Lisa Wright on designing for CLIR

Lisa Wright, of Obsesso Processo, worked with CLIR’s Digital Library Federation and Digitizing Hidden Collections programs to design identities for their 2020 events.

We’re so excited to be chatting with you about the designs you did for us! To get us started, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your studio?

Sure! I’m based in Denver, Colorado. I started my career working as a designer and art director at Denver design shops and ad agencies. Some were big, some were small, each had their own set of challenges and lessons, but I was able to work on really diverse clients. After 10 years, I got to a point where I had too much freelance work to continue my day job. So, I took the leap and went independent, opening my studio in 2015. The people I met working at agencies began coming back into my life as collaborators and clients, which was a really nice surprise. At Obsesso Processo I’m free to work with clients on my own terms. The name should explain a lot of what that means – a focus on research, process, and iteration. This often includes making models, crafting letters by hand, and getting off the computer. I’m really lucky to have wonderful clients and creative partners.

Design for the 2020 event depicts blue houses along the bottom with green speech bubbles coming out of each one.
A design created after the DLF Forum moved to a virtual format and it became clear everyone would be participating from home. It was adapted across each event and used on presentation slides. 

 

The briefs you prepared about each of our projects were thorough and thoughtful. Can you share a little bit about the kinds of information you gather for these documents, and how they inform your design process?

The discovery session (when I ask a gargantuan number of questions) and the creative brief process (where I synthesize and organize your answers) are key to creating a strategic foundation. I want to thoroughly understand the purpose and personality of your brand, event, product, etc., before I begin design.

A handful of adjectives in yellow, orange, black, and green
Adjectives from CLIR staff that describe the Hidden Collections program personified.

First, I need to establish who you are, what do you do, why you do it, and how you’re different. But then, the really exciting part comes when I begin to pull on the strings of how you sound, how you act, and why someone might approach you at a bar. It sounds silly, but it’s really profound. For instance, if you’re an eclectic person at the bar surrounded by an enamored group as you recount the story of getting bit by a shark, I might approach design in a bold and boisterous way. And, if you’re sitting quietly at the bar, curiously observing the crowd, taking notes between sips while writing the next great sci-fi novel, I might approach design in a more subtle, bookishly clever way. Brand personality drives the design tone and visual approach.

 

What were some unique visual and symbolic elements you wove into each of the identities you created for CLIR in 2020?

My goal is to infuse my work with as much meaning and purpose as possible. It not only makes the work more visually intriguing, it makes it more unique and ownable, which differentiates my clients from the crowd. It’s also extremely satisfying to work on projects that have a lot of depth.The new DLF Forum identity is an expansion of the existing DLF logo. I see the dot in the DLF logo as a representation of people coming together to create something bigger and more impactful than any individual can achieve alone. So it made sense to infuse that feeling of togetherness into the letterforms to demonstrate people gathering, splitting off into groups, and creating something new. I also wanted to capture the energy, positivity and comradery that I heard so much about.

two images side by side. on the left is a japanese map with intricate detail and on the right a photograph of a california aquaduct with still water
A Japanese map and photograph of a California waterway—two of the kinds of images digitized through Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives.
a gif that depicts each layer of the the digitizing hidden collections program logo: an orange D, a yellow H, and a green C with overlaid patterns
The new Digitizing Hidden Collections logo designed for the 2022 symposium.

The DHC Symposium identity was informed by researching the ‘hidden collections’ that have been funded and digitized. I pulled projects with strong visual references that I knew I could translate and meld into unique patterns. Some of the specific collections I pulled inspiration from include; Japanese Historical Maps; Digitalizing New York Quilt Project; Digitizing Southern California Water Resources; Digitizing the Yale Babylonian Collection; The Churchill Weavers Collection; Documenting Their Films; and the digitization of Native American, Inuit and Hawaiian Collections.

 

Our newsletter this month is all about the power of design to inspire us and create new ways of seeing meaning in our work. A big one for us has been your work! What are some sources of inspiration for you, lately?

That’s really lovely to hear, thank you! I find a lot of inspiration in science, history, and art history. But my biggest inspiration, particularly lately, is just being outside. I am always looking (usually down which isn’t always great, I’ve definitely walked into some solid objects). But the things you can find, whether it’s an interesting rock, a pattern created by some dirt, shadows playing on the ground, these small things find a way into my brain and then appear later as I’m working. It’s like some weird form of osmosis. I observe things that I find beautiful and sort of catalogue them for later use.

Where can we find more about your work?

You can find my client work at obsessoprocesso.com and I post on Instagram @obsessoprocesso.

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For our fall Programs & Grants newsletter, members of CLIR staff posed questions to three people whose work inspires us. Jump to the other interviews: