Creative Process Study 10

05.24.2010 / Project: Design That Talks

Matt Van Ekeren

Matt Van Ekeren is a freelance art director and designer in New York City.

After making the decision to move to a new city and build out my career, I knew it was imperative to make an impact with my personal branding. The unique challenge involved developing an identity not only for a freelance professional, but for very specific experiences associated with building a network of new colleagues.

I coined the name Design That Talks, as my freelance company, and now needed to build a professional image without losing ‘me’ in the process. Before starting with any of the designs, I needed to step back and think about how I was going to approach people and companies and what I wanted their first interaction with me to be. Being a traditionalist, I knew hand written letters and face-to-face communication were going to be the primary tools.

The next phase is where things took a different and exciting turn. I had met a letterpress printer who owned a manual-feed press and mentioned he could print on almost anything. There were no questions after that. Having the name Design That Talks, I wanted the driving design element to be wooden tongue depressors. They would metaphorically communicate what I do, and are built in icebreakers during face-to-face interaction, and make for a fun companion to letters.

I had never jumped to choosing a paper stock or even thinking about the business card this early in the process, but this was the element that would hopefully set this identity apart from the others. It allowed me to fuel the design with my personality while giving future colleagues something that will keep me at the top of their mind.

Now it was onto the rest of the identity. I worked through a number of typographic options as well as toying with icons and illustrations that epitomized the company. I knew that whatever the typography and iconography was, it needed to be able to carry the company name as well as hold its own as part of the tongue depressor.

The final solution utilized an industrialized serif typeface combined with a thought bubble. The composition of the typography and thought bubble was another way the “talks” element could be highlighted.

The final identity system was then built out. This system was a bit different because I wasn’t designing the typical print collateral. The business card was going to do the heavy lifting with a resume layout and letterhead following suit.

The other challenge was staying in budget, which was very minimal since I was fronting all the costs. I knew the business card was going to swallow most of the funds, so I chose to design the letterhead and resume in a way that I could print them myself, at home, and to maintain the ability to customize the resume as needed. I was able to produce enough business cards to facilitate my move and now have the flexibility to write, proof read and re-write as many letters as my heart contents.

Below are a few images, taken by the printer, of the business card.

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