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The Man Who Loves Packaging: Andrew Gibbs of thedieline.com at Creative Mornings LA
Gibbs (Photo by Jon Setzen)
I think the first thing that impressed me about Andrew Gibbs was his youth and energy. I’ve been reading his blog,thedieline.com, for the last couple years, and it’s so comprehensive, professional, and full of content, I somehow assumed he had to be older than 25. But he’s been ahead of the curve since he graduated high school early at 16, so he’s been out and about longer than most guys his age.In his talk for Creative Mornings LA, Gibbs outlined the basic milestones in his life that let him to design, and those in his career that put him right in the thick of creating custom dies for packaging designers. He expressed this as new and overwhelming at first, but once he wrapped his head around the puzzle of creating unique, custom packages, he fell in love with the process.
For anyone who doesn’t do this kind of work, any 3-dimensional assembled piece has to be built out of an irregularly cut sheet. The sheet of packaging material is cut by something called a die plate, a thin piece of plywood that is fitted with a metal blade in the shape of the cut, chomping into a printed stack like a big cookie-cutter. Once the die cuts the sheet, it goes through the assembly process of scoring, folding, tacking panels with glue or tucking tabs into notches—however the designer intended it should hold shape in its final form.
While many designers are asked to design packaging from time to time, most printers will have some standard dies they can pick from. Designing your own is a real challenge, but as Gibbs described, once a person gets into it, an obsession with basic paper technology consumes them, and the next thing they know, they’re sneaking into Target, taking pictures of every cool piece of packaging they can find.
After a few different jobs in packaging, Gibbs said his inspiration for starting the dieline blog came from a true void in the design blog community—nobody was focusing on packaging, so he took it up himself. At first, he photographed samples he liked and asked designers for permission to write about them. At first some designers didn’t even get it, but after they got the promotional value, the tables turned and now he’s inundated with submissions.
The audience at Gibbs' Creative Mornings LA talk (Heather Parlato/LAist)
The dieline garnered attention from several notable designers, so when Gibbs decided to publish a best of collection in hardcover, he approached Armin Vit, who got HOW / F&W involved and made the project come together really well. That collection, Box Bottle Bag is available everywhere books are sold, with a super-cool die-cut cover. On the calendar for this year is a packaging design award which is currently accepting invitations, and a packaging design conference in Chicago this June, among the HOW suite of annual design conferences.
Gibbs rounded out his talk with some words about following your passions. He always knew he wanted to be a designer, and he became one. He saw a need for more focus on his love of packaging, so he created it. He found an illustration he made when he was younger, about wanting to help people in their creative pursuits, and his blog has become an international must-read for designers everywhere. And he’s only 25—just think what that energy and dedication can do in the years to come.
Creative Mornings' Los Angeles chapter, headed by Jon Setzen, is currently held monthly at Ford & Ching in Chinatown. Check their Vimeo account in the coming weeks for a full video of this morning’s presentation. In the meantime, check out thedieline.com!
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