Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Music City Pizza: Branding & Packaging

Several months ago, a tasty project came our way—and we could not wait to sink our teeth into it! The client wanted to renovate a popular Nashville performance venue called 12th & Porter and open a pizza restaurant next to it. (Pure genius—when people line up outside the venue, they will smell the pizza while they are waiting to see a show—and of course, they are gonna want some!)

We started by creating a bunch of rough logo concepts. All our designers submitted options. (That is our favorite way to create a logo—get everyone in the firm to cook up a few ideas and see which ones the client likes best.) Some logo ideas reminded him of heavy metal. Others looked like Hip Hop. Since Music City is about lots of different styles of music, the client settled on a logo that had more cross-over power. He chose an option that was part guitar pick, part slice of pizza. (The winning logo was created by staff artist Ligia Teodosiu.) After messing around with lots of color options, we chose black & gold—the branding for the 12th & Porter music venue was already black, and gold reminded us of yummy, gooey cheese.

After Ligia nailed down the logo, the team created a bunch of cool art that could be used to decorate and promote the joint. We wanted the graphics to represent several different musical genres. We started out using a lot of color. But as we experimented, we realized that many of our colors were not really food colors (thus, they were not very appetizing.) They were also too varied to serve as solid brand identifiers. So we slimmed down the palette to make the art more simple and bold fit the new brand look we had established.

The resulting designs created an artistic language that felt energetic, grungy, underground, hip and urban. This pile of art served as a great starting point for the menu design.
Creative Director Joel Anderson wanted to make the menus out of old double LP record jackets. The client liked that idea, but he wanted to create an album cover that was more about the new MCP brand. Staff artist Edward Patton stepped up and designed a killer LP record jacket. He made all the illustrations black and gold, and added lots of cool spray paint and urban graffiti touches to help the vibe look and feel like an underground music hot spot.

The client hired a record company to print off several hundred units of the LP jacket. Edward used brass fasteners to install clear plastic sleeves on the inside of the LP jacket. Since the menu was destined to change a lot, the client would be able to print out color copy menu sheets and insert them into the plastic sleeves. (The idea was to make the menu easy to update without having to re-print the whole thing!)
After the menu was completed, Edward started working on the pizza boxes. The client wanted them to scream Music and Pizza. So Edward illustrated a turn table for the large box and a guitar amp for the small pizza box.
It’s a good thing we created only 2 branding colors—most pizza box printers charge a LOT more money to print multiple colors. So our saucy black & gold branding scheme looked good and it saved the client a bunch of dough!
Next time you are in Nashville, be sure to go to Music City Pizza and catch a show at 12th & Porter. Thanks to some crafty bartering to reduce our design fee, we will be eating like kings for a long time to come! Who knows, you might run into us there.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Syracuse University: Orange Central

Syracuse University contacted us earlier this year to see if we would be interested in doing a poster series for their Orange Central Event happening in October. Syracuse is a university with a lot of history, and we all agreed that the vintage travel poster was the right vibe to celebrate their campus at the annual event. The series focused on four aspects of their school that they wanted to play up: the campus buildings, school spirit, making connections on campus, and last but not least–athletics. 

Each poster started with a lot of planning. We had to come up with a series that portrayed all the various aspects that would also work well when viewed together as a collection. Illustrator Aaron Johnson was put in charge of the series, and he hit the ground running with various concepts and sketches.

Each poster explored various typographic treatments and color schemes before arriving at the final version. The client was very involved in the process, giving feedback choosing from various options. 

Each poster has a story, having went through several stages of development. Some went through total overhauls and by the end each one had a life and a history of it's own. 

Waste not, want not. Sometimes you get partway though a design and it ends up changing directions. When that happens we like to hold onto designs that might prove useful for future posters. With parts leftover from the project Aaron built this vintage football poster to add to our growing collection of Americana art celebrating national pastimes. 

After a long journey the Syracuse Orange Central poster series was complete. The client was very pleased with the work and even used parts and pieces of the posters in their brochures and banners for the event. A special thanks goes to freelancer Jordan Bickimer, who assisted Aaron on the Spirit poster when deadlines got tight. 

The posters were so well received that their department asked us to create a shirt design using the artwork. Now you really can get in the orange spirit!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Office & Studio Store Renovation

Call us crazy, but back in July, we decided to renovate our entire building—inside and out—while we kept working in the middle of the chaos. The goal was to transform our crusty old 70s-era office building into a hip multi-use hot spot of design and local culture. So we did a total makeover to create a warm and inviting retail space on the ground floor and a stylish design studio space on the 2nd floor.

For the last 10 years, our place looked like an ordinary office building. The structure was easy to ignore—and that didn’t bother us because we were busy minding our own business, creating award-winning logos, packaging and design work for clients.

Once our classic prints and gifts started selling like crazy on and on our own site, we realized that we needed to create a gallery space to showcase our creations. That idea grew into the Anderson Design Group Studio Store. To make our office building look more like a retail store from the street, we blew up our poster art and decorated the building with our favorite designs. We added warehouse lights for a classic feel, changed the paint color, and cut down some bushes and trees that had been obscuring the building. The results have been amazing in terms of foot traffic into the new space.

As the workers transformed the outside, another crew was busy gutting the interior. Phase 1 was to establish a new environment upstairs where our designers could spread out and be creative. The 2nd floor had been a storage area, and the designers were all on the ground floor sharing space with our first attempt at a retail store/showroom. (Our prints and gifts had started to become so popular that we constantly had customers dropping in to browse, ask questions, and hang out while we were trying to work on design projects for our clients! We really enjoyed the interaction, but it soon became counter-productive.) Sharing space like that wasn’t good for the design firm or our retail biz. So we split the operation in two by moving the design team upstairs, making room for a for-real retail space downstairs.

The upstairs design aesthetic is rustic, creative and casual. We love being in the South. (For years, we had to convince clients from New York and L.A. that Nashville was a cool place. Now everyone knows that!) We wanted to celebrate our Southern roots and evoke some Music City Charm in the colors, textures, and vibe of our new interior.

After we finished the upstairs renovation, we moved the design team up to our fresh new creative roost. It turned out to be a soothing, yet inspiring space ideal for collaborating. Each design station got a brand new ergonomic UpDesk (a swanky motorized adjustable height desk.) The model we chose (the UpWrite) has a dry erase surface! (These UpWrite desks are amazing, by the way! We love them so much, we want to be sure to give a shout out to the folks who produce them!)

We used reclaimed wood and sheet metal (Joel Anderson distressed it and made it look old and rusty) to give the space a nice comfy, Southern vibe. We made our conference room table from an old tree that was sawed down the middle. Everything we did was intended to create a more natural, re-purposed, and creative environment—right down to the coffee table made from 2 old retired G-5 Mac towers!


(Of course, Joel had to make room for his collection of toys.)

Once we moved into our new design studio space upstairs, we started Phase 2—gutting the ground floor so we could create the Anderson Design Group Studio Store and gallery space. It is now a proper showcase for all of our poster art, licensed products, fine art, and other cool hand-crafted items from our favorite local makers. (Everything we sell was designed and made in Tennessee.)

Founder Joel Anderson describes the store like this: "We wanted to create a truly Southern shopping and browsing experience that showcases the history, creativity and charm of Music City. We planned every detail to draw people into the space, captivate them with clever use of color, texture, space and craftsmanship, and give them something to take home or give to a client, friend or loved one.”

The newly transformed space is ideal for welcoming our design clients, groups of design students who want to tour the studio, and customers who love well-designed, locally-made gifts. Our vision for combining business-to-business design with design for consumers to enjoy has come together in a beautiful way.

The entire building now exudes a welcome Southern charm and encourages everyone who enters to be more expressive, creative, and joyful. If you want to go somewhere that will make you smile as soon as you walk in, come to 116 29th Avenue North in Nashville, Tennessee. We hope to see y’all soon!