Designers No Passing Fancy:
JEB Design puts its tag on state bay license plate
By Val Hymes, Capital Gazette Reporter, Article issues on January 11, 2004. Article reposted here because it is not online.
Having your graphic design take a hit every day from car exhaust, mud or slush doesn’t exactly sound like a career accomplishment.
But Joe and Eva Barsin couldn’t be happier. The owners of JEB Design in Arnold created Maryland’s new “Treasure the Chesapeake” license plate, which goes on sale January, 28.
“Our goal was to develop a fresh, colorful design which represents our rich Maryland environment and the proud people who live here,” said Mr. Barsin who created the image on his computer.
The Barsins grew up in Ohio and after graduating from Kent State, began working together immediately. When they first arrived in Maryland, they lived and worked in Baltimore where Mr. Barsin worked at the ad agency, Siquis Ltd. In 1993, when Mrs. Barsin landed a job at Sass and Associates in Annapolis. He later joined her there.
Then when Mr. Barsin went to work at Grafik Communications in Alexandria they moved there where he did work for the Smithsonian, U.S. Postal Service and other institutions. She worked in communications and advertising graphics.
In 1997 they founded JEB Design, Inc., and moved back to Annapolis area.
“We love it here,” said Mrs. Barsin, praising the town’s cultural assets and the Chesapeake Bay.
“But working in such a variety of jobs involving advertising, design, marketing and management gave us the skills we needed,” said Mr. Barsin. “And we knew that in order to do what we really wanted to do, we would have to start our own business.”
Volunteer work for the Annapolis Opera Inc. led to their contracts with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to design its annual reports for the last three years, and then to the creation of the plate.
“It’s amazing how doing something you love can lead to creative projects,” Mrs. Barsin said. They consulted with several state agencies and visited the prison plant in Jessup where the plates will be made. The colorful Chesapeake Bay tag’s marsh grasses, heron and blue crab were unveiled Dec. 10 by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
The Barsins also produced promotional materials for the bay tag, including posters, banners and a brochure, with some featuring the work of photographer David Harp.
It’s too early to tell whether its design will lure more customers to their office.
“Business has been steady and we have done well in the past few years”, said Eva Barsin. Many graphics, advertising and printing companies must contract for illustrators or design experts. JEB Design has both under one roof.
“We were fortunate,” she said, “because when we entered college, there were no computers so we had to learn the basic skills, but before we left, we also learned to design and illustrate with computers.”
Their clients cover the waterfront, from nonprofits and corporations to national associations, embassies, the Navy, importers, politicians, law firms and the Peace Corps.
But they do some of their best work for the arts of Annapolis: the Annapolis Opera, Inc. and the Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County.
They created a web site (www.operabravo.com) to display and advertise their designs of posters and note cards featuring famous operas.
A scroll through JEB Design’s Web site reveals a remarkable array of skills in designs for Web sites, stationery, promotional materials, book covers, magazines, product catalogues, newsletters, brochures, illustrations, icons, posters, T-shirts and even animation.
“We like to combine artistic principles with current computer technology and originality, and inject some humor when it’s appropriate,” said Mr. Barsin.
The couple has a 1-year old son, Robby, and is expecting another child in April. “It really helps to be able to work at home,” said Mrs. Barsin.