Nothing gets our inspiration flowing like a good, juicy blog post. Read about what we’ve been working on (our latest launches), what we can’t stop thinking about (design trends, industry happenings and new partnerships) and what we think you should know (expert branding insights and probably some stuff about dogs).

Check back often—we’re quite chatty when we want to be.

Mar 23 | 2018


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, whose brand we’re revamping 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!

Mar 16 | 2018

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!

Mar 6 | 2018


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.

Mar 1 | 2018

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.

Feb 20 | 2018

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.

Feb 13 | 2018

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!

Feb 6 | 2018

Ginger Graham had a dream: to open a pie shop where people would gather to swap stories, laugh freely, and, of course, eat delicious pie. But when she teamed up with chef Deborrah Traylor to make the dream a reality, she had no idea how their simple vision would grow to become the Fort Collins culinary extravaganza that is Ginger and Baker.

Now a 20,000-square-foot community center with a bakery, restaurant, market, event space, and cooking school all rolled into one, Ginger and Baker’s story begins (as these stories often do) with humble origins. The century-old historic building that housed the Northern Colorado Feeders Supply has served the people of Fort Collins since 1905, when sheep and sugar beet farming formed the backbone of the town’s economy. Ginger and her team lovingly restored the two-story brick building to its former glory, and built an exquisite metal addition. The result is a striking blend of old and new, uniting Fort Collins’ agricultural past with its bright, shining future.

When it came time to create branding and designs for their venture, the G&B team approached several Colorado design firms to find the right fit before settling on Oblique Design. They shared their vision for a big-time eatery with a small-town feel, so that whether you’re grabbing a slice of pie at the Cafe, meeting friends for dinner at The Cache, or enrolling in a class at the Teaching Kitchen, you know you’re in good company.

We wanted every piece of the design package, from the typography to the color palette, to evoke the sensation that visiting Ginger and Baker is like visiting family, like listening to your grandma tell stories from way back when. To step into Ginger and Baker is to reach out and touch the very fabric of Fort Collins’ rich history.

Even the menu reflects these ideals. Featuring innovative offerings made from local ingredients, you won’t find any imported meat or seafood here. What you will find are dishes inspired by Northern Colorado’s bountiful rivers, fields, and farms, which change frequently to incorporate seasonal fare.

All this is to say, when Ginger and Baker chose us as their Colorado design firm and asked us to reinvent their brand, we knew we had our hands full. But branding is our bread and butter, so we felt confident that we could deliver designs that perfectly encapsulated what G&B is all about, and deliver we did: Our toolkit provided over 70 pages of logos, fonts, colors, patterns, and illustrations to be used both in print and online. We carefully crafted each element to embody the sense of community, comfort, and familiarity you get when you walk into Ginger and Baker—a feeling not unlike coming home.

Jan 9 | 2018

Lively, thrilling, and highly creative, 2017 was a wild ride for Oblique Design.

Once again, we dabbled in the restaurant industry as team Oblique won the pitch with Ginger and Baker, Fort Collins’ newest dining experience. While Ginger and Baker is, no joke, the destination to grab your morning coffee and pastry, they’ll keep you coming back for more. Whether it’s a casual lunch, an upscale dinner, an event in their stunning space, or a fine wine tasting in their well-stocked cellar, you’ll feel right at home. It’s a little raw here. It’s a lot real here. Built on tales told and yet-to-tell, Ginger and Baker is at the heart of it all. The Ginger and Baker team approached Oblique Design to evolve their brand and create a 70+ page toolkit to be used across all print collateral, marketing materials, packaging, and website design. We delivered, and have loved seeing our designs come to life.

In the technology and software arena, we collaborated with clients such as BDI, JNBridge, PUHL, and Instream Water. Check out our handiwork in BDI’s new logo and website; JNBridge’s product icons; PUHL’s logo (website launching in a few weeks); and Instream Water’s logo, video, and app. Not to toot our own horn too much, but we feel pretty great about the creative impact we’ve made on all of these brands.

Oblique excelled at naming new companies in 2017. With over 123 years of industry experience, Talon International easily tops our list. A leading supplier of customized zippers, managed trim solutions, and Tekfit Stretch Technologies, Talon International has a diversified customer base of 950+ manufacturers representing over 200 brands. Oblique Design had the privilege of renaming Tekfit, one of their main business units. The Tekfit technology transforms an otherwise non-stretchable fabric into one that’s incredibly flexible and comfortable. After legal approvals, trademark searches, and patent office requirements, Talon International settled on ADJUSTEC for their new business unit name.

Throughout the past year, we expanded our work in the beloved and burgeoning skincare industry. Package design is our passion, and we were crazy excited to work with both Bjorn’s Bees and Cause+Medic in 2017. Originally conceived in Sweden, Bjorn’s now makes their honey and bee-based skincare products right here on the Front Range. Oblique created seven package designs for Bjorn’s, including body lotion, toothpaste, salve, lip balm, and more. And speaking of salve, when it comes to CBD-infused body lotion, body oil, tattoo balm, and pain cream, Cause+Medic’s got you covered. Oblique worked with savvy CBD industry experts at Cause+Medic to create eye-catching and relevant packing in a super competitive retail space.

We’re psyched to say that 2017 was basically just one giant celebration of our 15 Year Anniversary. If you haven’t already, check out our previous blog entry to read an in-depth interview with owner Janice Ferrante. Discover her personal thoughts on the advertising industry and how branding is changing. Plus, you won’t want to miss her words of wisdom on moving forward as a boutique agency owner.

It’s been quite a year! We laughed, we cried, we kicked some butt. Team Oblique would like to thank each and every client for trusting us with not only your brand, but your company vision and future growth. We strive to make your lives easier, more insightful, and a lot more creative.

Cheers to a fabulous 2018!

Dec 20 | 2017

As graphic designers and brand specialists, we’re always looking for inspiration that will strengthen our creative chops. Recently, we’ve been exchanging insights shared by Chip Kidd, power-house New York based book jacket designer and winner of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award. Here are a few reminders from a recent article and how we put them into effect across our own branding, interactive and packaging projects.

1. Don’t Be Too Obvious
When working with a new client, we first sit down and get to know all about their business. We dive deep at first and then later sift through the details to determine what specifically should be our focus, and theirs. When crafting a new brand, concepting for a new ad or designing a packaging, we strive to convey what’s important without being too in-your-face obvious. We constantly ask ourselves “how can we convey this in a new and unexpected way?”

2. Narrow Things Down
Before we start designing, it’s important for us to understand the parameters and limitations of each project. While too many stipulations can stifle creativity, too much freedom can lead to a lack of direction and focus. The same principle can apply to design concepts. Oftentimes when presenting initial concepts we’ll limit the number of fonts or colors we show so our client can focus on the overall concepts and zero in on the idea they like best. Fonts and colors and other details can be determined once we’ve decided on an overall direction.

3. Be Candid and Clear
When conveying a concept through design, you can be very literal or very creative; highly straightforward or highly abstract. Is it best for a viewer to know exactly what you do within seconds of seeing your ad or can we create a sense of intrigue that gives the viewer just enough information so they’ll want to seek more? We leave it to our clients to ultimately decide where their brand falls along this spectrum, but we do believe the best designs strike the perfect balance of each.

4. Keep It Simple
It can be easy to overdo it and over-complicate a design. You see examples of this all the time where someone has tried to incorporate too many design elements and ends up creating something that is overly busy, overwhelming or just visually off. The best designs find the right balance of visual elements and minimalism to create something that is unique, interesting and visually appealing. While designing we regularly take a step back and ask ourselves “is this too much”?

To see all eight tips offered up by Chip Kidd, you can find the original article here:

Dec 1 | 2017

There are few things more memorable than a person’s voice. You could hear a voice you haven’t heard in 10 years and instantly recognize the face it belongs to. Every voice is different and your unique voice conveys who you are, or at least who you want people to see you as, to the world. We achieve this through our inflection, our tone and the things we say and how we say them. Just as we as people shape perceptions of who we are through our voice, brands connect with their fans and customers by creating a brand voice that appeals to their unique audience.

Think of your favorite brands and ask yourself why you love them. What is it about the brand that you connect with? Is it their dedication to a specific cause? Or the benefit you get from using their product? Or, is it simply that you love their personality and the way they just seem to “get you”? Good brands achieve all three. What you may not realize is that two of these three things are a part of the brand’s voice and have likely been carefully crafted in order to win your love. With that in mind, ask yourself just how important brand voice is. Would you love that brand so much if they didn’t support your favorite cause? Would you feel any affinity toward them if they didn’t seem like a brand you could trust? Yeah they’d have a great product, and maybe you’d buy it, but you might just as likely buy their competitor’s product, because you would have no sense of brand loyalty.

At Oblique, our sweet spot is creating brands. We design killer logos and come up with clever names and also help identify the brand’s voice. What would your brand be without a distinctive voice? Brand loyalty is more important than ever with so many competitors crowding the market in all industries. Without a voice to communicate to your customers, you risk being overlooked or forgotten when it comes time to make a purchase. Not quite sure what your brand voice would sound like? We’ll help you find it. We can’t wait to meet your brand and hear what it has to say.