Three Men in a Hot Tub: Gone And (hopefully) Soon Forgotten by Samantha Murray

When the provincial government announced plans for a redesign of the Ontario logo, I was torn. Of course, I was all for leaving the current trillium logo behind (goodbye, neutered and dismembered sprites! No more Three Men in a Hot Tub!), but felt the timing was off, considering the news of so many cuts in the upcoming budget.

A price tag of $89,000 might sound steep for a redesign, but one would assume it also covers the brand story and guidelines. However, a larger and separate cost would involve rolling the new logo out across every new poster, sign, brochure and other collateral. I’d rather our tax dollars be spent on education and healthcare.

However, I was still curious. I anxiously awaited my first sight of the logo. Would it still be a trillium? Would they use a weird font? Finally, a tweet – and it was revealed. And I was somewhat...relieved? Rather than a complete overhaul, they went back to basics. It’s not exactly the same as the iconic 1972 version by Glenn Fretz and Ernst Barenscher, but it’s pretty close. I appreciate that they didn’t reinvent the wheel, that they seemed to appreciate how iconic the pre-2006 version was, and I suppose – simply added their one cent.

While looking for the history behind the evolution of the trillium logo, I found this thread covering the who, what and when.

What struck me was Fretz’s description – and the craftsmanship involved – in creating the trillium mark:

“I constructed the trillium from six overlapping circles in 60-degree increments to create a pinwheel. The alternating negative and positive shapes at the centre were identical in shape. The leaves were simple geometric projections from the pinwheel core. I recall that getting the radii to intersect seamlessly during the construction of the super-ellipse was a daunting task — particularly with ruling pen and compass on a 2-foot square piece of illustration board. I also recall the process of resolving an effect created by the tips of the upper two petals of the trillium and their proximity to the ellipse. An optical illusion made the shape look distorted — squeezed in at the top. By carefully manipulating the position of the trillium within the ellipse, the effect was minimized. Upon reviewing my work, Barenscher declared that it was a ‘perfect solution.’”

This is how a classic icon is made, and it stands the test of time.

Posted by Samantha

Ladies of Snack by Samantha Murray

Although every day feels like pro-women’s day here at Snack’s HQ full of fearless females (plus our awesome co-owner, Dave!), yesterday officially marked International Women’s Day (IWD). What began in New York City as a women’s march for reasonable hours, better pay and voting rights in 1908, IWD has grown into a full-blown movement that is observed every year in hundreds of countries across the globe.

More than just a date on a calendar, IWD’s mission and vision can be felt and heard year-round as the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women are recognized. Acknowledging this day is more important than ever, especially in 2017, where we’ve seen a revival of the feminist movement – in large part due to the outrageous statements and actions of a certain real-estate mogul turned President – and we recognize that the fight to accelerate gender parity continues.  

To mark IWD, a few ladies of Snack reflected on the female mentors who have influenced or inspired us throughout our lives. Whether through feminist teachings, creative ingenuity or general badass-woman-ness, these ladies know how to represent femme liberté:


This year, I was super inspired by the ladies behind the PussyHat project – Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman. Two admirable women with the desire and drive to make change from the grassroots level. Together, they created a movement, a website to support it, and free knitting patterns so others could join in and become part of something that showed support of women, for women. I was so inspired that I knitted three hats! One for myself, Patrice and her awesome friend Lisa McDonald who participated in a march in San Diego. We all wear our hats with pride! To learn more about this project, go to: #pussyhat

(L-R)  Lisa, Patrice and Sam in their PussyHats!

(L-R) Lisa, Patrice and Sam in their PussyHats!


My siblings.
6 sisters/1 brother.
Stellar examples of what family can be.
Card-carrying members of the First Spouse Club.
Collectively have raised 22 grounded, responsible children.
Some maintained a career while childrearing, others chose to stay at home.
No regrets. No judgement.

They’re authentic, and perfectly imperfect.
Smart. Supportive. FUN.
Can feed a group of 60 without batting an eye.
We actually like each other.
I never take them for granted.

Here we are in 1980 at my sister Donna’s swinging student apartment (U of Guelph). Butter tarts and wine…no wonder we get along.

Here we are in 1980 at my sister Donna’s swinging student apartment (U of Guelph). Butter tarts and wine…no wonder we get along.


Lena Dunham inspires me to no end. As a writer, filmmaker, producer, podcaster, actress and comedian, she is quite literally a Jane of all trades. Unabashedly herself, Lena never ceases to make me laugh, cringe, cry, agree and/or disagree with her witty, entertaining and relevant writing. To get a taste of Lena’s inspiration, visit Lenny Letter, the website/blog she co-founded. Below are two of my favourite Lena quotes:

I think if you feel like you were born to write, then you probably were.

Luxury is nice, but creativity is nicer.

Photograph by Annie Leibovitz,  Vogue , May 2014

Photograph by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, May 2014


My mom is the best woman I know. She is a nurturing force, a hard worker, a natural artist, a captivating storyteller and a shoulder to lean on. Growing up, I never saw her as a “cool mom” or a “best friend” - but that's what makes her a great mother. She’s stern but never stifling; sensible and rational, but always a source of warmth. As an adult (and soon-to-be-mother myself!) I’m constantly finding new ways to appreciate everything she is, and all that she stands for.

My mom and me; circa 1989.

My mom and me; circa 1989.

Posted by Valerie.

#EtiquetteFail by Samantha Murray

Commuting. Love it or loathe it, most of us at Snack commute every day to and from the office, with a few lucky ones who travel by public transit. I choose to travel by GO Transit, where I witness the wonderful, sometimes wacky, world that goes on inside train cars and bus rows.

Taking the train instead of driving in rush-hour traffic is a definite perk – plus, the upper-level “Quiet Section” is the perfect spot to catch a few extra Zs before work. But every public transit commuter can tell you it’s not always a pleasant ride – all it takes is a single journey next to a loud phone-talker to ruin your morning.

Thankfully, Metrolinx – the company that owns and operates all GO Transit systems in Toronto and across the GTA – took commuter etiquette standards into their own hands. In 2014, the company asked 1,000 GO Transit users to answer a survey about which bad etiquette habits of other passengers bother them the most. In response, Go Transit's agency of record, DDB Canada, created a poster campaign, titled #EtiquetteFail, depicting the scenarios that survey respondents claimed were the most intrusive to their commute. The posters can be found on all GO buses and trains, GO stations and on Metrolinx’s social media accounts.

Check out a few of my favourites below…

Images sourced from Metrolinx's Instagram page.

Although the campaign launched over two years ago, the bad behaviour still seems rather prevalent, but perhaps less so than before the posters went up. I can only speak for the past few weeks, when I began commuting to and from the city each day, and overall I’d say people are generally well-behaved, save for a few door-blockers and loud-talkers.

The #EtiquetteFail campaign portrays the most common forms of bad etiquette on GO trains perfectly – but I can attest to a few more that could be added to the list:

The lady in the corner filing her nails, a small pool of human dust forming on her knees an inch away from the man sitting in front of her. The man sneezing in the direction of other passengers for the third time since departure, mouth uncovered. The canoodling couple, back from some type of trip, taking up all three priority seats with their luggage and kisses.

 Ah, commuter life at its finest.

Posted by Valerie.


The comeback kid: magazines by Samantha Murray

Magazines. We read them. We love them. We love designing them. And they are making a comeback as brands are looking for ways to make connections with their customers that are lasting and more tangible.

Magazines offer a deep level of customer engagement that can only be achieved with the right mix of authentic, valuable and relevant content directed toward a brand’s specific audiences, and their particular interests and tastes.

A beautiful example of content marketing gone right is the Union Pearson (UP) Express’ magazine, titled: On the Up. Being the first air-rail link to welcome locals and tourists to Toronto, UP was able to develop, curate and deliver content to its passengers all about the city of Toronto. In this unique position, UP becomes a thought leader and is able to partner with and feature unique places and spots to visit around the city. With its cute size, the magazine is not quite a pocket travel book but it is small enough to throw in a carry-on or purse to keep for future reference.

Image credit:

Image credit:

LCBO has been creating noteworthy content for its customers for years with Food & Drink Magazine, with how-tos, tips and food and drink recipes that encourage a lifestyle of entertaining, made better with LCBO products. Big players like Walmart have recognized the value in providing their customers with content that feels different than their product flyers and catalogues. They developed their own store mag called Live Better, with print copies available at the store checkout lanes. Live Better is full of content that talks about everyday household situations made easier with Walmart products.

image credit:

image credit:

Last month, Airbnb announced its new magazine: Airbnbmag. Airbnb doesn’t own property, but it does own a valuable share of the hotel industry – a network of enthusiasts who value a certain kind of travel experience. Its hosts and travellers crave an insider’s scoop to the cities they spend time in. With this unique position, Airbnb, in partnership with global publisher, Hearst, developed the premier issue, entirely devoted to Los Angeles, California. With 28 pages of content, this magazine is described as “real information for the world of Airbnb.” There are plans to release more next year, each issue being a tribute to a different city, with the expectation that it lives on the coffee table of hosts around the world.

Why has this new sector of publishing emerged?
Sarah Schaffer, content studio manager at HZDG advertising agency explains that with access to so much information, new “enthusiastic audiences interested in hyper-niched subject matter” have developed, opening the doors for this new arena of marketing potential. Sarah’s team notably created a niche-magazine called Sous-Vide for their client, Cuisine Solutions. Instead of a traditional ad campaign, Cuisine Solutions decided to invest their efforts into an ad-free brand publication, which was chock-full of fresh content developed by the advertising agency.                                                   

image credit:

image credit:

Rather than pushing the traditional 12 issues a year model, brands are embracing a publishing schedule that is completely their own, where they can produce one or two magazines a year and create impact. This kind of freedom means publications are only going to get better and better. 

The Most Influential Images of All Time... so far by Samantha Murray

We live in an age where millions of photographs are taken every minute. More people than ever have access to quality cameras and have them in their pockets at every moment, ready to shoot. People are quitting their jobs to become full-time photographers after being discovered on Instagram, Apple produced an influential advertising campaign, which exclusively featured images “Shot on iPhone,” while social media platforms like Snapchat are evidence of a an ever-growing, collective desire to capture daily life events and our every meal.

With so many images produced every single day, how do we filter through the mix of photo-journalism, stock shots and shameless selfies? What makes a great photograph?

TIME recently undertook this question as a challenge, and they produced something noteworthy. If the saying is correct, then their new release of The [100] Most Influential Images of All Time is worth 100,000 words. This ambitious task was undertaken by staff and consultants including curators, historians and photo editors around the world. 

The verdict: there is no formula that makes a picture influential. "Some images are on our list because they were the first of their kind, others because they shaped the way we think. And some made the cut because they directly changed the way we live. What all 100 share is that they are turning points in our human experience.”

Photography is about storytelling. TIME concluded that the constant in all photography is that the photographer takes a unique perspective – his or her own. "The best photography is a form of bearing witness, a way of bringing a single vision to the larger world.”

Are there any iconic images that you think should have made the list?

A designer's top 10 things to do in Israel by Samantha Murray

Israel is a hub of arts, culture and innovation, with a rich history. It is a country full of colour and diversity in every aspect of the word. Each time I (Jody) visit the country I am able to appreciate a new spot. Having just returned from an amazing vacation, I am happy to share my list of favourite things to do (and photograph) when exploring Israel’s two biggest and most contrasting cities: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. 

1. Take in the sights and smells of Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda Market. The market is alive at all hours, but pay a visit mid-day for the best look at the plethora of nuts, dried fruit, produce, candy and baked goods available. Grab lunch at one of the many amazing restaurants tucked between stalls.

2. Visit the vintage and second-hand market at Dizengoff Square (Tel Aviv). On Tuesdays and Fridays, local collectors come together to sell their best finds to the public at this market, which parks itself in the centre of the city. Find everything from stamps to jewels to clothing and beyond.

3. Wander the streets of Florentin, Tel Aviv’s “Soho,” to see some of the best street art. This neighbourhood in transition is home to the city's young makers and doers, and is jam-packed full of delicious coffee shops, restaurants and galleries to lose track of time in. 

4. Walk along Dizengoff Street for designer boutiques, cafes and restaurants (Tel Aviv). Gawk at the windows full of Israeli designer wedding gowns, sip coffee or grab a stool at one of the many restaurants that line the street with outdoor seating.

5. Stop to do some chin-ups at one of Israel’s many outdoor “gyms” (Tel Aviv).  A run or walk along the Tel Aviv boardwalk can turn into a full-fledged workout if you stop and take advantage of an open gym. Completely free to use, these are stationed around the city to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

6. Find some shade under The Umbrellas Street Project in the historic Nachalat Shiva District (Jerusalem). A project installed by the city which was originally slated to run from June through October 2015 has become a permanent fixture. The 1,000-ish umbrellas protect pedestrians from the sun on this busy shopping street. It does not rain in Jerusalem during the summer. At all.

7. Similarly, find some shade under the streetlights in Valero Square (Jerusalem). A collection of four flower sculptures, titled Warde, inflate by yawning open when people approach them. The sculptures provide shade during the hot days and additional lighting at night in the public square. 

8. Take a walking tour of Tel Aviv to explore the Bauhaus architectural style or lose track of time in the Bauhaus Center, which doubles as a design store (Tel Aviv). The center runs walking tours of Tel Aviv, nicknamed the White City for the world's largest collection of white buildings in the Bauhaus style. Explore the gift shop for a wide array of city-related artwork and design pieces.

9. Spend some time browsing the flea markets, furniture stores and stalls in Old Jaffa (Tel Aviv). In the alleyways and small streets around the Jaffa Port  the most ancient port on the Mediterranean Sea  you will find art galleries, a flea market, shops featuring new and reclaimed furniture, restaurants, cafes and pretty much anything else under the warm Israeli sun.

10. Have a fresh pressed juice at any corner around the city (everywhere). Juice stands mark the corners of every major intersection around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Enjoy a pomegranate juice or fruit smoothie, all made fresh to order.

Israel is an impressive destination for anyone who is content to wander. There is life, culture and good food at every turn. If you are planning a trip to Israel, feel free to contact me for some more tips at L'chaim!

Stop and think by Samantha Murray

It is hard to ignore the giant brain sculptures that are lined around Toronto’s major downtown venues and public spaces, including our neighbouring Distillery District. And that’s the point.

The Brain Project is a public art exhibition that forces us to stop and pay attention to brain health. The brains, which were commissioned to and imagined by 100 artists are each entirely unique and thought provoking. After their stint on outdoor display, they will be sold to organizations and art collectors with proceeds supporting brain research at Baycrest Health Sciences.

Baycrest is a global leader in geriatric healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging.

The art exhibition was an idea sparked by donors who saw the power of art and design as a tool to spark conversation and raise money for an important cause. 

 “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas

Artists (left to right, top to bottom) Erin Rothstein, Donald Robertson, Darlene Cole and Alice Teichert, bring a unique visual approach to the ideas around active and healthy brains.

Artists (left to right, top to bottom) Erin Rothstein, Donald Robertson, Darlene Cole and Alice Teichert, bring a unique visual approach to the ideas around active and healthy brains.

The art of the stamp by Samantha Murray

With a looming Canada Post strike in Toronto, we were inspired to think about one of the most basic design formats: the postage stamp.

In its small size, a postage stamp remains one of the most telling forms of a designer’s understanding of the principles and elements of graphic design.

A stamp commonly features a host of information, including: denomination and currency, country name, the date and an image, all within a square inch (give or take).

Noted as one of the world’s most collected things, stamps, are an amazing archival tool. They are a medium for countries to capture and communicate timely events and showcase local talent.

Graphilately, a special project by graphic designer Blair Thomson, is a curation of some of the best stamp designs in Canada and abroad. His 80K followers prove that stamps remain an important part of a collective culture and that good design is timeless.

In Canada, there is an official selection process for stamp design, led by a national Stamp Advisory Committee, governed by the Stamp Selection Policy. Canada Post welcomes all Canadians to participate in proposing stamp subjects and designs. We love this set of proposed stamps, designed by Dale Nigel Goble out of Vancouver, BC, in 2013. After collecting postage stamps from international iconic artists and designers, Dale says he wanted to “create a fun and energetic stamp collection that would represent Canada in a more modern style than a lot of postage artwork currently available in Canada.” 

Canada’s first postage stamp featured a beaver and was designed by Sir Sanford Fleming (timezone brainchild) in 1851, with a cost of 3 pence. The stamp is currently on display at the Canadian Museum of History, in Gatineau, Quebec, as part of their permanent Canadian Stamp Collection exhibit. Thanks to a partnership with Canada Post, the exhibit continues to grow with the release of each new stamp.

At Snack, we are within walking distance to another piece of postal history: Toronto’s first post office. We are hoping the details are sorted out in time for regular mail to carry on nationwide!  

On the grid: neighbourhood guides by local creatives by Samantha Murray

Design is storytelling. So who better to tell a city’s story than its designers, who live, work and breathe the neighbourhoods they are proud to call home.

Curated by designers around the world, meet On the Grid: neighbourhood guides by local creatives.

On the Grid offers a unique experience for locals and tourists alike to visit neighbourhoods in cities around the world, and explore its design communities’ favourites ­– everything from bars and sweets to parks and fitness. The project was started by design agency, Hyperakt, whose team wanted a platform to share their newly discovered neighbourhood gems after moving into an office in the Gowanus neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York. People around the world got excited about the opportunity to tell their own unique stories, and On the Grid has become a giant collaborative project that is continuing to grow. Currently, there are neighbourhood guides in over 70 international cities, with new cities curated every week. In Toronto alone, there are 19 neighbourhood guides, and five more “coming soon” curated by our fellow design studios.

The beauty of the guides is that they are casual in nature and accessible to anyone with Internet access. There is no hidden agenda, and it is all about sharing tidbits of information and honest reviews about how locals live and love their areas.

We are still newbies in our St. Lawrence/Distillery District neighbourhood but have definitely found some gems of our own. For the best Mexican food around, we head to Cocina Economica, and for a refreshing cold brew on a hot day, we look to Redline Coffee and Espresso. We also LOVE walking around the cobblestoned streets of the Distillery District with its array of shops, food and art to explore. 

We recommend checking out On the Grid for some inspiration before your next free weekend in Toronto, or before planning your next trip!