Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Layers Layers Layers

A few shots of Paul Smith's Fall 2009 Collection from London Fashion Week.

If I could have one collection in my closet, it would probably be his. There's so much variety, but everything is completely wearable. He makes me want to wear separates for the rest of my life. Last year's show focused more on patterns. It seems like this year's a little more toned down, but the colors work beautifully. The silhouettes are easy and comfortable but completely tailored.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Response: The Crit

I finished my now favorite book in the entire universe, Seven Days in the Art World. In it, the author, Sarah Thornton, talks about a visit she paid to CalArts. She spent time with artist and professor Michael Asher in his notorious crit class. There, chosen graduate students throughout the year bring in their work to be critiqued. Thornton made it out to be the most exhausting and draining event in the world. It did, after all go from 10 am to 1 am.

Today's Advanced Design two hour critique was much quicker (obviously), but I wish we had gotten to spend more time with the pieces. Okay, maybe not four hours, but more than five minutes. I know that many employers won't be spending more than five minutes with some of our work. Still, it's important to get good, thorough evaluations in the beginning. You want to truly understand what people are showing and why, and then you want to be able to tell the person why they should or should not show that work. Does this make sense? It makes sense in my head. Also, I think a lot of evaluations get lost if they're simply scrawled on paper. Plus, the meaning isn't the same as saying it. When it comes to deciding what stays and what goes, it seems like we would want those critiquing to be as clear as possible and not influenced by the 10 minutes we have to "rate" a portfolio.

Critique: Week 6

As usual, it's been a pretty busy week. I'm sure you all can relate. The majority of my weekend was spent designing and preparing for the prototype presentations that happened earlier this week. I've learned a lot about redesigning a magazine, but I've also learned a lot about preparing for a presentation like I gave on Monday. I spent some time on the phone with my dad, Mike, a sports architect who's given hundreds, if not thousands, of presentations to current and potential clients. He gave me a lot of helpful advice, and told me not to bribe my audience with cookies. I really wanted to bring you cupcakes. Too bad! Hehe.

Maybe I thrive on having more work than I can possibly imagine, but I've loved planning out this prototype--from the actual design, to the Keynote presentation, to the handouts, it's been a lot of fun putting something like this together. Especially something that I believe in. I thought I'd share a few of my designs and ideas with you.

There were so many great ideas in the presentations. I think we all probably would give that editor (you know who I'm talking about) a run for his money!

I've been working on a few other projects this week. Of course, the grant-writing I've been telling you about: Please check out for more information on a fantastic fiber arts event this spring! Also, there is talk of a possible workshop with Orr Street Studios that I'm quite excited about. Finally, I'm so excited to move into the Design Center's new space. It's gorgeous. We have natural light! NATURAL LIGHT! And tons of space and really cool chairs and fun carpet tiles and...and...and...ah!

In the next week I'll be picking up more jobs at the Design Center, working on a splash page for my website that I'm feeling pretty good about, and creating the template for my mini-portfolio, which, I have to say, will knock the socks off your serifs.

You Can't Miss

I am a huge fan of the work of Nicolas Felton. Earlier in the semester I posted images of his Annual Report, which serves as a quantitative look into his life over the past year.

Besides the fact that he's managed to continue and perfect such a daunting project year after year, Felton is also working on some exciting stuff that allows people, who would never otherwise think about how many peppermint oreos are eaten in one year, to chart their own personal journeys through numbers. Felton was recently interviewed about how his work has affected his life, and how he hopes it will change the lives of others.

He describes Daytum, the website he's started, as a glorified spreadsheet. Right now it's on an invite-only basis, but Daytum allows users to input whatever sort of data you could imagine (types of cheese eaten, for example) and get a visual representation of that data in return. Felton's graphic style utilitarian and purposeful. The website has snapshots of other user data that inspires quantitative creativity.

And since the website is private, it loses that public-what am I doing now-Twitteresque appeal. Okay, you can subscribe to other people's RSS feeds, but Felton's idea seems to have ties to the personal and intimate.

Check out more of his work at his personal and studio websites.

And on that same, follow-uppy, personal logging note, Elin Sjursen at Made by Many has, for the past week, made some excellent and compelling posts about the infamous Twitter. I told you last week that I'm not a member of the Twitter community, nor do I understand the reasons why someone would even think of twittering. However, Elin does a fantastic job showing how the media futhers the stereotypes forced on members of these online community and debunking the myths in order to provide us with some insight. She says online communities are not an easy thing to navigate. They are complex entities in their own right and many people use Twitter for a variety of reasons. In other words, they aren't just anti-social nitwits. Perhaps, they're more social than both you and me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oh, Hi! (The completely un-design related post)

This is my ridiculously cute pup named Kodi. But, I call her Kodi The Snowface Puppy because she loves the snow and loves to put her face in the snow when she pounces on things. She also talks. She can say I love you. Ask me, and I'll show you the video on my cell phone.

Anyway, as if that thought isn't bizarre enough for you, I like thinking about whoever lives in the apartment below mine. I don't know who it is, which makes it fun. I'm almost positive it's a girl. She's currently singing at the top of her lungs. It sounds Whitney Houston-esque. Oooh, she just hit a high note. Yesterday she was watching 30 Rock. Hmm, I dropped a whole load of books on the floor this morning. Hope they didn't wake her up!

The pledge of typography

Or Curlz (I never used it anyway)
Or Rosewood
And for the most part, Arial, at least in print.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In the bewitching hour

Clean bedroom + Clean sitting room + Clean studio + Clean bathroom + Clean kitchen = Happy Sarah

I love having a neat apartment at night when the light's all lampy-yellowy-pretty. Thought I'd share a few shots with you.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Daydreamy Mornings

I think lately I've been saying many things are completely inspired, but I take it all back. This! is inspired. Seeing successful stop motion and hearing lovely music makes me remember all of the things that are important to me. It's not about creating something on the computer; it's about creating something meaningful. And using your hands. And your head. And your heart.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


These ads are fantastic! Maybe it's just because they're showing us the best ones, but ads from long ago seem so much better than ones I've seen lately. Oh, and I love it when animals are used.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Critique: Week 4

It is Sunday evening (I write my blog every Sunday evening) and I am officially fried. I'm not sure if anymore design could be squeezed from my brain, and I'm really not sure about words either..but here goes nothing.

This week we received our first design assignment from the publishing class. We were asked to design three mini-prototypes of our magazine, complete with covers, logos and department pages. In order to do really productive, exhaustive design work, I always camp-out at the Design Center. And camp-out is what I did for all of my Saturday. At first, I dreaded the assignment, but after a few sketches it felt like certain sparks ignited, and eight hours went by relatively quickly--especially for a Valentine's Day when my valentine was 4,000 miles away. I'm happy with what I developed. Each magazine has a completely different look and feel. I drew inspiration from my handy SPD Annual, magazines such as my go-to Metropolis, and the Hoefler & Frere-Jones type collections. I'm excited to continue perfecting my prototype and adding more for our presentations next week. Here are a couple of department ideas. Same story and same photo, different layout.

Additionally, I've been working on the flyer for a party being given by several campus groups to bring about awareness and advocacy on stopping hunger and poverty. I'm really happy with where the design is going. I wanted to make the imagery reminiscent of blackout curtains from the 40s to show how hunger is being "blacked out." Additionally, the yellow type can be seen as the twinkling lights from behind the curtains, but it also exudes a powerful "call to action" voice. The font itself is functional, but the curves and corners of the type exhibit a certain elegance that is needed for any kind of cocktail party/semi-formal.

Finally, I've been having tons of fun executing my ideas for the March 5 issue of Vox. I've been looking more towards book cover design for this issue, and devouring the work of Chip Kidd. I own his book, Chip Kidd: Book One, Work: 1986–2006, which I have recently been revisiting. It's on my nightstand now, perhaps so I can acquire a bit of his genius through osmosis? Oh, and then there's Chris Ware. I just bought Acme Novelty 19 today, and have been engrossed. His characters and writing are so, i don't know, human but funny and sweet and everything else. Here's a short he did for This American Life:

In the next week I'll be finishing up some preliminary cover designs for Vox, attempting to write grant proposals, editing my magazine prototypes and hashing out some ideas for this year's Epic Magazine, which I'm art directing and designing. Ack! Too much to do. Oh yeah, and about that website.

Liverpool Station Boogie

Response: Musings on a magazine redesign*

Initially, I wanted to respond to the way I felt when I realized how much stuff I have to do for this class in the next week or so. Now that I've had time to write things down in a planner, freak out and eat several Peppermint Oreo Cookies, I feel slightly better about the situation.

Ooh, and this is completely unrelated, but I would totally consider reading Harry Potter books if they looked like this:

So instead, I will entertain you with my thoughts on what this week's magazine re-design evaluation. I found out that I am really good at coming up with ideas when put on the spot. And while, I don't really like walking into a computer when it's sunny outside and leaving in pitch black, I had a lot of fun with my redesign, and especially looking through stock photography. I've been thinking a lot about what kind of a person would read this magazine. What does a home renovator look like? More and more, I keep leaning towards the idea that these people are younger than the age-group the publication is currently targeting. We are the imaginative, try-anything-once, Readymade-reader-do-it-yourself generation. So, don't 25-34-year-olds deserve a magazine that considers them? I live in a really old apartment. The building is 200 years old, and it has a fascinating history. My walls are literally crumbling and the window frame is actually falling off of the building structure, but I can't get away from the fact that this place--this old place--resonates with history and deserves more. I see potential.

I think the readers of this magazine see potential too. They're not quite sure though, how to knock down the walls. I want to help them figure that out.

*This magazine will not be named for confidentiality purposes.

You Can't Miss

This week, Made by Many was twittering away. After all, it was Twestival time, and the whole world (including Columbia) took part to raise money for communities to have safe drinking water. I'm not a was awkward, however I did love Elin Sjursen's post for aspiring novelists. Writing 140 words each day for a year might make someone a pretty good book. I'm actually surprised the book-o-sphere hasn't picked up on it (or maybe they have) and turned Twitter to the printer. Hehe. See what I did there?

Additionally, you can't miss AIGA's annual salary survey. Check out what designers, art directors and creative directors report they make around the country. It's given me a better idea about what to expect. Although, things might be a little skewed now that the world is in financial turmoil. To cheer yourself up, visit AIGA's archives for loads of inspiration. The organization has been around since 1924. Get your student membership (for cheap!) while you still can. I loved this illustration by Milton Glaser. It's a total shout-out to my personal favorite, Saul Steinberg.



Chemistry: Update

Hooray! My flash movie is up without grainy-ness. Scroll over the little beakers for a school lesson.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Patterns galore!

If you know me at all, you know that I either wear lots of black or lots of patterns. I happen to love both, but I think I'm partial to patterns. Nothing takes the gloom out of winter like bright plaids and florals. Ooh, or maybe some cool, geometric shapes. And nothing leaves me feeling more inspired than Marimekko.

The pattern and textile design at this company is phenomenal. And if you haven't heard the name, you've definitely seen some of its design work via Anthropologie furniture.*

Anyway, the designers that make up the company stick to a design philosophy you can believe in:

"The new fabric patterns originate from the creative ideas of the designer and each new fabric is primarily the result of its designer’s creative effort. The work, however, is not complete until the designer and the various professionals of the production process have jointly tested how the ideas function. The final appearance and spirit of the fabric emerge through co-operation with those making the stencils, working in the colour laboratory and running the printing machines. At Marimekko, all who participate in the production process are among the best in their own fields. "

Every pattern sample is a seasonal breath of fresh air.

*Yes, you did see it last spring at H&M, but the cheap fabrics and bad cuts made it a failed attempt at a tribute.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Midnight Snack

A friend of mine, who knows about my passion for cooking and all things food-related, directed me to this great blog:

I think Kelly, the author of the blog, must be my kindred spirit. During the day she's a graphic designer, but in her off time she makes and blogs! She has fantastic recipes from places she's traveled, gorgeous photographs, and she includes compelling videos found a la New York Times. Here's one on what people in New York make for quick dinners. Ooh, and Kelly has now inspired me to get a Meyer Lemon Tree. It would look so cute by my window!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Critique: Week 3

I was visiting my parents in Kansas City over the weekend, and a few things dawned on me:

I would be 22 on February 10.
I am, most likely, lactose intolerant.
I have a lot of design work to sift through in the next few weeks.

I’m sketching out ideas for a website, and getting all of my files in order (because then at least the uploading process will be quick and painless). I really enjoyed going through my work. It’s amazing how style and ability develop so quickly when you’re practicing. It was also hilarious to go through some work from a few years ago. Boy, I sure did like drop shadows! Here are the very first features I ever designed:

Opening feature for Dive Training Magazine, Summer 2006

Opening feature for Dive Training Magazine, Summer 2006

Opening feature for Restaurant Startup & Growth, Summer 2006

Now that I’m a little more tactful with my use Photoshop effects (I hope!), It’s exciting to be able to put all of my work (at least the stuff that deserves to be shown) in one place. Even more, I’m excited to make this Place a virtual version of myself. After all, it’s not only about the work on the website, but also the website itself.

Fun little flyer for IPC. Student Design Center, 2008

Flyer for EMU, MU's English Club. 2008

Additionally, I got a little tired of designing on a computer screen, so this weekend I took some time off from fluorescent lighting to make a few valentines and take some photos.


Hands of my grandparents

It’s nice to get away from the screen and actually create something with my hands. I tend to associate the computer with doing design work for other people, which has been happening a lot lately. So, it was wonderful to step away for a while, enjoy the beautiful weather and do something else.

Also, my best friend, Amber is leaving for the Peace Corps on Thursday. She'll be in Uganda for the next two and a half years. I was so lucky to spent time with her this weekend...and be her teammate at pool!

This week I will begin designing my website, and also figuring out how to write grants for an upcoming project. I’ve spoken to several grant writers who have mentioned the necessity of visual representation in grant applications. I’m interested to see how creative I can get with these. I’ll be working on some ideas for event posters at the Design Center as we prepare to move house. Additionally, I’ll be designing my first department spread for Vox this weekend, and also coming up with a few cover concepts for next week. Oh, and I’ll probably make a few valentines!

You Can't Miss

Enjoy the pdf of this textyfuntime book a la Massimo Vignelli (click image and download).

In it, he talks about his three basic principles of design, as well as the discipline designers must possess and our responsibility towards honest, meaningful design. It all goes back to meaning, which I’m sure Jan is happy to hear. Content-driven design is here to stay.

Meanwhile, on Made by Many, I thought Alex MacCaw’s post about user-generated content was highly relevant in light of our recent visit to Meredith and the recent launch of MacCaw divides the content into several different groups, and explains that there are levels of user-generated content. They can be as simple as a thread of postings after a news article or as complex as multiple threads and content-flagging.


I found this image via Quipsologies. Although, we watched Helvetica last Tuesday, I thought an actual magazine ad warranted a post. It’s funny that New York Times Magazine did a similar spread. Ooh, but you can see that in class!

Helvetica wasn’t only the face behind a typographic revolution but also a way of rethinking it all.

Speaking of the New York Times Magazine, I’ve had a great time preparing for the presentation on Tuesday. It was so fun to sit all the way up in 4 East of Ellis Library and sift through all of the old magazines. I checked out a month of bound editions and brought it home for the weekend to do some heavy-duty scanning. After an early birthday dinner with my family, we had a fantastic time rifling through all of the ads and stories. Even though December 31, 1969 was the cutoff date for our project, I stayed close to the end of the 1960s. It was such an interesting time. The Vietnam War, the influence of Pop Art and the space race were all addressed within the pages of the magazine, and it’s fascinating to see how editorial visually coped with the dynamism of the age.

Also, I’m reading an incredible book called Seven Days in the Art World, by Sarah Thornton.

I want to be this woman. She spent five years compiling more than 250 interviews with people from all over the art world. Curators, art dealers, historians, critics and the artists themselves all shape this piece into seven major narratives. Each one addresses a different aspect of the art world on a different day. Thornton takes us to the auction houses of New York. Then to the Tate Britain for the Turner Prize. Later on we visit Takashi Murakami’s studios in Japan. All of the book is a whirlwind tour through a world that loves its exclusivity. I wonder if she needs an assistant….


It's February 10, and you know what that means.
I'm another year older!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Obey the Law

I found this rather amusing. The man behind both Andre and Obama's posse has been arrested. Meanwhile his already iconic poster for the Obama campaign is on its way to the National Gallery's permanent collection. Looks like Shepard Fairey might need a little help...or hope of his own.

Chemistry Lesson

Well this is my first attempt at uploading a flash movie into blogger. It didn't work very well. All stretched and pixelated. I will be investigating this. Above is a screenshot of what I hope it will look like. But, you make sure your volume's up.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Girls

Most likely you love this song if you've heard it before. If you've not had the privilege of listening, watch the video and turn up your speakers.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


The week isn’t finished and I’m already exhausted. It’s felt excessively demanding. My final layout for the January 29 feature on the economy was printed on Thursday. When the morning Vox finally appeared on stands rolled around, I had completely forgotten. Luckily, I managed to pick up a few copies for my portfolio:

I’ve been engrossed with the large and intimidating task to design the feature for the February 5 issue of Vox. It’s essentially a 9-page, glorified calendar of events for the next four months. I’ve been working on the spread with another designer, Philip. Originally we thought we had a good idea, but after critiques last Thursday, we were sent back to the drawing board. We spent nearly 24 hours in the Vox office this weekend designing. We’re pooped. I think my eyes might fall out of my head if I look at a computer screen much longer tonight, but at least we have a smart, snarky (dare we say Voxy?) concept and design. Here is a before and after of the splash page:



Here is the first opening spread of Spring Reminders:

Also, I thought I’d show you my cover concept for Spring Preview. While I would have liked to work on it more, the feature is the big priority right now.

And in other cover news, here is a different version of last week's Indie Bands cover for the competition. I'm feel okay about. I think I need some more time to hash out exactly how I want it to look:

Finally, I hope you’ve had a look at a few of the photos I’ve taken this week. I spent a lot of time wandering my apartment, looking for things I might have passed by on any ordinary day.

This next week will be intense. I didn’t get into the Design Center nearly enough last week, so I’ll be making up hours now. Additionally, it’s time to start shooting more pieces for my portfolio, so I’ll be busting out the SLR and the lightbox. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to present my mini portfolio, and have been using Fully Booked as a reference guide. I think I’ll start researching papers and materials to figure out how to present my original work in an even more creative and bespoke way.


Visiting Meredith Corporation in Des Moines was quite an experience. I don’t have much to say about the 9-hour return trip, but the actual magazine tour was fun and informative. The physical structure is quite stunning. The original brick building still stands and is now connected to a more modern office. Glass skywalks take you across the campus and provide you with sweeping views of the snowy white city. The art collection is massive, and so is the amazing photo studio!

I enjoyed sitting in on the cover critique session, especially since we had done the same on Thursday. There is so much thought that goes into putting a room on a cover. It was fascinating to learn about the process of choosing the right cover image as well as how important type is. The editors toiled over whether the right phrase was “potting station” or “gardening station.” Was the vase too tall? How does the page flow? Every time we were asked to give our two cents I felt like the editors and art director were really listening to what we had to say.

I’ll be working in the publishing group for Renovation Style. While we had a productive meeting, I came out with the realization that the editors of the magazine are happy with how it looks. They even said that they like the magazine the way it is and that they’re not having trouble selling ads. I found myself wondering why we’re doing a redesign. New ideas are always important, so I’m hoping to come to the table with many—some close to what they have now and others that are in far left field.

You Can't Miss This

I saw this music video by the Soft Lightes in the midst of choosing my word/logo for our photography project:

Perfect, right? Kris Moyes directed it . I’ve always found it annoying when music videos literally spell things out, but this is executed so well and creatively that it’s inspiring and fresh. I think the movement of the words helps a lot. If each one were static, the video would be quite stale, but the transitions flow with the music. It’s as if the lyrics and melodies are actually listening to each other.

While we’re on the theme of music videos, I wanted to share this one. It came out over the summer when Radiohead commissioned any interested person to remix “Nude” from their album, In Rainbows. Most people were tripped up by the 6/8 meter in the song, which makes remixing tricky. Many switched the meter to a pretty square, very un-Radiohead 4/4.
Except for this guy, a student who recently graduated from design school in the UK:

Big Ideas (don't get any) from James Houston on Vimeo.

What an incredible compilation of office equipment and sounds! And the look of the video is so beautifully bland. Ahh, I love this.

I’ve discovered that the people of Made by Many have a terrific sense of humor. The website that explores how to be a better website has created

To address the explosion of Twitter with bathroom humor, which is quite clever, since Twitter should have never happened anyway. Who can be that attached to the internet? I’m glad that these guys are asking the same question.