Penfield Children’s Center Posters.

The colorful and fresh posters for the Penfield Children’s center help make an impact not only on the Croquet Ball fundraiser, but also on families worldwide.

Communication Arts — September 17, 2019

Responses by Jim Root, creative director, Cramer-Krasselt

Background: Every year, Penfield Children’s Center, a nonprofit organization helping infants and children with disabilities, holds a fundraiser called the Croquet Ball. One of the highlights of the event is when they auction off original posters commissioned by Cramer-Krasselt with the theme, “Make an impact. Have an impact.” Posters are designed by a select group of artists, including students at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD).

Reasoning: When we first got involved with the Penfield Croquet Ball, the creative we produced was for promotion purposes only. Nothing was auctioned off. And every year, we approached the creative from scratch. But as it became clearer this would be a long-term annual event, we wondered how we could give the creative more consistency and value. When we started using professional artists whose style we admired, we realized their contributions went beyond marketing materials and could also be used as a fundraising source.

Challenges: Every year we’re afraid it will be hard for artists to come up with something that hasn’t been done already. After all, how many ways can you interpret the same theme about croquette? Turns out, quite a lot. We also try and keep the posters fresh year after year by finding unique illustration styles from around the world while maintaining a consistent tone for Penfield and the auction.

Favorite details: We’re incredibly proud to help Penfield raise money to benefit their children and families. We’re also proud that we started including student artists in the process. Our office has a close relationship with MIAD, an excellent art and design college that houses loads of talent. We wanted to give illustration students the experience of working for a real client, so we gave them the same assignment we gave to the professionals. The effort was so successful that several MIAD instructors have made the annual project part of their curricula.

Visual influences: We’re always scouring illustration annuals and other resources for new, fresh talent we can tap. Finding so many exciting artists continues to energize us and reinforces our decision that this was a fruitful direction to take the campaign.

Specific demands: We’re asking artists to donate their time and talents, so you’d think that would make it harder. But because Penfield is such a good cause, most of the artists say yes right away and are very generous. So, the good cause makes it an easier ask.

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