M. J. Star for Bars & Artisan Food Makers
Why I want to work with you
Hi, thanks for coming. If you met me in person there's a great chance that you know that I'm a huge foodie. I don't just like eating good food--who doesn't--I find the process of growing, raising, harvesting, cooking, fermenting, and serving food fascinating.
Food is not just sustenance but a physical manifestation of our relationships, culture, and history. As you might have guessed, this is one of the things that make me different than the average artist or design firm that works with the food industry. I grew up on the edge of civilization. My parents own a huge background and I got used to eating the garden fresh, strawberries, tomatoes, lavender, lemons, grapes, etc. To this day, I still eat raw basil plucked from my apartment bond plants. While at Stanford, I did my sophomore thesis on advertising in the food and how that lead to the rise of the health food industry. I was a huge fan of Kitchen Nightmares and Food channel. After graduating, I moved to Seattle and shopped almost every week at Pike Place Market. Over time, I found myself drawing food, almost exclusively.
Since coming to Colorado, I've come to understand that the food culture here is booming, yet grossly underrated. Because Colorado is yet to be recognized for great food, I strive to do more than to make my food art cool or aesthetically pleasing. When I draw food it's my aim to educate the patrons about that food: its ingredients, its tasting notes, the vibe of the people who created it, the history and fun antidotes surrounding its name. I would love to work with your craft brewery, small batch winery, popping cidery, and or underground distillery. I want the local, the Coloradan, the American, and beyond to at a glance know why your drink is special.
Just because someone is a good designer doesn't mean that they are the right designer for you. I've come to learn that not every client is right for me--and that's okay. If we are going to work well with each other, you'll likely need or have a decision maker on your team that is capable of consistent communication.
I don't expect you to be perfect, but it's important that we have clear and consistent lines of communication. This mean answering your email or text messages and when the time calls for it, meeting in person or over video call. When I work with my clients I use a variant of the "rapid prototyping" process. Some artists for hire will come back with one image and ask "Do you like it?" only for you to respond "No, because I hate the color orange." I use a slightly more time consuming process that at my Alma Mater has been proven time and time again to process results and avoid buyers remorse.
Generally speaking, the step for any design process goes like this
1. Free Consultation: The first time we meet, I will be there to set expectations, learn your deadlines, and figure out your needs, wants, and turn offs. If necessary, I will refer out to another artist or designer that is better for the job.
2. Sketches: Depending on the project. I'll make 1 - 5 rough sketches of the final image. We will combine the best of all the sketches to form a final sketch
3. For some projects, I'll come back with a well defined line sketch or a flat colored in version to make sure we are still on the right track.
|Color variations for the Core Medical Group Logo|
4. Final approval. You end up with a product you love!
Below are my services. To get started contact me below.
Can and Label Art
Half of all taste is in the eye. Whether you like it or not, the biggest factor in whether a new shopper buys your beer over something else is your label. People look at you label to make the rational assessments and reconcile irrational impressions. When looking at you label they have questions like...
- What is this?
- What are the ingredients?
- Who made this?
- Is this within my diet and beliefs? (e.g. Is this gluten-free, vegan, kosher)
- Will I like?
- Is it in my price range?
Because of these questions, label art should be the following
As I said above, half of all taste is in the eye. Your can or bottle is going to be on a shelf with many other drinks. It's important that their eye goes to your beer as quickly as possible.
Infer price range and quality
The kind of art on the label cues people into the nature of the drink. This also changes from one drink to another. For example fancy colorful art on a beer can communicates "artisan," "local," and "small batch." The same kind of art on a wine label communicates "affordable," "approachable," and sometimes unfortunately "mid to low quality."* Using the right art on the right label will help you set and meet your customer's expectations.
*The wine producers "Ordinary Fellow" is and exception to this rule but generally this is the case.
You're not Comclom Megacorp Inc. Limited. You're an artisan maker. It can be tempting to emulate the corporate aesthetic, but this can be a mistake. As someone who worked in Corporate America for some 8 years, the reason behind their ultra clean look is less to do with effectiveness and more to do with not being offensive.
However you're different. You are making food. They are manufacturing a product. No matter how good, well, or meticulously crafted, any drink with sufficient flavor will offend people. The goal is not to please everyone, but to make a label that appeals to the people that want to buy your drink, not a drink.
This means taking some risk with the design, using more natural lines, and bold colors that would make color psychologist skittish. Yes we should put your designs in front of locals and regulars to make sure we're on the right track, but we should also dare to stand out on the shelf.
The following are reimaged beer labels. Some of the more common compliments I get from people who buy my are 1. You should make beer labels, 2. Is this the official label, and 3. If a can had this label, I'd buy it, no questions asked.
Reimaged can art for Left Hand Brewery's Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Like the official label it contains a lot of orange and brown. Thanks to Reese peanut butter cups, people associate this color combination with chocolate and peanut which matches the beer's tasting notes.
Reimaged Can Art for Großen Bart's I must Break you Coconut. This beer has a Rocky 4 theme going on. I enhanced the theme by using Soviet Propaganda composition and colors.
Commissioned label art for Monster Hot Sauce.
The owner had no idea what he wanted for his label. I help guide him and we settle on the idea to include dragons perched on a pile of the ingredients he uses in his mango habanero sauce.
Collison Brewery's Bee's Knees
Contains Lemon, honey, St. Germain, and Lavender infused Deki Gin form Lafayette, CO. Topped with edible orchid.
Left Hand Brewery's Sawtooth Amber Ale
Has notes of citrus and herbs
Silver Vines House Chardonnay
Poster includes the region and tasting notes.
Ming's Cafe Moonstone Margarita
Tequila, Lime, Lemongrass, Sake, topped with coconut flakes.
Prices start at $300 per label design. I also ask that my M. J. Star logo be present on the image
Logos are a single image that represent your business. In most cases it should be based on your name or product. People should upon seeing your logo among a sea of other logos match the image to the name or product. Large corporations deviant from this because they are trying to please everyone and also leave room for if they want to expand into other area. However I'm willing to bet that you are different.
A good logo must...
What's the point of a logo if people don't recognize that it belongs to your business? This means being aware of visual tropes and know when to use them, for familiarity, but deviant from them so you still stand out.
Work in a wide variety of contexts
Your logo has to be on your website, t-shirts, mugs, business cards, signage, and maybe even on jack-o-lanterns. This often means making both limited color, black, white, and vector versions of your logos so your brand looks great on and off line. Logos should be at most 3 colors, preferable 1 or 2. This makes adding your logo everywhere easy.
Be aesthetically pleasing
It should not hurt the eyes. Tacky logos, not only look bad, they make your business look dodgy and untrustworthy. Since people buy from who they know like and trust, ugly is a no-no.
Appeal to your target market
Millennials and Zoomers prefer clean, more abstract logos. Boomers and old appreciate illustrative logos. Men like red. Women prefer blue. All these little things an more inform the logo creation process at M. J. Star Creations.
Have overt and covert meanings
From looking at your logo, your customer should be able to guess from your logo what your business sells or what your business's name is. That why so make realtors have houses in their logos and so many company's use the first letters or full name as their logos.
Likewise, having a hidden meaning in your logo creates subconscious intrigue. Did you know there was a hidden arrow in the FedEx logo? Amazon logo has a smile that is an arrow going from a to z, implying that they sell everything under the sun. These fun little flourish make for amusing stories to tell your customers and the press.
Have the appropriate amount of specificity
Companies with a laser focus on a specific product generally do better when they have more concrete logos. This usually means making a product the base imagery for the logo. A farm should probably have plants in their logo. A hair dress should most likely have something alluding to hair or styling equipment.
If, however, the business is service oriented or dabbles in a lot of different products, a more abstract logo will be required. Tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc often base their logos off of their company name not product. Likewise grocery stores like King Soopers, Safeway, and Costco rarely include imagery as they sell a wide variety of products and might want to change niches over time.
As you probably guessed, the name of the organization this logo is for is called CORE. The functional practitioners at CORD medical group had an artist make their logo. When the logo was complete, they handed it off to their web designer at Colorado Seo Design. He told them that had to get a better one. So they came to me.
The leaders of CORE wanted a logo that communicated that they were science based but still friendly. They also had a preselect palette that held a lot of emotional value to them. I made 50+ variation, asking for input at 3 stages of the process to come up with this final logo. I also made black and white versions that have minor differences to their brand look consistent in all context.
The CEO and Founder of a consulting was looking for a logo. Because they were a consulting firm an abstract logo based on the company's name was the best option.
I fleshed out 3 logos, but the client was lukewarm on all of them. Upon noticing this, I went into the digital sketch book and showed him rough sketches of concepts I thought didn't make the cut. When I swiped to the 4th image he said "That's the logo."
He liked this logos because the compass relate to the word quest but also that his business was all about helping the black man along his journey. The tail of the needle representing a path, the arrow pointing up and the black, red, and green color scheme holding significance to the Black & Caribbean Community.
Natal Chart Gifs (NCG)
An astrology fashion company
A bar named after the bartender's cat. Was going to have live music and board games.
Prices range from $70 - 200 depending on the complexity of the logo and whether I'm redesigning a logo or coming up with a new one from scratch.
Signage and Posters
Hosting an event? What's the point if no one comes.
When someone looks at a poster they ask these questions
- What is this event?
- Do I want to or should I go to this event?
- Can I go and stay at this event?
- Is it worth my time to travel to and attend this event?
- Is this event safe (enough)?
A good poster needs to answer all these questions if it is to engage with potential customers. A good poster should...
Be eye catching
Odds are your poster will be in a sea of other posters and signs. Whether it be community walls or endless social media posts, you have to grab people's attention long enough to provoke intrigue.
Big enough text. High enough contrast. Legible Font.
Spell out the details
A poster or sign should to have
- WHAT the event is?
- WHY they should go?
- WHO can go?
- WHO is involved in the event so I can know this is trustworthy?
- WHEN the event is?
- WHERE to attend the event either with and address or QR code AND easy to type website for online events?
- HOW do I attend this event?
Ideally you'd have all the above information already. However, if any part of the above is "To Be Determined," you should have a QR code and easily typed website linking them to a page where they can easily find the information or an email list or social media page they can subscribe to get details later on.
Have different versions for different contexts
These days you probably need posters for print and social media. This means making a design that is flexible enough to work and different aspect ratios, resolutions, and color depths.
Art in the Park Flyer.
This poster grabs the eye with a beautiful woman. Then the words "Art in the park" are huge and tinted with a orange overlay to create contrast.
Now that I have people's attention, in smaller font, I list the address and the when to attend.
Because Art in the Park is Colorado's longest running artist festival and has a very literal name, I didn't have to add extra trust in the poster itself by mentioning who put on the event. Instead, such information was always in social media description or tagged.
The WHAT and HOW are in very large font next to arrows that point their respective text. The text is white with drop shadows to make it stand out. Part of the why, is also in large text.
In smaller text are the when and where. There is also a list of why reasons future sell why they should attend and a trust badge.
Art festival. In the background are icons for all the different kinds of art that will be showcased.
Poster for the same art festival but targeted at environmentally conscious people.
A collective neighbor hood yard sale. I made it look kind of amateurish to make it look authentic. I also added a map since the location was difficult to find on Google maps. This poster and follow up social media posts by my estimation brought in over 25% of the shoppers. The group was small, but ready to buy. 10%+ of everyone that came by my table, bought an item which 2 to 3 times higher than usual.
8.5x11 Version of the same poster to the left for social media. This design can be printed on brightly colored paper that catches people's attention.
Business cards, Menu designs & Stationary
Why not adding branding to your documents? The most important branded document is your business card. Although falling slightly out of favor with technology-natives, the physical 3.5" by 2" paper still works for the more mature generations.
A good business card should...
Have imagery that communicates what your business is at a glance. People often have stacks of cards, so the easier it is to associate your business with your cards the more likely it will be found.
Have the following information
- Your name
- Your Business's name
- Your slogan/tagline
- Your job title
- What your business does (If not implied by the name or explicit called out in the slogan)
- A phone number that preferably can receive text messages
- A email that you respond to promptly
- Your website
- A QR Code to the page that would most interest your contacts (usually the home page)
Possibly have the following information
- Your social media handles
- List of services
- Your headshot
- Turst badges (e.g. BBB Accredited)
|My business card. The goal of the card is to get the holder to go to my website. I also used a whimsical font as that matched the mood of my of my art work at that time.|
||Back of my new business card. It has QR Code because the goal is to get them on my website. I also have my logo and tag line that makes what I do obvious.|
Business card designs range from $60 - 150 depending on the complexity and how much material you already have ready. There is an additional fee for printing the out.
Apparel & Merch
I ran an astrology merch shop but decided to drop it for the art business. While running this shop and making apparel for other project, I learned that good apparel should have the following.
Have clear branding
It should be easy for someone who didn't purchase the apparel to find major clues as to who made it.
Be pleasing on many body types
Odds are many people of different sizes, shapes, and skin tones will want to purchase your apparel. You should accommodate as many of your potential customers as possible.
This is one people miss the most! A good hoodie, will cause strangers to stop and ask. "Hey, where did you get that?" or "What is _____?"
When designing apparel for your staff, especially at an event, a good shirt will solicit a response of "Oh, they must be with _____."
My best seller in the shop.
Astrology jewelry is a very saturated market. To stand out I made a necklace that allowed for 2 zodiac signs. This was based on market research and direct communications with customers.
When Pride month rolled around, I created a rainbow version depicted here that became widely popular.
|Before I designed jewelry, I made causal astrology dresses. Pictured is the t-shirt dress. The black bar at the top and bottom was designed to be flattering on both a wide variety of body types.|
Men are an neglected niche in astrology. I decided to design a hoodie with more masculine with the sharp angles
Apparel designs range from $75-200 depending on the complexity of the project.
Blank walls lead to blank stares. Don't suffer from this problem. You can commission my work to hang on your walls, but if my art is not your style, that is okay. I'm a member of both the Left Hand Art Group and the Boulder Art Association and have ties to many to many of the art colleges and programs across the Front Range. Odds are I can find an artist that is in your price range that can decorate your space.
No one wants to look at ugly art.
Match the vibe
The art should play nicely with the decor and appeal to the your target customers.
No one wants to go to a craft winery to look at clip and stock art. The art on your walls, helps form the identity of the space.
Unrequited Blow Kiss
Still Grow Fabulously Well
Wall art prices vary greatly. At a minimum I charge about $0.75 per square inch.