Off the Beaten Career Path

In Graphic Design, He's Got It Wrapped Up

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A few years ago, Tom Klinedinst wanted to give clients a holiday gift that would show off his design talents, so he gave out three sheets of wrapping paper. The next December, he added gift tags.

Before long, clients' friends started asking for the paper. He launched District-based Crinkleco in 2007. His eco-friendly gift wrap kits made with soy ink and recycled paper now sell at Whole Foods and a handful of other locations.

He sells kits that come with ribbons, tags and strips of tape to stand out in the wrapping-paper industry. "I give somebody something that's convenient and not wasteful," he said. His goal: Allow people present their gift with style by providing "everything you need to wrap a gift perfectly."

Klinedinst, who also runs Group T Design in the District, started as a graphic designer for a Pennsylvania wallpaper company.

Good design requires creativity, problem-solving and research, such as trips to the toy store and watching children's entertainment as he plans kids' wrapping paper. He believes designing gift wrap is similar to Web or annual report design work.

"You just sketch and write down your ideas and sketch more and sketch more," he said. If he's satisfied with a design, he scans it into the computer.

He's proud of his new line of purse-shaped gift kits because they stand out from the usual gift bags and packaging. He's also proud that his kits are strong enough to re-use.

Klinedinst credits his mother, an artist who gave a lot of hand-made gifts, for his interest. But with a wrapping paper business, he notes, "Everyone's just critiquing how I'm wrapping things."

-- Vickie Elmer

© 2008 The Washington Post Company