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Designing the Engineering New Year's Pop-Up Card

Engineering Pop-Up Card

In late fall 2016, as the School of Engineering started to contemplate options for their New Year’s greeting card, they were inspired by a pop-up card design created by an online vendor. With the excitement surrounding the fall opening of the new Engineering and Science Building on campus, Engineering hoped to produce a card that reflected the enthusiasm for this innovative new structure and all the activities taking place there. After discovering in late fall that the off-the-shelf design had a lengthy lead time and high cost, Engineering abandoned the idea and turned to Marketing Solutions for an alternative design. Instead of scaling back to a simpler design, Marketing Solutions proposed creating a custom pop-up card featuring the new building and using local vendors—all on the schedule desired by Engineering and for considerably less cost than the online vendor that had originally caught the eye of Engineering. Working with Vanderbilt’s in-house Printing Services and a local specialty finishing publisher, CS quickly set the project in motion.

Designing a pop-up card is a challenging task, but designing a pop-up for a building that is still under construction brings its own unique obstacles. Designer Jenni Ohnstad and photographer Daniel Dubois used a drone to take multiple photographs of the exterior of the building. Those images included construction workers, orange tape, cars, and views that incorporated surrounding buildings that would need to be photoshopped out of the final pop-up image. Jenni meticulously edited and pieced images from many photographs and prepared roughly 20 mock-ups to achieve the functional and polished end result.

To build upon the branded look that Marketing Solutions has established for the Engineering school across multiple promotional materials, the card incorporates fonts used, for example, in the Engineering Solutions booklet, which is a flagship publication for the school. The eye-catching blue envelope was selected to match the blue in the reflection of the windows of the card, with the idea being to have it stand out from the items typically received in the mail each day.

Promoting the Cadaver Ball

Cadaver Ball

Marketing Solutions accepted a new challenge this year, designing the promotional materials for the annual Cadaver Ball for the School of Medicine. The event celebrates first-year medical students completing Gross Anatomy. Each year, organizers select a theme which spoofs a popular culture icon. "Mr. Bones," a skeletal representation of the cadavers they work with, is always the central figure. “Vandy Night Live” was the theme of this year’s event.

Taking inspiration from Saturday Night Live and Nashville's country “Music City U.S.A.,” senior graphic designer Chris Collins, sought out the perfect elements to execute the concept. Using a 1:10 scale posable skeleton allowed Chris and photographers Steve Green and John Russell, to manipulate the model with ease. Chris borrowed a tuxedo from a Ken doll and purchased Barbie doll-sized cowboy boots and a hat to get the country-western look he was after. A guitar Christmas tree ornament was the perfect final embellishment to turn this model into a country music star.

Cadver Ball

Chris took roughly 100 preliminary shots on his iPhone to determine the best poses. Those poses were narrowed down to the top twenty and then passed along to the committee in charge of the event at the School of Medicine. Once those poses were narrowed further, John, Steve, and Chris worked together to get the professional shots needed for the promotional materials.

Chris ultimately used five different poses on five pieces. The original images were touched up in Photoshop so that they would seem less spooky and more playful. The actual tie and cummerbund were pink, but were changed to the Vanderbilt gold in the final versions used.

Cadver Ball

Zwischen Leben Und Tod program

Zwischen Leben Und Tod program

Marketing Solutions was asked to design the program for the Blair School of Music’s world premiere of Zwischen Leben Und Tod, by Michael Hersch. The musical performance in itself was unique in that it engaged violin and piano to interpret the paintings of graphic artist Peter Weiss. Our office provided a simple yet striking layout that aptly matched the unique presentation by Blair Dean Mark Wait and Professor Carolyn Huebl. Emerald paper, metallic inks, carefully chosen typeface, vellum paper, and Weiss’ intriguing images merge to make this publication convey the feel of the performance and the works of Weiss and Hersch.


Custom Card Designs

Every year, Marketing Solutions designs custom cards for different departments.  These designs are uniquely Vanderbilt and are specifically designed to fit the needs of clients while staying within defined departmental budgets. Here is a sampling of the holiday cards that we designed in 2014.

Chancellor’s Holiday Card

This chancellor’s holiday card uses varying sizes of custom designed white foil snowflakes on metallic gold paper to create a elegant and dreamy feel. The envelope features the same snowflakes in gold metallic ink on special white textured paper.

Chancellor's Holiday Card

 Library Holiday Card

The 2014 library holiday card features an illustration from the book Our Sentimental Garden, by Agnes and Egerton Castle. The 2-sided card contains a quote that suits the image from the book perfectly. A fly sheet printed on a special opaque paper incorporates a note from the interim dean printed in gold metallic ink. This card is paired with a white envelope printed in gold metallic ink.

Library Holiday Card

 Housing Holiday Card

The 2014 housing holiday card is a simple, inexpensive, yet stylish card. The front of the card features a Vanderbilt University campus image that was carefully chosen from our wide selection of images taken by our staff photographers.  The card is paired with a white envelope printed with black ink.

Housing Holiday Card

 Engineering School New Year’s Card

In growing anticipation of the new engineering and science building — currently under construction — the Engineering School wanted to send out something innovative and unique this year.  The greeting card designed by our office features a simple black and white sketch of the new building with gold foil lettering on a white paper. When the building sketch is viewed via phone with a special app, a 3-D model offering 360-degree views of the Engineering and Science building is revealed. (link to  The app which transforms the drawing to 3-D was developed by a School of Engineering student and professor. The finishing touch is the beautiful coordinated gold metallic envelope.

Engineering New Year Card

 Blair School of Music New Year’s Card

In continuance of the celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Blair School of Music requested a special New Year’s card to send to its patrons. The card incorporates their 50th anniversary logo and branding elements of the gold foil circles and tendrils which we designed earlier in the year.  This card is printed on a shimmery cream paper and is mailed in a coordinating envelope with gold foil stamping.

Blair New Year Card

Blair School of Music 50th Anniversary Brand

 Blair 50th Brand


In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Blair School of Music requested a special visual identity that would be used to mark this milestone on materials for the next three semesters. Senior graphic designer Julie Turner crafted design elements including circles and tendrils that complement a modern mark containing the number fifty. The circles and tendrils evoke the feel of a bubbly celebration. The mark itself features a circle that sits in the center of the zero in the number fifty, giving the look and feel of a gold record. This element emphasizes Blair’s exceptional musical achievements. Black and gold also accentuate a pride in Vanderbilt traditions.

The 50th anniversary branding launched in January 2014 with an exquisite new year greeting card. This was quickly followed with the Spring Concert Series booklet, as well as the Crescendo year-end summary. Ads and other publications also carry the brand elements. All of these designs use signature elements which brands the celebration across the year.

Blair 50th Anniverssary
Fall 2014 Concert Series, Roland Schneller invitation, Crescendo, Spring 2014 Concert Series, Blair greeting card

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