hard. It will be hard. But now, she has the time to stop, breathe and refocus.

Second – Independent Studios. I started Independent Studios waaaaaaaaaay back in 1999. It grew and shrank and changed and suffered through good choices and bad choices, great clients and clients that could politely be described as nosebleeds. But, it was good, and it was heading in the direction of big success. Why would I shut down a successful business? Easy: passion.

Our Passion for DesignMy passion got lost along the way. It wasn’t my passion for design and marketing and advertising and websites and all that. That’s NEVER changed, and I don’t see it changing in my lifetime. The thing that changed was passion for the business itself. I made some bad choices. I made some people mad. At the same time, I also made great choices and I made a lot of people very, very happy. Success wasn’t the issue. The trajectory of Independent Studios never really pointed downward – that wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I had grown ambivalent towards the business itself. I found myself daydreaming too much. I found myself looking at what I was doing as more of a job and less of my passion. I didn’t really have that burning need to come to the office and design something. It was kind of old hat. That was bad, and the business was suffering because of it. There were also some (very boring) reasons to restart – SEO, forming an LLC with a licensable name, domain names, etc., – but the real reason is that I needed a way to jumpstart my passion for the business. The reason for the new name is in another post – but the reason for the business change was very deep and personal. I (we) needed to stop, breathe and refocus. Focus on what made this company good (excellent.) Cut out some of the stuff that made this business suck. The new name was a demarcation. The date was a cut-off point, mentally and functionally. It had to be done. It feels as if an elephant has gotten up off my chest and wandered back into the woods, a la the tiger in Life of Pi. (You didn’t think you’d get out of a blog post without a movie reference, did you?)

I know that through the years, Independent Studios pissed some people off. I’m sorry for that. I also know that I can’t please everyone, and that there are jobs that just don’t fit. I took on a lot of jobs and clients that I shouldn’t have, jobs and clients that just didn’t fit, and that’s when my passion would really slip. That’s my fault, and I take the blame. No excuses. No finger-pointing. Those jobs and the way we handled those hurt me, hurt the business, and hurt the people who rely on this business. From the bottom, top and sides of my heart, I apologize. My solemn oath is that I will do everything in my power to avoid those mistakes in the future.

We also had (and have) a lot of great clients that fit well and feel like family. To them, I say: “Nice to meet you again.”

It really is a new day. I look forward to working with the folks who really understand who and what we are and how we do stuff. We’ve cut a lot of low-hanging fruit away. Cut out clients that were draining our time and passion. It hurt (we’ve been in the process of weeding for a few months now,) and it will probably continue to sting a little. Leaving money on the table is hard – even if it’s for a good reason. I (We – Beth and I) have 5 kids to feed and clothe and hug and cuddle, and having money helps. But – money is the least of our worries. We need passion more than money.

Things are being rebuilt differently. We’re rebuilding Lily Giggle and will relaunch bigger, badder and better than ever. And, it will be done in such a way that it’s easier for Beth to maintain and grow. Blue Dozen Design is launched, and with it a new ethos. We’re actively more selective and we’re only taking on jobs and clients that fit. No more low hanging fruit. We’re still rebuilding the site and some of the branding and what-not. In a lot of ways, it’s not a massive departure from Independent Studios – but the mindset has changed and the passion is back. Look out. It’s gonna git all krazee up in here…

So – what does this all mean for you? Functionally, not a whole lot. We’re still in the business of delivering great design and killer websites and terrific marketing ideas. Beth will reopen and continue to make unbelievably adorable clothes. That much has NOT changed, and it never will.

What we hope you take away from this (excessively long blog post) is simple: Find your true passion. Find what moves you and motivates you. Then, stop, breathe and refocus on that. Rebuild if you need to. Relaunch if you need to. But find your passion and stoke the boilers. Full steam ahead…

It’s amazing what happens when you take honest stock of where you are. When you stop. When you relax and refocus. We have decided to do that every day, several times a day. Not just December 1. EVERY DAMNED DAY.