Package Designer Trina Bentley on Creative Inspiration

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We’ve never met Trina Bentley in person. And we’re not sure what it is about her—her smart, less-is-more, type-driven packaging and branding work, her Austin sensibility, her tenet that design should be simple, honest and human—but we’re keen to have a conversation with Bentley when she’s in Boston for The Dieline Conference, part of HOW Design Live 2014.

Bentley is principal of Make & Matter, an Austin-based packaging and brand design studio that works primarily with small clients in food, beverages and the arts. The agency’s website says, “We work with heart; with coffee; with kindness; with ambition; with purpose; with integrity; with a nose to the grindstone get-it-done attitude; with people.”

We recently traded a few questions and answers with Bentley to get to know her a little better—and find out who she looks to for creative inspiration.

Trina Bentley

Tell us what you’re working on now that you’re super excited about.

I’m working on a rebrand for a superfoods company that has a long list of products, and I’m loving how the various package designs are coming together.

I’m also working on a new brand for a lobster dip company based out of Maine, which is a completely different and exciting project for me. On the horizon, I have a Bloody Mary mix package design and branding that I’m super eager to begin working on.

Looking at your design career, is there a project (or several) that stand out? Tell us about your favorite.

As research for an Italian foods importing company, I got to spend more than a week traveling through Italy, eating, drinking and visiting farms and vineyards. That was pretty hard to beat. Beyond that, I find my favorite projects normally revolve around the client, the trust they have in me and the difference I can make for them in their market. A few recent highlights have been World Peas and Epic.


When you get stuck in a creative rut, how do you break out of it?

It depends on where I am in the creative process. If I’m at the beginning, I stick it out, I stay there and work through everything that’s bad (and it always starts off bad!). I keep moving and try not to let negative thinking get too much in the way of just being creative and trusting my intuition.

If I’m in the middle of a process and get stuck, I’m more likely to shift gears, either by taking a break, searching for something that inspires me or moving on to a completely different project and returning the next day with a renewed mind.

Who are the other creative people—inside or outside the design field—who are impressing you right now? Whose creative chops do you respect?

I return to the work of Gaby Brink at Tomorrow Partners all the time. I find the work they do is always so smart and it inspires me. Being in Austin, there are many designers to admire. I feel bad about myself as a designer every time I see what Christian Helms is up to, and I drool over typography by Simon Walker. There’s tons more—I’m inspired by a lot!


Bentley is scheduled to present a session at The Dieline Conference: “Developing Your Design Aesthetic.” If you’re a package designer (or you’re interested in this dimensional design discipline) check out The Dieline Conference program and create your own customized HOW Design Live experience.

Register before midnight on February 14th to feel the love … and the $300 savings!