We are proud to congratulate Ethan Goller, President of Structural Graphics, who was recently elected as the new 2nd Assistant Chief of the Essex Fire Department!
Having joined the all-volunteer fire and rescue company in 1999, Ethan has moved up the ranks from firefighter, to line officer and now serves as an Assistant Chief. He is also a Connecticut State certified EMT since 2003.
When asked what he found most rewarding of being a firefighter, Ethan responded “there is little as rewarding than to be able to come to the aid of someone who is often desperately in need of help. When people call 911, they’re saying ‘I’m in a situation that I can’t handle’, and being able to help when help’s most needed gives me great satisfaction and pride”. He also feels fortunate that his position at Structural Graphics affords him the ability to respond during the day, as only a few Essex firefighters work in town.
It’s a fragile medium, yet it can also be considered durable and strong. We learn to use it as children – for paper mache, posters and essays – but it continues to teach us lessons throughout life.
Here at Structural Graphics, it’s no surprise that we give A LOT of thought to paper: how it works, what it is and what it can be. And paper engineer, Isabel Uria, is certainly a testament to that.
Isabel’s work is currently on display at the Drezner Gallery in Avon, CT until Sat., June 24.
“Being creative is inside all of us,” Isabel said. “Creativity is looking at a world of possibilities and acknowledging all the ways a problem can be brought to light and all the ways it could be solved. Creativity opens your mind. It is a path to visualize the past, the present and the future. Creativity is the opposite of war. It is the future. Evolution has happened because human beings have been curious to know and understand how things work and take that understanding to CREATE new developments and innovative things that serve our needs and help us. Creativity makes the world go around!”
Paper Possibilities is a celebration of our understanding of paper as an expressive material. The artists in this exhibit come from a diverse set of backgrounds. Some are paper engineers, some work with cut paper, some are origami artists, and some find their expressions in the creation of the paper itself.
This is the first exhibition of the Paper Artist Gathering, a group based at the Hartford makerspace, MakeHartford. They have been working together and sharing techniques since November of 2015, and are ready to put forth their creations. Their goal is to demonstrate that despite its reputation as a common material, the potential for expressions in paper is not yet fully explored.
“Some mail pieces are effective, some are engaging, some are beautiful. But very few can be called Irresistible Mail™” – the US Postal Service.
At the National Postal Forum in Baltimore, MD on May 23, 2017, The Lincoln Motor Company’s high-end video mailer, “See it First,” was selected as the Grand Champion Award winner of the “Irresistible Mail” trophy. The Irresistible Mail Award is a USPS program that highlights mail pieces that increase engagement through innovative design, print or digital technologies.
Sharing creative credits on the winning mailer are Structural Graphics who printed and hand-assembled the piece, Lincoln Motor Company, Ford’s ad agency GTB (formerly Team Detroit), Hudson Rouge.
Used to give customers a sneak peek before the vehicle hit showrooms, this mailer presents a video screen embedded on the inside of a display folder. Activating upon opening, the video delivers a story about Continental’s heritage and features, along with a tri-fold brochure describing the ownership experience, all delivered in a custom box. This piece was one of four finalists recognized at this year’s Forum, having been the winner of the 2nd quarter Irresistible Mail Award.
Additionally, you can find Structural Graphics on the 2017 USPS Irresistible site. Several of our pieces, created in partnership with MRM/ McCann and Sandy Alexander, are featured, including SleekPeeks VR Viewers, and OE, a slider design our paper engineers developed that features Near Field Communication and a “Twister” exploding page.
This is the second installment in our “What it Means to Say I’m a Creative” series, meant to focus on the inspiration and drive behind each one of our paper engineers. To read Part 1 of the series, click here.
How did you know you wanted to create (in a professional sense)?
I think at an unconscious level I always knew I was going to work in the arts. I played piano for five years, and was involved in the school choir, theater, musicals and extracurricular art classes since middle school. Back then, I loved colors and painting, primarily.However, my journey with paper probably goes back to when I was 6 or 7 years old. My older brother had been given origami books for Christmas. I saw how he would make all these little creatures out of paper and neatly display them on his shelf. As any little sister, I idolized my brother. I wanted to be just like him! But he wouldn’t lend me his origami books!So one day, when he wasn’t looking or wasn’t around, I snuck into his room, took the books and started to try to follow the instructions on how to make all these little creatures through increasingly difficult pleats and folds. I succeeded on the beginner’s book but I failed miserably on all the more advanced ones. It took a while before I would understand and successfully accomplish complex paper folding like that. But if I have to look back at where I began with paper, I think that might have been my first experience with this amazing material.
What advice would you give to others who want to work in a creative industry/ position?
Work Hard. Work smart. Be true to your passions.
Be persistent (without being stubborn).
Be confident, but not cocky.
Dream big, but also keep your feet grounded in reality (or at least keep a toe or two on the ground).
Stay confident, even when you think you’re wavering at every turn. (We often think we’re not doing well enough, but sometimes that’s a good thing; it keeps us humble.)
Go forth doing your thing (whatever that may be) with constancy and fortitude!
I guess much of this “advice” can really apply to any profession. At the end of the day, whatever you do, practice your craft passionately. Wouldn’t that make for a happier you?
What does creativity mean to you?
Being creative is inside all of us. Creativity is looking at a world of possibilities and acknowledging all the ways a problem can be brought to light and all the ways it could be solved. Creativity opens your mind. It is a path to visualize the past, the present and the future. Creativity is the opposite of war. It is the future. Evolution has happened because human beings have been curious to know and understand how things work and take that understanding to CREATE new developments and innovative things that serve our needs and help us. Creativity makes the world go around!
How do you feel when you tell others you’re a paper engineer?
It’s always fun to explain what I do. Unless you’re “in” the industry or closely linked to it, people don’t automatically know what a “paper engineer” is.First of all, we have not necessarily studied engineering in school, yet we work with paper as our material of choice in the same way an engineer does. We use the material —cut, fold, and paste it—to create an entirely new construct. The thing about paper engineers is that we can toggle that blurry line between being an artist and being a designer. We can be both! And sometimes, some of us are.Personally, I feel that’s awesome! I also feel very fortunate to be one of the people who makes a living in this profession. There are only so many people that do, and I think we all know each other! Or at least we know of each other.
What does it mean to say that you’re a “creative”?
There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being a designer because you’re the one that has to visualize the results, and make sure it works for the purpose that it is needed. As a creative I have to come up with a compelling, grand, aesthetically pleasing solution to the problem at hand. I have to design an eloquent way to express a message in 3D paper shapes and forms. I have to make things unique and innovative. Sometimes that comes easy, but sometimes it doesn’t. And criticism will always be there. Those are the struggles you deal with on a regular basis as a designer, as an artist and as a creative.
Paper currency. Chocolate chip cookies. The Smartphone.
What do all of these things have in common, you might ask? Well, they all started as an idea that turned into a life-altering innovation.
But, an innovation doesn’t have to be something as complex as creating Samsung’s Galaxy, or coming up with a way to maintain monetary policy; it can be as easy as baking a batch of homemade cookies.
At Structural Graphics we recognize that innovation is a major component to the success of a business, not only to provide our clients with new and creative solutions to their marketing challenges, but to provide solutions to the challenges we face internally in our company as well. Thus, the Structural Graphics “Innovation Team” was born. CEO Michael Maguire selected 10 employees, from all different backgrounds and departments, to form this Team whose sole purpose is to “create anything new that has impact”. For our company, innovation could take place in the form of a product or service, a process, or the way in which we interact with our customers.
The first task for the Innovation Team was to “think outside the box” and come up with an innovative way to re-organize an open space that wasn’t being used. After some brainstorming and collaborating, the Team transformed a dull, closed-off area into a terrific space with lots of natural light and places to display creative work. The “Innovation Space” became an area where employees can hold meetings, collaborate on projects and, most importantly, share projects (personal and professional) with their colleagues. You may not have known it; but we have lots of artists here, painters, poets, musicians and more.
The Innovation Team has some exciting projects they’re working on now. Members have split up into groups to take on projects the Team sees as having the greatest opportunity for innovation in our company right now. Projects include new and exciting updates to our company website, a company-wide recycling project for employees to become more environmentally conscious, and a plan to alleviate bottlenecks in our current internal prepress process workflow.
This is just the beginning. The Innovation Team holds lively and interactive meetings twice a month where all ideas are welcome, and usually a tasty dessert is shared among co-workers. This Team will act to provide Structural Graphics with innovative solutions to our current challenges. Keep a look out for some of our upcoming projects, and remember that innovation can be found anywhere; all you need is a great idea and the ability to “think next” (chocolate chip cookies definitely help too).
Picture: the Innovation Team in our newly redesigned innovation space.
(Front Row) Michael Maguire, Jenna Paternostro, David Komorowski, Karen Signor, Warren Yamakoshi
(Back Row) Darlene Ferris, Jeff Nixon, Joe Migliaccio, Shin Wakabayashi and Edmund Wu
Structural Graphics, the pioneer of the dimensional print marketing industry is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The company introduced the world to dimensional print marketing in 1976 and continues to lead the interactive print marketing industry today.
As the world changes, Structural Graphics’ capabilities and service offerings have continued to evolve. Building on the company’s success in the insurance sector, The Lift Factor was established to deliver fully integrated marketing solutions utilizing print and digital executions for the nation’s top insurers. The Red Paper Plane division was created to provide a fast turnaround, do-it-yourself platform to buy Structural Graphics’ top selling formats online.
“The vast majority of companies never make it to see their 40th anniversary. The fact that we are celebrating this milestone here at Structural Graphics is a testament to the innovative products and services we offer, and our wonderful clients and suppliers. But most importantly, it’s a reflection of the creative, hardworking and talented employees that have walked through our doors over the past 40 years. Our people are truly our greatest asset,” stated Mike Maguire, CEO.
Structural Graphics markets its products and services nationally and in Canada, with its design and paper engineering, production management, marketing and administrative offices operating from the corporate headquarters in Essex, Connecticut. The company has sales and production operations throughout the U.S. and Mexico.
Life is better when you’re laughing. And when that laughter supports a charitable cause… what’s better than that?
The teams at Structural Graphics and Red Paper Plane celebrate Red Nose Day, a fundraiser which supports Comic Relief. Each of our employees was given a red nose with which to participate.
Comic Relief is a major charity based in the UK, with a vision of a just world, free from poverty. Through the power of entertainment, we raise awareness and money to help kids who need us most at home and around the world. Red Nose Day is on a mission to lift kids out of poverty and has raised over $1 billion globally in the last 25 years.
Who designed the most innovative packaging of 2015? The Dieline, the premier website on packaging design, answered that question at their annual conference held May 19-22. This year, The Dieline Package Design Awards received more than 1,200 entries from countries all over the world. Out of those entrants, Structural Graphics took home First Place in Technology, Media, Office and Self-Promotion for the Google Box.
The Box will be on display all week at HOW Design Live’s Exhibit Hall at The Dieline Awards’ exhibit booth.
“I could not be more proud of the entire team here at SG as well as at Blanks for their tireless efforts in bringing this project to life,” said Alex Bates, VP of Paper Engineering and Design. (For more from Alex, watch our acceptance speech video here.)
The Story of the Google Box:
Last year, during the development of the Google Photos app pop-up book, we were asked through a string of emails whether or not we do boxes.
Psht. We practically invented them.
So on September 16, 2015, we kicked off the project with a call to discuss concepts. Google wanted a packaging piece that could hold products that would promote its new store. Collaboratively, what we came up with was a box that fit together like a puzzle. Each of the “puzzle pieces” contained a different product Google was seeking to promote. The entire box was later sent to major influencers who then vlogged and posted videos of the box on YouTube.
The Dieline Awards are an international design competition recognizing the world’s best consumer product packaging design. Now in its 7th year, The Dieline Awards 2016 has gathered a highly esteemed jury of structural packaging, design, branding and consumer product experts. The Dieline Awards names its winners based on three vital design components: Creativity, Marketability and Innovation.
On Tuesday, April 12 and Tuesday, April 26, teams from both Structural Graphics and SG’s online offering, Red Paper Plane, traded paper for wood at a build for Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven. Picking up saws, power tools and post-hole diggers, employees braved the rain while assisting the Habitat team on a new house project in the Westville area of New Haven.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that works to provide affordable housing to individuals and families around the world. Partnering with volunteers, Habitat has created and improved housing conditions for tens of thousands of families. Projects include home repair jobs such as painting, caulking and replacing doors or windows. Sometimes builds even involve the entire homebuilding process.
“I am so proud of Structural Graphics’ support of Raise the Roof and Habitat for Humanity for so many years,” said Michael Maguire, CEO of Structural Graphics. “Working side-by-side with a hard working family to help them realize their American dream is gratifying and important work. Through financial support, volunteer labor and countless contributions of signage and graphics for Habitat’s fundraising the events, Structural Graphics has set a wonderful example of giving back to our community – locally and around the world.”
Other organizations Structural Graphics supports include: Bikes for Kids; High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Academy; American Cancer Society; New London Homeless Coalition; The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries; The Autism Walk; The CURE for Breast Cancer and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Habitat for Humanity builds are held regularly and are open to all those who are interested. Learn more about the Greater New Haven chapter by visiting www.habitatgnh.org or look for updates on Facebook and Twitter.
The holiday season is in full swing, and hand-in-hand with that comes gift-giving fever. That fever has spread from our holiday hearts all the way to YouTube, with the increasingly popular unboxing videos. According to ThinkWithGoogle.com,
Unboxing video views have grown 57% over the past year, and uploads have grown more than 50%. But it’s not just the growth in the unboxing genre that’s impressive—it’s the sheer volume, too. It would take more than seven years to watch all the videos on YouTube with “unboxing” in the title that have been uploaded so far just this year. And those videos have more than a billion views in this year alone.
Thank you, ThinkWithGoogle. That’s just what we did – we “thunk with Google”, to design and produce their Unboxing box. This was sent to hand-selected YouTube celebrities to promote the Google Store, and designed to have an element of surprise when unveiling each featured technology product. And the response was simply outstanding:
4 million views, with 11 million projected by Christmas.
And also, some sweet comments straight from the Unboxing YouTube celebrities themselves:
“That’s the best part, the packaging. ‘Gavin came in, and he’s like “This packaging is legit.’ And you know when Gavin thinks your packaging is legit, you’ve got a great product.”
Thanks, Gavin & Shay fam! And from Captain Sparklez…
“What?! This is the coolest packaging I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I don’t even want to disassemble this.”
We’re blushing! That’s the highlight, but let’s backtrack (spoiler alert: here’s where we start to talk about ourselves, boxes, and Google, a lot)…
Fast forward to September, when it came time to develop the box for their Google Store Unboxing Launch, they asked us whether or not we do boxes. (Answer: look here, or even here for a bit more luxury.) I mean this is Google, and we’re Structural Graphics, so naturally, we said yes. We practically invented boxes.*
(That may or may not be true.)*
On September 16th was the initial kickoff call to discuss concepts. At first, the sole and simple goal we had to accomplish was, “we need a box to hold products”.
Originally, we started with a white box with clouds. All of these 7 technology products, which can be seen in the Google Store, could have easily been thrown into any old, standard, 8-sided-vanilla-box. But that’s not really our style.
We then started with what any sensible person does in this day and age: we Googled it. We googled the Google products to get grasp on what it would need to hold, specifically the size, and how we could package that up.
As time went on, the inspiration developed. We were given a few more things to chew on:
1. Google presented us with a ‘Mood Board’, basically a brain dump of what it needed to include, and 2. What not to do: not a traditional printing press or corrugate. I mean, let’s be honest here, creative freedom + super cool client = any designer’s dream. Our brainstorm session produced a list that looked like this: Rubik’s cubes, puzzle, with the idea to create more of an ‘experience’ than anything.
Mission: possible. Erik, one of our paper engineers, came up with the puzzle box concept, and that’s when things with the entire team really took off.
As you can see clearly, it was all hands on deck! From a design and materials standpoint, this box was pretty far out of the comfort zone for our group. The materials and scale of this project was foreign. Typically, we deal with folding cartons, but every single person had hands on this project in order to turn around 2 sets of comps and “push the limits of design & engineering”.
On November 6th, upon assembly of the puzzle box, this was their reaction:
“Sweeeeeet, it’s really coming along nicely!”
Of course, we echoed that.
So, the design was complete, but the job wasn’t over. Once these people receive it, what was the user experience going to be like?
There were a few small, yet critical details. First, was a card insert from the Google brand team, personalized & hand done with black Sharpie. Second, there was a little issue with the puzzle pieces, they didn’t quite stay together during shipment. Okay, thought our design team: how can we fix this? Why don’t we put it in gift-wrapping paper? Develop custom Google wrapping paper, which was actually functional. Genius.
Timing was a huge component for this project, considering it needed to drop by Black Friday. The second comp turn-around time was 3 days, and because of timing, we sent a template without sending a second comp. They never received a final produced prototype (only the press proof) before shipping to the influencers.
The night before delivery was crunch time. Gustavo, Vice President, Operations, and Teresa, Director of Business Development, left Mexico at 1:45am for delivery. They had 2 hours and 15 minutes to make it. From there, it was Fed Ex same day shipped, with critical care, and a contract with independent TSA couriers. Anddddddd, *sigh* just in time.
You might notice, if you’ve been paying attention to the timeline, that one of the most impressive parts of this story was the timing it took from concept to influencer delivery: 7 weeks.
“Amazing work under a brutal timeline.”
And just like that, that was it. 7 weeks. 7 products. 24 pounds without products, 35 pounds with products. Lots of hard work, and of course, a little bit of play…