All posts by mrhancock

The Emotional Lives of Colors

Photo by padrinan on Pixabay

As any parent of a preschool-age child can tell you, colors are a big deal. Choosing a favorite color is one of the first things little kids do when they begin to identify as individuals and differentiate themselves from others. Children, whose identities are still in flux, change favorite colors the way Beyoncé changes nail polish, but as people get older and our identities stabilize, we often settle on more permanent color preferences. Colors play an enormous role in our emotional lives—even if we don’t realize it.

While your favorite color says about as much about your personality as your shoe size (sorry Buzzfeed), according to studies in color psychology, people do respond to colors in fairly predictable ways. Designers learn to recognize these patterns, combine them with culturally accepted color meanings, and leverage them in their practice.

Like typography, coloring is both an art and a science, and its flexible rules are heavily dependent on context, feeling, and mood. Here’s how our design team at Oblique uses different colors to evoke certain perceptions and emotions when creating the perfect logo, website, or brand identity at our agency.

Warm Colors (Energizing)

Variations: Pink, Maroon

Red is an exciting, powerful color that suggests trendiness, independence, and confidence. It’s also frequently associated with romance and passion. Too much red in a design can be overwhelming, but it makes an excellent accent color, especially for inspiring action. We use lighter tints to represent playfulness, while darker shades elicit importance and sincerity.

Variations: Peach, Vermilion

Orange may be America’s least favorite color, but here at Oblique, we love all colors equally! Orange’s vibrant hues are bold and fresh, bringing to mind a cold glass of fruit juice on a hot summer day, while more subdued shades conjure images of autumn. Since it’s made using both red and yellow, it works well as a stand-out color that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is great for conveying friendliness and vitality.

Variations: Cream, Goldenrod

Yellow usually elicits feelings of happiness, but an excess of the color creates anxiety (and it’s not exactly easy on the eyes). Bright yellow, when used as an accent, commands attention more cheerfully than orange or red. Pale yellows are fun and lighthearted, and dark, golden shades—like those you might find in an antique shop—can give the impression of timelessness.

Cool Colors (Calming)

Variations: Lime, Olive

Green is a secondary color made by mixing blue and yellow, so lighter greens tend to take on some of the youthful energy of yellow, while darker greens and teals have a more relaxing effect. Found abundantly in the natural world, green is balanced and pleasing to the eye, as well as appetizing when used in the context of food. It represents a variety of concepts, from nature and growth to freshness and finance.

Variations: Turquoise, Indigo

Blue is widely regarded as the most popular color, and is often associated with dependability and strength. It’s the color of the sky and clean water, and we’ve used it in our designs as a refreshing, cooling hue. Light blues feel more relaxed than dark blues, whose heaviness feels sturdy and reliable. While blue is sometimes used to represent sadness, it can also suggest clarity and peace.

Variations: Lavender, Violet

Purple, a combination of blue and red, is an engaging and creative hue. Once associated with royalty due to the high cost of producing purple dye (which was made from sea snails, in case you were wondering), purple still retains an aura of luxury. Lighter purples are fun and flirty, reminiscent of spring blooms, while dark purples feel intriguing and mysterious as the midnight sky.

Neutral Colors

Neutrals provide the background against which accent colors can really pop. In web design, content sections should pretty much always be done in neutral colors, unless you’re really willing to take some risks. Neutrals don’t need to be relegated to the sidelines, however; each one has its own personality and profile.

Brown is a natural, rugged color that feels down-to-earth and trustworthy.

Grey can sometimes be perceived as moody, but depending on the shade, it can also be professional and sophisticated.

Black is the strongest neutral color, and is associated with elegance and formality.

White is almost always used as a background, but it can also be worked into designs with other colors to represent purity and cleanliness, such as in the healthcare industry.

A Rainbow of Possibilities

Understanding color meanings is just the beginning—building color palettes is where the magic happens. Although there are plenty of useful guides on color theory and the best ways to use color in marketing, ultimately it all comes down to what feels (and looks) right. Most people have a favorite color, but we think all colors are beautiful, and good designers know how to play to each hue’s different strengths.

6 Tips for a Greener Design Practice

Photo by Riley Pope on Unsplash

When you live in a place like Boulder, Colorado, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and people who happily separate their trash, recycling, and compost without a second thought, it’s easy to take for granted the community’s commitment to environmental stewardship. But the truth is, we humans have a long road ahead of us if we want to save the Earth. Now, more than ever, the future of our amazing planet—and the survival of its inhabitants—depends on each of us and the choices we make in our everyday lives.

The word “sustainable” gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it actually mean? When we talk about sustainability, we’re referring to the practice of reducing resource consumption, creating durable and reusable products, and recycling those no longer of use, all in an effort to maintain ecological balance. With this Sunday being Earth Day and all, we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some of the things you can do to adopt a more sustainable design practice, and how we incorporate them into our work as a design and advertising agency.

1. Print Sparingly

It’s 2018, and like it or not, print is out and digital is in. While the veteran designers among us may wax nostalgic about the good old days (and don’t get us wrong—a big, beautiful print still makes us swoon), printing just isn’t good for the environment.

Most of our work at Oblique Design is done digitally, including note-taking, creative review, timelines, and budgets. Unless a client specifically requests a paper copy, all project files are delivered electronically.

If you have the choice, go digital. Our forests will thank you.

2. Don’t Be Trashy

Separating garbage into trash, recycling, and compost has become common practice in Boulder, thanks to the city’s Zero Waste initiative. Recycling and composting whenever possible helps reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, dumps, and worse, oceans.

Our office provides receptacles for recycling and compost, and encourages all team members and visitors to use them.

3. Buddy Up

Sharing is caring, and when you share energy consumption with others, you’re showing that you care a lot! Taking the bus to work, carpooling, joining a co-working space, or just bringing your laptop to a cafe somewhere are all great ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

We know we rave all the time about how much we love working at TEEM, but let us reiterate: it is so awesome. In addition to all the fantastic relationships we’re building, we’re conserving resources by sharing electricity, heat, water, and other utilities with a group of 30+ people.

4. Choose Green Materials

Sometimes in the design business, printing is unavoidable (packaging design, for example). If you must print, doing it with sustainable materials, such as veggie-based inks and recycled paper, definitely makes a difference.

At Oblique, we do our best to choose print materials that are eco-conscious while still delivering beautiful results.

5. Stay Educated

In the information age, the road to becoming an eco-warrior is paved with research. Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there to help you learn and stay up to date. Doing a little homework every now and again empowers you to make informed decisions about sustainable design practices.

We make it our mission to stay informed and ahead of the curve. We research the materials and processes used in the design and creation of physical packaging, and choose methods that reduce our environmental impact as much as possible.

6. Share the Love

Now that you’re on your way to adopting more environmentally friendly practices in your design work, we urge you to share what you’ve learned with others. By sharing our knowledge and passion for sustainable design with clients and others in our industry, we can create real change in both the design world and society at large.

So, you see: it is, in fact, easy being green. This weekend (and beyond!), show Mother Earth some love by choosing eco-conscious graphic design practices. Happy Earth Day!

(via GIPHY)

Let’s Talk About Text, Baby: Typography 101

Type is virtually everywhere these days: in books and magazines, on billboards and street signs—heck, even on shampoo bottles and the backs of cereal boxes—and that’s just in the physical world. If you’ve ever used a computer, or any electronic device for that matter (and if not, we’re both perplexed and impressed you’re reading this), you’ve seen type in action.

Design and advertising agency professionals use typefaces every day for a wide range of applications, from evoking emotions to enhancing the readability of text. In fact, typography is fundamental to what we do, and the right typeface can absolutely make the difference between a good design and a great design. Whether you’re new to the biz or brushing up on the basics, we hope this handy intro to typography will help you take your work to the next level.


A quick vocab lesson before we get started:

type – printed (or digital) characters or letters

typography – the art of designing and arranging type

typeface – a particular design of type; e.g. Helvetica

font – the style of a particular typeface; e.g. 10 point Helvetica in bold

Thanks to computers, many people today use the terms typeface and font interchangeably. Some argue that maintaining the distinction is esoteric and old-fashioned, but professional designers really should understand the difference. Learn the rules before you break them, you know?

A Brief History of Typography

Since its invention in the 1400s (big ups to our main man Gutenberg), typography has undergone a number of stylistic transformations. Here’s how it all went down.

1400s – Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type, as well as blackletter (Gothic), the first typeface. Prior to this, the written word was hand-lettered and not widely available. Blackletter wasn’t very legible, however, and by the end of the century, the more readable roman type had become the preferred typeface in Europe.

1500s – Italics were invented to save printers money by fitting more letters on a page.

1700s – By straightening the serifs and adding contrast between fine and bold letter strokes, William Caslon set a new standard for type, now known as Old Style. John Baskerville built off this and created what we now call Transitional style type, which is slightly more exaggerated. Following the trend, Firmin Didot and Giambattista Bodoni designed the first Modern typefaces, with even sharper serifs and more dramatic contrast.

1800s – William Caslon IV created the first sans serif typeface.

1900s – The 20th century brought the arrival of many beloved typefaces, such as those designed by Frederic Goudy (creator of Goudy Old Style) and Max Miedinger (Helvetica). With the increased popularity of computers came an explosion of typeface designs, including script and decorative varieties, leading to the immense collection we enjoy today.

(If you’re still hungry for history, this awesome stop-motion animation fills in some of the gaps.)

Serif vs. Sans Serif

The difference between serif and sans serif typefaces isn’t complicated. Basically, serif typefaces have little feet on the edges of letters, while sans serif typefaces do not.

Serif typefaces are traditional and conservative, which makes them a good choice when a design needs to look serious, timeless, or classy. They’re also usually better for printed work, such as the body copy of a book or magazine, than sans serif typefaces.

Sans serifs, on the other hand, are modern and simple, making them highly versatile. Sans serif typefaces are frequently used in online body copy, as they’re more readable than serif typefaces at lower resolutions and smaller sizes.

Choosing the Right Fonts

Whether online or off, most of the fonts we encounter are carefully selected for their unique qualities. Speaking from experience in the design industry, choosing the right font is as critical to your success as choosing the right color palette. Like colors, typefaces have their own personalities, tones, and moods.

In most cases, clients come to designers with a vision and little to no technical knowledge. They often want their brands to include abstract concepts such as trustworthiness, playfulness, or ingenuity. It’s our job to translate these ideas into concrete, visual representations that not only embody what the client wants, but convey their values to others.

Typography is an art, so the creative choices we make are subject to our own artistic vision, preferences, influences, and instincts. But, just like any art, there are certain rules to remember before you go mixing typefaces all willy-nilly.

  1. Type is inherently emotional. Different typefaces suit different moods and are useful in different settings. You wouldn’t use a fun, quirky font as the header for a funeral announcement, for example.
  2. Readability is important. Don’t distract people with excessively complex typefaces.
  3. Typefaces pair well when they share some essential trait. Pay attention to the way they compare and contrast with one another.
  4. Don’t mix too many typefaces—two is enough, and three is for experts only. Ever seen a menu with a bunch of different typefaces all mashed together? Not cute.
  5. Some typefaces should be locked in a metal box and then catapulted into the sea, never to be used again. Comic Sans, Papyrus, and Bradley Hand are on the short list.

This concludes Oblique Design Academy’s Typography 101 course. With these fundamentals under your belt, you’re well on your way to cultivating some killer typography skills. Class dismissed!

How Modern Offices Are Changing the Way We Work

Photo by from Pexels

Chances are, when you think of an office, you imagine rows of dreary cubicles under the garish glow of fluorescent lights, white walls lined with overly earnest motivational posters, staplers, copy machines, and Steve Carell. While this may have been true for the offices of yesteryear (and some that are still behind the times), increasingly today’s workplaces channel less Office Space and more Silicon Valley.

We’ve written before about moving our design and advertising agency into a local co-working space, a decision that’s enabled the Oblique Design team to reduce our ecological footprint and work alongside other creatives (win-win!). But what we didn’t mention is that the space itself is gorgeous, with plenty of windows, exposed brick walls, and personality bursting from every corner. It’s an inviting, energetic place that makes us glad to come to work. In other words, this ain’t your grandpa’s office building.

What sets vibrant, modern workplaces like ours apart from their soul-sucking predecessors? Here are a few of the ways offices are evolving, and with them, the way we work.

In-House Amenities

Unsurprisingly, Google is leading the trend in office space innovation. Their new 200,000-square-foot Boulder campus is stacked with amenities that would make a luxury condo development blush, including an on-site cafe and an indoor climbing wall. The company also offers employees a number of perks: free meals, free massages, and a $5 daily stipend for those who opt to walk or bike to work.

These conveniences and benefits are designed to keep employees happy, but also to make staying at work attractive—after all, why go for a lunch break when there’s free food just down the hall? By giving workers everything they need, Google aims to increase employee engagement and productivity.

Varied Work Spaces & Hours

People’s work-styles often differ from one another, so tossing everyone into the same setup and expecting all of them to focus just doesn’t make sense. Our office at TEEM features a variety of work spaces, from community tables to quiet rooms. Finding solitude or a change of scenery is easy when there are multiple options available.

Many modern workplaces also offer employees the freedom to work from home on occasion, giving people the autonomy and flexibility they need to feel in control of their lives. Research on the subject suggests that the secret ingredient to finding happiness at work isn’t money, but autonomy.

Similarly, some companies allow people to work flexible hours, so employees with busy schedules—and who doesn’t have a busy schedule these days?—get to manage their time in a way that works for them.

Tech, Tech, and More Tech

We can thank startup culture for many of these improvements, but technology is the real MVP here: the true driving force behind changing office life. When all you need to do your job is a computer and an Internet connection, it becomes less necessary to spend time tethered to a desk.

Technology also allows businesses to go paperless, which not only saves our friends, the trees, but valuable time as well. At Oblique, we strive to be as eco-conscious as possible, choosing sustainable design practices and electronic delivery methods for our projects.

We’re all about more convenience, flexibility, and sustainability in the workplace, and we’re glad employers are catching on. We look forward to seeing what the future of office work will bring as values continue to change.

Aspen Mesh: Microservices Simplified

It’s springtime here in beautiful Boulder, and Team Oblique has been busy as a bee. After winning several projects at the tail end of last month, we’ve been hard at work cooking up some tasty new designs. Allow us to introduce you to one of our fabulous new clients, Aspen Mesh, who chose us among several Colorado design firms to revamp their brand with a bold new logo, custom stationery suite, and website overhaul.

Aspen Mesh provides a supported service mesh for managing microservices, so their users can spend less time worrying about infrastructure and more time working on code. They’re experts dedicated to the success of the businesses they work with, building trusted partnerships and solving problems before they even arise. Basically, if your business’s tech team needs a better way to manage microservices, Aspen Mesh has got your back!

We met with their team to conduct a brand strategy workshop, and identified several key values from which to build their voice. With these in mind, our goal was to pinpoint ways we could position Aspen Mesh as frontrunners in their field while preserving their laid-back attitude—not only do these guys really know their stuff, but they’re also awesome to work with. We wanted to convey that Aspen Mesh has the expertise to take the complexity out of microservice management, and is committed to building trusted partnerships with their customers.

After reviewing a handful of creative design approaches, the client chose a logo with clean, angular lines and a simple sans serif font. We selected colors in hot magenta and bright green hues, evoking both innovation and playfulness at once. Our goal was for the simplicity of the design to underline both the services Aspen Mesh provides and the experience of working with them—that is to say, totally headache-free. We’re pleased with the outcome: a logo that’s versatile, visible, and engaging, without being overly complicated.

Next up, we’ll be diving head-first into work on the stationery suite and website redesign. Stay tuned!

5 Ways to Break Through Creative Block

Photo by Paula May on Unsplash

Whether we’re working on a passion project or just doing our job, the day-to-day life of an ad agency creative comes with a unique set of ups and downs. There are times when the ideas flow forth like a river, pouring out of us and into the world effortlessly and with joyful abandon, as free and easy as the mighty Mississippi. Then, there are times when we sit and stare at a blank page for what feels like eons, and yet nothing comes to mind.

In a perfect world, we’d be able to turn the inspiration on at will, the way we turn on a faucet. Sadly, the world is far from perfect, and the reality is that creative blocks happen to the best of us. Here, we share five ways to overcome them and get back in the flow.

1. Take a Break

Ever wonder why your best ideas always come to you in the shower, or right as you’re falling asleep? As it turns out, science has the answer. Our brains are better at coming up with new ideas while we’re doing activities that don’t require a lot of attention, like showering. Forcing yourself to focus may actually impede your brain’s ability to make new connections, which ends up being totally counterproductive in trying to overcome a creative block.

So, rather than attempting to power through by sheer force of will, step away from your workstation and do something else for a while. Take a walk, grab a snack, or hop in the shower—a change of scene might be just the thing to get those creative gears turning again.

2. Exercise

When it comes to clearing the cobwebs from your mind, few things can beat a good workout! Hitting the gym for a few quick reps could be the key to busting out of your creative block. There’s no need to get sweaty, however; even mild physical activities like walking or yoga have been shown to enhance cognitive performance on creative tasks.

3. Use a Different Approach

While routines and rituals are necessary and helpful in many ways, getting caught up in the same old patterns can impede creative thinking. When the usual methods aren’t working and you’re feeling stuck, trying out a new approach can make a big difference. Sitting down with a page from an adult coloring book, for example, is a fun and effective way to restart a stalled design process.

4. Write in a Journal

Journaling is seriously awesome in a whole host of ways, from providing an emotional outlet to fostering an organized life. Even if you’re not into touchy-feely stuff or keeping a detailed record of your daily habits, writing your thoughts down is a worthy activity that can help you push through a creative block.

Try writing a pure stream of consciousness in a notebook or word processor. While you may not end up with anything resembling a finished product, you might find some true pearls of wisdom alongside ruminations on the subject of what you’d like to have for lunch later.

5. Find Inspiration Elsewhere

Sometimes when we’re feeling blank, the best inspiration comes from external sources. Activities such as reading a favorite book, visiting an art museum, trying a new restaurant or coffee shop, listening to music, or watching a really good TED Talk can provide the spark needed to jumpstart the creative process. Keep a notebook handy so you can jot down any ideas that may surface while you enjoy the work of other artists.

Occasionally, no matter what you do, the block stays stubbornly put, in which case you may want to dig a little deeper to discover what kind of block it is and how to beat it. At Oblique, we usually find that a combination of all five strategies (plus a little rinse and repeat) does the trick, leaving us refreshed and ready to tackle our next project. Do you have your own tried-and-true technique for beating a creative block? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Design and the Art of Listening


In our increasingly digital society, Americans are more connected than ever before, and yet miscommunications in our professional and personal lives run rampant. We’ve all been there: you send someone an email, and 20 minutes later they reply with something stunningly irrelevant to what you actually said, leaving you feeling confused, frustrated, and unheard. As it turns out, a lot of us really love to talk, but we’re not that great at listening to each other.

When talking to people is your job, however, you learn a thing or two about effective communication strategies. In her 2015 talk at TEDxCreativeCoast, radio journalist Celeste Headlee shares some of the expertise she’s gained from two decades on the air, giving us 10 ways to have a better conversation. Inspired by Headlee’s insights, we got to thinking about how better communication leads to better design.

Of all the lessons outlined within Headlee’s speech, the most salient is to just LISTEN. In fact, the act of listening underpins the majority of her points, which include tips for staying present during a conversation and resisting the urge to come up with what you’re going to say next. Everyone’s experiences are different, so assume that you have something to learn from each person you interact with. “Go out, talk to people, listen to people,” says Headlee. “And, most importantly, be prepared to be amazed.”

We considered how these principles apply to our Boulder interactive agency. When you think about it, graphic design is actually a fantastic exercise in listening. We sit down with people to discover their visions for their brand or business, and then we set to bringing those ideas to life.

The process of creating a logo, for example, hinges entirely upon listening attentively to what the client wants and needs. By asking the right questions, listening to a client’s responses, and clarifying any murky details, we’re able to translate their ideas into a visual element that both looks appealing and represents their values.

Making an effort to really connect with people and listen to what they have to say is what sets great agencies apart from the rest. Advertising and marketing are all about reflecting people’s needs back to them in ways that feel authentic and meaningful enough to get first, their attention, and second, their loyalty. It’s why we put so much effort into understanding our clients and their customers—at the end of the day, we want to create something great, but we also want to create something that resonates with people.

Good design is all about making people feel heard by taking abstract concepts and shaping them into something concrete. To that end, we believe that listening is one of the most important skills you can develop, both personally and professionally. Celeste Headlee has it right when she says, “If you can’t [listen], then you’re not in a conversation. You’re just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place.” Don’t make that mistake! It’s never too late to learn to listen.

Freelancing and the Future of Creative Work

Photo by on Unsplash

At Oblique, we work with clients and partners of all kinds, many of whom have started their own companies. It made us wonder if we’re seeing a fundamental change in the workplace through the lens of advertising agency design work, so we decided to do some research.

According to a recent article from Quartz, more and more Americans are choosing to become their own boss. FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting company, conducted a two-year study involving over 2,700 full-time employees in the United States. They found that increasingly, people are ditching the stability of their 9-to-5s for the autonomy and flexibility of self-employment, and nearly all of them report no interest in going back. If the trend continues, almost half of the American workforce could be freelance by 2020.

So what’s behind this shift away from traditional jobs? After doing a little Internet sleuthing, we discovered a number of different factors at work here, but three stood out to us the most.

First, job security just ain’t what it used to be.

Second, the ever-growing, tech-driven gig economy allows people to find work instantly and juggle multiple so-called side hustles, such as driving, personal shopping, dog walking, and paid professional work.

Third, Millennials are joining the job market in droves, and polls suggest that, unlike previous generations, they demand something other than money from their careers: enjoyment.

Everyone knows the stereotype of the “starving artist,” laboring tirelessly over her craft while she waits for her big break. Perhaps she struggles in New York for a few years before eventually taking a job in a field she doesn’t love; it’s stable, it’s salaried, but it leaves her wondering what could have been. We say, that’s so twentieth century.

The modern creative is versatile, adaptable, and a wearer of many hats. She works part-time at the front desk of a vet’s office, drives for Lyft on Friday nights, sells her handmade jewelry on Etsy, and works as a freelance graphic designer for a handful of loyal clients. She isn’t wealthy, but she’s happy.

In the design biz, we cross paths with freelancers every day. The Oblique office is in a Boulder co-working space, so we share our building with developers, designers, brand strategists, writers, photographers, and other creative professionals who have found their way to career success and personal fulfillment through self-employment. As creatives, many of us agree that we’d rather be pinching our pennies while doing what we love than slogging through a boring, well-paid work week (though, don’t get us wrong, when worlds collide and you get paid well to do what you love, you’ve pretty much hit the jackpot). We can’t help but wonder, is this a preview of the wider professional landscape to come?

America is on the cusp of some major changes to the way we view employment, and as we see it, there’s never been a better time to start freelancing. So, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re moonlighting, side-gigging, or just making some extra time for your favorite hobby, it’s time to start living the life you’ve always wanted.

So Fresh. So Clean. So Refined.

Sometimes a company is built for seamless branding. Our Boulder graphic design team got to dive head-first into the refined life on our recent work with Tersa Steam, a cutting-edge product that revolutionizes the way we clean and care for our clothing. At first glance, Tersa Steam appears to be an unassuming mirror or wall decor piece. Look closer, and you’ll see just how incredible it really is, and how it quickly refreshes and revitalizes clothing in a matter of minutes. It’s a movement everybody can get behind, except those who absolutely adore spending their free time doing laundry.

This was an exciting project from the jump. Firstly, the Tersa Steam is just plain cool. Not only does it bring us one step closer to living in what we thought “The Future” would be like when we were kids, it’s physical proof of the power of crowdsourcing.

Some smart dudes from St. Louis saw a problem, thought up a solution, tinkered a bit, threw it up on IndieGoGo, and boom. Tersa Steam lives. Now, people are spending less time in the laundry room and hampers are filling up at a much more reasonable pace. Truly, this is refined living.

Oblique helped Tersa develop their brand messaging, created their logo and tagline, an designed a stationary suite and a new IndieGoGo splash page that went live just in time for CES. The work we did was key in pushing Tersa to hit its crowdfunding goals, driving this extremely innovative product to market.

We wanted to make sure Tersa’s branding would jump out to the right people. We started with the foundations of Tersa’s message and tweaked it to speak to our core markets. Our goal was to spark intrigue with groups like Millennial and mid-market professionals, frequent business travelers, hospitality C-suite groups, hip work/live spaces, and college housing.

We wanted these groups to view Tersa as a product and brand that understands their desire to look, smell, and feel great fast, without cutting corners; to see Tersa not as a shortcut, but as a refined way to tackle one of life’s most frequent chores in today’s demanding career environment. With this in mind, our branding team arrived at the perfect tagline: Living Refined.

For the logo, our graphic design team wanted to capture the allure of the product itself while also hinting to consumers what Tersa Steam does. We accomplished this by alluding to water with blue and complementing it with black as a nod to the sleek design of the product itself. We designed the ‘e’ to look like an abstract timer to communicate the quick 10-minute process needed for Tersa Steam to revitalize clothes. Because this is such a new and cutting-edge product, we went with a modern sans-serif typeface that appears understated, but also conveys confidence. And really, confidence is what the Tersa Steam is all about. If you look good and smell good, you also feel good. It’s the transitive property of Tersa Steam.

The product is awesome. Its story is awesome. The guys who made it are awesome. Needless to say, we feel pretty awesome about the working with Tersa Steam. We hope you’ll check it out.

Tina Roth Eisenberg’s 11 Rules to Live By

As a creative design and advertising agency, we’re always on the lookout for quality inspiration. Luckily, we are blessed to live in the same world as Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Swiss-born NYC designer better known as swissmiss, after her Twitter handle and the name of her immensely popular design blog. In addition to running her blog since 2005, she’s founded numerous successful ventures, including Creative Mornings, a monthly lecture series which now has chapters all over the world; FRIENDS (formerly Studiomates), a creative co-working space; TeuxDeux, a to-do app; and Tattly, a line of designer temporary tattoos. Oh, and did we mention she’s a mother of two? Tina is basically Wonder Woman.

It’s not surprising, then, that when Tina delivers a talk, it’s packed with enough positive energy and enthusiasm to keep us feeling fired up for days. We recently revisited her Interactive Keynote at SXSW 2013, in which she shares how she found her way to success and fulfillment by following these 11 rules to live by.

1. Invest your life in what you love.
Life’s too short to spend it doing something you’re not passionate about. Finding joy in what you do, whether it’s working with animals, raising children, or designing beautiful packaging, makes getting out of bed every day so much more worth it. When you’re chasing your dreams, even the challenges are less like obstacles and more like puzzles waiting to be solved.

2. Embrace enthusiasm.
When you get ridiculously excited about something, that’s a major clue pointing toward what you find most important. Plus, gratitude is good for you, and celebrating life’s little victories is a surefire way to stay positive.

3. Don’t complain. Make things better.
Have a problem? Tina says you can either do something about it, or let it go. If you’re unhappy with some aspect of your life, your job, or society itself, you have a choice: work to change it or accept it. LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy said it best: “The best way to complain is to make things.”

4. Trust and empower.
This rule is all about sharing responsibility with others. As creative types, it’s easy to want to control every single aspect of a project, to the point of overwhelming ourselves and becoming miserable. Tina advises us control freaks (raise your hands… yeah, us too) to delegate some tasks to others, and trust in their abilities to get them done right.

5. Experiences > money.
Everybody wants to make it big, but a high-paying job isn’t everything. Sometimes doing what you love, even if it isn’t particularly lucrative, opens the door to financial success farther down the road. This means accepting the occasional pro-bono contract for that company you really admire, or maybe taking a job at a startup instead of a big corporation. “When things fall into place, it’s the universe telling you to keep going,” Tina says.

6. Surround yourself with likeminded people.
Remember being in high school, when your parents were worried about you falling in with “the wrong crowd”? Turns out, they were right: when you hang around unmotivated people, you’re more likely to stay unmotivated yourself. Conversely, when you spend your time with people who share your goals—for us, creative individuals involved in design and advertising agencies—your talents will blossom.

7. Collaborate.
Check your ego at the door and make room for other people’s ideas. In Tina’s case, it led to the creation of the highly successful iPhone app, TeuxDeux. You never know what might happen if you collaborate! It could be magic.

8. Ignore haters.
In the immortal words of 3LW, “Haters gonna hate.” Most likely, there’s going to be someone out there who thinks your time could be better spent than by following your bliss. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! Throw on some shades and wave buh-bye to that nonsense.

9. Make time to think and breathe.
When you’re a driven, ambitious person, especially in a competitive industry like design, it can be hard to take some time for yourself. Even when you finally decide to take a mini-vacation over a long weekend, ignoring those mounting notifications on your smartphone can prove exceptionally difficult. Tina’s here to tell you, chill out. Take a break. You can’t be your best unless you give yourself time to relax.

10. If an opportunity scares you, take it.
Sometimes the things that scare us the most are the things we absolutely must do. Quit that job you hate. Write a pitch to that brand you admire. Accept that invitation to give a keynote speech at SXSW. If you stay in your comfort zone forever, you’ll never give yourself the chance to grow.

11. Be someone’s eccentric aunt.
In her hometown in Switzerland, Tina found some of her earliest inspiration by spending time with her aunt, a fashion designer and all-around creative. The experiences she shared with her aunt gave her the encouragement she needed to pursue her dream of becoming a designer. Be the eccentric aunt, and help someone realize their dreams can become reality.

The best thing about these rules is that they can be applied to any part of your life, whether personal or professional. So, are you ready to conquer the world? We know we are!