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design trends

Everything Old is New Again

By | Blog, Design, Happenings

Design Trends

It is a new year–yes, it’s 2018–but it’s also time to shift gears in the seasonal advertising industry. The start of each year brings new design trends, some of which are “Wow! That’s amazing!” and some that are “Meh, I’ve seen that before.” However, just like many trends of the past (think bell-bottoms, hairstyles, and vinyl records), some interesting and very foundational design elements keep coming back to influence our current designs. You might conclude that they never actually left.

What I want to highlight today (and which is back on the list for 2018) is a design technique called Negative Space. The unused space around an element or typography, sometimes also referred to as “white space,” is back in the design trends for 2018. Personally, I think this trend never goes out of style. Nowadays it’s frequently used and it creates really subtle-but-genius interactions for the viewer. It has long been said that white space is sexy. If you don’t think so, look at Calvin Klein, Chanel, and what Apple has done with their advertising in the past decade. That excessive resting space for the brain makes the experience more impactful.

design trends

Negative space doesn’t have to be white, it can be black or any other color that works with the creative intent. A teal background with bold white type? A gray background photo with an elegant logo? Isolating a person or element from a photographic image creates white space and allows the eye to linger on the complex silhouette for a little bit longer. This can be advantageous when wanting someone to chew on what you are selling for a little bit longer.

Negative Space Logo

There are many simple ways to create impactful designs using negative space. Using the space inside an object is a way to combine elements and create negative space in unique ways. Examples might be placing a photograph inside bold type or overlaying a photo over a complex shape from an isolated image. I am often awe-struck by the designs I come across (see a compilation of designs here). With my design biases, I often analyze and examine those design elements to understand how and why they work the way they do (or reinforce what I have already discovered).

design trends

I could claim that in graphic design, like other professional fields, creations of the past will influence the ides of the future. Graphic design basics are something to always fall back to for a creative solution–your foundation of sorts to build new and innovative ideas upon. Putting a new slant on that fundamental design concept might be the next design trend. Who knows…maybe will you be the innovator that might bring that idea to life?


Fabrica Creative


Hello Boredom My Old Friend

By | Blog, Food for thought, Happenings

Boredom: Your arch nemesis. In this time of non-stop technology, it gets a bad rap. It’s one thing that you never want to admit to. Thanks to the mobile device in your hand, you can all but stave it off forever. However, boredom is not all bad. You may spur creativity by daydreaming and allowing the mind to take an alternative route. Ideas and solutions can suddenly erupt from this non-focusing brain exercise.

Instead of looking at boredom as a waste of your time, look at it as a part of the creative process. You must spend several hours a night sleeping to give your body a rest. Why not the same for the brain? A little brain processing downtime might be a good thing!

Some research results suggest that boring activities could result in creativity. In one study at Pennsylvania State University, researchers found that those who were bored outperformed others who were relaxed, elated, or distressed on tests of creativity. In another study done at the University of Louisville, researcher Andreas Elpidorou wrote, “Boredom helps to restore the perception that one’s activities are meaningful or significant.” In the total absence of boredom, we can remain trapped in the same situations and unrewarding outcomes.

First off, change the label you have placed on boredom. Let’s refer to it as a “temporary cognitive vacation.” Who doesn’t like a vacation, right? If you could take a momentary vacation after your busy day, would you say no?

Here are two tips to help:  TIP #1 Make time to take a temporary cognitive vacation (aka being bored). Put down the phone, turn off Netflix, and just do nothing; giving your brain a break from constant stimulation. It may be a modern lifestyle challenge but it can be done easier than you think. Try to build it into your daily or weekly schedule or allow it to occur randomly. TIP #2 Use temporary cognitive vacation (aka boredom) to your advantage. Stuck on brainstorming? Creative brain cramp? Step back and switch your brain to the off position. Go for a walk, bounce that random tennis ball against the floor, wall, and back into your hand (like many movie famous movie scenes where someone is trying to come up with an idea). Take advantage of your brain break and see what happens when you come back and revisit the same creative challenge. If you aren’t on a tight deadline, see if ideas can form naturally over spurts of boredom.

So, if you’re looking to get more creative, get bored. It may be that simple!


-Cal Fenske

Fabrica Creative

Idea Creation

Idea Creation–easier said than done

By | Blog, Design, Food for thought

It has been said that artists are creative experts, however, that is not an idea creation job requirement. Humans are inherently creative in solving problems and the invention of ideas. Often though, the biggest stumbling block is coming up with the “BIG” idea. How you create a “BIG” idea whether, in the outcome of something tangible (product, service, item) or a creative concept (branding, marketing, designs), it is the same dilemma. Here are a few tips to help in idea creation.

Define the Goal
What is the desired end result; a product name? A clever phrase? A marketing strategy to attract attention? Try analyzing the situation to point you in the direction of the goal. Point your boat in the right direction from the start! It can be easy to lose sight or be drawn off-course by a tangent.

Use a Pencil and Paper
Go offline and back to old-school pencil and paper (pencil, pen, marker, highlighter, or stick in the sand)! This allows you to slow down and get engaged. Writing makes the brain think in a different way and can help you remember/trigger memories which might create new ideas. For basic brainstorming, writing can be a huge benefit!

Sometimes it is all about to HOW you do it. Instead of everyone in the room trying to come up with something to throw in the ring, work independently first. Creativity can often be stifled in a group setting; the “best” ideas might go to the lowest innovation, and doesn’t push the creative out-of-the-box ideas! Bring your ideas with you to the table. If everyone brings the best, you start out with a higher level of ideation to begin with and help drive early success.

Conflict & Reaction
Look at the goal from the opposite side. Play the “devil’s advocate” and see what the reactions and conflicts might be. Does your cleverness require too much explaining? Is the word you “created” based off specific industry jargon that misses a broader audience? Take a step back and say, “I know nothing about this,” and see if it still works.

This can be a productive method to find and fix holes in your plan from the outset. Looking in from the outside can be a great perspective when generating ideas. Remember that you know the research, backstory, and context of your design problem, however, the broader audience will not have those insights.

Ready to start pumping out that endless list of needed ideas? Grab your notebook and go to town. The is no time like the present to get started on the next winning idea!

Crumpled Paper - Fabrica Creative

Can You Show Me?

By | Blog, Design, Food for thought, Happenings

That is often a question I will ask a client to get the ball rolling–a question I have been asked many times too. People tend to process visually based off of what we see in the world. The majority of humans, around 65%, are visual learners. What is seen is a great way to share information. This visual experience can sometime be mysterious when trying to understand minimalistic design concepts coming from a creative department.

Not everyone thinks visually (Really? Who knew?). This can be a challenge for a designer when developing something to be seen. The concept of explaining a design is not as simple as it sounds. It has been said many times, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but a thousand words from me still may not convey the same thing a sketch on a napkin would.

A long time ago when I was young in my career, someone said to me, “I’ll know it when I see it.” While that statement helped me little initially, it did help me to understand one thing–If you have eyes, you receive visual information. And that input helps make the final decision. Getting what a client wants or needs is a result of research, analysis, and experience. Creating a layout that surprises, shocks, inspires or initiates thought is the desired result in any given design project.

Sometimes a client may not know what they need, however, it is amazing when presented with an option, they can [usually] put a finger on it immediately and say “Yes that’s what I am looking for” or “No, I don’t like that.” The most important aspect of this process is not the approval, but the engagement of getting someone thinking and responding. It allows both parties to engage and be more productive.

How you design information can have a big impact when it is viewed. Often a really good design looks like it has not received a great deal of attention (i.e. looks basic, simple). Little does the viewer know how many minute adjustments were made, or how much time was used to polish the final product. They just look and say “yes.” A good design often calls little attention and leaves the viewer to consume the visual information with ease.

I have worked on visual translating to help a client in this creation process. It is not something complex. It can start with some very simple questions. Questions like “Blue like the sky or like a blueberry?” or “What is the one thing you are trying to explain to your potential customers?” Direct questions engage the mind and help point the designers in a more accurate direction.

Designing, like any other process, can be a straight shot or a winding path. When done with skill the end result will be a success. Getting there together with the client, is a greater success!