A wide range of experiences from an exciting creative professional journey have contributed to my diverse ‘bag of tricks’. Along with technical skills and know-how acquired and honed over many decades, and the opportunity to have worked with several true visionaries, comes a bigger picture view and a fine-tuned intuition for problem-solving and strategizing to achieve the optimum outcome.
My methods and approach focus on intention, community, mission, brand recognition and accessibility, with the ultimate goal of establishing systems which integrate all facets of an organization’s current communication needs, as well anticipating and identifying future opportunities for expansion and growth. Whether its content, strategy, or marketing; print, web, video, motion pictures, DIY, or social media; – there's always something new challenge to explore and master. Often, the journey is as important as the destination, in terms of finding inspiration, building momentum, and achieving a true understanding of one’s audience.
Promoting the monthly performances and events at the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts requires quick creative solutions for print and web.
The challenge: to reinforce the brand of a single, unified, creative community, and simultaneously highlight the individuality of the different arts disciplines.
In addition to designing the print and web materials for the 80+ events presented annually at SOTA, one of the many perks of being the chief designer for SOTASHOWS is the opportunity to branch out and work with the burgeoning young talents from the artistic community at the School of the Arts. Many of them take on outside projects and it has been an honor to be able to help them on their way to their bright futures.
The show must go on! And it does. Every few weeks.
SOTA STORIES is an ongoing series of personal portraits posted to the school's main facebook page . The stories shine a spotlight on the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts' most precious natural resource–and probably it’s most valuable marketing tool– the students, teachers, and artists-in-residence.
Now in its third season, it has all the earmarks of becoming a new tradition. Each story is unique and contributes to the bigger story. Some are old, forgotten stories; and there are always new stories. Uncovering the facts and writing the stories is serendipitous for all: the writer, the reader, and the subject. Initially, many believe their story is run of the mill and not terribly interesting, but after coaxing the facts out of them, even they have to agree that what they are up to is pretty cool. See what you think.
SOTA, the San Francisco public arts high school– grew up in a world before branding. After a year-long conversation with David Zapata, a parent in the school community and a designer at the San Francisco branding studio, Cakewalk, the current brand was developed. Since then, the mission has been to support and reinforce the brand and what it represents: an exciting, colorful, creative environment.
Initially, the announcements only highlighted a single month, limiting their shelf life and their audience reach; excess material became obsolete within 30 days. Now, SOTA stays ahead of the curve, and uses a double-sided piece to promote their current calendar items and their upcoming events at the same time.
By maximizing the functionality of the printed materials, the school is also more environmentally and fiscally responsible by reducing waste and costs.
Similar concerns arose with printed materials needed for individual events: how to communicate the message of a single school, showcase the individual departments, and create materials which would be relevant over the course of an entire academic year.
The solution: pre-printed outer sleeves with shared design elements from the promotional pieces, which contain information about the school, the non-profit foundation which supports the school, and ways that people can become involved, and stay informed. Inserts for the individual performances are produced as needed.
Over time, references to specific dates have been removed from the program cover designs, to maximize the life of the printed pieces and conserve expenses.
I found an old postcard once. It was a photograph of a young girl standing in front of the special children’s entrance to the Los Angeles Public Library, designed by architect Bertram Goodhue in 1926. Carved in stone over the doorway, a welcome and encouraging message: “The World is My Book”.
I have been fascinated, enticed, repelled, confounded, attracted, and deeply affected by books my entire life. From all sides - as a maker, as a reader, as a viewer.
My teachers, friends, and family can remember my earliest book projects, way back to my childhood. My past employers and clients can attest to my preference for the book form and its many variations as a principal presentation technique.
In addition to establishing a studio which produced books for people to store their thoughts and memories, I have been an author, a designer, and creative consultant on many book projects; contributing photo research, supervising production, fabricating prototypes, and inspiring people to package their ideas, so they could see for themselves what they only imagined might be possible.
With the advent of the digital age, many have speculated that actual books may become unnecessary. Books may not be essential for learning and communicating, but I believe they will always be an indulgent pleasure; something to engage with and return to as often as you like.
From 1992 until 2005, A Thousand Words produced the finest quality handmade albums and journals for the most affordable price available in the market. The main goal was to provide archival quality homes for people's life's savings- places for preserving their memories, milestones, and experiences.
Initially the product line was inspired by vintage photography from the studio archive of ephemera and found photographs. All of the work was handmade, in San Francisco.
A Thousand Words products were sold worldwide and the studio made and distributed more than 10,000 books. In 1995, the studio introduced a Color Tone line, which catapulted sales exponentially and attracted corporate and private label customers.
When the paper product trend exploded, and the retail market became saturated, A Thousand Words limited production to custom work.
It was an election year: the perfect opportunity for demonstrating the value of the vote, the mechanics of media and propaganda, and the responsibility of the Fourth Estate.
A routine, short-term, volunteer commitment at a local public middle school became a 9-month engagement, creating and implementing curriculum for a 7th grade Journalism class.
The success of the project resulted in a regular digital design class which met 4 days a week for the next two years, co-sponsored by the Stonestown YMCA, as part of their after-school program.
Students received instruction in design and video production, practical advice on responsible use of social media, and invitations to screen their completed works in district festivals.
Word got around and a similar class was set up for K-5 kids which ran for a few years through the non-profit organization which supported a local elementary school.
Future screenwriters, designers, cinematographers, directors, animators, actors, and social pundits participated in collaborative projects and also worked independently, learning how to take an idea and transform it into a coherent finished piece.
Making noise, making music, producing remixes, and playing to the crowd, Keith Haring's 1984 signature Sharpie scribble still rings true: Justin Strauss, a man and his turntables, head illuminated by bright ideas, absolutely electrifying.
Many thanks to the Keith Haring Foundation for granting us permission, again and again, to re-color the original. Fast forward to the 21st century and evenings at subMercer, Mister H, Kinfolk...don't stop 'til you get enough.
I loved cartoons as a child, and I still appreciate animation and comics. I started my artistic life as a painter and then took an interest in photography. It was no surprise that I eventually ended up at art school and studied animation.
When I first started working, it was at an optical house, designing and producing titles for independent filmmakers in NYC and doing short animated bits for commercials and videos, followed by features and shorts, industrials, and music videos. Now I use motion pictures and video as part of my marketing and promotional work, and even though websites are static, I think they fall into the Moving Pictures category because you move through them.
This section of my website is still unfinished; a work in progress.
Photo collage illustrations for a limited edition book project.
In the first few years of striking out on my own and establishing a design and manufacturing studio, my universe was ever-expanding, yet my immediate world felt small, consumed as I was by a new, growing business.
A memorable event from those early days was an invitation to speak to a community of colleagues and fans about my process; confirmation that I was doing something truly right!
I still hold with these same basic principles and beliefs and have had many more experiences since then, which have helped me refine my approach, sharpen my skills, learn from my mistakes, and savor my accomplishments.
There's always more.
The cherry on top. Gratitude, appreciation, thanks. Definitely a two-way street.
When the dog bites, when the bee stings....I simply remember my favorite things.
This page changes often.