Australian design conference, Analogue/Digital, asked MailChimp to create a short video they could show throughout the day during their event. We wanted to make something grand, with a quick turnaround, and a modest budget—something simple in execution, but effective and unique.
While experimenting in the studio, we realized that, when paint drips slowly, it’s captivating. On a previous project, we painted props for a video. We tried pouring the leftover paint on a flat surface we cut from foamcore. The first iteration showed potential, so we kept moving.
We had one of MailChimp’s UX developers print a few 3D logos. After a few paint waterfall attempts, we had something we were stoked about, and started recording. To round out the video experience, we added a soundtrack from my band, Sealions. The video was also showcased at the 2014 Brand New Design Conference in Chicago, and in NY Times Square.
When we moved offices across Atlanta, we wanted our new neighbors and landlord to know, too. We also wanted them to know we value creativity, humility, and mischief. So we bought ad space on four bus shelters and five billboards along Ponce De Leon Avenue, a major thoroughfare and home to our new digs. We filled each spot with big images of candy-colored dripping paint as if to slyly say: “Change is coming and it’s gonna be fun.”
I've been designing album covers since before I knew "design" was a thing. I recorded countless tapes in my room as a teenager, always creating the album art for each release. Fast forward to my band Sealions' latest EP, Number One Lover.
The project wound up being a huge endeavor—vinyl, CD, cassette, website, merchandise, photo shoots, music videos, and more. We were working with Atlanta-based label Deer Bear Wolf to release the EP and NYC-based Terrorbird to help with publicity. Being a songwriter and performer in band management decisions is a big challenge, but I wanted to be involved throughout the entire process.
I used a Troy Stains photograph and James Victore typography. I worked carefully to ensure the production of the website, merchandise, and all variations of physical album functioned as a cohesive package. Being able to have complete control was extremely satisfying, especially when the album finally came out.
Design by Jason Travis
Photography by Troy Stains
Type by James Victore
Website Programming by Jordan Andree
Bio by Austin L. Ray
Number One Lover written by Sealions (Jason Travis & Joey Patino)
Performed by Sealions (Jason Travis, Joey Patino, Keith Edmiston, John Craig)
Produced, Mixed, and Engineered by Jason Kingsland at Maze Studios. Atlanta, GA.
Mastered by John Golden & April Golden at Golden Mastering. Ventura, CA.
While working on a MailChimp landing page, I spontaneously poured an entire container of sprinkles over an unsuspecting doughnut. The striking image got me thinking, "What if I covered other objects—people, even!—in sprinkles?" And just like that, a super serious sprinkles project was born. Sometimes there's a sprinkly theme, but often it's just about being playful, and creating a striking image.
In late April, I had the pleasure of painting a 60 foot mural for Pabst Blue Ribbon on the side of The Local in Atlanta. I had a few talented assistants and I couldn’t have done it without them—Kyle Brooks, Maria Brooks, and Toby Huss. I also couldn’t have done it without the help of Luis Sandoval at PBR.
My initial sketch featured a character inspired by Kyle that looked more like a soldier riding a phoenix. I eventually swapped him out for a figure inspired by an old PBR mascot named Cool Blue. He’s throwing the “A TOWN DOWN” hand signal while riding a giant turkey phoenix rising above the flames carrying a flag for the beer and bar, because duh. Following the Battle of Atlanta, the city’s symbol is the phoenix rising from the ashes since the city has burned and been rebuilt twice.
This turkey phoenix in particular loves PBR and has the strength of Popeye, but he may never taste that sweet nectar. Sad! I painted the snowy landscape with evergreens to give the eyes a visual rest on both sides of our heroes. I hope all the locals at The Local enjoy this mural.
Video by Jason Travis & Troy Stains / Edited by Jason Travis / Music by Jason Travis
Photos by Jason Travis, Troy Stains, Kyle Brooks, Luis Sandoval, Monica Campana
SALUTE is a newspaper zine collaboration between Troy Stains & Jason Travis. These pictures should give you a general idea of what its like to be a human on the planet Earth. Featured at the 2014 Atlanta Zine Fest.
SALUTE is online HERE
Who are MailChimp customers and how do they use the product? That's the question the MailChimp UX team tried to answer when they talked to dozens of users, acquiring tons of data and identifying motivations, traits, and needs. We used this information to create a series of archetypes that serve as a design guide. These personas help us keep in mind who we’re designing for, and what’s important to them.
We wanted the personas to be bold, simple, and effective. Dramatically lit portraits set against vibrant colors. Stunning, yes, but also realistic. Pulling inspiration from my own persona portraits, as well as the work of Paula Scher, we created something unique and eye-catching.
After that, we hung the posters in one of the most-trafficked rooms of MailChimp HQ. Now they are proudly displayed and talked about daily.
Typography by Justin Pervorse.
A Rose on Peachtree was an exhibit at the Atlanta Preservation Center that honors the 1901 Rufus Rose House on Peachtree Street. My photography was featured alongside videography by Michael Joe Morgan and artifacts from the R.M. Rose Distillery.
One of Peachtree Street’s last remaining Victorian homes, the Rufus M. Rose House is a constant through decades of history on Atlanta's most famous street. Our work focused on the house in its present-day environment. Artifacts from the R.M. Rose Distillery including bottles, jugs, advertising materials, and historic photographs were on display courtesy of author and historian Jeff Clemmons.
Music videos take a lot of planning. Most often there's a limited budget, a quick deadline, yet you want to create something uniquely eye catching and special.
"Honey" was our first single, and I wanted the video to showcase a strong direction for the band without including the band members. I knew that my friend and former creative director Kevin Byrd was inspired by dancing, so we enlisted a spectacular dancer and performance artist named MaryGrace Philips. Along with cinematographer Troy Stains, we all worked closely together to create a unique video.
The video debuted on UK website Gold Flake Paint:
"While the anthemic, widescreen nature of the track calls to mind sweeping sun-filled vistas, Atlanta quartet Sealions have taken a turn in the opposite direction for the accompanying video to their brilliant new single ‘Honey‘. Creating a juxtaposition which instantly grabs, the song is constrained only to one dimly lit warehouse space, the exuberance of the rich melodies shown only through the stylistic performance of the lone dancer who twists, dips and weaves to every radiant hook and every pulse of percussion."
"Setting Suns" our second single which debuted on Creative Loafing. Here's what I told them:
"For me, 'Setting Suns' is the most personal track on my band’s new EP, Number One Lover. The song was written about my one true love, during a time we spent apart. Sometimes, two people meeting can be a little too intense to absorb immediately. There has to be separation for a while. It can happen unpredictably and unexpectedly, but eventually you find your way back. That’s 'Setting Suns.' I approached the video treatment in a lighthearted manner, capturing Sealions in the studio recording the track, and then also as we performed it live. My hope was to show the band in human form, performing a song in two very different environments, having fun along the way."
Director: Kevin Byrd
Director of Photography: Troy Stains
Producer: Jason Travis
Editor: Troy Stains & Jason Travis
Dancer/Choreographer: MaryGrace Phillips
Dolly Grip: Ricky Aguirre
Hair & Makeup: Zoe Simone Bulboff
Assitants: Joey Patino, Keith Edmiston, Sophia Veitch, Allie Bashuk, Annabelle Byrd
Location Manager: Justin Newton
Shot at The Goat Farm, Atlanta
Director: Jason Travis
Cameras: Jason Travis, Troy Stains, Wil Hughes, Dan Depew
Editor: Jason Travis
Shot at Maze Studios and The EARL, Atlanta
"Honey" and "Setting Suns" appear on Sealions' EP Number One Lover / Deer Bear Wolf Records
© 2014 SEALIONS
Written by Sealions (Jason Travis & Joey Patino). Performed by Sealions (Jason Travis, Joey Patino, Keith Edmiston, John Craig). Produced, Mixed, and Engineered by Jason Kingsland at Maze Studios. Atlanta, GA. Co-produced by Joey Patino. Mastered by John Golden & April Golden at Golden Mastering. Ventura, CA.
Over the years, I've photographed and designed projects for countless musicians. As a musician myself, I feel a kinship working with these folks. I'm often commissioned by Atlanta music venue The EARL, and well as other artists from around the country, to make posters and fliers that advertise their shows. These are a fun way to experiment with new methods and ideas while culling inspiration from the artists' music and style.
I picked up a pencil at a young age and never put it down. The illustrations showcased here have been created for websites, posters, album artwork, commissions, personal projects, and, most especially, for the joy of drawing.
MailChimp once did a huge vinyl Freddie giveaway. The plan was to have a new video for each new Freddie, revealed at the beginning of each giveaway. The first featured classic Freddie, which was a challenge. Weird is easy enough to do, but how do you bring new meaning to a mascot who’s been around for more than a decade?
Initially we had a very Dada-esque non-sequitur idea that slowly evolved into someone making prototypes of Freddie, which parallels the actual creation of the first vinyl Freddie. From there, we took a raw idea and tried to figure out where it might lead. A creative process video about the creative process, if you will.
We tried to take a wide-eyed, childlike approach while producing something that was modest in scope and budget. We put a lot of time into storyboarding the video, which kept our brains from melting on the actual shoot day. While figuring out the conceptual phase, Troy and I tried to stay focused on 2 main ideas:
“What’s the silliest thing we can come up with?” and “What would make us laugh and have a good time?”
So, what does it take to make a Freddie? Snacks and power tools, mostly.
Soon after, we decided to celebrate MailChimp’s new offices with new billboards. We pulled our favorite stills from the video to tell Freddie’s creation story all up and down our new block. We sure laughed. Hopefully our neighbors did, too.
Collaboration with Troy Stains.
MailChimp loves coffee. Every time someone makes a new batch, they announce the "fresh pot" in our chat room. It’s like our Bat-Signal, except that, instead of hailing Batman in a time of distress, it sends caffeine-crazed coffee drinkers scurrying to the kitchen to grab a cup before it’s gone. Its origins can be traced back to rock ‘n’ roll legend Dave Grohl’s now-classic YouTube clip.
It’s with all this in mind that I started thinking of a more analog system to alert our team to fresh pots. I’d always wanted to create a neon design while documenting that process. I wanted the sign to be aggressive-but-charming, but also bold, just like Grohl himself—the neon equivalent of him showing up and shouting, “FRESH POTS!” I started out with a pencil sketch, then met up with the good folks at The Neon Company here in Atlanta.
Once I started editing the process video I realized that it needed some original music for its soundtrack. Our hastily assembled one-off band (drums, bass, two guitars, gang vocals) wrote, recorded, and mixed a brand new song in 4 hours at Glow in the Dark Studios. Naturally, we called it “Fresh Pots!”
First, I asked my girlfriend to be part of a portrait with me. Then, I started contacting artists and friends to contribute to a 2014 calendar. I was embarking on a super-special-secret Christmas present for my one true love.
I supplied each artist with the original hi-res image and asked for an interpretation of the portrait. I wanted everyone to have fun with it, as real or as unreal as they saw fit. Simple or elaborate. I only asked that the dimensions remain close to square.
After receiving all the finished artwork, I chose which art went with each month, and designed the calendar dates. I included major holidays and immediate family birthdays. Each month also features the name and location of each contributing artist. Every month is completely unique and meaningful.
Artists by Month
Cover photo by Jason Travis
January by Chris Chambers
February by Ashley Anderson
March by Mark Weaver
April by Matthew Laiosa
May by Sanithna Phansavanh
June by Justin Pervorse
July by Jason Turner
August by Jason Travis
September by James Abercrombie
October by Troy Stains
November by Mattiel Brown
December typography by James Victore
For over two years I shot and curated original photos for the MailChimp Instagram feed (and created the #MeetMailChimp series highlighting employees). It was such a rewarding, fun experience. It was an exercise in blending photography, design, and social thinking. We celebrated hitting 25,000 followers with Golden Grahams treats (For our golden…wait for it…’grams.) Ah, the sweet taste of success.
MailChimp's Instagram audience grew by 158% in 2015, and images from the account bolstered some of our most popular posts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. MailChimp has been called “a company that is unleashing fantastic content regularly on Instagram,” and the account is regularly featured as a leading B2B brand. See what people had to say about MailChimp's feed:
Every couple weeks, MailChimp does a recruiting meetup in Atlanta. In the past, we’ve posted job descriptions and online announcements, but we wanted to experiment, try reaching a different group of people. We decided to try placing three ads in Atlanta’s alt-weekly, Creative Loafing.
One of our designers mocked up ideas with some images from our archives paired with a few punchy phrases (“Smile @ Work,” “Night Owls Welcome,” “Make Dad Proud”) we wrote on the spot. Everyone felt like we were on the right path to weirdness. I set out to photograph a few people around the office. Then we decided to try more of a handwritten type style, so I took out my sharpies and pens.
The result? 112 people showed up! (For some perspective, our talent scout Chris says the events usually draw around 20 people. The record turnout before this one was 53.) Needless to say, this experiment surpassed every expectation. We reached all kinds of personalities with a more diverse work experience than ever before. You might say we made dad proud.
I have a long running photo project called Persona. I've been taking these diptychs for eight years now. One half of that project involves organizing the contents of people's bags and photographing them. It's become very soothing to me and something I enjoy immensely. Beyond Persona, I've also photographed some of my own personal collections, and created company logos using related items. I've only scratched the surface at organizing things neatly.
Every Friday morning, MailChimp has a Coffee Hour. We invite creative, interesting, thought-provoking, and downright weird people to come and teach us something new. If there's an ulterior motive to ours, it's to emphasize the importance of creativity, chaos, and loving what you do.
I was commissioned to create nine button designs for a vending machine at a bar in Atlanta, GA. I also had my pattern made into a t-shirt using Print All Over Me.
Growing up I loved all things Garfield. I would always doodle him on my notebooks and one time my Dad even helped me carve a Garfield puzzle out of wood. Dipping back into that childhood well of inspiration I created this pattern and then had it made into a t-shirt, leggings, and hat using Print All Over Me. Photographed in Los Angeles, CA.
Model: Marion Jones
In early 2013, I went to see British metallers Napalm Death on their latest U.S. tour stop in Atlanta, and it sparked my interest in heavy-metal logos. There were four other bands on the bill and about 50 different t-shirts lining the wall around the merch booth.
During the entire next week I was constantly listening to metal and thinking about how fun it would be to create a logo for MailChimp that embodied that same aggressive spirit. The logo was used on billboards and also screenprinted onto sweatshirts at Terminus Tees. My friends Brent & Sarah are seen here wearing the two variations.
Early on during my time at MailChimp, I created a Tumblr called West Side Design Lab. It serves as a go-to place for social media imagery (MailChimp Twitter, MailChimp Facebook, MailChimp Instagram, etc). This way, anyone in the office could pull photos, and we’d never touch stock photography.
It also become a useful source for our designers to mock up comps, print ads, and other weird ideas. It’s helped with countless projects. For example, a random photo once led to a recruitment ad campaign. Another time, the West Side Design Lab Tumblr was the main resource for an annual report. It’s also become a place for documentation of process, finished products, and film snapshots around the office.
Our designers often look to the site for inspiration, reference, and laughs. See the full archive HERE.
Modern Atlanta was founded in 2007 and has grown every year since, furthering its mission to establish Atlanta as a design destination. The weeklong event has always included speakers, home tours, exhibitions, and more. I've been a contributing designer and photographer for Modern Atlanta since 2010.
I had an idea awhile back involving a photograph I took of my girlfriend Marion in the desert between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. We had stopped in a gas station and I grabbed a few oranges. Later on I recreated that same pose using lemons back in Atlanta. As a surprise to her I then illustrated a tessellation pattern based on those two photographs. I used Print All Over Me to make a tshirt, sweatshirt, and curtain. We then mimicked the original design wearing those prints to bring it full circle.
From the Modern Atlanta website:
"At 2012 Design is Human Week, Atlanta based photographer Jason Travis equipped with only his trusted camera and natural talent to create, accepted MA's challenge to go under the radar and give props to the iconic work and designs of Charles and Ray Eames, plus introduced us to the eclectic and much loved Italian fashion of MARNI, courtesy Jeffrey Atlanta/New York. The other catch, was the event had to be open where the public could discover by chance.
Not short of creative outlets, we found Jason on a Saturday night in Edgewood upstairs in an abandoned raw space full of character directly about Space2 where below visitors were checking out the Duralex exhibition and sipping Negronis at London-based DesignMarketo's Bar Alto."
When MailChimp sponsors something, there's a chance to play with brand marketing. I've always approached those opportunities as a chance to showcase MailChimp with a creative, fun spirit. It's a chance to stand out from other advertising.
The video shoot for MailChimp's jobs page was a three day extravaganza. We flew down a couple directors from New York and a production team from North Carolina. We had three days to build, prop, light, and shoot a video. It was a whirlwind, and we couldn't be happier with the result.
Agency - No Little Plans
Director - Ryan Essmaker
Production Company - Caravan
Producers - No Little Plans & Caravan
Directors on Set - Ryan Essmaker & Ron Lewis
Cinematographer - Brent Christy
2nd Unit DP - Bernardo Marentes
Content Director - Jon Muedder
Art Direction & Set Design - MailChimp (Ron Lewis, David Sizemore, Jason Travis) & No Little Plans (Ryan Essmaker)
Set Construction - MailChimp
1st Assistant Camera - Scott Jones
Post-Production - Caravan
Editor - Jon Muedder
Colorist - John Carrington
Music Composition - Noah Smith
Sound Mixing/Design - Jeremiah Clever
Interviewer - Tina Essmaker
Makeup - Lani Martz
Human Props - David Sizemore & Jason Travis
The Jobs Page
Design and Art Direction: David Sizemore
Design: Jason Travis, Mattiel Brown
Development: Jordan Andree
See the page HERE
I love working with musicians. Getting to concept and design album artwork is the pinnacle. Thinking about tangible items that people will hold in their hands and display where they live or work? That's powerful. It's also a chance to collaborate with the musician and create something that captures their message.
I’m often most inspired by those around me. The ideas that evolve directly out of everyday circumstances can be very powerful. I try to stay conscious of my surroundings and let ideas wash over me like a warm light. A warm, inspirational, great-idea light.
While recently documenting the Living Walls conference here in Atlanta, I felt that warm light. Being surrounded by street artists from all over the world and watching them create original works on gigantic walls really struck a chord in me. I have a background in fine art, not unlike MailChimp’s creative director, Ron. So when I mentioned the idea of painting a Freddie head and applying it to a billboard, his eyes lit up.
I spent a week, painting a little every day. Adding, subtracting, using different methods, experimenting. In the end, it came down to layers, and not overworking it. I needed to get the painting to a good place and then leave it be. Once finished, I snapped a photo and tweaked some elements to get it ready for its billboard debut. I’m hoping it’ll shed some warm light on its new surroundings.
When MailChimp’s employee count stretched well past 100 with no signs of stopping, we realized a change was necessary. We needed to implement more structure around things like hiring, travel, and general office management. But the thought of overloading employees with written processes scared us. If expressing some sort of formal process was necessary, we wanted it to serve—not impede—innovation.
And maybe we could somehow include cheeseburgers? The question quickly became:
“How can we create meaningful frameworks that feels authentic, fresh, and innovative while offering relevant and useful processes?”
We created MailChimp Book Club. It’s since become the home for HR and office guides, as well as company, culture, and value guides for all MailChimp employees. It empowers employees to streamline routine tasks through simple, straightforward processes, but it also helps them stay connected to the company's vision, purpose, and values.
The handbook covers evolved as the guides were written. A flexible system allowed for expressive photography to take center stage. I saw each cover as an opportunity to experiment with lighting, colors, props, and composition. I chose employees from different departments as models, using the themes of the books for photo inspiration.
Projecteo approached me to create something with their tiny Instagram projectors. I put together this video which shows my favorite things displayed on my girlfriend’s back. The items include: Nikon L35AF, Ninja Gaiden NES Game, a button that features a photo of me and my dad at Snellville Days ‘87, vintage shoes, Warby Parker glasses, Raiders of the Lost Ark, wooden owl from Japan, Nirvana’s In Utero, and, of course, my girlfriend herself.
I had the idea of creating illustrations featuring Freddie’s head on historical figures. “MailChimp Through the Ages,” I was calling it. As I started drawing the figures, it gave way to fictional characters.
Ultimately, the design became a t-shirt for customers featuring 9 assorted Freddies: George Washington Freddie, Space Odyssey Freddie, Buddhist Monk Freddie, Han Solo Freddie, The Man With No Name Freddie, 1849 French Military Freddie, Julius Caesar Freddie, Dr. Zaius Freddie, and Dapper Suit & Tie Freddie.
Later on, I adapted the artwork for a billboard displayed in two different locations in Atlanta, GA.
MailChimp’s marketing designers are responsible for MC’s forward-facing design. The DesignLab blog was created to feature process-heavy content focused on the reasoning and concepts behind design decisions of the marketing team at MailChimp. It’s been a fantastic outlet for the marketing department to showcase a behind-the-scenes look at all types of projects. This kind of insight isn't always showcased, and that makes it a special place to learn and grow.
View the DesignLab Blog
Odds and ends. Various ads, site designs & headers, photos, billboard, neon, videos, and more.
I've spent so many hours documenting life at MailChimp. Countless projects, shoots, experiments, events, explorations, and more. I've contributed photographs, designs, and documentation across the company in many forms. I learn and grow every day by being around other creatives. Here's the proof.