Creative Thinking for The Blogging Bee

The Blogging Bee website, designed by Adunate.com

Last week Chris Kirsch and I were excited to kick off The Blogging Bee, a collaborative venture in teaching fiber-istas the fine art of blogging. Today I’m going to approach The Blogging Bee from an art director’s view. I want to share our creative thinking and explain just how it is campaigns such as ours come to be.

Our Challenge

One day months ago, Chris mentioned many of her fiber friends would love to blog but don’t know where to begin. Would I be interested in teaching them? I jumped at the idea. I regularly teach my clients to blog and they quickly learn it offers great benefits to their business.

And so, The Blogging Bee was born.

The Blogging Bee logo

Our Target Market

Quilters—all fiber artists, in fact—are as diverse as a patchwork quilt. Yet, according to a recent Quilting in America survey, the average “Dedicated Quilter” is female, about 64, well-educated (79% attended college), has a household income in excess of $100,000 and has been quilting an average of 20.3 years.

Quilters are becoming a tech savvy bunch. Five years ago when I introduced Chris to blogging, a concern was that many of her peers barely used email, let alone the internet. Today, she averages more than 1100 views a week on Chris Lynn Quilts. Quilters are looking to get cross-creative with their fiber art. They want to challenge the analytical side of their brain. Blogging is just the thing, especially when taught in a personalized, hands-on method—the very way they’ve been learning fiber techniques all these years.

The Blogging Bee website, designed by Adunate.com

Our Brand: A Romantic Contrast of Old and New

I have two antique sewing machines with drawers stuffed full of vintage gadgetries. Their emotional factor is priceless. They also create an interesting, if not paradoxical, brand. In addition to using them in our website imagery, I also started an Instagram photo series the week before our kickoff. I plan to continue this through April so be sure to check it out.

Here’s where the paradox happens: Even though our look is vintage, our design is trendy. And for very good reasons.

Our website uses a responsive framework, complete with scrolling navigation, full screen images and large text. Being mindful of our target market, we want to make our message easily readable on whatever device the viewer chooses.

We’re also trendy with color. Drumroll, please, for Pantone’s 2016 Colors of the Year: Rose Quartz and Serenity!

Pantone is the leading color authority and each year it introduces its attention-getting Color of the Year (this year it chose two). While Pantone is most associated with the printing industry, it inevitably sets the trend for interior design, fashion and…fiber arts. Naturally, this season’s fabrics will show lots of pink and blue, and with Dedicated Quilters spending an average of $3,296 annually on quilting-related purchases, you can bet they’ll notice this color trend.

Pantone poetically describes its 2016 colors as an “inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.” Our goal was to bring this intrigue to our brand. The Blogging Bee is a romantic contrast of old and new, from the glorious tradition of quilting to the exciting, new levels of online technology.


If you’re in southeastern Wisconsin and want to learn blogging, check out The Blogging Bee. If you’re a business and want this same creative attention for your marketing, check out Adunate!

How Fun – A Promotional Photo Series!

Vintage Needles and 1910 calendar

One of my goals for the year is to challenge myself with something new. That opportunity came along right away in January when my walking partner proposed a brilliant collaboration. Since then we’ve been busy planning, scheduling, designing, and doing whatever in preparation for a big opening this Friday, April 1. No April Fool jokes happening here!

In the meantime, I want to share some vintage advertising I found stashed in a drawer. For the rest of the week I’ll be posting these and a few more treasures on my Instagram. Be sure to check them out!

Art Nouveau in advertising

I’ve always loved art nouveau and according to this history, it was a popular medium for advertising from the 1880s until World War I. This is the cover to the 1910 calendar above.

Advertising copy for wright's Fancy Patent Flour

Who says copywriters aren’t fun? Or creative? This reminds me of the Rollings Reliable Baking Powder story contest in Anne of Green Gables!

Stay tuned until Friday!

Difference Between Giving and Taking? NYPL’s 187,000 Images

Dinner by Food and Cookery Magazine“DINNER [held by] FOOD AND COOKERY (MAGAZINE) [at] “THE MONICO, LONDON, [ENGLAND]”

Generally, professional designers don’t like crowdsourcing. We hold little enthusiasm for so-called “opportunities” offered by profitable companies to submit work—for free, of course—in hopes of winning their approval (like when Dog é Style Restaurant announced its logo contest). In most cases, crowdsourcing results in companies taking a lot for themselves and giving very little to designers.

That’s one side of the issue. Here’s another, more positive side:

The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is “chronically underfunded,” as PCMag says in this article. Yet, the 105-year-old public institution initiates brilliant crowdsourcing programs that benefit the givers (doers) and much as the receiver (NYPL). Take, for example, What’s On the Menu?. Launched in 2011, this epicurean’s delight crowdsources the transcription of 45,000 historical restaurant menus, which, by virtue of their type and design, are indiscernible to optical character recognition when digitalized. To date, online volunteers have transcribed more than 1,331,929 dishes from 17,545 menus.

In return? We, the people, whether we volunteer or not, are given viewing access to NYPL’s magnificent collections.

Just last week, NYPL thrilled the world once again with this news release:

“Today we are proud to announce that out-of-copyright materials in NYPL Digital Collections are now available as high-resolution downloads. No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse!”

That’s right, 187,000 public domain images for digital download. For free! For artists, historians, educators, scientists, well, for everyone, this is an unimaginable treasure trove. Oh, the glory of it all!

In celebration of this release, NYPL invites us to participate in its Labs Remix Residency. Yes, this is crowdsourcing of sorts (the PR will certainly generate donations). And yes, it’s a contest. But once again, NYPL puts the people back in public and offers us something in return—creative use of 187,000 images!

So here’s the dish:

NYPL invites us to brainstorm “transformative, interesting, beautiful new uses” of its digital collections. They’re looking for projects that use pre-existing works to create new things (you know, a remix). Maybe a menu? Maybe a quilt? Maybe a board game? They encourage us to surprise them!

Here’s another way NYPL is unique in its crowdsourcing: Participants are only required to submit a proposal of their project. From there, NYPL will choose two proposals and award them each a $2000 stipend for completing their project. How cool is that?

Start brainstorming! Proposals are due February 19, 2016.

Looking for ideas? Here’s a good article. In fact, any one of the NYPL blogs is a good article!


Want to show your appreciation for 187,000 free images? Consider donating to NYPL or your own local library. Libraries offer us so much!

Creative Minds Need Persistence Too

Adunate is celebrating 10 Years of being a creative business!

As Adunate wraps up its momentous 10th anniversary year, perhaps one thing most satisfying (amazing, actually) is that I’ve stuck with this creative business of mine for ten whole years! 

Yes, there’s the statistics factor: According to Business Journal, 50% of businesses fail in their first five years. But mostly it’s the focus factor, or lack thereof. Lest you think me flighty and irresponsible (I’m neither), let me explain the short attention span under which I and so many other creatives operate. We jokingly refer to it as a creative attention deficit disorder. Basically, our ever-curious minds impulsively dance us from one interesting thing to another (and everything is interesting!) and it’s often hard to stay on task.

Some people consider creatives hard to live with (what, who me?). Others relate creative personality traits with ADHD. I like to focus on the positive aspects of creativity—things like independent thinking, openness to new ideas, versatility and adaptability, traits that Leslie Owen Wilson, Ed. D., lists in his article “Characteristics of Highly Creative Individuals.”

Hang in there!

Wilson also stresses the importance of persistency. Here he says, “One thing I would like to stress about thinking and creativity is that in order for creative ideas to become realities there is the necessary component of persistence.”

This, my dears, is what’s hard for us creative types. Sometimes Adunate gets boring. Many times it’s hard. Other times I feel like it’s going nowhere. But if I’ve learned anything in ten years, it’s to take pause for a breath and a prayer. I realize if I just hang in there, the flicker of enthusiasm will once again catch into an ongoing flame.

Hey, I’m hoping to hang in there for Adunate’s 20th!

 

Wednesday Webs: Things I’m Learning in January

The books I'm reading right now

I just came home from a morning yoga class. Ah, there’s nothing like an hour of sun salutations with friends to chase away the winter blahs. I’m energized. I’m motivated. I’m itching to do something constructive with January instead of watching it blow by from under my quilt.

In yoga we’re reminded to ground our feet deeply before rising our arms toward the sky. As my teacher Sunshine says, we must set our roots before we can grow. How applicable that is, especially while our New Year’s sense of renewal still lingers. Even if nothing’s growing outside, I’m using this month for personal growth, as in learning new things. And I’m using online education as roots for that growth.

Here’s what I’ve been clicking into this month for some great coaching and tutorials. They’re free. I listen to them while I work. There are no excuses!