NAPSLO’s Annual Convention is kind of a big deal in the insurance world. Carriers meet with wholesalers to, among other things, negotiate commission rates and programs offered as well as do general networking with people in the insurance world.
For USG’s attendees, things are chaotic! For three solid days (as well as parts of the day before and after those three), they pack their schedules to the brim with meetings during the day, parties at night, and meals and NAPSLO events in between. The meetings are typically half an hour, and it’s very fast and rhythmic. Companies come together at one of the many tables or other meeting spots, hammer out details, and then move on.
This is a setting where good planning and design can do wonders. Others in the team spend a bunch of time assembling Outlook appointments, Excel sheets full of numbers, meeting forms that provide the attendees, items to discuss, and space for notes, local restaurants to meet at on the fly, and more. Then, it’s my job to help organize that information to make it as easy as possible to use.
Also, we put a high value on the fact that these binders will be placed on every meeting table for our contacts to see. The more ‘put-together’ we look and the cooler that binder looks, the better.
Therefore, this is a project where I really feel like I can push the envelope creatively. I am able to try to implement things that wouldn’t be as appropriate on the website or in our typical marketing materials.
I’ve been fascinated by the idea of generative art for some time now. I explored it for last year’s binder, but I found scripting in Illustrator to be more than a bit slow and frustrating, due to some of the limitations in what’s scriptable and the fact that the documentation is really dense.
Enter Ben Barry, Processing, and a brand new rig. Ben Barry is a designer at Facebook whose work on the 2010 and 2011 f8 Conferences were spellbinding and very influential. When I got a new system that took me from XP to 7, 3 GB of RAM to 8, and put the processing speed through the roof, I downloaded Processing because of those posts, and I set out to learn how to use it to make generative art (as well as max out the new system!). Delaunay triangulation, ZIP code mapping, and the f8-style “connection” art were all explored, and the connection idea won out.
The final result was a visually interesting binder cover that was redrawn for each attendee (we made eight binders in all). The theme carried inside with sections made distinct by color. Each page got its own generated bit at the bottom.
The actual content was really a team effort, as I mentioned. For example, my boss deserves the lion’s share of credit for the schedule design. The color coding and checkboxes are really useful. My role in that part was a lot of zooming, cell-merging, and stroke-adjusting in InDesign.