Oxide at Outward Bound Omaha

Last Friday, Oxide had the pleasure of engaging in a full day of team-building activities at Outward Bound Omaha.

Throughout the year, we’ve discussed various activities we could participate in as a group. Over the years, we’ve raced go-carts, attended music festivals and conferences, participated in office-wide Halloween costumes, and gotten together for countless meals and drinks.

We were looking for something different. Something that would help us grow as a team beyond friendship. Mandy got us started with a brilliant scavenger hunt a few months ago.

Fondly reminiscing about my childhood experience at summer camp, I suggested a high-ropes course. Mandy found Outward Bound, a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through active learning experiences. Located within the brand-new
Northstar building at 49th and Ames, Outward Bound Omaha is just one of their many global chapters.

Blackstone District murals

If you live in Omaha, you’re probably aware of the the resurgence going on in the Blackstone District. Back in 2013, Oxide helped create a name and identity for the the neighborhood. After the district’s conversion of Farnam Street from one-way traffic to two-way, the ongoing mission has become to re-create and nurture a district that is lively, pedestrian-friendly, and provides a unique cultural experience for businesses, residents, and all members of the community.

We were thrilled to help continue this effort by designing three murals placed throughout the district. We sketched up a really wide variety of concepts, including reproductions of ads and logos from the area’s business in the early 1900s. While art for art’s sake would have be fun to have put up, the goal of this project was to grow the awareness and identity of the district itself. Building on the Blackstone brand, we continued with black and white simplicity and referenced the neighborhood’s past to further the nostalgic feel of the logo.

New Oxide hand-painted signage

Well, it’s not that new, but if you haven’t visited Oxide’s north entrance since last year, we’d like to share our new hand-painted signage!

With our neighborhood — the Blackstone District — on the rise, it felt like time to spruce up our building. We knew we wanted to do something that would stand out and look appropriate to the building’s age. We considered repurposing a vintage neon sign like we did on the front of our building, but after looking around for a few months, we realized that old signs are either destroyed and scrapped or cost a small fortune. We decided that a hand-painted sign was the perfect solution — when the neighborhood was first established in the early 20th century, hand-lettered murals and signage were universal to the area.

We let our OCD run free, did a bunch of measuring, and designed a layout that worked well with the available space. However, finding someone that was willing to actually get up on a ladder and paint it was more difficult than you’d imagine. After asking around for some time, we finally found Sharon Davis of Arbor Street Studios. In the months since then, they have become the go-to sign painters in Omaha. And as many businesses in our neighborhood look to cultivate the character of yesteryear, hand-painted signs in general have become the de facto choice.

Design Student Interview

Last year, I was contacted by Ashley McFeely, an instructor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha‘s Graphic Design program. Ashley was looking for professional designers who could commit to mentoring her Graphic Design 3 students throughout the upcoming semester. During the initial class meeting, students came up with various concepts for their single semester-long project. They then broke into small groups based on the ideas that interested them the most. They were given the week to build presentations and pitch their ideas to the mentors. I was really impressed with the excitement students Evan Ludes and Natali Bianco had for their concept. After a discussion with my fellow mentors, I requested that I work with them.

I really enjoyed the mentoring throughout the semester and wanted to share one of my student’s thoughts on the experience. Evan was graciously willing to answer a few questions I had for him about his group’s project.

Center for Civic Design identity

Oxide has been partnering with Dana Chisnell and Whitney Quesenbery — experts in usability, information design, and plain language — on various projects for years. We recently created an identity for their newest endeavor, the Center for Civic Design. The CCD has one goal: Ensuring voter intent through design. Dana and Whitney truly believe that “democracy is a design problem,” and we could not agree more.

ODC holiday tequila

For the 2014 holiday season, Oxide developed custom labels for our very own bottled tequila. We presented the tequila to some of our local clients as a thank-you for the great year we had, and a toast to the good times yet to come.

The labels feature dual-sided, letter-pressed type (Oxide’s contact info is on the reverse side and is visible through the clear bottle), a blind-embossed seal, handwritten description, and our classic Oxide logo bubble — all on Oxide’s corporate, 100% cotton paper. The wooden cap was then sealed with red tape, and hand numbered as part of a limited series.

Happy Halloween 2014!

Halloween is a special holiday for creatives and a particular favorite here at Oxide. For the occasion to date, we’ve built custom props, assembled screen-accurate ensembles, dressed completely unexpectedly, and produced unique getups with items we had lying around. For the third year in a row, we’re excited to share Team Oxide’s costumes!

Westside Warriors logo

Did we learn our lesson from the failure of our proposed Benson Mighty Bunnies logo? No we did not. Without being asked, I designed a new logo for the Westside High School (Omaha, NE) athletic department. (Before our designer friends get mad at us, please read the entire story.)

Westside is currently using The University of Wisconsin’s athletic logo, paying them an annual logo usage fee. This was perhaps somewhat acceptable prior to The University of Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten Conference, but it is now a logo that should be despised by the citizens of our state. I realize that not everyone in Nebraska is a Husker fan, but I believe the time for Westside to create their own unique identity is now.

Niobrara Valley Preserve brochure

Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy is the world’s leading conservation organization. One of the flagship projects of their Nebraska office, The Niobrara Valley Preserve,  is roughly 60,000 acres, which makes it one of their largest preserves worldwide. Home to a recorded 581 plant, 213 bird, 86 lichen, 70 butterfly, 44 mammal (including bison herds), 25 fish, 17 reptile, and 8 amphibian species, the preserve’s mission is conservation, scientific research, and education.

Union Pacific Intermodal video

Intermodal shipping incorporates multiple modes of transportation to move goods from point A to point B. This might not sound like the world’s most complicated concept, but to fully explain the process and all of the benefits associated with it, Union Pacific hired illustrator/animator Cale Oglesby to explain the service. Cale then partnered with Oxide for illustration and design, while he focused on the animation portion of the project.

Experts at intermodal, Union Pacific provides the most cost-effective access to markets throughout North America. They do this by combining the flexibility of trucks with the efficiency and environmental benefits of their vast rail system. UP is America’s largest intermodal network, serving more than 95% of all major U.S. markets.