Pen & Mug: Local Business Spotlight

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This month’s Local Business Spotlight is shining on Pen & Mug, a creative studio focused on creating compelling brand identities and “silky-smooth” websites. The staff at Lightning 100 knows personally the brilliance of the Pen * Mug team – they’ve designed for Live On The Green for the past three years, including a total website overhaul in 2019. As a company ourselves fueled by our friends at Frothy Monkey, we feel like kindred spirits with the caffeine powered duo of Austin Schulenburg and Jeremy Davis.

One look at the Pen & Mug website is realistically all you’ll need to see why you should hire these guys. It’s clean but dynamic, simple yet engaging, and above all else it’s easy to navigate. Not only is the experience intuitive, but the look and feel are perfectly matched to the casual yet professional demeanor of the company’s two leaders. Take a look at how they brought the same magic to their clients here.

Here’s a sampling of the work that Pen & Mug can do for your business:

  • brand identity
  • website design
  • animation
  • illustration
  • iconography
  • tangibles
  • packaging
  • social and digital ads
  • merchandise
  • print marketing
  • email
  • blog

The Lightning 100 Deal

So what’s the latest idea that Pen & Mug has cooked up? As lovers of good food and drink, Austin and Jeremy have designed a sleek customizable template perfect for restaurants, breweries or coffee shops. For a crazy affordable price, you can replace your outdated site and get a year of web-hosting from Nashville’s tastiest creative studio. Check out their demo site now by heading to penandmug.com/L100!

Getting to know the man in charge.

We were able to drag founder Austin Schulenburg away from the drawing board just long enough to ask a few questions. Hopefully this glimpse of personality reveals what we here at Lightning 100 see as Pen & Mug’s greatest asset: these guys are stand-up professionals that always deliver while making sure every step of the process feels more like fun than work.

Q:  Did you grow up knowing you’d be some sort of artist or designer? If so, what were some of the ways you expressed creativity early on?

A:  I’ve always loved making things, and I’ve been drawing and writing stories and inventing rulebooks for battling Lego┬« armies with my brother ever since I could hold a crayon. I bounce around to a lot of different things. My dad is a computer guy who was one of the first people to encourage me to play around in AppleWorks and early Adobe programs, and  graphic design and web design have had the best balance of “I’m good at this and really enjoy it” and “I can make good money doing this for people.”

Q:  Do you remember the first time you got paid for an artistic project? What did that feel like?

A:  I think the first paid job was a random logo project I found online, and the guy paid me $50 to cancel the project. He did not use the logo I made. I had a few other opportunities to do work for friends and family after that, and got paid a little by each one. None of them were a whopping pay check that made me see a future in this sort of thing, but it definitely felt great to have people wanting me to work for them and willing to pay for it. It felt like I had a skill not everyone has, or at least that people could see I was more interested and wanted to let me take it and run with it.

Q:  Tell us about how you met your partner, Jeremy. When did you decide to team up on this business?

A:  Pen & Mug was originally just a moniker that I used for taking on freelance design work. Jeremy and I have worked together on the in-house creative team at HCA Healthcare for years and we became fast friends. I asked him to teach me more about web development and it quickly became clear to me that this man is a wizard, so the first time a web-related freelance project presented itself I asked if he would like to team up with me on it. We’ve worked together on every web project since, and he has done a TON to level-up what Pen & Mug has to offer!

Q:  You seem to have discovered a market in the food and beverage space – what draws you to work with those businesses?

A:  If I boil it all the way down, my favorite thing about the work we do is feeling affiliated with all the awesome businesses we get to serve. That addictive “I was a part of that” feeling. Visiting new restaurants and breweries and coffee shops and so on is my favorite way to spend time and money, so this is the industry that I personally am most excited to be affiliated with! There’s something about food/bev places that brings people together in a really awesome and unique way, and there is always something new to try. I absolutely love it.

Q:  What are some of the things you draw inspiration from when designing something new?

A:  Oh gosh. All kinds of things, depending on the project. Sometimes limitations can be a really interesting inspiration, forcing you to narrow down your ideas for some functional reason or other. And of course there’s a TON of incredible artists and designers who I look up to. I think my visual style (maybe everyone’s style) is kind of a blend of all my favorites.

Q:  Is there a dream project that you’d love to work on?

A:  I’ve got a lot of really lofty ones, haha. I’ll say that I would love to create the brand identity for a professional sports team, or work with a brewery from the ground up and get to design the brand identity, the packaging for each beer, the website, the menus; the whole nine yards. And in either of these scenarios I’d want to work with that project for years so I can really be a part of seeing that brand grow and mature. That will be an absolute blast.

What are you waiting for?!

So, that’s it! Whether you’re looking to launch a business, or you just need a branding overhaul – Pen & Mug is your one-stop shop for great design and sleek websites. For anyone in the food and beverage space, be sure to check out their demo website for an elegant but affordable turnkey web solution and tell them that Lightning 100 sent you!

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