Sandstrom Blog

What We See

When you engage Sandstrom Partners, in a very real sense you are hiring us for our eyes, our vision, our ability—both innate and developed over time—to see things in a particular way. In his seminal work Visual Thinking, Rudolph Arnheim suggests that vision is the primary medium of thought. He posits that while we can appreciate our sense of smell and our sense of taste, we can’t think with them. Vision is aided by touch, but touch cannot perceive distance or perspective. Vision and hearing are the two greatest senses of intelligence. As powerful as the uni verse of sound is, it is limited by the amount of audible information in the world. For instance, the information that the audible world provides us about a bird might be little more than its song and the flutter of its wings. The amount of visual information, however, is rich and complex.

A significant part of the Sandstrom Partners creative process is awareness. As a design firm, our awareness is predominantly visual. So, when you hire us you are actually chartering the entire inventory of our designers’ own collections of visual data accumulated throughout their lifetimes. Artists, designers, art directors, writers, stylists, photographers, filmmakers all share this. What is unique to Sandstrom Partners is our individual interests and the focus of our awareness. When that is combined with the rest of our experience, knowledge and talents, we have a multitude of variation in our references and skills as creative people. Ultimately, this translates into more and better choices for you.

We are visually aware of things that seem obvious to us, but are only subconscious to others. Professionally, we are competent to point out and describe those nuances, subtleties or details and can enlighten others as to how these nuances create a difference that they can sense, but are not tuned to “see.”

When we walk down city sidewalks, we tend to be aware of things like the width of the sidewalk in relation to the street, the fluctuations in the gray color of the cement, its cracks and textures. We notice handmade signs in storefront windows. We might notice that the sign was lettered by a right-handed person with a certain colored marker on a specific paper that has a surface texture which creates a specific effect of how the marker reacts on that surface. We evaluate the effectiveness of communication between that handmade execution versus a professionally designed and executed sign as we’re considering the type of store it is and the customers it might be targeting. This is a small insight into our process.

One might say, “So what? I can do that. Or at the very least, I can train myself to see those things.” And this might very well be true. But we do it all the time as both a natural and a learned tendency. The real difference, however, might be in our ability to render these experiences. We can visually render our experiences to nearly exact duplication. Beyond that, we can reorganize our experiences into more interesting creations or abstractions, yet maintain the essence of those experiences. We all have visual perception. But we don’t all have the same talent to reproduce our perceptions or re-create them as stories. A writer works with words, a dancer with physical movement, or an artist with a variety of visual media.

Each creative director and designer at Sandstrom Partners has a different foundation and a different set of references. We each create from what we know and find ways to apply, render or blend what we know in different formulations. We solve visual problems with an understanding of a specific consumer and environment and the peripheral awareness of what is going on in the world, visually and socially. And then we determine if there are certain rules of engagement in effectively communicating that we should follow or break.

When a client presents information about their product or service, their competitive environment, their current business needs, and their future goals, we listen and ask questions until we feel we have enough understanding. We then search for possible solutions using the faculties of our collective reasoning, awareness, perception and talents. We measure ideas against the brief and against what already exists. We might enlist copywriters as creative partners with a different focus of cognitive thinking. We always look for opportunities to entertain or enrich the consumer, solutions that have a sense of humanity with a sense of order and purpose. We also try to find solutions that are not wasteful of resources. We look for elements of distinction, for any kind of creative expression that has the opportunity to enhance the brand. We look for great ideas.