Dempsey Ewan is a graphic designer living in Brooklyn. In her free time she moonlights as a floral designer and helps run a risograph zine, Big Mess. She enjoys classical works of fiction, fashion history, and fresh, McDonald’s hashbrowns.



Creative Best is a yearly awards ceremony held by the Columbus Society of Communicating Arts. Each year a studio is chosen to brand that years event. Past years have had very creative and fun themes. 

2019 was a different kind of year though, all over pop culture people seemed to be obsessed with the mysterious and the magical. Popular TV shows like American Horror Story had just released several seasons over the last couple years about covens and cults. Ari Aster had just released blockbuster horror film about a mysterious swedish cult, Midsommar, and the number of true crime podcast listeners grew to huge numbers. 

Something was going on and people seemed to be obsessed with the spooky and mysterious. 


The Columbus Society of Communicating Arts.

That word, society, stuck out to us. Weren’t artists and designers almost a secret society of their own? So we created a sort of manifesto:

As designers we spend our days carefully shaping the places and objects the rest of the world lives its lives around. The fingerprints of who we are cover newspapers, books, packaging, it appears on tv screens, bookshelves, store fronts. It stretches across the world, quietly whispering who we are. we are artists and storytellers. We are invisible but all around and only if you look carefully will you see us.

Photo from pinterest

Runic Glyphs

We were inspired by ancient runes and created a character system we could swap out for numerals and letters occasionally.

These symbols were not supposed to be translated, but rather to just be an additional visual element.

Visual Language and Palette

Two styles of imagery were combined together to create a dynamic and unique look for the visual language. The first was high-contrast photo collage. This was inspired by vintage, black and white horror film imagery. We paired this with mystical looking symbols that were inspired by the shapes found in sacred geometry or alchemy. 

This type of mystical inspired visuals are not unique, however they are normally represented in dark colors. We wanted to take a light-hearted approach and instead put our designs in dazzlingly bright jewel-tones.

Event Poster

This was the first piece of design that was going to premiere the theme of this year’s Creative Best so we wanted it to be very mazimalist and showy. The front features out combined visual language and bright color palette. The back of the poster was drawing from old alchemy books with its sectioned-off grid.

Event Postcard

This postcard was mailed out as the social media presence for Creative Best also began. Since this postcard was announcing the specific when and where of the event, we created this temple graphic with crepuscular rays of light emanating and the words ‘Heed the Call’ repeated above the door frame as if a higher power was calling out and inviting each person.

Book Design

The awards book featured a complex and utlititarian grid system, but still combined the more artistic visual elements of the brand.

Animation by by Elliott Cennamo

Event Design

One of my favorite things about the awards ceremony itself was that we asked everyone to dress in black. That years presidents were handing out the awards and dressed in red with leafy crowns on their heads. A room filled with people in all black was very mysterious seeming.

Guests entered the event through a curtain where the brand graphics had been animated into a looping projection. 

Chairs were set up in a semi-circle shape, pillar candles placed at the front of the stage to signify some sort of altar.

A ring of greenery was made in the center of the floor. To add to the ritual of the ceremony, each award winner walked down to the front of the audience and entered the circle to receive their award. 


Three types of awards were given out. The first award was a transparent award with a peg base that signified either an Award of Merit or Best of Category. 

For the three Judge’s Choice award we created embroidered banners with each winner’s name on them.

The largest award was the Best of Show which was a large etched transparent rectangular framed piece.