Thursday, April 14, 2011


The current e-newsletter put out by Graphic Design USA magazine features another OtherWisz Creative designed project- the Sweet Marie's logo we designed for Culinary Art's Specialties in Buffalo, NY.  We are honored to get the recognition again from this fine design publication! The logo was designed as a new brand for frozen desserts that will be available in the frozen food sections of major grocery stores in the US. 

This logo designed by our team last Summer.  The process included helping the client select a name for the new line of products.  Following the success of the Arthur Paul's frozen cheesecake brand we created a few years back, we again tried to find a name that was part of the family history of the company.  Arthur Paul was the founder, and the new brand is based on one of the current owner's grandchildren, Marie.

This logo has a lightness and familiarity to it that projects an innocent sweetness to the dessert; matched with an equally pleasing color scheme, it is sure to stand out with consumers. The Spring color palette is complemented with a flower sitting in for the dot on the 'i' and it's lose petal as the apostrophe.  The fonts include Didot and the playful ITC Veljovic.

Here is what Graphic Design USA had to say:
"SWEET STORY-- OtherWisz Creative provided naming and identity strategies for this new brand of frozen dessert. The client is Culinary Arts Specialties and Marie is a grand daughter of one of the owners. Mark and Jill Wisz head the Buffalo NY studio."
The enewsletter can be found on their website:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mirror People (Slow Version)

Confessions of a Graphic Artist, Part 87 -- 1992-93: Traditional Graphic Arts And The Computer Live Together In Sin

My first corporate packaging project also included my first published, corporate illustration. While working for Steve James Design, a small Buffalo agency back in the Fall of 1992, I had the pleasure to construct the final artwork for some Tops supermarket products that would eventually end up on the store shelves. Steve, my boss, had designed the packages and I had to build them.  It was 'construction' for sure, as it involved ink on boards, black and white stats and layers of cut rubylith. So when I recently ran across this almost 20-year old Tops Tea Bags 48-count flattened box in the flat file, I felt it was a good example of the wilderness years of graphic design when traditional cut-and-paste design transitioned to computers become the 'tool of choice' in this field.

Now by the early '90s I did have some package designing under my belt -- a CD jewel case for local rockstars Scott Carpenter and The Real McCoys, a Scinta's! VHS box, plus a few cassette cases -- but this was the first time I had worked on something that would be seen by thousands of people a day, especially people who were out buying some generic tea. It was exciting, it was my first advertising agency job and I wanted the Tops Tea Bags box to be great! I had worked previously as an in-house designer, and then in pre-press for a few years while freelancing, but this job was in a cool downtown loft space (we listened to jazz and rock music, kinda loud sometimes) and I was pretty psyched to do some real package design!

In the year I worked at this Buffalo agency (1992-1993), we made the move to use computers to handle the final artwork for most of our projects. This was quite a transition to make as tasks like managing fonts, monitoring file sizes and getting things to print correctly were a real pain in the ass.

This Tea Bags box has a bit of both the old and the 'new' in it:

Traditional: hand-cut tea cup silo, rapidographed inked grid, wax and pasted logo stats and color separations by plastic overlays.

Computer: text was typeset (VAG Rounded, maybe...) on our single office MAC computer. Then it was delivered on a floppy disc to the typesetter, Buffalo's Printing Prep. We had to come back the next day to pick it up.  The shiny stats of the headlines were trimmed out on the full sheet, then waxed and CAREFULLY pasted down to the boards or overlays. We had to use the sliding ruler on our drawing tables to make sure everything was straight.  It was primitive, but like I mentioned, I was helping to move this agency into the computer age of the '90s, and we had to start someplace. 

My first product illustration, the tea bag artwork used to illustrate the concept of the 'Flow-Through Bag,' was something I had hand-inked on a crisp white piece of board. It was drawn larger and then it was 'shot down' using a stat camera in the office darkroom and pasted into the working art for the box.  It was like shrinky-dinks, you could be kinda sloppy because it tightens up when you shrink it down.  I was no way a competent hand-inker -- my string for the tag is lumpy, my angles are all off -- and this teabag took several tries.  In the end it also looks like the waxed down 'Tops red diamond' slipped off the center of the tag artwork a bit in between the time the boards left the agency and the film was shot for the printer -- dammit.  But hey, when it was printed on the final boxes, it sure looked awesome on the store shelves!  I always went down the tea aisle when I shopped back then, even if I didn't need tea, just to admire this box...

Overall, the Tops Tea Bags box was well-received -- nothing was spelled wrong (spellcheck was in it's infancy) -- and I even got to work on other projects beyond food packaging at the 2-person agency (but not until my resume expanded to include baby diapers, extra large dog food bags and 6-color cereal boxes). The computers eventually took over and the time spend building things like this four-spot color (plus the photo insert) box went from several days to a few hours. Everything got mathematically perfect. The background grids to this Top's brand got straighter versus the sometimes wavy hand-inked lines. But somehow as we modernized our process, the personality of it was lost I guess…. you know, the tea cup on this package was photographed in our design studio, it's not stock art.

But little did I know as I hand-inked this teabag artwork for the fourth or fifth time on a Fall afternoon in '92, while listening to Dizzy Gillespie or the Goo Goo Doll's Superstar Carwash CD, that I was about to make the jump from a traditional graphic artist to a computer graphic artist with the click of the mouse.  Continuing to follow the trend of the graphics field by learning web design in early 1997, I was able to keep this design ship afloat for almost 25 years now.  Though things are faster and easier today, I sometimes miss the days when there was a real craftsmanship to the graphic design field. I mean, look at this fine hand-drawn tea bag.