Voltron…and Grace, our amazing intern.

grace

Grace. Where do I start… I feel like interns are most often associated with constant time management and monotonous tasks. You’re busy, you need their help and also want to make their internship worthwhile by sharing your craft with them, but so much time is spent managing tasks and projects it becomes a detriment to both of you. 

However, this is not the case with Grace. Her colorful personality, coupled with her ambitious attitude and ability to efficiently manage her workload, make her the type of intern you dream of. What really makes her shine though is how she naturally became one of the team, immersing herself in our culture, which is not always easy to do. I mean, if you can befriend Pixel Panther you know you’ve made it. (Sorry Dave, I had to…)

Anyways, time flew by, as it always does, and here we are in August with Grace heading back to school. Before she left we had to know what she was going to relate her Struck experience to this time. Last year we were  Seabiscuit and I was truly curious what she would peg us as this time. Of course she didn’t let us down. This go-round we have transcended the legendary racehorse and now embody Voltron.

You see, this is why I love Grace. Keep reading and you may just fall in love with her too:

As a repeat summer intern for Struck, it was déjà vu when I was asked to write a blog post to wrap up my time with the creative agency that stole my heart. Last year I likened Struck to a powerful racehorse, graceful and unbeatable. How was I supposed to top the imagery of Seabiscut this year?  I was having a hard time finding something to compare Struck to this time, so I bribed Dave Bunnel with some green apple Hi-Chews to help me out. Turns out Hi-Chews have a mystical power because Dave introduced me to the perfect combination of my favorite things: retro anime, teamwork, and rocket-powered big cats. Without him I wouldn’t have found the perfect image that illustrates Struck to a tee: Voltron. Now if you’re like me and happen to be uneducated in the awesomeness of this OG Power Rangers, you should check this out. 

Pretty sweet, right?

Like the black, red, green, blue, and yellow lions combine to become a giant super lion-appendaged robot that protects the planet from evil; Struck combines it’s creative, advertising, design, technical, and strategy forces to create such a powerful brand experience that they might well save the world from the forces of bad marketing.

I was once again graced with the opportunity to join the team, and I used this as a chance to draw on everything I learned from my time as Pauline’s shadow. Armed with an arsenal of business appropriate dresses, a list of all the Strucker’s names and photos, and lemon sweet tea from my favorite glass office mug, I joined the Strategy team to research everything from light bulbs to weddings to organic hams. I walked into the office every morning with the goal to save the world and while I wasn’t a robot-lion fighting evil, I was lucky enough to witness the ways Struck transforms the brands that walk through its doors. I never realized how much thought and effort goes into simple brand decisions and I was quickly educated in the inner working of the well-oiled machine Struck is.

I can’t express how grateful I am to have met the kind, intelligent, welcoming, and creative people at Struck and to have worked alongside them. If it wasn’t for Tosh calling me Horse Whisperer, Stevie helping me navigate the Struck server every day, and Scott actually using my name, I wouldn’t have felt as at home in the brightly colored office as I do now. I’m going to miss Chelsie and Susan greeting me every morning, the smell of Brent’s cologne as he went back and forth past my desk and his creativity permeating every room he entered. I’ll miss having a tech master like Jon to help me with every Mac related question I had, and constantly stopping by Jennifer’s desk or emailing Ben for advice, assignments and discussions about what I was discovering in my research. Glancing up from my keyboard to have Pauline and Jeff right across from my desk gave me inspiration to work hard and succeed. I got to work with all the wonderful people of Struck who are the best role models I could ask for.

I’ll hopefully see the wonderful people of Struck next summer, and in the meantime I’ll take everything I learned and apply it to becoming a robot-lion set on saving the world.

 

Lennar Next Gen

nextgen

Multigenerational living is a growing trend. Economic challenges, aging parents, the want and need to have family nearby… whatever the motivation, 51.5 million Americans are living in multigenerational housing, and this trend is expected to grow as baby boomers get older.

Lennar recognized a need and created a pretty incredible solution for today’s multigenerational family: Next Gen® – The Home Within a Home. Lennar has enabled families to have the best of both worlds with this concept: a family home built around a separate suite featuring a private entrance, bedroom, bathroom, laundry, eat-in kitchenette and living room, sometimes a separate garage. The benefits of living with your family seem obvious, right? The opportunity to share a mortgage payment, split utility costs, capitalize on a live-in babysitter, have care nearby for an aging parent—the list is endless.

Frankly, though, you’re talking about emotional, life-changing decisions. Some of the most significant decisions you’ll ever have to make in your life. Relocating not one, but two households. Acknowledging that your father isn’t as spry as he used to be. Or that your daughter isn’t yet able to be totally independent. And the decision isn’t something that can ever be sold based on financial benefits, numbers and spreadsheets. That can’t be the “why”.

The differentiator of the Next Gen home is that its been holistically designed to house two families acting as one, not as a glued-on space or a mother-in-law apartment in the basement. Next Gen homes are purpose-built from scratch to be lived in, together.

And so, we arrived at a simple truth: it’s the smallest moments that make the biggest changes worth doing. It’s not the numbers. It’s having your mom teach your own daughter to make the cookies that you’ve loved your whole life. It’s reading quietly together on the porch while the sun sets. It’s getting to have help close by, while also being allowed the dignity of your own living space.

Read More »

3 Minutes with Jill De Haan

Jill_Blog

Hi everyone! We recently caught up with one of our designers and talented hand-lettering artist, Jill De Haan. Get to know her below and make sure to follow her on Instagram. (Psst…she just got back from Europe and her photos may just be the extra inspiration you need to finally book that European vacation.)

Your work is beautiful. How did you get into design and hand lettering?

Thanks so much! I’ve been drawing and writing things since I could hold a pencil. One of my favorite surfaces to write on? Ballpoint pen on a banana. Seriously – try it before you make fun of me. I have notebooks from high school filled with words written over and over in different styles and I transformed my regular handwriting style three times when in high school. It was fascinating to go to school for design and learn the anatomy and history of the letter – and that passion just continues to grow every day.

Describe the style of your work.

I try to dabble in a bunch of different styles – it forces me to try new mediums and to step out of my comfort zone. But if I had to describe the style that I am most comfortable with, I’d have to say that it falls somewhere between elegant and adventurous. I really enjoy starting with a classic scripty style and then applying an organic medium to it, like pencil, watercolor, or dry-brush acrylic paint.

Where do you draw inspiration?

I am deeply influenced by historical typography and nature and find that the colors and textures of the different seasons make their way into my work quite often.

Is there anyone in the industry in particular that you admire?

Too many to name! There are so many incredibly talented lettering artists out there – I especially love the ones that aren’t afraid to try new things and really hone their craft, like –  Erik Marinovich, Dan Cassaro, Mary Kate McDevitt, and Nathan Yoder, to name a few. But tons more, seriously!

What has made the biggest impact on your work?

Being able to do freelance work has really impacted what I do because it’s always a new challenge. But along with that, I think that doing my own personal projects has helped me explore and build my own personal style, which translates to everything else I do.

Tell us about a favorite project you have worked on recently.

I would have to say the Lululemon mural at Fashion Place Mall. I had tons of freedom and had the opportunity to take the design from the first sketches and concepts to painting it on the brick wall in the store! Such a blast!

lulumural

Favorite typeface….go!

That’s like asking what your favorite movie is – It is always changing. (But I have to admit, the ultra-nerdy 5 hour Pride & Prejudice will always be in my top 3 movies).

Jill

So you recently went on a European adventure for nearly 3 months . What was the most inspiring part of your trip? 

For me, most inspiring part was all of the incredible scenery. I got drunk on scenery every day!

 

Art Fans Unite

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It’s summer in Salt Lake City, which means a plethora of summertime activities like the downtown farmers market, Twilight Concert Series, endless hiking, biking, climbing, running, adventures down south to see The Mighty Five…the list goes on and on.

This weekend the Utah Arts Festival is going on and it’s always one of my favorite festivals to check out. I love seeing the energy it ignites within the community and the eclectic gathering of art and live performances by our local artists.

Struck’s own Kevin Perry, talented designer and resource manager extraordinaire, designed the campaign the past few years and his work is truly exceptional.

The theme this year is “Art Fans Unite”, a collaborative campaign striving to blur the lines between artist/art fan and create an environment where art fans and art makers co-exist. During the festival, art fans have the opportunity become the artists by participating in various projects hosted by artists and organizations.

The concept explores the essential role in the power of art: the art-viewer. By offering locals the opportunity to see themselves as having an essential role in the process of art, it empowers them to engage more actively with the festival.

Check out some applications of his work below, then go channel your inner artist and get to arts fest!

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Thoughts on Creativity, Originality, and Voice from our Cranky System Administrator

Shakespeare

A couple weeks ago, it was both Father’s Day and my birthday when I turned old and decrepit and I got an email from my eldest son ([sic] on all typos):

For reasons I cannot explain, I remembered some great fatherly advice you gave me one time. We were coming back from something in Sandy-ish, I vaguely remember that it is where you turn to get on to the belt route from over where the mall down south is. We were listening to Led Zeppelin. (I must have been in Jr, high). I think it was Black Dog. I said something like, “Aw man, I want to play guitar just like Jimmy Page!” You turned down the music a little and said, “Lucas, there is already a Led Zeppelin, the world doesn’t need another one. Play guitar how YOU want!” I think that statement has influenced my attitude about being a musician and a human, ever since.

Thanks for being my dad, dad. I love you.

I have a feeling I probably didn’t turn the music down that much, though. Because Zeppelin, doy.

There are a couple lessons I learned from that, both are lessons I keep learning over and over again, mostly because I’m all old and stuff and I forget things these days.

The first is that no matter how much I try to alienate and abandon my children, for some unknown reason they listen to me. Which is to say, you have no idea how far your influence as a parent, friend or mentor will go. Just the smallest thing you say or do can stay with someone for a very long time. Which is both awesome and terrifying at the same time.

The second and far more germane to this discussion is the idea that voice matters. Specifically, in this case, your voice.

When I was in college I took a creative writing course and one day we discussed the “problem” with Shakespeare. The professor stood up at the board for a good ten minutes, silently writing out all the themes Shakespeare covered in his plays and poetry. Man versus nature. Unrequited love. Man against society. Old Bill pretty much covered ALL the bases. Sure, he didn’t do “Man versus robots” but then Transformers came along and ruined that opportunity for everyone. My professor then asked the class, “Why do we even bother writing at all? William Shakespeare has done everything already. And he did it all really well, too. He wasn’t just a one off. He did hit after hit after hit. It’s all been done before, so why do we want to write?” And then, of course, because that was the perfect moment for her to be all Socratic and wise, no one raised their hand and she answered her own question, “Because it hasn’t been said by YOU. None of those stories or themes have been told by you.”

Read More »

Exploring E3

E3

I recently had the opportunity to attend Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, courtesy of Horizon Media. Approximately 50,000 video game industry professionals and journalists flocked to the 20th annual gaming show in Los Angeles.  As a first time E3’er it was quite the experience as I entered into the mecca of gaming.

The day started with breakfast with IGN Co-Founder, Peer Schneider, who provided us with a history of gaming and E3. Who knew that there have been 150 dedicated gaming devices built to-date? And, that by 2018 it is estimated that 50% of all games will be purchased digitally verses being store bought?

The battle of the consoles continues to heat up with Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation neck-in-neck to have the top selling hardware. These consoles are more than gaming devices. The hardware companies all want to be the box that does everything for the user. Consoles are no longer just for gamers in a dark dorm room. They are becoming the centerpiece of our living rooms where the whole family can play games, watch live TV, and enjoy streaming video through apps like Hulu Plus and Netflix without ever having to leave their interface or toggle between inputs.

Read More »

The 9 Circles of Hella-Peno

Long, long ago, we promised ourselves that if Jack in the Box ever launched a new Munchie Meal featuring a Hella-Peño Burger, we’d make Ms. Morrow proud (she was, after all, Taft Union High School’s finest 11th-grade English teacher). Have we lost our minds? Probably, but the result is one of the greatest things in the history of things. With no further delay, feast your eyes on (reverb voice) The 9 Circles of Hella-Peño!

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It’s a stunning piece of art created by our own Dave Bunnell (a director of senior art). Take your time. Chew on the details. Tell all your moms about it. Then tell someone else’s mom about it. We seriously can’t stop staring. Dante is rolling over in his grave (WITH PRIDE AND GLEE!).

The Outdoor Industry: Where Everyone is a Brand Insider

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I was recently in Carbondale, Colorado, where perfect spring weather and miles of singletrack trails beckoned for a mountain bike ride. Did I heed the call? Nope. Instead, I got my dose of adrenaline by watching outdoor adventure films. Like 15 hours of them.

Carbondale is host to 5 Point, an annual adventure film festival and gathering of outdoor recreation industry bigwigs, athletes and media makers. Because of my background in both advertising and filmmaking, and my long history with outdoor brands, I was there to participate on the jury and to speak on a media panel about the intersection of brand, entertainment and advocacy.

While the subjects of the films ranged from arduous Antarctic snowboard expeditions to joyous expressions of street skateboarding, and the production quality ran the gamut from big budget Hollywood to a couple of notches above an iPhone video, one element was constant: the presence of brands.

In nearly every film shown, outdoor brands were visible in the logos plastered on athletes and their gear, in the film credits, and in the thank yous from the filmmakers themselves. Skip Armstrong’s ecstatic kayak fantasy film, DREAM, was largely funded by paddlesport manufacturer, NRS. Anson Fogel introduced his poetic meditation on the nature of exploration, THE EXPLORER, bluntly: “this is a commercial for The North Face®”. And DAMNATION, an environmental advocacy documentary from Felt Soul Media, was not just funded by Patagonia, but was also conceived, commissioned and owned by the brand. The audience didn’t balk at any of it.

The outdoor recreation industry is not known for being especially progressive with its marketing. However, this community is far ahead of other consumer groups in its comfort level with brands’ involvement in every day life. Perhaps this is because the athletes whose faces and feats represent this industry are almost exclusively funded by brands. There’s no multimillion dollar NBA contract for the world’s best high altitude climbers or big wave surfers. Brands write the checks for them to keep pushing their limits. Or perhaps it’s because the people behind the brands are an integral part of the tightknit outdoor recreation community. Most outdoor brands were founded by passionate enthusiasts motivated more by their love of the sport than a desire for profit. The brands are the consumers here and vice-versa. Whatever the reason, other consumer industries could stand to watch some outdoor adventure films and take notes.

AIGA Centennial Gala

AIGA_Gala

I recently attended the AIGA Centennial Gala in New York, an annual event that honors the most respected leaders in the design community. This year was exceptionally special as the AIGA celebrated it’s 100 year anniversary, and took a look forward to the next century of design and how it will play an even larger role in our lives.

The evening was led by Michael Beirut who introduced inspiring videos highlighting each medalist and their achievements. The most remarkable part of the night was the sense of community that was shown during the event. Almost every medalist spoke about someone in the room who has contributed to their career and success. While I am far from the level of accomplishment and excellence that this group is recognized for,  I can relate to how AIGA plays an enormous role in my professional development. Sean Adams, current co-president of the AIGA and award winner, describes it best in his inspiring blog post about the evening when he says that AIGA provides us all with a community, which was made “exceptionally clear at this event”.

AIGA celebrated its centennial by awarding a special class of 24 design leaders with the prestigious AIGA Medal, the highest honor of the design profession. Three of the Medals are awarded posthumously, to Michael Cronan, Sylvia Harris and Bill Moggridge for their contributions to the profession.

Sean Adams & Noreen Morioka
Richard Danne
Alexander Isley
Charles S. Anderson
Michael Donovan & Nancye Green
Chip Kidd
Dana Arnett
Stephen Doyle
Michael Mabry
Kenneth Carbone & Leslie Smolan
Louise Fili
Abbott Miller
David Carson
Bob Greenberg
Bill Moggridge
Kyle Cooper
Sylvia Harris
Gael Towey
Michael Cronan
Cheryl Heller
Ann Willoughby

The Medium is the Message, but What is the Medium Anymore?

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Imagine this ­– operating systems are able to read our emotions and interact with us like a flesh-and-bone human. The possibilities of technological innovations explored in the movie Her may not be sociologically or psychologically realistic, but they do offer a dizzying picture of today’s marketers’ dilemma. As a modern-day marketer, what should I focus on? What is digital anyway?

The questions surrounding how we should be marketing and interacting with our audience in this digital era have become endless and overwhelming.

Freshly returned from SXSW, I find myself in an equally dizzying whirlwind of excitement, confusion and hope. Below are a few of my observations and my state of the union on our current ecosystem of marketing and digital:

Good News: Welcome to the Age of the Customer.

It’s an understatement to acknowledge that the so-called “Digital Era” has shifted the landscape away from mass communication and more toward customer-centered programs that are designed to serve the needs of the customers in a real way. What marketers continue to struggle with is the true ROI of these initiatives and the baffling ever-changing technologies that they require. If you need more confirmation that you are on the right path with your focus on your customers’ experience, I highly recommend that you read Forrester’s anthem about entering a 20-year cycle dubbed “the Age of The Customer.”

Bad News: Brands Need to Work Harder.

So, how is one to create meaningful, useful, engaging and emotional customer- centric programs? Read More »