Posts filed under ‘graphic design’

Beauty of Experience Design

Before deciding to write this blog post, I started making comments on my Twitter feed and my Facebook page about my love of intelligent experience design. According to Wikipedia, experience design is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions, with less emphasis placed on increasing and improving functionality of the design.

Um…. What?
OK, yes, it’s true… what they said. I’m focusing more on the “environments” part of that definition. To me, experience design is a well-thought out space that communicates the meaning of an event, time or place through visuals and typography that creates an impact on the viewer. For my fellow Nashvillians, think of Bicentennial Mall. Every time I visit this park, my stomach does flips. If you’ve never been, let me lay it out for you…

map used by National Folk Festival

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood, the city of Nashville fashioned a commemorative park to honor all of the achievements, people of significance and  historical facts about this state. This park is very long and narrow. Starting on the south side of the park closest to the city lies a beautiful, detailed map of the state which rests in the shadows of the State Capitol building.

The designer used patterns, texture and colors to detail the differences between the waterways and highways, the counties and the cities, etc. To commemorate the history of the state, a series of small stands exhibit more details of the city including its topography, rivers, settlement, etc. Traveling under the railway bridge pavilion is a water installation showcasing each one of Tennessee’s major rivers. During warm weather, these fountains will shoot straight up. The falling water lands on the surrounding concrete creating the sound of rushing water.

Walking on the west side of the park (my favorite side), on the left of the walkway are large marble towers spaced evenly down the length of the park representing a decade in the state’s history starting with 1786.

On the right, are quotes and descriptions of what was happening in Tennessee during that time. Some particular parts of this wall (which is only about 4′ high) are at the year 1786 when Tennessee became a state. The initial installation at the wall was a drinking fountain and the words, “Drink to Statehood” are blasted in the marble surrounding it. Since the flood in Nashville in May 2010, this fountain had to be removed due to damaged water pipes.

Continuing down the wall, soon after passing the year 1846, the wall cracks and marks Tennessee’s separation from the Union during the Civil war and the divide of the North and South.

The copy at the separation point mentions Tennessee as being the last state to secede from the Union. In 1866, Tennessee was then the first state to rejoin the Union, so the wall mends the break and continues on down to 1986. Along the way, it discusses how the Tennessee Volunteers, Oprah, the involvement in World War II, and many other quotes and facts about the state.

At this point, the visitor reaches the gem of the park, the Carillon Ring. A carillon is a set of bells in a tower which is played by using a keyboard or automatic mechanism similar to a piano (thank you Webster). These bells symbolize the music of Music City. At their feet lay the names of the great musician who were born in Nashville.

This is the northern most point of the park. If you turn and continue south along the other side of the park, you’ll see how the state is divided into three sections: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee. While walking down this sidewalk, you will pass the names of every county in the state surrounded by the state’s tri-star emblem.

…. So why the detail about Bicentennial Mall?
Recently, a new experience design park was opened which I am dying to visit: the 9/11 Memorial Park. Without going into too much detail about the factual significance behind this park, just understand that I think it is the most heart-felt, inspiring, beautiful way the city of New York could commemorate the victims of that day. Both waterfalls lay in the footprint of the original Twin Towers and are surrounded by beautiful shrubbery. To understand more about the meaning behind the park, read this from the designer himself.

Now that I’ve shared two of my favorite experience design environments, I’m curious. Is there a space near you that’s similar to these two incredible locations? Please comment below and share.


September 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

GS: Logo, Identity & Brand Part 2: LOGO

Last week on GS, we discussed the general differences between a logo, an identity and a brand. In the next few posts, I will dissect each of these words more in-depth.

You remember this image to help illustrate how they all relate:

Today, we will start to discuss these in more detail, starting with the triangle: LOGOS.
A logo, or logotype, is a graphic representation or mark symbolizing a company name, trademark, abbreviation, etc often uniquely designed for ready recognition. (Source)

At 4th Leaf Design Studio, to reach a better understanding of what our clients want for their logo, I have categorized logos into three groups. Almost all logos can easily fit within one of these; shown in no particular order.
PLEASE NOTE: I have no affiliation with any of the represented companies. I am just using their logos for examples. These views strictly of 4th Leaf Design Studio’s.


Typographic logos are basically a company or brand’s name spelled out with a clever use a type. In many cases, the designer will alter a typeface to fit the look the company wants or they may combine typefaces to create another feeling. Below are several samples of typographic logos.

Notice how the designer for the FedEx logo strategically altered the typeface to create a forward moving arrow between the E and x. The Coca-Cola logo has been around for decades with very minor changes. The elaborate script typeface, change in baseline (where the bottom of the letters sit) height and the differences in the C’s create an interesting composition in the logo that has made it timeless. The baseline changes and mixed typography of the Ebay logo emphasizes how approachable and playful the site can be.

2– Lock-Up Logos (or Marks)

These are logotypes that use a combination of a graphic (be it an image, a ligature or some other graphic) and the typographic representation of the company. The reason these logos get their own category is because they are recognized both as a lock-up and separately by each individual piece. A successful lock-up logo considers the proportion of the mark to the size of the type associated. When a brand with a lock-up logo becomes successful, they can easily use just their image without NEEDING the adjoining type spelling out the name.

Take Nike for instance. You recognize this as the company logo:
… but because of their wonderful marketing and recognizable graphic, you also understand this to be the same company:
Many companies are recognizing a use for having a lock-up logo. Nike simply brands each of their shoes, hats, and any other active wear by using just their mark. This saves a lot of real estate on their items for other graphics.

Another unique notion about these lock-up logos is their ability to be altered to fit any orientation. They can be in a vertical layout, a horizontal and as just the graphic (as discussed above). NBC does a great job of making sure their logo is used in whatever orientation best fits.

3– Crest Logos

I don’t just mean logos that look like something plastered on a knight’s shield, although the Lamborghini logo is a nice representation of that! These logos succeed in communicating everything about the company all combined in its own holder.

There is not one particular shape that is the best to use, but rather you use the shape that best fits what you’re trying to communicate. If you remember several years back, the UPS logo went under a make-over.

The reason this make-over was so widely accepted is because it kept the same integrity of the original logo and the successes it had while giving the new logo a more modern / streamlined look.

The NFL’s logo was also simplified recently. In the past, it had a star to represent each team in the league. It made the logo dated and incredibly busy. Now the NFL shield is a much simpler version of the original highlighting the 8 divisions of the league rather than every team.



As a business owner, it’s important to understand that your logo is your customer’s first real impression of who you are. Be sure to have a logo that represents the formality of your company, the approachability of who you are and a general concept of what you do. Understand the style of logo that will also work best for you. For example, if you’re a photographer needing to watermark your images, you may want to have your name spelled out so it is clear that the image belongs to you. This “little” image is your stamp that will go on EVERYTHING you do. What does your logo say about you? Are you happy with the way your logo represents you as a company? Will your clients be able to recognize your logo as a stand-out amongst your competitors?

Now, if you ask anyone what their company’s logo is, I’m sure they will be able to show it to you correctly. That’s great! But the question is: Do you know how to use your logo correctly? To learn more about understanding how to use your logo, check back for the discussion about identities.

October 19, 2010 at 6:06 pm 3 comments

GS: Logo, Identity & Brand Part 1: An Overview

On this first real Graphically Speaking (GS) post, I’m going to begin a four-part discussion about the differences between a brand, and identity and a logo. These are three words that are commonly intertwined and misused, but they have very different meanings although they all relate at the same time. To start off, I wanted to give you a quick little overview of what each of these words mean. In the subsequent posts, I will go into more detail of what each one really is and how it helps your company and business.

It’s probably easiest to help you define them visually. If these basic shapes represent each piece:

then this represents how they relate to one another:

In other words, the logo is part of the identity which is part of the overall brand.

According to Merriam-Webster, each is defined as follows (as closely related to design):
logo: 1. short for logotype; 2. an identifying symbol
identity: 1. sameness of essential or generic character in different instances; 2. distinguishing character or personality
brand: 1. a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer: make; 2. a characteristic or distinctive kind

All are very close to the way I would define them. Here at 4th Leaf, they are all defined as:
logo: the physical representation of a company’s name, product name or service name
identity: the essential element, colors, typefaces, images, graphics and patterns used to help visually distinguish the brand
brand: the company/product/service name and everything it represents; the emotional perception generated by a particular company, product or service

Through this, you should see how the logo is the starting point for creating a successful brand. After the logo is designed, then the designer can start to create the company’s identity which then will define its brand.

On the next GS, I will be discussing in further detail what a logo is, how 4th Leaf goes about creating a logo and  how we help our clients define themselves.

October 12, 2010 at 5:01 pm 2 comments

Graphically Speaking (GS)

Do you know the difference between a font and a typeface?

What is a color hue, saturation, value, tint or shade?

Do you know what a vector files is compared to an image file?

What exactly is a pixel or a dot when talking about a DPI or PPI? What is a DPI or PPI?

One reason I decided to start my own business is to be able to have more communication with my clients so I can better design for them. However, like every profession, we graphic designers tend to have our own vocabulary that we use and not everyone really understands what we’re saying. Most of the time, we don’t even realize that our vocabulary isn’t part of your vernacular. Instead of asking questions and learning, they pass right on through. If you are someone who doesn’t like to ask questions when a designer rambles on and on about your image resolution, the typography kerning within a ligature or even when discussing commonly used words like logos, identities and brands, then pay attention to these upcoming posts on Graphically Speaking (GS).

The first series of GS posts will focus on the differences between a logo, identity and a brand. These will be weekly posts to help you out! Understand how to speak to your graphic designer and impress them with what you know! Trust me, your meetings will them will go much more smoothly if you are both speaking the same language.

If you have heard a phrase used by your graphic designer that you didn’t understand or if you want an explanation on something you’re heard, comment below and I’ll be sure to talk about that in future GS posts!

October 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

A Little Lesson on Typography

While going through my back-log of blogs that I like to read, I came across this on from Envelopments discussing the use of type in you work. In the post, there was a great video using kinetic typography to teach some of the basic lessons on typography I learned in school. The video visually demonstrates the differences between tracking, leading and kerning type as well as how typefaces have evolved. It’s remarkably done! Very impressed with this video!

Want to see more videos like these? Check out this link for more examples of kinetic typography.

If you were not already aware, I am an Envelopments dealer/designer. If you are interested in anything you see on their site, please feel free to contact me for more information.

October 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

WOW! Time really can fly by when you’re having fun!

Over the past couple weeks, several people have started to ask me about my blog and when I was going to update it next. To be honest, I’ve been so busy that it has completely slipped my mind! To give you an idea of what I’ve been doing since April 29 (wow, that’s embarrassing!), here’s a quick snap shot look:

Jessica & Derrick’s wedding invitations:

Hillary & Samuel’s wedding invitations:

Lauren & Tim’s wedding invitations (I’ll elaborate more on these later):



Lauren & Tim’s Wedding Poster to decorate Houston Station on their wedding day:

Lauren & Tim’s rehearsal invitations:

I’ve also created the invitations for and hosted Lauren’s bridal shower! It was a huge success and the invites were adorable… if I do say so myself! I’ll post more on this soon!

Chelsea & Blake’s wedding invitations: (of course you’ll see more on these soon, too)

Erin & Anthony’s wedding invitations & custom designed patters:

Family trip to San Francisco, complete with a custom 4th Leaf Design Studio t-shirt:

James Chesser website, business card, bumper sticker, letterhead redesign:


business card

bumper sticker


Innovative Media website redesign:



Ridgetop Apartments logo:

I am now the assistant varsity and head JV coach at Page High School in Williamson County! Been working on our practice shirt designs as well as many other shirts for the girls:

Becktold wedding album:

(photos by Joe Hendricks Photography)

Lately, I’ve really been putting a lot of time and energy into my business, especially in terms of marketing. Here’s a quick look at my website I’ve been working on, minus any work of course:

… and last, but certainly not least, I got a new puppy! He’s absolutely precious and much more time-consuming than I could have imagined!
Meet my precious little Hilo (pronounced HEE-low) von Loxley McNeil!

Whew! That was quite a bit to cover in a short time! The scary thing… that’s not everything I’ve been working on! Still so much more going on here at 4th Leaf Design Studio. Stay tuned to see more!

August 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm 1 comment

The Value of Your Stationery

With more and more brides becoming DIY-ers to save money, it seems that the first things they try to do themselves are planning/coordination and designing their own stationery. It’s understandable why most brides do this: you’ve planned parties before, plus there are resources galore to help you out, you have Micosoft Word, you’ve seen other invitations… so how hard can it really be, right?

I can assure you that my wedding wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly as it did without the help of my amazing planner. In fact, the first thing I recommend to every friend or bride-to-be who asks for suggestions on planning is, “Hire a great wedding planner.”

These next few topics communicate the importance of hiring a quality stationer and discuss why a stationer will charge a certain fee.

Reasons to Hire a Quality Designer:
. Now we’ve all heard the old adage from our childhood saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” No come on, how many of you have actually lived up to this? I know I tend to be drawn to wines based on their labels, perfume based on its bottle shape, stores based on their window displays, and various products solely based on their packaging. I know I’m not alone in this. For this reason remember that, “The first impression is the most important.”

When it comes to your wedding, your invitation suite is the very first visual that your guests will have for your day. It will set the tone for your event, and if you hire a quality designer, your invitations will emphasize those special details that will set your wedding apart from any other. Your invitations really help to generate excitement for your big day.

INVITATIONS ARE A LASTING MEMORY. When all is said and done, after the cake was cut and all the guests have gone home, what is it that you are left with from your wedding? You will only have your dress (if you choose to keep it and get it cleaned), your photography and videography and finally, your printed goods. Most people don’t think about the last one, but at my rehearsal, my grandparents brought my mom and dad’s wedding invitation to share. This was amazing! They started talking about the events that led up to the time before the ceremony, what has happened at the location since that day, etc. It was incredible to hear them reminisce about the memories created by seeing their invitation again!

Today’s invitations, save-the-dates, programs, menus, etc can leave an even bigger impression. They highlight the colors of your event, the formality, that little graphic detail you wanted to bring into every piece of your day, they create such a wonderful mood and feeling by using creative typography and layouts.

ETIQUETTE. Do you know how to word your invitation if you’re being married in a church versus a park? How do you determine who is listed first on the invitation? How do you address an invitation to an unmarried couple living together with children? How do you word the invitation if you want it to be adults only? Is it appropriate to include registry information in the mailed invitation? A good stationer can answer all of these questions for you.

Talking Money:
YOUR BUDGET. Recently, I have had several brides approach me wanting one of my unique styles of invitations for their event. After I spent the time to create several price options for them, they turn around and admit that they had only budgeted $2.00 for each invitation! Friends, this is very upsetting to hear, not just because of the above mentioned topics but because an impersonal, mass-produced Hallmark card typically costs $3.50 each. A budget of $2 an invitation tells me that a bride is more serious about wishing grandma happy birthday than she is about welcoming people to one of the most important events in her life!

OK, maybe that’s a little crude, but most wedding invitations START at a MINIMUM of $3.00 each. These invitations are typically 2 individual cards designed to look pretty and communicate the events of your day and the envelope they will be sent in. A pocketfold invitation will START around $5.00 each and just go up from there.

WHERE THE COST COMES FROM. These topics outline the reasons for a stationer’s prices. The first three are pretty obvious, but the last couple are things to think of when considering a stationer:
1) TIME. If you did happen to try to create your own invitation, you know that they are very time-consuming. If you choose to have a custom design, the designer will probably spend around 5-10 hours on your design including corresponding with you, meeting with you, choosing papers, choosing type, laying out the type, finding or creating the desired graphics, going through revisions, etc.

2) NUMBER OF ELEMENTS. Just as your guest list directly affects your budget and vice versa, the number of pieces included in your invitation will directly affect its price as well. A basic invitation is the announcement and the RSVP card. Now invitations may also include at least one or more enclosures such as a directions card, accommodations card, transportation/parking information and other wedding events (rehearsal dinner, next day brunch). Each piece adds cost to the overall price of the invitation.

3) TYPE OF MEDIA. Thankfully it’s still considered tacky to send an electronic wedding announcement, but the online RSVP has become more and more common; although, brides still want a card drawing attention to their wedding website for details. When it comes to printing, there are several factors that will change the cost of the invitation, mainly the type of paper and the type of printing.

  • PAPER: the finish (matte, glossy, shiny, textured, etc) and the weight/thickness of the paper will affect its cost
  • PRINTING: Basic printing is called digital or color copy depending on where you go. If you want something foil stamped, hand written, embossed, letterpressed or even offset, it will increase the printing fees for that invitation.

4) THIS IS OUR CAREER/LIVING. A designer with a degree in graphic design from an accredited school will charge a base fee of $50-$200+ per hour for freelance design work. WHY? We are specialized for one. We’ve studied why certain typefaces look better together, why certain object size ratios work, how a type layout will compliment the surrounding images, why certain colors look better next to each other, etc. ALSO the government fees and general cost of living; we have self-employment taxes, gas charges, bills, federal and state fees, etc.

5) PLAGIARISM & COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. This is a topic not many people want to discuss, but it’s a concern of ours. We work very hard to create unique layouts and designs for our clients. These form our style of design. If a designer’s style is copied by someone else, then they lose their own personal style and design identity. This is a very sticky subject that designers take to heart. Check out this link to understand the differences between “being inspired by” a project and copying that project.

A special thank you to Jessica Bishop for her input.

April 29, 2010 at 9:24 pm 2 comments

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