It has been a busy couple of weeks here at Data Design Co_. Since we last posted about our marathon brainstorming session, we have not only been gearing up for the launch of our first product, but we also completed pilot testing for our Coaster Campaign with January Advisors and the League of Women Voters. While we are still processing the results of that particular experiment, we wanted to take a minute and get everyone up to speed on the project.
The idea behind the Coaster Campaign is to place political information in nonpolitical spaces to see if we can stimulate conversation and ultimately increase voter awareness and turnout. We picked coasters as a medium in order to target bars and restaurants, although the principle holds in other spaces as well.
Designing coasters came with a few unique design constraints. The project had to be cost effective and the information had to be simple enough that it could be understood on the relatively small surface of a coaster. Thankfully, we had just completed a week of brainstorming, so finding statistics that would resonate with voters was not so difficult. The real challenge was just in framing them in a way that fit on a coaster. To actually make the project cost-effective, we decided to create a series of laser cut stamps that we could then apply to blank pieces of cardboard.
Manufacturing the coasters was actually a relatively simple process once we had created digital versions of our coaster designs in Adobe Illustrator. Laser cut stamps work by using the laser cutter to remove all of the area that isn't going to covered in ink and pressed to the cardboard. To do so we had to create a mirror image of the designs and then invert the colors so that the negative area would be the part that was etched away.
We etched our stamps several times, but in retrospect we probably should have let it run a few more times as the stamps weren't quite as deep as they probably could have been. As a result, we had to use a roller to apply ink to the stamps instead of pressing the stamps into an ink pad. Once the stamps had been inked, we pressed them onto the cardboard to create the coasters.