What got you into design?

This morning I answered a question in a FB design group I follow… “what got you into design? Hmmm.

I always liked to draw, I spent many summer vacation days drawing at our kitchen table with my cousin, but never really pursued it. Fast forward… I worked at Goodyear as a mail boy, one of my daily routes was to deliver mail to the advertising department. At that time, all the work was being done in house and by hand. No computers, no interwebs blah, blah, blah. I delivered mail very early in the morning, like 4:30am early. There was always one guy working in that department, his space was a mess. Drawings, layouts, photos, torn bits of paper, markers everywhere, but it looked so cool. One day I asked him if I could watch him lay out an ad. “You into this stuff?” At that time I wasn’t but I told him I did like to draw. I watched him a few times… finally I told him that I thought it was really interesting. He asked if I wanted to try laying out an ad. He gave me some “homework”. A picture of a tire, some content, logo, a size and told me to give him three layouts. I did. He sent me back home with another test. And finally a third. He then asked if I’d ever considered going into design. I told him I hadn’t. “You should. You’ve got an eye.”


So to answer the question from the FB group…HIM, John. He was what got me into design. He saw something in me and I never looked back. John became my mentor for many, many years, helping me tremendously until he retired. He’s no longer with us, but he will always be with me. Thank you John Suru!

This picture was when I got a new job at Goodyear… yup, in the advertising department! Different group, but still in the advertising department.

Annual Reports Don’t Need to be Boring. Part 2

TomTod Ideas is anything but boring OR typical. Their approach to what they do is simple. Uh sort of.

TomTod uses an experientially-oriented, project-based approach to giving students the skills and abilities to impact change in their world. Ranging from What If You Could a 6-12 month long experiential mentorship adventure, to our in-school collaborative What If 101, to our week-long summer Camp What If, we meet middle school students where they’re at and connect them to the wisdom, resources, and experience of adults.

Middle school students live in this unique space of intellectual ability, imaginative capacity, and passionate energy. We believe that this incredible combination is ready to unleash all sorts of wonderful ideas into the world, but often students are overlooked instead of empowered.

So when we were asked to design their 2015 annual report, we knew we had to give them anything but a typical and boring layout.

Feeding off the excitement of the students, staff, community and volunteers, we threw out the traditional and expected annual report elements and went with a bold, colorful, graphic approach. Here is a sampling of the pages we created.

Who said annual reports had to be boring?

Annual Report Spread-lo


Wake up and smell the coffee

Our friends over at Mandy Yams Coffee Company asked us if we’d be interested in developing the brand for the newly launched coffee roasters. Well, being lovers of coffee, of course we wanted to. Their Mandy Yams Facebook page has this description of the business, “MandyYams roasts high quality coffee to support nonprofits and make your taste buds happy.” We wanted to design a brand that would make your eye happy as well.

We wanted the brand to convey the process of roasting coffee bean, which if you didn’t know, start out as green and get their rich brown color from the roasting process. The color chosen for the logo concepts represented that with rich browns of varying tone. Our initial concepts were presented and one was ultimately chosen to represent Mandy Yams. Mandy Yams is “my” coffee.

We look forward to furthering the brand and exploring all it’s possibilities.






Annual Reports don’t need to be boring

People are bombarded with information everyday. Time is limited and so are attention spans. So why complicate an annual report with a long, drawn-out document. The North Canton Public Library had their story to tell about their successes in 2015. Site 14 developed a one page, easy to look at, easy to read, easy to comprehend annual report. The colors are bright and engaging and the playful, casual feel of the report is a fresh approach to doing things the traditional way.

NCPL 2015 Annual report FINAL

ChoreChaser Corporate Identity

We wanted the brand to be visually appealing and humorous (sort of) to reflect the sense of humor of the owner Vicki. We presented three logo and stationery concepts, each having a different look. The top two are shown below.

The final choice incorporated a “to-do” list and check-marks, just like someones’ actual to-do list.

The brand development, now in phase two, includes the design and development of the ChoreChaser website and other support materials. Stay tuned to see what get checked off “this” to-do list.




Ermanno’s Rebranding

We love pizza. So when we were asked to redesign the logo for Ermanno’s Legendary Pizza… we were all over it. The old logo served Ermanno’s well but it was “time for a new look,” according to Alan Frank, owner and president.


“We want and need something that’s going to bring us up to date. Can you help us?” Of course we can. Did we mention that we love pizza too? We not only designed their new logo, but took applied that new look across the board. Logo, shirts, pizza boxes, chicken boxes, menus, website redesign, banners you name it we did.





The Rebranding of National Software Escrow

“I like traditional “power” colors,” said David Baka, President of National Software Escrow, in our initial branding meeting. “Dark blues, greens and the deep reds, you know like financial institutions use.” Although not a financial institution, National Software Escrow (NSE) is very similar. NSE protects assets, and in the case of NSE, that asset would be information. Get the whole NSE story.

On a sunny December day in 2010 Trailer Trash Design and NSE had their first meeting to discuss the possibilities of either revamping the current NSE brand or start from scratch and rebuild it. David felt that the current brand looked a bit tired and could use a little “something”. We discussed the pros and cons of each and the decision was made to move forward with a new brand.

With the similarities of a financial institution, it really wasn’t out of the question to follow in the mindset of a traditional corporate/financial institution color scheme for the new NSE brand. The new branding we were developing had to convey a sense of strength, confidence and longevity among other things. Let’s face it, this is serious stuff that NSE is involved in. Happy puppies and cartoon daisies just weren’t going to cut it.
Long before fonts or icons were thought of, attention was focused on the color palette. True, David spoke of traditional power colors and those were taken into consideration. But, and we all know there’s always a but… this was our opportunity to really make an impact. This was our chance to show NSE’s current clients that while maintaining it’s strength and confidence, an investment in the future was being made and to show new clients that NSE is strong, secure and progressive. I decided that I would take those traditional colors and brighten them up. “You’ll still have that power suit in your closet” I said, “but instead of coordinating it with the traditional “expected” colored elements and blending in, you’ll be adding the “kick” that will make you stand apart.”


Once I determined the palette I wanted to present, so that work could progress. The doodles, napkin drawings and full blown logos (at least in my brain) started happening. Followed quickly by rough ideas in Illustrator. Some good, some not so good. Three logo concepts and coordinating stationery packages were presented for review, but this was the logo that was ultimately chosen.



The outer cube representing NSE, the inner, representing its client’s asset.The excitement and energy was high at the presentation, I told David to take the concepts and live with them before making changes or the final decision on anything. One thing that brought up concern was the repeating pattern of the cube portion of the logo on the back of the business cards and envelope flaps. David felt that they may be a bit overpowering… a slight adjustment. I told David that we could utilize the cube pattern elsewhere. The rebranding continued with other elements, a corporate pocket folder/brochure and corporate website. Along with email and direct mail campaigns, of course all branded with the new NSE corporate identity.


National Software Escrow

Oh and as far as using that cube pattern elsewhere, well, they’ll appear on the pocket folder/brochure as well as the website. But how about this for utilization?


David Baka says:
National Software Escrow, Inc. (NSE) is pleased to announce that we have launched a new corporate identity that better represents our continuing commitment to providing secure, cost-effective Technology Escrow Arrangements to technology vendors and licensees. As a result of our long term view and financial strength, introducing a new corporate identity is just another milestone as we enhance our leadership position within the competitive technology escrow industry.

What makes this new corporate identity truly special is that it reflects NSE’s commitment to stay progressive with not only the services we offer, but our identity as well.

Specifically, our new corporate identity represents security, stability and protection.  Since the foundation for National Software Escrow, Inc.’s success spans over 17 years, it is very important to us to maintain these key attributes as part of our ongoing identity.

The new corporate logo reflects the progressive and forward-looking initiatives being implemented across our company.  It also is a symbol of NSE’s deep commitment to continuously finding new and better ways to serve our valued customers.

Since the initial launch of the new NSE Corporate Identity multiple pieces have been designed including a direct mail program and the 2011 Holiday Card which won a Gold Award for Design in 2012.



The Ben Franklin – 2012

It’s been a few weeks since the Ben Franklin Ball and Gallery of Superb Printing, but I believe people are still talking about it. Why, you ask?  Because it was different this year.  The most common thing still being talked about has been coming from yours truly, “Man!  I can’t believe I won the 50/50!” How many years have my folks been going to this thing, and never have they won the 50/50 raffle.  Dad thought he did last year…he even went all the way up to the stage and handed the guy the ticket before he realized he didn’t win.  Oops!  But hey, there was more to the evening than that.

We had the event on a cloudy, winter’s day at The Fieldcrest down in North Canton, Ohio, rather than it’s usual spot up in Akron.  It was definitely a nice change of scenery, and the bonus?  People could stay the night without having to drive anywhere after the festivities.  All we had to do was walk down the hill to the Inn.

The ball is hosted by the Northeast Ohio Craftsmen Club (NEOCC), and it’s mainly an award ceremony for print and design companies in the club who have submitted their work. These companies send in pieces that they think are their best works of the year, and the pieces are judged. This year, the judges were Marty Timmermin of Myers Industries, Michael Gorfido of Digital Color International and Anthony Tupta of Hewlett Packard. They judged from several categories in both print and design, and they picked what they thought was the best of each. They gave the pieces either a gold award, silver award or the bronze award.

Then from the many pieces that received a gold, the judges picked the 10 best for the judges gallery, and one for Best of Show for Print and Best of Show Creative. There are also the awards for Person of the Year (voted on by previous presidents), and this year there was an award for the Distinguished Service in Education. Of the 13 companies that entered, each and every one of them won some sort of award.

Of course, you can guess that Joe with Trailer Trash Design won Best of Show in Creative.  And for what?  His Christmas card!christmas card

The silent auction raised an awesome amount of money (somewhere close to $3,000) for the scholarship fund.  I got to participate in the auction this year as I was finally able to attend the ball (usually I have to work my retail job), and man, I had so much fun with that.  My dad loves the Pantone mugs, so I was bidding on a package that had a French press, some Starbucks Breakfast Blend coffee (which is yummy, if you haven’t tried it), and a Pantone mug.  I almost got outbid at the last minute, but I made sure to get my darn mug!  Ha!  And I added the French Press to my collection of coffee machines I already have (an espresso machine/milk steamer and a café frappé machine).  I’ll need a big kitchen in my apartment.  I should have saved my 50/50 bucks for that!

All in all, the event was really a lot of fun.  The food was great (I had melt-in-your-mouth beef…oh goodness…so good), the wait staff was friendly, the bartender kept the drinks flowing, and everyone had a great time.

My mom and I helped Dad plan the event this year.  And I think we can all safely say, even though it had a great turn out and was really a lot of fun, we’re all glad it’s over.  I think I got a small taste of what it’s like to plan a wedding.  I can wait a little longer to plan that.

Arkovi Branding

I was approached by Blane Warrene, CEO of BMRW and Co-Creator of Arkovi (r-ko-v) to develop a brand. Blane called me one night describing what he was working on. “I’m working on this great new thing…,” sworn to secrecy, the conversation continued and I became more and more interested. At this point he had some name suggestions, nothing solid but Arkovi was one of them,  he invited me to come up with ideas of my own. This product was different. It needed a different name, so Arkovi was the final choice. With that being said, it was only fitting that the look and feel of the Arkovi brand also needed to be different.
These were the three concepts I gave to Blane to present to the Board of Directors. The choice was unanimous.


With this brand being used primarily on the web, the usual color considerations for use in print were put aside. The branding for Arkovi was on its way. One of my favorite elements is the use of the smack-you-in-the-face red as an accent. Even though this was primarily a web venture, every company needs a stationery package right? This was the next step of the process. Presented with three options, the final result was an exercise of mix and match… arriving at the final choice.


Other pieces that were developed for the Arkovi brand where a custom Twitter background (@arkovibackups), an e-book that is available for download from the Arkovi web site, Power Point presentation templates and an Infographic.





According to Blane, “We’re going to be making a lot of noise in 2011.” Personally, I like the sound of that because we made a lot of noise ourselves.

The Arkovi Identity Design brought home a number of awards in 2011.

2011 Best of Show Creative

2011 Gold Award – Creative

2011 Gold Hermes Awards for Creativity

2011 Gold Marcom Awards for Communications

2011 International Gold Award – IAPHC

Trailer Trash Design Featured in Computer Arts Projects Magazine

“I do both. My digital portfolio is always different than my physical portfolio. It offers me the opportunity to show more work. My digital portfolio is the one that resides on my website, but is also on my iPhone and iPad for those “just in case” situations. But, when I meet a client, I always show my physical portfolio. To me a physical portfolio adds validity to the work I’m showing. Digital is great, but nothing beats showing a “real” portfolio. Granted there are things that can only be (or best viewed) viewed digitally (websites, videos, etc.)… I just come prepared for those.”

Soon after, I was contacted by a writer for Computer Arts Projects, a UK based design magazine. He asked me if I would be interested in giving some expanded information and being featured for an article he was writing on the subject of physical vs. digital portfolios. The exchange of emails began, I gave him some samples of work and I am proud to say… the article lives in the May issue of Computer Arts Projects!


Being produced in the UK, it takes a bit longer to hit state side, so they’ve provided me with a PDF of the article until I can get my hands on the real thing. For your viewing pleasure, you can download the readable PDF here. You know you want to know what I said, come on… admit it.




Needless to say, I’m over-the-top excited about being part of this article and this issue. Thanks Computer Arts Projects! Cheers!