Port-A-Poop: the Process, the Journey

TinCanMockUps2 TinCanMockUps

The Task:

In 1975, Gary Dahl figured out how to sell people rocks. Not rare rocks or gems or particularly attractive rocks, but regular, smooth rocks. How did he do it? He marketed the rocks like a live animal, calling the rocks “pet-rocks”. They came in little cardboard carriers filled with “straw” and included an instruction manual on the care and keeping of your rock. By marketing this practically useless object in a fun way, he sold batches of these rocks at almost no cost to himself.

So our task was to sell an empty, sealed tin can, but create a concept and design a label that would make it a realistic product that could be put on shelves for people to buy and use.


So how do you make someone buy an empty tin can? Thinking of a good idea is easy, thinking of a great one takes a bit more brainstorming. We had to define an audience for the product. At first a lot of the ideas leaned toward the realm of gag-gift, something you’d find on shelves at Spencer’s Gifts or at the book section of Urban Outfitters. But to make the idea good enough that the can could be bought up-ironically was the next step.

My idea? A canned bathroom, complete with the tag-line “gotta use the can!” Essentially a place to “go on the go.” It seemed like the perfect gag gift, reminiscent of emergency waste releases on middle school field trips into Pepsi bottles or plastic bags (disgusting).

But I started thinking about it a little more. How about campers and survivalists? This can could be a portable, disposable item to “place your waste.”

And thus, the Port-A- Poop was born.


In the initial design phase I decided that the product could be sold seriously under the pretense as making it an on the run toilet for those who liked to camp. Just like a cat will bury its waste to prevent attention from potential predators, people could dispose of the cans similarly. This would prevent bears and other large animals from sniffing it out.

I researched popular camping websites and the vintage look of camping supplies from the 50s and 60s. I was inspired by the typography of old National Parks branding and the imagery of classic campsite signage. I found some similar looking typefaces for my display font, as well as a nice script typeface for my captioning. I decided on the colors forest green and orange for the cans. This reminded me of not only camping, but hunting, and also of vintage cookware that would be used when camping.


There were only slight adjustments to be made for the final design. I added texture, adjusted some placement and tweaked some design elements.

And here it is:

The final product turned out really lovely on the can. I printed on textured paper to give it a handmade feel. The only problem is I probably need to go back and spray fix the design because after a few days of being in my bag, the can design started to rub off.



That’s it for the Port-A-Poop, catch you later!


Port-A-Poop: the Process, the Journey

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