Archives For design

A Sweet Story

March 1, 2013 — 2 Comments

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

I’m about to write about one of my favourites projects of ALL time. Ever. This project had everything a designer looks for in a project: The idea was totally fresh, the clients were amazing, and the whole process was delightful from start to finish. Here’s how it all began:

In what seems like years ago, Meg Makins, a friend from university, send me a brief and exciting email. It went something like this: “I’m going to start a mobile snow cone business with my friend. Wanna do the branding!?”. I said “Yes!” (and added a few squeals and exclamation points) and a few months later, I sat down with Meg and Lindsay at Mulberry Coffee in Hamilton to talk about their vision.

I came away from that meeting totally inspired. This wasn’t your average snow-cone business. For one, Meg and Lindsay (while adorable) aren’t just cute for the sake of being cute. Behind their sparkly dispositions, these guys are serious: Serious about quality, about sourcing all their ingredients locally, about making all their syrups from scratch, about representing their city in all its glory.

As visions of snow cones danced in my head, I set to work. My first attempts were still a touch too cute and a little too twee: I chose fonts that were curly and quaint, and it didn’t really match the picture Meg and Lindsay had painted. I eventually landed on a font combination that hit the right balance between sweet and serious, and finalized the palette. Another serious break-through in the design process was to apply a faux-screen printing look to the logo. I used a craft paper texture for this effect. This completely gelled with their “do it by hand” mantra, and as a bonus, it looked hella cool. Here’s a breakdown:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

And here’s how those elements came together in the final logo:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

While I was working on the logo, Meg and Lindsay commissioned their friend and illustrator Andrea Manica to create some original artwork to incorporate into the brand. Andrea is AMAZING and she sketched out portraits, ingredients, and host of other beautiful doodles (you have permission to leave this post for a minute and check out some of her work). Andrea provided oodles of sketches to me, and from there I colourized them, made them vectors, and them and worked them into the Sweet Ice story.

sweet ice andrea

With all these elements in place, designing collateral for Sweet Ice has been a joy. Below is just a taste of some of the work done for them so far: business cards, posters, desktop wallpapers, and fundraiser postcards:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

I really hope this post have given you a taste (pardon the pun) for what the Sweet Ice girls are all about. If want to find out even more, watch the happiest video of all time, which is also called their commercial. I didn’t make this, but I did watch it 20 times, so that sort of counts, right? 🙂

Thanks again to Meaghan and Lindsay for allowing me to play a small part in bringing these sweet treats to the peeps of Hamilton!

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

Ready for Take-Off

March 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

In addition to the projects I’ve done on a freelance basis, I’ve also spend a great deal of time and energy in the last three years as a graphic designer for Redeemer  University College. I’ve created hundreds of projects for them – concert posters, program brochures, appeal letters, cards, mailers – you name it, I’ve put Redeemer’s logo on it. With so many different projects completed over the years, this won’t be the last RUC project I’ll feature, but it is one of my favourites.

Every year, we in Marketing team get to work on something called a Viewbook. A Viewbook is the primary piece of collateral for any university – it should convince any undecided high school student to apply, and tell them just enough about the various programs  to hook them. University is a huge transition for these students, for for many, it’s the furthest from home they’ve ever been. We at Redeemer wanted to acknowledge the significance of this journey, so I received instructions to make the 2013 Viewbook a Passport for all these undecided students.

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

The trick with this campaign was to not only make the reference obvious, but ensure the piece was both informative and fun. It needed to invoke a level of authenticity, wanderlust, and whimsy – a tricky combination.

Like usual, I spend the first few weeks of design laying out my palette, my fonts, and my textures. The palette and (most of) the fonts needed to stay in line with Redeemer’s already established visual identity, but they needed to be used in a new and fresh way. Here’s the breakdown:

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

Redeemer’s primary colours are a deep Red and Gold, I complimented those with their secondary colours, blue and green. Redeemer’s logo is rendered in Trajan, so I used that font sparingly throughout the document. Their primary body serif is Din, so I introduced Din Condensed to give the document an “Official Passport Offfice” vibe. I then added Marydale, a hand-written typeface, to give the allusion that this document has been filled out and scribbled on. I also selected several textures to give the piece some dimension: The leather texture mimics the texture on an actual Passport cover, the worn-out paper textures convey suggest this Passport has seen some wear and tear. I used wood texture to create interior spreads that looked like a cluttered desk with Passports and travel documents all over it.

From there, I populated the document with all the majors, minors, facts, and figures a prospective student would want to know. I also used several other postage, passport, and travel motifs: The course symbols look like old stamps, the pages are lined with travel markings, and watermarks and scattered throughout the book.

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

The end result is a piece that manages to convey all the officiality of a Passport,with the excitement and energy that comes from embarking on a grand journey.

Since the Viewbook always kicks of the campaign year, we’ve since used these motifs for many other Recruitment pieces. It appears on Redeemer’s brochures, posters, and postcards. It tells the students that although they’ve already arrived, they have quite a trip ahead.

Ahh, that blessed week between Christmas and New Years. A time to read, a time to sleep, a time to clean, a time to thrift. That just about sums up my life for the past few days. In between taking down the Christmas tree, and racking up the mileage on my car from one family to another, I found the time to enjoy my new gifts, and thrift some old gifts too.

I’ve often mentioned that I thrift because it ties all my passions together. I’ve already posted on thrift-fusions pertaining to my love for art history and photography, and over the Christmas break I stepped over yet another blurry line.

Some background: I’m a graphic designer. Everyday, I pour over fonts and fuss with serifs. So, naturally, the hot item atop my wishlist was Simon Garfeild’s Just My Type: A Book About Fonts. This is a wonderful book – it’s fresh, funny, informative, and quite simply a must-own for type geeks like me. It reminds me that fonts are bits of living history. Just My Type gives us the stories behind the fonts, and tells of the masterful craftmanship that goes into every letter. And in turn, those masterfully crafted alphabets shape our histories, and provide sign posts to look back on The fonts we use, and the ways we use them, give us insights we too often overlook. This was proven especially true on Wednesday evening, after yet another trip to the Salvation Army.

Not having much luck, I was just about ready to call it a night, but not before I took one last look at the jacket aisle. There, I  plucked a bright red blazer from the hanger. Oh, what a find! This was no ordinary red blazer, this, friends, was Christian Dior. So, I put it on, put my money on the counter, and headed on home.

However, there was one little thought bugging me about the jacket. More specifically, the jacket label. It looked all wrong. The Dior logo is elegant, the font likely designed by Nicholas Cochin, the serifs (the little feet on fonts like Garamond and Times New Roman) are slight, and the D has a grand sensibility. The Christian Dior logo in the jacket wasn’t any of those things. It was a simple font, with harsh slab-serifs. Below is a basic comparison of the classic logo, and the logo on my blazer.

The jacket was just too nice to be a fake, so I went to the Google-mobile for some mystery-solving, fonty-style.

I looked through many’an ebay auction, read up on vintage labels, and nailed down trademarks for specific Dior collections. Through it all, I discovered that Dior has used at  nearly 20 variations on the logo over the years, and these variations can tell us what collection an item is from, what year it was created, where it was manufactured, and how much it’s worth.

After much sleuthing, I came across a big tip when I found another reputable vintage fashion dealer, selling a very similar red jacket (with an hilariously 80s wig). Even the sizing was in the same font and style.

I found more matching labels on additional jackets and trousers, and the history of my jacket came to light. Turns out, in the mid-eighties, Dior launched a diffusion line called Christian Dior Coordonnes. This line was an offshoot of the larger Dior brand, creating clothes for the modern working woman at department store prices (much like Lauren by Ralph Lauren or D&G by Dolce and Gabanna). Suddenly, the variation in the classic Dior logo made perfect sense – of course Dior would select a font of a more casual nature, something a little more modern, a little less stuffy, and a little more attainable for this everyday collection. Dior chose a font to convey something specific, and yesterday that font gave me the specifics I wanted to know. Full circle. Nice.

If you’ve stuck with me during this little history lesson, I applaud you! While it may seem dry to some, these sort of pleasant intersections between life, design, and fashion are what it’s all about for me. And you know what else makes me happy? Wearing something with shoulder pads so big, they could hurt somebody.

Just one more teensy fun fact: my jacket was likely made in Canada, so you know what I’ll be wearing Canada Day 2012! Except this thing is pure wool, so it’s going to be a very sweaty July 1. I must really love my country.

Update: a friendly tweet from the ever-stylish Jentine at My Edit reminded me of her most-excellent post on what to look for when thrifting blazers. She has wisdom, go absorb it!