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. We have been fortunate enough to engage in two pro-bono book-design projects with 826 Los Angeles in order to celebrate the writing of their students in a beautiful format. Most recently, we collaborated with 826LA and the students of the Academic Leadership Community to layout and design The Fields of Our Minds. The stories inside this book were inspired, funny and, most of all, poignant words from the youngsters of Los Angeles.
Each chapter was divided into types of flowers; we illustrated each type of flower for the dividers as well as the corresponding chapter’s details. The cover was designed to reflect the life cycle of a flower, and the diversity of the stories within the pages of the 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 2014, 12th grade students in Mr. Lopez’s Food Justice elective class at Roosevelt High School studied how food impacts health issues, focused on the food landscape of Boyle Heights. As part of this class, students wrote stories about how food disparities have affected them personally. For six weeks, volunteers from 826LA came to Mr. Lopez’s class to help students craft their stories and conduct interviews with people in their families and community.
At the core of our design concept was the creation of an identity for each student author. After analyzing each story, we created an iconic logo that aimed to represent each student and give them confidence in their future career as writers.
Now their efforts have culminated in the publication of If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Narratives and Profiles of Food Justice in Boyle Heights. verynice was proud to provide book design support for this incredible initiative. You can learn more about the initiative and the programs that 826LA provides on their blog post.
Aside from book design, our team also regularly participates 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, apparel, and even a quirky game.
The game, “Invent The Wheel”, is currently in production and challenges players to invent the wheel using only the materials provided inside the box: a stone.
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”.
We are excited to continue our long-term working relationship with this important organization, and applaud the creativity in 826LA’s unique approach to business and impact.