Interview with Christina Sharp
Cinder Design Co.
is a boutique design and consultancy firm out of Schenectady, NY, USA. Cinder Design Co. is built on the belief that deep research, client collaboration, and ongoing communication are essential for smart design solutions and successful outcomes.
Christina, would you introduce yourself and your design practice?
Hello, I'm Christina Sharp, Co-Founder of Cinder Design company. We are a boutique design studio located in upstate New York that specializes in branding, identity design, campaign and information design. We have unique skill sets though I was talking work a variety of different projects such as illustrations, maps, label designs and social media campaigns. Our clients range from large organizations such as YMCA of the USA and the New York State Insurance Fund to smaller startups, or mom and pop shops.
Where did you meet your co-founder? What makes you a great team?
My co-founder Michael Rivette and I previously wrote together at another agency. We were both graphic designers but had very different skill sets. My work is very illustration and lettering heavy and has focused more on clean branding and identity. Looking at where our work is now it's exactly a combination of both those styles. But while working together there we realized that we balance each other out very well and we had similar ambitions. We both wanted an agency of our own where we could be more selective towards the kind of work we did and more hands on and in direct contact with the clients.
What questions do you ask prospective clients to begin the design process? What information do you need about their business?
When meeting with prospective clients we need to learn as much as we can before starting the design process in order to come up with the most effective solution of their problem. We need to understand what the problem is. The in-depth questions vary depending on the type of project but some of the first questions we ask are their budget, their timeline, long term goals. organization strengths or weaknesses and what makes them proud of the organization. It gives the client a chance to reflect on what's the most important so we can all keep that in mind throughout the entire project.
What is a recent project that Cinder Design took on that exemplifies the work done by your firm? Could you outline the project start to finish?
All of the youth development campaigns we do for YMCA of the USA are super fulfilling. Both my partner and I love the outdoors and live healthy lifestyles so we enjoy spreading that message to a younger audience. You break down a project start to finish. We worked with them on their 2018/ 2019 Healthy Kids Day campaigns. The concept we developed in 2018 was based around the statement, Awaken Summer Imagination. We developed a word mark for the theme in both English and Spanish and a concept that involved photographs of excited children that YMCA USA already had. We combined the photographs with fun imaginative illustrations such as rocket ships sailboats and other summer themed graphics. We built the design program into a range of deliverables such as T-shirts, banners, Website and social media graphics animations posters and much much more. They received positive feedback from YMCA's all across the country along with some key learnings so they wanted to continue evolving the same concept for their 2019 campaign which we recently wrapped up after finalizing the new word mark and getting approval from the client. We organized a photo shoot and refined the illustrations to align more with summer activities, Healthy eating and exercise. We applied the designs to the same deliverables as 2018 and we're excited to see it roll out next month. When we first started Cinder in 2015 we didn't have a niche. The clients we worked with her more of a broad spectrum. But over the years we've been taking on clients that connect more with our personal interests. So clients like YMCA of the USA and projects like healthy kids stay and best summer ever encouraged people to be outdoors enjoying fresh air and connecting with nature. Those things are more aligned with where we see our agency long term so getting more clients and projects that connect with that causes us to get really excited about our company's future.
What are your preferred tools? Pens? Pads? Programs? What do you design on and with?
The basic tools we use every day besides a pencil and paper vary depending on the project. As far as software we use Adobe Creative Cloud, so Illustrator Photoshop Indesign and Aftereffects for Web based projects we turn to Sketch for design and Envision for prototyping and testing. My personal favorite materials to use are tracing paper grade paper and mechanical pencil especially when we're working on projects that involve maps or logos.