Superheroes of Design

When I learned that Marvel Studios patriarch Stan Lee passed away recently, it struck a chord with me. I collected Marvel comic books and trading cards growing up; it’s largely what sparked my interest in drawing and graphic design. I filled countless notebooks with sketches of Spider Man and Wolverine, and monopolized the TV watching X-Men cartoons on Saturday mornings. My comic books gathered dust as I got older but my love of drawing only grew, eventually leading me to a career in graphic design.

You may be wondering how Stan Lee and comic books tie into December’s theme of focus?

Comic books are a great example of the four-color printing process in its purest form; but it’s only through close inspection with a magnifying glass (called a loop in our field) that you’ll notice the color separation into halftone or Ben-Day dots. This printing method, that is so often associated with comic books, was first devised in the 1930s as a cost-effective way to create shading and secondary colors in mass-produced comics and newspapers.

In the 1960s, artist Roy Lichtenstein built his fame mimicking comic books of the time, meticulously hand-painting halftone dots at enormous scale. Still today, artists and designers alike lean on the halftone technique, whether to keep costs down when screen printing apparel and merchandise, or to give their artwork a nostalgic look.

I’m not the only one at Trampoline that has a penchant for pulp fiction. Sean has boxes full of comic books from his days as a collector, and looks for any excuse to incorporate comic book stylings into his work. Rob also jumps at the chance to use halftone dots to give a poster a touch of pulp fiction. It’s our way of harkening back to the heyday of pulp fiction, and the superheroes of design.

Sean’s pulp fiction parody can be seen here in an ad for Meyer & Fuller PLLC.

Rob’s rockin’ retro poster for Druthers Brewing Co. used halftone dots as a pattern to give it a pulp fiction effect.

Call us biased, but we think Megan Coloccia’s Batman and Robin are the cutest superheroes of all time.

Planting Roots

Of all the rebrands I’ve been involved with at Trampoline, Capital Roots holds a special place on the list.

The partnership between Trampoline and Capital Roots began in 2014, when Executive Director Amy Klein reached out to rebrand an organization then known as Capital District Community Gardens. They had outgrown the name, which dated back to its formation in 1975 as a small collection of community gardens.

I was new to the Trampoline team. With just a couple of months under my belt, I was still timid when it came to speaking my mind in a room full of more seasoned designers. Nonetheless, the prospect of renaming such a great organization was something I was eager to be involved in.

We began with a process we call “namestorming,” where we gather around a whiteboard, throw out names and see what sticks. All the while we vet names to be sure there’s no competing trademarks.

The session produced a list of 50 names. We narrowed it down to seven that we sent to the client. None of them quite hit the mark, so went back to the drawing board. Then, a breakthrough: “What about Capital Roots?”

Eyes lit up. Someone ran to a computer and did a Google search. The name was free and clear of trademarks and patents. We pitched it to Amy and she and her team were as excited as we were. We got the green light to begin logo design.

As with renaming, logo development involves a lot of trial and error. Our first concepts were safe and conservative: words inside a badge or geometric shape; clean and legible. I felt that if ever a logo lent itself to an organic, unrefined shape, Capital Roots was it. I started sketching out logos where the “O’s” in “roots” were made of fruits and vegetables: apples, tomatoes, etc. After some lighthearted debate, we ultimately landed on beets. After all, beets are a root vegetable, reaching out as if searching for fertile ground to take hold and grow. The client liked it, too, and—after some fine tuning—it was adopted as their new mark.

Then it was on to creating system of word marks and taglines for the family of 11 programs and services they offer, like the Veggie Mobile food truck, The Produce Project, and the centerpiece of their transformation: the Urban Grow Center, a 12,000 square-foot headquarters and food hub in Troy, NY.


Since the initial rebrand, we’ve worked with Capital Roots on various other projects, including a 40th anniversary mark and, most recently, a case statement piece for Phase II of the Urban Grow Center project.


Maybe it’s because it was one of the first rebrands I worked on, but it remains one of the most memorable. I love seeing how logo has been embraced and implemented by Capital Roots: as vehicle wraps, apparel, tote bags, and even a mosaic mural designed by a local artist and collaboratively installed by the community.


I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this special partnership.

Tips for the Yosemite Traveler

[Photos & video below]

As an East Coast kid, California seemed like a fairytale world where movies were made and surf bums lived out their days in Volkswagen vans in search of the epic wave. I admired it from a distance like a child admires his or her favorite superhero; unsure whether I’d ever get the chance to travel there. That dream came true recently when my now-fiancé and I (I’ll touch on that) visited Yosemite National Park.  Read more

A Year in Review

2016 has been a whirlwind of activity here at Trampoline. Not only have we added some amazing new clients; we’ve also barnstormed across nine states for photo shoots, meetings and book tours; saw the launch of two websites; built our relationship with longtime clients; and stacked our team with three new Tramps: Staci Oswald, Rob Hendricks and Leslie Buccino. Oh, and we may have put down a few cold ones along the way. Here’s what that looks like by the numbers: 

2016 at Trampoline

We’ve seen unprecedented growth and feel incredibly fortunate to put out work that we’re proud of for some of the best clients you can ask for.

Here’s to hoping the New Year brings you and yours health and happiness. Cheers!


A Mellow Blend Of Work And Play

A late-night jam session at Huntington Lodge.

A late-night jam session at Huntington Lodge.

Back in September, a crack team of Tramps traveled to SUNY ESF’s Newcomb Campus: a world-class research & field station located in the geographic center of the Adirondack Park. We were tasked with capturing photo and video of the ESF conference facilities and team-building curriculum for use in  a campaign that will be equal parts business-to-business and destination marketing.

Our timing could not have been better. Sun-drenched afternoons gave way to brilliant sunsets, and sunrise shoots were marked by loon calls and fog dancing across Arbutus Pond.

While the photo shoot schedule made for long days, the trip doubled as a staff retreat and we found ample time to unwind. With summer projects behind us and the addition of a new team member, Staci Oswald, it was an opportunity for us to connect in a setting that we all enjoy in our personal time.

In addition to the Tramps in attendance, we welcomed a few special guests: Staci’s husband Karl joined us Friday evening, as did clients/friends Matt and Nancy Fuller, owners of Fountain Square Outfitters in downtown Glens Falls. Matt is also a Partner at Meyer & Fuller, PLLC, another Trampoline client.

Also in attendance was Old Rip Van Winkle. “Pappy” as it’s more commonly known is a hard-to-find Kentucky Bourbon that Mr. Fuller scored and was gracious enough to share. Pappy, combined with Karl’s home-brew, a couple of guitars, and Cards Against Humanity, made for a fun evening.

The pictures tell the rest of the story.

Matt, Cara and Sean hiked Goodnow Mountain at sunset to capture stills and time-lapse video.

Matt, Cara and Sean hiked Goodnow Mountain at sunset to capture stills and time-lapse video.

The fantastic early morning light on Arbutus Pond made for some fantastic photos, like this one taken by Sean.

The fantastic early morning light on Arbutus Pond made for some great photos, like this one taken by Sean.

The Fountain Square Outfitters photo shoot involved, you guessed it, more guitars.

The Fountain Square Outfitters photo shoot involved, you guessed it, more guitars.

The Pappy was doled out with a fair warning: If you don't enjoy whiskey, pass it on!

The Pappy Van Winkle’s was doled out with a fair warning: If you don’t enjoy whiskey, pass it on!

Derek, getting primal at Huntington Lodge.

Derek, getting primal at Huntington Lodge.

Paul Smith’s College, Illustrated


When Paul Smith’s College approached us about a reboot of their campus map earlier this year, the designers here instantly got excited. Maps are a specialty for Trampoline, with styles ranging from illustrative to informative. For a designer, it’s a fun challenge to create a map that is memorable and achieves the goal of being simple to use.

Which designer gets to work on a map usually comes down to workload; understanding that a map project —especially an illustrated map — is inherently time-consuming. In this case, workload was such that I was able to take on the project.

In choosing a style, we turned to Shannon Oborne, Paul Smith’s Chief Marketing Officer, for guidance. We presented her with samples of maps we’d created in the past and Shannon kept coming back to the illustrative approach. While it’s a challenge for a designer, an illustrated map can result in something distinct and impossible to overlook.

psc_campusmap_detail2_snapseedWill and Cara made a trip to Paul Smith’s on an unseasonably cold March day to take reference photos. The trip yielded hundreds of photos of campus buildings, walkways and other details that would need to be illustrated. Capturing the beauty of the college’s setting — on the shores of shimmering Lower St. Regis Lake and surrounded by rugged Adirondack peaks — wouldn’t be hard to do.

Next it was time to establish the map’s perspective. Would it be a 2-D birds-eye-view or a 3-D illustration? After some exploratory design work and an office roundtable we decided that a three-quarter, or isometric, perspective would be the best perspective to fit all of the buildings on the sprawling campus as well as the surrounding environment.

With Shannon’s solid direction, I began creating a base layer that would be the campus footprint, including roads, walkways, lakes and surrounding mountains. I relied on Google Earth and the college’s existing campus maps for accuracy.

Then came the task of illustrating the campus’ 35+ buildings in a consistent isometric perspective. This was the most time-consuming of all the steps but made all the difference in the end, adding a level of rich detail and dimension.

The final steps included adding in trees and smaller details like canoes, kayaks, lampposts, a stagecoach, and Woodsmen’s Arena. Least time consuming but by no means least important, was the map key. In creating the key, I had to be careful not to distract from the map’s detail while also having the 2-D numbers and corresponding text pop off of the page.

Shannon and the Paul Smith’s team are pleased with the end result — as are we. We’ll add it to the growing list of maps we’ve created and look forward to including the map in an upcoming Paul Smith’s trifold brochure.


Choices, Choices

Living and working in the Lake George Area has many perks. Topping the list for me is the ability to throw some gear in a pack, hop in my car and in just a half an hour be in a place where you can no longer hear the buzz of the city.

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The Adirondack Great Range: a source of inspiration (and reference) right in our backyard.

I feel like I cheated. Most professionals my age had to move to a big city to find work, relegating an outdoor experience to a long weekend or worse, a holiday. And here I am, able to ride a world-class network of cross-country mountain bike trails or paddle on Lake George after work.

Now that’s not to say a big city isn’t an inspiring and stimulating place to live and work — especially for a designer; but as someone who grew up in the Adirondacks and enjoys all that it has to offer, I didn’t have to try living in a big city to know that I wasn’t cut out for that pace of life. Where some find inspiration on a graffiti-covered brick wall in Brooklyn, I find mine in the alpenglow after sunset on an Adirondack mountain summit.

Some of my most difficult decisions these days involve choosing a place to explore on a weekend. Do I fish for native brook trout, go hiking, or play 18 holes of golf?

It’s a problem I’m happy to have.

Dreams Do Exist


Hunter Mountain’s annual resort magazine Hunter Mountain Life is on press.

It’s my second year as lead designer on the magazine, and Trampoline’s third year producing the mag. It’s been a labor of love, taking the better part of five months to produce from concept to completion. It’s a good feeling when a project of this size and scope leaves the shop.

The magazine is unique in that it’s a “flip-book,” with one half featuring winter-related content and the other half — flipped 180 degrees — highlighting Hunter’s summer offerings. The 44 pages consist of articles and news written by a number of contributors (me included) along with photos, infographics, resort information, and advertisements.

A flip-book presents a number of challenges for a designer. The most significant being the need to create contrast without losing sight of it being the same resort. To achieve this, we established a set of design elements and guidelines that are carried throughout the summer and winter sides. Other challenges come into play on the printing end, but I won’t bore you with the finer points of InDesign page signatures. Worth mentioning are the paper specs. We chose to print the magazine on glossy paper stock for both the cover and text pages — 100 lb. cover weight and 80 lb. text weight, respectively. Glossy paper helps photos and graphics jump off the page. As an added touch, we opted for a spot varnish on the front and back covers, giving the word “Life” and other elements on the cover a sharp embossed effect.

Cliché as it may sound; a magazine of Hunter Life’s size is a team effort and requires a lot of planning and coordination to pull together. To this end, I tip my cap to Katie O’Connor, Gerry Tschinkel and the marketing team at Hunter Mountain. Katie sourced editorial content, photography and advertisements and provided helpful direction throughout the process.

As a lifelong skier, producing Hunter Mountain Life was a dream project. It seems like yesterday I was sitting in Magazine Journalism 101 designing magazine covers and now I’m producing one. It spins your head to think about it.

Although it’s 60 degrees outside the Trampoline office today, the white stuff will be falling soon. It’s time to tune-up your skis or board and break out the winter gear. While planning which mountains to ski this winter, be sure to put Hunter Mountain on your list. With snowmaking on 100% of their trails and the Catskill Mountains as your backdrop, you can’t go wrong. Oh, and pick up a copy of Hunter Mountain Life while you’re there.

The West (Mountain) Is The Best

The author, enjoying a long-awaited payday at West Mountain.

The author, enjoying a long-awaited payday at West Mountain.

East coast skiers are accustomed to sketchy conditions. There’s a reason we have “rock” skis at-the-ready for days when snow is thin. In fact, they usually get more use than our more favored sticks.

But every once in a great while, we get lucky.

The same storm pattern that’s dumped 100 inches on Boston has left east coast ski resorts with the best conditions in decades; and skiers with a case of permagrin.

The illustrated 2015 trail map Trampoline created for West Mountain.

The illustrated 2015 trail map Trampoline created for West Mountain.

At our nearby hill, West Mountain, locals are tossing around words like “best-ever”, “legendary”, and “all-time”. This Sunday, the final day of President’s Week, there wasn’t a parking spot to be found and ticket lines stretched as far as the eye could see. Every trail was open, four inches of fresh snow fell overnight atop a fluffy 75” base, and, after a week of single digit temps, the mercury finally rose into the 30’s. Conditions were perfect.

While we’re all thanking Mother Nature, credit must be given to the mountain’s new ownership. It wasn’t long ago that the mountain’s future was in jeopardy. But recent investments and mountain improvements have revived the mountain’s spirit and returned it to its former glory. Without a doubt, it’s in the best shape I’ve seen it in my 20 years of skiing there, and I’m not the only who feels that way. On Sunday I skied with a friend who lived in Colorado for five years and skied at famed resorts like Vail, Breckenridge, Jackson Hole and Alta. Stopping halfway down an untracked glade run at West Mountain, he commented (between deep breaths) that it was as good as any runs he’d skied out west.

And it’s not just our local hill thriving. Our friends at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, resorts across Vermont, and businesses throughout the Adirondacks who rely on winter tourism are all enjoying a well-deserved boost to their bottom line.

So let’s revel in this moment, east coasters. It’s not often we get to stick our tongues out at our friends out west and say with certainty that we have the best skiing in the country.

: p

2015 Winter Board Meeting

After a week that saw the launch of our new website (cue kazoos and confetti) and with 2014 now in the rearview mirror, the Trampoline team was ready for a little R&R. So on Tuesday, we traded mouse and pencil for skis and boards and headed to the Catskills for a day of skiing at Hunter Mountain Resort.

Our staff’s skiing and riding experience varies. Derek, Paula, Sean, Will, Cara, and myself all grew up earning our turns on east coast gnar. Growing up in Washington, Amanda was on skis at an early age and has been forced to sharpen her skills to keep up with Sean and their three girls. Kate, on the other hand, risked life and limb digging her board out of her parent’s storage shed back home in Guilderland, and Matt pointed out that the last time he strapped on the planks, rear-entry boots were all the rage, the Buffalo Bills were in the Super Bowl, and Kate and Cara weren’t born.

We couldn’t have picked a nicer day. Bluebird skies and temps hovering around 30 degrees. Better yet, it being the Tuesday after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, lift lines were non-existent. After setting Matt up with rental gear and leaving he and Kate with encouragement, a few pointers, and silent prayers on the novice hill, us “fall-hardened” skiers loaded onto the six-passenger Kaatskill Flyer chair lift — which lives up to its name,  zipping us to the 3,200 ft. summit in a bar-gripping 8 minutes.

We arrived late in the morning, but bagged five runs before lunch, sticking mostly to blues like Belt Parkway and Kennedy Drive before testing our legs on the black diamond, Hell Gate (Going down?).

Let me pause to say that Hunter Mountain’s snowmaking is top-notch. Mother Nature hasn’t spared much in the way of natural snow in the Catskills, yet there were no bare spots or ice to contend with. With 1,100 tower guns and 60 miles of pipe, combined with single-digit overnight lows, they were able to crank out 11 inches of manmade snow over 40 acres in the past 24 hours.

Around 1:30, we retreated to the lodge for lunch and a brief production meeting. While our new studio space is great, I was reminded how a change of scenery can refill the inspiration tank and provide a fresh perspective. Looking at the snow-frosted Catskills out the window, my laughing co-workers around me, and the A-list of clients on the page in front of me, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the opportunity to work with this team. Also for the fresh pint of Saranac IPA in my hand.

After lunch, we geared up for more runs. I was itching to check out the Empire Terrain Park and get some GoPro footage for our video reel. The park was in peak shape. As I had learned while working on the resort’s magazine, Hunter Mountain Life, the park crew had just welcomed a respected jump builder, Randy Nelli, to its team. It was obvious by the perfectly cut table tops and smooth transitions throughout the park that his presence was being felt.

After making it out of the park mostly unscathed, the group headed back to the upper mountain and spent the remainder of the afternoon on black diamonds like Jimmie Heuga Express, The Cliff and Hell Gate. On mellow lower-mountain cruisers Fifth Avenue and Mossy Oak, we had real estate to lean into big, sweeping turns and feel our edges grip into the buttery corduroy.

With the late-day sun sending mountain-sized shadows across the Catskill Valley, and with sore legs, we threw in the towel on a great day of skiing. Back in the lodge, as we shared war stories, we were visited by Hunter Mountain VP of Sales, Marketing and Sponsorships Gerry Tschinkel. It was my first time meeting him in person, and it was great putting a face to the person I’d talked with over the phone so many times while working on Hunter Life. We discussed ongoing and future projects (stay tuned!) and assured him we’d be back again before the snow melts.

We left the mountain all agreeing that the day couldn’t have gone any better. And with an unspoken understanding that we’re all pretty damn lucky to do what we do for a living.


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