826 Los Angeles
Empowering young readers and writers through design and illustration.
verynice’s ongoing work with 826LA and the Time Travel Mart has given us the opportunity to produce work that directly encourages kids to write and be expressive. 826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. The organization is part of the National 826 Organization, founded by Dave Eggers, and is known far-and-wide for its unique fictional storefronts that aim to inspire creativity in students.
Over the course of four years, we have engaged in four pro-bono book design projects with 826LA that complement the writing of the students of the Academic Leadership Community. Through our design process, we’ve created a format for these books that establishes a legacy for the series while leaving room for each to be unique and represent a new group of students.
Our most recent 2017 book design, Never Read It, celebrates the secrets and emotions that the students are bravely sharing with with the world. Chapters are divided by photographs of paper that are seemingly meant to be discarded—burnt, torn, crumpled, and shredded. These are printed on colorful paper that pops in between the rest of the pages, highlighting the vulnerability and expressiveness of the writing.
The 2016 publication, Soaring so the Past May Heal, is book designed with a personal, journal-like quality, through delicate hand drawn elements and a scratchy, emotional line quality. We utilized the bottom right corner of the book to animate a flying bird, which showcases the emotional transformation of a bird from section to section as a flip book.
I get to meet a lot of generous people through my work at 826LA, but the professional design support Matthew Manos and verynice have provided us is not easy to find. From designing our Time Travel Mart site to participation in our designer roundtables, the great folks from verynice have helped us provide our students and community with beautiful publications and branding that would have cost us a lot funds if we would have paid for them. Instead, they allowed us to put any money we would have spent on design towards the work of our mission, to provide free writing support to under-resourced youth. The good people at verynice understand the great challenges faced by nonprofits and the communities we serve so they provide what they know best to help us. And we’re incredibly grateful to have their support!
JOEL ARQUILLOS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In 2015, we created a layout and design for The Fields of Our Minds. The stories inside this book are inspired, funny, and poignant reminders of growing pain. Each chapter is divided into types of flowers; we illustrated of the dividers as well as the corresponding chapter’s details. The cover is designed to reflect the life cycle of a flower, and the diversity of the stories within the book.
In 2014, 12th grade students in Mr. Lopez’s Food Justice elective class at Roosevelt High School, wrote stories about how food disparities have affected them personally. At the core of our design concept was the creation of an identity for each student author. After analyzing each story, we created an icon that served as a logo for each student to be part of the book design. This publication encouraged confidence in the young writers.
Product Design & Illustration
Aside from book design, our team has participated in 826LA’s designer roundtable sessions in order to work through visual communication challenges with their diverse group of design volunteers. Because these sessions are designed to directly benefit the success of their storefront, the Time Travel Mart, we have been able to design a series of objects for their store including greeting cards, temporary tattoos, apparel, and even a quirky game.
In addition to providing visual communication work to help fill the shelves of the organization’s brick-and mortar location, we have also brought the store into the digital space by designing and developing the eCommerce website for the Time Travel Mart. The site is filled with “easter eggs” that link to fun gif animations that a dozen of our volunteers created inspired by the theme “time travel”.
Additional highlights from our collaborations include our Founder, Matthew Manos, speaking on new models of philanthropy at 826LA’s company retreat, as well as 826LA participating as a beneficiary to one of verynice’s Design for Good events in partnership with AIGA. Through our numerous collaborations, verynice is proud to have been able to provide 826LA with pro-bono services valued at a total of $89,250. We are excited to continue our long-term working relationship with 826LA, and applaud the creativity in the organization’s approach to business and impact.