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Graphic Recording in areas of Arts, Culture and Education

I've long worked with corporate entities to offer graphic recording that could be revisited for marketing and internal use but now educational organizations are finding ways to fund what I do too. 

I recently had the privilege of working with Wayne-Westland Community Schools to capture their State of the District. Their Superintendent, Dr. Shelley Holt, spoke passionately and candidly about the struggles the district faces. And she is one of the most personable people I've ever met! (You'll see what I mean below.) I was really touched by her candor and have great faith in the plans she offered to break through some of the barriers the district faces. I was also thoroughly impressed with the presentation of the band and color guard, certainly indicative of the talent of the students and staff. 

 Because Wayne-Westland Community Schools has a script logo, I got to take a hand at doing some ink drawing. This method was used on the main graphic recording, which I did earlier in the day. I didn't want drippy ink on the wall!

Because Wayne-Westland Community Schools has a script logo, I got to take a hand at doing some ink drawing. This method was used on the main graphic recording, which I did earlier in the day. I didn't want drippy ink on the wall!

 Photo courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

Photo courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

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 The Superintendents ADORABLE daughter was a quick learner and became my graphic recording apprentice :) 

The Superintendents ADORABLE daughter was a quick learner and became my graphic recording apprentice :) 

 Image courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

Image courtesy Wayne-Westland Community Schools

I finally got around to taking some photos of the In the Neighborhood drawings, part of Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and Eastern Michigan University's Engage @ EMU Office's effort to define what arts and culture looks like in Washtenaw County. This is an example of an illustration done in graphic recording style that focuses on lots of text content. It was a blast to host a gathering with artists and students and then gather and distill the content of all the gatherings.

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Last month I learned about an incredible effort by Kelly Mickel, principal of Erickson Elementary School and other community partners including Washtenaw County Sheriffs Office, Washtenaw County Juvenile Detention Center, Cultivate Coffee and Tap House, Girls Scouts, and Mosaic Church. The Village Project seeks to break the school-to-prison pipeline in the Ypsilanti district. Many of our students have had exposure with incarcerated family members or visited family or friends in detention centers, returning with the idea that they didn't seem so bad. To compare their current life situation and find detention centers a better alternative sounded heartbreaking to me but it's a reality of perception our youth face. 

Efforts are being made right now to lift up students through a 3-pronged effort of mentorship, skills training and life experience. A "signing day" will match up "coaches" with students with special attention given to matching up adults and student based on interests and personalities. There are still lots of details to work out but through the leadership and resources each of the community members bring, I believe this will be a successful program to change the sentiment and trajectory of many of our most at-risk youth. More to come! 

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If you have interest in learning how graphic recording can benefit your educational event, I'd love to chat with you. I'm happy to travel within southeast Michigan and elsewhere. Contact me at yenazzaro(@)gmail.com

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#RunYpsi: Ypsilanti Running Co.

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to be more mindful about my physical activity (or in my case, the lack of it) and took up the friendly-paced running group at Ypsilanti Running Co. Owners Mike Nix and his wife Alison have become incredible supports and friends during the process. Recently, they hosted a pre-party for The Color Run and we had a ton of fun with selfies and a big giveaway. 

This past Sunday, they held their first fundraiser for the adoption of Frog Island at Corner Brewery. They'll be cleaning up the outer perimeter of the running track, keeping walkways clear, and renewing all the areas of the picturesque park that just needs a little love. A special IPA was brewed, a live band played, and a grand time was had by all. Check it out!

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We can't recommend YRC enough for your running, fitness and retail needs. It's a wonderful family business and we feel so lucky to be a part of their movement to get people moving and healthy. Their 1 year anniversary is this September and we're looking forward to what they have in store next. 

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Why Book a Graphic Recorder?

First of all, what is Graphic Recording? 

During Graphic Recording I listen to your presentations and conversations, synthesizing the content into images and text on large sheets of paper or board during. At the end of the meeting, the large drawings can be photographed for future use (marketing, internal, website, press) or translated into digital drawings for even more in-depth use. 

Why hire a Graphic Recorder?

Glad you asked! Have you ever worried if your colleagues didn't understand or agree with your concepts, or the listeners were more visual learners, or worse yet...everyone is dosing off? Remedy all those situations with a graphic recorder who will engage the viewers as they watch the presentation ideas being reiterated before their very eyes. 

I've recorded and digitized presentations for Ross Business School, medical departments within the University of Michigan, TEDx, Detroit Future City and more. For more information, email yenazzaro(@)gmail.com

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Client Highlight: Dreamscapes Art Studio

Last weekend we had the privilege of photographing for a new client, Dreamscapes Art Studio and owner, Dolores Graham. The studio is above bustling Main Street in Ann Arbor and receives western exposure, with fabulous light coming through the windows. Dolores offers classes for children and adults, including a holiday workshop this Friday during Midnight Madness. Check out the studio and find out more about their events on their Facebook page.

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November 2014

In the interest of saving time and filling everyone in on the things we have coming up, I'm loading our last e-blast content here. Enjoy! 


Hello! This is the first e-mail we've sent to this lovely list of people since opening our studio. As many of you know, we had the fortune of stumbling upon a perfect little storefront in downtown Ypsilanti about seven weeks ago. Yes, just seven weeks ago! 

It has an open storefront space (for photographing), an office (for art and design consulting) and dressing room/dining nook. We snatched it up and never looked back. 

And since then, some incredible things have happened. 

  1. We attended our first First Fridays Ypsilanti just earlier this month, a circuit of venues with music, art, food, happenings on the first Friday of each tolerable un-wintery month. (There's a short break after the upcoming December 5th event). You grab a map and check out all the cool places that are hosting exhibits and offering specials. It's unique, surprising and wonderful fun for the family.
  2. Our studio opened on 11/11! Even though we're not a retail space selling wares, it was a bit of a hectic day - little sleep and lots of anxiety - about all good things! It seems the years of accumulating furniture were for this space. We just didn't know it. 9 S. Washington is a pretty sweet little spot on a corridor of downtown Ypsi that seems to literally be activating (as someone called it) day by day right before our very eyes. 
  3. On 11/20, three days after we photographed this set up, it was featured in the digital version of the New York Times. In the print version there are both styled photos we took for Skandicrush, this wonderful subscription service that sends monthly boxes filled with beautiful home wares. We're so lucky to be partnered with talented entrepreneurs with such vision. 
  4. That same night we celebrated our opening with friends and locals. It was a riot. Some of the photos can be found on our Facebook page.
  5. Nick has been really involved with Ypsilanti families and students over the last year. He worked on a photography assignment that allowed him to capture almost every family in a housing community and it moved everyone involved. That's how we came up with the idea to offer $10 Holiday Family Portraits on 11/29 Small Business Saturday. There's no reason a family shouldn't have a professional photo. We want to make these important things accessible and fun for everyone. Spread the word and the cheer! Come in with friends, family, students, colleagues...or just by yourself. All the details are here. (Pompom backdrop included)
  6. Once again, we are so excited to support Art Around Town, the business enterprise benefitting participating Ypsilanti Public School art programming. We'll be selling art through preview sales on:
  • First Fridays, Dec. 5th from 5-9 pm **We'll also be offering $20 holiday portraits that evening!**
  • Auction preview and art sale on Friday, Dec. 12th from 5-9 pm
  • Winter Auction on Saturday, Dec. 13th from 6-9 pm. Prints, paintings and sculpture will be sale and we play auctioneer! Bring the family and battle over works of art!

We didn't know what we were missing until we had the studio. Now that we do, we're thrilled to share our ideas, aesthetics and fun times with all of you. You're always welcome here. 

Be well and have a very Happy Thanksgiving! 
Best,
Yen and Nick Azzaro

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Prepping for the Launch

Getting a physical space ready for ourselves is bigger and badder than other projects we've worked on. We revamped the logo to match the architectural feel of our studio - a late 19th century storefront. This is something we wouldn't normally do but the sans serif lines of our previous logo didn't match the feel of the building or the furniture and objects we're planning to decorate with. 

To celebrate our opening, we're having an awesome photo session giveaway! Go to our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages to enter! There's 4 chances per person to win. 

Our first day of business is 11/11 - come by and say "hello!" 

 

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 The key! 

The key! 

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We're Getting a Space!

I still can't believe it happened because everything happened so quickly but...we signed a lease on a studio today! A couple months ago it didn't even seem feasible but things literally just came down to timing and luck. Nick and I had looked at storefront retail space in downtown Ypsilanti a few weeks ago. It was a large main room with great light (facing the west), a square shaped office and a makeshift "kitchen" area with bathroom. There was storage in the back and was sandwiched between an existing business and a promising one doing a build-out next door. Then we were told it wasn't available. I'm not going to lie. We sulked. And sulked. 

We didn't talk about it but I'm sure we both thought about it.

Then, a week later Nick got a call and BAM! Just like that, we were back in the game. We did some research, figured out the timing and now we're the proud tenants of 9 S. Washington Street starting November 1st!!! We decided opening day would be 11/11 so if you come by before that we'll be in shambles and running around looking for furniture and cleaning. We will be a mess, but would love to meet you if you're in the neighborhood and want to stop by to say "hello." 

We're so excited to be part of the growing Ypsi scene and we can't wait to show everyone what we have in store. We'll be part photography (and teaching) studio, art space and consulting office. For now, we have limited hours (Tues - Fri, 9 am to 3:30 pm) but will take appointments as they come in. 

Thank you to everyone that has given us advice, good vibes, praise, encouragement and your general and monetary support over the last three years. We couldn't have done this without you. Please come see us soon!

 

 Opening day is Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 from 9 am to 3:30 pm

Opening day is Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 from 9 am to 3:30 pm


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Seattle in a Few Snapshots

Nick traveled to Seattle a couple weeks ago for a photo shoot. He had a bit of time to explore the city from land and sea and caught some beautiful night shots off the commuter ferry too. 

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Dunc's Mill: Truly Handcrafted Premium Rum

It's been a really big summer for us, work and play-wise. We just returned from a road trip to Vermont for a family reunion on my aunt and uncle's property. Besides the log cabin they built with friends and various "huts" and buildings sprinkled throughout the mountains, the distillery where my uncle produces his rum is about 100 yards from the house.

Dunc's Mill is not only a premium product that we've been able to enjoy occasionally, (it has exclusive distribution along the east coast), everything about it is truly handmade, from the steeped elderflower in simple syrup for the Elderflower Rum to the carefully poured wax to seal each bottle.

We had the opportunity to drink some very special reserve rum (not for sale) and bring it to market where we watched my uncle interacting with the public, educating them about the process and ingredients. There are three rums: Elderflower, Maple and Backwoods Reserve. We recommend the Mayflower, 1 part Elderflower, 1 part Maple, splash of soda and a lime wedge.

We are proud to count Dunc's Mill as our latest client. We'll be producing marketing materials and photography. If you're ever traveling through Vermont, shoot him an email and tell my uncle we sent you. It's a truly magical experience. Cheers.

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Press Releases and Publicity: How You Can Get Some

One of the most valuable lessons I learned (or rather, taught myself) during my years at the gallery, was how to garner press and publicity. Since the internet has vastly changed how media is consumed, an article is golden because it lingers, ready to be shared with your audience at the push of a button.

Here are just a few samples of articles printed as a result of press releases I wrote and distributed as well as a published article I wrote for Antiques & Fine Art Magazine. Because publicity builds the idea of "good faith" in a consumer's mind versus ads that are bought, they generally bring more traffic and more sales to our clients, making them a valuable asset to any company. 

 A review of an art exhibition in New City Chicago

A review of an art exhibition in New City Chicago

 Green family salon zoey + joey in Ann Arbor News

Green family salon zoey + joey in Ann Arbor News

 Social enterprise Art Around Town in Ypsilanti Courier

Social enterprise Art Around Town in Ypsilanti Courier

Bronston's Bitchin' Bronzer in Natural Awakenings Magazine

 Published feature article on Chicago modernist William Scwhartz, written by Yen Azzaro

Published feature article on Chicago modernist William Scwhartz, written by Yen Azzaro

We've helped various types of small businesses including retail, service, galleries and products get great coverage. If you've been wondering how to get some press, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email us here

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"Just Shoot it on White"

We had always gotten a good amount of requests for a "white background" but lately even more so. It's certainly not easier to achieve than an environmental background. On the contrary, it takes a lot of effort and expertise. (Try to take a photo with your phone or point and shoot and achieve a perfectly white background indoors with no graininess).

Nick's a magician when it comes to getting a seamless white result because he puts a lot into the pre-production, and not so much in post. Minus a little adjustment here and there and an overall cleaning of any "dust", he does little cutting out in Photoshop. What you see is pretty much what was there. He does after all, carry an arsenal of tools and secrets with him — everything from glass panes, black aluminum foil, white boards, rolls of paper, and more.

It's not so glamorous or pretty when you pull back.

But he knows how to get the job done.*

There are various levels of "white" so we always ask if you want a shadow, a gradation, or pure stark white.

If you're looking for a product, food or portrait shoot, give us a call (734-929-2498) or email and we'd love to talk to you about the (endless) possibilities. 

*Products are screenshots and do not show the quality of original digital photos.

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