Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

A Vision of Jazz

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Jazz is_Pulsating_Crop_Web_2

It is Jazz festival season here in Rochester, New York. From now until the end of summer, almost every moment of our good weather season is rich with every sort of festival and celebration. As a designer and an illustrator this season has my mind working overtime and I get the itch to create posters for the events.

During the 1960s and 1970s, American festivals and concert events were branded graphically with posters and T-shirts. These were powerful pop culture works of art, and they publicly displayed the unique creativity and designs of a growing community of home-grown visionaries. Their illustrations, photography and the interwoven elements of classic and modern design instantly connected the audience and the event. T-shirts became wearable art, often worthy of gallery display. Event posters once sold for a couple of bucks out of the back of VW bus, now fetch outrageous prices for originals and decorate the walls in art museums.

The medium is still the message, and poster design extends the vision of the artist and the experience of the event – far beyond the reach of a single human or epic concert performance. It is a physical embodiment of our shared culture.

So why are we not making posters like that anymore? In truth, there is no good reason. In our rush to promote digitally, in an entirely disposable, delete-able medium, we often forget about the power of the long-lasting print medium. The well-done poster has collectible value because it has sentimental value. It makes a timeless emotional connection to a set of cultural values.

But there is good news! The open canvas for big ideas still exists. The ability to execute them graphically, beautifully and affordably is still within our power, and stronger than ever before. The opportunity for the confluence of words and images to create a moving, almost underground language to influence a generation is there for the taking.

Looking at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, I began to wonder: “What is Jazz? How do I define it? How do you define it?” In my role as a graphic design provocateur insists, I believe I can further this discussion with a series of posters combining images and words that elicit our true feelings on the subject, based around the statement/question: “Jazz Is…”

I asked Charley Myers, Copywriter at Large, to create a list of words to be used as motivation for the design concepts and begin to sculpt out the many facets of what this uniquely American musical form is and can be.

I invite you all to contribute to this concept. Send me a link to your personal defining piece of Jazz music. Share with me your thoughts and images of what Jazz means to you. Help me extend the series to include all the possible sub-categories of music that make up this uniquely American musical genre.

Jazz is Mellifluous – Poster size 24″x36″
Digital / Traditional



Are You Content Providing Content?

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

A longtime friend of mine and copywriter extraordinaire has recently begun to describe himself as a creative content developer.

Creative fits him to a T. I was curious as to why he chose the words content developer to replace his longstanding identifier, copywriter. “Because that’s what people are searching for these days,” was his reply. Perhaps. But who decided the phrase content developer or content provider were desirable traits?

Content is merely that which takes up space. It is value neutral at best. My attic and basement are full of content, but I doubt if anybody would be interested in my providing it to them.

I would prefer that creative people promote themselves as providers of substance. It is a much more salient word. It implies heft. It implies value.

On the website of graphic designer Kurt Pakan,, of which I am a contributor, we describe what we do this way:

We are, at heart, makers of creative substance. Not merely content, but ideas.

Isn’t that what people are looking for from the creative community? To me, that’s a far more promising descriptor than I provide content.

Creator of substance may not score as well right now on a google search as content provider. But if more creative people began to think of and define themselves as such, it would gain traction. I believe it is far more appealing that content provider.

Give it a try and, when people seek you out, you can wow them with your substantive creativity. Prove to them that you are eons ahead of the mere providers.

~ written by Charles P. Myers, Copywriter at Large

The Strategic Graphic Designer

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

An ever-increasing array of tactical communication approaches adds to the pressure to communicate faster, cheaper and with greater reach than ever before. To create economic efficiencies by assuring a clear and consistent approach to content development and messaging — an experienced strategic graphic designer is a great solution. While the term strategic graphic designer is loosely tossed around, it means different things to different people, and it crosses many areas of knowledge, experience, and expertise

Many times, a brand manager within a company will assume the role of strategist. They generally have a business degree, a good idea of how the business makes money, and what its brand personality might want to be. However, many brand managers have never developed creative from the ground up because they do not come from an experienced creative perspective.

Often, an art director from an advertising agency will be responsible for a company’s brand identity. But, art directors don’t think like graphic designers. Their job description doesn’t include developing a communication infrastructure. Nor are they generally interested in doing so. Their interest and advancement lies in developing bold, daring, and awards winning work. While the work may be stunning, it may be a less appropriate, inventive, and subtle reflection of the brand.

The strategic graphic designer seeks to really understand the implications of the core strengths of the brand and thus the positive key differentiators — key truths that research shows resonate with the customer. After all, that is what will inform creative development.

Some call this skill or innate process Design Think. As designer, that is how you are wired and trained to think – to understand the brand and reflect it in all the core communications. Done effectively, it paves the way for great creative ideas and execution. This is a thoughtful, reflective process. Do it right and extend it across all media in a unique, consistent fashion. It just makes good business sense to do so. Start with a solid foundation based on core beliefs within the company. Only then are you able to reflect and communicate values, beliefs and smart business acumen outside the company.

A strategic graphic designer has a difficult time making stuff up. Words like “refresh the brand” and “we’ll know it when we see it”, feel more like a style than a solution. Design should absolutely be fun and artful. But, without discipline of process, fun and artful can run counter to the basic intent of the strategic graphic designer. Make no mistake, brand identity is a discipline.

Using analytics to drive design and brand decisions is integral to the nature of a strategic designer. Being trained to look at design as a function of a business strategy conditions the strategic graphic designer to think efficiently, seamlessly, consistently, uniquely and yes, even artfully. Ultimately, that is what should drive any creative development.