Creating Simpsons Pixels : Ivan Dixon & Paul Robertson

Pretty much everyone in the world has now seen Simpsons Pixels on Youtube, which went viral on the interweb last week. The video is a loving tribute created by two pixel animators and close friends of mine, Paul Robertson and Ivan Dixon. Close friends as in we get drunk together, swim in the lake and play strategy board games on Mondays… kind of friends.

Paul and Ivan’s works are well known within the industry but not many people have had the chance to meet them or find out what they’re like, so i suggested ‘why don’t you talk about the behind the scenes story on the Simpsons Pixels work for your fans’. So here is Ivan and Paul talking about how they came up with the ideas, their process and how much they loved it.

Ivan Dixon and Paul Robertson talk about Simpsons Pixels from Symphonic Pixels on Vimeo.

The Simpsons Pixels is officially opening Matt Groening’s Simpson’s episode this Sunday at 8PM in the US and… of course, all across the globe.

Check out Paul’s work here.
Ivan’s Tumblr and his studio Rubber House.




Behind On Architects Design Branding

Australia based Taiwanese architect Andy Chung had a very clear objective on his brand refresh. He needed a new brand that would give him a new reputation to go with the new team that he has formed. He also wanted an online strategy with the aim to broaden his service area internationally (especially in Chinese region) and gain more exposure locally.

Just like other stubborn architects, (hello to all architects out there, you guys are stubborn for perfection) he was very attached to his old logo and wanted to bring along the shapes, structure and use of negative space into the new branding. We loved the idea of the structural shape and negative space, we soon identified the biggest problem which was the lack of legibility and focused on solving the problem.

We explored a little more about his services and the work he specialises in. ‘On’ is his shortened name in Taiwanese  安, which means ‘safe’ and ‘comfort’. OnArch provides the space of comfort and a domestic sanctuary, we wanted to translate that idea into a compelling brand story.

View project and the rest of the collaterals.




Make your customer feel special; Referral marketing.

We think referral marketing is one of the most powerful ways to enhance brand reputation and sales because it is through trusted sources. Referrals aren’t often limited to friends and family. They can come from all kinds of sources, like publications, reviews, testimonials, and tastemakers (bloggers or social media influencers).

Here are some tips on increasing referrals by using your brand elements.


– Beautiful collateral.

Create a wow factor for your customers’ buying experience. Beautiful packages create an emotional connection between buyer and your brand through unboxing your product. Impress clients with high-quality prints with handwritten messages to make them feel special. Beautiful collateral will make your product instantly shareable, and people will talk about it. Here are great examples of beautiful packaging.

Image : Svbscription



– Ask for it

Send your customers an informative inserts that encourages people to share their stories, reviews and feedback. “If you enjoy the product and our fast service, share with us how you felt.” Make sure your inserts have a clear call to action. You can direct your customers to a web address for more information. Include a hashtag or Instagram handle with your brand voice being consistently throughout your advertising copy.



– Reward them

This is a common tactic, but not enough business upsell after their first sales or engagement. If the customers have purchased a service or product, they are most likely to buy or use it again. There are a number of ways you can do this, but adding a VIP code to get a discount on their next item or rewarding service credit is a good way. Again, if you’re sending them a gift certificate, print it on high-quality, thick paper with a matching envelope to give it a sense of specialness and exclusivity. Use some sense of humor on your referral card.




In conclusion, impress your customers, and they will rave about your brand. And we believe having exceptional customer service and beautiful branding can certainly increase referrals towards your sales.

When Working as a Designer, Know What You're Signed up For.


At Symphonic, we have learned to never start work without a written contract in order to protect our work and time. Most artists and designers have a legal problem at least once in their professional career, whether that’s with employment, contracts, copyright, or intellectual property. Working with artists and designers across the states and nation can be in any shapes and forms, and it has been particularly difficult with smudged boundaries in this digital day and age. Clients have their ideas of engaging designers, and designers have their way of working with their clients that often lead to miscommunication and sometimes some bitterness if you don’t have a clear agreement. No one likes to read terms and conditions, but knowing that you have a clear agreement between two parties will protect not only your work, but it also won’t give you an unfair advantage to one or the other. Whether you are a freelancer, boutique studio, running an agency, or if you are looking to contract someone to do your creative work, you must look after the legal issues before any engagement.

We’ve worked with Michael from Creative Legal, who has been giving legal advice since our day one. We asked him a few questions in terms of working agreements between clients and creative service providers.


Q. What are the most common legal problems you face the most when working with graphic designers and artists? How did you resolve them?

A. Terms of engagement with clients seem to cause the most problems for designers and artists, as does the use of their work by others without permission. I do a lot of work helping designers/artists to set up terms of engagement or terms of service to attach to quotes and proposals. That covers all the main areas where problems can arise, such as payment, proofs and delivery, copyright and limits on the use of the work, and liability for services. In most cases, clear terms of engagement that are attached to every quote or proposal and signed by a client helps avoid most problems or makes resolving them easier. Without terms of engagement, misuse of work, such as copyright infringement, can be difficult and expensive to pursue.


Q. What legal matters should you look into before you trade as a professional designer?

A. The first question should be what kind of legal entity do you want to use (sole trader, partnership with one or more others, or a Pty Ltd company to give you protection from direct liability)? Whichever is used then needs an ABN and a tax file number. If there are others involved in the business, you may also need an agreement that sets out how you work together: investor, partnership agreement, or shareholders agreement for a Pty Ltd.

Second, the name should be secured, either just as a “business (or trading) name” (i.e., the name the business uses despite what you as a sole trader, the partnership, or Pty Ltd are called), which is registered with ASIC, or a trademark to more fully protect the name and give you the sole right to use it (or stop others from using it), which is registered with IP Australia.

Lastly, there are terms of engagement, as I mentioned above, and a format or template to use for quotes and proposals that ensures clients agree to the terms each time.


Q. What legal matters should you look into before engaging with a designer?

A. Clients of designers should ask to see the terms of engagement early on to allow time to discuss any terms they are unsure of or unhappy with. Make any amendments or special conditions for a particular work required, such as payment dates or milestones, rights to use work, and so on. It is also worth ensuring that the designer or artist has created their work fresh or originally and were not drawing from the work of others. Clients may also want to look at what insurance the designer has, which is not essential for a designer/artist to have, but it protects them from claims.


Q. Please give us any practical tips on protecting designers and their works (or protecting clients).

A. Copyright is the main protection that designers or artists will have in their work. It is vital to remember that copyright does not protect ideas, but only applies to work that is in a material form of some kind (i.e., written down, drawn or painted, etc.). So when communicating ideas to clients, they won’t be protected until they are in material form, and so it is always worth doing this. If copyright doesn’t apply, a designer can try to use a confidentiality agreement to ensure that the client does not misused ideas that are protected by copyright.

In many cases, doing a pitch to the client should involve a confidentiality requirement, or an initial terms of engagement, for the pitch that makes it clear what the client can or cannot do with the work pitched, even if the designer is not actually engaged on the job.

In more practical terms, it is always worth making sure communications with the client are clear and upfront on the use of works, as this avoids misunderstandings or assumptions by clients. Also, take practical steps to stop work being misused or terms breached, such as only providing final files upon full payment, having a clear system for written client sign-off on proofs, and other instructions (like going to print or retaining all pitch materials or providing them on a secure web platform for viewing, rather than in sending actual files or designs). Practical steps avoid many problems!


Q. And here is the ongoing riddle. Who owns the logo?

I do think this is a big problem the industry faces. Legally, it is right that the designer owns the overall brand work and design unless their terms transfer it over to the client. I have to say it is case by case for designers to decide to hold onto their work or not, but I think they need to be upfront with clients so that it isn’t something that the client industry starts to feel is a serious problem that they will go to lengths to overcome (like the monetary release or no work). It can probably be best resolved by a middle ground with designers. Starting off by owning their work but having reasonable prices to transfer ownership with some restrictions or conditions on the transfer if the client insists on it. For instance, striking a workable deal and not just insisting on copyright ownership and either losing the work or having to concede and sign a monetary release – Something that works for the industry.

 Links to

Copyright Australia

Creative Commons

IP Australia 

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Creative Legal lawyers

Architects, build better websites and get more leads

Dear architects,

We love what you do and we love your creativity, but why do you have such bad websites?

Some are really hard to navigate or take forever to load. Some of them have no content or say coming soon for years. Some have images only and some have no images at all. I won’t point any fingers but some architect sites still use Flash.

From the architects I’ve spoken to, a website is low priority and not worth much time. Whether you are a famous superstar with an established folio and fans or whether you’ve just graduated from your design degree, there is no reason why you wouldn’t build an online platform to use as a marketing tool to show your work and develop leads. Even if you have a profile and folio on other sites such as Architizer or Houzz etc… people will still google your name and check up on your website.

Here’s a few things that you must think about for your website as architects or architecture firms:

1. Focus on showing your best work. Nothing else.

Your portfolio is no.1 and you need to present your work in best way as possible to your prospective clients. Not in a distracting animation, not in a crazy experimental way, but clean and straight forward, let your work do the talking.
Hire a web designer / developer who can build a stable website as well as balance your creative vision. Remember your work is not for other architects or students, but for someone who wants to build their dream home or commercial space, and for agents and developers who will refer you to their extended network. Your folio must cater to this audience by allowing them to easily find what they want.

2. Make it more accessible and searchable.

Think about how people could find you? Do they know you are capable of working internationally? Have they found you from their phone or iPad? Optimising your website is such a powerful tool because it allows you to target a specific audience based on where they are and what they search. We recently helped a client of ours who wanted to continue working on council projects by providing her with content that was specific to that audience, and by placing strategic keywords as well as emphasising her previous credits. This meant that she could engage more meaningfully with her own select audience.

3. Have a clear call to action.

Be clear and describe your principles. Tell your potential clients what makes you awesome and what sort of clients you want to work with. Then you need a clear Call To Action that leads them to take that next step; whether it is to call or email you, or to connect with you on LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media.

4. Start blogging.

Give people reason to come back to your website and see what you’ve been working on: the process, behind the scenes and details that you can’t include on the press shots. People want to know the talent behind the company. Not only will blogging help develop your online presence, but it also helps you with backlinks to be more searchable.

Here are some example sites that we think are well designed and built:

If you absolutely can’t afford to do any of those, then at least create a Tumblr blog or Pinterest page and link your URL to those sites. Seriously. We’ve turned a few websites into beautifully crafted simple sites that are clean and easy to use on all mobile platforms, and we’ve witnessed their traffic increase significantly, leading to many more project inquiries.

“If people see a professional and good looking website, they realise that the company behind is serious, has a certain value and cost, and is not just ‘any company’. A good looking website will scare off bad clients. It’s worth it. ”

Truly yours,

Docklands studio turns 10 with a dazziling party and a new website.

We were pleased to work with Docklands Studio on the new website for their 10th year anniversary. Docklands studio have provided space for many great films and have been the home of blockbuster international production with great soundstage facilities after renovation in 2013.

Today Docklands Studio is more versatile. Providing space for local film directors for small projects, corporate events and festivals like VAMFF.

The celebration was attended by various actors from the Moon and The Sun with Pierce Brosnan, MP Louis Asher, Jane Turner and major producers from I,Frankenstein, Ghost rider, Kath & Kimderella and soon to be released Predestination starring Ethan Hawke. Of course we were there amongst the celebrities ;).

Bahen & Co's new online store

Bahen & Co is chocolate maker based on the Margaret River in Western Australia. They make chocolate the old fashioned way: roasted, cracked and stone ground by a vintage collection of chocolate making machines, from bean to bar.

Client approached us with a brief for a completely new online store design, that could not only provide a platform for sales, but also served as a place to share their love of the chocolate making craft.

We designed a site that shares the chocolate journey, beginning in remote cacao farms on the other side of the globe, and ends wrapped in beautiful prints inspired by these places. Big Commerce was the platform we recommended to the client and we were pleased with the custom pricing and wholesale options which was important for clients to manage their products.

If you’re looking to set up a shop where you need two separate pricing for retail and wholesale, talk to us and we’ll help you setting this up on Big Commerce.

Launch Event: Adidas Original ZX Flux – Melbourne

The team at Symphonic were invited to the opening night of CARBON 2014 which coincided with the official launch party of the newest addition to the Adidas classics range, the ZX Flux.

 The event was held at Toot Fanute on Globe Alley in a hyper colourful space created by Artists Vans the Omega Patrick Martinez.

 We were well looked after by Bulleit Bourbon and Temple Brewing Company, with music provided by a few of Can’t Says finest DJ’s.