Who We Are

January 28, 2011

MANVIL is a small creative services firm. We do what we do because there is beauty in simplicity, and simplicity is never as simple as it sounds.

MANVIL provides graphics, photography and copywriting services for clients who prefer a hand-shake as opposed to a litany of contracts. (Although good business sense requires we take half-down upfront) We provide customers with straight forward graphics and content for all marketing and branding needs. We do everything we can to watch our client’s backs, and we believe our clients would do the same for us. If your heart isn’t in it, it ain’t worth a damn.

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Ford LariatAnybody interested in trucks knows that Ford’s new F-150 has a new aluminum body on its stout metal frame. And while the aluminum body is a pretty big leap in weight loss, we at MANVIL weren’t satisfied that that was a good thing. How could the number one truck manufacturer in the world change the mix so hugely and make it work with lightweight aluminum?

Due to our close ties with Pete Wilson Stoneworks, we have a pretty good idea of the abuse real work trucks get. And the 2015 F-150 would have some serious shoes to fill for PWS small truck needs. Any rig worth its salt would have to accept the burden of the current rig, a reliable, and remarkably stout 1997 Ford F-250 king-cab long bed. The new truck would have to be comfortable, carry 3/4 of a ton of rock and aggregate, and be able to return for more all day long. And continue to do so flawlessly year after year.

We didn’t doubt that a truck the size of Ford’s F-150 was up to the task, we doubted that an aluminum bed could handle the pressure without displaying some serious wear. So we took Ford up on their ‘You Test Challenge’. We posed that the new Ford F-150 would show significant wear after a day of loading and unloading basalt stones. Ford rose to the challenge in a manner which could only befit the number one manufacturer of pickup trucks in the world. They showed up with a beautiful short bed, quad-cab Lariat XF4, a truck too good looking to call ‘work ready’. I was satisfied that the creampuff they arrived in for the quarry work would be a hulk they’d have to return to Dearborn on a trailer. I was wrong.

And then they upped the ante by making the video an international affair: a la Francaîs!

The test was as unvarnished and brutal an attack on the bed of a truck as I’ve ever seen. Loading with an excavator is not unusual in the stonemasons day at work. Unloading rock from a pickup bed with an excavator is, as I said, “An act of lunacy”.

In the out-takes, which may never air in any form, I explained aloud that if I ever came to a site and saw a man with an excavator planning on unloading my truck I’d tell him “To get the fuck away from my truck and escort him the hell off my site”. From my point of view, the test was an exercise in hamfisted showmanship. On every unload the excavator operator, who knew better, pushed the bucket down on the bed til the suspension hit the the wheel stops, and dragged the rocks out. I watched as he pushed the wall of the bed towards the cab to grab rocks, and stood by thinking of the less than kind words I’d fire off had it been my truck. As I’d compose the vitriol laced sentence in my mind, the bucket would come away from the cab and the bed would simply flex right back as if nothing had happened.

After 51 runs of this same abuse, which represented probably 6 months of Pete Wilson Stonework’s small rock runs, I can say this: The bed held up stunningly well. It was dented in spots, you would be too with some of the 80+ lb. rocks we chose to drop in it, but it was alarmingly resilient. Serious props to whoever makes Ford’s factory spray on bedliner. The dude with the excavator looked hell-bent to scrape that stuff off, and it took every amount of scraping, dragging, gouging and mechanical abuse and stuck around to do its job.

I wasn’t kidding when I said my hat was off to Ford. They abused the hell out of a gorgeous F-150 that might otherwise have lived a sedate life between the mall and the cul de sac. The Lariat finished off the challenge I gave it, shook off the slight abuse, and went up to Alaska for more punishment, still on the “You Test Challenge” roadtrip.

The 2015 Ford F-150, MANVIL approved!



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Rusty-Iron-debacleWith almost tiresome frequency, we at MANVIL admit we love design. We enjoy putting things together that are nice to look at, for us anyway. It is, however, always important to step back and look at a design with other eyes.

So when we considered putting a back-ground pattern together for a Hawaiian print we sort of focussed tight on the task at hand and we got creative.

The Pacific Outrigger Canoe race at Frenchman’s Bar was to be held Saturday April 26th, and as usual we worked the design aspect for the team. We thought we’d put together a reasonably nice shape to surround the logo and content, and we wanted to throw together some image that could be used as backfill to keep the eyes busy.

Now pattern design isn’t necessarily our strong suit, but it wont ever be if we don’t start trying to figure out how it’s done.

We took the swoopy design and threw it together with other versions of itself: forwards, backwards, inverted, melded, meshed and mal-aligned. When all was said and done, we got the image to work as a pattern, and we were kinda stoked because essentially, we’d fallen so deep in the rabbit hole of design that we were excited to get a perpetually repeating pattern the likes of which looked pretty damned good… until it underwent a second inspection… and we (and others) noticed things.

Lots of things really. Long things, saggy things, thick things, puckered things, all sorts of ‘things’ that would not be suitable to promote as a pattern for a nice Hawaiian shirt.

We ran the design up the flagpole to have it shot down in a blaze of censored glory the likes of which we had clearly not recognized. And we’re glad we were shot down.

We went from ‘pleased creatives’ to ‘skeeved-out designers of Larry Flint’s Hawaiian boudoir wallpaper collection’ in under forty minutes, and we have to admit, we’re still kinda laughing at it. The whole affair was an innocent gesture that, upon review, looks pretty much like we were some have dosed, early 70’s porn cartoonist.

So here it is. And if anybody uses this, you should possibly have your mouths washed out with soap.  ;)RI-oh-dear-ii


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Anne's-giftWhen the lead designer at MANVIL came across the conundrum of finding a suitable ring for his fiancé, instead of paying out to somebody to provide a design, he brought it in house. He stuck it to Jared.

Designing a wearable item requires a bit of out-of-the-box thinking. It has to meet several criteria:

1) It needs to be durable: We enjoy active, outdoor stuff and don’t want to spend time repairing dings and mars, or weeping over lost stones. The metal that was chosen was 304 stainless steel.

2) It needs to be kind of mechanical: The company is MANVIL. We love tools, and if you can’t use tools making this thing where’s the love!?

3) It should be kind of design heavy: Function/form -v- form/function… you know the drill. It has to keep our attention while building it, and if it draws a bit of attention, all the better.

4) Production needs to be somewhat challenging: A bit of sanding and grinding doesn’t hold the interest as much as a multi-dimensional design. If the designer is challenged, then he might learn something.

5) The plain yoke needs to be removable in order to switch out to the stoned yoke after the nuptials are all said and done.just ring

6) There’s one more that we can’t recall right yet.

We’ve had some choice work with a number of vendors, for any variety of fabrication work and we’ve yet to come across someone we couldn’t or wouldn’t recommend. Such is the case with Profile Laser. We provided a precise rendering of what it was we were looking for and they lit up the lasers and cut us a few choice blanks. From those blanks we ground, sanded and filed our way to the perfect fit on her finger. At that point all the joy was focussed on finding the right sized bolt, drill bit and tap to affix the yoke.

The process itself was illuminating, and it should be mentioned that it was not some simple walk in the park. As with anything done for the first, second, third, fourth and ultimately fifth time, choice words were spoken, blood was spilled, and there were more than one or two self-imposed time outs given. Lessons range from: “carbide drill bits are vastly superior to black metal bits” to “hole tapping surfaces must be lubricated constantly and held on a set base, not by hand” to “brass screws can’t handle the torque of a long screw driver”.

The base is sand blasted, the yoke is polished to a high shine, the bolts are the eighth purchased and there is not one complaint about the effort it took. Because she accepted it with graciousness and love, and in doing so, WE stuck it to Jared.

The ring






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MANVIL: Keep shoveling

February 13, 2014

Beaten2At MANVIL, we’ve not gotten into graphics because it’s easy.

We love making original graphics. Seeing the finished product of design come to fruition, when done right, is a feeling somewhat akin to child-birth for us. We’re thankful for great vendors big and small, and we’re thrilled for great clients, we’re also very thankful to the folks on the sidelines who appreciate our efforts.

In the last few weeks any number of cities in the US have been muffled with a blanket of snow. When that weather came to Portland last week Friday, we at MANVIL were supposed to be at an event called SWACCESS. We were supposed to be getting into the start-up spirit, and we had just finished getting all of the SWAG together. Braille embossed bottles, and braille embossed tees. No, they’re not necessarily rocket science, but great looking gear none-the-less. And just making the attempt to include blind folks in the ownership of graphic tees seems worthwhile.

As we left the tee printers office (OSI) with a still-dryer-warm box of tees, the snow began to fall in Portland. As anyone who uses a powered chair to commute can tell you, snow accumulation ends outdoor wheelchair travel. It also hampers mass-transit, along with all other traffic, and it strains the skill sets of guide dogs. Essentially, truly foul weather put the kibosh on our Access oriented gathering… and we were all bummed to hear it.

It was, however, the only option with the weather at hand.

SWACCESS will happen, the bottles and tees will keep, it just can’t happen with 4+ inches of snow on the ground.

In a display of the true fickle nature of Portland’s weather, the snow has all melted, the streets are all clear, and the sun is out. It’s currently 48′. We didn’t even have the chance to dig out.

So here’s what we at MANVIL threw together as a tribute to the efforts put together so far.

You can rarely do something you love and believe in without taking a few lumps. Get beyond them, and keep moving forward. It’s worth it.


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SWA Bot Ext Detail Sml As if the shirts weren’t fun enough to put together for SWACCESS, the other part of the job was SWAG. As opposed to the magnets, stickers, bags, and zip drives, we got together with Liberty Bottleworks and they KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE FREAKING PARK!


No words will do these bottles justice. Enjoy and think about the huge level of win these things are. Braille, Embossed, colorful, with a killer design and made in the PAC NORWEST.


Way to go Liberty!

SWA Bot ctr sml SWA Bot side 2 sml SWA Bot side det sml SWA Bot vert det 2 sml


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SWA tee full back sml SWA Tee back sml SWA Tee close smlAt MANVIL, we do shirts a lot, but when it came to producing a braille functional shirt, we knew this was something kinda special. Sometimes we go overboard explaining stuff, this time not so much.

Here it is: The SWACCESS event SWAG tee… with braille:SWA Bot side 2 SWA Bot side det SWA Bot ctrSWA Bot Ext Detail

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SWACCESS-BOM-2.0When MANVIL was asked to consult with Startup Weekend to do the graphics for Startup Weekend Access, we knew that we were in for a great education. To get a graphic designer to consider designs that might function well for all folks including the blind kinda takes a designer out of his/her element.

We at MANVIL are used to a realm where the visual does the talking, and we love that, but working with a program that is all inclusive requires a little more effort. We really liked the work ViewPlus put together for the SWACCESS event flyer. Tangible graphics aren’t necessarily the norm. (look in any magazine, can you feel the image?)

The SWACCESS flyer graphic tells all the pertinent information upfront graphically, while the braille tells the story to those who can’t see it. Added embossing, an idea brought about by the abilities of the ViewPlus printer, let those who are sight impaired feel more of the image. Tangible graphics aren’t something too over the top, but using them forces other designers to consider future possibilities.

Since MANVIL took on the SWACCESS project as the consultants for marketing, we wanted to make promotional tees that included braille in their production as well. We were aided in this endeavor through the helpful staff at Portland based Incight.org, a resource for the disabled to reach self-empowerment.

With no set guidelines for tee design for the blind, we asked those who are visually impaired “what would be a functional placement for braille communications on a tee shirt?”  We need to note that the braille communications cannot be placed on the front of a tee, for obvious reasons. (Think about it, nobody wants anybody “reading” their chest or tummy for messages, even if they are kind words) The left shoulder, one inch across from the arm seam and three inches down from the shoulder seam. That’s where the message should start.

Braille has a set font size, so the words “Pitch. Build. Enable. Launch!” takes up a whole 7.25 inches across when printing, and it needs to be printed in a density that can be felt, with an ink that lasts more than just a few washes. We’re working on the tests with our vendor OSI as this is being written, so once we get the product production ready, we’ll update the blog and let you know how it looks.

PS: As we write this, we’re considering heavily whether a tee shirt, which is really rather ill-suited for those with limited flexibility to get something “over their heads”, is the right way to go. Although more expensive, and somewhat less ‘a give-away item’, a zipped-front hoodie might be more suitable for those with physical impairments. We’ll try to push the hoodie as the apparel item of choice. (Mgt.)


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Hi-WAIANAE-7-Islands“Running an airline is like having a baby: fun to conceive, but hell to deliver.” - C. E. Woolman, principal founder Delta Air Lines

So goes the quote from the lead founder of Delta Air, and as we see it, we’re having a blast!

Then again we’re only doing the graphics for the Air Waianae. We’ll leave plane loans, taxes, pilot choices, maintenance systems, hiring staff, buying fuel shares and myriad other things to folks who know better.

Sure, We’re willing to do what we can for the PR pushes, but the project at hand is to produce a look that works well for those who will fly inter-island.

We put together the package that more passengers see than anything else. The baggage tag.


With seven regional airports to fly to, and a ground crew that may have difficulty focussing on menial tasks, we chose to go with a color scheme differentiation as well as simple, but kinda active graphics. Air Waianae is giving us a little leeway with that. Real print, some good color and although they’ll be printed in that super-cool pre-glued stuff that comes out of the (Now Color!) printer at the ticketing desk, they’ll look old bonafiably olde school!

So a great big ALOHA for the fledgeling out of Kalaeloa Field!

If you’re gonna get  high, fly Air Waianae! Let us know which island airport you want to visit!

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The Holidays and MANVIL

December 23, 2013

Eggnog-Ala-MANVILEvery years end, or close as it may be, should be a time for reflection. And at MANVIL, we’re not so different.

Some years just seem to sync up well, and 2013 was one of those years. Hitting on all cylinders for some new and awesome clients, putting together projects for clients that might otherwise be out of our wheelhouse, and even playing with new medias, 2013 was a time of growth.

We put together some great projects, and we are proud of them all. Then again, some other folks put together some brilliant ones themselves… Projects we feel are deserving of a little high-lighting. For this reason, our graphic celebration of the holidays/near years-end includes an example of some work we’ve seen. Work that deserves a second look by folks from the other end of the planet, you know, the one below cancer’s waistline.

Last year an Australian ad firm named The Monkeys, got together with a graphics team from MAUD to create some graphics to promote the buzz for a site called Mixionary.com . They’re a little bit Rothco, and a little bit rum soaked, and we think they’ve missed a few images, but we also think the artwork is beautiful.

So without any inclination to hide the fact that we’re only making their ideas more appealing, here are two additions to MAUD’s line-up of bevvies. Merry Merry to all!

If you are ever in Honolulu, go to the House Without a Key at the Halekulani and have a Mai Tai while watching the hula show. Life doesn’t get that much better than watching Kanoe Miller dance as the sun sets and the Meyer’s and Bacardi softens the blows of another day away.

Aloha! From Air Waianae! HWK-Rocks-Glass-Mai-Tai2

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Pre-press 1SWACCESS Prepress AIGA copyA few weeks back MANVIL accepted the challenge to help put together some of the marketing for Startup Weekend Access (SWACCESS)

As big-time fans of the Startup Weekend activities, we are proud to help put this together. As a design firm, we love the challenge of making something compellingly visual. The fun part is that we have to have a literally tangible representation of the information we need to get across. For that we turned to the folks at ViewPlus, who focus their efforts to provide assistive technology and accessibility products, such as Braille embossers, and Braille translation software.

Braille is based on a pattern of raised dots, and anytime a graphics guy gets the opportunity to create a three dimensional representation, they jump at it. Or at least we do.

We wanted to run with the pro-active theme of providing a ‘ticket’ to Pitch. Build. Enable. and Launch! the visitors to Startup Weekend Access towards their goals. For those who can’t see fancy printing and design, the embossed portion runs braille text all the way across the image stating exactly what the ticket says. Other embossed features include a raised stamp for “SWACCESS”  and some fun textural devices such as the raised colors to honor the Portland flag. (The event is being held at the Portland Development Commission‘s offices, so a shout out was called for!)

Although the project is still in the production ratification stages, we at MANVIL are proud and excited to put this together. Naturally we’re pretty excited to put the shirts together as well, but that’s another post for another day.

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Portland United States
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