Faced with declining membership and a challenging economy, the Graphic Arts Society of Printers (GASP) knew that it needed to take drastic steps to survive. To that end, key executives had an intensive year-long closed-door meeting and hashed out what the industry association believes is a surefire way to combat a challenging market.

“Ultimately,” said GASP president Bertram Crouch, “we determined that the solution to all of our and the industry’s problems was a new logo. Not just any new logo, of course, but one imbued with magical powers.”

To carry out the challenging task not only of designing the new logo but also of enchanting it—that is, adding the magical powers—GASP turned to Salem, MA’s DesignMagic Associates, a full-service design firm specializing in branding, corporate identity, logo design, and sorcery. DesignMagic’s staff includes three full-time graphic designers who specialize in print, five who specialize in Web and interactive media, and one additional full-time employee known only as “Esmeralda,” whose official title is Senior Design Associate/High Priestess.

According to DesignMagic principal Holly Thakathi, “Esmeralda is able to take an electronic file and coalesce the cosmic essence that powers the universe, channel it, and focus it into that file, so that the very pixels that comprise that file, and thus the printer dots that are ultimately generated from it, contain that distilled cosmic essence. That essence then is conveyed back to the individual or company that will be the beneficiary of those powers. Oh, and Esmeralda is also a whiz at Adobe Illustrator.”

The process goes something like this: Once the file to be enchanted—such as a logo—is designed, Esmeralda needs to scan a personal item belonging to the person upon whom the magical powers will be conferred. “We can also accept e-mailed JPEGs, but the higher the resolution, the better,” said Thakathi. Then, through a complex process involving mystic incantations, ritual sacrifice, and Photoshop retouching, the file is imbued with the power to bestow good luck and success on the client. Or, in some cases, bad luck and tragedy.

The GASP logo presented DesignMagic with an unusual challenge. “In order to bestow success on the association, ultimately the logo has to confer luck and success on an entire interrelated network of industries, from printing to marketing to advertising to...well, any industry that creates graphic communications,” said Thakathi. “If it were just a case of someone wanting to come into a lot of money, that’s easy. But the GASP project was far more involved.” She added with a smile, “But not impossible.”

Technical problems were the chief impediments to the success of the GASP project, however. During the enchantment stage, there was a karmic surge that crashed the company’s production server. “The server was running Windows XP, so to get it back up and running we had to sacrifice a goat in the pale moonlight,” said Thakathi. “That can really be a production bottleneck.”

Ultimately, GASP was quite happy with the work DesignMagic produced. “They were very good at acceding to many of our own design preferences,” said GASP’s Crouch. “For example, we are very particular about fonts. They were a bit skittish about our insistence on using Friz Quadrata, but once we got them round to our way of thinking, the rest of the process went very smoothly.”

As for how the enchanted logo is working out, “It’s too soon to tell,” Crouch says. “We have started using it in the press releases we send out as StarOffice files, but I don’t know that anyone has opened them yet. But it’s still early yet.”

GASP is not taking anything for granted, however, and is proactively working with DesignMagic to develop a far more ambitious strategy for renewing the printing industry as a whole. “I’m not a liberty to go into detail just yet,” said Crouch, “but all I can say is that it involves the disembodied skull of Johann Gutenberg.”