I am having some mandatory stuff done to the car, so I am sitting in the fabulous Maguire waiting room with the light streaming in the windows with wifi and all sorts of “we love our customers” amenities getting ready to dive on the pile of email. So, to delay that inevitability, I figured a quick entry would be in order.
I am heads down on a bunch of branding related projects for my big client with some coming easily and others, not so…It is so hard to think about regulating certain design elements/ treatments for really trained designers and quite another for a less sophisticated group that is often the group my client likes to hire. This same group needs to be “creative” for the sake of creativity and not to better reinforce the messaging and desires of the client. This type of creative agency feels that their voice leads the conversation versus reflects that of the desires of the entity hiring them…and maybe because of untrained people on the client’s end, they can easily assume this position. However, it hurts me as the end product, the image of the company is often dinged and damaged because of all this maverick creativity—without any respect to the big horizon. So should we cramp the style and creativity of the lesser designers to try and corral them into a standard…or respect them to follow the current standards (which they do not) and have to wrestle them to comply each and every project they are involved in? If I ruled the universe, this particular universe, I would have a few good agencies—ones that know what is needed , who do follow standards and understand their import. I would have a very tight standard (IBM of the 70s, Siemens, Apple Computer) and with very tight grids, image direction, type sizes and standards. I would regulate and reinforce. This is not impossible…but sometimes things have to be autocratic in order to create a unified vision. But this is the ideal condition.
I am finishing up the Myer Farm Distillers labelling as part of the branding we are doing.Myer Farm is quite an operation as its field to flask. This family farm grows organic grain and have been for quite a while—and have been selling it to the first local distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling and has broken ground, ordered the equipment from Europe and is going into business themselves. I presented a series of approaches to their brand and was surprised and pleased that they picked an approach that I think of as Scandanavian (though where that comes from is beyond me). It is a sheaf of barley drawn simply/ with a bow to woodcut images of grain with the head of the grain, and a dagger-y calligraphic stem. The font is Futura because of the beautiful sharp M-s and the nice weight shift. The colors are taken from the design of their building. The labels have illustrations referencing the main ingredient of the liquor—and a strong, consistent type treatment that is differentiated by colorway. The client selected some really great bottle profiles…so as this comes to the close for now, I am getting pretty psyched as it will look great. What a nice add to the wine region and the “beer trail” in these robust Finger Lakes.
Next on the horizon is a farm who has been an organic farm since the 70s making all sorts of pickles and the like.They have a fabulous reputation and they got ‘the goods”. So being able to package a great product should be excellent. I am busy looking at labels and gathering some competititive information to start our adventure too.
Meet some of the competition:
I am fascinated by the whole local foods movement here, but as a point/counterpoint to the wild activity in the local foods movement in Brooklyn. I am constantly stunned when visiting NYC or shopping the foody day on Fab.com to see the pickles, jams, coffee, cheese etc. that are being elegantly produced and sold from folks packed in on Long Island. Surely we could take this on with our access to space, to amazing produce and people who know how to do this sort of thing. Surely, this is a way to use the produce as it ripens and is picked in addition to putting it fresh on people’s plates around here. We can drive people to our farmers markets, to the farm stands, to the CSAs but there are only so many people here (even if we trained them up to like veggies)—that after market products seem like a great way to add money to the farmer’s pockets while producing high quality organic canned produce.
Crooked Carrot is doing this on a small scale. I fully applaud their work and food. But we need more…and we need a way to help Crooked Carrot scale up (if they want to do that) in a way that they can be successful. I like how imaginative Crooked Carrot is—and by being a share holder, I am given things I might not buy on my own (pickled Kohlrabi as one which we finished off in two sittings). It is a luxury to try these things, but I cannot be helpful to anyone if I am not educated about the CSA, CSK, CSG models. Clever and resourceful Melissa Madden of Good Life Farm has a gorgeous spring CSA that is a delight. The focus of her CSA are greens—cooking greens, raw greens etc. which depending on the part of the less than dependable Spring, she supplements with canned goods from her farm (canned and preserved by Crooked Carrot) and or amazing sprouts (I never thought I would say that) from Dancing Turtle. Melissa uses the produce from the summer before the add to her unpredictable mix..and as a recipient, every CSA pick-up is Christmas morning as I never fully grasp what she has told us was coming each week until it is put in my bag!
So, where is all of this chatty meandering going? Its all about taking in the horizon of the local foods scene and better understanding it and how I can help move the needle for the farmers, for the region, for the eaters out there. If the NYTimes is on it…we need to be ahead of it. It’s fun to participate as its part of the education—both as an illustrator/designer but also in my role with the Trumansburg Farmers Market where we circle on details I never had thought about…but trying to keep in balance the desires of the farmers and the hopes of the consumers. Very thin blade there.