Second Block Studio
Design & Illustration

Case studies

A curated selection of work.


Document Design

Project: Atomic Design book design

Brad Frost is a web designer, speaker, consultant, writer, and musician. Much of his professional work involves “atomic design” - an approach to designing web systems that considers the usability and consistency of a project at both its smallest and largest scales. He fine tuned the philosophy, implementation, and maintenance behind this approach, then literally wrote the book on it.

A book like this is different than your favorite biography or sci-fi novel. In addition to typical chapter heads, this book also includes headlines, subheadlines, quotes, URLs and footnotes… as well as nearly one hundred full-color screenshots or images with relevant captions. As you can imagine, this is a lot of information - 192 pages worth, in fact. And since the final book was meant to be a resource - to be read and consulted on a regular basis - having the information organized in a friendly and accessible way was imperative to its success.

Once the design elements were in place and polished, we coordinated with local printers for printing estimates, paper selection, binding, and delivery. With the paper book into production, we finessed that layout to work nicely as a companion digital version - complete with proper formatting and live web links.

The result of this project was a beautiful and informative piece that Brad’s audience could physically hold in their hands - read it on the bus, take it on a plane or to the park… or keep it in their office for a quick consult when necessary.

Books, magazines, catalogs, brochures - document design is what we love to do best. If you have a piece that needs a designer’s touch, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We have also provided document design services for companies like Evoqua Water Technologies, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Baldwin-Whitehall School District, Direct Energy, Bethlehem Haven, and Printing Industries of America.



Client: Pittsburgh City Paper

This printed weekly staple covers everything local to Pittsburgh - news, food, sports, politics, art and music, events, books… you name it! We’ve created custom illustrations for several covers, including their much-anticipated Winter Guide and Summer Guide.

These covers showcase the best of the city in a season. For the Winter Guide, we proposed one of our favorite landmarks: Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur. Located in historic Oakland, the lifesize dino dresses for the weather, so we showed the statue enjoying the snow in a scarf with the city skyline in the background. We also provided an interior spot illustration celebrating another wintertime activity: ice skating.

We were given free reign for the Summer Guide, with the broad stipulation that it address a short list of represented activities. We chose to display these as stylized sidewalk drawings - a colorful way to convey the desire to enjoy the outdoors in the city. A similarly-styled second cover was included inside the printed paper displaying even more things to celebrate about Pittsburgh in the summer.

Our style of simple and colorful illustration allows for a unique kind of creativity and flexibility for the concept, emotion, or idea you’re trying to convey. Let us help you bring your project to life with something custom created just for you.

We have also provided custom illustration services for Bricolage Production Company, Simple Sugars, Point Breezeway, Colipera, various slide presentations (some of which have been presented internationally!) and Turner’s Dairy. Second Block Studio also maintains a product line of colorful, gender-neutral children’s clothes featuring our own original illustrations - 2468 Kids.

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Client: Hello Neighbor

Hello Neighbor is a non-profit that specializes in connecting recently settled refugees with locals to help the new arrivals be successful in their new home. Life in a unfamiliar place can be very hard for these families - what with a new country with new customs, rules, possibly a new language. While there are resources available, having a personal guide can make a profound difference in such a life change.

Our first task was the logo. The main logo boasts colorful, overlapping city shapes that convey the various vibrant cultures mixing within a community; the strong typeface in lowercase letters is friendly while being easy to read by new English-speakers.

Since Hello Neighbor began as a small grass-roots initiative headed by a single determined individual, social media was an important consideration from the start. How would the logo be represented within the confines of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? What colors would best accent these images and echo the brand and its mission? We provided accent graphics, created a custom color palette, determined a style guide, and a seed selection of stock imagery until they could build up their own working library. We also set them up with business cards and other branded collateral.

In their first year, Hello Neighbor completed two cohorts of local mentors and recently-placed refugees. In that time we created flyers, postcards, presentations, a mentor handbook, and policy briefs. This spring, we were delighted to put together an impact report that showcased how much positive influence this young organization has had on the city of Pittsburgh and countless families from around the world. And we look forward to helping them extend their reach and positive influence.

A brand is more than a logo. If you’re building an organization from the ground up, let us help you give your mission a cohesive, tangible identity. Already have an established brand? We can help you fine tune it or create new pieces that feel in line with your legacy collateral.

We have also provided logo design, branding, and identity creation services for companies like Girls Write, Brenhines Group, Ribbon + Twine, Foresight, Evoqua Water Technologies, and the Hell on Hills 5K.



Client: Conduit, Inc.

Conduit, Inc. specializes in providing custom-branded magazines to a variety of sectors like education, printing, healthcare, and technology. When they wanted an infographic conveying some complex data about the buying power and behavior of Gen Z, we helped them showcase that information.

Sophisticated graphics were clear and easy-to-read, while the color palette kept the data vivid and youthful. We utilized stock imagery where we could to keep the overall cost down, and accented some areas with custom illustration when necessary. Different kinds of charts and call-outs helped the data make an impact, leaving the reader with a real impression of the benefits (and challenges) of marketing to this valuable demographic.

We’ve created graphics for use on websites, social media, email marketing, brochures, digital and print magazines… as well as for use on large wall graphics within a corporate or commercial space. Allow us to help showcase your data in a clear and accessible way.

We have also provided custom infographic services for the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Direct Energy, Evoqua Water Technologies, and Simple Sugars.

Here’s what else we’re working on.