During winter break, Hume Lake Christian Camps schedules high-energy weekends to help students unwind in an adventurous retreat. In 2005, they asked me to develop marketing collateral for their Winter Camp 06—going head-to-head against the snowboard trips and beach vacations that might otherwise capture students’ attention.
“…The burned-in reds and purples of the exposed film gave a raw, tactile quality to the missions-minded poster.”
The Challenge: In 2006, chaotic, layered collages overtook the design world. Designers lost restraint like hungry truckers at an all-you-can-eat-buffet of cheap online microstock. Still, a trend is a trend, and youth markets are nothing if not fixated on fads—even the annoying ones. Our goal with Winter Camp 06 was to employ just enough collage to feel contemporary, but to stay simple enough to stand out. While fads come and go, a solid brand should be timeless. I won’t allow a client to bury its hard-earned identity in flavor-of-the-month marketing.
Our designs needed to reference international missions, reflect the scenery of Hume Lake, and show movement from the Christian camp mountaintop into the outside world—all while grabbing the attention of an easily distractable youth culture.
The Solution: Holga photography taught me messes can be beautiful. There’s a reason today’s most popular Instagram filters are digital reproductions of the unexpected light leaks and dust blots of this legendary camera. It’s because artists love imperfections.
With one eye on the collage trend and another on my Holga experience, I set my creativity loose on the Winter Camp 06 project, starting with the GO-themed poster. Hume wanted “edgy” to be our ground floor. But following the crowd isn’t exactly edgy. I focused instead on the creative potential of imperfection. Hand-picking just the right design elements—organic watercolors to carry the outdoor theme, and a little artfully blemished photography—I then layered the design enough to suggest collage without concealing the Hume Lake winged shield and globe emblem.
The Result: In a world of design chaos, the textured, transparent look of the watercolored continents stood out like a colorful painting among black-and-white photographs. The light-leaked photos reflected the beautiful imperfections of teenage faith, and connected the intimate camp experience with the larger world beyond Winter Camp 06. Hume staff loved the 2006 design, which still remains a favorite. Amazingly, campers and staffers can still be seen wearing that season’s apparel. Is it because they resonated with the get-out-and-connect-with-others message of the camp? Or is it because they thought it looked really cool?
I hope it’s a little of both.