Sara Nelson


Sara Nelson was raised in a family-owned print shop in the heart of Washington state’s wine country. After graphic design school and a dozen years of corporate work, she went out on her own with Sara Nelson Design, Ltd. That was 25 years and hundreds of award-winning design projects ago. In 2005, Sara began to lean into the Wine & Spirits industry — first in Washington State, then across the country and worldwide. Hundreds of wine labels and logos later, with a team of designers, web designers, and illustrators, her firm’s body of work is about 85% wine and spirits-related, with the other 15% spread around the healthcare, agriculture, and aesthetics industries. Over the years, Sara has paid particular attention to color psychology and typography and invested in continuing education in the business of wine — specifically vineyard and winery operation. Especially for clients who are just kicking off a new business, that’s particularly valuable!


Looking forward, are you optimistic about the role of graphic design in business and society?

The battle for attention is as fierce as ever. The amount of time an audience will put into receiving and understanding any given message continues to shrink. Thus, the role that good, effective design must play in any communication — not just business and/or culture-must increase as well going forward. That’s a good prognosis for those who can differentiate between making noise and communicating.


Have the challenges of the past two years changed the way you approach your work?

Workflow has always been driven by client need. Some clients now nearly live on Zoom. Some don’t. Most are somewhere in between. For years clients at distances not practical for in-person contact (wineries in Italy, China, and Croatia coming to mind) have been common, so meetings, documents, and art files moving electronically isn’t new. Last year the company moved entirely to work-fromhome for several months. It took less than an hour to make that move. Almost everyone is back in the office now, but the staff remains ready to roll with whatever tomorrow needs.