Cut and Paste

A few weeks ago, Kazoo began having some computer problems. My laptop was barely functioning, and the available desktop computer was too old to be compatible with necessary software updates. It was time for an upgrade. Tom, Mila and I took a break from the office one day and drove to the Apple store to pick up a new Mac.

Like every Apple store, this one was laid out with a grid of tables, each displaying a small army of shiny, beautiful screens. While each of their products promised an interactive experience that was sure to delight, what really caught my eye were the panels that hung high on the walls that encompass the store. Each panel contained a line of figures doing different activities; dancing, painting, striking a pose, laughing with friends. What made these panels so captivating was that each one was depicted completely different than the others. Some were photographs, some were realistic 3D renderings, others were flat illustration, but they all stood together in one cohesive piece. It was a collage!

 Image taken from the Apple website.

Image taken from the Apple website.

Collage, a method of composition that involves combining different materials onto one surface, is something that gets me really excited. There is so much to visually interact with in a collage, and I enjoy examining the individual components while digesting the image as a whole. Collage imagery also has the potential to convey a lot of information. The collaged Apple image above speaks to illustrators, photographers, musicians, artists, doodlers, social media users, fashionistas, selfie-takers. It talks to those who create, and those who consume. It packs a punch.

Apple isn't the only major company that is using collage in their campaigns. Red Bull sponsors a number of musical events around the world, and collage frequently appears in the promotional graphics for these shows:

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These Red Bull collages each combine images and graphics to create distinct flyers that reflect the genre of music they are promoting. No collage looks the same as another, and the technique is flexible in a way that allows it to manifest in drastically different ways, depending on who the audience is and what information the collage needs to communicate.

  Flyer  created by Kazoo Branding for a  NEBA  event. Different fashion and beauty items were combined with digital type to create this event poster.

Flyer created by Kazoo Branding for a NEBA event. Different fashion and beauty items were combined with digital type to create this event poster.

Recently I had the opportunity to apply collage in a client project. This spring, when 3rd Lair Skate Park & Skate Shop asked me to create promotional materials for their Girls Skate Club, I knew collage was the perfect method. It is a technique that has historically been used in skateboard graphics, and is one that allowed the design to reflect the wide-ranging and often eclectic personalities of the women and girls who participate in the sport.

 
 Graphic used as a flyer for print and digital.

Graphic used as a flyer for print and digital.

 
 
 Web banner used on the 3rd Lair website.

Web banner used on the 3rd Lair website.

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I used to think of collage as something to do as a fun art project, or as a way to flex my design-brain muscle, but seeing it used by such massive companies as Red Bull and Apple shows that it can be utilized on a much grander scale. An entire visual identity can be created through collage, or it can be integrated into a campaign for an established brand. For companies seeking an engaging, flexible, and memorable design solution, collage is a great option.

Silk screen adventures with Mila - Oh la la

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

This will be the last blog about silkscreen printing for a while. I’ll probably will be back doing these as soon as winter approaches and I’m spending more time inside.

Let’s go out with a bang!

Group effort, everyone brought something in and one of those somethings was undies! (Can you tell our class was full of ladies?)

We carefully placed the items around the undies and made letters with string

Silk screen adventures with Mila - Goldfish

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

Today we are going experimental!
I drew a goldfish and wanted something partly see-through for the fins and the tail.
I’ll be honest, I had no idea if this would work and if it worked, I had no idea how it would show up.

My Screen survived the experiment so lets go straight to the prints!

I used a marbling technique. I dripped yellow, orange and white on the screen,  this way every single print turns out completely unique

Silk screen adventures with Mila - Velo Doggo

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

There is a Jenna Marbles video where she invites people to roast her dogs. Someone said the head shape of her Italian Greyhounds look like bicycle seats. That hit me straight in the funny bone and also, now I can not unsee it!
With my grand love of bikes and adorable Iggys I got to work to make a Velo Doggo print!

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Iggy head is a bike seat (duh) and the collar is a chain
Iggy body shape and bat ears are hand drawn and background heavily manipulated to get the ragged edges effect

Silk screen adventures with Mila - Buttons

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA
I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

This was a collaboration of the students and the teachers

The bright wild background was a group effort. Remember the blog about screen printing with watercolor? Well it also works with crayons!
We all grabbed crayons and attached the screen with random shapes until we filled every corner of the screen. Then we transferred the colors on paper.

While the paper was drying we all came up with illustrations to print on top of the colored paper

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The hardest part was operating the button machine. It’s confusing! Luckily one of the other students got the hang of it quickly and made 8 to every 1 button I produced. We ended up with a ton of buttons and my portion ended up on my jean jacket!

Silk screen adventures with Mila - TT

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

As the spouse of a Graphic Designer you sometimes get some special perks
Like when I really wanted to print Todd's logo on T-shirts!

Todd has been putting little movies of his students drumming online. This is so the students can brag to their friends and be super proud but also to encourage other kids to take a lesson. How cute would it be if the students are wearing branded shirts with the line: I march to the beat of my own drum? That's right. Very cute!

 I’m mixing red and yellow ink to match the colors to one of Todd’s business cards

I’m mixing red and yellow ink to match the colors to one of Todd’s business cards

 Ink is on the screen and ready to be transferred on the T-shirts

Ink is on the screen and ready to be transferred on the T-shirts

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New Business Model for Chiropractics

You raked your lawn yesterday, and you wake up with a fierce pain in your left shoulder. Maybe you played golf with your pals because you haven’t been able to touch a club for 7 months; and after 18 holes, decide another nine holes wouldn’t hurt. But the next morning it turns out it did hurt. Your back is killing you.

Pure Health Chiropractic has a quick answer to these aches and pains. It’s called Pure Health Quick Fix and it allows patients to go to an app where they can see the wait time for an appointment in real time, and instantly book a same day appointment.

Our job was to create a new name, a sub brand identity that worked with his current brand identity plus had legs of its own; along with this, there was need for posters and post cards and a social media campaign. It’s working. Dr. Mancini sees the patient, diagnoses the problem and treats it safely and efficiently in 30 minutes, and sends the patient on his or her way. It should be a good fit into people’s active life styles.

 
 Business cards created for Pure Health Chiropractic, as well as a peek at some of our process work.

Business cards created for Pure Health Chiropractic, as well as a peek at some of our process work.

 
 A flyer for Pure Health to hand out to customers who come into their office.

A flyer for Pure Health to hand out to customers who come into their office.

Silk screen adventures with Mila - Snowboard Cat

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

This winter was brutal… just brutal! Luckily there was a lady this Winter Olympics who inspired a lot of women and girls to pick up snowboarding. Can I say Chloe Kim got me through this winter? I’m just gonna say it, Chloe Kim made me pick up snowboarding again after 10 years and made me wish for lots of snow!

During my class I wanted to put something on a T-shirt that would make me happy and get me through a spring that just wasn’t happening. A naked Cat and a snowboarding Chloe Kim’s reflection in its goggles seemed like the obvious answer!

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My teacher recommended glow in the dark ink for the leopard print. GLOW IN THE DARK INK! THERE IS GLOW IN THE DARK INK AND I GET TO USE IT.

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It's also nice on paper

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This project was a smashing success. For me personally.

The Photo Tells the Whole Story

. . . well almost.

Our client, Suppys Multivitamins for children has a great story to tell. Their vitamins
contain 6 organic green veggies and fruits, 11 different minerals, vitamin D3, folic acid
and it also tastes good to the kids. As important as what’s in Suppys is what isn’t.
No sugar. Nada. Nothing. Turns out, the competition has a lot of sugar. 

No sugar is a big part of Suppys story, so we asked just how much sugar does the leading
competitor have in their bottle of vitamins?

The answer is equivalent to 80 sugar cubes.

That’s a lot so the Kazooks decided to tell the story in a big way with a poster at point of
sale. We dashed over to Lund’s & Byerly’s in our neighborhood and bought enough
sugar cubes to show what 80 sugar cubes really looks like. Created a fun tabletop photo,
added a headline and minimal copy, and the differentiating, no sugar story was told in
dramatic fashion.

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 In the photography studio, we experimented with different ways to display 80 sugar cubes.

In the photography studio, we experimented with different ways to display 80 sugar cubes.

 
 The final poster result!

The final poster result!

 

Silk screen adventures with Mila - Watercolors

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

One of my favorite techniques is printing with watercolor.

I colored directly on the screen and used transparent base to transfer the colors onto the paper.

The images fade with each print but you keep adding colors to the screen so all prints will end up looking different
This is for my calendar class project.

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It's All In The Bag

There are many ways to promote your business. In the case of Maggie The Food Stylist, a strategic creative partner to Kazoo Branding, she has had good success with email blasts, Facebook postings and a website we developed and regularly update.

All have worked well, but she wanted to provide something more permanent, hands on if you will, for her clients and friends. This led us to start thinking about promotional products, which can come in many forms. Because she spends a great deal of her time schlepping groceries to photo studios, how about a shopping bag?

 
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But this wouldn’t be just any old shopping bag. It needed to be custom branded in a fun and colorful way. We picked a sturdy cotton bag and, and created an illustration which was silk-screened on the bag.  We made a water color illustration of a mango and added the headline, “It takes two to mango.”

Maggie now packs her groceries in her bags and leaves the bags behind. They are fun gift that keeps Maggie’s brand close by.

 
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Silk screen adventures with Mila - Roffa

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA
I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

My favorite font and my favorite city on fabric.

Why my favorite font I pretend you ask? Well just look at it! It’s called Fakir and created by Underware who also happens to be my favorite type foundry.

Why my favorite city and what even is Roffa? Roffa means Rotterdam and it’s the city I grew up in the Netherlands.
If you are wondering why Minneapolis isn’t my favorite city my answer is that biking in Rotterdam is better then biking in Minneapolis because of the designated bike paths, you never bike in the same lane as cars.
If Minneapolis works on that… maybe I’ll change my mind.

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Kazoo Branding is helping increase value of homes

JJJ Specialty Co has a very simple product with a big promise. It will enhance the beauty and value of your home at a fraction of the cost of replacement windows. The product is a window grille, custom designed to fit any size or shape window. They are made of oak, pine or vinyl and are available in a variety of profiles. They are inexpensive and easy to install which makes them perfect for the DIY market.

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Window grilles are millwork products, but it is very difficult to convince cash and carry lumber dealers to carry them. JJJ’s immediate solution was to establish a separate company, called FixHome. Next because we worked with JJJ in the past on marketing their custom windows, they had Kazoo Branding create a new identity for FixHome and to build a website that would allow direct sale of the window grilles to the consumer. We began to apply the new identity and graphic standards to the new website we created in Shopify. We stayed true the brand while at the same time staying within the Shopify templates.

Now that the FixHome store is up and running successfully, next steps will be draw attention to the store through proven SEO techniques. Make sure you explore the new website here.

 
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Silk screen adventures with Mila - Cards

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA
I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

 

Simple print on card

No Pictures of the process but this was done with a very simple cutout attached to the screen and only one layer of silver ink.
If you are wondering what this is? It’s the crocodile I drew when I was 5

 
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If you are subscribed to our mailing list, you probably saw this sweet image popping up.

It looks like a piece of art, doesn’t it! Its a simple color swatch test our teacher did to show us how Cyan and Magenta work together.
Picking out colors is really fun but often hard to imagine how they will co exist and mingle on actual paper when using multiple colors

 

Silk screen adventures with Mila - Distorted Guitar

Every week I take a Silk Screen print class at MCBA
I’m taking Kazoo on my journey

 

As a designer, there are times I can't help myself, and I need to turn my ambitions toward passion projects. Lately, the art of silk screening got me going, and now I am taking a weekly class. Follow along and I will show you what I'm doing. This week, I grabbed my guitar and worked up an idea that I could produce. These are all the steps that went into my 3 layer Distorted Guitar print

 Finished print. Increase your viewing experience by listening to Sonic Youth

Finished print. Increase your viewing experience by listening to Sonic Youth

Financial Planning is a Life-Long Journey

Even though financial planning is the heart and soul of our client, the Birch Cove Group, they felt the need to add another level that would differentiate them from the competition in this market. Co-founder and current partner, Robert Bjork, discovered the value of financial planning early on as a student at the University of Minnesota when a financial planner helped his family after his father passed away from cancer. It was this experience that caused Mr. Bjork to change his studies and embrace financial planning as a life long calling.

From the very beginning, Mr. Bjork has differentiated his practice by recognizing that his clients prosper best by providing them with tools for both financial planning and life planning. It is this approach that we focused on to help rebrand Birch Cove Group.

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With over 300,000 financial advisers nationwide, it is a competitive landscape, especially for those FPA’s who want to attract high-net-worth individuals with significant assets. A sophisticated group, many of whom are retiring from the C-suite of large corporations, or some who have acquired significant assets from selling a business, or others that are high-income professionals. These are clients that require the Birch Cove Group to offer a complete and comprehensive suite of tools in order to satisfy their complex needs.

In addition to recreating their website, social media and collateral, key messages were developed to accurately express their core brand essence.

Birch Cove recognizes that the growth and protection of assets are closely tied to the life issues that clients experience throughout their lifetime prior to retirement. The two are intertwined, and BCG takes a very active role in bundling together the financial and life issues.

A meaningful life is the new currency of retirement, which is why Birch Cove puts financial planning and life planning together for every client.

See what your life can look like

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The new Birch Cove Group homepage:

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Birch Cove Group's capabilities:

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View the live Birch Cove Group website here.

2017 Is A Wrap

. . .  but not so fast.

Love this business. There’s constant change, new businesses, new opportunities, new people and new ideas. There is one bit of wonder about new ideas. Just when you think that you have had your last good idea two weeks ago, and you are in a panic mode, all of a sudden you get new ideas in bunches. We experienced all of this and more this past year.

We facilitated several branding sessions for new clients, married up new logos to the new brand, created the corresponding brand identities, created and developed a very diverse group of websites, worked collaboratively with some insanely creative partners, and headed the business association for all of the retailers and restaurants located directly out the front door of our office here in northeast Minneapolis.

Before we move on to 2018 though, we would like to linger for just a short while on 2017 and how we ended up. The ending is a good one, so stick around for this.

Believe in Good(nola)!

I started as a graphic design intern at Kazoo in May, and my very first project was to create a label for Goodnola, a homemade granola. What a great first assignment! The Kazoo team had already gone back and forth with the client a few times, and knew the label should have a old-fashioned look to it that references the homemade nature of the granola, while also evoking the sense of a high-quality product. With some guidance from Mila, I pursued a Delft Blue inspired design because the style's association with homemade craft fit with our client's business.

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The above examples of Delft Blue helped inspire the Goodnola design.

I used a monochromatic blue color scheme, and incorporated floral illustrations that borrowed characteristics from oat and barley grains. For a typeface, I chose a serif font that fits with the classic look of the Delft Blue, and also evokes an old-style, homemade feeling.This project only required the design of a front label, but I decided to expand the identity system by designing a back label as well. To do this, I took an illustration from the front and created a pattern out of it. Solid, blue outlines ground the pattern and prevent it from feeling too busy, and copy sits inside a white box where the text is easy to read. 

This was a fun project to work on, and I enjoyed having the challenge of creating a design that references a particular art style. If you've got any package design needs, send them over to Kazoo and we'll work with you to give your product a personality that stands out and speaks for itself. Bonus: I'll be one happy intern!