Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back To The Lab: Dr. Wisz's Old School Hip Hop Mix

Date: November 2001, Boy! This is a good tape, it was a live-to-tape (no going back and fixin' it) old school hip hop mix duped back in 2001. I made this master tape and then made copies for a lot of friends, so there may be a few of these floating around. Dubbed 'The Roots Of Deja Blu' this was going to be the first in series, looking back and some of the music that got Scotty and I into DJ'ing around the formative years of deja blu- our DJ team.

The graphics are very sophisticated as compared to a lot of hand-made j-cards that have been posted previously. All computer art & printed black with knock-outs on purple paper. The turntable photos were taking by a photographer friend of mine and the font was dot-matrixy (on purpose). Good stuff. This is one that should really be transferred to CD.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hold The Line

The Blog has been slacking, I know, I know.... With the trip to NOLA for the AIA Convention and the never ending pile of work, it has been tough to get back to it.  So until I can around to some postings, check out the OtherWisz Creative Facebook page for frequent snippets. We like you, we really do...

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: http://www.gdusa.com/egdusa/2011/0412e/msg.html

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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stay Gold

The 2011 ADDYs saw our talented team at OtherWisz Creative bringing home some hardware!  The Rave Reviews were celebrated at the Tri-Main Building in north Buffalo and saw a good showing of Buffalo creatives hanging, drinking, watching break dancers, drinking… well you get the picture.  Most of the large agencies won the majority of the awards (as usual) but our crew had a great showing, winning 2 silver, a gold and the 'best showbook ad'. The last one was quite a surprise!

The package design we created for Boston Valley Terra Cotta has won it's second set of kudos taking a silver at the ADDYs in the 'Sales Promotion, Sale Kit' category. Last month the BVTC box won an American Package Design Award from Graphic Design USA magazine. The other awards went to two more of our BVTC projects, the pocket folder with line cards set and the 64-page Terraclad catalog.

As a Buffalo Ad Club corporate member, we had to submit an advertisement for the event showbook.  Since the event was a 'rave theme' this year, our ad was a play on words hinting at the club drug ecstasy, or 'E'. See it below. It won best ad in the book and came with a big wall plaque award. 
Kudos from the judges in the Showbook- on the TerraClad book: "Detailed and well executed." and on the TC Box, "Very cool package."
Congratulations to the OW team, great job! We are humbled to have others really appreciate our work --  we know we like, we know the client liked it --  it is cool to know other people like it as well!  See our winners below.


Category: Collateral Material, Brochure, Color
Title: TerraClad Product Brochure

Client: Boston Valley Terra Cotta
 Mark Wisz, Art Director
, Jill Wisz, Creative Director
, Dan Wangelin, Designer
, United Graphics, Printer

Silver ADDY
Category: Sales Promotion, Sales Kit
Title: Boston Valley Pocket Folder

Client: Boston Valley Terra Cotta
Mark Wisz, Art Director/Designer, 
Jill Wisz, Creative Director, 
Dan Wangelin, Production Artist
, United Graphics, Printer

Silver ADDY
Category: Sales Promotion, Sales Kit
Title: Terra Cotta Product Sample Box

Client: Boston Valley Terra Cotta
Mark Wisz, Art Director, 
Jill Wisz, Creative Director/Designer, 
Dan Wangelin, Production Artist
, Hawver Display, Package Manufacturer

Best Showbook Ad
Title: We heard there was a rave tonight...

Client: OtherWisz Creative Corporation

The above photos were shot by Joe Cascio.
"Stay gold, Pony Boy..."

>> See all the 2011 winners at the AdHub website.

Monday, March 7, 2011

BRAND New Cadillac

Western New York's weekly business newspaper, the Business First, ran a great feature on OtherWisz Creative Corporation's re-branding efforts of one of our clients, Boston Valley Terra Cotta.  The article appears in this week's issues (March 4-10, 2011) is titled, Company That  Rebuilds Initiates a Rebranding. It includes quotes from Jill and I, John Krouse the president of Boston Valley Terra Cottta and a few other side notes from representatives from some of the larger advertising agencies in Buffalo.

The articles describes OtherWisz Creatives' initial meeting with BVTC and details some of the efforts that we underwent for their corporate rebranding initiative including meeting and interviewing employees, researching competition and brainstorming with the BVTC staff.
For BVTC, the process of exploration was "eye opening." Said owner John Krouse, "Some questions (from OtherWisz) made us think that we had to redo our business plan and how we thought of our company."
That is how in-depth we got- - forcing the client to re-think their overall message, even questioning the company name! What we ended up with was a refocused message, a new brand, new graphics and a more solid presentation of BVTC. Everyone involved saw the rebranding as a great success.

Thanks to Biz1st write Dave Bertola for scribing a flattering piece on our company and our work and for Biz1st photog, Jim Courtney, for not making Jill or I look goofy in the photos. Nice bonus- the accompanying photos shows us examining the BVTC sample box which recently won a America Package Design Award from Graphic Design USA magazine. yeah!

Link to the article on the Business First website.

Here is a low res PDF version of the article to print and read.

View some of our BVTC graphics work on the OtherWisz website.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Everyday I Write The Book

We are pleased to announce some more kudos for the OtherWisz Creative team! Yeah! We have been informed by the fine folks at Rockport Publishing that our work has been selected for inclusion in "Typography and Enclosures," the fourth book in the LogoLounge Master Library series. Getting published is very exciting and a fine 'feather in the cap' of the awesome creative team here at OW headquarters.

The logo designed for the Buffalo Hockey Experience + Museum has been used to brand this non-profit collection of Buffalo Sabres memorabilia and has appeared on signage, stationary, apparel, the website and blog and in our 40th Anniversary display that is currently in HSBC Arena.

The logo features manipulated type that was skated over with vector skate hack marks.  A plus sign replaces the ampersand to reflect the faceoff circle of a hockey rink.  With matching Sabres' vintage gold and blue, the logo has become a recognizable brand for this collection of awesome hockey memories!

For more info:

> Feature on the OtherWisz website, click OW web.

> Main Buffalo Hockey Experience + Museum website at BleedForTheBlueandGold.com

> The Bleed For The Blue and Gold blog for the latest museum updates.

> And, for those of you that missed it, photos of the 40th Anniversary Sabres Display.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Easy Life

It is 1990. Imagine a morning commute that's a 10-second stroll from your breakfast table to your own home office… Being your own boss, making more money, having a flexible schedule  How you may ask? The 'computer' I am telling you! Do terms like "high-quality publications," "special effects," and "visually appealing, multipage documents" excite you? If so, then the world of desktop publishing is for you!

I discovered an ad in a 1990 Home Office Computing magazine that explains how by ordering a free catalog from the NRI School of Home-Based business an ordinary layout artist could be transformed into a desktop publisher! Wow. If I would have known it was that easy back in 1990, I wouldn't have waited 10 years to start my own business. 

See this quote from the ad:
"With a firm foundation in traditional design and layout, you're ready to make the leap to contemporary publishing methods using the IBM-compatible computer, desktop publishing software, mouse, and printer included in your course."
I am glad I joined the exciting world of the 'publishing revolution' to get where I am today… but if I would have seen this ad back in 1990…. hmmmmmmmm, what if?

Click below for large version of this ad. Print and save.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Working For The Man

As we move into our 11th year as OtherWisz Creative, we reflect back on the first 10 years of our design business. It is pretty incredible to think about doing this for 10 years! (...and here's to 10 more! Cheers!). I can also brag that this is my 24th year in this wacky field- officially starting my freelance business way back in 1987. Anybody remember Adobe Freehand 3? "Anybody remember laughter..?"

For the celebration of "Completing a Decade of OtherWisz," I am going to take some time to reflect back on things past.  I know I do that often here on this blog, but I am old school and this may be one of the best ways to preserve my designs from long ago.  The ghost of design past will haunt the internet... until Google decides to erase all this free disk space it has been handing out for the past few years.

So for all you kids that have dreams of starting your own company, I give you my LAST resume.  After this one, there was no need to produce another. All the marketing for myself became company bios, client lists, brochures and the corporate OW website.   This resume was designed as a tri-fold brochure, clever, eh? It was divided up into 3 sections including my Design, Publishing and General Experience in the graphics field.  Starting with Wizard Graphics in 1987, while in college and lasting up until my last real job at the now-defunct Syrinex Communications (ending Jan. 2001).  Oh, the memories come flooding back as I review this document.  Please note that this was probably created in Adobe Pagemaker for those at home keeping score.

Some illustrious past experience included my pre-press days at Graphtrix (1981-1992) and The Retouchables (1993-1997), where I cut my teeth in the file prep, drum scanning and matchprint making world. I learned all about a process that is almost completely handled in-house by printers these days- but the experience was invaluable.  Another highlight is my brief, yet deep stint at Steve James Design (June 1992-May 1993), where I brought my then-extensive 2 years of computer experience to a traditional advertising studio and made a life-long friend.

My publishing past is laid out in detail starting at The Record (the Buff State paper), including the Sign o' The Times, the famous Slack magazine and finally ending with one of Buffalo's first on-line publication, the BuffaloPOST.com. Created with writer David Staba and a gang of misfits, writers and ex-journalists, the BuffaloPOST preceded the popular Buffalo Rising, which rose from a similar era online pub, One-4 (I think it was called, or was it 1-Four?).

From the cut-and-paste acrobatics as the graphics guy at Appliance Parts Distributors (1988-1990) to the early days of the web at Perception Publishing Group, where I learned web design back in 1997, this resume is chock full of nuggets.  Programs listed that I had experience using include BBedit, GIF Builder and Quark Express, baby!  All in all, this resume is a nice flashback set in P22 Johnson Underground

For your other old schoolers out there, " I can also use a pen an an x-acto blade…"

I scanned the resume for you all to enjoy- click to enlarge.  Please post questions and smart-alecky comments below.

Monday, January 31, 2011

We Are The Champions!

We have just been informed that the Boston Valley Terra Cotta Sample Box we designed last Fall has won a place in the 2011 American Package Design Awards! Sponsored by Graphic Design USA magazine, the competition highlights excellence in USA-designed packaging. We are part of the 15% of winners chosen from the over 1,500 entries submitted from all over the country.

The winning sample box design will be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine and available online as well.

Here is what the OtherWisz Creative website says about this project:
"The product packaging created for Boston Valley Terra Cotta replaces an existing color sample board of terra cotta chips glued to a large and heavy masonite board.  OtherWisz Creative designed a custom, compact box to showcase the company's color line. Made with recycled cardboard and modifiable inserts, we developed an affordable and flexible way for Boston Valley to ship and showcase both color chips and project-specific product samples.  Wrapping the packaging with full-color illustrative photographs, the Boston Valley Terra Cotta Sample Set is an architect's resource to the company product line."

Good job OtherWisz Creative team (Dan, Jill, Mark)! and the guys at Hawver (box manufacturers)!  
Above, rockin' box photo by Joe Cascio.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The Buffalo Business First newspaper released it's ranking of top Web Design Firms in Buffalo in it's December 31, 2010 -- January 31, 2011 issue and OtherWisz Creative Corp. continues to rank year after year.  We are in at #21 in a list ranked by 'number of websites designed in 2011"-- but we all know it's quality, not quantity!

This year I was quoted when asked what is the most common request from customers in 2010 and I cleared my throat, and clearly stated...
OtherWisz Creative Corp. "Customers are always looking to manage their own content, link into social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook), and have a custom-designed site and not a cookie cutter template design."
And that is a fact! I hear these things all time.

The thing that happens when you get ranked in a fine business pub like the Biz 1st is that for the next few weeks you get offers to sell you a fine plak with the article/or listing captured (& mounted) for all of eternity to hang in your paneled-office waiting room.  I have been getting these inquires for years, as we are always ranked in this list and have had our company featured a few times.  Always great to be in The BizOne! Once I actually received one of these nice wooden laminated plaks unsolicited. It was for the Best Buffalo Web Firms listing if, I think 2003 maybe.... I remember it because it had engraved art of a guy surfing a wave on it. It was pretty rad.

DENTIST'S COLLECTION BECAME BUFFALO HOCKEY MUSEUM The following issue of Biz 1st (first 2011 issue) had a nice photo and feature of our client, the Buffalo Hockey Experience + Museum.  With Dr. Joe standing in front of our Sabres 40th Anniversary display cases, it had a color photo with our fine work in the background.

Check it out, posted on the BleedForTheBlueandGold.com blog, rightee here.

Good press for 2011 so far!