NuSil Tradeshow Invitation

MD&M West Postcard Invite 2016-1
MD&M West Postcard Invite 2016-2

At the end of 2015 work had begun on 2016's MD&M tradeshow in Anaheim. Aside from designing out lightbox artwork every year, this year I was asked to design our tradeshow invitation postcard. This postcard was going to be mailed to our leads inviting them to our booth, and also inviting them to our dinner party after the tradeshow was over.

This was my first year coming up with a concept from scratch. The plan was to have enough basic information on either side of the postcard to stand alone, but be unified with the artwork on the other side. People should want to turn this thing over repeatedly, and any information they need should be contained within.

At this point I was not using column or grid layouts much, instead focusing on balance and overall weight of the design to find success. If I were to do this project now I definitely would have started with a proper column layout, but I am also glad that I didn't at the time. Despite (or indeed because of) their usefulness, layout grids can easily become a crutch for designers, and it's important to know when to abandon some design elements for the strength of the piece. I too often see designs that appear too rigid and constrained, and less evocative as a result. This project in particular has some deliberately-offset elements which make the design feel stronger. I wouldn't have considered experimenting if I had a 9 column grid to guide me.

The toughest element here was the map of the Anaheim Convention Center's surrounding area on the back, which took several iterations. Using reference from a map created an illustration that was too clunky and confusing. It took a few tries to simplify, and play with how space was used. Streets were converted into straight right-angles, and it was always a challenge to reduce clutter by taking more and more information away from the viewer. It was a tricky, recursive process, but I am pretty happy with how the final image came out.

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