The Chalkboard is a collection of Grain & Mortar news, events, latest work, and helpful advice.

July 7th | News

Brooke is bringing additional Project Manager power to the team!

Brooke is joining G&M with more than a decade’s worth of experience managing design, production and web projects. She loves creating structure and seeing creative teams reap the benefits.




In her past positions, Brooke mastered the ability to respond to chaos with organization and efficiency and along the way she built an impressive arsenal of additional skills like writing, proofreading, editing, design and office management, too. (We also hear she’s an amazing baker so, you know, we’re looking forward to that.)

Outside of work, Brooke is dedicated to her two children–Ephram, 6 and Saphira, 2. She also finds time to help her church by volunteering in their food pantry.

| July 7th | News

ooh... me Likey

July 6th | News

Dylan’s onboard so we can double the developing fun.

Dylan is a front end developer with agency experience and a passion for optimization.

He remembers the first computer he built. This Frankenstein of a machine was crafted in his best friend’s basement. From the first hint of life, Dylan knew there was no turning back for him–it was either a career in the tech industry or a lab in 18th Century Europe.




Dylan has a design background but turned to development when he discovered it offered room for creativity and the feedback was nearly instantaneous. He helps out the Nebraska design community through Nebraska AIGA.

In his spare time he indulges his foodie tendencies.

| July 6th | News

ooh... me Likey

June 25th | News

The Coffee with a Cop program is centered around two ideas that we wholeheartedly support–building relationships that support better policing in our communities and drinking coffee.

Coffee with a Cop hosts gatherings over coffee in local restaurants, diners and coffee shops to connect community members with the police officers that serve them.

It’s no secret that police across the nation have been under scrutiny in recent years and the Coffee with a Cop program was started by members of the Hawthorne California Police Department in 2011 as one way to improve relations between police and community members. It has been growing quickly, nationally and internationally. We were asked to update their logo and create a new website and were pleased to contribute to something that was a proactive, positive step towards better policing across the country.

Logo Update

The original Coffee with a Cop logo was difficult to read at a small size. The program needed a logo that could work in a variety of applications–flyers, hats, t-shirts, vehicle signage–so our challenge was to retain elements of the original logo but update it by simplifying and modernizing the mark. Because the program was being exported to international police departments it also needed to be able to handle translations of “Coffee with a Cop” in multiple languages and still fit within the logo’s parameters.




We began by stripping the logo down to a one-color mark and eliminating several visual elements in order to boost readability. We focused on creating a badge–a symbol of honor and pride–as the primary visual motif along with a steaming cup of coffee. The color palette, font and iconography style were chosen to represent the friendly, straightforward qualities behind the Coffee with a Cop program.

New Responsive Website

Coffee with a Cop is run by working police officers who are busy solving homicides, running police departments and more. They needed a site that was easy to maintain and could handle high volume traffic from the press, police departments, and communities around the country.




We built a responsive, fast site in WordPress which makes it possible for the officers to maintain their content independently. Our goal was to keep the site lightweight and lean from the development side so it could handle high volumes of traffic.

One of the core tasks of the website was to display the events they host across the country. We built a custom events mapping feature to display all upcoming and past events. Best of all, we created an automated publishing feature so officers across the country can submit upcoming events that auto-publish upon approval. This frees the Coffee with a Cop officers from the drudgery of data entry and keeps them focused on the important stuff. Doughnuts. No. Police work.




Strategic Animation, Illustration and Copy

The animated conversation on the site’s home page appears simple but required significant thought in terms of copy, design and development. Illustrations throughout the site help define categories, provide quick signposts for key ideas and add some visual fun. We also strove to achieve a balance in the content to reflect the attitude of the program, itself–professional, helpful and responsive.

We are proud of the work Coffee with a Cop is doing and glad that we could help them contribute to the ongoing dialogue to improve community and police relations. We encourage everyone to attend an event in their area.



| June 25th | News

ooh... me Likey

April 13th | News, Work

Our latest project challenged us to tell a story without revealing too much information.

When Tarun Thakur contacted us to help out with a logo and website for Datos IO, an enterprise software startup dedicated to disrupting recovery management, we said, “Sure!” Quickly followed by, “What is it?”

Since Datos IO was a stealth-mode software startup, we knew we weren’t the only ones that would ask, “What is it?” The answer is complex, abstract and a game-changer for any industry that has massive amounts of data to store and manage.

Given the stealth nature of Datos IO, we can’t share too many details. But, we can say they are building an enterprise software product from the ground-up that transports information across time. For real. Across. Time. It allows users to embrace emerging Big Data stores, NoSQL data stores and Cloud Native data stores in conjunction with traditional structured data stores to establish a “single state of truth” for all the enterprise’s data. Enterprises can essentially create separate data universes and toggle back and forth between them. For the non-technical folks, suffice it to say, Einstein would be proud.

Our first task was to convert this technical, complex and abstract idea into a logo.

For the logo, we created a custom typeface to represent Datos IO’s unique and first-mover position in the industry. We incorporated the concept of connected and uninterrupted pathways with the letters “T” and “O”.



Next, we created a website to explain the who, what and why.

Datos IO is a venture-backed enterprise software startup with an innovative and disruptive product. Their first priority for the website was to introduce the concept and their rock star team. They wanted to share the concept with a global audience but, all under the hood of “stealth start-up.”




We were tasked with creating a website from the bottom up. The folks at Datos IO provided us with research and articles to read. From there, it was up to our own imaginations to determine how to best deliver this information to the website visitors.

Regardless of complexity, we always focus on creating a clear and digestible message for website users. In this instance, graphics and a bit of animation helped us translate some of the more complicated ideas into manageable portions.




Datos IO challenged us to understand and represent an enterprise data management software product – without talking about “how” and “what” in detail given their stealth-stage. We love taking on projects that stretch our knowledge base and we’re excited to watch Datos IO grow from market creator to industry leader.

Check out what Datos IO is all about.

| April 13th | News, Work

ooh... me Likey

March 13th | News

It’s no secret we’re passionate about startups, entrepreneurs, and the Midwest.

We are thrilled with the opportunity to work with Big Omaha, the perfect blend of all three.

Each year, the design for Big Omaha has always been fun and unexpected, and we give huge props to Oxide Design for the work they’ve done to create a baseline of excellence for Big Omaha’s brand.

This year, we created a new design for Big Omaha that will remain consistent year after year. Our mission was to establish iconic branding that pays homage to the past, allows us to maintain consistency, and is easily modified for a unique experience each year forward.

A simple typographic mark that hints at the shape of the state of Nebraska. Everyone loves the cow, the cow stays.

We decided on a simple typographic mark that hints at the shape of the state of Nebraska. Everyone loves the cow, the cow stays.



The site was inspired by Google’s material design language.


Along with the branding, we’ve released a motion video and the new website with the 2015 speaker lineup.

We’ll be following up soon with another post detailing the website and all its features, as well as the concept and creative process behind the motion video.

That’s all for now – don’t forget to get your tickets!




| March 13th | News

ooh... me Likey