November 21, 2016


November 21, 2016

More Than a Pony Show

Whether you are new to the Schaefer culture or a return-reader, our community matters to us. Lights need to be kept on and our families provided for, but we make a great effort to do work that impacts the community in a significant way. This year, we had the opportunity to partner with a non-profit organization called Chisholm Challenge. This organization, alongside the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, create a venue to showcase the abilities of disabled equestrian athletes.


“The benefits of therapeutic horseback riding are well established and enable riders with physical and mental challenges to strengthen their bodies and empower their spirits. A horse show that promotes and encourages further development provides these competitors the opportunity to show off all their hard work and talents.” – Chisholm Challenge

We created the save the date and invitation collateral for the Chisholm Challenge banquet. The banquet allows for awareness and fundraising to create the actual horse show that occurs in the spring. We wanted to develop a sophisticated-yet-rural way to celebrate the opportunity to help give equestrian aesthetes the chance to feel like celebrities at their own horse show. Our invitation collateral was a vertical tri-fold piece on paper with a rodeo-inspired texture, a playful script type-lockup and plenty of cattle-brand badge treatments. Each invitation came with a reply card and envelope set that embody the aesthetic of the fairground.

September 27, 2016

Texas’ wildest dance hall!

If you live in DFW, you’re most likely familiar with the Fort Worth Zoo and may be familiar with their largest annual fundraiser, Zoo Ball. Every year Zoo Ball attracts some of the biggest names in the area to support the Zoo’s local and international wildlife conservation and education efforts. The invitation for the event has always been closely tied to the theme; i.e. last year’s Zoo Ball at the Flamingo or the previous year’s Festival of the Elephants. The theme and focus of this year’s event was to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Texas Wild!, a portion of the Zoo that exhibits our great state’s different regional landscapes and wildlife.

Instead of the black tie formal-wear of years past—in the words of Alan Jackson–“We’re goin’ country!” And with a performance from Clint Black, Zoo Ball was set to be a cowboy cocktail-themed success. Our minds immediately went to the honky-tonk wood floors of Gruene Hall and Nashville-inspired Hatch Show Prints. So with the direction of “Big Hair, Boots, and Beers,” our team went on its westward way.


Our hearts were set on creating a distinctly Zoo deliverable with the romance and heritage of wood block letterpress. Letterpress, simply explained, is pressing ink onto paper via wood, metal or hand carved letters and images. This process dominated commercial printing from the 1400’s to the mid-twentieth century. In today’s digital era, this process is celebrated for it’s unmatched nuance of color and texture.

To produce our limited edition set of prints, we sought out Minnesota-based premium letterpress studio, Studio On Fire. After following (and admiring) their work from afar, we were excited to partner with them for the project. With their help, our vision for the western-inspired prints came to life, complete with a blind emboss of the Fort Worth Zoo logo and hand-numbering of each print.

We created three custom illustrations that combined cowboy regalia with exotic wildlife found in the Fort Worth Zoo, bringing together the key elements of the event. These illustrations were paired with wood block-styled type, set to mimic posters of old. We created three “sayings” for the print set:

Deep in the Heart of Texas Wild!
Long Necks Ain’t Nothin’
Without Rednecks

Big Hair, Boots & Beer


The final invitation is truly a complete package. An oversized envelope features a rustic Texas flag and warns ‘Don’t Bend or Fold or Mess with Texas’. Custom postage features animal illustrations and the Zoo logo. A hand-crafted pattern featuring Texas sayings, Clint Black lyrics, Fort Worth nods and custom animal illustrations floods the insert upon opening. And finally the prints are secured by a custom bellyband with event details and slip-sheeted for safety.

The event sold out of tickets and was both appropriately rowdy and respected. Even with fears of rain, the Zoo reassured its patrons: a little weather can’t stop our boot-scootin’ and tequila-shootin’.

September 27, 2015

Zoo Ball at the Flamingo

The Story

Each year the Fort Worth Zoo hosts an annual gala event, Zoo Ball, to raise money in support of the zoo’s ongoing mission of conservation. In a city as large and philanthropically minded as Fort Worth, it’s absolutely vital to break through the noise of other worthy charity events. This year being the 30th anniversary, the planning committee held high expectations for all aspects of the party. Dubbed 1940’s Las Vegas nightclub themed, we set on the path to creating a high-end invitation the encompassed the elegant event.

The Work

To define the tone of the event, our first step was to create inspiration boards. Focusing on high end elements, animal details and historic landmarks, we created the visual foundation for the invitation and ultimately the event. During our research, we discovered that Bugsy Siegel’s legendary Flamingo was one of the first nightclubs in Las Vegas. Leveraging the iconic venue, we titled the event Zoo Ball at the Flamingo. Just like that, the perfect animal pairing for our period event was born.

Harnessing the juxtaposition of larger-than-life Vegas shows within dark, unassuming nightclubs, we developed the concept for an elaborate three dimensional pop-up invitation. Though we may not be paper engineers per se, we always aim to seek what’s possible. Concept turned into reality through partnership with Cockrell Enovation and Structural Graphics, good ‘ole trial and error and more than one paper cut.

The end result is a structural masterpiece. The custom envelope was built to ensure the piece would not get damaged in mailing. The guests were presented with what appears to be a flat “standard” invitation. But upon opening, two pink flamingos emerge from the pages of the invitation, unfolding into an incredible display of creativity and paper construction.

The Results

This year’s event sold out in record time and successfully raised a record-setting amount for the Zoo. Invitees began posting videos of the invitation on social media. And yet again, the bar was raised a little higher for next year.


Schaefer was awarded a gold national Addy for the 2015 Zoo Ball invitation, for the second year in a row! To give it some context, we were one of only 83 gold winners out of 40,000 entries. We’re incredibly proud of our back-to-back wins and excited to represent Fort Worth among some of the top agencies in the country.

Check out the complete List of 2016 National Gold Addy Winners


August 5, 2015

Process: Zoo Ball 2014


The Fort Worth Zoo’s largest annual fundraiser, Zoo Ball, attracts some of the biggest names in Fort Worth to support the Zoo’s local and international wildlife conservation and education efforts. 2015 will see the event’s 30th anniversary, and past invitations have included everything from View-Masters with custom slides to flocked, psychedelic blacklight posters. For last year’s invitation, we wanted something new, exciting and different.

The 2014 Zoo Ball theme was “Festival of the Elephants,” an annual festival held in the Indian city of Jaipur during the Holi festival when elephants are elaborately painted to honor the Hindu god, Ganesha. The theme was chosen in part because the Fort Worth Zoo had just welcomed two baby elephants named Belle and Bowie only a few months prior. (If you look closely, you’ll see they made an appearance in the invitation with their mothers.)

We started by researching Indian culture and events as well as typography, textiles and more. With reams of printouts taped up on the walls of our office for inspiration, we were most intrigued by some of the intricately die-cut wedding invitations we found.


At Schaefer, we have a reputation for punishing ourselves – often saying, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…” then scrambling to figure out how to make it happen within the given timeline and budget. For this project, we did it again. Our complex design required us to partner with many more vendors than we typically do, but the end result was worth it.

From paper and printing to foil stamping and laser cutting, each step of the process required multiple press checks and test samples, each of which had to be okayed by the Zoo Ball committee. Thankfully, they loved it, and it was a big hit with attendees. The Zoo even had event decorations produced to match the invitation, including ten-foot panels that were die-cut using the same illustration files.


According to the Zoo, this invitation was their new high-water mark. That’s quite a compliment, but as we get ready to reveal this year’s Zoo Ball invitation, it’s also a slightly intimidating bar that we’ve set for ourselves. Thankfully, we like the pressure.

We have received several awards for the piece, including Best of Show for the 2015 Fort Worth ADDY awards, a national Gold Addy Award and entry into the Graphis Design Annual.


Our friends at Fort Worth South Inc. asked us to create the collateral for their twentieth anniversary celebration earlier this year. FWSI began as a small coalition of Near Southside businesses and community leaders and has grown dramatically over the last two decades. The redevelopment of Fort Worth’s Near Southside was the story we wanted to showcase. Schaefer worked with them to find headlines from the past 20 years that helped to tell the story of how this community has become a vibrant, urban, mixed-use neighborhood.
Our very own Ken Schaefer was one of the speakers, talking about the growing creative scene in the Southside. He rocked a bow tie and shared some great insights about the unique opportunities that are available in this culturally rich community. His message focused on how important creative organizations are to helping this area flourish.

For the third year in a row, we partnered with the Fort Worth Opera to develop the  invitation design for their largest and most impactful fundraising event of the year – the Opera Ball. Proceeds from this event go toward programming, community outreach and the annual FW Opera Festival. The Opera Ball committee had chosen a sci-fi theme for this year’s ball. Not saying we’re nerds or anything, but our minds quickly went into hyperdrive upon hearing this. Get it? Of course you do. The Fort Worth Opera Ball competes with several high-end donor events within the city, and it was imperative that our materials grab people’s attention and get them excited to attend.

We ultimately named this year’s ball the Galactic Gala and included references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and other stellar movies. See? We can’t help ourselves. With a minimal print budget, we were still able to create a printed invitation that people could interact with. When you pulled the invitation from the sleeve it looked as if the light saber was turning on. Many people felt compelled to make their own sound effects. Some were better than others, and we may or may not have looked it up on Youtube to see who was closest.

If you think a corporate planning session sounds kind of boring, you clearly haven’t been to one that was hosted by Schaefer and TTI. This long-standing client tasked us with inviting their company brain trust together to discuss the coming year’s business and marketing strategies over fine wines and delicious food at Del Frisco’s Grille in Fort Worth. Designer Blair Babineaux came up with this cheeky little custom wine label that paired perfectly with the evening (which was a big success, by the way).

September 19, 2014

Zoo Ball

The Story

The annual Fort Worth Zoo Ball is their largest fundraising event of the year in support of the nonprofit, privately owned zoo. This is an elite affair put on by a committee of top Zoo donors who rely on Schaefer to help execute the annual theme. For 2014, the theme was inspired by the annual Festival of the Elephants in Jaipur, India. The central piece was to be a high-end invitation that would make Fort Worth’s elite excited about coming to the ball.

The Work

Our first step was immerse ourselves in Indian culture (via Google and World Market rather than the subcontinent itself, sadly). Through colors, textiles, patterns we began to get a good sense of direction for the piece. If only we had a designer who was really into elephants. Maybe one who has an elephant pen and mug and figurines all over her desk. Oh, right. Blair.

This theme was tailor-made for designer Blair Babineaux, whose love of elephants (and good design) made her the obvious one to take the lead. Both of these loves were apparent in the final result.

Describing the details of this piece would take approximately forever, but here are some highlights (or you could just look at the picture, right?). The six-panel invitation is printed on a thick pearlescent paper that was flooded with red on one side. Each unique panel was intricately laser cut by the folks at Artifacture in Dallas. Once folded, the invitation was secured with a die-cut bellyband featuring even more laser-cut elephants. The metallic gold envelopes were beautifully hand addressed by Lauren of Blue Eye Brown Eye calligraphy using a custom-mixed ink.

All told, we partnered with six different vendors to make our vision come to life (each of whom might lock the door when they see us coming next time).

The Results

The event was a big success, and the invitation was unanimously well received. Eight-foot replicas of the invitation panels were used as decorations at the Ball, and the chairwoman of the planning committee said, “This is my favorite invitation yet. I’m not sure how we’ll top it next year.”

We don’t know either, but, as always, we’ll seek what’s possible. Even if it does give us all gray hair.


Schaefer was awarded a gold national Addy for the 2014 Zoo Ball invitation. This is our first national Addy award, and to give it some context, we were one of only 77 gold winners out of 40,000 entries. Needless to say, we’re proud and excited to represent Fort Worth among some of the top agencies in the country.

Check out the complete List of 2015 National Addy Winners



Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth offers the premier breast cancer screening experience because everything from the rooms to the robe are tailored to making it as quick and comfortable an experience as possible. When they asked us to help promote this new service, we knew right where to start. After all, what better way to promote a premier experience than with a premier experience?

For Moncrief Cancer Institute’s Future of Academic Medicine event, we used a silver foil on two types of paper to create an upscale invitation. The main imagery on the sleeve is a line rendering of their building, which stands out well from the blue background. The use of silver foil in the negative space of the invitation also created a striking effect.