Eric Bach

The light bulb. It’s synonymous with creativity, ideas and innovation. If you haven’t noticed, we are infatuated with these inspirational glass orbs of light. Each employee has an original, personalized light bulb icon. In fact, when a new “light” joins the team their first assignment is to determine what their light bulb will represent about them. It’s a process that demonstrates our approach at A. Bright Idea — a true, first collaboration with other members of the team.

When creating these icons, the challenge is figuring out how to communicate someone’s interest or expertise within the limitations of a light bulb.  As with any logo or icon project, the goal is to create a clear, simple and recognizable graphic reproducible at any size.

The process starts with concept sketching. Whether it is on a Wacom tablet or hand drawn in a notebook, sketching allows us to toss around a lot of ideas to see what sticks. Oftentimes eliminating what doesn’t work, ends up contributing to the discovery of a successful concept. After the team has discussed and decided on an option, it’s time to take the concept digital.

Sketch book

We begin by importing the sketched image into Adobe Illustrator; this serves as reference for the final icon. Next we roughly trace the hand drawn image with the pen tool, allowing us to have a rough editable form to refine. Once the rough form is captured, we refine the illustration by creating/manipulating editable line paths, followed by applying separate layers of color for shading and highlights. Keeping the lines editable and layers labeled, keeps us organized and makes changes efficient. Since all of A. Bright Idea’s icons are one color, we must rely on applying tints in order to create a sense of dimension.  After the working vector icons are reviewed and approved, it’s time to prep and export the files for use in print and multimedia applications.

We hope you enjoyed this spotlight on our team light bulb icons! Take a look at these lightbulbs and try to guess who’s is who’s.

ABIicons2016x

BEHIND THE SCENES: The Light Bulb Icon

With a continual focus of adding top talent to our award-winning team, A. Bright Idea is excited to announce the addition and promotion of our new team members to support the creative communication needs of our clients.

 

NewHire
Top from left: Kevin Hess, Crystal Maynard, Robyn Hicks; Center from left: Brian Lobsinger, Luz Esmeralda Mahecha Martínez; Bottom from left: Bridget Goldsmith, Mina Ta

 

Mina Ta

A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR is pleased to announce the promotion of Mina Ta to a senior creative position. Mina, who joined A. Bright Idea in November 2013, demonstrated strength and leadership in providing on-site creative support for an Arlington, Virginia-based government client.

 

Bridget Goldsmith

Bridget joins A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR as part of a team of graphic designers supporting a government client in Arlington, Virginia. Bridget held previous positions as a contractor for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the NAVSEA Ship Building Program at the U.S. Navy Yard. Prior to joining A. Bright Idea, Bridget worked as a graphic designer for the U.S. Army Office of the Chief of Public Affairs at the U.S. Pentagon where she developed the overall branding for the nation’s highest medal for valor, the United States Army Medal of Honor.

 

Brian Lobsinger, Senior Designer/Multimedia Specialist

A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR welcomed Brian Lobsinger to the Graphic Design team, as senior designer and multimedia manager. Brian is charged with managing design and web projects in both the Sonoma, California and Bel Air, Maryland offices. Prior to A. Bright Idea, Brian ran his own design firm, and most recently was the senior web developer at Flannel, Inc.

  

Crystal Maynard, Communications Specialist

Crystal Maynard joins A. Bright Idea’s Government Services Division, offering on-site support for a government client in managing a variety of communication and public affairs projects. Crystal offers extensive communications experience, previously serving as a public affairs specialist to U.S. Army clients, providing strategic planning, media relations, event planning and public relations support.

 

Luz Esmeralda Mahecha Martínez, Bilingual Communications Specialist

Luz joins A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR in the Government Services Division, providing on-site communications and translation support for the Public Information office of an existing government client. Prior to joining A. Bright Idea, Luz worked with the University of Maryland School of Public Health and Miami Dade College School of Continuing Education and Professional Development.

 

Kevin Hess, Communications Event Specialist

Kevin Hess joined A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR to support marketing and event coordination efforts for the firm’s government and commercial clients. Kevin joins this award-winning team offering event planning and management experience from the Sports Information Office at Towson University.

 

Robyn Hicks, Junior Graphic Design Specialist

Robyn Hicks recently joined award-winning Graphic Design team at A. Bright Idea Advertising & PR. Robyn, a Towson University graduate with a degree in digital fine arts and design, previously worked with the Harford County Boys and Girls Club as a graphic designer.

 

Client News – Summer 2013

abimaster | September 24, 2013
  • This fall, look for A. Bright Idea’s new creative and production for Stella Maris’ Anniversary Campaign. Highlighting the remarkable service of a leader in elder care, A. Bright Idea offers strategic marketing support in celebration of Stella Maris’ 60 years of long term care and 30 years of hospice care in Maryland. The anniversary campaign includes a custom anniversary logo, strategic marketing and communications plan, media campaign and video production, as well as marketing collateral and event support.
  • The John Carroll School launches its 50th anniversary year with a custom logo and timeline-style brochure, including vintage photos and milestone dates, designed by A. Bright Idea.
  • Grapevine Catering is moving into a new space in Santa Rosa, CA where both the catering company will operate and their Earth’s Bounty Fine Foods products will be sold. The new storefront, Earth’s Bounty Kitchen & Wine Bar will have a take away menu and artisan produced products along with a full-service café and wine bar. A. Bright Idea supports the businesses with branding, signage, marketing, website, collateral design, email marketing and more.
  • Flavor Cupcakery supports wounded veterans and boasts community spirit with “It’s a Flavorful Life” – a week of promotions and special offers from the cupcakery and fellow small businesses in Bel Air and Cockeysville, MD. A. Bright Idea provided a custom event mark, collateral and PR support for the campaign.
  • A. Bright Idea designed the collateral and promotional materials for the Sonoma Valley Teen Services annual fundraising event, Cowboy Cab. Held at Larson Family Winery, the event sold out this year with over 200 guests in attendance. Check out a photo from the event here.
  • A. Bright Idea positions Synergy Integration Advisors for growth with a brand refresh, custom information graphic and icons, capabilities statement, brochure, document templates and stationery.
  • Celebrating 40 years in business, A. Bright Idea develops the Kenwood Kitchens Dream Kitchen contest, including advertising creative, print collateral and web page design, where one lucky winner will receive a $40,000 dream kitchen! Have you entered?

As a full-service creative agency we wear many different hats.  We design, write, consult—and that’s just before our morning Starbucks! Keeping our creative minds challenged and inspired requires a motivated focus. Fortunately, we are able to draw inspiration from just about anywhere! Take a look into our creative process with some of our favorite methods of motivation:

 

1.  Get online. With so much content online, we never know when we’ll find something that triggers our creative minds. We love to pin and post!

2.  Collaborate. We make team brainstorming, discussions and creative kickoff meetings a large part of our process. Our staff offers unique perspectives, and since we hold team meetings in relaxed environments, the creative juices can just flow!

3.  Word association. Even if the project elicits a visual element, sometimes beginning with words and working up to their visual counterparts makes for a better end result. Organizing ideas into lists helps us to think more clearly and determine what direction we take.

4.  Back to the books. Thinking about synonyms of a word can really help get an idea going. While one word may not quite have the effect we’re looking for, another word that holds a similar significance may just be the portal to all of those wonderfully bright ideas to come.

5.  Clip and save. We like to save everyday items we come across such as mail pieces, restaurant menus, coasters, magazine ads, labels, and business cards. Whether it’s the organization, type treatment or look of the material that appeals to us, the possibilities of what this little piece could play in a future design seem almost endless. Some call it hoarding; we call it inspiration collecting!

6.  Party hearty. Whether we’re attending a business event, awards ceremony, or personal celebration, we love being inspired by different atmospheres, themes and sceneries.

7.  Explore the outdoors. We often develop color palettes, textures and patterns from what we see in our everyday surroundings. Natural elements, as well as manmade, inspire us to another degree. The line pattern of a leaf or the texture of a tree trunk can play into many different designs.

8.  Photography. A good photo can inspire a concept, a new perspective, a focal point, a color palette, a theme or mood, and much more. Browsing through beautiful imagery like National Geographic can really help.

9.  Channel surf. Sometimes we just need to sit back and observe. Television is a virtual idea wonderland – bringing together a large variety of people, places and scenarios from diverse backgrounds and places.

10.  Go back in time. Looking back at what we’ve created in the past, as well as what creative treasures history holds, brings about new challenges. We always look for ways to carry design to the next level. Sometimes a look back is the best place to start looking forward.

 

We focus on nurturing inspiration and building creativity as part of our daily activities—whether visually or verbally—and we hope these tips help to inspire you!

Client News – Fall 2012

abimaster | November 7, 2012
  • The experts at Courtland Hearth and Hardware warm homes in the Baltimore Metro with an advertising campaign, complete with a custom illustrated campaign mark and in-house production. Look for Courtland’s Fireside Chats on TV and on the radio this fall and winter.
  • Smith & Co Dental showcases its modern approach to dentistry with a sleek and state-of-the-art website design, also featuring an “About us” video produced and edited by the in-house talent of A. Bright Idea.
  • A. Bright Idea embraces Patriot Pride for The John Carroll School with marketing, design and interactive support for the2012 Viewbook, 2nd Annual Alumni Weekend, 25th Annual Ullmann Golf Tournament, special edition Connections Magazine and Annual Report, and the Capital Campaign container piece and collateral materials.
  • Madison Bank launched another great mortgage loan promotion, offering customers a competitive rate and a different take on the terms for new mortgage loans, promoted through a regional advertising campaign and microsite, changing the lives of banking customers with three little numbers – 10, 12 and 15!
  • A. Bright Idea was thrilled to work on the website redesign project for the Public Relations Society of America, Maryland Chapter (an organization near and dear to our hearts!) The new website includes interactive features and custom content management capabilities to keep the organization on the cutting edge and the go-to resource for PR pros like us. Access the website on your mobile device to see a responsive design layout as the site detects the size of your screen and formats the hierarchy of information accordingly (yes, that is cool!).
  • The Red Grape entices your taste buds virtually with a newly redesigned website with custom design, photography and interactive features. Warning – Viewers of this website are prone experience a serious case of hunger.
  • A. Bright Idea recently provided advertising and on-site support of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Experience the cork flying frenzy for yourself with our recap video!
  • Pairings Bistro connects with customers virtually through a strategic social media plan developed and set up by A. Bright Idea, including a presence on social media’s most popular platforms, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Courtland Hearth and Hardware Fireside Chat

Courtland Hearth and Hardware Fireside Chat Mark

Blank to Beautiful

abimaster | June 3, 2011

Staring upon the blank pages of this sketchbook, I take pen in hand and force lines of ink to make visual sense.

After a few sketches only waste space on the page, I look deeper. Beyond the 60 lb sketchbook paper lies the ten ton beast. It’s CREATIVE BLOCK staring back at me, using this flat sketchbook as his window to laugh at my struggle.

We’re here at ground zero of conceptualization. I’m building a visual brand language from scratch. The client has offered little but a name and a phone number and it’s my job to foster the awesome. The transfer of ideas from my mind to this blank canvas isn’t always so seamless.

What can artists, designers, or writers do when faced with the inevitable CREATIVE BLOCK? How do we find the doors that lead through this blind struggle? When you can’t see the end of the road, the solution to the problem, the climax of the story, the punchline of a joke, it seems impossible to grasp everything in-between. But the journey itself ultimately becomes the meat of your work.

Now, slowly tracing his ugly and obvious features, I begin to determine what I DON’T want this final concept to be and I decide to fight the beast. I’m motivated to make it different, make it better, and beat that ugly creative block. The chip on my shoulder pours onto the page in swift angular strokes, carefully assembled to build something beautiful.

The drawings here, not always immediately relevant to the task, begin to create a path of visual style. Those styles, in their rawest of forms, are the foundations for which a brand might build it’s character. It’s here, at the tip of this pen, that a brand is born.

The confidence and persistence needed to overcome that ugly creative block isn’t always easy to find. It lies somewhere in your love of the process. It’s the techniques that you know inside-out but are simply catering to suit a particular problem or client. I must maintain my passion for the process to drown the creative block beneath a sea of inked ideas. Those ideas now in infancy, eventually become the refined concepts that represent a brand to the world. This is what makes the process worth every minute of potential struggle.

Graphic design remains an integral part of our strategic and collaborative approach at A. Bright Idea. Graphics lingo can often overwhelm those outside of the industry. So, for this month’s Top 10 list, A. Bright Idea demystifies 10 graphic design terms.

1. White Space

White space, or the empty space within a design, allows the viewer to absorb all of the information by moving their eye throughout the layout, without being overwhelmed by content.

White Space Example

2. Typeface

A typeface consists of a series of fonts (light, bold, italic, condensed, extended) and a full range of characters, such as, numbers, letters, marks and punctuations within a design or document.

Typeface Example

3. Concept

The end result of the creative process – the concept. After going through the brainstorming, experimenting and exploration, designers execute and evaluate many concepts as potential solutions to the design problem before narrowing to a handful of solutions for the project.

4. Creative Process

There are four steps to the creative process: Preparation (research, collect data, pull from other sources of inspiration), Incubation (percolation, review material collected and brainstorm connections between thoughts and ideas), Illumination (the a-ha moment when an idea is developed) and Implementation (execution of the idea, and evaluation if it’s fits the problem). Designers use this creative process to develop ideas and solutions to all projects.

5. Vector

Vector graphics allow expansion or reduction of artwork without any loss in quality using curves, points, lines and polygons. Typical vector file formats are EPS, PDF and Ai (Adobe Illustrator).

6. Mockup

A re-creation of the original design at actual size, and sometimes on the actual paper the final piece will be printed on. Mockups show how the printed piece will fold, align and trim, and remains helpful in seeing actual image and text size. Although not color accurate, a mockup proves useful when provided to print vendors so they can ensure the final piece will match designer’s specifications.

7. Grid

The composition of a document and the arrangement of images, text, colors, graphics and illustrations on the page comprise the grid. Designers often use a grid to layout a document, in order to maintain consistent column widths and graphic alignment. This remains especially important when designing a multi-page document.

Grid Example

8. CMYK/RGB

Two different types of color mode – CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, the colors used in the four-color print process. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue, the colors that make up the light spectrum for viewing on-screen, such as computer monitors.

9. Offset/digital

Digital printing remains best for fast, customized small-medium quantities, and offset printing best for high quality pieces at large quantities. Offset printers can print on individual sheets of paper, with a variety of papers to choose from, while digital printers are generally limited to a smaller sheet, selection and size. The clarity of a piece printed offset uses a different printing plate for each ink color. A digital press uses one high resolution file to electronically print the piece, like a copier.

10. Widow/orphan

Widows and orphans are the words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. A widow describes a paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page/column, thus separated from the remainder of the text. An orphan can be one of two things: a paragraph-opening line appearing by itself at the bottom of a page/column; or a word, part of a word, or very short line appearing by itself at the end of a paragraph. Orphans result in too much white space between paragraphs or at the bottom of a page.

Widow/Orphan Example