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Putting the Pieces Together, a Design Challenge

For our promotional project this year we invited people into the process of visual problem-solving. Great design is purposeful, it solves a problem through a combination of logic, creativity and ingenuity. Another important aspect of the design process is playfulness. It is necessary to explore different concepts, adjust them, and push the limits to see how elastic an idea is – at what point does it lose its context and become too unrecognizable? We wanted to find one item to embody all these ideas. Tangram puzzles were the perfect design challenge.

Tangram design challenge boxes

One puzzle consists of seven geometric pieces that combine to make a square. A deck of cards provides a series of figures, animals and landmarks formed by rearranging the seven pieces. It seems simple until you realize there are infinite ways to put the seven pieces together. We made it even trickier by including two puzzles with some cards combining all 14 pieces to make one design. One might call this an advancedgram.

Tangrams have seemingly endless possibilities and the final arrangements are very subjective. Two people may look at a completed puzzle and see two completely different things. This is similar to design at its heart and the challenges designers engage with during every project. Ultimately, we want our designs to be unique, but they also need to be recognizable to a wider audience. 

cards with design challenge images

In true Splinter fashion, we used wooden puzzles in wooden boxes with red and white cards. We kept the design simple so that the puzzles could be the hero of the project. We were overwhelmingly pleased to win a silver ADDY from The American Advertising Federation (AAF). But we were even more pleased to give a peek into the creative mind. Having a little fun while getting to the crux of the design challenge, that is our pointy genius.

Note(worthy) Book Design

As you can probably imagine we go through a lot of notebooks around here, and because of this we’ve taken to binding our own. One day we got to thinking – why not create our own book design? Like any project we touch, we had to go all out, and made an entire series of Splinter notebooks. Using common “note” phrases, we created this environmentally friendly set that has everyone in the studio happily taking notes.

The American Advertising Federation (AAF) also took note of our book design project. Read more.

Take Notes and Mental Notes book design.
Take Notes and Mental Notes
Share Notes and Swap Notes book design
Share Notes and Swap Notes
Compare Notes and Motherfucker Take Note book design.
Compare Notes and MF’er Take Note

The whole series of notebooks are printed on recycled FSC certified paper that is made from responsible sources and is elemental chlorine free.

We do a lot of sketching. And even more taking notes. Why not enjoy it? Next time you’re in the studio, ask about them and you’ll likely leave with one or two of them.

Custom Design, Wine and Pine.

From time to time we have the itch to create something custom, from scratch, to keep our skills and spirits sharp. It’s a particularly nice break from the monitor. Making things with our hands is a nice itch to scratch at times, especially when it has a great end result – a custom design that’s a perfect hideaway for your wine.

Finished photo of the custom design

Queue the power tools, tunes, paint booth and aerator.

Sanding and painting the custom design wine boxes

After several coats of custom-mixed, Splinter PMS matched paint, came the laquer. Lots of it. They turned out so great, our clients were asking for more. Hopefully that was the custom design boxed, not the cabernet.

Our clients and colleagues have become familiar with our team making custom things, so there’s always fun things kicking around our studio.

Olmec Head Custom Mural

At Splinter we love checking out local art, and on a recent trip to downtown Phoenix we saw some street art that we fell in love with. If you look on the corner of Calle 16, next to Barrio Cafe, you’ll see the work that caught our attention. The goal then became how to add a custom mural to our studios, and who would be the artist.

Angel Diaz Olmec mural at Splinter
No detail was spared, even the hardware was used

We’ve been itching to get some new art here for a while, so we tracked down local artist Angel Diaz and told him we wanted him to go big on a custom mural. Angel was happy to oblige. After a quick chat about the piece that first inspired us, we set him loose with our only direction being to do something kick-ass that we’ll love to look at everyday. He delivered.

progress picture midway through the custom mural art
One artist, one ladder and a milk crate of spray paint cans
Completed Olmec mural



Watch this time lapse video of his graffiti work, creating a larger than life Olmec-inspired scene.

Creative Drinking: How Stella Got Her Groove Back

What’s more fun than a dog, beer and a video camera? Not much, at least for when staff is need of an outlet. Creative drinking at lunch will do that.

Brandon was nominated online to participate in the trending 24 Hour Beer Challenge. It consists of drinking a beer on camera. You have one day to tape it and post it to social media, calling out others to do the same within 24 hours. We’ve seen this spread all over the US and internationally. The videos have been increasingly good as friends try to out-do their buddy’s previous.

The above video was shot in one take. No joke. Shout out the the talented hands man, Joseph Weber. He straight nailed it. GG the office Staffordshire terrier handled her own pretty well too.

Here’s a couple other great 24 Hour Beer Challenge videos people participating in some creative drinking for your viewing pleasure.

Drop Dead Gorgeous – Fashion Photoshoot

Halloween and the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos share ghoulish qualities, but the two are distinctly different. Unlike Halloween, Day of the Dead centers around celebrating the lives of those who have passed, and the belief that death is just a natural transition in life. Festivities include elaborate face paintings that resemble skulls and showing respect for their deceased loved ones. We were inspired to create a modern interpretation of the time-honored, colorful holiday through a fashion photoshoot. We wanted the look to be soft and ethereal; a multi-ethnic re-imagining of the traditional for audiences who haven’t had the opportunity to experience Mexican culture, but can identify with its message and relevancy in their own lives.

Cover

Working with Phoenix Fashion Week, we were able to cultivate a Vogue-inspired “Day of the Dead” fashion photoshoot with their team of talented wardrobe stylists, makeup artists and hair stylists. Special thanks to Dynelle Rodriguez, Vanessa Gonzalez, Jessica Fiero, Ivonne Bran and Laura Dickerson for helping bring the vision to life!

Interior spread

The photos feature Phoenix Fashion Week’s Emerging Models Eddene, Sydney, and Maureen – not to mention a hand-glittered skull – to complete the tone.

Back inside cover

As November nears each year, Phoenix becomes glutted with decorations and costumes centered around the holiday. Corresponding celebrations and expressions often look eccentric, if not a bit startling, to the uninitiated.

Here’s a sneak peek of some behind the scenes shots.

In 2020, this project received an Honorable Mention from the Indigo Awards in the Magazine & Newspaper design category. View the story here.

Renovated Photo Studio

Upon the arrival of our new in-house photographer, it was time to resurrect the photo studio. After a little TLC – okay, a lot of TLC – we’ve finally finished renovating the photography cove.

The new photo studio allows Splinter to provide clients with impressive materials created in-house. Clients will be able to utilize our own staff photographer. Specializing in product and lifestyle shoots, the photography services are available for location or assignment as needed.

By launching a new photo studio, we’ve expanded our capabilities and service offerings to clients. It increases our ability to produce both commercial and editorial shoots for a wide range of clients, but also our ability to produce striking, thought-provoking images for them.

With the addition of the photo studio, the visual material from Splinter will have a greater continuity with the design process and will reinforce their reputation as an industry forerunner.

It’s also the ideal place to hook up the Wii or a film to project on the 18-foot wall when we’re done.

photo studio is set up for an upcoming shoot

Fully equipped boasting climate-controlled conditions, a stocked half-kitchen and private entrance, it’s an ideal comfortable working environment. The workspace is home to an infinity wall creating a versatile backdrop to shoot products, people, or anything else clients desire. The large studio space measures roughly 750 square feet with a 300 square foot photo cove and 18 foot ceiling.

Another special feature of the studio is the unlimited access clients can have. The 24-hour accessibility of the ensures faster production times. With the private entrance, clients can work with photographers on their own schedule.

News from a design studio, always from scratch

Wine me & Pine me – Custom Design

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Grow your opt-in email marketing Lists

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Best of our Valley

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Design Team That’s Small, but Mighty

Small But Mighty

By Design

We’re big picture people who’ve set out to change the world in which we live and work. We enjoy working hard, working smart and working together as a design team. We believe in being early, over-prepared and highly influential.

We’re forever building better partnerships with each other and our clients. Our success ultimately depends on our working relationships and we don’t take that for granted. What defines us at Splinter is a strong affinity to be human. We’re people people.

It’s important for us to feel good about what we do, to accomplish our personal and professional goals. We’ve all splintered off from somewhere, coming together to be a part of something better. 

Our design team sits at the intersection of art and commerce, which informs the development of distinct, functional solutions. Always fresh, not from concentrate.

WORDS WE LIVE BY

BE HUMAN

Our working partnerships feel effortless because we value open communication with our clients and within our team. We don’t do stuffy corporate-speak or techie geek-speak. We just do human-speak.

GIVE A SH*T

Passion, enthusiasm and attentiveness drive our work and our lives. When energy is lacking we reach for coffee, when color is lacking we reach for the Pantone. Delivering fantastic work inspires others to care as much as we do.

BE ON YOUR GAME

Become an expert in your craft. Make work you’re proud of — not just for the sake of collecting a paycheck. We design with integrity and give the same level of attention to each project. Regardless of size.

MAKE THINGS BETTER

We know that rules and systems have a purpose. And we also know that sometimes you have to break the mold to make things better. We’re in the business of solving problems, not just making pretty pictures.

SEEKING

  • Designer

    Splinter is looking for a designer who creates visually stunning work based on strategic objectives – someone who sees the bigger picture. For you, taking a project from idea to completion is just the way things need to be. And honing a brand or developing a campaign for a variety of media is a good …

    SEE THE FULL JOB POST
  • Developer

    Are you a talented developer of all things digital? Splinter is looking for someone that can build and maintain responsive websites, code email templates and Google ads, and interactive digital displays. The ideal person has a strong understanding of how design translates to web and the coding ability to make it happen. You’ll be working …

    SEE THE FULL JOB POST
  • Design Intern

    Interns at Splinter don’t just get coffee and endlessly retouch photos – you’ll work on client projects, learn what it means to manage a brand, and hopefully pick up some mad keyboard shortcuts (in addition to retouching plenty of photos). As part of the team, you’ll gain experience following projects through from beginning to end. …

    SEE THE FULL JOB POST

Challenge Accepted

  • For the savvy, skillful creatives with the know-how to develop distinct, functional solutions.
  • Max. file size: 50 MB.
    PDF or Word file only, please.
    • Accepted file types: pdf, Max. file size: 5 MB.
      We ask that all designers provide a portfolio in PDF format, not to exceed 5MB.