Behind the Scenes Archives | Buttermilk Creative
 

Behind the Scenes

5 Things to Do When Attending the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York

We’re New York City bound for this summer’s Fancy Food Show! Are you? Do you want to go somewhere new while in town for the show? We wanted to share five of our favorite places to visit when we’re in NYC. Try one or a few of these hot spots while you are in town––we promise you won’t regret it!

We would love to meet up during the show and chat about how we can extend your on shelf presence. Click here and we will reach out to set something up!

1. Thea Grant

Whether you are looking for a unique gift to bring home, want a one-of-a-kind statement piece of your own, or want to be inspired––head to Thea Grant in Brooklyn. This charming design-and-lifestyle store is family-run by a talented husband and wife team and offers high end, handmade jewelry and intricate metal pieces. They specialized in uniquely beautiful antique and estate pieces that tell a story, you never know what gem you will find. We could not leave without purchasing a custom stamped brass keychain that they made right in front of us.

BONUS: While in DUMBO, make sure to check out mexican hot spot Gran Eléctrica. We love their fresh eats and unique cocktails, especially on a hot day in the city. If you’re feeling adventurous, sample a few of their speciality tequilas and unwind while dining al fresco.

2. Two Kids and a Dog

While in Brooklyn, stop by Two Kids and a Dog at the Pearl Street Triangle. We stumbled upon this sweet children’s store when searching for the perfect authentic (yet fun) souvenir for our son––a NYC garbage truck toy that was a HUGE hit! The store is perfectly curated with unique toys, children’s clothing, gifts, and speciality items.

3. New York Water Taxi

Looking for a different way to explore the city? Head to the water! The New York Water Taxi to be exact. This is the perfect way to see different parts of the city and its surrounding areas, especially if you are short on time. We suggest buying an all day pass to explore and stop along the way, then hop back on and venture to another part of the city. Our favourite route is to go from Midtown/Hell’s Kitchen to Battery Park to view the exquisite gardens, then head over to South Street Seaport for waterside shopping in unique, restored wharfside buildings from the early 1800’s. From there, we like to head to Brooklyn/DUMBO for some more great shopping and good eats. Then, travel back up to Midtown via the State of Liberty and Ellis Island. Pro tip: bypass the long lines to see the Statue of Liberty, and drive by it while on the water taxi. You get super close and stop for about 10 minutes for some quick photo opportunities. The water taxi guides are very friendly and provide a wealth of knowledge about NYC while ferrying around the city.

If you want to explore art galleries, we love to start at 28th Street in Chelsea and snake our way between 10th and 11th Avenues taking in the different art along the way. The galleries are free to enjoy and most are open Monday through Saturday. Make sure to check out this interactive gallery map to see which artists are showing and plan your trip. The last time we gallery hopped, we happened to stumble upon a Damien Hirst exhibit by spotting one of his famous formaldehyde sharks in the gallery’s front window. Cue fanboy/fangirl moment! You never know whose art you will run into. This is a great way to recharge and get inspired by all of the creativity around you.

It’s hard to believe that the High Line was set to be demolished in the 1990’s! During the 1930’s, the city built this elevated freight rail line above the streets of the West Side in response to the dangers of pedestrians walking on the street level tracks. After dwindling train usage, this space became an unused wasteland. Thankfully, the community pulled together to save this now beautiful 1.45-mile public space that is home to over 500+ species of plants and trees. We love getting fresh air along the greenway and stopping for refreshing treats such as an Italian ice or even pop into a local bar for a quick pint.

We can’t wait to see you at the Summer #FancyFoodShow.

Drop us a line and let’s chat about how we can help amplify your brand’s voice and on shelf presence. Click here to learn more about what we will be doing at the conference or use the form and we’ll reach out to you!

 

Wanting to try somewhere new to grab dinner after the show? Check out our 5 favorite places to eat while in New York.

Want to meet up and talk branding?




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Fire Cider Packaging Redesign

Behind the Design: Fire Cider Packaging Redesign

Fire Cider Tonic Packaging Before & After

When we tackled the redesign of Fire Cider we knew we were refreshing a brand that has passionate stakeholders inside the company and devoted fans outside. However, we also knew that the packaging needed to evolve for a changing retail landscape and a more savvy shopper.

A major priority was creating hierarchy in the label while balancing elements that needed to be carried over from the earlier design. Some of the updates included adding white to highlight their logo and brown to the forest creating depth in the label.

Fire Cider Packaging Redesign
Fire Cider Packaging Redesign
Fire Cider Packaging Redesign

Reprioritizing and Hierarchy

Working alongside the Fire Cider team, we helped them redesign and reorganize an often overlooked area on the side of their label. Storytelling and communicating important information to shoppers is a large part of packaging design. Our redesign created an area to prioritize and highlight key elements.

Fire Cider has such a great story that needed featuring but we also wanted to convey other aspects of the tonic. Mainly pairing the item name with flavor cues (answering the question: How’s it going to taste?) and key ingredients that are not only essential to the recipe but also would pique the interest of a health conscious or foodie-minded shopper.

The illustrated ingredient icons are in line with the overall look and feel of the Fire Cider brand and help shoppers quickly see what makes these tonics so special.

Bringing Fire Cider Packaging Design to Life

When we started working on the redesign of Fire Cider we immediately saw an opportunity in reorganizing their PDP (principal display panel). We wanted to create focus on the important information like brand name and flavor. We created a frame that not only holds all the content, but also creates a space to add color which helps differentiate between the different flavors.

We didn’t want to confuse existing customers so we carried over the established color system. The focused color blocks paired with kraft paper label helps Fire Cider stand out on the shelf but still retain their natural feel.

Do you have a beverage (or any product) and need a strategic partner to help? We’re here for you.

Tru Ade Drinks

Behind the Design: TruAde Drinks

With the redesign of TruAde we were tasked with refreshing a heritage brand from the 1930’s to appeal to a new customer while also keeping the spirit and honoring its roots. We tapped into vintage TruAde ephemera for inspiration.

The typography we chose and the elements, including the star, were all inspired by our research. The simple and clean label redesign reinforces a reformulation and streamlining of ingredients as well.

TruAde Drink Packaging
TruAde Drink Packaging

Before & After

For our redesign we wanted TruAde to stand out on the shelf and offer a different look and feel to what we expect from C-store drinks – bubbly effects, splashes, and cartoony illustrations to name a few. We also wanted our design to have more contrast and bold limited colors to grab thirsty shopper’s attention.

Bringing TrAde Packaging Design to Life

These 12 pack can wraps were the most exciting part of the redesign for us. We really wanted to take advantage of the billboard opportunity and elaborate on the design system set up for the single formats. The wavy line shape was a throwback to an old TruAde door sign. You can imagine walking into a C-store and running into a whole display of all those bold colors!

Do you have a beverage (or any product) and need a strategic partner to help? We’re here for you.

buttermilk creative

Defining Your Brand’s Personality Through Illustration

Color, shape, movement, imagery, emotion, brand recognition, sales- illustration is a great solution for capturing and conveying the unique qualities, feelings, and emotions of your product on its packaging design. Whether you chose to be literal or abstract and expressive, illustration can be a great way to help your product to stand out, differentiate your brand from competitors and create brand recognition with shoppers.

While we can talk about illustration all day, we know less talk and more pretty photos are what you crave! So let’s dive in and take a look at a few different examples of illustration in the marketplace including one of our recent projects which features rich, expressive drawings to capture a sense of place.

Bold Characters

burnt salty buttmilk

Burnt & Salty create bold and unique flavor twists on traditional condiments like mustard and glazes. To capture their daring, irreverent take on traditional cuisine they’ve chosen to highlight a fun illustrated character for each of their flavors with stark silhouettes, crazy eyes, energetic shapes, and bright colors. The playful characters speak to the brand’s personality and adventurous products.

sauer Frau buttermilk creative

Sauer Frau bills itself as the first ever squeezable sauerkraut, kicking up the bratwurst game a few notches! Sauer Frau’s illustration style feels like something out of a comic book with restrained, formed lines. The “Sauer Frau” character as part of the logo pulls you in with her serious, no nonsense expression. Each flavor in the family has a simple yet bold color associated with it creating an unexpected billboard that still feels relevant in the condiment category.

Literally

ButtermilkBlog_epic

Epic Provisions has always done an amazing job showcasing their products through packaging design. One of their latest products, Pork Cracklings, feels like its been pulled from the pages of a mid-century kid’s adventure novel complete with a limited color palette and vintage inspired typography and shapes. The pig illustration is realistic and feels scientific or from a veterinary textbook. The illustrations on their packaging speak directly to their ‘back to basics’ view of food and their desire to utilize the simple yet powerful diets of our ancestors.

ButtermilkBlog_roland

Roland Foods is an importer of more than 1500 foods from around the world. They have a variety of packaging design within their product catalog, but the style that caught our eye is the realistic representation of products on their canned food. At first glance it almost reads as a photograph because the illustration is executed so pragmatically, yet upon further inspection you start to see little splashes here and there which add a layered homemade artisan feel to the restrained style.

Our Latest Project – Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters Packaging Redesign

buttermilk creative

When we first started working on redesigning Virgin Islands Coffee Roaster’s packaging we knew we wanted to find a way to feature the lush colorful views of the Virgin Islands and try to create a sense of place.

ButtermilkBlog_vicrredesign2

We drew inspiration from Dorothy Draper’s iconic tropical floral wallpaper and merged that style with a coffee plant and bananaquit, a bird that is part of the Virgin Islands story and the brand. Wanting the plant to feel wild and organic, we allowed the coffee plant illustration to climb up one side of the front of the coffee bag then spread across the gusset and around the back.

We worked to create the feeling of looking through a coffee farm and discovering this packaging nestled in the leaves. The coffee labels each feature a scientific line drawing behind each coffee name in the product family, which provides a contrast to the more fluid coffee plant. Fresh, exotic, energetic and memorable we feel this packaging redesign captures the spirit of the brand and the product that lives inside.

Click the button below to view our Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters Redesign project and many more ways we’ve helped client’s define their brand’s personality through compelling design. 

VIEW MORE WORK

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The Fresh Market Simmer Sauces

Behind the Design: The Fresh Market Simmer Sauces

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Cooler weather has us thinking about warm dishes. Our design for The Fresh Market Simmer Sauces captures the homemade artisan feel of the product. The flavors are inspired by global flavors like Mojo Verde.

Dishes are prepared in a skillet so we utilized the shape as a frame to contain the item name and important information. Combining the skillet shape and the large color field creates an eye catching billboard for these products on the shelf.

3_tfm_simmer-sauces_single-project_image

Handmade Elements for a handmade product

We’re always looking for opportunities to add handmade elements and qualities to our designs, and this label is no different. We feel like these elements create depth and creates interest in the shopper inviting them to pick up the product.

We added texture to further enhance the homemade quality of the sauces. Hand-lettered item names give the product an approachable scratch made feel. The typography is also fun and energetic inspiring home cooks to grab it and go home and create a tasty meal by simply adding to one of their favorite ingredients.

Educating with icons

Because we knew the target customer for this item might be a less experienced cook wanting to explore new flavors we wanted to give hints and educate on the packaging. To accomplish this we created a “Great with…” icon set for each flavor giving cues for which ingredient to use with each sauce. The icons need to be read quickly and easily from the shelf, so we intentionally designed them to be very simple and recognizable.

1_tfm_simmer-sauces_single-project_image

Color story

Bold colors help the Simmer Sauces stand out on the shelf and grab shoppers attention. The colors were inspired by the different flavors; orange is roasted garlic, red chipotle adobo, and green is mojo verde. It was important to create a family feel to the three sauces, but also creates a strong identity so each can stand on their own.

Do you have a simmer sauce (or any product) and need a strategic partner to help? We’re here for you.

The Bird & the Brew: Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters Case Study

Occasionally we’ll share an in depth look into our work we do for clients. For our first post we’ll shed light on the packaging and logo redesign for the Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters.

Starting from Scratch

Our work with Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters actually started with an exploration into redesigning their packaging. But as we talked with Ramsey Smith, President & Co-Founder, we figured out that before we could work on packaging, we needed to create a new logo.

After researching ways to represent their unique island setting without clichés, we landed on the simple line art illustration of the Bananaquit, a common bird found all over the Virgin Islands. After digging deeper we learned that it also belongs to the Tanager family of birds, an important part of the coffee plant ecosystem.

Our first goal for the new logo is to be more relevant to the heart and soul of the brand and its unique location. Our second goal is to create something that can compete with the highly competitive current coffee category leaders. We felt the old logo was too limiting visually and typographically. The new logo features a unique and ownable typeface and iconic mark that is recognizable enough to appear on various materials, with or without the wordmark.

It’s in the Bag

As we finalized the logo we started working with the whole team at Virgin Islands Coffee Roasters to start brainstorming new packaging options. We had a few objectives we had to keep in mind:

  • must be sustainable & compostable
  • needs to be relevant
  • should to perform well on the production line.

We kept all of these in mind as we worked in the studio and on-site with the team prototyping options. We explored different layouts, materials, and structures as we honed in on the solution that worked best.

New Packaging

Our final packaging solution for Virgin Islands features a simple kraft square bottom gusseted coffee bag with a clean but dramatic narrow and long label that wraps around the front, top, and back of the bag – effectively sealing the bag. Three different sizes were created to accommodate the variations in product weights, all while keeping the look consistent.

The new packaging managed to preserve the brand’s hand-crafted feel but gave it a more sophisticated and eye-catching feel. VICR’s coffee is sold on crowded island grocery store shelves so we wanted to create a design that could stand out just about anywhere. The light label stock against the brown kraft bag creates engaging contrast, and the pop of yellow from the bananquit creates even more interest.

How Buttermilk made it better

“Since we launched the new logo and Packaging we’ve continued an 80% growth year over year.  

The new logo allowed us the flexibility to use it across the board in many mediums for customers signage, our merchandising and also expand our reach into creating our own brand identity.

The packaging was a large scale undertaking that increased our retail sales and opportunities well into the 100% year over year mark.  Packaging is a forever changing and very competitive market and having the ready to go support from Andy and Buttermilk allows us to stay ahead of the game.”

– RAMSEY SMITH, President & Co-Founder, VIRGIN ISLANDS COFFEE ROASTERS

Our insights from this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC | Trend 3: Revolutionary Redesigns

About a month ago we headed up to the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show to walk the many aisles and see the best & brightest amongst specialty food and beverage. The Following posts run through our insights we’re excited to share.

Trend 3. Revolutionary Redesigns

Redesigns are big and scary undertakings but when brands decide to refresh it can pay off with better relevance with new customers and an opportunity to freshen up a potentially stagnant brand. We noticed a few big brands going through facelifts and redesigns.

Morris Kitchen:
Morris Kitchen threw us for a loop (in the best way) with their sleek, simple, illustration pattern driven redesign. We’ve always loved Morris Kitchen for their unique take on cocktail mixers and tasty concoctions like Tomato Beet and Citrus Agave. Their old design felt homemade and simple, which fit with the brand’s positioning- but the design update feels fresh and contemporary and will definitely stand out on the shelf. The simplified treatment of the ingredients in each label drives home the fact that there’s only the best inside.

Roland Foods:
Heirloom brand Roland Foods keeps their heritage with a simplified treatment for their wordmark and refreshed packaging design. We love that they were able to simplify the logo but keep the wordmark in place. The new mark will be more flexible across the brand and could introduce Roland to new customers. They really upped their packaging design game as well with interesting photography work adorning their canned goods and amazing bold colors for their sardines, just to highlight a few.  

And not a full redesign…

Bob’s Red Mill:
but we appreciated this new take on presentation within their brand from Bob’s Red Mill for their line of Muesli. We’re used to seeing Bob’s Red Mill products in clear sealed bags with a label and Bob’s smiling face. However those bags aren’t the easiest to work with once opened – plus we felt like there’s a ton of opportunity there for a design refresh. So we were excited to spot this particular update to both the bag and the design for their Muesli. Still staying true to their original look and feel with Bob’s likeness but pulling in new typography with a vintage feel, plus the use of banners as containers for content helps organize the front panel. And the scroll work and filigree elements add a nice homespun touch, reinforces the brands core values.

Read our Trend #1 Post

Read our Trend #2 Post

Our insights from this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC | Trend 2: Happy Hour Hacks

About a month ago we headed up to the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show to walk the many aisles and see the best & brightest amongst specialty food and beverage. The Following posts run through our insights we’re excited to share. Below is our Cocktail Kit Trend Insight from 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show

Trend 2. Happy Hour Hacks

Making the cocktail ritual easier has been a building trend for a couple of years now and we love how these brands are putting their spin on it.

Bantam Bevy:
Bantam Bevy, a new kid on the block, attracted us with their great design and tasty flavor combos – Cucumber Mojito anyone? We love all these ready-made cocktail mixes and it’s a crowded field and we’re confident Bantam Bevy will stand out nicely with their bold colors and design. Also – since these bottles look like pieces of art put ‘em out while you’re playing bartender – they’ll be a great conversation starter!

Cocktail Kit 2 Go:
Why settle for just a flask when you can have the whole cocktail? Cocktail Kit 2 Go has everything you need to make classic cocktails (just add alcohol) in a handy business card size. That’s what really differentiates this from the other “Cocktails to go” products – the size is so darn convenient you can bring it anywhere (anywhere it’s legal that is!)

House of Broughton:
House of Broughton Syrups attracted us with their dazzling design and innovative syrup flavors. These will become the home bartender’s best friend because who has the time to make a variety of simple syrups? Not only do these provide a shortcut so you’re not spending the whole party behind the bar, the interesting flavors will give you the best cocktail game on the block.

 

And the best for last:

Swig and Swallow:
Swig and Swallow’s bottle comes half full – just top it off with the exact amount of alcohol for a convenient cocktail. When we sampled their Mojito it was spot on flavor-wise. We also appreciated the fact that there’s just no other product out there like this. The challenge for Swig and Swallow is to let shoppers know the bottle is supposed to be half full and hasn’t leaked out. From what we could tell they had very clever marketing materials around that barrier, but we’re confident once folks try this they’ll be hooked.

Read our Trend #1 Post

Read our Trend #3 Post

Our insights from this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC | Trend 1: Gourmet On the Go

About a month ago we headed up to the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show to walk the many aisles and see the best & brightest amongst specialty food and beverage. The Following posts run through our insights we’re excited to share.

 

Trend 1. Gourmet on the Go

Gourmet goodies are not relegated to fancy restaurants any more, which isn’t necessarily a new trend, but we loved how these brands elevated conventional food with tasty results. With more and more folks strapped for time but wanting better, quicker food this trend isn’t going away anytime soon so we’re anxious to see how other brands innovate within trend.

Mac & Son:

Remember Sunday dinners over at Grandma’s house? Home cooking at it’s finest with an array of yummy sides more than likely including Mac & Cheese?  Well Mac & Son makes bagged mac & cheese taste like homemade, with quality, thoughtful ingredients. When we sampled our little cup full it took us right back to those Sunday dinners. We learned that the Mac & Son folks have worked hard to recreate that homemade flavor spending a lot of time developing their recipe and identifying key ingredients that are simple, flavorful but also deliver a hefty, homemade side in a convenient pouch.

Boonbox:

Imagine never having to worry about a filling, healthy, well rounded meal on the go? Forget fast food – Boonbox makes it easy. We loved the fact that Boonbox was so simple, just a container with everything you need – and better yet you don’t have to cook it – just dig right in. Think of it like super powered trail mix. Plus the container is small enough to fit in any type of bag.

Zupa:

Zupa Superfood soup makes sure you get all your veggies in an easy to carry bottle. We need our veggies but don’t always have the time to hang out at the juicer and crank out a cup or two. Plus what’s the right recipe that tastes good but is also healthy? We loved how Zupa delivers everything in a bottle – no excuses for not eating those veggies – even if you can’t sit down for a meal. And forget conventional flavors – they’ve got sophisticated combos like: Beet Orange Basil, Cucumber Avocado, and Tomatillo Kale Jalapeno just to name a few.

And of course we can’t forget dessert –

The Konery:

We think gourmet on the go should apply to all courses. The Konery has dessert covered by making amazingly tasty gourmet waffle cones. With bold and innovative flavors, The Konery’s cones pair nicely with different ice cream flavors and play a bigger part than a standard sugar or waffle cone. They’ve got wild flavors with even wilder cone colors – for instance a deep red “Red Velvet”, a blue “Salted Blue Corn” and our fave: a confettied “Birthday Cake.”

Read our Trend #2 Post.

Unpacking after 99U: Part 2

In our Part 1 post distilling our experience during the 99U Conference, we shared what we encountered around the city and some of the interesting things we saw. Part 2 is all about our conference takeaways.

Day 1

Studio Tour: Verdes

We started the first full day of the conference at a great little coffee shop called The Jolly Goat on our way to a studio tour with Verdes, a small offshoot of the larger studio Mother NY. The folks from Verdes shared with us how to create a common language around expressing our ideas to clients and helpful tools for facilitating the discussion. A super useful topic and content and a great start to the conference.

Conference Sessions:

We made our way back from Verdes down in Hell’s Kitchen to Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center to start the general sessions.

Session 1: Ryan Carson, Treehouse

Ryan Carson shared with us a bit about his unique management and company policies (he doesn’t have any managers and they encourage lots of balance) – all of which came from his realization that we really don’t have very long on this earth so we need to spend it doing important things with the most important people in our lives. Ryan had us imagine who we want at our funeral and what we’d want them to say about us. From there we create a “Personal Mission Statement” outlining our different roles (father, business owner, son, husband, etc.) and check in on our mission statement every week and make sure our lives are still on track.

Session 2: Kristy Tilman, Society of Grownups

Kristy Tilman, in addition to having beautiful and inspiring design work, talked about not waiting to be invited to the table – to just invite yourself. She shared her own experiences where she created her own opportunity based on what she felt was needed in the world and built success around it. This is such an important idea to keep in mind: Don’t wait to be invited! Other folks out there aren’t going to wait for you and the most successful people create their own opportunity.

Session 3: Jason Fried, Basecamp

I was very excited to hear from Jason Fried who created Basecamp. Jason talked about “creative destruction” and really stepping out of your comfort zone, habits, and processes to discover new solutions. He’s challenged his teams with weeklong projects, which keeps everyone sharp but also gets the client to pay faster for example. Creating seasonal change is also important – for instance work 4 days a week in the summer and go back to 5 days in the fall. When the changes come you are refreshed and can look at everything in a different way.

Session 4: Tristan Walker, Bevel

Tristin Walker created a men’s grooming product that rethinks everything we’ve grown used to. His products are simple and refined, both visually and functionally. I mainly was inspired by his company, Bevel’s, packaging design.

Master Class: Scott Belsky, founder of Behance

Scott Belsky spoke about the journey in-between and how to keep projects alive and thriving through every cycle. Scott talked about being mission centric and medium agnostic and really focusing on the core of the project, not letting the medium drive the solution. The playbook changes over the lifespan of the project so what worked at the beginning wont work in the middle or the end so we should be aware and course correct when we need to. He discussed why projects lag in the middle – hint – it’s in our human nature! We learned to make sure we focus on new users as well as existing ones and to step out of our assumptions and step into the shoes of someone who has never interacted with our product or project.

Day 2

Day 2 started with a rainy walk to a cool little event space called Lightbox to hear Brennan Dunn discuss how to optimize our businesses. I popped in a great little coffee shop called Rex Coffee and had some yummy Counter Culture coffee and a tasty Egg & Cheese on Brioche.

Offsite: Brennan Dunn, Double Your Freelancing

This was probably the most helpful and actionable sessions of the whole conference. Brennan walked us through what makes freelancers successful, things such as mindset and knowing that you are equal to you client counterparts, not just a “vendor.” He discussed really easy ways to qualify new clients and how to provide a ton more value to existing clients. We learned about tips and techniques to help uncover the true business problem behind design projects and to become an investment for our clients, and not just an expense.

Conference Sessions:

Session 1: Dan Mall, Superfriendly

Dan Mall walked us through why and how he uses an apprenticeship model at his design studio. This was such an interesting and inspiring talk and I will be exploring ways to create something similar at Buttermilk. The most fascinating thing about Dan’s apprentice program – he only spend 30 total non-billable hours working with the apprentice over the span of the 9 month program. The rest of the hours were spent with self directed instruction by the apprentice or actual billable time on real life design projects. So something that seemed way out of reach sounds very doable for any business owner.

Session 2: Cap Watkins, BuzzFeed

My main takeaway from Cap Watkins was how he started to develop “Designer Principals” at BuzzFeed and those turned into “Leadership principals” because he discovered that really it all boils down to the same thing, no matter what your job or discipline is. He also talked about designing everything, not just design projects and to treat organizations and clients as user experience problems – a very interesting point of view.

Session 3: Yuko Shimizu

Yuko is an incredible illustrator that decided to go into the field later in life. She discussed setting goals really high and to take one small risk everyday. She also shared a lot of work and some of the stories behind it. Very inspirational.

Keynote: Tobias Frere-Jones

Tobias Frere-Jones closed the conference with a discussion about how he arrived at type design and walked us through the details and nuances of redesigning a font to be used in the stock pages of the Wall Street Journal. What I learned is that projects can always use a bit more adjusting and work before they are completely finished, but to also step away from projects for a little while too so you can return to them with fresh eyes.

Closing Party

What’s a great conference without a killer party and 99U was no exception. The venue was incredible – the vestibule of the MOMA and the music was provided by DJ Windows 98 (aka Win Butler from Arcade Fire). I had to keep pinching myself – here I was in this iconic space listening to an iconic artist with all these inspirational folks I’ve spent the last couple of days with. It was such an incredible time.

Parting Thoughts

99U was an awesome experience I will definitely consider attending again next year. I was amazed at how few traditional “designers” i encountered and the wide array of disciplines and people I learned about and met. The speakers and sessions were so varied and everything I learned makes me look at projects and my own work in a completely different way – something I think is invaluable. What makes me even more excited is all the new value and knowledge I get to share with my clients helping them solve their business problems and making them even more successful!