May 4

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.

Apr 19

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)

Apr 11

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!

Mar 29

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.

Mar 16

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


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.

Feb 13

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!

Dec 1

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.

Nov 11


There has been a lot of talk inside the creative design team at Oblique about the idea of inspiration. Who and what inspires us? Why is inspiration important? Where do you find inspiration?

We realized that although everyone is different in their tastes and origin of inspiration, we all agree that it is very important as a creative to feel inspired by what others are doing around us. At Oblique, we want to be both inspiring and inspired by those around us.

Who inspires us?

Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo has once stated that when she needs to make the right decision, she likes to “surround myself with the smartest people who challenge you to think about things in new ways, and do something you are not ready to do so you can learn the most.”

Marissa’s idea speaks directly to us here at Oblique. The main source of our inspiration and mentors that we look up to are those who are challenging the status quo and not afraid to do so (or even if they are afraid, they are still brave enough to do it anyway). Those who have the passion and motivation to create the world they want to be a part of are the people and projects we at Oblique most gravitate towards.

The experience levels may be different here at Oblique, but it has been interesting to see over the last few years how much all of us inspire each other. One of the perks of being in a small agency is that we have the flexibility with our design thinking, and we have the ability to be creatively agile with our clients. We can experiment with inspiration more than a larger agency might because they tend to have more boundaries and guidelines to follow.

We asked Oblique’s Kelsey (Designer) and Natalie (Senior Designer) to name a few other people they are inspired by:

Natalie: “I was more drawn to past artists that I consider to be designers – I was obsessed with Russian constructivism and their poster art as well as Bauhaus when I was first getting into design. But recently I’ve been really inspired by designers like Mike Perry, Jacob Eisinger or the designers of LAND, who are all absolutely brilliant.”

Kelsey: “There are so many people that have inspired me over the years. But to name a few, Tina Roth Eisenburg (aka swiss-miss) has always been someone I look up to and was someone who inspired me to push outside of my comfort zone when I was first getting started. I’m also a HUGE Aaron Draplin, Jessica Hische, and Gemma Obrien fan. All brilliant designers and people that have always motivated me to work as hard as I possibly can and to always push the status quo of design.”

What inspires our creative design agency as a whole?

 While inspiration is extremely subjective,. we found that very commonly we are inspired by certain projects, websites, packaging, etc. not only because they are beautifully designed, but more importantly because they are creating a new solution that has never been done before. We are drawn to People in the design world who are creating a movement with their innovative thinking. Even though we might not have the freedom to be as experimental as we would like with certain clients, revolutionary creative solutions pushes us to think outside of the trends and norms and to always try something different.

Where and when do we find inspiration?

 If you ask any creative where they find inspiration, you won’t find a clear answer. Inspiration is absolutely everywhere and cannot be defined. We decided here at Oblique that it doesn’t matter where or when you find inspiration, but it’s important to always be looking for it and to be open to it. The more places we can pull inspiration from, whether that be different cultures, different industries, or even different mediums, the more rounded and unique designers we can become and the better solutions we can create.

How to be inspired and how to inspire others:  

Oblique tends to be inspired by being as open minded as possible. It seems so obvious, but with so much access to so much information, we sometimes find ourselves digging through the same design themes or same inspiration boards.

In order to combat this, we suggest being very conscious about accepting opportunities to be inspired by others. We found that the easiest way to do this is to get involved, wherever you are. Get to know the world that surrounds you. Go to lectures in your community, visit art galleries, talk to companies and people who are making a difference. Surround yourself with those smarter than you and become what we call a “learn-it-all.” Learn everything you can about what motivates and pushes you (and others) to be better designers, and then communicate and share those ideas and experiences. The things you share with those around you is what in turn, inspires others.

Jan 25


Creating smart and impactful design to empower those around us is what we here at Oblique design do best. We are so lucky as a small Boulder design agency to have been a part of many incredible organizations all over the world. Working with Lisa Smith-Batchen and Run the Nation has been no different and has again reminded us why we are so passionate about the design we do and the impact it has.

Lisa is attempting to run 3,100 miles across America starting on March 22, 2016. Her goal is to beat the men’s current record of 46 days and 8 hours. To break the current record, Lisa will have to cover more than 50-68 miles per day, an amount that seems nearly impossible to most. But most people aren’t Lisa.

Over the course of her running career, Lisa has completed 35 ultra marathons (greater than 50 miles), over 90 marathons and has received 5 ironman championships. But most notable, Lisa has raised over $2,000,000 for charity through racing. Continuing her passion to help those in need, Run the Nation is partnering with St. Jude Children’s hospital and will be raising money for the cause throughout the race.

Lisa approached Oblique about creating a custom website design for her race so that the public could follow, support and share her progress. We of course agreed to help and created an interactive website design that allowed for weekly updates, progress videos, and access to sponsorship. We are truly amazed every day by Lisa and her commitment to helping others and are so excited to be a part of this amazing event. Check out the site coming soon!