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Read label. Drink wine. Repeat as needed.

About 95% of the work I do is for the web, and I love it. But, as a writer and lover of books and words on paper, print projects hold a special in my heart. Perhaps even more exciting are the opportunities when I get to help create something that exists out there in the world. Product, people, product!

My talented Blue Ion friends called on me a while back to help with the renaming, new identity, and website for a Napa Valley winery. The new identity included new labels for the wine bottles, and I was psyched. Remember, I’m a reader and a writer, which means I’m also one of those people who actually reads packaging, labels, invoices, etc. Let me just say: a little humanity or humor on any of the aforementioned pieces can make a huge difference in the customer experience. Promise.

The larger website for Mira Winery  is still in development, but friends, the wine bottles have arrived! And I could not be more jazzed with the results. Major kudos to the Blue Ion team (shout outs to Katie, Josh, David and Robert) for the beautiful design, and stay tuned for the website awesomeness to come. Here then, is the back label of Mira Chardonnay.

Scenes from my most recent adventures

It’s been fast and furious in the life of this writer lately, and I’m grateful to my clients for sharing their projects and energy with me. However, I’ve been a bit remiss with the blogging. To get back into the groove, I offer a few glimpses from my most recent adventures for your enjoyment/amusement.

Team building and bowling in Columbia:

We're bowlers. We bowl.

Sunlit morning

Tree in morning light.

Courtney hosts and is guest of honor at the most elegant birthday dinner party ever.

Aaron Draplin takes over Charleston…well, Blue Ion at least…and offers some sage advice, laughs, and pure inspiration.

Aaron Draplin and a rabid fan (read: me)

Maverick Southern Kitchens Ads: So Tasty.

Our special today is hand-clicked graphic design by local graphic goddess Katie Kosma and Charleston’s own Blue Ion with essence of New Jersey-raised copy by me. (Don’t worry, it’s neither bitter nor polluted.) See that endearing self deprecation? Get it while it’s fresh and hot!

Only at Maverick Southern Kitchens. Or…you know…here.

Darkness To Light: It Takes A Village

A while back, my friend Robert Prioleau invited me to help with a re-branding project for Darkness To Light, the Charleston-based non-profit working to end child sexual abuse. I got the opportunity to meet with D2L’s CFO, Jolie Logan, who was heading up the project, and it was a big one: a new identity, courtesy of the mega-talented Gil Shuler; a new website courtesy of the teamwork and talents of designer Sarena Norton, Blackbaud, Blue Ion and the driven, committed folks at D2L; plus, a new tagline, copy and positioning by me.

I should express my undying respect for Jolie Logan and the D2L team’s hard work and can-do attitude to see these projects through. A re-branding project is always a bold and exciting time for an organization…and truth be told, it’s a bit of a gamble, because it involves change. And I may be a bit biased, but I think the new logo, positioning, tagline and website bring a renewed energy and commitment to an organization that doesn’t just say what they want to do…they do it and continually find ways to empower more people to help them do it. Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved with the project. It’s been an incredible experience.

Logo by Gil Shuler Graphic Design.
Darkness To Light homepage
The Issue

Here’s a bit of the copy I wrote:

Think of 4 girls you know.

Now guess which one will be sexually abused before she’s 18.

Now think of 6 boys you know.

Which one of them will be sexually abused before he’s 18?

No one wants to think about it.

That’s what abusers of children count on, of course. Shame, embarrassment, fear, confusion.

They keep children silent.

They keep adults ignorant.

They keep truth hidden in the dark.

Why should you care?

It doesn’t happen in your town.

At your school.

In your church.

Actually, it does.

In fact, more than 90% of abusers are people children know, love or trust.

And the cost is great.

The reality is that one incident of childhood sexual abuse costs a community nearly $14,000.

The emotional cost in incalculable.
Research shows that people who are sexually violated as children are far more likely to experience psychological problems often lasting into adulthood, including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, depression, suicide, substance abuse and relationship problems.

Child sexual abuse is not the problem of one region, race, creed, socio-economic status or gender. It impacts every community and every person in America.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse don’t just suffer emotionally. They suffer physically.

  • Victims of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to suffer from obesity.
  • Are more likely to suffer from heart disease.
  • Are more likely to engage in destructive behavior with drugs and alcohol.

In fact, if child sexual abuse were like most childhood diseases, the prevalence and consequences of it would lead to telethons to raise money for its cure. But child sexual abuse is one of the last cultural taboos. With the exception of child-focused personal safety programs, almost nothing is being done to address it. That’s where Darkness to Light and the good news beings.From volunteers to educators to donors, being an active participant in the mission to end childhood sexual abuse is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

Learning the facts about sexual abuse helps prevent it.
Read the 7 Steps to Protecting Our Children to learn simple, proactive steps you can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly.

Talking about it helps prevent it.
We make sure our children are in car seats and seat belts. We walk them across busy streets. We ask our teens where they are going and who they will be with. All to keep them safe. And yet, when it comes to the crime of sexual abuse, we often grow silent. Darkness to Light stands ready to help you find the words to have the conversation every family needs to be safe and empowered.

Getting involved helps prevent it.
From volunteers to educators to donors, being an active participant in the mission to end childhood sexual abuse is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

If childhood sexual abuse can be prevented, it can be stopped. Through awareness, education and prevention, children can move from silence to exuberance. Adults can move from ignorance to empowerment.

And truth can move from darkness to light.

Easton Events

I love it when my pals at Blue Ion show their sensitive side. Actually, producer/designer Nicola Walker created the initial design concept for this one: the new Easton Events site launched last week. And, Craig Anthony, Flash developer/super designer and Lead Application Developer, Brian Dadin knit together an elegant, beautiful site certain to woo brides, grooms and Fortune 500 companies alike.

Here’s a taste of the copy I wrote:

Our approach is influenced and inspired by international art and architecture, as well as fashion, and event design. We live in a world of paint samples, schedules, fabric swatches, storyboards, menus, seating diagrams and budgets – a constant, delicate balance of head and heart that makes us singularly suited to creating exceptional events.

Strangely wonderful

Sunlight

As John Lennon said, “strange days, indeed.” As I write this, my Mom is on her way home from the hospital after several days battling a colon infection. About colon infections: you don’t want one.

My Mom is obviously doing much better, but the past few days have brought up giant waves of emotion in her and me. This is, after all, the first time she’s been quite ill since Dad died 14 months ago. My brother, who lives within two hours of Mom, was able to be at the hospital with her and speak to the doctors. Another aside: if you can have a family member act as your medical advocate, do it. It’s always helpful to have another person to ask questions and listen to what the docs have to say.

Before Mom was diagnosed with the colon infection, my mind twisted its way into various fearful scenarios, and I maintained an internal battle of wills to concentrate my attention on the “what we know now” as opposed to the crushed glass, hamster wheel of hell called “what if? what if?”

What my Mom experienced in the hospital: an epic feeling of loneliness is not unusual given the reality of her circumstances. Nor is it unusual that I’d feel anxious and lonely because I could not be there in person. As she grew weepy with me on the phone over the course of her hospital stay, it occurred to me that I was offering what I could in that moment. I suppose there is always the question of “is it enough?” But then, the weepy moment passes…the feeling subsides or ebbs and we are onto the next.

The day after Mom went into the hospital I spent the afternoon at my dear friend’s house watching the University of South Carolina battle the Georgia bulldogs. My friend is a Georgia fan, and we groaned and lamented as the pain wore on. In quieter moments of the game, we talked about my Mom and my friend’s sister whose marriage is breaking up. Aside: when faced with infidelity, small gestures like say, cutting the buttons off a dress shirt can provide a quick, albeit slightly petty bit of retributional joy.

Fast forward to this morning: when friends at Blue Ion and I present a new direction in marketing to the folks at Maverick Southern Kitchens: to include new strategy, copy, designs and websites. As I surveyed the room during the course of the presentation, I was humbled by the sheer fact that a group of folks was listening to what we had to say and was even moved to share their thoughts with us. There is something so primal about cooking…feeding…nourishing and nurturing others. Part of the reason I am so intrigued by what Maverick does is simply by the virtue that I am enamored by the notion of food as a means of conversation and connection. And they do it so well. Taking the food seriously, but never themselves.

Minutes ago I stood in my backyard, feeling the slightest hint (or wishful thinking on my part) of fall. I noticed an ever so subtle change in the light through the leaves that left me wondering, where does the time go?

I can’t tell you, because I just don’t know. Lately it seems that laughter is most usually followed by tears which is followed by awe, humility, confusion, elation, and now and again a Bloody Mary. But who knows…maybe it’s just me.

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High Cotton gets fresh

Been working with pals at Blue Ion on some fantastically fun projects for Maverick Southern Kitchens, the passionate folks behind High Cotton, Slight North of Broad, Old Village Post House, Charleston Cooks, High Hammock and High Cotton Greenville. Our goal for all the projects is simple: share the goodness that’s inherent: the amazing food, talented staff and warm hospitality. Check out an upcoming print ad we produced. Props and thanks to Woody, Josh, Nicola and Robert.