24 Mar

Out and About: MICA’s Grassroots DesignFest

Recently, one of our Art Directors, Melissa London, participated in MICA’s first ever DesignFest after hearing how rewarding these “design-offs” could be from advertising colleagues. The event was sponsored by the T. Rowe Price Foundation and organized by MICA’s Social Design Department.

The event gave design students, thinkers, and professionals the opportunity to contribute to the social change movement in Baltimore while collaborating face-to-face with other designers and nonprofits. There were a wide array of nonprofits that needed design help such as updating logos, designing infographics, assisting with brand strategy and refreshing web pages.

Melissa was paired with the Waterfront Partnership, specifically the Healthy Harbor Initiative which works with the community and downtown businesses to remove pollutants from the harbor with the (ambitious) goal of making it swimmable by 2020. Their focus for the day was improving the approach and design of their annual water quality “report card”. The intent of participating in the DesignFest was not to walk away with finished vector art but to collaborate to develop a strategy/plan and produce mockups for new creative directions.

Assembled for the challenge were one MICA design student, one MICA graduate student from the Master of Business/Master of Arts program, and one design professional (Melissa – no pressure!). After the two representatives from Waterfront Partnership introduced the objective, they were left alone to brainstorm and collaborate on design directions they could take. The team accomplished a lot in the limited schedule (approximately 4.5 hours of design time). They produced a list of alternative report names, infographic concepts, outreach ideas to educate children, poster concepts, a set of icons and layout mockups for the report.

Reflecting on the event, Melissa stated, “It was truly exciting to watch our initial awkward meet-and-greet grow to a casual, open forum for ideas and creativity. I would recommend this event to all my fellow Peppers and design/social-minded friends. Not only did we get an opportunity to shake up our design routine, but we got to give back to our community and become more aware of our pollution footprint.”

Some Waterfront Partnership highlights and ways to get involved:

  • This trash wheel is awesome and apparently an International sensation!
  • Stormwater management is crucial, landscape with plants and trees to help prevent sewage overflow.
  • Who doesn’t love oysters?!? Help restore our oyster population by oyster gardening, volunteer opportunities happen on the third Saturday of the month (September through June).
  • “There is no such thing as a flushable wipe”
  • How much fun does this event look? Baltimore Floatilla
05 Feb

Pepper Talk with Melissa London

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Melissa with us. Just a little background before we get started, Melissa has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over three years. She is one of our Art Directors, works in both the private and commercial sectors, and has the incredible ability to keep the big picture in mind even when working on the most minute tasks.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
Lisa, The Don, Shorty Roc.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Pet my dog Stanley and remind him that he’s my first love and irreplaceable.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
The proper answer is that I don’t have a style. My style adapts to the look and feel and needs of my client, but… I tend to be bold in my font, color, and design choices. At least in my first drafts, then I try to subtract to arrive at the simplest, most effective solution. Nothing is going to get sold with 10% opacity type on a white background ← pet peeve.

 

4: How did you get started?
My creative path started by rummaging through the design and art books of my aunt and emulating some of the drawings from my Dad’s old sketchbooks. Like, age 8?

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Favorite: The Adobe Suite is pretty sweet!
Worst: SharePoint

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Typically lots of research… The subject matter, new and interesting fonts, styles, effects, what the competitor is doing, etc.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Interior design, fashion design, fine art and music. I love seeing how one influences the other and try to weave those elements into my own designs.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: I need a daily dose.
Sweet or Savory: Savory, I never met a cheese I didn’t like.
Favorite Movie: Groundhog Day
Guilty Pleasure: Deal hunting.
Hobbies: Trying out new restaurants, cheersing, crafting, DIYing.
Favorite vacation: I took a vacation to Barcelona several years back with my sister. We worked our way around the city to see all of Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces, only stopping to eat cheese, cured meats and drink wine. Heaven.
One of your quirks: Sometimes I’m a bit more animated than the situation calls for [winks].

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Paula Scher’s poster designs for The Public Theater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thanks for meeting Melissa. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!

30 Jun

Pepper Talk with Kate Coates

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kate with us… nope, you’re not seeing double, we just have a lot of repeated names. Just a little background before we get started, Kate just celebrated her 2 year work-aversary with Eleven Peppers Studios. She is one of our esteemed Art Directors and spends a lot of her time working with customers to improve their user experience designs.


1: Do you have any nicknames?
My parent’s original intention was for me to go by Katie but I rebelled in 3rd grade and decided from thence forth I was going to be Katherine. That was a bit short lived though. It was the year of learning cursive… and so I ended the year as Kate. It’s kind-of funny that I started my journey as Kate out of pure 3rd grade laziness but it stuck. Really it worked out perfectly because I ended up with a sister-in-law that goes by Katherine.

 

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Hit snooze! It’s a terrible habit that I developed during my marriage. I used to be able to get up and out the door in ten minutes flat, nutrigrain bar in hand, but once you discover that button, there’s no going back.

 

3: How would you describe your design style?
I tend to lean towards a more flat, Bauhaus style. Just the Bauhaus’ notion of placing profound focus on the purpose or function of the design is something I relate to very strongly, especially within UX design. Really that is what UX is all about, not just making things pretty but making sure the site or tool is usable and efficient…not saying it shouldn’t look good too.

 

4: How did you get started?
My first official foray into design was in 12th grade when half of my school day was an internship in the design department of a company called United Communications Group (UCG). It’s there that I officially found that graphic design was the place for me and launched into my undergraduate design career. But really growing up in the house of an architect father and a crafty mother, it came as no surprise to friends and family that I ventured off in the arts direction…

 

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Hmm, I’m not sure I can think of a worst off the top of my head but favorite is pretty easy. A few years ago I would have said Photoshop hands-down but in the recent years Illustrator has become my best friend. It’s great for everything that I currently focus on at work, from wireframes and mockups to logos and branding. I live in a digital world. Vector all day, every day.

 

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I tend to start with the question: “Who are the users and what are their goals?” It’s only through answering that question that I can make sure that the design that’s going to follow makes sense for the end user. If I miss answering that question, the design will just be a lofty guess that is half-baked at best. I’ve found desk-side interviews and lots of research is key for kicking off a successful, user-experience focused tool.

 

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
From my peers. It’s great to be surrounded with other UX people to bounce ideas off of and sketch out new possibilities. On top of that using websites and mobile tools daily to see what other people are doing is a huge source of inspiration too.

 

8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Caffeine. No coffee, no tea, just the occasional Dr.Pepper [grins]
Sweet or Savory: Sweet (Really gotta kick my new brownie obsession…)
Favorite Movie: Honestly, I’ve become more of a T.V. person then a movie person…so I’m not really sure.
Guilty Pleasure: Did I mention brownies? [laughs]
Hobbies:: Refurbing my 1908 home (two rooms away from being done!!) and spending time with family.

 

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Hands down, the Design Army’s campaign for the Washington Ballet’s show, Alice in Wonderland. The combination of photography and typography is absolutely breathtaking. I actually have several of the images at my desk for inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for meeting Kate. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!