01 Jun

From Finalists to Winners!

On Thursday, May 17th, Eleven Peppers Studios was awarded Third Place in the Small Business category for Baltimore Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” competition. We are honored to be recognized among so many other talented companies in the city of Baltimore. Thank you to everyone that voted and had great things to say about Eleven Peppers Studios. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you!

As part of the Best Places to Work awards process, the Baltimore Business Journal posed the following question to several of our employees:

If you were pitching your company to a potential hire, what is one fun fact you would share?

“I would inform our potential hire that not only does Eleven Peppers focus on creating outstanding work, but they also recognize the importance of the well-being of their employees. As designers, it’s very easy for us to get burnt out creatively. Eleven Peppers is an agency that recognizes this and encourages maintaining a steady work-life balance. This is a company that never makes you feel like “just a number” and it is full of supportive people that constantly look out for one another. As a result of this, we create some of our best work and form great relationships with happy clients.” – Ashley Philip, Designer

“Joining Eleven Peppers is like becoming part of a welcoming and caring family. It’s the kind of company where always people look out for one another and are willing to lend a helping hand. Our passion for what we do comes through both inside and outside of the workplace. From family picnics to artistic endeavors to sporting events, there’s always something fun going on. I’m so proud to be part of such a creative and talented group of people!” – Debbie Williams, Senior User Experience Architect

“I usually get asked where our company name came from or what it means. The short answer I give is, “Have you ever had dinner at a restaurant and the food was so delicious that you wanted to go back and get the exact same meal?” (I have…many times!) Design is very similar. Once something is designed well, you want more! Then I usually tell them how everything in our company is ‘pepper-related’. When a new hire starts, we usually ask them, “What kind of pepper are you?” Our company newsletter is called the “Spice of Life” and when we get together for happy hours, we tend to call them ‘pepper’ hours.” — Ryan Kelly, Senior User Experience Designer

“We are more than just a company, but a lot like an extended family. We hang out a lot outside of work, for fun Pepper coordinated events like bowling, O’s games, Paint Night, Picnic’s, and even a trip to Disney World. We also tend to hang out just for fun. Whether it be cookouts at each others houses, going to movies or musicals, trips to breweries, or even homebrewing together.” — David Meade, Senior User Experience Designer

First place… we’re coming for you next year!

21 May

Pepper Talk with Valencia Garden

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re doing a deep dive with Valencia Garden. Valencia has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for nearly two and a half years. She plays an integral role on an award-winning team by developing marketing content for innovative technology products.

1: Do you have any nicknames?
Not really—I kind of take pleasure in making people say my whole first name. Blame it on a childhood full of mispronunciation and laziness, lol.

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

Look at the clock to see how late I am! Then I debate whether I’ll meditate or take the dogs out first; that usually depends on how well I slept.


3: How would you describe your design style?
I’m a writer, so…”honest”? lol My writing style is deeply conversational, if you couldn’t tell by now.

I do have a deep appreciation for design and art, in every form. My interests change often, so some days I’m feeling minimalist and neutral, and other days I want to be around the boldest and brightest things ever (coincidentally, that’s usually when my hair is the biggest). I love honesty in words and in art, so if I’m able to feel anything when I look at it, I’m all in.


4: How did you get started?
I’ve been writing my entire life—I recently found a few stories I wrote as a kid, along with some letters I wrote to my older self back when I was 8, 9, and 11 years old. I’m glad I kept them; I gave myself some pretty great advice!

I actually started out in college as a computer science major because that’s “where the money was.” That was a mistake. I hated it! (I should’ve found those letters a few years sooner…lol) I ended up in Virginia Tech’s English program because the journalism program was full. Being in the company of great expressionists like Nikki Giovanni made me realize how much I enjoyed the art of written communication.

The semi-perfectionist in me hates to see good things done terribly, which lends itself perfectly to helping other people express themselves more effectively!


5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Favorite? Google, even despite its faults and flaws. I can find anything on there (or anyone, *cue suspenseful music*), and that ends up helping me quite a bit when researching for a writing project. Wordpad and Grammarly.com also tie for a close second.

Worst is Microsoft Word, hands down. It should die and not come back as anything else or appear in any sequels, ever!


6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I spend a good amount of time researching before I write anything. My initial process depends on what information I’m given, so if I don’t have much, I end up doing more legwork on the research side than the actual drafting side. If you give me “who” and “what,” I can usually find the “why” on my own. I know immediately how hard a story will be if it takes me forever to come up with a good introductory sentence. If I don’t know why this story is interesting, then obviously there’s a lot of work to be done! Once I get a good handle on it, I’ll outline how I think it should go and start filling in the blanks from there.

Also, post-it notes. Lots of post-it notes.


7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Life stories. Hearing about other people’s experiences, no matter how small it may be, usually makes me want to go do something of my own.


8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Heavens, no!
Sweet or Savory: Both (Lindor Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffles? OMG)
Favorite Movie: Coming to America
Guilty Pleasure: Cheese
Hobbies: Serving at my church, traveling, eating pizza, concert hopping, working on my townhouse, fake house shopping, real shoe shopping, dog mom-ing, and (thanks to the hubbs) aviation. *whew!*


9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Instagram. Who knew a place to post lackluster food plates was going to take off as well as it did?!
















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

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!

11 Dec

The Ultimate Gift Guide for Design Enthusiasts

The holiday season is upon us and we are busy trying to find just the right gifts for coworkers, family and friends. If you are like us and have a couple people on your list that have an appreciation for nicely designed packaging and products, here is a gift guide for you!

Pepper Ornament | Artist Hands | Artisan Playing Cards | CMYK Coasters | Brush Pens | Friyay Mug | House Industries Book | Designers Rule Pin | Pantone Storage Tin | Letter Board | R2-D2 Charging Hub | Color Burst Tattoo | Coffee Dripper | Flower Tattoo | Pencils | Artist Ornament Set

01 Dec

Pepper Talk with Lauren Fulp

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Lauren with us. Just a little background before we get started, Lauren has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for about a year and a half. She is a Communications Strategist and is a wonder with words; keep reading to find out more about this multi-faceted dynamo.

1: Do you have any nicknames?
Laur, La, Lala, Fulp.


2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Wake up around 4:30am-5am, make all of our lunches for the day, either go back to sleep depending on how early it is or take a shower, wake my daughter up and rush around like a mad woman until we’re out the door. I have every intention of getting it all together the day before, but there is always something better to do.


3: How would you describe your design style?
Hm, well… I’m still pretty new in the design world and I’m more on the writing spectrum right now. But if I had to describe the type of design style I gravitate toward most, I would have to say anything with pretty typography (I love doing calligraphy) and the watercolors with simple design embellishments.


4: How did you get started?
I went to the University of South Carolina (GO GAMECOCKS!) and received a Broadcast Journalism degree. Being there taught me how to look for the ‘so what’ in every story which has in turn really helped me with that I’ve done in my career with Eleven Peppers.


5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Oh my goodness… I find myself going to Word Hippo a lot. If I can’t find a word or want to find a more professional word, this is my go-to. I also use the dictionary (obviously, right!?).


6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
When starting a new project for writing, I gather my thoughts and write/type what I know to begin with. I then pull together questions to figure out the who, what, when, where, why. I will a lot of times draft up a summary with the questions highlighted. I think it helps the point of contact to get an idea where the story is going.


7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Pinterest all the way. The only issue I have sometimes is that I like too much and wish I could use everything. Or I like their version so much that when I try to put my own spin on it, it’s just not same.


8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: YES! Absolutely need!!!
Sweet or Savory: Sweet! There will be a lot of people who are not surprised whatsoever.
Favorite Movie: Pride & Prejudice
Guilty Pleasure: Fixer Upper and anything vintage farmhouse/industrial inspired.
Hobbies: Crafting
If you were a color: I would say… Emerald Green. I’ve noticed more than usual I gravitate towards a darker green.
One of your quirks: I am always doodling on papers or adding calligraphic touches to the titles on my notes. I’ve literally been doing this since the 3rd grade (at least that’s when I remember doing it more vividly).


9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
I’m a fan of clever puns and I’m just not good at them. So pretty much any pun out there.














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

20 Oct

Mastering the Art of Logos: Re/Max

The most prominent realtor company on the planet with one of the most identifiable brands went through its first ever brand-refresh in over 40 years. This year, San Francisco-based firm Camp + King transformed the RE/MAX brand, and we are so glad they did. 

Today’s market is a young man/woman’s game, with more buyers under the age of 36 than any other age group. RE/MAX needed to modernize their brand to attract younger clients and agents alike. They did just that by keeping all the goods (i.e. their brand’s recognizable color scheme, “slashed” wordmark, and iconic hot-air balloon) but giving them a little face-lift. Camp + King sought input from over 20,000 RE/MAX clients to inform the logo design. Their findings indicated that simple, classic word forms are the most successful across all audiences.


Source: RE/MAX(left: old wordmark, right: new wordmark)

The use of the understated Gotham Narrow and the seamless incorporation of the slash into the letters gives the logo higher legibility and makes implementing it in a one color format a breeze. By doing this, Camp + King made the brand application more cohesive across an ever-growing breadth of distribution platforms.


Source: RE/MAX (left: old branding, right: new branding)

We have to say upfront that we have always loved the hot air balloon, but never understood why it was so overdrawn. The new version is simplified, elegantly dimensional, and can be used in a multitude of platforms without losing its appeal.


Source: RE/MAX

Something else we love? Before Camp + King refreshed their logo, they revamped RE/MAX’s marketing strategy. Buying a house can be truly terrifying for a first-timer. RE/MAX humanized the process by showing what realtors do for their clients in addition to shining a light on the previously “not talked about” anxiety and fear that buyers and sellers experience. Camp + King accomplished this by creating a new ad campaign as well as completely reimagining the RE/MAX social media space. Click here for a little glimpse of their work.


We want to know what you think. Give this article a like, comment on social (Facebook/Instagram), whatever you need to do to let us know if you love the refresh or think that the RE/MAX brand was better off left alone.

29 Sep

Pepper Talk with Kelsey Marotta

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kelsey with us. Just a little background before we get started, Kelsey has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over a year. She is a Senior Graphic Designer and works her magic with any request her customers make.

1: Do you have any nicknames?
Most people call me Kels. My brother, who is nine years older, nicknamed me Sally when I was little. He still calls me that. It’s also what I named my paddle board.


2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I’m an early riser, meaning anywhere between 4–5. I tend to get up and walk straight to the kitchen. I must eat. A couple of mornings a week I’ll grab a quick snack before taking my bike out or going to spin class, I am not a fan of riding in the rain. Otherwise, you’ll find me enjoying a protein shake and watching 5 AM reruns of TLC’s “What Not to Wear.”


3: How would you describe your design style?
Eclectic. I love a little bit of everything, I think it’s ingrained in who I am. It follows me in all aspects of my life—sports, design, decorating the 700 sq. feet of space I call home. When I see a design that I like, I take it apart and think about what aspects I could incorporate into my own work. Color, texture, illustration style. I’m always willing to try something new.


4: How did you get started?
I was the Managing Editor of my high school newspaper. One of my responsibilities was to design the back-page. I loved layout but hated writing, so I came up with the idea that every month we would do a Q&A [laughs] with a teacher, staff member, etc. Funny enough, that became a standing section of the paper even after I graduated.


5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Coming from a print background, I love books and design annuals. I have a few favorites I keep on my shelves at home. I’ll flip through the pages when looking for inspiration. My Dad sells paper and my grandfather ran printing presses so I’m also a sucker for sample books and promotional materials. I could spend all day talking about foil stamping, finishes, coatings—if each individual piece costs $9 to print, I’m in.

In college I had to briefly use Quark. It was the absolute worst. It was a very happy day when InDesign arrived.


6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Always research. Sketch. Gather as much inspiration as possible and paste it all on my artboard before beginning my design. When I hit a wall or feel like there’s a missing element, I keep researching. Attention to detail is so important and sometimes it’s one tiny element that makes the whole design click.


7: What do you draw inspiration from?
I’m an Instagram and Pinterest junkie. I look at typography and illustration daily. I like to think the hours spent scrolling through all of those images is somehow transferring to my design style through osmosis.


8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Black coffee.
Sweet or Savory: Sweet…no need to go on, everyone knows about my love of ice cream.
Favorite Movie: Elizabethtown
Guilty Pleasure: All things Tiny Home-related.
Hobbies: Running/Biking/Swimming, Paddle boarding, Road trips
Best vacation: “Vacation” is a loose term for me. Most of my vacations are tied to races and/or involve cramming as many activities as possible into a short time span. Not sure I can pick a favorite but a few highlights from the last couple of years; sweet potato pancakes at Pancake Pantry in Nashville, TN, staying in an Airstream trailer in Charleston, SC, Wormslow Plantation in Savannah, GA and a half marathon in Yosemite National Park.
One of your quirks: Other than naming inanimate objects (the aforementioned paddleboard), I am guilty of working into almost any conversation that I am a marathon runner. It’s a bit of an obsession, I know.


9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Highway Gothic, the font developed specifically for road signage in the U.S. It represents exactly what design should be—something that is so well made and thought-out that it becomes a natural part of our everyday lives.














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

25 Aug

Pepper Talk with Kathryn Gruver

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we have Kathryn with us…yep, another Kathryn! Just a little background before we get started, Kathryn has been with Eleven Peppers Studios for a little over two years. She is an Art Director and works with customers to improve their user experience.

1: Do you have any nicknames?
I’ve had a lot of nicknames. The most recent is mamamamamama.


2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Kick the dog off the bed [pauses and laughs], again! Make sure no one else is awake, and read a devotional. Got to start the day off right!


3: How would you describe your design style?
I try to make the style of my work more reflective of my customer’s identity rather than my own. Other than that, I like to make beautiful, smart, and meaningful projects.


4: How did you get started?
In college I was a studio art major and did a lot of drawing and building. Once I graduated, I realized that I wanted to do graphic and web design, that’s what they called it “back in the day”. So, I went to night school to learn the tools of the trade, and behind me sat two designers that were taking the class for career development. Unbeknownst to me, they watched me work in class every night; and they eventually introduced themselves and offered me a job as a designer!


5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
Hands-down, my favorite tool is Illustrator; I think it’s because of my intense love of drawing. While I always like learning new tools and tricks, I feel most at home working in Illustrator. I know it inside-out and even have dreams about it. I also get a buzz from working in InDesign and PhotoShop. The worst tool – any printer; why don’t they just work?! Do your job, expensive machine!


6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
I usually get a little over-excited when I start a new project. After I calm myself down, I try to find out as much as I can about the project or problem-set, customer, stakeholder and users; and then start the brainstorming process.


7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Dribbble, abduzeedo and sometimes Pinterest.


8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Half-caff.
Sweet or Savory: SWEET!
Favorite Movie: Troy; you have love stories, there’s drama, you have war and strategy – what more could you want?!
Guilty Pleasure: Ironing [pauses and grins] okay, I can’t think of a good one. And I don’t iron.
Hobbies: Reading, baking, drawing, chasing and being tackled by small children, and Bible study.
Skill you’d like to master: In my dreams I would like to build furniture; in reality, I’d like to get my kids to eat vegetables.
Best vacation: Before we had children, my husband and I drove up the West coast from San Francisco to Seattle with no plans. It was beautiful and we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted.
One of your quirks: There are so many… I guess the most prevalent is that I hate wearing shoes, I would rather go barefoot.


9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
The Google machine!














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