May 12 2016

All Work and No Play Makes Dull Creative Work!

It’s all too easy to get stuck in work mode. Working long hours, rushing to the gym, then going home to eat something and fall asleep. Only to wake up early and do it all again. But as a creative agency–or any type of business, really!–it’s important for us to remember take play breaks.

Design Week Portland helped us take a break a few weeks back. This year’s opening party featured fun and games to help creative types unwind. For me, it can be hard to silence the little voice in the back of my mind, reminding me to send that email or make sure I did that thing I was supposed to do (remember that thing?!). But it was impossible to be distracted by projects and to-do lists while I was snuggling a 5-week-old puppy or defending my Jenga champion crown.

The next day, I felt a little lighter thinking of that adorable puppy and that silly 60-second portrait drawing. Those happy memories brought a smile to my face when I needed a boost, and I felt more ready to take on the creative challenges of my day. A little excitement can go a long way in replenishing those creative juices. People are like cars: we all need to stop and refuel from time to time.

This week, find time to play more. See what happens when you give yourself a recess. Does it make you a happier person? More creative? More inspired?

Creating something fun in a different medium can recharge you for your everyday work.

Creating something fun in a different medium can refresh you for your everyday work.

There's nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!

There’s nothing like a cute puppy to melt away stress and get you ready to create!

When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.

When you need to recharge, try challenging your brain (and your reflexes!) in a fun and different way.



May 06 2016

Bringing strong brand to web design for Random Order Pie Bar

The "Before" Picture: Random Order's old site didn't incorporate their updated branding.

The “Before” Picture: Random Order’s old site didn’t incorporate their updated branding.

When a once-humble pie shop gains a worldwide audience, a lot of eyes will suddenly be looking for it, especially on the internet--a lot of business dream of that level of fame, but not all of them are ready for it! It’s easy for a potential new fan to see you in a magazine or on TV, pull out their smartphone, and go online to find the best pie in Portland. That means the pressure is on your web site to make a great first impression, and give them what they need to find you.

Random Order Pie Bar was more ready for fame than some, when Travel & Leisure magazine first rated their Vanilla Salted Caramel Apple Pie among “America’s Best”. When the owner of Random Order reached out to Team Upswept, they had updated their signage, menus, and other brand assets with a bolder and more polished look, and they also wisely gathered high-quality photos of their beautiful and positively scrummy pies!

But, even with all of these assets in their hands, their brand refresh was far from complete. None of their new brand imagery was being used effectively in their online presence, and they were also losing potential customers because of their not-so-mobile-friendly web site. The overall look-and-feel of the old web site felt heavy and staid, which didn’t fit at all with the welcoming and active environment of their cafe. That’s where Team Upswept came in!

Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order's updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)

Our new homepage design made bigger, better use of Random Order’s updated logo and gorgeous pie photos. (click to embiggen)

Our first order of business was designing the new web site to make the best use of their brand assets. Their updated logo now shows front-and-center with a gorgeous, full-width photo of their now-famous pie, and brand fonts are also used prominently, to tie in with their printed menus and advertisements. Their “Pie to the People” tag line also appears in multiple locations throughout the site, so this clever catch phrase can stick in the minds of future tourists and customers.

We also updated their menus to highlight both their pie flavors and cafe selections, with prominent calls to action for special ordering your favorite pie, or visiting the shop for a coffee drink and a slice. And, of course, we incorporated more of the lovely photos of the food, drinks, and cafe space throughout the site, to share the quality of their hand-crafted treats, and the community they’ve built over the years.

Random Order's new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.

Random Order’s new mobile site achieves the goals of the desktop version and makes it easy to view for people on-the-go.

And, now that Random Order’s reach extends far outside of its Portland, Oregon home, we made sure their web site would be easy to use for visiting tourists and local enthusiasts alike, by building a web site design that displays gracefully on mobile devices. With more and more people using mobile devices to learn about their pies–especially when traveling in from out of town–it’s absolutely critical that Random Order Pie Bar have a mobile site which is easy to use.

The new mobile site for Random Order achieves the same goals as the desktop version, and brings the brighter, more welcoming look to people on-the-go, and folks who are looking to sample a slice or a whole order of their famous pies can easily find their location or contact them with questions or special orders.

If you know me, then you know that I get more than a little excited about pie, so working with people who make some of the absolute best pie in Portland was a total blast. My only complaint? Looking at all of those photos made me so very hungry pie. Maybe that’s my cue to head up to Alberta St. and grab a world-famous slice for myself! 😉

Portland branding and web design by Upswept Creative

Apr 01 2016

Creative Mornings PDX with Jelly Helm

CM_Ethics_2200x1237

“The punch line is…” he said “Ethics have shifted from the tribe to the individual.”

What do donuts, ethics, and creativity all have in common? They were the bright stars of my Friday morning a few weeks ago at Creative Mornings PDX. The donuts, however, were easily outshined by the charming, charismatic speaker, Jelly Helm (there weren’t any jelly donuts, in case you were wondering).

At their core ethics and creativity seem to go hand in hand. The key to developing a creative mind, Helm suggested, lies in empathic understanding and listening. It’s as simple as noticing the world around you. If we can be alert and foster awareness, we can cultivate a sense of what the world needs. Listening is the superpower of the universe.

According to Helm, however, our happiness cannot be fulfilled by solely listening to what the world needs. It also has to fulfill our sense of purpose. Joy is the result of balancing our obligations to ourselves and to the world. He closed the morning with a poem by the Irish poet, John O’Donohue:

Beannacht / Blessing

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

 

Mar 04 2016

Legal Marijuana and Changing Brand Perception

Branding is all about creating a memorable impression of your work that appeals to your ideal client. Sometimes, that means overcoming common assumptions about your product… and when it comes to public perception, legal marijuana dispensaries have an especially tough challenge.

Marijuana was legalized in Portland less than a year ago, and as a previously illegal product, it had a lot of less-than-positive sentiment attached to it. Dispensaries have a lot to gain from the newly-opened market, however, and they’ve taken a few different strategies to help ease our transition from marijuana as a taboo item to a desirable product.

Make cannabis fashionable and high-end.

new-vansterdam

New Vansterdam is a Portland-area dispensary that’s chosen to take the high-end approach to their branding.

One of the splashiest advertisements to pop up was the huge billboard for New Vansterdam, which I first encountered traveling eastbound on the Burnside Bridge. This particular marijuana retailer not only had to combat the stereotypes attached to our idea of the “average” marijuana enthusiast, but it also had to entice a Downtown Portland audience to travel up to the (arguably, not-so-hip) land of Vancouver to replenish their supply.

Making weed into something coveted and “cool” was their game. Their use of sweeping, dramatically-lit landscape imagery and clean, stylized logo design communicated a more exclusive feel at a glance. They also chose their language carefully–referring to themselves as a, “cannabis market,” calls out to the high-end audience that would choose to shop at boutiques with hand-selected wares over a big-box department store.

Emphasize the health aspect.

farma

Farma is one of several cannabis retailers that’s chosen to emphasize the medicinal aspect of the product.

The medicinal uses for cannabis have been a hot topic for years, and some dispensaries have chosen to double down on the health angle–the green cross symbol calls back to the medical connotations of the original red version of the symbol, and it has quickly become an easy, visual shorthand for marijuana dispensaries.

Retailers such as SE Portland’s Farma have taken that medicinal angle a step further, and built their brand using a clean design aesthetic, with an equally clean look to their facility. Even without going inside, a peek through the front window reveals an entryway area boasting clean, white walls, with modern graphic decoration in their iconic green. This all ties in seamlessly with their slogan of, “Dispensing Modern Medicine.”

Make marijuana approachable.

The transition from weed being illegal and frowned-upon, to being both legal and acceptable isn’t going to happen overnight. Oregonians are still getting used to the idea that they can talk about their marijuana use in public, and it isn’t an activity that’s only for ne’er-do-wells.

We can’t help but think that the owners of Hi Casual Cannabis had that in their minds when they created their advertising. Although their brand assets may not be as well-developed as some of the other dispensaries in the area, their sign design is intentionally approachable, using playful type and energetic color.

Their simple decision to use the phrase, “casual cannabis,” is also a smart move: it reaffirms the idea that marijuana is both something that is 100% okay to use, and that people can smoke weed without harming their overall lifestyle. “Casual Cannabis,” sounds more like an ice cream sundae or a double-bacon cheeseburger: it’s a Sometimes Treat that we can enjoy as part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle. 😉

Feb 12 2016

This Weekend! Photobooth at Valentine’s popUP!

12627964_618424141640355_1148175536_nCome see us at the Valentine’s popUP event, and get in on our festive and fun photobooth for Valentine’s weekend! Stop by on Friday for the kick-off cocktail party, or visit us over the weekend and browse some super-amazing locally-made goods. Pick up something special for your sweetie or yourself, or share the experience with someone you like.

And, we’ll bring the fun in our photobooth! We’ll have some fun Valentine’s-y props on hand, and we’ll be ready to make some lighthearted and fabulous photos with you!

Valentine’s popUP at UP Design Lounge
4048 N Williams Ave., Portland 97227

PHOTOBOOTH HOURS:
Friday: 6-8pm (or later!)
Sat. & Sun.: 11am-3pm

12669502_827305957379570_2761030660314064990_n

Jan 27 2016

A Pie-Filled Peek at Smarsh Week 2016

We were pretty pleased to return for Smarsh Week this year, to capture some of the happenings during their activity-filled multi-day event! Employees from the many global offices of this tech company converge in Portland every year, to engage in a variety of events and mixers in and around their Downtown PDX headquarters.

A special treat on the Smarsh Week 2016 agenda was a pie smashing event, done to support fundraising for the Movember Foundation, to help them in their continuing fight against cancer. A dozen-or-so employees offered themselves up as tribute–including several members of their Leadership Team–and together raised over $1000 for the Foundation.

We couldn’t resist this incredibly GIF-able moment featuring CEO Steve Marsh, braving his pie-in-the-face like a champ. Big ups to everyone at Smarsh for being all-around lovely people, and for doing good in the community!

Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.

Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.

Jan 19 2016

On Keeping Projects Moving and Shifting Gears: an interview with Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner

Writing a book is no small undertaking, and neither is being a parent. Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner didn’t shy away from either of those things, though–she resolved to write and edit her first book throughout her pregnancy, and publish it before her little one’s due date! Now, she’s created Roller Derby for Beginners, a definitive roller derby resource book for new skaters that’s available as both a paperback and an e-book, and even maintained a companion web site of resources to go with it.

Now, that companion site is taking on a new life: RollerDerbyForBeginners.com has become an ongoing blog of tips, information, and resources for new roller derby skaters, “to help new skaters be better athletes, make sense of their new world, and get the reassurance that though their derby journey is their own, there’s a lot that we have in common.” It wasn’t the easiest decision to shift gears and find a new purpose to the site, but things are looking bright for the new site.

We checked in with Frisky to pick her brain on how to keep a long-term project moving, and on shifting gears and making changes to your original vision.

Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book.

Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book. (photo courtesy of author)

UPSWEPT: Roller Derby For Beginners was your first published book–what parts of creating and promoting it were the most important to you?

FRISKY: I think the most important aspect of me making a product was to make sure that it was worth buying. I mean, I’d rather make zero dollars and help someone than make a million dollars by bilking people $14.95 at a time. My volunteer early readers were absolutely essential to forming the book into something that was useful to all kinds of skaters with all kinds of experiences. I’m just me, and I skated for two leagues. Getting feedback from my beta readers and learning through their lenses was just as important as hiring good editors. (Hire good editors.)

UPSWEPT: Longer-term projects can be tough to manage. What did you do to keep the book project moving, and keep yourself motivated?

FRISKY: I had this kinda big deadline looming over me in the form of pregnancy. Then, I had a successful Kickstarter, so I HAD to finish, or else [I’d] be that jerk. Luckily for all those Kickstarter supporters, Baby Sour came a week after his due date, and I’d planned to take that time off anyway. I absolutely cannot recommend trying to figure out the finer points of formatting and page breaks in Word on four hours of sleep, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

UPSWEPT: Writing a book isn’t easy! What were some of the bigger challenges of creating and promoting your book?

FRISKY: What with the baby and all, my promotion plan became kind of helter skelter. I thought I’d have time to market after the kid was born, but, um, no. No one ever has more time later, least of all when they suddenly get a 24-hour on-call job.

Writing the thing was just work. I had a plan, and just chipped away at it slowly. People are impressed by that part, but it comes naturally to me as a writer to put words on a page, edit, edit, ask for help, and edit again. Knowing how to pitch this book and reach my very particular audience was the problem, especially with a pretty small marketing budget.

UPSWEPT: What made you decide to shift gears and turn your book companion site into an active blog? Is there anything that made the transition from book to blog difficult?

quotation_goal-settingFRISKY: It was a path that should have been obvious [to me] a few years ago, but it was hard to let go of my old roller derby blog. It didn’t even have a roller derby name or URL–it was personal blog that just sort of evolved to being about roller derby. It became a place to blog for beginning skaters, so it only made sense to kill off the old blog and really focus on making one site that served all those needs.

I still have to figure out a few details, like whether to transfer some old content to the new site. The only problem is that I’m learning more all the time that I wish could be in the book! That’s the beauty and the detriment of digital publishing. I hope I can just cover the basics in the book, get people rolling, and then bring them to the blog for the details. (Of course, I’m hoping to draw new [book] readers via the blog as well.)

The new blog concept is an experiment at this point, to see what kind of content people want. I want to keep putting out useful information and paying writers for it.

UPSWEPT: Do you have any advice for people who might want to publish or blog in the future?

FRISKY: I’m a professional blogger and writer, and the most common problem I see is starting without a clear goal or focus. Do you want to share your story? Sell a product? Get more exposure? Focus on a goal as early as possible, so you don’t spin your wheels in a million directions. But at the same time, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There are just different strategies for accomplishing your goals and catching those dreams. Messing up and learning along the way is part of the deal.

Jan 11 2016

Breaking It Down: Setting Goals for 2016

The Future Is In Your Hands! Start Setting Goals and Make a Plan for 2016!

It’s a new year, and everyone has resolutions and setting goals on their mind. If you’re anything like us, you might start feeling sort of anxious or overwhelmed about all the possibilities. You keep telling yourself to floss more, drink more water, go on vacation, catch up with friends and family, do yoga, etc.

Setting Goals for business: physical, emotional, relationalTo help combat the anxiety that comes with having so many options, we like to break our goals up into categories: the Physical, the Emotional, and the Relational. Some of those examples may apply more directly to you as a business owner (seriously, go on vacation!) than others, the basic principle still applies. In what ways can your business improve physically, emotionally, and relationally? Here are a few suggestions:

The Physical

Everyone has something about their office that makes life harder. The printer never works. You don’t have enough space. Where have all the pens gone? Take this time to reflect on your physical space, and come up with some ways that you might be able to improve it.

The Emotional

Have you ever noticed how great it feels to do something nice for someone else? Find an organization that matters to you and give what you can. whether it’s time as a volunteer or a regular donation, you’ll notice your happiness levels increasing.

The Relational

Is it time to expand your network? There’s nothing like bouncing ideas off fellow business owners for feedback or support. Think about joining a network or organization that’s related to your business to spice up your relationships.

Don’t Know Where To Start Setting Goals? We’ve Got Your Back.

We’re growing and changing here at Upswept HQ, too, and that means we can do more for you AND do it better. We have some awesome new team members coming aboard to lend you a helping hand, whether it’s with the small stuff, or the big visions. (you’ll meet them soon!)

  • Struggling with the Physical? We can help you make your business look fabulous on the outside with strong design, attractive and usable web solutions, and smart content strategy.
  • Looking for the Emotional center of your business? When you do a branding and web project with us, we’ll be taking you through a more in-depth Discovery process, so you feel confident in your message and do better business.
  • Feeling disconnected on the Relational side of things? We’re now taking on Social Media Management! We can help you create new content, manage campaigns, and navigate the technical side for you, so you don’t have to waste your precious day-to-day on Facebook.

We can help you formulate an action plan for making your brand image smarter and prettier in the new year. A consultation with us is always free, and we love helping you grow! Click the link below, answer a few questions about your project, and we can take the wheel.

Talk to us! We like you already. »

Hearts, successes, and good vibes to you in the coming year!

Nov 17 2015

Photos from 2015 Swashbuckler’s Ball

Photos from the 2015 Swashbuckler’s Ball are now online!

Did you see us in action at the Swashbuckler’s Ball? We were happy to return for another year to capture this “grand night out for pirates, buccaneers and nautical miscreants of all stripes,” and now have candid event photos from the event online!

You can take a look through the online gallery, download your favorites, and even order prints of your most memorable moments. Just click the button to see the full gallery.

View the Full Photo Gallery »

Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's BallPortland event photography - The Young Dubliners at the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball

Nov 11 2015

Who Shapes a Photo: the Photographer, or the Subject?

Portland Headshot Photography - Heather Arndt Anderson

What does an honest photo look like? It might involve looking confident while NOT having a big, toothy smile.

I recently saw this video experiment (“6 Photographers Capture the Same Person But Their Results Vary Wildly Because of a Twist“) and started thinking about past clients I’ve worked with. Fashion and commercial photography is a different animal than what’s shown here, but much of the photography work that comes through Upswept HQ is professional headshots or personal branding–in other words, a type of photo that is very much about the person being photographed.

One of the biggest challenges of photography (and also one of my favorite ones) is the same goal that was stated by more than one photographer in this little experiment: to say something about who the subject is. All of these photographers are accomplished, skilled in technique, lighting, concept, and all created results that, while different from each other, were consistent with their individual understanding of who the subject was.

A question that I always endeavor to ask, in some form or another, is, “what do you want this photo to say about you?” Everyone has a different answer–maybe it’s about who the photo is “for,” whether it’s the subject or another audience. Maybe they want to reveal or emphasize something that they feel is hidden from view. Or, maybe the subject is fixated more on what they want to hide than what they want to show.

It’s about Trust.

Portland fashion photography - Carolyn Hart

A meaningful moment often comes when we just let go and laugh, instead of being perfectly poised.

Ultimately, there has to be a certain amount of trust. The subject needs to trust the photographer enough to show their true selves honestly, and the photographer has to trust what the subject is giving them is true. So, when the subject isn’t completely truthful (as in this video), that of course has a striking impact on the end result.

A photo is certainly shaped by the person behind the camera, but with a more sensitive and collaborative approach, a photo is also shaped by who the subject thinks they are, and what parts of that they’re willing to share–whether or not that’s who they are deep down. In order to for us to really be photographed, we have to truly know ourselves, to be able to be honest with ourselves, *and* to be willing to share ourselves with our photographer.

Perhaps that’s a tall order for a lot of us. But, if we choose to work with photographers that we trust in, we can find some really beautiful, honest, and moving moments.