I’m often most inspired by those around me. The ideas that evolve directly out of everyday circumstances can be very powerful. I try to stay conscious of my surroundings and let ideas wash over me like a warm light. A warm, inspirational, great-idea light.
A few months ago MailChimp was redesigned—the app, the site, the logo. Nearly everything changed. It was a lot of work, with a lot of cooks and kitchens and appetizers and Yelp reviews and well, it got kinda crazy, is what I’m saying. But one of the cool things that happens when you have great cooks involved is crossover—ideas bleed over from from one project into another, and you get weird flavors in your dish you never would have put there yourself.
A simple premise: Have a co-worker dress up as Freddie and surprise his three-year-old son, who was also wearing a miniature Freddie costume (which was designed and sewn by his mother, the co-worker’s wife). Oh, to be a kid again.
A couple weeks ago we teamed up with our good friends at Fuzzco for a mystery box giveaway. We made people work for the prize with a fun game. The mysterious surprise was a vinyl Freddie toy, as some of you now know, and we’ve been enjoying the photos of him hanging out amongst arsenals of desk junk, busting out of his packaging, and so on. But how did this project come about?
Here at MailChimp, we like to keep it weird. And what’s weirder than a space-themed, hidden gift shop? I’m sure there’s weirder, but we thought it would be a cool project and a fun addition to our office that would give our visitors a chance to walk away with a grab bag of MC goodies.
The founders of Danish software studio Robocat visited our offices last week to talk to us about the creation of their wildly successful Thermodo Kickstarter campaign. They walked us through the project, from initial idea to prototypes to the craziest month of their professional lives. The guys have a great sense of humor, and I wanted to reflect that in my poster, as well as the portraits I took of them while they were visiting Atlanta.
The ATL Collective is a group of various Atlanta musicians who get together now and then to perform a classic album live, from start to finish. MailChimp sponsored two of their most recent shows—Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run and Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison. We wanted to provide something special for the Collective and the people attending, something tangible they could take with them. For Born to Run, we screen printed a program with song titles, album history, and artist bios for the musicians. For Folsom Prison, we had gig posters printed.
Who are our customers? How do they use MailChimp?
Our UX team talked to dozens of users, acquiring tons of data and identifying motivations, traits, and needs. We used this information to create a series of archetypes that serve as a guide when designing. These personas help us keep in mind who we’re designing for, and what’s important to them.
Working on a Chip Kidd Coffee Hour poster was a dream come true. He was one of the first graphic designers I discovered when I was younger, and I’ve always thought his book covers were astute and unpredictable. His love of Batman is something fierce, and I paid tribute to his fandom with a simple, hand-illustrated/written poster, which was then hand screen printed.
I recently had the pleasure of blowing the dust off an old project that hasn’t been seen by many eyes yet. Two years ago MailChimp acquired TinyLetter, a beautifully simple email newsletter app. Shortly after that came a new marketing site, rebrand, and lastly the task of creating a limited run of TinyLetter branded stationary for select users.
A few months ago, Stephen Martin (MC mobile developer/designer) and I started the slow process of rethinking the MailChimp mobile app icons. During our initial exploration Louie Mantia gave a talk at the Renaissance Conference about icon families. This talk helped define our goal: keep the individual brand personality of each app while unifying the visual language.
I love repetition. I also love illustration. I had the idea a while back of creating illustrations featuring Freddie’s head on historical figures. “MailChimp Through the Ages,” I was calling it. As I started drawing the figures, it gave way to fictional characters.