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Write On Campaign: A Cultural Movement!

“Writing letters lets me think about and honor my relationships.” –Egg Press

My favorite part of writing a blog post is that I am constantly on the hunt for new and inspiring people who are taking what they do best and focusing on enriching society. Those are good people. This week’s inspiring people are those at Egg Press and Hello!Lucky, two stationery studios that produce absolutely beautiful correspondence through letterpress and other delicious methods. In 2014, the Write On Campaign was founded by these two studios where they challenged themselves and those important in their lives to write 30 letters in 30 days to celebrate National Letter-writing Month, which is in April.

They knew that if they just put out this 30 letters/30 days challenge that it might not get done. A little incentive never hurt. So in 2014 they created 2,000 FREE writing kits to give away that included a few cards/envelopes and gelly roll pens (remember those??). The response was so large that within a week, all the kits were spoken for and were shipped out across the United States. In 2015, 5,000 kits were made. Gone within a week. So this year? 10,000 kits have been designed, produced, packaged and are ready to be shipped out! I’m not sure of the number, but I think anything over 10K is well on its way to being a cultural phenomenon.

Now I know some of you are giving me the eye as you read this: handwritten letters? Is that still a thing? Yes, it is. A wonderful thing. Email and text are great forms of communication. They make the world go round. I get it. But those closest to me (and not always through physical location) deserve a little bit more from me. Writing a letter to them forms such a deeper bond and gives them a little bit of my heart. In an age when things happen in an instant, isn’t it nice to think that someone took 20 minutes and thought about how special your relationship is? (See more funny and serious reasons here)

The physical artifact is nothing to ignore either. A card can be displayed and read again and again, bringing up those warm and fuzzy feelings. Don’t even get me started on the tactile love affair that takes place with a card…haha. Plus who has ever received a handwritten note and looked at it and said, “Not another one of these! Seriously, I got enough love. I don’t need this!”

Hammerpress: Letterpress & Design Studio

There are some seriously wonderful cards out there. Find what you like!

Lastly, don’t be intimidated. Not everyone is as loquacious as I am. But it doesn’t take a lot of words to get the point across that someone is special to you. It also doesn’t have to be mushy! Have a new joke you want to share? Or perhaps you want to draw a picture? Bring on the pictograms! It all counts. Just start communicating and growing those authentic connections!

So stretch those hands (I know it might have been a while since you’ve held a pen), start thinking of all those people you adore and want to see how they’re doing, and take the 30 letters in 30 days challenge! I promise it will go better and will be more rewarding than most 30 day challenges out there!

SIGN UP AND GET YOUR FREE KIT HERE! (Hurry! Supplies run out quickly!)

If you do participate, be sure to post a picture of your writing with the official hashtag, #WRITE_ON!

Vox: Visually Explaining the News

There is a lot of news out there. It is coming at us from so many directions, with so many views, and usually with a lot of intensity. Therefore, it is easy to kind of start dismissing all of it. But as conscientious citizens of society, we really should be trying to understand a good chunk of it. But then let’s say you do start paying attention. But then maybe you don’t actually understand what you’re hearing. Don’t be embarrassed. If you were an expert in everything, well you would be annoying for starters…haha What is happening in our world, country, state, city…well it can get a little tangled.

As a visual designer, I often find my job is to untangle complicated messages or situations and communicate it in a way that is less arduous on the audience. Making sure that I anticipate some of the communication pitfalls and build bridges for my audience that they can leap across to a better understanding. In the end, hopefully enriching their lives. Seems like that could be helpful in a couple of areas (news, insurance, banking, etc) of our lives, right?

So what if there was a news outlet that took that understanding of news and combined it with design and storytelling? That is where you will find Vox.com. They have popped up on my radar a couple times over the last year, each time to a resounding feeling of delight. But when I watched a video on gun violence that trotted out the data in a way that was so easy to understand, my little design heart knew I had found something special.

Stance on gun control in the United States aside for the moment…the best thing about this video? It’s so simple. There are literally black and white printouts, a red sharpie, and a voice over. So why does this work? Well, there are a couple reasons.

The first is that it is indeed simple. Good and clear design does not require it have a ton of bells, whistles, and shiny bits. It’s actually usually the exact opposite. When I was recently guest lecturing on visual design principles (specifically around presentations) to a group of Ph.D students in the sciences, I dropped the truth bomb that always gets everyone talking: Design starts in black and white. If you can’t explain it through these simple terms, adding colors, display type faces, or even motion is not going to help you reach your audience.  This video is already talking about a possibly confusing topic. Why add to the confusion by ill-placed design decisions?

The second reason is that the visuals are there to support the narration. Visuals can certainly stand on their own, but usually there is some well-written accompanying text so that the visuals make sense. When you hear someone speak, you’re there to hear new and interesting information through their particular lens view of the world. I rarely show up to a presentation to see someone’s awesome slides. I just need the visuals to support that narration and not distract from it.

The last reason why this video rocks is because of a very small detail that you might not detect the first watch through. She actually makes a mistake and misspells something. But she quickly scratches it out and keeps going. Pure gold. We are human. Talking about human things. It’s okay to be human. That show of human error that could have easily been edited out made me all the more ready to listen to what she had to say.

Vox is a news outlet that offers standard written news stories, video stories showcasing data, maps + data, and even card stacks for those of us that need to ingest news quickly and keep running through their day. We learned awhile ago that there is more than one way to interact with the news. Just look at The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Humor can go a long way in engaging an audience on topics that aren’t always easy to understand or pleasant, but still very important. The same can be said about data and human-to-human discussions.

Vox.com Offerings

With all news outlets, the information presented should always be taken with a grain of salt. No matter how enlightened you are, there is bias within each of us. News outlets are no different. But at least this is another version to review and try out. It beats being talked at in 30-second sound bites. Check Vox.com today!

 

Want to see more? This video discusses designing figures for communication and an age-old argument that I still end up discussing on a regular basis.