At FreshGround we like to get involved with our community. This is where we live and our customers are our number 1 top priority! So what better way to get pumped for an amazing event other than a one-on-one interview? I recently had a chat with Lisa Smith Youngdahl and learned a lot more about what she loves to do.

Lisa is the owner of Resolution Creative. She designs and creates print marketing for healthcare and non-profit organizations, as well as local small businesses. We as a society, are constantly surrounded by visual messages. She develops concepts that will engage the audience, are easy to understand, and memorable. This includes developing branding and logo design, packaging, brochures, posters, publications, and more.

In addition to all of this, Lisa also creates digital illustration. She has a bachelors degree in graphic design from Southern Illinois University, and worked as an in-house designer and art director for Fortune 500 companies, and also worked for a local advertising agency. She started her own design business over 20 years ago and is currently a resident artist at Water Street Studios. Being at Water Street has encouraged her to further develop her fine art skills. She is also part of the adjunct faculty at Waubonsee Community College, teaching credit courses in graphic design.

Lisa’s background with art started at a young age. She remembers as a child creating her own illustrations for favorite books if she didn’t like the ones published in the book.

Most of her work is based on experiences she has, working from her original photographs. Photographs of places she’s been, including scenes from nature, animals. The past few years she’s been creating work featuring musicians. She enjoys live music and has a vacation property in Nashville, so she is inspired by the faces, body postures, and concentration she sees in musicians. Among her many creative abilities, music, however, is not in her cards. Her art is her own way of being a part of it. She has four musician-inspired artworks in “The Art of the Blues” gallery exhibition at Water Street Studios, which is presented in conjunction with the Blues & Roots on Water Street Fest.

For this year’s Blues and Roots, Lisa and FreshGround Roasting have teamed up to make a special blend of coffee to raise money for Water Street Studio for artists and non-artists alike, to enjoy and help the arts continue to bring culture, enlightenment, and wonder to the masses every day.

Every bag we sell, all the proceeds will be given to Water Street to continue to bring the arts to our communities. For this bag design, Lisa wanted something simple that would immediately convey the event. The anonymous bass player could be either a blues or a roots musician, The packaging background fades from a warm brown to black to communicate coffee bean and brewed coffee colors while adding a contrast to the illustration and typography. The brown gradation overlays the musician’s face, adding a stage lighting effect. The warm lighting on his face, and rendering the rest of the body in blue, also keeps his race ambiguous.

The type she used for “Water Street Blues Blend”  has a grittiness evoking the character of both genres. She purposely kept the design simple, so the focus is the musician and the name. She created the artwork in color pencil, working on a dark board for contrast. She usually works in color pencil, because she likes how the colors can be layered to achieve a depth and richness. She started out writing what imagery could be associated with the and sketching how it would lend itself to the dimensions of the coffee bag. After deciding on the type of instrument and musician, one used in both blues and roots music, she searched for a reference image. This was important since she wanted the rendering of the bass to be accurate.

Like most artists, Lisa has a process and a method to her work. She starts off with a good dark roasted black coffee (which is her favorite), and if it’s a concept, not a specific item, that she needs to illustrate, she thinks of words or subjects that convey the meaning of that concept. An example of this type of work might be a magazine cover. Once she narrowed it down, she sketched visual representations that would communicate it to an audience. When creating original art, she uses a photo reference or perhaps several references depending upon the subject. This is the process she used for the coffee package, but would also use for creating a commissioned digital illustration or photographic rendering. She still constantly visualizes how something she reads might be illustrated, or how something she sees could be rendered as art. She’s recently realized to further develop her art skills, she needs to constantly work at it, and not only work when she feels inspired.

After a rough sketch on tracing paper, she transfers it to an illustration board. With the Blues Blend, she worked on a dark board, so she created the light colors and highlight areas of the illustration in white pencil, so the color would contrast with the dark background. The color was added to the white areas, and over the dark background where she wanted to create shadows. While most of the musician and his bass guitar appear blue, she also used reddish browns and purples with the blue to add more depth to the blue colors. When she finished the illustration, she scanned it and isolated the illustration from the rest of the board on the computer. She then added the gradient colors and type to the package layout in Adobe Illustrator, incorporating the illustration.

Sarah Sill

Sarah Sill

Sarah is the Administrative Assistant and Marketing guru at FreshGround Roasting. Sarah where she talks about coffee, brewing methods, customer questions, and other awesome coffee related stuff!