Wednesday, February 07, 2007

And now for something totally different

I'm taking a break from all the sheep talk today for fear of boring my readers!

You can’t do what I do in my professional life nor have done in the past (as a marketing person for a yarn company) without being sensitive to current fashion, color and print trends, and media frenzy. I know that this is who I am and probably will be for a long time. (I haven’t had an official full-time job working for a “real company” for six years now - where did the time go?) I am obsessed with type styles, labels and advertising design – all the things that go along with marketing a product. I look at books with a different eye than most (I assume). I examine the lay-outs, the book design, the illustrations, and the type choices.

I’m pretty sure that you think I am bordering on the insane. How can this woman living on a farm amongst the chickens, the sheep, the coyotes, and the trees give a hoot about type, color, and more. God knows she can barely get to a nice store without spending a fortune on gas. Well, you might be correct but hear me out.

It amazes me how many ugly packaged products there are in this world of ours. Take a little walk down the grocery store aisle and do a little market research – it’s where I do lots of mine. Big companies just don’t get it. They aren’t thinking about how the packaging of a product can sway someone to buy their product over a competitor’s. Most of them need to open their eyes and try a little harder. They should hire a designer with a little style and have them transform their hum-drum product into something appealing and pretty that I would want to buy.

As a designer, because I look at everything I see everyday with a critical eye, I know what I like. This is my own personal opinion and you may not agree with me. When I design sweaters, especially my colorwork sweaters, I usually start with a plain piece of graph paper and plot out my own little patterns that I then turn into a swatch. I pick out the colors and the yarn, knit it up and hope an editor somewhere might like what I did enough to buy a design. Last fall I made this swatch – I call it an “undulating dot” motif. I thought it was nice and organic and took my knitting out of the angular look that is so easy to keep doing to death.

About a month later, I saw an ad in a decorating magazine for a box of Kleenex tissues. I looked at the ad, remembered my swatch, and remarked to myself – isn’t it amazing how patterns and trends go around and around? Patterns seem to come out of the air as I am designing and then I'll see a very similar thing done by someone else a couple months later. It's really a job to be original - especially now with all the information being thrown at us constantly.

In January, my sister and I were in a Rite Aid drugstore in NH and what did I find but these totally groovy, oval tissue boxes. I bought both of these and then remembered my swatch and the ad. I was totally overjoyed with my $2 purchase. First of all – I actually liked the patterns on the boxes – they would fit into my home and were nice to look at as opposed to most tissue boxes. I think the “ugly tissue box” syndrome is why there are so many crazy crochet patterns out there for “tissue box covers.” I should have bought more of these pretty things – considering its cold season and we do run through them like crazy.

Maybe big companies are catching on and will begin making better looking and labeled products that I will want to buy. I’ll only hope and pray.


Mary Ann said...

Kristin I love the lamb series and it is so interesting that you and the Farmer have been able to combine so many interests. It sounds like you have a very full life!But most importatn one filled with love and purpose...and lambs in the winter!

Patricia said...

While I am adjusting to country life there are parts of the city that I do miss. (mainly the conviences of everything) I have really adjusted to living in the country in many ways. I love the quiet, hearing an owl in the morning, seeing the deer, watching my sheltie mix patrol the perimiter of our yard.

I also know what you mean when you say --ugly packaging, where is their follow through? Why did they pick these colors. Lots of businesses don't understand that people look carefully at something these days, we look for good design of the product, smart packaging, beautiful colors, and intelligent marketing. By the way have you noticed how much orange is popping up? In a recent design class at least half the class picked orange as one of their design colors!


Willow said...

I have seen my friend's great product (soap) lose all but one store for one reason-- packaging. Presentation is everything. I think one of the reasons is that we have instant access via the internet to so much visual stimulation that as a society we have become more discriminating in our choices. This is not to say that our parents did not have good taste, just that we are exposed to so much more.

Orange? Never on my list.

Barbara said...

I'm sure you're right about design influencing people to choose a product. I confess that I have been known to buy a bottle of wine in my price range to try because it had an attractive label!

Kathy said...

I bought those groovy Kleenex boxes too -- I did a double take when I saw them in the market -- so graphically appealing!

~~ Melissa said...

I'm holding out for the kleenex box that looks like your beautiful black and white lamb. :-)

And like the others, I enjoy the sheep talk as much as the design talk. It's all very enjoyable.

Lora said...

I'm not sure about the oval Kleenex boxes but I know the square ones pop open very easily on the side so you can take out the entire wad of tissues to put into something else. Maybe the oval boxes open easily at the bottom? Then you could take the tissues out of the ugly boxes and reuse the pretty ones. (I take tissues out of the ugly boxes and put them in a basket.)

somebunnysloveDOTcom said...

Your words confirm why women (or those with taste and logic) prefer shopping at L*we's rather than H*me D*pot. And don't worry about the sheep with me. Lamb is one of my favorite dishes. Though sometimes mentioning that to my fellow vegan bunny-fellows isn't a good idea. :)

Bob Y said...

How about knitting "ulgy kleenex box" covers????? Is that a good idea?

Scribbles & Bits said...

I haven't been bored by the lamb info. Of course, I'm very interested in hearing someone else's ideas on design and the marketplace. I've always thought the process of choosing one itemover something else in a store is interesting.

Theresa said...

And this is why I love Target. They have a very distinct aesthetic, and it works. It's fun. Even the cleaning supplies (which are also non-toxic and nice-smelling). I will totally pay more for the bottle alone, though.

Elizabeth said...

My husband has done package design and as is the case with all design, the client who has no design knowledge whatsoever always has the last word, always think they know best and rarely want to pay for the best. Fact of life.
A good mix of home and work posts is the most interesting for any blog. No need to apologise for any of it.