A Mighty Big Harvest Packaging Design

Design, Illustration, New Piece, Packaging, Print

As a freelancer, it’s a fun treat when I get the opportunity to bid on a project, win that bid, and then work on that project from concept to completion with a team of other creatives (versus working solo or only on one facet of a campaign’s design).

I presented ideas to Applied Underwriters (a workman’s comp insurance agency (which has a GIANT St. Bernard for a logo)) for their annual wine promotion, an incentive program for sales reps to get more quotes and deals through their company. They have been doing these pretty elaborate direct mail campaigns for a number of years, so have a history of high quality, thoughtful designs under their belt.

The conceptualization process starts out many months in advance of when the program starts (technically, I think they are already thinking about the next year’s as soon as the program is just finishing up for the current year). I was given an overview of what the mandatory requirements for the promotion were, samples of things they’ve done in the past, and a brief idea of what “might be cool” this year. Amusingly, the initial concept was about pairing wine with chocolate, which is the concept I presented for, and then won the bid for, but as so many things go, issues with that concept arose afterwards, and we all had to then pivot and create a new concept after a few weeks worth of work had already gone into plan A.

pitch

My pitch for chocolate/wine pairing

Unfortunately, this promotion would be mailed out in August, which for most of the non-fog-bound-San Francisco parts of the country means melty times for chocolate.

But that’s ok, we played with a few other ideas but then eventually moved on to a concept of sending custom Govino glasses (those plastic ones with the little notch for your thumb) for the first mailer, and then a wine tasting game for the second mailer (basically, magnet poetry for your wine). Because it’s fun to look back on how things evolved, here are 2 of the very initial sketches for both of those pieces.

Print

Initial box design

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Magnet Poetry meets wine tasting design idea

Over the course of a couple more months, we refined, rewrote, reimagined, and then finally designed the 2 final pieces. I worked with the team up until almost the very end when their in-house design team took my files and cleaned them up for print production. A few more changes were made that likely were the result of seeing in-person mock ups and working out issues or cleaning up the design (like the outside of the box was supposed to be a scene from Napa, but I think it must have been a technical nightmare to line up AND looked very busy compared to the toned down, no image option they ran with for the final).

Fun to have played a big part in that process and guided the overall design work, and then see the final product turn out so well. A very great experience! Shout out to a very great art director and creative writer who were both so thoughtful and detail oriented throughout the whole process. It’s always a pleasure to work with such smart people. Also, a shout out to the highly technically scratchboard illustrator, Steven Noble, whom they have been working with for ages, for his contributions to the piece.

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-1-unopened

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-2-first-open

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-3-2nd-open

box open with reward chart insert removed

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-4-opened-to-gate-flap

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-5-3rd-open

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-6-close-up-of-glass-in-box

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-7-no-glasses-shallow

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-8-no-glasses-deep

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-9-glass-mbh

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-10-glass-costello

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-11-reward-chart-front

reward chart

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auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-13-reward-chart-full-open

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-box-14-reward-chart-detail

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-magnet-1-unopened

Second Mailer in its plastic mailing sleeve

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-magnet-2-gate-flap-closed

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-magnet-3-gate-flap-opened

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-magnet-4-opened

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auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-magnet-6-coaster-detail

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-magnet-7-sheet-detail

auw-mighty-big-harvest-2016-magnet-8-words-and-glass-on-sheet

International Women’s Day Portrait Series

Illustration, Interests, New Piece, Posters, Print

In honor of International Women’s Day (#IWD2016), I’m working on a series of portraits of some famous and awesome ladies of history. This is an ongoing project, so will be continuing to post them as I make them. Check back here for more!

03.08.16 – I’ll start with Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603). A formidable character, worthy of recognition for her long and (mostly) peaceful reign of England. Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth ruled for 44 years, known as the Golden Age, where English drama flourished, led by playwrights such as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, and seafaring English adventurers such as Francis Drake made their name. Nicknamed the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth never married or bore an heir.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Queen_Elizabeth_I

print for sale on Society6!

03.10.16 – Second in the series, is  Harriet Tubman (1820 – 1913), an African-American born into slavery. She escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved families and friends, making her a brave and critical member of the Underground Railroad. After the civil war, she continued to campion for rights of both freed blacks and women.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Harriet_TubmanPrint for Sale on Society6!

03.21.16 – Third up, Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431), is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Hundred Years’ War, and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint. She claimed to have received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination. After the uncrowned King sent her off as part of a relief mission on the siege of Orléans, victories ensued and the King was crowned. She was later captured by the English side and then burned at the stake at roughly 19 years of age. So, she might have been a little crazy, but a teenage woman going into battle in the 1400’s is still pretty bad ass, so makes my list for famous and awesome women of history.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Joan-of-Arc

Print for Sale on Society6!

03.28.16 – Sacagawea, also Sakakawea or Sacajawea (1788-1812), was a Lemhi Shoshone woman who helped the Lewis and Clark Expedition achieve each of its chartered mission objectives exploring the Louisiana Purchase. Reliable historic info about her isn’t limited. Most of the info we have is based on the journals written by the two explorers. She traveled thousands of miles from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean with the expedition in 1804 and 1806 as the wife of a Quebecois trapper (married to him at the age of 13). She was brought along primarily as a Shoshone interpreter. She established cultural contacts with Native American populations, including a reuniting moment with her brother whom she’d been separated from at the age of 12. She bore her son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, while on the expedition.

We owe a lot of credit to the National American Woman Suffrage Association of the early twentieth century for bringing her history and importance into the forefront, by adopting her as a symbol of women’s worth and independence.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Sacagawea

Print for sale on Society6!

04.03.16 – I’m pleased that this post aligns with Dame Jane Morris Goodall’s birthday (b. 1934). She is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program, and she has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. Apparently as a child, she was given a lifelike chimpanzee stuffed animal named Jubilee by her father, which apparently kickstarted her early love of animals.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Jane_Goodall

Print for sale on Society6!

04.10.16 – Sally Ride (1951 – 2012) was an American physicist and astronaut. She became the first American woman in space in 1983 (two Russian women preceded her). She remains the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space, having done so at the age of 32. After flying twice on the Orbiter Challenger, she left NASA in 1987. She later worked at Stanford and then University of California, San Diego as a professor of physics. She served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, the only person to participate on both. She was the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company she co-founded in 2001 that creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls. It was revealed after her death that she had been in a 27 year long relationship with her partner Tam O’Shaughnessy, making her the first known LGBT astronaut. She was a strong advocate of science and space exploration, and I’m honored to promote her accomplishments.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Sally_Ride

Print for Sale on Society6!

04.17.16 – Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is a Mexican painter best known for her self-portraits that exposed her physical and emotional struggles and pulled imagery and colors from her Mexican cultural heritage. She suffered lifelong health problems, many of which were caused by a bus accident she survived as a teenager. She was pegged as an surrealist painter by André Breton, but she felt her work reflected more of her reality than her dreams. She was married to famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera for what turned out to be a very volatile relationship. Throughout her life, she was very politically active. Since her death, Kahlo’s fame as an artist has only grown. Her childhood home was opened as a museum in 1958. She is viewed by many as an icon of female creativity.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Frida_Kahlo

Print for Sale on Society6!

04.24.16 – Susan Brownell Anthony (1820 – 1906) was an American social reformer and feminist who played a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. Born into a Quaker family committed to social equality, she started her politically active career at the age of 17, collecting anti-slave petitions. She met Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1851, with whom she became a lifelong friend and co-worker in social reform activities. The list of things she did is long, from founding the New York Women’s State Temperance Society, to founding a newspaper for women’s rights, to founding the National Women’s Suffrage Association, to literally co-writing the book on the history of women’s suffrage, to submitting an amendment to Congress (submitted in 1878) that was finally passed in 1920 as the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote. She campaigned around the country and the world for women’s rights her entire life. When she first began campaigning for women’s rights, she was harshly ridiculed and accused of trying to destroy the institution of marriage. Luckily, over her lifetime, public perception of her changed and by her 80th birthday, she was invited to celebrate at the the White House at the invitation of President William McKinley. She has continued to be celebrated, notably with her portrait appearing on the 1979 dollar coin (the first non-fictitious woman to appear on U.S. coinage). I for one am eternally grateful to her and all the women who worked so hard to pass that amendment and endeavor to never take for granted all the hard work that she and others put into the cause.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Susan-B-AnthonyPrint for sale on Society6!

05.08.16 – Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910), known as the “lady with the lamp,” was a celebrated English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. She was born into an affluent British family, but from a young age was drawn to philanthropy, mainly ministering to the sick and poor. Against her family’s wishes, she chose to pursue a career in nursing. She studied in Germany, and when she returned to England, quickly excelled in her field and was promoted to superintendent within the first year of being hired. When the British entered the Crimean War, she and a team of nurses were called upon to aid the British soldiers on the front. The conditions were appalling, and with the help of her staff, they were able to improve the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital, reducing the death count by two-thirds. She wrote about her observations and proposed reforms to sanitation. Her writings sparked worldwide health care reform. In 1860 she established St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. She remained a prominent figure and authority on the subject and was regularly consulted by governments regarding the establishment of field hospitals. At the age of 88, she was conferred the merit of honor by King Edward. She had contracted “Crimean Fever” and lived bedridden from the age of 38 until her death at 90. Since 1965, International Nurses Day has been celebrated on her birthday each year, May 12.

Kowal_Women-of-History_Florence_NightingalePrint for Sale on Society6!

San Francisco Card Deck

Branding, Cards, Design, Illustration, Packaging, Places, Print, Uncategorized

This year, my client gift was a custom deck of playing cards featuring landmarks from San Francisco, a fun personal tribute to the city I love and that so many also love to love.

I am no stranger to designing cards, having created a custom deck of poker cards for a charity poker tournament, as well as two card-based games for Google (Data Center Manager and Launch & Iterate). I love games, and also love designing for them, so deciding on a poker deck as a client gift seemed like the perfect pair.

I started back in the summer, thinking how to organize the face cards. There are a variety of options, such as by neighborhood, or by personalities (techie, hippie, by park, etc. I decided on buildings and landmarks because they had a pretty decent correlation by category for each set of 4 face cards and also had a certain amount of historical and intrinsic value to the people of San Francisco. But, as no option was perfect for capturing every aspect of the city’s culture, heritage and history, some icons didn’t make it, such as Dolores Park, AT&T Park, or the Presidio, to name a few that got cut from the long list.

What I did include were 3 categories of landmarks for each set of face cards.

Kings

SF Card Deck KingsKings were represented by famous tall buildings or towers: Sutro, TransAmerica, Coit and the Ferry Building clock tower. I think I chose them as Kings purely based on height.

Queens

SF Card Deck QueensQueens were some of the beloved bridges that are either in or connect to San Francisco: Bay Bridge both east and western spans, Golden Gate, and the slightly less famous but delightful bridge in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Perhaps I chose them for queens because they hold some of the real power in the city, as far as connecting us to our neighbors.

Jacks

SF Card Deck JacksJacks comprised of other famous tourist attractions including the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, Alcatraz Island, Lombard Street, and the Palace of Fine Arts, which coincidentally happened to celebrate its 100th birthday this year.

SF Card Deck 2Of course, the real character of the cards lies in the Joker, whom I aptly chose our dear Emperor Norton to fill the role of. It seemed all too appropriate. (Don’t know who he is? Check out the wikipedia page).

SF Card Deck 3

The final consideration for the cards was the color palette, which is very limited. These colors are the ones I’ve chosen for my personal branding, but it’s not a huge coincidence that the cadmium red (not quite international orange, but certainly in the spirit) and sea green are in play for this San Francisco-based designer.

SF Card Deck 1

Want a deck of your own? Email me, and I can mail you a pack ($20+shipping). While supplies last.

SF Card Deck 4

Family Greetings in Retro Travel Postcard Style

Cards, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Print

Day Care Project final web

I worked on a project recently that was a lot of fun. A mother whose child attends a small daycare center wanted to pull together a unique thank you gift for the class’s teachers. She found a board she really liked on Etsy, and thought it would be fun to have pictures of the families to pin onto it. We got to talking and the idea expanded to be not just family photos, but vintage inspired travel postcard themed cards with a greeting of their choice on it. Each family had a fun story or background that we could highlight, so I whipped up a textured template (working with a limited palette that went well with the board she’d found) and I made a bunch of fun graphics to include on each family’s card. I also aged the photos a bit to make them fit in with the retro style a bit more.

Day Care Photos Lutz

Father came from Hawaii, and they love to surf!

They love to be outdoors, especially their garden.

They love to be outdoors, especially their garden.

Mom is from Trinidad and Father is from Norway, so they can never decide between skiing and surfing.

Mom is from Trinidad and Father is from Norway, so they can never decide between skiing and surfing.

Parents are from Taiwan and New Jersey - their love met in the middle. Can't forget the dog!

Parents are from Taiwan and New Jersey – their love met in the middle. They love biking and hiking, too.

All their love, from Switzerland.

All their love, from Switzerland.

We have a rivalry on our hands! Also, can't forget the dog.

We have a rivalry on our hands! Also, can’t forget the dog.

Both parents are basically professional dancers, both ballroom and swing.

Both parents are basically professional dancers, both ballroom and swing.

Can't forget the Frozen fans. (image blurred by family's request).

Can’t forget the Frozen fans. (image blurred by family’s request).

A very fun, personalized gift for the teachers. They loved it so much they plan on keeping it in the classroom even after the current class has moved on.

It was a lot of fun coming up with graphics for each family and having it work with the theme. I liked the color palette a lot, too. Would be fun to make more graphics like this.

Oh, here’s the backside, where the family’s wrote their personalized messages. Complete with custom stamp and post office marker.

Print

Launch & Iterate: a Google Recruiting Card Game

Cards, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Packaging, Print

Launch+Iterate 1 web

I am so pleased to finally be able to post the final product of this project. It took almost a year to finalize, and it was so much fun to work on, so am thrilled to finally share it.

Launch+Iterate 2 web

This is a co-op game with the end goal of launching the most products. Designed as a game to play at recruiting events, it is targeted at programmers and people familiar with programming lingo and/or Google, but no reason why anyone who just loves games couldn’t play it, too.

Launch+Iterate 3 web

The game design and mechanics were already mostly defined by the time the Google team who worked on it decided they were ready to reach out to a designer to create the game’s art. I came in to do a test round with their scratch deck and I was immediately inspired. They had a really good concept for game play, fun and clever ways to incorporate the Google brand and programming job functions into the theme of the game, and also had already compiled most of the details about verbiage, card distribution, game balance, etc. So it was my job to take the pieces and ideas and put them into a cohesive looking deck with fun, bold, Google-esque graphics.

I have played enough card games to understand some of the more practical elements required in making a good deck of cards, such as combining colors with symbols to make identifying types of cards easier (especially for color blind folks), putting at-a-glance info on the sides and corners of cards since they’re typically held fanned out in your hand, and also making sure layouts are consistent, fonts are legible, and type isn’t too small. These basic requirements, along with keeping text and pertinent design elements within the proper margins, were my guides in getting the designs started. I also had the benefit of having a well-defined brand to work with, which uses eye-catching, bold, primary colors (they also have their own font!).

It’s a thrill to see how this project evolved. I commend my contact at Google immensely for being such a great communicator. She was very organized and thoughtful with feedback (both her own and what she compiled and filtered down to me from the rest of the team), and I feel the feedback and changes they suggested really furthered the design immensely. Looking back on some of my round 1 and 2 ideas makes the excellence of their input and insight so clear as you compare it to our final product. I absolutely love when a project comes together in such a way.

So I started with a relatively blank canvas. The scratch deck they had created had a rough card layout with a solid bar of color on the left side with text on the blank space adjacent. It wasn’t a bad starting point, since the majority of the cards would be hand-held, and having that left bar for at-a-glance icons turned out to the basis for the final design of most of the cards in the deck.

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Sample of Tech Cards

So, a brief synopsis, there are Tech Cards, Event Cards, Launch Cards, as well as penalty/bonus cards, in addition to 4 “Tech Stack Base” cards.

Launch+Iterate 14 web

Basic Game Layout, Tech Stack Base cards “F0,” “A0,” “S0,” and “T0” in the center, Tech draw pile on the left, Launch cards below that, Event cards bottom right, and then penalty/bonus cards available as needed.

Tech cards are split into Tech Stack cards (labeled with F, A, S, or T and numbered 1-7) that will get piled on top of one of the 4 coordinating stacks on the game area. Each color is assigned a color and shape (blue/square, red/circle, yellow/4-pointed star or green/triangle).

 

Print

Additionally, there are “One-Shot” Tech cards that do not get stacked on the base piles, but are instead used one time and then discarded and are black with no attached symbol.

Print

Other cards in the deck are not held in-hand such as the Tech Stack Base cards, Penalty/Bonus Cards, Launches, and Events.

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Penalty and Bonus Cards

Penalty Cards will either get placed on top of a Stack, or in front of a Player.

Launch Cards are the basis of how you earn points in the game, by earning Users.

Launch Card Diagram

Launch+Iterate 8 web

Launch Cards

All the Launch cards were cleverly designed as one of Google’s April Fool jokes (aka, products that were not real and were also far-fetched and hilarious). Examples such as Scratch and Sniff Google Searches, Locate a nearby kitten, Google Translate for Animals, etc.

Launch+Iterate 10 web

Launch+Iterate 9 web

Launch+Iterate 11 web

I created the art for these based on the graphics or videos that still remain on Google’s April Fool websites and YouTube, keeping it as close to the originals as an Illustrator working with vectors can (only raster images that remain are the Google Maps 8-bit logo and the $20 bill coming out of Google Mobile ATM).
The thing I found most illuminating now that I’ve had a little break from working on the project and can now sit back and see the final product against the many revisions we worked through to get there, are the Event cards.
Print
Launch+Iterate 5 web

Event Cards

These guys really went through some transformations.

Samples Description 1 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 1

 

Samples Description 2 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 2

 

Samples Description 3 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 3

 

Samples Description 4 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 4, with 4 options for layout

 

Samples Description 5 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 5 – getting close, but not quite right.

 

Samples Description 6 events

Event Card Proposed Design, Phase 6 – with 4 options for treatment.

I really enjoy how the eventually turned out, and find the process in getting to that point so valuable and interesting.

This is a culmination of roughly 70 hours of work for me over the course of 10 months including a folded page with instructions (not including the Visually Impaired version we augmented the layout for). I loved every minute and it inspired me to want to design and create the art for my own games (it’s really hard, btw). I really loved brainstorming with a team of super smart people to realize what I believe is a really thoughtfully designed game. I will jump on any chance to do it again.

Launch+Iterate 16 web

For you Board Game Geeks, here’s a link to the game on BGG.

California Wine Infographic

Design, Illustration, New Piece, Posters, Print

Kowal_Wine_Infographic_BoldItalic-1

 

Made another fun infographic, this time all about the Wine Industry in California (spoiler alert: it’s big). From production to consumption, California is a big winner. Prints are also available at Society 6.

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Kowal_Wine_Infographic_BoldItalic-4

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Here’s a peek at the full scale, poster version.

Print

 

 

 

Austin’s Awesome

Cards, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Places, Print

Austin Thank You web

I recently spent a week in Austin and had such a fantastic time I decided to draw about it. Spending time with friends who just moved down there and knew the lay of the land was the added bonus, as we got such good insider knowledge on where to go (and eat!).

While my little illustrated thank you card to our fabulous hosts has a few inside jokes, for the most part, I think I captured the spirit of our trip with our adventures in learning the Texas Two Step at the honky tonkest joint I’ve ever seen, going to a UT Football game (the first time I’ve ever been to a college game, oh lordy), waiting in line for the most delicious brisket I’ve ever tasted, seeing the bats come out from under the bridge at dusk, enjoying live music and tasty beverages on Rainey Street, and playing a little bar trivia (and that’s not even mentioning the time we spent on the East side!). In addition, I thoroughly enjoy Austin’s mid-century modern style which can be found across the whole town in its architecture and interior design. Such a treat to see classic neon signage and amazing lettering used so well in so many places.  Such a fun place, I’d like to draw it even more.

Change of Address & Personal Branding Project

Branding, Design, Illustration, New Piece, Print

Anita Branding 2

I worked on a personal branding project for a client who made a move from Seattle to Monterey. I worked up a change of address card showing the move from “the Space Needle to the Cypress Needles” and worked in an illustration of one of my favorite trees here in California, the Monterey Cypress, using a California Craftsman style, with the warm earth tones, art nouveau inspired curves, and outlined shapes. I wanted the overall shape of the tree to parody the shape of the space needle, as I had originally thought a 2 sided mailer would look neat if they lined up, but changed the plan when I decided to make it a postcard instead of a stuffed mailer. The shapes are still similar, but I relaxed the curves of the tree which I think worked out much better in the long run. Print

Knowing my client loves the color cobalt blue, I worked that in to the overall branding, including envelopes, which I think will really pop when compared to other mail. I included a design for a regular natural colored envelope as well, matching the paper used for the letterhead, and printed a blue bordered version of her branding directly on the envelope.

Anita Branding 1