Quinceañera404

ERA404 Turns 15

Originally published in the ERA404 Newsletter on April 4, 2016:

Dear friends, family, and clients,

Happy 4/04! It’s a momentous one, too. Fifteen years ago, I began moonlighting as a freelance graphic designer in New York City, while working a day-job at a now-defunct dot-com. My first gig was designing the CD packaging for a DJ that was a friend of a friend. My payment was a 12-pack of Heineken. I had purchased the domain for ERA404 back in college, after a geeky but whimsical conversation with a group of designers at my summer internship in Grand Rapids. The name is somewhat esoteric these days, but kudos to those who still chuckle at its etymology.

I was strictly a print and identity designer back then, but expanded to environmental design and strategy when the DJ referred me to his colleague who produced events around the five boroughs. The event producer was patient and helped me as I struggled to learn the ropes of the industry and the city. Luckily, New York often rewards the hard-working and passionate. My first big event design, the USS Target, was featured in The Wall Street Journal and afforded me emancipation from the precarious dot-com. Living on COBRA health insurance out of a tiny studio apartment in Harlem, I began amassing clients and pulling more all-nighters than I had during my four years studying Visual Communication at Ferris State University.

Oftentimes, I would hear these clients express disappointment when I told them I didn’t do web design or development. ERA404 was, after all, a programming joke. While FSU offered a New Media program, my love of the halftone dot helped me ignore the seduction of the pixel. My fledgling company suffered because of this shortsightedness and I shared my frustrations with my brother, Mike Citarella, who was then working as a 3D artist for a post-production facility in midtown. Do you remember that kid in your high school that secretly programmed the formulas for calculus equations behind a secret back-door link of a game of hangman on a TI-82 graphing calculator? That was Mike.

Mike offered a simple, elegant solution: Learn how to design interfaces and let me handle the rest. In 2006, Mike joined ERA404 and consequently allowed us to offer our remaining two disciplines: digital and motion. For the last decade, as our Technical Director, Mike has managed our freelance network of programmers, leaving me to the designers.

In celebrating ERA404’s quinceañera, I’m helpless to think about her growth over the last decade and a half. I’m sharing this with you because everyone we’ve worked with or worked for in the past fifteen years has a similar story. Our stories are what make us unique. When we begin a new relationship with a client, it’s their stories that help us create pieces that are both original and personal. In these stories lie the beauty of the design and the ingenuity of the code.

Thank you for sharing the last fifteen years with us and I hope you continue to be part of our story.

Don Citarella
Creative Director
ERA404

Copies of a Copy

In 2007, an investment firm hired my studio, ERA404, to design an “Indiana Jones diary” for a global investor, as a unique way of showcasing their findings from a literacy study they conducted. Part of the project was creating a dozen or so original illustrations from his travels. One of the illustrations was of Huckleberry Finn rafting down the Mississippi River. I confess that I borrowed inspiration from an iconic book cover when creating the artwork.

"Huck Finn River" Google Search ResultsA few weeks ago, a friend and colleague pointed my attention to an article on VentureBeat.com which incorporated a cropped version of this illustration. On a whim, I did a Google Image Search, and was able to find that this image has been reproduced, re-cropped, and re-used in 8 pages and 90 links worth of results, making it one of the most frequently returned images in Google searches with the keywords “huck finn river”.

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The Herb Ritts Foundation

The Herb Ritts Foundation

This week, my design and development studio, ERA404, launched the new web site for The Herb Ritts Foundation. The press release is below.

Los Angeles—HERBRITTS.com features the largest collection of the late photographer’s work online, while offering the opportunity to explore every aspect of his career.

Dozens of editorial examples, advertising tear sheets, book spreads, and museum installation photos mixed together demonstrate how Ritts’ work embedded itself into popular culture.

In addition to producing portraits and editorial fashion for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling Stone, Ritts also created successful advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, Chanel, Donna Karan, Gap, Gianfranco Ferré, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Levi’s, Pirelli, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Valentino among others.

The site features an interactive timeline of Herb Ritts’ life. For the first time, visitors are able to see examples of Ritts’ directing work including award-winning music videos and commercials. Further insight is offered into the Foundation’s history and mission: to advance the art of photography and support HIV/AIDS causes in a manner that reflects the spirit and values exemplified by Herb Ritts during his lifetime.

Designed and developed by ERA404 Creative Group, the site allows visitors to conduct advanced searches through Ritts’ vast archives and follow the Foundations social media presence.

Herb Ritts’ iconic images have been exhibited in museums worldwide, including hugely popular exhibitions at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

(via ERA404.com)

56 Months of Pantone Moods

If you haven’t already checked it out, the Pantone Moods Facebook application that was conceived and created by ERA404, has a history and trends tab. The trends tab shows current mood matches, based on color, mood blurb, gender, date/time of submission, and distance from you. It also compares your current mood color and blurb based on gender, location, color match, word match, and frequency. Lastly, it shows global mood trends with the most active gender (female) and color (21-1-7 C), most active location (São Paulo) and color (21-1-7 C), most popular color now (1-1-6 C) and of all time (21-1-7 C), and most popular words (color, blue, feeling, today, happy) and colors (21-1-7 C, 76-1-7 C, 1-1-6 C, 132-1-4 C).
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True Colors, Branded Colors

After posting Color Psychology in Logo Design last week, I became more curious about how my studio‘s branding might be triggering different psychologies in clients. I wondered if it they’re sending out messages that might be perceived differently by men or women (see “You Work For Her”), and different cultures in different parts of the world. Read more

Diss ‘n’ Gauges

Diss 'n' Gauges: Menu

I’m pleased to announce my first application is ready for sale on Google Play and Apple App Store. You can also see the information about Diss ‘n’ Gauges in my company’s portfolio.

Diss ‘n’ Gauges: Sometimes the best response is an app!

Diss ‘n’ Gauges: Multi-Pack combines all our individual meters into one great application. Are you looking for best and funniest way to start or end (disengage from) a conversation?

The Multi-Pack includes:

  1. BS Detector: Is your friend talking out of their butt? Inform them (and the rest of your party) that you’re not buying it.
  2. Dial Down the B!tch: Is your friend acting nasty or spiteful and it’s exceeding your tolerance level? Inform them (and the rest of your party) that they need to dial it down a bit.
  3. Give-a-Crap Meter: Is your friend droning on and on about something that you couldn’t care less about (say, Crossfit, for instance)? Inform them (and the rest of your party) of your disinterest in a fun way.
  4. Hottie Finder: Looking for a great way to strike up a conversation with that beautiful girl or guy across the bar? Let our Hottie Finder act as a divining rod to direct you to them!
  5. Gaydar: Often find yourself in a dance club, at a karaoke hall, or on a cruise ship with no way to hone-in on the guys around you?
  6. Fuel Gauge: Need some help deciding if you need one more or had one too many? Here’s a quick, clever way to reply to friends when they ask if you’re ready for another round.

All meters react to tapping on the screen. Tap once to trigger, tap a second time to reset. Diss ‘n’ Gauges is now available for iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android phones and tablets.