Archive | August, 2010

The Decoder Ring’s Christian Helms is coming to Wichita

26 Aug
Christian Helms, The Decoder Ring

Christian Helms, The Decoder Ring

Christian Helms of The Decoder Ring will speak at AIGA Wichita, September 30, 2010. Actually, he will be doing two events that day, an AIGA Student Chapter Q&A followed by the main event that evening. Here is a sneak preview of what to expect as we posed six questions to Christian relating to design, business, location and life.

Q1: Austin is kind of off the beaten path, yet it is very culturally diverse and has attracted a lot of national and international brands to the area. What attracted you to Austin and how does city vibe of “Keep Austin Weird” play into Decoder Ring’s business plans and design inspiration?

A: I moved to Austin after realizing NYC wasn’t the right fit for me, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Austin has enough culture to keep you interested, but not so many people, that you feel crowded or claustrophobic. Great food, tons of music, great parks and people— and a short drive from the crazy parts of Texas. It’s pretty perfect, and all of those elements play into my mindset and my work. On top of being a great town, Austin loves to support its own— and we’ve definitely benefitted from that.

Q2: Much of Decoder Ring’s success has come through the music industry. With the way people get their music continuing to change, how do you see the role of design in the music industry going forward?

A: It’s just as important as ever, but in different ways. As the album cover becomes a square of pixels in the corner of your itunes app, folks still long for a tactile and tangible artifact to represent the bands they love. Merch and promotional posters are becoming more important in filling that void. There are more online opportunities for design to reach folks as well. Design’s not going anywhere, it’s just shifting in relation to technology. I’m still doing packaging occasionally, and even working on a video at the moment. Pretty excited about that project…..

Q3: How has the poster world changed in the last 10 years?

A: It’s changed in many ways, and in many ways stayed the same. There has definitely been a resurgence in the popularity of music posters. As part of that we’ve also seen a rise in posters as an extension of the artist, which in many ways is great. When done well, you learn about the band AND a bit about the author’s viewpoint. When done poorly you learn nothing about the band, and a lot about what trend the designer is currently in love with. One thing that hasn’t changed is that no one gets rich on poster design. It’s a labor of love.

Q4: From posters to hot dogs, many projects either through Decoder and outside Decoder, are entrepreneur in spirit, is that part of your business strategy to be the client as well as the designer or more accidental?

A: Absolutely. Years down the road I’d like to be working primarily on entities that I’m involved with on a deeper level. Plus, free hot dogs rule. On the downside, it makes bitching about the client much more awkward.

Q5: If you ever come to Austin you have to_______.

A: buy me a beer .

Q6: (Sorry this one is personal) Name 3 to 5 can’t miss BBQ joints in Austin.


1. Old School BBQ (converted school bus, 2/3 kitchen/ 1/3 smoker)
2. Franklin BBQ— for the meat, not the atmosphere
3. Stubb’s— for the atmosphere, not the meat
4. Smitty’s (Lockhart, Tx)
5. Coopers (Llano, Tx)

Looking forward to the shindig next month…..
–Christian Helms, The Decoder Ring


Christian will be speaking at the Brand New Conference in New York in October. The Brand New Conference is a one-day event organized by UnderConsideration, focusing on the practice of corporate and brand identity — a direct extension of the popular blog, Brand New.

To learn more about Christian Helms and The Decoder Ring visit


AIGA Wichita. We’re Back.

25 Aug

August 26:
AIGA No-Love Mixer

September 30:
Christian Helms from Decoder Ring, Austin, Texas.


October 7:
Dan Padavic from Vahalla Studios, Kansas City, Missouri. Screen Printing Workshop and talk.

October 26:
Justin McClure, Wichita, Kansas.

November: TBA

December 9:
Holiday Mixer with AdFed and WAMA

Late January: SPF

February 10:
Pecha Kucha 20/20 – Love
This event will be a mixer asking local designers to put together a short talk on something they love or are passionate about.
Check out how Pecha Kucha works:

March 2:
Paul Howalt from Paul Howalt Illustration, Mesa, Arizona.

Jake and Pum Lefebure from Design Army, Washington DC.
Please check back for updates.