Support Your Local Designer

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are changing colors, the air is getting crisper, I can almost smell the Turkey…and PRINT’s Regional Design Annual has hit stands! This is my favorite annual, purely because of the way the award-winning work is organized. My binding always falls apart, and I have qualms over the way the pieces are shown, but still, it remains the annual I look forward to most. It’s interesting to see geographical trends in design, both aesthetically, and in the business sense. And I like to celebrate my local region for their accomplishments.

I have also found this annual to be extremely helpful. When I first graduated from Syracuse University in 2005, I built my preliminary list of prospective employers based on who had been featured in PRINT that year. And when I decided to move to Winston-Salem from beautiful Beantown, I again looked to PRINT to see what hot shops reigned in Winston. Of course, I realize this practice is slightly absurd since not all worthy agencies are featured in design annuals, nor are all award-winning agencies worthy. But in both cases it seemed a good starting point, so let’s table that topic for another post…

So how did North Carolina do this year, according to PRINT? The intro claims Charlotte, NC to be among one of the few “thriving cities least affected by the slump the subprime mortgage crisis created.” I’m thinking this pub went to press before all the Wachovia merger talks, but I’m hopeful the growth of Charlotte will proceed. Hayes Henderson of HendersonBromsteadArt says Winston-Salem enjoys a “halo effect” from Charlotte’s growth. Trends in Winston-Salem include small, project-based shops and serious competition. Most aren’t experiencing much of a slowdown. Good to hear!

Henderson and David Shapiro of ShapiroWalker Design both observe in their interviews a competitive climate. PRINT backs this claim up with numbers: 35+ firms serving fewer than 200,000 people. Gulp.

Intense competition creates the best work, though, and there is a lot of it coming out of Winston-Salem. I’m constantly impressed by the buzzing design community in this small city. In PRINT’s “North Carolina” section 45% of the pieces came out of the Triad. Below, in no particular order, are a few of my favorites:

HendersonBromsteadArt, Hayes Henderson
Poster announcing 2007 Secrest Artists Series at Wake Forest University: HendersonBromsteadArt, Hayes Henderson

The color scheme and illustration technique in this poster are beautiful, and remind me of what I like most about the covers of “DOWNTOWN: The heart of Winston-Salem” a free pub, the covers of which HendersonBromsteadArt produces.

Shapiro Walker Design, David Shapiro, John Walker, Chris Edwards
Packaging for cookies: Shapiro Walker Design, David Shapiro, John Walker, Chris Edwards

Again, I’m a sucker for packaging design, and had bought a bunch of these cookies based purely on such during a visit last winter. Thankfully, the cookies deliver on the packaging’s promise.

Woodbine, Jason Rapert, Taryl Fultz, Matt Mason, Neil Marion
Self-promotional booklet for Woodbine: Woodbine, Jason Rapert, Taryl Fultz, Matt Mason, Neil Marion

Woodbine has also won an ADDY for this piece and I’d love to get my hands on one. They have also recently launched a rockin’ redesign of their website (You can find the Press Release announcing their ADDY win, and others, under “What’s Happening”.) I love this brand’s color palette and the mantra behind the company.

Elephant in the Room, Andy Trantham, Robert Milam
Invitation to a groundbreaking ceremony for a new baseball stadium: Elephant in the Room, Andy Trantham, Robert Milam

Unique and shapely invitations are always fun, and the type execution in this piece from Elephant in the Room is fantastic. This project caught my eye also by its subject matter: the baseball stadium project intrigues me for its potential for downtown revitalization.

MODE, John Pietrafesa, Ian Varrassi, Maxim Vakhovsky, Becca Bernstein
Stationary for Mode: MODE, John Pietrafesa, Ian Varrassi, Maxim Vakhovsky, Becca Bernstein

While not in Winston-Salem, this agency is close to my heart. Mode is located in Charlotte now, but originally came from Boston.

Lastly, this year’s PRINT annual introduced me to Fifth Letter, a Winston-Salem agency I had not yet checked out. I am especially inspired by their logo design.

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