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Package Designer Trina Bentley on Creative Inspiration

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.

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!

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

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