Sarahndipitous Designs was awarded the Designer Press Kit Award at the Summer Craft and Hobby Association Convention in Chicago. It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by a leader in the Creative Industry and chosen by one's professional peers to be singled out for their handiwork... My deepest thanks.
I have been asked numerous times about Press Kits, specifically, how to create something that solidifies branding, engages the end consumer, and connects in such a way that those who come in contact with the pieces do not see a slick marketing campaign but are genuinely attached to the message... How is it that we build evangelists rather than 'dutiful click the like button' fans. This is a tough question made tougher when that "something" we're selling isn't tangible, isn't a physical product but rather, an idea wrapped in the cloak of a potential needed outcome. Designers sell art but, most times, we're hired to generate ideas, concepts, processes, and techniques... intellectual 'noseeums' hidden behind the veil of Non-Disclosure Agreements and Non-Compete Clauses in some Batcave.
So, I decided to pick apart this year's Press Kit a bit to illustrate the process and point out some of the thinking behind the entire campaign.
The theme of this year's Press Kit was "How to Be a Creative Super Hero In One Week." I had been marinating on the concept of a year's worth of weeks, 52 somethings that were bursting at the seams with purpose, deliberate actions that affect a positive change in those giving and receiving those actions. I encounter people daily that insist that they were overlooked when the art talent magic wand was sprinkling glitter over the Universe, people who genuinely believe that they are missing the "Create" gene. I personally believe that our humanity itself is discovered when we use our own two hands to craft the world we envision, that making things and producing something of value *is* what sticks us to the timeline of history- I believe this right down to my core.
I decided that I needed to illustrate how an ordinary person could be transformed in small increments over the course of a week to be decidedly extraordinary through their own initiative. I also decided that I would create this message sans fancy tools unaccessible to the average person (no editing software, no computer wizardry, no expensive tools that make us all look good and streamline the process... I went old school folks- recycled copy paper, a pencil, a permanent black marker, a straight edge, a gluestick and scissors (this was both liberating and incredibly frustrating incidentally))
I hand drew the comics and photocopied them at the local FedEx/Kinkos onto overhead projector transparencies. Each comic cell (7 x the 200 kits I made for the event) were each individually hand colored, painted in with acrylic paints in a series of layers on the backside. I wanted each and every person who received one of these kits to know that they were holding a signed and numbered piece of art, that they were worth an original and that the message was so important, the conviction so deep, that it was worth the time investment gifted in each kit.
Each comic book was housed in an elaborate mechanical card shell. I actually love making things that are not static and creating objects that are intended to be played with and pondered (yes, for those initiated and desperately curious to know how the mechanics worked, there was a secret message to them alone all sealed up behind the scenes). The card was black and in the lower right hand corner, an abstract of some urban city. When the necessary pulls were engaged, the wheeled mechanism became a spotlight (a proverbial "batsignal") that called for a hero over the city.
Lastly, in following through with the promise to "Equip. Enable. and Inspire" (our trademarked tagline), I packaged each how-to comic book with a proper superhero mask in a clear bag that protects artwork and belted the outside with a custom crafted "utility belt"... a deck of 52 cards that my children had transformed sticker by sticker (200 x 52... we kept all the jokers) into meaningful ways to be someone's super hero... ordinary things that mean everything to someone in need, ordinary ways to use our hands to create the kind of world we'd like to live in, ordinary reminders that it was us, normal folks, who built Makermetropolis.
There were other facets and nifty new technologies we employed for the whole campaign that were dotted here and there throughout the show floor and sprinkled in the various presentations that made the message cohesive and fun. Press kits are really created to announce things, the point of this kit was to turn the spotlight a bit and shine it on the reason why I and my team love getting up every morning and going to work... for our clients and the end consumer who gets to interact with what we made.
If we do our job as Designers, they don't see us, they see our clients shine. When we edify others, when we encourage the very best out of people by using the talents we have been blessed with to their absolute fullest, those we affect turn around and do amazing things for themselves. In being someone else's hero, we in essence save ourselves I think.