“Most Awesome Brochure”

Cover of Austin Symphony Orchestra 2013–14 brochure designed by Scott M Deems, Basement Light Design

I’m totally stoked to announce that a brochure designed by Basement Light Design for the Austin Symphony‘s 2013–14 season has been awarded the honor of “Most Awesome Brochure” for 2013 by the League of American Orchestras. I am proud of the work that ASO Marketing Director Jason Nicholson and I continue to produce over the past five years. I urge every Austinite to support this wonderful musical institution as often as possible!

Brochure design by Scott M Deems, Basement Light Design; principal photography by Kenny Trice


The following story is reposted via Trevor O’Donnell, who regularly blogs about marketing the arts

I’ve written before about the great work Jason Nicholson from the Austin Symphony is doing. Today I’m delighted to let you know that his 2013/14 season brochure has been recognized by peers at the League of American Orchestras as the “Most Awesome Brochure” in his category.

You can see the complete brochure here.

Early reports suggest that the brochure is pulling ahead of last year’s, but we’re waiting for overall results. What we insiders like and what works aren’t always the same thing, of course, so we’ll have to hold off on making judgements until the numbers are in. (Surprising as it may seem to some veteran arts pros, sales results are the only reliable indicators of an orchestra brochure’s quality.)

From a strategic perspective, however, I can identify several elements of this brochure that make it worthy of its awesome designation:

  1. It’s based on research into audience motivations. Jason learned from audience members on the outer fringes of his support system that the experience of enjoying a night out was as important as the content of that night out, so he created a brochure that focused on the customers’ experience.
  2. It’s as much about the customer as it is about the product. Commercial marketers know that one of the best ways to sell a product is to show happy people who represent their target demographic actually enjoying the product. This does that beautifully. (Larger orchestras that use their promotional real estate to talk exclusively about how wonderful and important they are could learn a thing or two from this.)
  3. It tells a story. Rather than simply presenting sequential product information, this brochure tells a compelling emotional story about a couple’s night at the symphony. It uses narrative to draw consumers in and help them identify more personally with the product. That last shot of the happy couple walking hand-in-hand up the aisle under the words “Subscriber Information” is priceless.
  4. It breaks the fourth wall. I could write a lengthy treatise about the rhetorical impact of that shot of the patrons and musicians in the same hallway.
  5. It meets the audience where they live. Arts institutions often maintain a philosophical belief that audiences should aspire to their level, which is fine and may be true, but allowing that philosophy to spill into marketing messages can be suicidal. This brochure avoids condescension by saying, “This is about you,” which is exactly what it is.

I’m a huge fan of the work the Austin Symphony Orchestra is doing and I look forward to seeing great things coming from Jason and his team in the future.

Congratulations, Jason. Can’t wait to hear how the campaign works.

Best print ads of 2012–13

See some of the winners from the Press Lions at Cannes…

01 Grand Prix: Apple iPad mini

Agency: TBWA/Media Arts Lab, Los Angeles
These iPad mini ads, released late last year, were placed on the back covers of several national magazines—including Time, Wired and The New Yorker. The tablet is shown actual size, with its display featuring that magazine’s front cover.

Grand Prix: Apple iPad mini


02 Two Gold Lions: Penguin Audiobooks

Agency: McCann, Mumbai
This campaign turned famous authors into headphones.

2 Gold Lions: Penguin Audiobooks


03 Two Gold Lions: Sunlight Dishwasher Detergent (Unilever)

Agency: Lowe, Bangkok, Thailand
Get that pig off your plate with Sunlight. An average idea, perhaps, but the illustrations are impressive.

2 Gold Lions: Sunlight Dishwasher Detergent (Unilever)


04 Gold Lion: Comedy Central

Agency: Grey, Buenos Aires, Argentina
These ads are an homage to Mad magazine’s “fold-ins.” Fold the page to meet the dotted lines… comedy ensues.

Gold Lion: Comedy Central


05 Gold Lion: Dove beauty products (Unilever)

Agency: Ogilvy, São Paulo, Brazil
What follows is one of the drawings from the famous “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign, which won the Titanium Grand Prix this year. At left is a woman as described to a sketch artist by the woman. At right is the same woman as described by a stranger.

Gold Lion: Dove beauty products (Unilever)

Courtesy Tim Nudd, Adweek

New music from The Sour Notes

Austin, Texas band The Sour NotesI first met Austin band The Sour Notes at SXSW 2011. I was hurrying across town to catch my friend and local artist Kacy Crowley at Betsy’s Bar and hoped to arrive in time for The Sour Notes’ set. Four of the members stood onstage… waiting… while the drummer was outside somewhere, stuck in traffic. It was an awkward moment for the band, but they’re nice folks, and handled the situation with aplomb and humor.

Watch the music video below of a new song, shot by Paul Avellino.

Here is some more information, with another link of the song streaming on the Red Bull Sound Select site.

The album, “Do What May,” is due out soon. Please enjoy (and be sure to use your napkin)!


Looking for something different for your business card? Why not try letterpress printing? Letterpress printing actually presses the type and image into the paper resulting in a tactile impression you can feel. Is it affordable? It can be… letterpress shops such as The Mandate Press offer 250 single-ink-color letterpressed calling cards for $95.

Here is some inspiration…

01 Mei Yen Chua

Letterpress cards, Mei Yen Chua

02 Shyama Golden

Letterpress cards, Shyama Golden

03 The Highbrow Men’s Grooming Lounge

Letterpress cards, The Highbrow Men's Grooming Lounge

04 I Am Tiago

Letterpress cards, I am Tiago

05 Culinary Culture

Letterpress cards, Culinary Culture

06 Figments

Letterpress cards, Figments

07 Good Apples

Letterpress cards, Good Apples

08 My Old Red Hat

Letterpress cards, My Old Red Hat

09 Whitney Shaw

Letterpress cards, Whitney Shaw

10 BaristaLab

Letterpress cards, BaristaLab


Courtesy DesignTutorials4U



Alan Lomax’s historical recordings to go online

Alan Lomax (right) with musician Wade Ward during the Southern Journey recordings, 1959-1960.

Alan Lomax (right) with musician Wade Ward during the Southern Journey recordings, 1959-1960.

Folklorist Alan Lomax spent his career documenting folk music traditions from around the world. Now thousands of the songs and interviews he recorded are available for free online, many for the first time. It’s part of what Lomax envisioned for the collection — long before the age of the Internet.

Lomax recorded a staggering amount of folk music. He worked from the 1930s to the ’90s, and traveled from the Deep South to the mountains of West Virginia, all the way to Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. When it came time to bring all of those hours of sound into the digital era, the people in charge of the Lomax archive weren’t quite sure how to tackle the problem.

“We err on the side of doing the maximum amount possible,” says Don Fleming, executive director of the Association for Cultural Equity, the nonprofit organization Lomax founded in New York in the ’80s. Fleming and a small staff made up mostly of volunteers have digitized and posted some 17,000 sound recordings.

“For the first time, everything that we’ve digitized of Alan’s field recording trips are online, on our website,” says Fleming. “It’s every take, all the way through. False takes, interviews, music.”

“Alan would have been thrilled to death. He would’ve just been so excited,” says Anna Lomax Wood, Lomax’s daughter and president of the Association for Cultural Equity. “He would try everything. Alan was a person who looked to all the gambits you could. But the goal was always the same.”

Throughout his career, Lomax was always using the latest technology to record folk music in the field and then share it with anyone who was interested. When he started working with his father, John Lomax, in the ’30s, that meant recording on metal cylinders. Later, Alan Lomax hauled giant tape recorders powered by car batteries out to backwoods shacks and remote villages.

Lomax wrote and hosted radio and TV shows, and he spent the last 20 years of his career experimenting with computers to create something he called the Global Jukebox. He had big plans for the project. In a 1991 interview with CBS, he said, “The modern computer with all its various gadgets and wonderful electronic facilities now makes it possible to preserve and reinvigorate all the cultural richness of mankind.”

He imagined a tool that would integrate thousands of sound recordings, films, videotapes and photographs made by himself and others. He hoped the Global Jukebox would make it easy to compare music across different cultures and continents using a complex analytical system he devised — kind of like Pandora for grad students. But the basic idea was simple: Make it all available to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Lomax was forced to stop working when his health declined in the ’90s, and he left the Global Jukebox unfinished. Now that his archives are online, the organization he founded is turning its attention to that job.

The Association for Cultural Equity is housed in a rundown building near the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan. Most of Lomax’s original recordings and notes are now stored at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. But Fleming says the New York offices still exude the DIY vibe they had when Lomax was working there — right down to the collection of castoff chairs and desks, none of which seem to match.

“There was never any money in it for Alan,” says Fleming. “Alan scraped by the whole time, and left with no money. He did it out of the passion he had for it, and found ways to fund projects that were closest to his heart.”

Money is still tight. But that never stopped Alan Lomax, and it hasn’t deterred Anna Lomax Wood, either.

“He believed that all cultures should be looked at on an even playing field,” she says. “Not that they’re all alike. But they should be given the same dignity, or they had the same dignity and worth as any other.”

Almost 10 years after his death, his heirs are still trying to make his vision a reality — one recording at a time.

Courtesy NPR

Image Shirley Collins/Courtesy of Alan Lomax Archive

Nonprofit communication trends

Curious about how other nonprofits are communicating? Want to see where the trends are? You can download your free copy of the Nonprofit Communications Trends Report now. The trends you’ll find in this report come from an online survey of 1,435 nonprofits. We asked a variety of marketing questions: In what shape is your marketing plan? Which communications tools do you see as very important, somewhat important, and least important to you? Which social media channel are you most likely to add or experiment with? Which types of content do you expect to spend most of your time producing? What are your biggest marketing challenges? How often do you plan to email the typical person on your email list? How often do you plan to send direct mail? What excites you about your work? What scares you about your work? We also break down the data by nonprofit size, mission, and region of the U.S.

Infographic source courtesy Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Salvador Dalí’s lollipop logo

Salvador Dalí's real masterpiece: The logo for Chupa Chups lollipopsSalvador Dalí, the wacky surrealist known for his signature pointy moustache and painting melting clocks, was also graphic designer behind the classic Chupa Chups lollipops—an enduringly sweet, bright rendition of a daisy.

The Catalan lollipop made its first appearance in 1958, when the company founder Enric Bernat hatched the idea of placing a bonbon on a stick. He called the product “GOL,” imagining the candy as a soccer ball and the open mouth a net. It didn’t go over well. So Bernat hired an ad agency that renamed his product “Chupa Chups” (from the Spanish chupar, meaning “to suck”). All that was left was the branding. In 1969, Bernat complained about what he had while having coffee with his artist friend—none other than Salvador Dalí.


Salvador Dalí in 1954


According to lore, the painter went to work immediately, doodling for an hour on newspapers that were laying around. Dalí’s version masterfully integrated the wordmark into the daisy design, and has hardly changed since. And book publisher Phaidon points us to one subtle, extremely smart feature of the design:

Acutely aware of presentation, Dalí insisted that his design be placed on top of the lolly, rather than the side, so that it could always be viewed intact. It’s proved to be one of the most enduring pieces of branding ever and one that’s still used today, four billion sales later.

What would induce the famous artist to take on such a project? Dinero. The guy rarely turned it down, causing surrealist poet André Breton to nickname him “Avida Dollars”—an anagram of Dalí’s name that roughly translates to “eager for cash.”

Image: p4nc0np4n

Courtesy Belinda Lanks, Fast Company

Type design trends for 2012

Type designers are some of the hardest working people in design. They demonstrate a passion required to build a typeface and of necessity must be sticklers for detail.

Over the last few months, a trend toward basics, legibility, and elegance define the current state of type design.

Read on as we select some of the type trends that will inspire designers to think differently about typography.

01 Ligature discretion

Discretionary ligatures like Siruca enable you to create pictograms with type

Discretionary ligatures like Siruca enable you to create pictograms with type

OpenType has a feature called discretionary ligatures, making it possible to do some really interesting things when certain letters are typed in a certain order. Take Fabrizio Schiavi’s Siruca for instance; a font which, when you type the word ‘car’, a car pictogram appears.

02 Simplicity and legibility redefined

Trio Grotesk by Florian Schick is simple, elegant and modern

Trio Grotesk by Florian Schick is simple, elegant and modern

If you’ve seen the excellent iA Writer app for both Mac and iPad, you’ll no doubt have noticed its set-back, minimalist yet hugely legible monospaced typeface, Nitti. It’s a font from the foundry Bold Monday, a Dutch outfit that designs both commercial and custom fonts.

Bold Monday’s faces are leading the trend of simple, elegant yet modern typefaces; from Panno Sign, which was designed for the romanisation of street names in South Korea, to its newest release Trio Grotesk – Florian Schick’s personal interpretation of Kaart Antieke, an early 20th century sans serif used by Piet Zwart in his essay about modern typography, “Van oude tot nieuwe typografie”.

Another example is Dalton Maag’s excellent custom font for Nokia.

03 Slick stencils

Type Together created this slick, bespoke stencil font for Levi's

Type Together created this slick, bespoke stencil font for Levi’s

Stencils are back with a vengeance, and a fantastic example of a slick, contemporary stencil is Levi’s, a font designed by Type Together for the jeans brand, commissioned by Wieden and Kennedy. Based on Paratype’s version of Bodoni, you could arguably group it into trend 05, but we feel stencils deserve their own entry.

04 Didone is back

Rick Banks' F37 Bella is at the forefront of a revival in Didone typefaces

Rick Banks’ F37 Bella is at the forefront of a revival in Didone typefaces

If there’s one font that sums up the revival of Didone typefaces, it’s Rick Banks’ F37 Bella. A useful and stylish font, Banks has just released a Heavy version for those wanting to use it a bit smaller (at smaller point sizes the original’s serifs could disappear).

These hyper-thin hairline serifs and strong contrasts between thick and thin lines, make it a modern classic in the Didot classification. It’s a stunningly elegant font for headlines; online and especially in print. A bargain at £35 per weight.

Other nice examples include Neutura’s Estrella typeface.

05 Classics revived

Garçon Grotesque is one of many classic fonts to be revived by modern designers

Garçon Grotesque is one of many classic fonts to be revived by modern designers

Type designers love reinterpreting classic fonts in new ways. There have been many examples over the past year, but one that stands out is the release of Garçon Grotesque.

A contemporary interpretation of Copperplate Gothic, Garçon Grotesque is a sophisticated typeface designed in a multitude of weights with extended Latin character set, small capitals and a working lowercase.

You can buy it at Myfonts, starting at $50. An example of a face being revived by a modern foundry is Commercial Type’s revival of Max Miedinger’s Neue Haas Grotesk (the font that became Helvetica).

Courtesy Creative Bloq

Affordable 3D outdoor

PosterProps offer outdoor marketers a cost-effective 3D solutionMetromedia Technologies, Inc (MMT) announced today an exclusive partnership with PosterProps, the developer of a patented lightweight, digitally-printed material that clips over posters to create a spectacular 3D prop. PosterProps can be fashioned into any shape or size, and unlike traditional hard props, require no special equipment or crews to install, reducing both time and expense. The billboard or poster inflates on-site and installs by using existing installation crews without specialist equipment in under 30 minutes.

The best news for outdoor marketers is that this translates into lower costs than traditional outdoor “spectaculars.”

Tony Gearty, CEO of PosterProps said: “We are delighted to have found a partner of MMT’s caliber who share our vision of growing a market using our innovative and affordable props, which means so many more billboard locations can now justify a 3D offering.”