There are more than 27 million businesses registered in the U.S. For the past 30 years, Inc. magazine annually ranks the 5000 fastest-growing private companies. Launch is excited to have made the 2010 list. Officially we are #3523, but what’s in a number?
In the words of Jane Berentson, Editor, Inc. magazine, “More than ever, this year’s list is a testament to the creativity, resilience and tenacity of America’s top entrepreneurs.”
For Launch, on behalf of my partners Diane Seimetz and David Wilgus, I’d like to thank our creative, dedicated staff for all their great work and recognize our special roster of clients and the mutually successful relationships we have with those talented professionals.
Thank you also to Jane and Inc. It’s an honor just to be nominated. But it’s even better to actually make “the list.”
Agency News,Industry News | (0) Comments
On August 10, Launch Agency principal/creative director Diane Seimetz, was a part of the 3-member panel at the monthly Dallas Ad League luncheon. The panel topic was on the benefits of doing pro bono work in the advertising industry. Other panelists included Elba Intriago from INSPIRE!, Brian Nadurak from Click Here, and Angelo Antoline from mundayMorning Creative, who was the panel moderator.
Diane presented some of the award-winning pro bono work Launch has done for very special clients such as The Voice Foundation, Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, The Rise School and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She also spoke about Launch’s involvement in the American Heart Association’s Dallas Heart Walk, which had special meaning to her and the whole Launch family.
A highlight of the luncheon was the inspirational stories that were shared by the panelists. After each member on the panel spoke about their agency’s own pro bono work and philosophy, they answered questions on the pros and cons of these assignments.
The panel stressed the importance of keeping the same agency processes with pro bono clients as done with paying clients. Making sure the charity’s mission aligns with your agency’s mission and values is also important before establishing a relationship. Agency bandwidth and resources are also huge factors. Using the agency’s clout and resources can be key in getting work produced for very little to no cost.
It was agreed that in every case, pro bono work should be your agency’s best work; something to be proud of that truly helps the cause!
Agency News,Industry News | (0) Comments
I recently attended SIGGRAPH (or Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques), a premier international computer graphics, video, animation and new technologies conference.
http://www.poppyfilm.com/index.html (Jury Award)
http://polynoid.org/polynoid_loom.html (Best in Show Award)
Industry News | (0) Comments
Tom Hough, friend of Launch and frequent creative collaborator, filed this report after attending the Illustration Conference 6 (ICON6 for short) in Pasadena, California in July.
I’ve always found illustrators to be kind of an elusive bunch — a rather solitary and nocturnal species, since they’re all freelancers. I’ve done some illustration myself, along with graphic design, so I jumped at the chance to see and interact with these unique people.
It was a large and interesting group, and the conference program was great. So, without further ado, here is a run-down of some of the stand out speakers and topics.
The opening Keynote address was entitled “The Future of Publishing” and was presented by a panel of speakers including Scott Dadich, Creative Director, Wired, and Kelly Doe, Art Director, The New York Times, among others. They addressed an elephant in the room: whether electronic media, such as the iPad and Kindle, will sweep away the last few areas of print publishing that haven’t been completely transformed by the Internet. The consensus: yes, although it might take as long as 10 years.
There were many speakers at the conference from the publishing and film industries who discussed their careers and companies. Highlights from a few:
Wayne White: His greatest claim to fame is as the set designer of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. But he has had a fascinating and varied career as painter, art director, set designer and installation artist. Just listening to his body of work made me tired.
Thomas Blackshear: He talked about the process of being a “traditional” illustrator in the style of N. C. Wyeth and branching out to non-traditional venues to sell his illustrations.
David Saylor: An art director at Scholastic Books, David spoke of his career in the publishing industry and talked of one of the few times that illustrations created for a series of books made it into the movie titles and posters: the Harry Potter series.
Scott Dadich: This creative director for Wired Magazine discussed a fascinating article done for the iPad version of Wired that used an animated interactive illustration.
Kathy Altieri: As the production manager for the 2010 release “How to Train Your Dragon,” Kathy talked about the incredible amount of work that goes into a feature-length animated movie, how long it takes, how many hundreds of animators are involved and how much concept and preproduction illustration work is done. Mind-boggling.
Saiman Chow and Jesus De Francisco: This pair, illustrator and Creative Director at Motion Theory, respectively, spoke about the field of motion graphics and what it holds for the future of illustration. There was a continuing Q&A between the audience and speakers about whether illustrators need the ability to animate their images for the coming electronic media, through software like Flash or HTML5. Some illustrators voiced that they didn’t want to become “programmers” in addition to being artists, but the panelists pointed out that nearly everyone in the crowd had learned to use Illustrator and Photoshop, and learning other software wasn’t any different. In other words, adapt or die.
There were many other presenters, speaking on subjects as diverse as copyright law, computer animation, children’s books, graphic novels, self-promotion, social media, inspiration, art history and technique, the gallery world, electronic publishing, contracts and negotiation. The most inspirational part of the conference, however, was listening to the individual illustrators discuss their life and work.
Industry News | (0) Comments
Launch was pleased to have been recognized for its work on behalf of long-time client Rent-A-Center.
The Rental Advertising Excellence (RAE) Awards, the rent-to-own industry’s longest held advertising competition honors the best radio, television, print and Internet advertising campaigns created over the past year. The awards show and annual conference was held July 19-22.
Launch won a Gold and a Bronze in the :30 Radio category and a Silver for :30 TV.
Congratulations also go to partner agency Razor for their awards won in support of Rent-A-Center.
Agency News,Client News,Industry News | (0) Comments
We’re ready to impart more wisdom from Launch Art Director Reuben Miller’s experience at the 2010 HOW Conference.
An interesting session, “Building a Business: If I Knew Then What I Know Now,” featured Brian Dougherty and Marcia Hoeck. Dougherty is a founding partner of Celery Design Collaborative, which has studios in both California and Paris. Marcia Hoeck is president of Hoeck Associates, Inc. and acts as a business coach. Her mantra is, “Create a business that will run without you.” These two entrepreneurs described their tried-and-true methods for starting a successful business and growing it — specifically, how to keep from getting sidetracked so you can focus on why you started the business in the first place.
Next they explained Dougherty’s “design backwards” approach. By starting from a design project’s ultimate destination and working backwards, designers are able to make more informed choices, allowing them to creatively avoid many roadblocks that might prevent solutions. The best way to begin brainstorming is to imagine the “best possible destiny for a design. Next, imagine the user’s experience with the design and envision scenarios that would make the experience particularly memorable or valuable.”
Reuben said the last session he attended featured “the most inspirational speaker [he'd] ever seen.” The session, “Rediscovering Play: Bringing Fun and Passion to Your Work. . .and Life,” was given by Kevin Carroll.
Carroll’s childhood was less than idyllic; his parents struggled with substance abuse problems, so he moved in with his his grandparents. One day, he found a red rubber ball on the playground, and from that point on, focused his life on the pursuit of fun and the “red rubber ball mentality.” Now he collects different and interesting balls from all around the world as a source of inspiration. After 10 years in the air force, Carroll spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers and Nike before starting his own business, Kevin Carroll Katalyst/LLC. We don’t do Carroll’s story justice, so check it out after finishing our post.
One of Reuben’s takeaways from HOW was that, “It’s an incredible asset to be a great presenter; it can be the tipping point between whether an idea sells or not.”
Find more information on 2010 Conference sessions visit the HOW website.
Industry News | (0) Comments
We like to stay on the cutting edge of . . . well . . . everything here at Launch, so we sent Art Director Reuben Miller to this year’s HOW Conference to learn everything he could about technology and design. From printing to design programs to sources of inspiration, Reuben absorbed it all and, fortunately for us, shared his knowledge.
The first session attended was “Inspiration: You Are What You Keep” by Gail Anderson—creative director of design at SpotCo. Her main message was that when we’re young, we gravitate toward certain things, and as we get older, we begin to identify what those things are and use them for inspiration. Those different sources of inspiration make individual designers unique.
Next up, “Print to Web Breakthrough,” was delivered by Mark O’Brien, president of Newfangled Web Developers. Reuben learned a few tricks to make websites more crawlable. For starters, keeping a 300 to 500 word digital newsletter that gets updated once a month is a good way to keep Google bots interested in your site. This will keep your domain high on the Google search list. O’Brien also told attendees of a new web service that allows designers to use non-website-compatible fonts. This service serves up fonts every time a page loads, so that designers can choose any font when creating a website. This allows people to take their favorite fonts online and differentiate their site from others’.
In “Good vs. Great Design”, speaker Cameron Moll, co-author of CSS Mastery and author of Mobile Web Design, pointed out that most people use the word “inspiration” incorrectly. What they really mean is “influence.” An influence is something that affects your ideas, whereas inspiration is the product of your creative thinking and work. Inspiration is something that is earned, while influences can be found anywhere. In the end, the best designs come from turning the things we love, our influences, into something that others can find value in. Moll stated that most of us are starters – we have tons of great ideas, but that’s where they end. Those ideas never reach fruition because most people aren’t finishers. An inhibitor to becoming a finisher is stress, but there is also good stress, which Moll termed “eustress.” Eustress comes from activities that push us in an enjoyable way, such as working out. Last, but not least, Moll touched on the “blur test” in relation to digital hierarchy. As taught in design school, when you look at a design and blur your eyes, you’ll be able to see what jumps out the most. With print, and especially digital, creating a hierarchy is the art of managing, not eliminating elements.
Reuben’s last seminar, “Creating Five-Alarm Concepts,” earned his coveted “bad ass” designation. Speaker Von Glitschka has all of his slides and notes available for download, so instead of a short Reuben recap, feel free to download it all for yourself.
We’ll get back to you soon with more wisdom from the speakers, but until then, please tell us your favorite takeaways from this year’s How Conference.
Industry News,Our Culture | (0) Comments
In the ad industry, it’s not uncommon to email large PDF files to clients. These large files are bandwidth hogs, can take a long time to send, and are often never received. Job seekers may have similar problems when attempting to send digital copies of their book to prospective employers.
Saving a high-res PDF is pretty straightforward, but when you need to send a 1-gig, multi-page PDF file over email, it can be tricky to shrink it appreciably while maintaining legibility of the type and image clarity. To avoid these issues, here’s one tried and true method to use that’s Launch Agency recommended.
To demonstrate, we’ll use a 310MB Photoshop file entitled “Example.psd.” First, save your file as a PDF. Don’t save with layers, as they will make your file larger, and you probably don’t want anyone else editing your file anyway. Your “Save As” window should look something like this:
Second, choose the correct PDF settings, because, as you know, “the settings you choose in the Save Adobe PDF dialog can override your current settings in the Save As dialog box.” See the dialog box pictured below. Make sure to select “Press Quality”—this settings produces a smaller final product than the “Smallest File Size” option.
Third, convert your PDF to a PostScript. To do this, open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat. Then go to “File” > “Save As” and select “PostScript” from the drop-down menu. Use the default settings for saving your .ps file.
Now that you have a PostScript file, open Acrobat Distiller. A window will pop up with a blank box for dragging and dropping files. Before adding your PostScript, select the “smallest files size” option from the drop-down menu. Then you’re ready to go.
Your final file will be a PDF and will be smaller than Acrobat alone is capable of delivering, at least without getting into compression.
As you can see, the final size for our 310MB file is 55KB. Not bad for a file that looks high-res.
Now that your file size is as small as possible, it’s time to change its settings. Acrobat makes it possible to customize the viewing experience of each recipient. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can ensure your file will look good even when you’re not in control.
To start, open your PDF file in Acrobat. Go to “File” > “Properties.” Select the Initial View tab. From this tab, you can customize the way your file will be viewed. We recommend setting the Navigation tab to “Page Only,” the Page layout tab to “Single Page Continuous,” and the Magnification to “Fit Page.” It’s also aesthetically pleasing to check the box next to “Center window on screen.” If you select “Open in Full Screen mode,” viewers will be warned of possible security risks upon opening the file. It’s not recommended to select “Resize window to initial page” unless all of your pages are the same size or smaller than the first page. And voila, you have a small, high-quality PDF file that’s ready to share. Now that you’ve read our guide for saving and adjusting PDF files, let us know if you find it useful or have similar tips to share.
For information on other commonly used file types, check out production manager Laura Carroll’s post from last year.
Industry News | (0) Comments
Looking for an innovative way to quickly capture thoughts, sketch visual ideas, take notes during client meetings, and gain a little extra tech cred? Launch Agency art director Reuben Miller relies on his iPad and the Adobe Ideas app to do all that and more.
Adobe Ideas is a revolutionary app that allows users to capture thoughts and draw vector images on the fly. It also makes it far easier to create your own “handwriting” font, but whether or not you should make (or even use) a handwriting font is another matter entirely.
After creating an image in the app, like the robot to the left that Miller sketched, you can throw it into Illustrator to adjust your Bézier Curves, add some copy, or combine your new design with other work on your computer. You can even add a background image in Ideas and and create separate layers for drawings and photos.
Miller uses Adobe Ideas to aid him in keeping his notes organized, sketching out ideas, and making notes directly on designs during client meetings. Before a meeting, Reuben sends himself a PDF of his work. He opens the PDF on his iPad, takes a screen capture to quickly save it as a jpg (hit the “Home” and “On/off” buttons simultaneously), and then opens it in Adobe Ideas to mark-up as he pleases. This is not only faster than making edits on paper, it also saves trees.
Adobe Ideas is a free app that can be “purchased” from the iTunes store. Let’s just hope that Apple and Adobe make up soon so we can see more apps like this one.
Industry News | (0) Comments
Here in ad agency-land, having an iPhone is de rigueur. Not only does its sleek design pair nicely with our preferred dress code (jeans, ironic t-shirts, sneakers), but it’s become an essential tool for everything from generating and capturing ideas to keeping in touch with clients and vendors.
This month’s must-have is Evernote. Imagine a virtual scrapbook, filled with all your notes, snapshots and voice recordings. Now imagine that scrapbook is automatically synced up online, and easily searchable. Better yet, imagine being able to search for any text appearing in the photos you upload (e.g. the snapshot you took of that potential client’s business card). Now take all of that and bake it into a slick iPhone app, allowing you to read any note, or create new notes that will then be synced back to your computer. And while you’re at it, make it all free (there is a paid upgrade available, in case the included 40 MB of uploads per month isn’t enough).
Yep, that’s Evernote in a nutshell. As a copywriter, I use it to collect all my fleeting headline ideas, visual reference snapshots and incriminating photos of co-workers (you know who you are). And I’ll bet you’ll find it equally indispensable. Check it out at:
« Newer Articles — Older Articles »