All posts by Jenn

2016 B Corp KPI update

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As 2016 begins to come to a close, we are upon another review and assessment of our work to become a better B Corp. Every two years in November, we review all of our finances, clients, collaborators, and resources to see if we are working to improve our processes to make our studio a better B Corp.

To quote B Labs, “B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” We work hard to be a good business, and to collaborate with great local, beneficial, sustainable, and socially responsible clients and vendors. Besides the recertification process, we track our progress via KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)—these are the easiest way to communicate our commitment to the general public our progress without getting caught up in the hard numbers used to calculate our KPIs.

AS OF MID-SEPTEMBER 2016 OUR KPIS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

22% of our studio’s revenue is from not-for-profits.

61% of our clients are purpose driven enterprises.

This means that the businesses that we work with do great work to make the world a better place. These are businesses that go the extra mile to give back and do more. Purpose driven enterprises aren’t not-for-profits, or necessarily B Corps (yet), but they are working their way towards a better business model, supporting under-represented populations, or promoting the arts or education for a smarter, more creative world.

This means that 83% of our revenue as a studio is derived from working with not-for-profits or purpose driven enterprises. This goes to show that trying to do good, and collaborating with good businesses and organizations is a truly viable, and vibrant business model. This is something we are incredibly proud and excited by.

83% of our clients are local to Philadelphia.

This means that the majority of our revenue is generated from clients are within 100 miles of our studio, and that our work goes to support the local economy.

100% of our employees are local to Philadelphia, and live within the city limits.

 

THINGS WE NEED TO WORK ON:

Only one of our clients is a B Corp. We are really bummed about that. It seems that as a business, it is easier for us to source B Corp Certified products, than to find local B Corps to collaborate with. We are working on it, and so are they, in 2016 hundreds of new companies have become B Corps.

Only 3% of our clients consider themselves to be sustainable. We need to work on this, and maybe the world does too. Yet again, it seems to be easier to source sustainable resources and suppliers, but more difficult to collaborate with them as clients. Mental note for 2017!

Thanks for listening to our update we will keep you posted with the results of our upcoming B Corp recertification.

*All KPIs are based on Pixel Parlor data from 2013-2016.

 

ISO Web Designer

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Pixel Parlor is in search of a web designer to help with a variety of thoughtful, compelling websites, interactive media, and online advertising for a wide range of creatively engaging clients. The ideal candidate should possess the desire to make an impact in an highly creative environment, the capability to communicate effectively with clients and collaborators, the insight to create organized materials, and deliver a high-quality product to the client and end-user.  

Requirements
• Bachelor’s degree in interactive design or graphic design
• A highly developed portfolio
• A strong sense of typography
• An illustrative approach to design and color
• Excellent writing skills
• Must be comfortable presenting and receiving critique
• 3-5 years experience
• Experience in all aspects of Adobe Creative Cloud
• Experienced in WordPress
• Understanding of WP best practices, and general web best practices
• Front-end (HTML/CSS) development experience
• Comfortable with video and audio integration
• Bonus: experience with JS, PHP

Duties
• Collaborating on design and development for web and interactive
• Design of responsive websites, and other digital projects
• Determining technical requirements
• Website updates
• Some writing and editing of content
• Creating back-up files
• Troubleshooting code issues

Please send all serious inquiries with resume and online portfolio to: jobs@pixelparlor.com

Growth By Design

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Pixel Parlor had the honor of being featured in a video profile for Paymo—our preferred tool for project management. Directed and produced by Drury Bynum and Jamie Campbell of Shine Creative the profile features Pixel Parlor partners Jenn and Andrew Nicholas, the design studio, and the noteworthy street art in Fishtown, Philadelphia.

 

Want to work with us?

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Starting immediately
5 days a week for 4 weeks with potential to extend the engagement.

Goal: To help our team design and develop a series of websites in various states of completion.

Duties
• Collaborating on design and development
• Designing for responsive websites, and other digital projects
• Determining technical requirements
• Website updates
• Some writing and editing content
• Creating back-up files
• Troubleshooting code issues

Requirements
• Education: Bachelor’s degree in web design or graphic design
• 3-5 years experience
• Experienced in WordPress
• Talented web designer
• Understanding of WP best practices, and general web best practices
• Front-end (HTML/CSS) development experience
• Comfortable with video and audio integration
• Bonus: experience with JS, JSON, & PHP, and HTML Canvas animation

Signage in good company

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Here is a quick glimpse of the new CAMD signage in Ryder Hall at Northeastern University. We love to see that the signs are in good company mingling with the gorgeous student art that is populating the halls after the building’s face lift.

There are many more photos to come. So keep an eye out for what we’ve been up to.

Photo credit: Madison Rogers

A Cause for Leaning In

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We are honored to have recently completed a quick design project for Making Caring Common, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Leaning Out is an enlightening report on the implicit and explicit biases that create obstacles for girls pursuing leadership positions.

http://sites.gse.harvard.edu/making-caring-common/home

The report calls attention to how mothers, fathers, boys, and girls perceive young women with the potential for high levels of success, and roles of leadership. This perception, effects the ability of girls to command respect in roles historically dominated by men.

Manipulative and detrimental biases of some teens label girls as mean, as drama queens, and having little self-esteem. These unfounded biases undercut the potential of an entire group of individuals and create a glut of untapped resources. The irony of these biases is, that girls are also characterized as more likely than men to have desirable leadership skills including honesty and organization.

The report is worth a read, and has great potential to positively influence parents and teachers through it’s thoughtful findings and its helpful tool kits. My hope is that these discoveries and call to action, will help inspire girls to become women who plow through the stereotypes and biases to be the incredible leaders they have the potential to be.

We are Friends of Adaire.

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working with Friends of Adaire, and the Comcast Cares team to develop a number of simple design solutions to help our neighborhood elementary school—Alexander Adaire Elementary—in any way we could. Everyone knows that America’s public schools are struggling to make ends meet, and Philadelphia Public Schools are no exception—actually our schools are struggling more than most.

We created simple, bright, fun design solutions that could be implemented on a tight budget with volunteer labor. We picked paint colors, sketched a few elevations and held our breath until Saturday, April 25th, when it all came together. The Friends of Adaire were joined by hundreds of volunteers from the community and had the generous help of the Comcast Cares team and their generous funding that helped make our day of cleaning, painting, enlivening and helping out possible.

It is truly amazing what a little bit of thought and a lot of man power can accomplish in a single day. The volunteer team scrubbed away dirt, repainted and brightened up the entire exterior of the school building, painted a mural for the kindergarteners, cleaned and repainted the gym, installed a gallery wall for the teachers to display their student’s work, painted signage for the now impossible-to-miss library, and reinvigorated the main entrance of the school.

We made lots of friends, got dirty and covered in paint, were completely exhausted, but were overwhelmingly impressed by the difference we made in a single day. We are proud to have been part of such an impactful event.

http://friendsofadaire.weebly.com/

http://spiritnewspapers.com/comcast-cares-for-adaire-p3179-113.htm

#ccday

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Photo credits: Andrew Nicholas for Pixel Parlor and Lindsay Estes Li

Offset vs. Digital Printing

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Printing is complex, and I’m not a professional printer who knows all of the technical details of each and every machine, but I do send a lot of work to the printer, and this is what I’ve learned over the past decade or so.

Digital:
Digital printing is great for small runs—typically quantities of 750 or less. Brochures, small perfect bound books, saddle stitched brochures, post cards, variable printing, etc. Digital printing is quick, and affordable compared to printing a similar small project on an offset press. The process allows the designer and client to print a more reasonable­—and some would argue—sustainable quantity, that avoids overprinting a piece that ultimately ends up in the landfill. Plus, if you need to print a second run, the setup charges are minimal in comparison to offset.

Colors on a digital press are typically limited to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) so no spot colors (Pantone, etc.) Paper options are fairly open with a preference for digitally calibrated sheets, but digital presses are often limited in size, maxing out at 13”x19”.

If you hit the jackpot, your printer will have a 29.5” digital press—swoon!

In my opinion, every tiny detail about a digital press affects its final product. For instance, the difference between Canon, Xerox and HP of similar machines can produce dramatically different results. So a designer will need to look at a variety of samples printed on different printers throughout their career and find a digital press that they like the results, and gravitate towards it.

A major pet peeve of mine is when the toner sits on top of the paper in a big sloppy heap. It can make dark hair look unnaturally heavy and fake, and you can physically feel the layers of toner, ruining the final look of the end product.

I’ve determined that I personally have a thing for HP Indigo presses. For me, they are the best merge of digital convenience with a sophisticated finish similar to offset. To the untrained eye, I think it would be really difficult to tell the difference. Of course, you have to find the right printing company and pressman to assure that will get the results that you seek. A seasoned pressman will know the machine so well, they can push and pull the machine’s settings to achieve desired results.

Offset:
Offset printing (also referred to as traditional printing or offset lithography) produces very high quality results, can handle large sheets, various substrates, large quantities, multiple spot colors, varnishes, various types of inks (water, soy, traditional)—just about anything you can think of. An offset press allows the ink of a printed piece to bond with the paper, rather than sit on top of a sheet like toner based digital systems can. The paper absorbs a bit of the ink and creates a sophisticated, gorgeous finish whether you are printing on coated or uncoated stock.

Good offset printing is an incredibly powerful creative tool.

Almost all professional print shops will have Heidelberg presses—the industry standard in offset printing. What this means is that there are fewer unexpected results when printing offset versus digital, since its not so dependent on the make and model of the press, but more dependent on the experience of the pressmen and customer service representative.

Offset printing pros:
+ High-quality image replication
+ Wide variety of substrates (paper, wood, cloth, metal, leather, plastic)
+ Larger runs/high volume
+ Larger size
+ Spot colors
+ Specialty printing techniques and varnishes
+ Price per unit goes down as quantity increases

Cons:
– More setup time
– Press time/press check
– Longer turn-around time
– Drying time

Digital pros:
+ Cost-effective for smaller runs
+ Variable printing (custom names, mailing addresses)
+ Fast turn-around times
+ Consistent prints throughout run
+ Less waste
+ No drying time for ink
+ Accurate proofing

Cons:
– Size limitations
– No Pantone colors (PMS), but matching can be close
– Print quality can vary greatly from machine to machine, and isn’t as refined as offset printing
– Potential for ink cracking on folds

So, should I print digital or offset?
Well, that depends on what your end goals are, project specifications and budget. A great printer rep will be able to help you navigate the subtle differences in a job that can push a digital job into an offset project and vice versa. With a little experience, a designer will get a sense of how a project will need to be printed.

Jenn’s Top 5 Albums

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OK, so I have to admit that this was a really difficult decision. It’s really hard to whittle down my favorite music into five albums. Top five bands would be much easier. Top five most influential songs, I’ve got that covered. But top five albums really made me need to be honest with myself.

What five albums—that I listened to in their entirety—on repeat—had a significant influence on me? They may not be on the Rolling Stone Top 500 of all time, but they did leave their mark on my life and my friends and family can confirm that I sang them loudly in my car in high school, still quote their quirky lyrics, freak out when I hear one of their songs in a film or in a commercial. They have become a part of my history and the DNA of me.

05

Nada Surf: Let Go (2002)

letgo
When my amazing friend Chad told me that I needed to listen to Nada Surf: Let Go, I thought he had gone nuts. “Do you mean that band who sang, Popular?” No. Thank. You. But he insisted, and he was overwhelmingly right. What an amazing album, I found it incredibly relatable especially at a time when I uprooted myself and moved to NYC. It enlightened me to the new city, and as I walked through it’s streets listening to this album it thrilled me with the magic that it revealed.

I also related to the fact that I was born in the winter of ‘77 and grew up hearing about the “Blizzard of ‘77”—it’s like this album already knew me. It hit me right in the heart.

04

LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver (2007)

soundofsilver
This album summed up my relationship with New York and Brooklyn. “New York I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down”, I loved this city, and was having an amazing time exploring and growing as a person. It was a fun time, this album helped perk me up in an incredibly challenging environment.

Andrew and I even capped our lives in New York with one of the final LCD Soundsystem shows before we all threw in the towel. I will dance to this album when I’m old and arthritic.

03

Death Cab for Cutie: You Can Play These Songs with Chords (2002)

youcanplaythese
You Can Play These Songs With Chords, summed up my college taste in music. It’s dated mono recording style and minimal production really appealed to me. This band was everything to me when they were still unknown. It seemed old and new at the same time.

This album is dark and dreamy, maybe even a bit harsh. It still holds up to the test of time as I listen to it while writing this. It brings me back to design school when we were trying so hard to act like adults, but really still struggling to shed our high school selves and become truly independent. In other words, it’s moody.

I remember sneaking into the back door of the Southgate House in Covington, KY to see them play, and found the band out back tossing a baseball by their tour van. This album is a far cry from the band they are today, with their huge production budgets, and famous wives, but their early albums really got things right.

02

the Breeders: Last Splash (1993)

lastsplash
Kim Deal with my musical hero in high school. She was tough and experimental. She set herself apart from the pack by not being girly, and presenting herself as a artist. Her baselines, feedback and succinct lyrics are embedded in my brain. I didn’t know that girls could be this cool, and I wanted to figure out her secret.

Cannonball was, and maybe still could be my theme song.

01

Pixies: Surfer Rosa (1988)

surferrosa
Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by this. “Where is My Mind” got stuck in my head, and I was hooked for life. This album was pure fun and nonsense. It made quirk and silliness cool and edgy—and exceedingly quotable.

The combination of Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering set the tone for my musical taste, and in my opinion, was fundamental to the evolution of the independent music of today. I love the albums listed above, because I love this album. It caught my ear, started an obsession, and opened my eyes to a whole genre of music that was challenging for a child of the Midwest to access. This album was a great unifier of friends—like a secret society of misfits—bound together by something that we had been searching for but was undiscovered until this album arrived in our lives.