Park City graphic design company takes print approach in digital age
It was 2 1/2 years ago that Christian Cholhan and his wife Liz started dating and fell for each other.
But while the pair discovered early on that they were a perfect fit, they had no idea their love story would include a business relationship. Last year, Christian and Liz started the graphic design company Highlo Designs. Ski instructors at Deer Valley Resort in the winter, they developed the idea for the company out of a desire to fill their summers with something equally fulfilling.
"We were just throwing around ideas of what we wanted to do in the summer," Christian said. "That’s how it came about. We said, ‘Why don’t we work for ourselves?’ We were tired of working on other people’s schedule because we do that all winter."
Liz is the one with a background in the field. She studied graphic design in art school and honed her skills as a freelancer for several years, in both Michigan and Utah. Christian, who describes himself as a visual person with a passion for fine art but who had no previous graphic design experience, runs the business side of things.
A year and a half in, they’ve found it’s a perfect combination.
"We both have said, ‘We could not run this company without each other,’" Liz said. "I definitely don’t have that accounting, business side to me. I’m more like, ‘I just want to draw things and design things.’ And it’s the opposite for him, so it’s cool to come together and share our strengths and make up for each other’s weaknesses."
Liz and Christian’s approach to graphic design has evolved since starting Highlo Designs. They have taken the path in the digital age of focusing much of their work on helping Park City companies elevate their brands through print.
While they also offer full web design services, they explained that there is something about print materials that strike a chord with a company’s customers. It’s a connection that can’t be replicated through a computer or smartphone screen.
"It adds more of a personal touch," Christian said. "Online, I mean you’re looking at a screen. You’re clicking on it, but there’s still that sort of distance. With print, you actually get to feel it. That’s why we focus more on the print side of things. We want people to have that connection."
Refining the brands of Park City companies has been a rewarding experience for Liz and Christian. They see it as an opportunity to discover something about the people behind the companies they work with and express that to the public. Liz explained that a brand is the fingerprint of a company, and it’s important to be true to the company’s roots while pushing the brand forward.
"For each company or business or person we’re working with, there’s a different flair and personality," she said. "We love finding out who they are and really speaking to that personality. And that’s a fun challenge because you have to figure out, ‘How can we create stuff that reinforces what they’re doing, fits in with what they have but also pushes that brand in the direction they want it to go?’ Maybe it’s just doing a small web ad or redesigning how a product is packaged. It’s like a puzzle."
And, as a start-up themselves, they’ve also had to brand their own business. That has given them a unique insight into the perspectives of the companies they work with and has shown them that graphic design and branding is an art form that is constantly evolving. They are looking forward to unearthing fresh ways to think about what they do and passing on those discoveries to their clients.
"We’ve put it into practice for ourselves," Christian said. "We can show people, ‘This actually works.’ It doesn’t have to be exactly the way Highlo has done it, but these basic principles work. It’s not just handing them a product and saying, ‘Here you are. We’re done.’ It’s about developing that relationship to learn from them and provide them with insights, too."
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