Archive for April, 2009

The Gradation Effect

Ever since Obama’s marketing team has stormed the internet, I’ve noticed internet graphics that are trying to look young, fresh, hip (whatever you want to call it- if I keep going I’m going to sound lame and old) taking their graphics to that same aesthetic.

That aesthetic… GRADATION. It’s what makes things not look 2-D. It’s a 2-dimensional way of saying… ok, I know this is supposed to look like it’s popping off the page, so this is how I’m pretending like it is.
I was pondering where it started to take sail. I think perhaps Microsoft might have started it. At the very least, they’ve been using that blue color, ya- this one for a while now. If your on a PC, look at the bar at the bottom of your monitor, it’s blue and it’s- oh yes, gradient. I’m on Windows XP, which is practically a dinosaur in computer terms and there it is. (I fear even saying this- where’s some wood? Geez, don’t jinx me for pointing out how old my computer is…)


So they may have started it- maybe not. Actually, it’s probably a web design tool that started to take hold in some toolbar in some program I don’t understand…). And they may have been the first to show us we like that blue. But boy, the mac world made it cool.

It started subtle, with the song highlight bar on our ipods. It was different, and it became a subliminal part of why we felt cool for having one. You didn’t realize it, but it was.
Shiny. Clean. We like this.

And now… start noticing, it’s everywhere… the gradation effect.
And yes… even Obama jumped on that train- to successful results, of course. His marketing team are gradation whores you could say, it’s EVERYWHERE on his site.

And we love that glaring gradient button… click me, move your mouse over me, that’s right. Do it. CLICK ME!!!! Oh my god, I just gave $20 to Obama… what? I mean, I would have probably, (and I did, actually) but hmmm… was it the button, or was it the message? Oh my.
So if you want to make a glaring, gradient, fancy button… here it is. Step by step.
Happy button making!

Happy Earth Day!

Some of you may have noticed we’ve recently added an extra page on our website titled, “our green story”. It dawned on us that we’ve always been a “green” company, we just never took the time to let people know! So happy Earth Day everyone! Maybe you’re out there appreciating the sunshine (at least in Chicago it’s a gorgeous day), perhaps planning your home garden, changing your bulbs, recycling your newspapers… Here’s our green story, in a nutshell.


Reggie the Cat

Amanda and I have made the walk between Spilled Ink Press headquarters and the Western Brown line stop about a million times, and it’s always nice to see our buddy Reggie on the way. Reggie is a big orange cat that hangs out around Lincoln Square. We were calling him Charlie for a long time until I thought to look at his tag. Yeah he’s got a tag and lives in the area, but he gets a lot of freedom to roam and interact with his neighbors. He’ll usually walk with you for awhile if you stop to pet him, unless he is lounging comfortably. Actually, he usually walks us to the corner of his block, but no further. And he always chatters at you. Today we saw him hanging out in a big pot like it was a throne or something, right outside of Cafe Selmarie.

We’re hitting the airwaves!


I guess the saying, “time is money” couldn’t be proven more true than the rate that the radio industry works!

We went downtown this morning to record our radio ad with WLIT (previously supposed to be on WNUA, but with the help of our fantastic Clear Channel sales rep, Jeff, we determined WLIT was a better fit). And by the time we got home on the trusty brown line, our ad was mixed, edited, voodoo magic’ed and sitting in our inbox!

The whole experience was very exciting and just a bit nerve racking. We got there and Jeff whisked us away into a sound booth. There sitting across from us was Dave Hilton, a radio personality on WLIT who had a voice that flowed out of his mouth like maple syrupy goodness. He read the script out loud with suggestions as how to pace it and emphasize it and it made me fully appreciate why he does what he does and I do what I do. It’s just a 30 second commercial, but his time and attention to making sure it sounded good put me just a little more at ease and you could definitely tell that after about the third time reading through it. He played it back to us and as Tony said, if my voice really did sound like that (after doing above-mentioned voodoo), he wouldn’t ever have any troubles hearing me- I’m a soft talker if you didn’t know that already. My lungs push words out about as far as my nose. I guess with all that equipment and mixing, even soft-talkers like me can sound normal! So after trying it a few times, we all determined it was good to go and we were off.

It will start running on Monday, April 13th and run for about 6 weeks. Wow, we’ve come a long way from harassing all of our friends to vote for us to having a real live radio ad. This is probably small potatoes to most businesses, but to Tony and I (and the unwavering Sheridan-the-cat), it’s kind of a big deal. Thanks again everyone for helping make this happen!!

So without further ado… here it is…. probably not Dave Hilton quality syrupy goodness, but we’re pretty happy with it!

LOUIE Awards, here we come…

Did you know that Americans exchange 7 billion greeting cards a year??? Seriously. 7 billion. That’s almost beyond comprehension.

This is why the Greeting Card Association exists. A group that keeps the stationery industry life blood flowing. Every year at the National Stationery Show in New York City they host the LOUIE Awards… which is basically the Oscars for us in the card and invitation biz (named after Louie Prang, who of course invented the Christmas card, what else?). There is a big gala and dinner (I’m wondering if there will be a red carpet… ok, ok, I’m getting a little carried away, I know- it’s New York, not Hollywood…) where they announce the winners- which are whittled down from over 800 international applicants.
Well lookie here, guess who is a finalist? WE ARE!! Check it out. Scroll down… keep going… This is what you see:

Personalized Invitation/Announcement ($5 & Below)

Charu Overseas

Kat Blue Art & Design Studio

Spilled Ink Press

This is the invitation we entered:


It’s our layered invitation style, with a copper colored wax seal. It has three pages (invitation, reception with map on the backside, and perforated RSVP postcard), all fitting inside a long skinny #10 envelope. Neat, tidy, elegant, and no extra postage. Taa Daa.
More pic’s and the design back-story here.

Now here’s hoping it’s neat, tidy, and elegant enough to win us our first LOUIE Award!!

Here are a few other pictures of the accessories from this wedding job: