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A Family Affair

Written by in Features

Mother, Father, Son Collaboration:

A timeless, tactile promotion lovingly created
by two designers and illustrated by their young son.

Remember when you used to get tons of beautifully-printed self promotions in the mail from designers and artists? The envelopes were bulky and you just knew something good was inside. Unfortunately, those days are long gone and we rarely get physical mail, other than bills. Well, LewisCarnegie, based in Austin, Texas, still attends to this tradition of creating and mailing luscious print promotions with original illustrations to its clients and friends.

LewisCarnegie is a multidisciplinary design firm run by husband/wife duo Wendy (Lewis) and Sean Carnegie. Their promotions are fun and engaging, and never mention the partners or projects. Instead, they collaborate with artists to come up with original narratives. “We work with illustrators because we love the beauty of original art and illustration, but it’s imperative the idea works and that it’s strong, engaging, and makes sense as a narrative,” Sean says.

Each promotion revolves around a fictional character named Lewis Carnegie. “We were looking for a fun way to introduce our studio to the world. We’ve never wanted LewisCarnegie to be about us, specifically, and these promotions allow us a simple and intuitive way to align our personality, culture, and core values in a fun and memorable way,” says Sean. “It’s about us, but again, not about us.”

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The first two LewisCarnegie promotions were illustrated by Mark Todd and Scott Nash.

The first book, simply titled “Lewis Carnegie,” was illustrated and written by Mark Todd. Sean notes. “I came across Mark’s work many years ago. He was creating zines using pencils, photocopies, and colored paper. They were observations on growing up around friends and family. It was a perfect jumping off point for the project.”

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Story and illustration by Mark Todd.

The story is depicted in seven chapters that detail poignant events in Lewis Carnegie’s life written by an anonymous friend, and accompanied by quirky illustrations. Scott Nash wrote and illustrated the second booklet, which features observations about him from six dogs and a cat. Each dog recalls fond memories of Lewis and his tastes in books, music, and food, while the cat, named Opedia, dismisses him after he decides to bring dogs into their home. “Why on earth would a man collect dogs when he has a perfect feline such as myself to keep him company?” Opedia snarls.

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Story and illustrations by Scott Nash.

This year’s promo takes a more familial approach, in that the character is actually Sean and Wendy’s nine-year-old son, Thomas, as he captures drawings of birds in “Ornithology Field Journal for Bird Enthusiasts.” Young Thomas expertly captures 18 bird species in the field guide that are tastefully painted by the Lewis Carnegie design team. His illustrated field guide is accompanied by a blank journal so recipients can use it for their own bird cataloguing. The journals also feature birding guidelines and a bird identification chart.

The booklets are 5 x 7 inches, saddle-stitched and screenprinted on sturdy 80 lb. Neenah Environment Moonrock, and a hand-glued belly band holds the journals together. “People love them. They are always the same size, screen-printed, and hand stamped. Because of social media, we’ve been able to reach people who aren’t in our circle,” Sean notes. “We have started new relationships from each mailing that has translated into new work.”

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They try to send the promo out every 18 months, but Sean says, “Sometimes we struggle to find the right narrative and talent that best works together, so that usually takes the most time. We encourage people to contact us with interest and ideas! It’s a paying gig and they get sent to creative studios all over the United States. It’s a real win-win for everyone involved.”