Creative Curio| Creative Curio Learn, discuss and explore the realm of Graphic Design. Wed, 20 Jul 2011 20:11:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What I Learned at the Social Media World Forum Mon, 16 Nov 2009 18:23:11 +0000 I went to the Social Media World Forum in Santa Clara last week. I was the grateful recipient of the free blog pass that David gave away last month. Big thank you, David and Sixdegrees!!

Without giving away all the valuable content of the conference for free, I wanted to share some amazing insights and a bit of an overview of the conference with you.

Social Media Texting

Who Was There?

There were a ton of speakers from huge brands such as Coca Cola, Nissan Canada, GM and Ogilvy PR. Of course, representatives from Facebook, MySpace, Zynga (where your beloved FarmVille comes from), Technorati and LinkedIn gave presentations and sat on panels as well (Twitter was shockingly absent…). There was even a surprise presentation from Ben Parr, Mashable’s editor! Many big brands were in attendance, too, including representatives from Capital One, Paramount and P&G to name a few.

The conference was a great networking opportunity and learning from the successes and mistakes of these leaders in social media marketing was a treat!

People I’m watching as a result of this conference are

  • Michael Donnelly (Coca Cola), I must say how impressed I was with his humble attitude! He showed us how to successfully cultivate an online community and put “Fans First” (their motto).
  • Chris Barger (GM), yes, he presented after the world’s most loved brand. Brave guy! His boldness with the brand and social media during crisis was inspiring and paid off.
  • Angel Gambino developed text to screen (like you use on American Idol or Dancing with the Stars), worked with Bebo to grow it before it was purchased by AOL, and lots of other really impressive things I can’t remember. She’s an extraordinary forward thinker.
  • Rachel Polish (Ogilvy PR) had some very insightful things to say regarding social media PR.
  • Dallas Lawrence (Levick, Bulletproof Blog) presented how social media is changing the business of communication and PR.
  • Jeff Parent (Nissan Canada) gave us a case study on how they successfully created a social media plan and integrated it with street teams and an interactive website to promote the Nissan Cube debut.
  • Chris Heuer (Social Media Club) moderated several panels and had great questions. He also had some fascinating things to say about the future of social media marketing.


I would have liked to see the conference a little more focused on social media marketing and PR, especially effective ways to collect metrics and measure success (of course, marketing goals must be established first!). A more diverse presentation of tactics that work for all sizes of business (local to global) would have been appreciated as well.

The big thing that I and the attendees I spoke with were looking for was how to convince people this is important. We know it’s important – that’s why we’re at the conference! How do we show our bosses, clients and CEOs this is the future and requires serious consideration? This issue wasn’t really addressed, so I don’t have answers for you :(

Stop Skimming Now, Here’s the Goods!

So now the part you are looking forward to: what did I learn?

What You Must Be Doing NOW

LISTEN. If you do nothing else, LISTEN. Twitter is great for that. Pull an RSS feed from Twitter Search on your brand, keywords and competitors’ names.

The conversation is happening with or without you.

Define success before you begin your social media marketing campaign. There is no magic button. Objectives make money.

Just get started and go from there! This is not a fad.

Create value, don’t extract it.

Integrate social media with other marketing efforts (break down silos).

Discover who the key influencers are and develop relationships with them.

What else?

Everyone interacting in the social space should have training, be clear about messages, and be transparent, authentic, valuable and have meaningful conversations.

Real people want to connect with real things.

Social media’s costs come in the form of time and human resources. It’s not free.

Make your content sharable, embeddable and portable. Enable people to take it to their networks.

Social media is not about controlling what is said about you/your company, it’s about interacting with people.

B2B uses social media for research (instead of outreach) on the target and competition. In addition, work with your client to reach their client.

The Future

“Mobile, Mobile, Mobile, MOBILE!” – Ben Parr, Mashable

Social gaming (Mafia Wars, FarmVille, etc.) and virtual currency, specifically advertising exposure in exchange for VC

Short form video is a growing movement (30 seconds – 3.5 minutes max for best exposure chance)

Brazil is one of the fastest growing adopters of social media

We are moving back to local connections being important (think Yelp, Four Square)

Remember, this is marketing. It’s not about the tools, it’s how you use them to accomplish your goals.

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A Simple Golden Lettering Effect with Photoshop Layer Styles Fri, 23 Oct 2009 18:07:04 +0000 A reader requested a tutorial on how to make the gold effect I’ve used on the Creative Curio and Extras titles. It’s a pretty simple technique, but like most things, it takes time and experimenting with different filters, layer styles, layer modes, etc. to get the right look.

The gold lettering that I’ve created actually only uses layer styles. I’ll show you them below.

Gold Base

First, you have to get your shape/text. You can see that there is a lot of variety in the width of my letters and you’ll need this when we apply some of the layer styles later on.

For the fill color, I used #927847 or 146R, 120G, 71B.

Inner Shadow

Next, for some depth, I applied the Inner Shadow layer style.

Inner Shadow Settings

These are the settings I used:

Blend Mode: Multiply (default)

Color: Black (default)

Opacity: 17%

Distance: 2px

Inner Shadow

Remember that your shadow distance will depend on your resolution. Since this is for web, the resolution is 72px, so the 2px distance is sufficient. I almost always lower the opacity, too, because I want my shadows to blend, not stand out and say, “Hey! I’m a shadow! Look at me!”

Bevel and Emboss

“But real designers don’t use Bevel and Emboss!” I hear you cry. Oh, just like they don’t use gradients, eh? In the right hands, all of these tools are useful. But that is what they are, tools. You have to know when and how to use them to get the end results you have in mind. Here is an appropriate place to use Bevel and Emboss.

Bevel and Emboss Settings

Style: Inner Bevel

Technique: Chisel Hard

Depth: 301

Size: 2

Angle: 117 degrees

Altitude: 69 degrees

Highlight: Color Dodge, #faecb4, 54% opacity

Shadow: Multiply, #000000, 22% opacity

Bevel and Emboss

I also used the Contour layer style to darken the gold color a little more. You can decide if that’s what you want for your gold look (I think it looks good without it too).

Contour Settings

Contour: Cone Inverted preset

Contour and Final Image

And there you have it!

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New Article and Portfolio Featured Thu, 13 Aug 2009 00:06:55 +0000 There have been quite a few things going on for me and Creative Curio outside of this site! Check out some of the things I’ve been up to lately.

Portfolio Featured!

As you know, I joined Art Bistro as a contributing writer (some of the articles from CC appear on the Art Bistro site).

Well today, my portfolio is featured on the homepage as well as the main Portfolios page! They hold informal contests each month and feature the designers who win. There is also a mini-interview with me (forgive the terseness of my last comment on advice to designers; I was told we had a 50 word limit for all of the answers combined!).

My Porfolio on Art Bistro

Of course, my work is only on the homepage today, Wednesday August 12, 2009, so in case you missed it, just go directly to my portfolio to see the work I’ve uploaded there.

CreativePro Article on Critiquing

The second piece of exciting news is that an article I wrote for CreativePro is live!

This is a classic Creative Curio article dissecting the design of a Greengate Garden ad. If you’ve enjoyed my other articles on the design theory, elements and principles of design, particularly the ones on Wrigley’s Tea Escapes and the Del Taco Campaign, then you’ll like this one, too, so head over and read it. Studying other people’s design helps us improve our own. Plus, it’s fun.

Greengate Ad

If you’ve never visited CreativePro before, after reading my article (of course!), check out the other resources they have available, particularly in the graphics and print sections.

Got Any Ideas?

Finally, I’m running dry on ideas for Creative Curio articles (can you tell?).

So dear reader, will you help me? Do you have any questions about design theory, practices or specific questions regarding using design programs like Photoshop, Illustrator or most especially InDesign? I would love to help you and others out by answering those questions! No question is a dumb question, so ask away in the comments below!!

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The Big Collection of Apothecary Inspiration Tue, 21 Jul 2009 01:00:04 +0000 Lately I’ve been so inspired by the apothecary style design work out there. I’ve collected some links and package examples to share some of my inspiration with you. I hope you find them equally enjoyable!

Around the Web

Apothecary Bottles

Herb Bottles

‘IDo’ It Yourself found these free printable labels from Eat.Drink.Chic. The images above are just a taste of what you’ll find!

Brock Ray shared his photos from the National Museum of American History.

National Museum of American History Apothecary Display

Boots Original was featured on The Dieline a while back.

Boots Original

Finally, Beast Pieces did this lovely promo piece for Shine Advertising and shared it last month.

Shine North Box

C.O. Bigelow

C.O. Bigelow claims the title of “the oldest apothecary in America” and it’s probably true! They’ve been in business since 1838 in New York. Check out I Love Bigelow, too, for more apothecary style inspiration.


Bigelow Dermabrasion & Chapped Cleanser

Bigelow Premium Collection

Grether's Pastilles


Flickr is without a doubt a fantastic place to find inspiration. Each image below is linked to its respective Flickr page.

Medicine Boxes

Apothecary Bottles

Apothecary Elixirs

Beauty Balm


Apothecary Labels

Spirit of Nitre

Throat Beauty

And then there’s that beauty of a book, The Handy Book of Artistic Printing. Ellie from Mint (the design blog) recently shared pictures of her copy. Amazon has this book for $26, well worth it in my opinion, if you’re into this style at all. I saw it in person and it really is gorgeous! The outside does have a gold foil on it, but none of the inside images have any foil or metallic ink from what I remember seeing (even though in some of the pictures it does look that way).

As you flip through the book, notice how the printers were always trying to break the bounds of their medium through curved text and images that made it look like pins or nails were holding a note on the page. It really reminded me of what web designers are trying to do now. How funny, huh? Talk about history repeating itself!

The Handy Book of Artistic Printing

The Handy Book of Artistic Printing - sample

The Handy Book of Artistic Printing - sample

Incorporating the Style into Your Designs

So what are some design elements we can pick up from these packages?

Color Palette

I took a look at all of the sample images I’d collected and decided these were the most common colors I saw. I’ve left the label colors muted, even though some of that might have been caused by age. But that’s the point, right? These are supposed to look old!

The liquids were fun—and here’s where the bright colors come in! Green, red and brown were the most common colors.

Finally, there are the bottles. Most of them were clear, lightly tinted green or brown, but then there’s also that signature bright blue (like in the Bigelow Premium collection above).

Apothecary Color Palette

Type Treatments

Many of the original labels used some form of Copperplate, and for the modern packages, Algerian seems to be a popular choice. There was also extensive use of slab serifs, mainly typewriter style fonts, in both the old and new labels.

Tuscan serifs (the really fancy serifs, check out the link) were also popular in the vintage packaging, but I didn’t see much use of them in modern stuff. It was also interesting that some modern examples use engraved text, though their ancestors (from what I saw) do not. I think the engraved fonts work though. Hand-tooled fonts would also fit the period I think.

Text on a curve was very popular, too, and I think it was a pride thing for the printers of the time (they didn’t have the Type on a Path Tool!).

Hard shadows behind the text was a popular style back then and now, as is using a red accent color for some of the important information on the label. All caps or small caps were and are also quite common.

  • Copperplate
  • Algerian
  • Slab Serifs (like the typewriter fonts)
  • Tuscan serifs (really fancy serifs)
  • Engraved and hand-tooled fonts
  • Text on a curve
  • Hard shadows
  • Red accent color
  • Caps or Small Caps


Because these old packages were printed on letterpresses, they often used engraved images with lines for shading. Ribbons or banners were (are) quite popular, as was (and is) placing text inside the ribbon. Artists and printers tried to dress up the labels as much as possible with lines, decorative borders and filigree on the letters. Dividers between text was also common; sometimes it was a simple as a line, other times it was a fancier ornament.

  • Ribbons/sashes
  • Simple lines for decoration
  • Decorative borders
  • Filigree
  • Dividers – sometimes just a line, sometimes decorative

What else do you notice as you look at the images above? Have you ever studied this time period and picked up a useful or interesting tidbit about design at that time? Share it in the comments!

Note: Post contains affiliate links. Please consider using them in an effort to support Creative Curio! Thanks!

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