A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

January 17, 2017

Inspiration is Everywhere: Doing Things by Hand

By TJ DiFrancesco

The advertising world is becoming increasingly faster. The digital era has seen attention spans dwindle and the average shelf life of content decline. While the debate about how to navigate this void still exists, most companies and agencies believe that just producing more content is the solution. Designing the right kind of content, the kind of content that feels authentic, personal and unique creates and keep audiences. Here at the beginning of 2017, advertising publications have started posting their trend predictions for the year. One of the trends that strikes us (and this is a trend that started in 2016 and shows every sign of continuing) is the resurgence of designs that feature illustrations that are or appear to be hand-drawn. Something hand-drawn has a one-of-a-kind quality, a uniqueness which translates to genuine audience engagement.

EngergizerIf we look into the not-too-distant-past, we see that illustrated advertising is by no means new. Before computer design programs, most advertising was done, or at least concepted, by hand. (In fact, Lynn was kind enough to find some of her old sketches which decorate this post.) While all of us at UPBrand still need to hand-craft certain elements, most of the time, we’re looking at a computer screen. Though the convenience of our digital means is undeniable, there’s something special about hand-crafting. This week, in light of the new trends, we got our creative team together to discuss what “Doing Things By Hand” means and how we put that meaning to work for our clients.

DonutWe started with a stroll down memory lane, looking at portfolios of hand-illustrated work. Though putting pen to paper seems simpler than learning a design program, illustration is anything but simple. We talked about the nerve-racking fact that there is no “Undo” button on a pen. We were reminded how hard and mathematical centering something on a page was and how difficult it was to fix a typo on a typewriter. We talked about the look of pencil on watercolor and the value of slight imperfection.

There’s something intentional and generous about creating something by hand. You’re taking something from the imagination and creating it in the real world for others to see. Creating something by hand can highlight the idea of identity. It’s easy to, for example, look at something you’ve just carved and say, “This carving didn’t exist before. Now it does. I must exist, too.” This idea of defining and reinforcing identity through creativity is central to our work here at UPBrand. We want to create something that reflects who you are in the most honest way possible. We want you to share that identity with the people you want to reach, and to reach them in meaningful ways. The best campaigns, products and brands feel authentic because they are authentic. Their creative is a generous and intentional statement of who they are.

HardwareWe know generosity and authenticity don’t live in pencils and paper. They’re attitudes and principles we carry with us. If it’s a hand-drawn opera poster or a digital banner ad, the mindset is the same. We’re excited about the new trends this year will bring, and the opportunities we have to create something one-of-a-kind for our clients.


Our discussion about hand-crafted things got our creativity flowing, so we decided to make something out of it—literally. Below you’ll find a collaborative poem made from the transcription of our conversation about “Doing Things by Hand,” illustrated by our team of artists and designers. 




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