Meryl Mikal Design, Art Direction and Brand Communications for SMEs 
About Services Portfolio Nota Bene
Have a project you would like to discuss? Contact us at

A Latin phrase meaning "note well," coming from notre—to note. ...In present-day English, it is used to draw the attention of the reader to a certain (side) aspect or detail of the subject on hand, translating it as "pay attention" or "take notice". -wikipedia

Below is a mixed bag of posts from my thoughts on current topics to photographs during my travels. Additional items that do not necessarily fit within any other area on the website will also be included, like behind-the-scene commentary or project mock-ups and illustrations.

Welcome to Sweden, Spring/Summer 2015
After 3 years of growing strong in San Francisco, California, the first issue of the zine was published in the Spring of 2011. A move to beautiful Stockholm in early 2012 skirted the second annual issue...until now! We use this publication to share news about the studio, help promote the little things in life we enjoy around our neighborhood along with the relationships we build, and gather information that will enhance and broaden your knowledge of design. Please enjoy our sophomore issue... read Meryl Mikal Zine now. or Request a hard copy and we will happily mail one to you or even hand deliver if you are near enough!

Hangin with Magnus, September 2014
Just returned to Stockholm from a trip to Arizona with my husband and 2 year old son. Not sure if we were just delirious from the 18 hour travel day or in a playful mood having just scored a miniaturized wrestler of the same name as our son. Either way, I thought the image was amusing along with the versitility of the well designed toy.

MerylZine Issue #1 Launches, Spring 2011
Blogs, tweets, social networks are all the buzz these days. Meryl Mikal Design pushes beyond the trends and perhaps even retro by putting together a zine. It has articles about what are the current faves in the studio, useful tidbits about design, and a little tooting of our own horn. Read MerylZine now or request a hard copy.

Keeping It Creative In the Family, Winter 2010
Meryl's husband Philip has recently taken up perfume making and has pleasantly filled the home and office with a variety of test scents. From one room to the next, one can experience a reed diffused infusion of peppermint and chocolate, or pine with hints of cinnamon and anise, or this year's MMD client gift inspired mix of citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit, and bergamot) with cassis, vanilla, and jasmine, amoung others. He made the custom scent and I the throw back to an old pharmacy prescription bottle and label packaging, for hopefully a memorable giving.

A Closer Look Into San Francisco, July 2010
This summer we've had a British visitor sitting in at MMD to observe the design ropes of a small studio. Like any hospitable San Franciscan, I found it is easy to share my favorite city locations and activies. Coincidentally, what happily occurred in the exchange was a reminder of all the things that the City by the Bay offers and how sometimes it takes an outsiders perspective to see the smaller details. ...While visitng the area, he invited me to join a photography walking tour in the Soma District, led by Caliber starting and ending at the SoMa Arts Cultural Center. I thought it a great opportunity to improve my photo techniques on my Nikon d70 and challenge myself to experience slowly one of the many unique SF neighborhoods. Below is a selection of the images I took on that amazing sunny Sunday afternoon.

Having Fun in Vector with Sunrays and San Francisco Skyline, June 2010
Sometimes designers get inspired by (a.k.a. stuck into) certain styles or graphic treatments. There is nothing wrong with this unless it is forced into pieces for clients/businesses with differing design sensibilities, customer demographics or brand guidelines, for example. If you are creating artwork for purposes other than that (like events where a theme needs to be established or for conceptual exploration,) like shown below, then why not get it out of your system.

After focusing on Hsieh and Associates' political materials push the last few weeks, I chose an outlet for my vector-magic tool, ray-crazed needs. Enter in my latest pastimes: nice weather day walks with our dog Tomás over to visit our neighbors Box Dog Bikes and revitalizing my love for pummeling bags and mits at Third Street Boxing Gym a few times a week. The posters below were derived from my time spent with the business owners and show my appreciation for our growing relationships—present something fun for them to have.

Dave Mirra is All Smiles, May 2010
One of my first creative loves, photography, was utilized to take some "glamour" pics of undisputedly today's most recognized Pro BMX Athlete Dave Mirra! As a designer for Invisalign's teen market events, I took the opportunity to visit Journey's Backyard BBQ in nearby Sacramento. Arrangements were made for me to photograph Dave interacting at the event since he was an Invisalign patient. I had an hour before the opening to snap candid/posed images of him on and around the half-pipe then being interviewed by Sandbox Marketing's Brian Gass, one of the organizers of the event. Once the gates were open to the thousands of attendees, I shot pictures of Dave signing posters (One of the materials MMD created for the event!) and a handful of other activities going on around the Invisalign tent.

Fashion and Photoshop, Spring 2010
Kelly Hansmann of Protea apparel company is a good friend and neighbor to Meryl Mikal Design. So, we try to support one another whenever we can. She came to me with one of her Fall/Winter items needing a little help compositing a different version of a garment on an existing image. Not that Kelly expected to make wine out of water, but her request reminded me that many people think you can "Photoshop" anything. ...A while back a friend of a friend wanted me to give her open eyes in a picture she took with a celebrity where her eyes were closed. If I didn't have an additonal picture to extract her open eyes from, I would have had to render/illustrate her new eyes, taking a much longer time to create them from scratch. The fact of the matter is, you need the right elements and skills to utilize Photoshop's awesome program capabilities correctly and in order to compensate for the inabilities of a photograph to be "perfect" like in these instances.

For the images below, the left/first is the original from the photographer. It took a total of about 3 hours to get the new image to where you see it on the right retouched composite. (I photographed the alternative neck muff separately on a dress form at a similar perspective, cropped it out, and then superimpose this element while adding extra shadowing, cloning, and color correcting to match the lighting.) In addition to admiring the image, you can purchaseg one of Protea's many gorgeous pieces at their online store.

Not Just a Print-Focused Design Agency, MMD's Website Class of 2009
It's not often we design websites. We try to focus on print-based marketing and branding projects, but we like to support our exsisting clients wherever we can and the web is one of those unavoidable channels MMD sails into to do so. Creating websites is a way for us to ensure a client's branding is kept in tact and marketing messages are recieved in a cohesive tone across multiple mediums. We've designed a handful of websites this last year—below Smartrise, 3D Media, and ICEcard are three examples.

Evolution of a Brand: Conservatory of Flowers GGEGR Special Exhibit, September-December 2009
A challenging project to say the least, but in the end an accomplishment. We started out presenting to the development, education and operations department heads an array of concept directions (shown below: top row plus the far left one of the bottom row.) Initially the top left direction was selected by the majority, but then an outside consultant was brought on by the Conservatory's Director to oversee media sponsorship and ad placement who derailed the process—pun intended—and encouraged the group to proceed with a concept more like the bottom left for optimal visual appeal to be used on the street banner efforts. The additonal graphics (bottom right three) are a snapshot of the revisions made to take this concept through to the final branding, all based on the outside consultant taking the design direction reins. In addition, this was all done working with an ever shortening delivery schedule covering all other aspects that were reliant upon the exhibit brand being finalized. MMD was given the marketing, merchandise and environmental signage to produce too. Let me take this opportunity to express that although the final design isn't bad, the design team did not feel that the strength of the original concept was kept in tact, and ultimately—for many reasons—was not what we felt was best for the client. I'd like to use this link to express how what happened can be a common scenario in the design process.

We can only look forward to the overall coordination/process management of the next season's event being smoother, and take a breathe, learn from past experiences, knowing it will.

Invisalign Teen, US Open of Surf, July 2009
What's better than having an event in the middle of the summer, right on the sand of Huntington Beach? A rhetorical question at it's best, but it's going on now (week of July 18-26, 2009) It is the first of a series of events planned this summer that Invisalign Teen will take part in to promote itself and MMD will lend creative support on. We were tasked with creating an atmosphere that would engage teenagers and parents to improve their self image. You can see the flyers, posters, stickers, t-shirts, floor decals, tent banners and table covers we designed to look clean and youthful—to go along with athlete autograph signings and a photo/video booth. Jami's in there too!

Conservatory of Flowers Spring/Summer Special Exhibit Branding, April 2009
One of our favorite and most stimulating projects we have worked on since the inception of MMD. The challenge: create artwork that is accesible to children and fitting to the style of the venue. Meryl teamed up with fellow graphic designer Alice Lin for the early concept exploration—for inspiration we looked to Art Deco travel posters and 1940s fruit crate labels. Since the client enjoyed many of the concepts, and had a hard time ultimately choosing one to proceed with, we thought it only appropriate to share this project's preliminay directions to the public as an example of early stage design development process.

Why Brand?, January 2009
I get asked a lot about the importance of a company's brand, specifically by my small business clients. To this important question I refer to a great "Get to the Point" mini-article submitted to MarketingProfs by Jane Schulte.

Brand or Get Branded
"You've heard the branding gurus' mantra," says Jane Schulte, author of Work Smart, Not Hard! "Brand or be branded. Well, it's true. If you don't go about the process of creating a personality for your company, one will be created for you." She outlines this process for ensuring your brand doesn't happen by accident:

* Start with two lists. One should contain words that describe your company's current personality; the second should describe the company you want to be. They might be similar lists; in this case, they'll help you to focus on consistency as you grow. If they differ, you can make a conscious, concerted effort to move toward the brand you envision.
* Determine what your company looks like. From Web site design and taglines to colors and logos, make choices that work together to build your brand.
* Reinforce the brand throughout your organization. "It cannot be an act," says Schulte. "You have to make sure, just like your mission statement, that you can easily carry [it] off in everything you do, from marketing [to] advertising, client service and employee relations." And give your team the resources they need to make this happen—otherwise, they'll devise ad hoc solutions that might send the wrong message about your brand.

The Po!nt: "Any time someone comes into contact with your company, whether … through written materials or personal communication," reports author Jane Schulte, "its intended personality should come through every single time."

Hong Kong, Winter Holiday 2006/2007
Unless you've taken the tram up to the top of Victoria Peak overlooking all of Hong Kong, it's hard to fully understand the grandeur of this lively city and it's enormous shipping hub of a harbor. It is breathtaking and I had to seam three photographs together to reveal the entire panoramic view.

Yosemite Camping, Summer 2005
I grabbed the first image below on our hike up to one of the larger falls. It just seems so "picture perfect" and I can't help but want to share it with others—the waterfall in the background is the smallest in scale in the photograph, yet you can still tell it's immenseness based on the stength of the white pour off the background mountain wall. The second photo I used for a long while as my screensaver of choice, taken near one of the giant redwood trails on the same trip.

BuyMagazine Product Photoshoots, 2003
I had the pleasure to art direct lifestyle and product photoshoots for the monthly publication. All of these are superimposed electronic products onto separately photographed or computer generated backgounds, then used to accompany editorial content.