smARTer is an illustrative design firm serving creative agencies. Agency experience in creative and art direction means we’re smarter about how brand strategy and imagery work together. We think the way you think.

Smart Art for Creative Firms

smARTer is an illustrative design firm serving creative agencies. Agency experience in creative and art direction means we’re smarter about how brand strategy and imagery work together. We think the way you think.



Sherwin Schwartzrock, Jonathan Koelsch, and Paul Gardner are award-winning designers and illustrators that have worked with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to baby startups. With years of experience as both creative directors and contract illustrators, they understand how brand strategy and creative visual solutions work together to achieve the best results.


Agency Clients

smARTer fits seamlessly into your company’s process. Need upfront collaborative brainstorming? Or direct execution to complete the assignment? Our art direction experience elevates your visual solutions, helps you sell concepts to management, and builds emotional connection with customers.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Bullseye the Target mascot once again populates the Target stores with his friendly mischief this holiday season.

smARTer helped the creative masterminds at Knock bring their ideas to life with concept sketches. This process usually hits our desks fast and furious during the summer time… the perfect time to be thinking about Christmas! 🙂 Once we get final approval, our talented friends at Neighbor animated Bullseye. In addition to the images hanging in-store, they also created animations that play on the huge flagship rotunda display. I also noticed the same animation played on the back wall of the electronics section.

I took some of these images in their flagship store in downtown Minneapolis. This is one of the stores that have seen the new interior changes. It’s simply beautiful.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

We are deeply honored to be included in the next LogoLounge 10 book.

LogoLounge is the most successful logo design series of all time and we’ve been fortunate to have marks in all of the books they’ve published since LogoLounge 4. This year, I know three of the judges, Felix Sockwell, Von Glitschka, and Andreas Karl… all three AMAZING talents I deeply respect. Thank you gentlemen!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

smARTer initially worked with Shawn Markert-Jones when she was employed at Target Creative. She has since moved on and thankfully for us, we’ve stayed in touch.

Shawn always showers her creative team with loads of praise, so as you can imagine, working with her is always a joy. So, when she landed at Udemy and wanted to collaborate on branding for their annual retreat, we knew there would be lots of fun ahead.

Shawn gave us a strong idea of what she wanted: a retro surfing aesthetic to their retreat event branding. “Let’s Go!” was the name of the event each year but now it needed to get employees excited about the leadership’s new vision cast for the direction of the company. This was easy, who couldn’t get excited about a Dana Point, California, 4-star resort right on the beach?

These were the sun-drenched ideas we presented:

Udemy settled on this visual which was a combination of two concepts. smARTer then set out to create the artwork and branding to fit a myriad of swag applications: towels, robes, shoes, and trucker hats. This needed to work in embroidery, silk screen, traditional print, and digital.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

When our friend, Shawn Sweeney, at The Lacek Group asked if we could create a coloring page for their client, Carnival… we said, “You bet!”.

Adult coloring books are now a big thing. TLG wanted to tap into that popularity with a direct mail promotion for Carnival. Our image needed to showcase the iconic ship design with other colorful shapes associated with a Caribbean cruise.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our client,, wanted to engage their pop culture enthusiast audience by exploring imagining augmentation of their favorite characters with nanotechnology similarly to the popular video game, Deus Ex.

Wikia posted these images online and took votes from their customers for the best new Deus Ex character!



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sherwin Schwartzrock’s history as a comic book artist made him the perfect designer for Kingstone Comic’s mastheads.

Even though he doesn’t draw comics anymore, he keeps his hand in the business by working with publisher Art Ayris designing mastheads that are both memorable and descriptive.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Heimie’s Haberdashery of St. Paul is a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Anthony Andler has recreated the shopping experience to that of a hundred years ago… but updated with clothes and gear designed for the modern man. Quality and service is key.

smARTer helped branding firm FloraFauna craft a mark for the new gear line, Heimie’s Made, that captures the essence of rugged and handsome leather goods built a century ago.

We started by doing our research. We explored dozens of typography solutions with antique font styles. We settled on this elegant dance of lines, typography, and iconography.


FloraFauna went on to flesh out the look and feel of the brand that included a website, tags, catalogs, and social media.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

smARter illustrator/design director Paul Gardner has been designing band event posters for over a decade. Paul is passionate about music and art so when he can combine his two loves, the result is amazing.

“A poster is a visual extension of the event. When done well, a poster becomes more than just ink on paper. It transforms from being a marketing tool that promotes an event, to a work of art that embodies a memory.”


Capturing the essence of the brand and capturing it visually is not just something Paul provides his music clients, it is just an extension of how he works with corporate clients when he designs brands.

To make his legacy even sweeter, Seven of Paul’s posters for Wilco have been bound in a limited-edition, 224-page hardcover book curated by Jeff Tweedy himself entitled Beyond the Fleeting Moment.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Have you ever heard of the Northstar Science Film Festival? Us neither. 🙂

The NSFF is a local group of science and pop culture enthusiasts who wanted to start something big. But like most startups, they had no money and no time. One of the event advocates and sponsors, Tadware & Company, called in smARTer to help promote the event. With so little time, we knew we needed to pique interest in the venue through social media. Working with Adware’s creative director Paul Ferguson and writer Jeff Neidt, smARTer created this campaign to focus on the science in Hollywood.


In addition, we wanted to communicate directly to our ideal audience: really smart people who also love movies.


Monday, March 13, 2017

I’m proud to show off a cover design smARTer created for Nazarene Publishing House.

Based on a John Wesley theology perspective, author Eric Vail makes this profound topic easy to digest for any level of theology enthusiasts. The cover visuals are based on the idea that our present understanding of God and his creation are paper thin and Vail invites us to explore deeper thoughts around the scope of God’s restorative narrative.

For more information about this book and to order, visit:

Atonement and Salvation


Below are some additional cover designs we’ve completed for NPH.

Reflecting the Image


Worship, Wonder, and Way

Monday, March 13, 2017

We had the pleasure of working with creative director, Eric Edel, of Mackey Creative recently. Eric asked smARTer to create a visual texture for packaging of a new bakery line for Super America stores.

The theme of the graphic was coffee as the whole strategy around this brand of bakery goods was connected to coffee sales.

Mackey Creative provided us with the preliminary packaging layouts so we had a good context of how the texture would interact with the rest of the packaging design. With Eric’s blessing, we moved onto final art.


Here’s our final design with plenty of graphic to wrap around the backside of the packaging. We also anticipated this texture being used for other purposes like signage or in-store marketing so we built the art in vector art so it can be scaled without losing resolution.

Friday, March 10, 2017

smARTer met Dan Fiskum years ago and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. Besides being a brilliant lawyer, Dan also writes and produces music professionally

Recently, we’ve been fortunate to help him with a new band logo and an album cover design for Black Blue Birds.


To show Dan’s diversity, he also released a new jazz piano album and we got to design the cover.

Friday, March 10, 2017

For over two years smARTer worked with Miroir helping them with packaging and in-store placement.

Over that time, the Miroir projector was sold in multiple stores, each with their unique display problems. Most recently, Apple began selling the remarkable product and the packaging made a dramatic shift to look like it fit on the iconic brand’s shelves.

The original packaging incorporated a beautiful jewel case, but we later learned it was too fragile for cross-Atlantic shipping, so the case became more compact.

Later, as we moved into the Apple store, the graphics became ultra clean and simple.


Our scope of work included naming and brand exploration, packaging, display designs, iconography, and housing design.

Friday, March 10, 2017

How do you celebrate 500 years? With a graphic novel of course!

This story began 15 years ago when author Rich Melheim of Faith Inkubators hired Sherwin Schwartzrock to draw book 1 of a 3-book series on the life of Martin Luther. Back then, the comic art was used to promote the Luther movie starring Joseph Fiennes. This original production occurred at a time when Sherwin was drawing comics full time. Fast forward to today, when Rich called again wanting to finish the story, Sherwin’s schedule wouldn’t allow for the intense amount of time required to design and illustrate the 72-page book. Naturally, he pulled in fellow smARTer artist Jonathan Koelsch to do the heavy lifting. With Rich writing, Sherwin on layout and production, and Jonathan on art and colors, we finished the graphic novel in time to meet the important book fairs.

As if promoting a book isn’t enough work, Rich has gone on to develop a rock opera and curriculum around the Luther theme. See it all for yourself here:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Everyone loves brand mascots. Because of my work with Target and their Target Field mascots, Little asked if I could help them create just the right character to get kids excited about banking.

US Bank’s old mascot was old and tired so they needed a new character to embody the “What’s Possible” brand campaign Little developed. First, smARTer explored different people and animals that could embody the hard work of saving and building. Working with the whole team at Little was amazing. Design director Tim Schumann and smARTer had a blast brainstorming ideas!

The second round exploration added color and some additional characters.

Believing the eagle was a great symbol of the USA, we started to develop different ways of building a costume that would be both visual and comfortable… especially during hot summer parades.

Once the design was sent to the costume developer, Little needed smARTer to capture “Coach Possible” in graphic form for stickers, activity books, and tee shirts.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Most of the time, clients know what they want and smARTer delivers just that. Sometimes, we have clients that want US to generate ideas for consideration.

With this project, our client wanted to augment their own creative for a client pitch. smARTer was happy to accommodate! Here are three concepts to promote home delivery subscriptions for the Sunday paper.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Our long-time friends at Helvecticka (yes, spelled with a “k”) in Spokane came to us for artwork to communicate how…

Our long-time friends at Helvecticka (yes, spelled with a “k”) in Spokane came to us for artwork to communicate how Greeley’s water budget is smart for the health of the community. Creative director, CK Anderson needed an assortment of illustrations to support their campaign in newspaper, direct mail, and social media. The style treatment needed to be friendly and affordable. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

How do you get clients excited about a new co-working space that is still under construction? Have smARTer illustrate what it might look like!

And that’s exactly what we did for COCO and their downtown Minneapolis addition. Our renderings were printed on large foam core for display as well as printed on postcards to get potential clients excited about the new space.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Our amazing client, Cricut, came to us to help promote their big push promoting all of the crafts Cricut can help you make for your wedding… even a dress!

smARTer worked with creative director Mike Thomas exploring different animation approaches.  We finally landed on a simple sketch animation that captures a little bit of the Cinderella magic we all love. Collaborating with Todd Bright, smARTer was able to finish this old-school animation under deadline and budget. Mike would later support this promotion with a full scale wedding complete with dress, invitations, and decorations.

Initial exploration:

Getting closer…


Final animation:

lorez cricut animation

Thursday, March 9, 2017

BI Worldwide wanted to show Lincoln how their creative idea would look like for an event unveiling the latest Continental model.

BI Worldwide wanted to show Lincoln how their creative idea would look like for an event unveiling the latest Continental model. The theme was all about the “Art of Luxury”. The creative team at BI Worldwide fed their idea to smARTer who rendered this image so Lincoln could envision how customers would interact with the car, bar, and kiosks celebrating the vehicles’ features.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

When we sat down with Ann Ness, CEO of Adopt-A-Classroom, she shared with us the great need teachers face each day in their classrooms.

Adopt-A-Classrooms works with teachers to connect them with donors to provide basic supplies children need to learn but are simply too poor to afford. Ann needed a simple tactic: a direct mail donations request people won’t throw immediately in the trash.

smARTer devised a clever illustration leveraging the famous WWII poster, comparing teachers to our heroes who are on the front lines.

Adopt-A-Classroom was so happy, they produced bag totes with the image as well.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

FloraFauna’s client, Alexandria Clinic, wanted to take their marketing experience (newspaper, outdoor, social media) inside the clinic.

smARTer worked with their “heartland” theme to produce an interactive mural where waiting patients can post why they love their community notes. Over time, the heart notes will leaf out the tree… a tree with five limbs accentuating the organization’s five values.

Once the event is over, each note is photographed and posted to their Facebook account.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

For the second year in a row, smARTer had the privilege of collaborating with Knock to produce Target’s holiday in-store experience.

Knock initiated the process with super-creative ideas that smARTer brought to life with full-color renderings for client approval. Once the scenes were approved by Target, Neighbor built the 3D renderings that you see hanging in their 1800 stores nation wide.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hand-drawn typography for BI Worldwide's client, Pizza Hut.

I had a great time working with the creative talent at BI Worldwide for their client, Pizza Hut.  The talented Eric Werket designed this fun internal communications piece.  I helped out with some of the illustrated typography. All overseen by one of my favorite creative directors, Michelle Rollins.



Saturday, December 24, 2016

Our clients needed large-scale fine art for their event center remodel… not something we do everyday. 🙂

When our office neighbors from DwyerOglesbay Architects asked if smARTer could paint large scale canvases for The Blaisdell, an event center they were remodeling… I said, “Of course we can!”. Colin and Edward created a custom lighting fixture in the main ballroom using a Matisse pattern. The two architects wanted to continue the Matisse theme on the art hanging in the front rooms.

Collaborating with Colin, Edward, and Jodi from Hue Interiors, we presented several design options for the paintings. After considerable delay, the designs were approved and smARTer was left with only one month to complete the 7 large-scale paintings.

Since the thick set acrylic takes considerable time to dry, we found it most efficient to work on 3 paintings at a time in our studio to give the layers sufficient amount of time to set up. In the end, smARTer delivered the huge paintings (the largest was 8′ x 6′) via moving van on schedule for they’re first event in the space. Whew!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New York agency, McGarryBowen needed whiteboard illustrations to be informative and fun.

Agency McGarryBowen out of New York creates informative short videos for United Airlines. They asked me to illustrate two scenes for their episode explaining turbulence. The images needed to look like whiteboard illustrations that would be added digitally in editing. I worked back and forth with the talented staff at McGarryBowen to get the technical elements and style just right… all for a couple seconds of air time on the final video.  That’s Hollywood folks! 🙂


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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sometimes getting to the solution doesn't come on the first try.
I pride myself on getting to a great solution quickly…but that isn't always a slam dunk. My client, Nazarene Publishing House…

Sometimes getting to the solution doesn’t come on the first try.

I pride myself on getting to a great solution quickly…but that isn’t always a slam dunk. My client, Nazarene Publishing House, needed a cover to a new book that captured the spirit and tone of the edition perfectly. This can sometimes be subjective, so over the course of a couple weeks I submitted the following designs. I’m proud of the final design (bottom image), but I also really like the rejected concepts — casualties of war. 🙂
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Friday, December 11, 2015

It's nice to know we are on trend. LogoLounge just posted their annual trend report and our Oblivium logo for McGinley Associates was selected as an example. Thanks, LogoLounge…

It’s nice to know we are on trend. LogoLounge just posted their annual trend report and our Oblivium logo for McGinley Associates was selected as an example. Thanks, LogoLounge!


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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Five of our pencil illustrations for Target's Instagram Back-to-School Campaign were selected from 4,313 entries…

Communication Arts has included the work of Schwartzrock Graphic Arts among the winners of its 56th annual illustration competition. Five of our pencil illustrations for Target’s Instagram Back-to-School Campaign were selected from 4,313 entries.

In addition, the campaign won twice at The Webby Awards…the 2015 People’s Voice Award & the Social / Family & Parenting Category.

The process? We were holed up in a photo studio for two and a half days with the art director, photographer, and stylist, brainstorming these whimsical ideas. What a blast!
Credits: Travis Robertson (CD), Jon Baugh (ACD), Heather Bahr (AD), Erin Repesh (AP), Jesse Gadola (copywriter), Liz Matassa (producer), Cate Abbott (AE), Sherwin Schwartzrock (illustrator), and Sean Meszaros (Photographer)

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yesterday I was walking downtown and noticed that Target had installed the holiday graphics in their Minneapolis flagship store. It is so funny to work on these characters on your computer and then see them several feet high hanging from the Target atrium. It's impressive.

I was fortunate enough to work with the creatives at Knock to develop this concept. It looks like nothing but child’s play, but it actually was a lot of hard work put in by the whole Knock creative team. My role was to take the creative ideas from the team and illustrate how the individual scenes will actually look like.  The fun part was animating the cute characters within these imaginative environments that hang from the ceiling and visually activate the space. My renderings were presented to Target for approval then used by Neighbor to use as a reference for their final 3D renderings.

I think it came together nicely.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Working with BI Worldwide's creative team, smARTer developed these icons for Delta Airlines.

Recently I had a blast working with the BI Worldwide creative team headed by their CD, Michelle Rollins. To help introduce some new internal changes, Delta Airlines reached out to BI for help. To solve this problem, BI devised a very creative card game and event and they needed some quick help turning these new behaviors into something visual and light hearted. I’m super proud of these solutions and even more proud of the creative collaboration that made this all happen in just a few days.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kyle Gustafson and Aaron Muther of Target Creative came up with a super-fun Instagram installation to promote the Avengers movie and Target-exclusive toys. Because I was a professional comic book artist (in a past life)…

Kyle Gustafson and Aaron Muther of Target Creative came up with a super-fun Instagram installation to promote the Avengers movie and Target-exclusive toys. Because I was a professional comic book artist (in a past life), they called me in to storyboard their idea. Below is the final product and my layouts (with help from Jonathan Koelsch) next to the finals. This boxed layout looks best on a mobile device.


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Sunday, April 5, 2015

I had a blast working with Target creatives, Brian Bennett and Nichole Legare, to create this artwork for a DIY…

I had a blast working with Target creatives, Brian Bennett and Nichole Legare, to create this artwork for a DIY project on

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

LogoLounge will publish 20 logo designs by Schwartzrock Graphic Arts in its 9th volume…

LogoLounge will publish 20 logo designs by Schwartzrock Graphic Arts in its 9th volume!

LogoLounge, the online logo database offering designers a compendium of reference material for identity design, has selected the work of Schwartzrock Graphic Arts (SGA) to appear in its latest book, LogoLounge Volume 9.

With more than 22,000 logos entered for consideration, 20 of those submitted by SGA have been chosen by an international panel of judges.

“In my opinion, LogoLounge is the king of logo book collections and we are super excited to have so many marks chosen to appear in their next publication,” Schwartzrock comments. “As I look at the 20 marks they selected, I’m struck by the diversity of clients we serve: Bamboo paper products, men’s fashion blog, agricultural chemicals, air quality lab, industrial fans, radio show, church, construction company, children’s app, comic book, hospital, and granola bars!”



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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thank you Jen Soik Smith for posting catalog spreads for Weight Watchers showcasing smARTer icons.

Thanks to Jen Soik Smith for posting some catalog work for Weight Watchers produced by Seth Johnson Design:  Jen is credited with photo and art direction with Seth on creative direction.

I had a great time working with Seth and Weight Watchers designing the icons used on these spreads. We tried to keep them all circular for a family effect.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

It's official, Schwartzrock Graphic Arts has changed its name to smARTer.

It’s official, Schwartzrock Graphic Arts has changed its name to smARTer.

It’s been a lot of work but we made the move to better position what we do, why we do it better and for whom. If you have a moment, check out our digital announcement.

In addition, be sure to note our new contact info:


227 Colfax Ave N #210

Mpls, MN 55405

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Chalk creates new can designs for Fargo Brewing with logo by smARTer!

My friend, Matt Charpentier (aka Charpie), just sent me some new images for Fargo Brewing Company.  Matt’s studio, Chalk, created the can designs for the whole line including the new brew, Ofest…all sporting the logo design we collaborated on back when the brewer was just getting started.  Looking good, Charpie!


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807 Broadway St. NE, #140
Minneapolis, MN 55413