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Community Branding to Enhance Small Town Business Districts

Being located in a small town has afforded us some great opportunities. Many of these opportunities have nothing to do with making money, but with the relationships we’ve been able to forge with the great members of the town in which we are located. While Camas is growing and changing at an astounding rate, it hasn’t always been that way. This sleepy mill town has long been dormant in many ways, surviving as a blue-collar town with the main industry being that of the Paper Mill located on the West end of the downtown area.

In recent years, partially due to the real estate boom, the area has seen its residents expand out to a wider range of households. With this change has come a change to the downtown area, as well. Many new wonderful boutique shops, restaurants and services have begun to appear on a regular basis and a renewed pride in the downtown has taken hold.

We see a lot of examples of people working together to improve the community and make it more of a destination for families. But the ones that have had the most impact are the ones that have focused on giving the downtown region a personality and a brand. We were recently given the opportunity to help with two of these projects, which involved producing a commercial for the Downtown Camas businesses, which was shown on various Comcast channels for a number of months, to redesigning the Downtown Camas Walking Map for local businesses. Throughout this process, we were able to establish a visual identity for the town that can start to imprint upon consumers’ minds.

When this branding is used in conjunction with the town’s many events and weekly First Friday Art Walks, it helps to reinforce a consistency in both experience and style that people will come to associate with Camas. The end goal is that people begin making Camas more of a destination than a place they stumble upon while driving to or from the Gorge. While we have only begun to scratch the surface of how much we can help this town increase its brand awareness, we are looking forward to more opportunities to help Camas—and other towns that may come along—increase their branding and commerce.

Is your community suffering from a lapse in its own commerce? We’d love to talk to you about your own community branding.

The State of Typography

The State of Typography

One of the things that really drew me to design was my love for typography. I want to share why typography is such an important part of Workshed‘s design style. While this may be mostly interesting to people who are design professionals, I think it will also give our friends and clients a glimpse into the “Workshed Aesthetic” that I’ve been following for the last 10 years.

I would really love for the world to gain an appreciation for typography and aside from embarking on a life of typographical evangelism, the best I can do is to explain what it is and all of its intricacies. It’s much more than just selecting a font or two for a project. It’s much more than picking some colors and placing those fonts — it’s about manipulating the fonts to expose their strengths, hide their weaknesses or even to completely deconstruct or manipulate the font into oblivion so it’s something entirely new.

I grew up with a big sister who is a talented artist and calligrapher. I grew up appreciating poster and album art. I spent a fair amount of time as a journalism major, designing pages that were largely comprised of type. I also grew up in the era where Generic brands were all about fascistic typefaces written in black on stark white packaging. A world without strong typography is a dull, sad, depressing world. Without typography, design would not exist in its current form — and dare I say, communication would not exist in its current form. Type can communicate so many things depending on how it is used. Using Times New Roman at 12 points, with default letter spacing communicates a completely different message than using it at 32 points with tight letter spacing. Type is emotion. Type is a grid. Type is nice, mean, sexy, angry, happy, sad or silly. It is a tool, and aside from photography, the most powerful tool in the designer’s arsenal. Type is not to be underestimated. Type is an art unto itself. And, each typeface has a distinct personality.

In recent years, exploration of typography seems to have waned in the hip design circles. Perhaps it is a kickback to the desktop publishing revolution, in which Microsoft decided to punish us all with the birth of Comic Sans. Perhaps it is the supremacy cry of professional designers promoting a “less is more” approach by proving they can MacGyver an award-winning masterpiece with the smallest selection of typefaces in their design palette. Or, perhaps it is the logical backlash of designers trying to undo the chaotic and highly-revolutionary typographical treatments Neville Brody, David Carson and the entire grunge font movement exposed us all to in the 1990s. The fact is, many designers have opted for a minimalist approach in recent years, embracing Helvetica Neue Light as the cheerleader of this movement. While elegant, sparse and airy type has its place, it can also lack that distinguishing character that a design can cry out for and fails to differentiate one euro-influenced design from the next. This is what so excites me about the new Workshed logo. It has type with personality. There is a definite character to it and the usage of the typeface (Brothers, for those of you playing along) exploits its strengths — it is a display font to the core and should be used accordingly.

With any design project, typography must be kept in mind at each step. Don’t just choose typefaces — use them, work them. Make them work for you. Play with different angles, grid patterns, size relationships, play words off one-another, make them look like they are moving, worn down, hurting, happy, sad. Give them personality. Instead of starting with a layout, start with type. Work it. Own that type, y’all!

I’m going to close this one out with some reference links. These are examples of, and educational pieces about, typography. I encourage everyone who reads this to ask questions, try some experiments with type and learn. (Warning: Strong Language)

What is a Creative Agency?

One of the questions we get very frequently is, “So what exactly do you do here?”

It’s OK. I can admit it. The term, “Creative Agency” is not entirely specific unless you are in the industry to some degree. If we simply called ourselves a graphic design shop, a web development company, a video production house, a copy writing and content provider, a recording studio, a marketing firm—or even an advertising agency—we’d instantly cut down on the number of times this question is uttered.

The only problem is, we are all of the above, and “graphic design web development advertising marketing copy writing recording and video company” is a tad long-winded. Looking at the root of all our disciplines, the one commonality is that everything we do is spawned from creativity.

And there it is—we provide creative services to help our clients cultivate their ideas. From conception to delivery, we have all of the tools and skills in house to help give your great idea an identity, a mission and a life.

Welcome to the Workshed Blog

This is the place. Seriously. The. Place. The short of it is, we got tired of creating cause for future aneurysms by trying to mentally beam our events, news and thoughts—using clandestine psychic channels—to you, our loyal constituents.

Instead, we have opted for a steadfast and more modern, new-fangled approach to communication: the highly-esteemed, and often abused, blog platform. What will you find in this blog, you ask? Excellent question.

We’re hoping to not only keep you enlightened about news and press relating to Workshed and our great clients, but also to enlighten the public at-large about our processes, why we do things the way we do, how we think, and also some of the more enjoyable aspects of our company.

With that, I’ll direct you to add a bookmark to this page and watch it with an enthusiastic fanaticism, as we plan to update it more often than seems to suffice for often these days. Pour yourself a hot beverage, sit back, click the refresh button on your browser and get ready to enjoy.