Our Features

What is a Feature? | A modern twist on a classic story

 This is what our custom story looks like. It has all the personalized elements that make for a great, unqiue gift. 

As a brand new business with unique, novel concept, I spend most of my time explaining to people what it is we do exactly.

I’ve changed my elevator pitch at least once a month for the past six months —  trying to explain what a custom story is in 60 seconds has been as challenging as designing our website and running our three social media accounts combined. We can’t introduce our product by comparing it to another, similar product because there is no gift quite like a Feature out there (trust us, we have scoured the internet looking).

But in my quest to perfect my tidy speech, I’ve come to understand what I knew when I first opened the doors to this business: the heart of FeatureMe is really quite simple.

A Feature is a modern twist on a classic story — literally.

People have been writing about people since the advent of putting pen to paper (or rock to cave wall, if you will).

When I wrote for a newspaper and interned at a magazine, I frequently wrote about people as a way to inspire readers. The people featured (get it!?) in the paper had compelling, fantastical stories.

But then I realized, doesn’t everybody?

Since starting this business, I’ve written about “ordinary people” who’ve survived breast cancer, who’ve solo traveled around Europe, who’ve completely usurped their lives for love, who’ve demanded justice in an unjust world.

At FeatureMe we celebrate “the ordinary” because we don’t believe an ordinary person actually exists.

So therein comes the modern twist. Instead of writing about a person to bury in the lifestyle section of a newspaper or magazine, we bring the newspaper or magazine to you.

A Feature is a magazine-style story about a person. This person can be your mom, your husband, your wife, your daughter, your son, your boss. We interview five people who care about this person (we call them sources — another throwback to my newspaper days) to learn all we can about who this person really is and why they’re not so ordinary.

Once our interviews are complete, your assigned writer will pull together this person’s story in a beautifully written article that reads exactly like one you would find in a magazine. The article includes quotes from our interviews (people say incredibly touching and emotional things to us that are too embarrassing to say to their loved one’s face).

Once the story has been written, we paste it into an InDesign document and create a design that, again, matches the aesthetic of a high-quality magazine.

Our last step is to print off your unique design, frame the Feature using quality materials (all made in America), wrap the finished product up and send it to your door.

When your mom/husband/wife/daughter/son/boss opens the Feature they’ll be astounded and overwhelmed with emotion.

You’ve just told them their story is important. You’ve just told them a million times over why the people in their life love them. You’ve just told them they are not ordinary.


(P.S. You can read an example of a Birthday Feature here, a Graduation Feature here and a Wedding Feature here.)

5 tips to take your designs to the next level

I’ve dabbled in design throughout different phases of my life. In elementary school I used WordArt to create a fake newspaper for imaginary readers, in high-school I discovered InDesign and spent hours playing on the computer and now I own a business that relies on design. 

Along the way, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to help your designs go from ‘well-intentioned’ to sleek and professional. 

1. Be a copy cat

 Google images is full of design inspiration. 

Google images is full of design inspiration. 

The top-designers create innovative, creative, unique designs that often revolutionize how we think of the industry. But in order to get there, you need to understand the basics (technically speaking) and how elements fit together to create a bigger picture. 

The best way to do that is to search magazine designs and recreate them. You can recreate the entire design, or you can simply recreate certain elements. 

Obviously, don’t publish said recreations, but take what you’ve learned (and you will learn) and apply them to your own designs. Eventually — after copying the best — you’ll find your own, unique voice. 

2. Learn the color wheel  

 Learning how colors work together is an important first step in creating more professional looking designs. 

Learning how colors work together is an important first step in creating more professional looking designs. 

Close your eyes and think of the color yellow. 

How do you feel: Happy? Excited? Energized?  

Colors evoke emotion and when properly paired together a color scheme can establish mood. 

Certain colors look incredible together, while others… well, anyone can tell when colors clash. One way to find color schemes that won’t look cartoonish, or just plain wrong, is to learn about analogous, monochromatic, triad, complimentary and compound colors. Adobe can help with that. 

Visit Adobe's Color Wheel and play with the wheel until you have a feel for how colors work together. Bonus — anytime you need to create a color scheme you can create and save a palette right on the website.  

3. Pay attention to fonts

 Try using a mix of fonts to identify the key words in your design. Above, I used a mix of serif and script fonts. 

Try using a mix of fonts to identify the key words in your design. Above, I used a mix of serif and script fonts. 

Fonts create a brand. Think Coke. Think Disney. Think Starbucks. 

Like color fonts also create feeling, which can create a certain aesthetic and mood to your project or brand. San-serif fonts (fonts without little ‘feet’ at the end of letters or characters) are modern and sleek, while script fonts can create a retro vibe. 

Fonts can also play off one another — you can use a san-serif font and script in the same title to bring attention to the word or concept it is you want to be highlighted. You can use a serif font within a body of text and a san-serif font in any sub-titles to differentiate between the two. 

There are thousands of free-fonts available on the internet (just Google it). Download a few and see what works… Which brings us to our next tip. 

Pro-tip: Remember, a design is a way to showcase ideas. Don’t go too overboard with a font that it becomes unreadable and the meaning of your product is lost. 

4. Play, fail, delete and repeat

 Ah, a blank InDesign document — a scary (and exciting) opportunity. 

Ah, a blank InDesign document — a scary (and exciting) opportunity. 

When I open a blank InDesign document I usually have an idea of what I want my design to be (and some awful drawings on scrap paper). Five hours and one hand cramp later and my design looks nothing like I envisioned. 

I spent the bulk of that time creating elements, moving them, switching it around and deleting them until, finally, I stumble onto something that works; something that combines my original idea, with all the new concepts I created while playing. 

So play — don’t be afraid to spend a day working, only to delete everything the next day. The skills, the creativity you learned are invaluable. Your finished creation will be all the better for it. 

5. Revise, revise, revise

 The  Wedding Feature  design has been through at least through five iterations and will probably keep getting better and better as FeatureMe grows. 

The Wedding Feature design has been through at least through five iterations and will probably keep getting better and better as FeatureMe grows. 

In the writing world, we stress the importance of the “sh**ty first draft.” The SFD is exactly what it sounds like — you throw-up words on the page only to tighten your verbs, clean your excess adverbs and highlight the strongest ideas later. 

The same concept needs to be applied to your designs. The best way to revise is to let your design sit for a few days, then come back to it with fresh eyes. You’ll notice the little mistakes you missed while focusing on the bigger picture. 

How to Frame Art to Last Lifetimes: Framing our Features

I never knew that when I began the journey to start this business I would spend hours upon hours reading about framing techniques, materials and designs. But that's what it took to deliver the product my partner and I envisioned — one that can be passed down for generations. 

Our framing needs to not only elegantly display our designs, it also has to protect each Feature from UV, moisture and all the other elements that can damage artwork. On top of that we have to consider dimensions, materials and sources. What may look like a simple black frame is actually the result of endless variables we carefully choreographed to deliver a beautiful product meant to last 100+ years. 

Frames

We use 11” x 17” matte black aluminum frames from Nielsen. They are made in America and assembled by us. The aluminum is durable and resistant to scratches, which means it'll get to your front door without getting ruined. Plus the frame will last no matter how many times you move or how many generations you pass it down. The matte black beautifully accents the black font but doesn’t distract. The whole point of a Feature is to celebrate someone. We don’t want our designs or framing to take away from the person being featured because they are what matters most. 

Mats

Our mats are cut in beautiful New Mexico (where I grew up) and are made in America. We use black core and acid-free mats. The black core gives every Feature a delicate 1/4 inch border around the story. Similarly to the frame, the black core makes the words pop and contributes to the elegance of the design.

We use acid-free mats for an extremely important reason — we want your Features to last. Regular paper contains acid, which would cause your Features to yellow and deteriorate over the years of being pressed onto your stories. The acid-free paper doesn’t react with your Feature and won’t yellow over time. So when you hand down your Feature to the next generation it will look as good as the day you bought it. 

Glazing

Glazing is the glass or acrylic that covers the front of each framed article. We use a top-of-the-line, UV-blocking and glare-free acrylic. Like everything else we use to frame your Feature it is made in America. The acrylic is more durable and lighter than traditional glass, which is great for shipping, but no less clear. 

We need the glazing to block UV, once again, to help preserve your story. Over time UV radiation from light can deteriorate ink and cause your Feature to fade. By blocking that radiation we can slow fading and help keep your Feature bright, vibrant and beautiful. 

Everything Else

Your Feature will be ready to hang on the wall the moment it arrives. We pre-string framing wire and even attach soft cushions to prevent the aluminum frame from damaging your walls. Additionally, we use acid-free backing board that keeps your article tightly cased in its frame.

We are serious about Features being family heirlooms — our dedication to making sure every Feature is beautifully and protectively framed proves just that.