Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Response: Websites

We've all worked so hard this semester to not only become more fluent in the programs we already know, but we've also spent tons of time learning new ones. As members of the techno-savvy generation, it's funny to me that we were initially so frightened of Dreamweaver and Flash. We weren't this way with programs like InDesign and Illustrator—we jumped right in. So why are these so scary? Obviously, there are infinite layers to the web. It's not really like a magazine, which has been tweaked and tweaked so much that in some instances, there are right and wrong ways to design it. With the web, there's more fluidity—flexibility. The anything goes-to-a-certain-extent attitude is intimidating. Looking at a blank page in Dreamweaver is much more daunting than a blank page in InDesign. The web makes things move and interact unlike print. It's exciting, but I still don't understand 10 percent of it. Yet, I do want to get to know it.

I find myself a little regretful of turning down the web design classes offered by my high school. I didn't want to be in web design with a bunch of geeky boys who only played computer games! Well, now I know I was wrong. I should have signed up!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

You Can't Miss

As much as I despise the Microsoft Office Suite, it's used by virtually everyone (including me *guh!). I had troubles in the past with trying to create something that can be updated in Microsoft Word and look good at the same time. It's difficult, but luckily Creative Techs 0ffers a solution. Why not just convert your InDesign file to a Word Document? Duh! And they've even created the step-by-step instructions that allows designers to still make pretty, usable projects for clients who don't have access to Adobe programs. Hooray for PDFs!

Made by Many has recently gone through it's list of stuff that's floated around the office through the month of March. I had found a couple of the items on the list around the Onlines, but thought that posting the list would be more fun. Just goes to show how many different ways people can be reached.

SlagsmÄlsklubben - Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.


Hi friends. It seems like I got loads done over break but there's still so much to be done.

I finished up the self-guided tour brochure for FATE. That was challenging because there is a lot of text and information that needs to fit into a very formatted area.

The Renovate Style designers pulled together and produced several departments and one feature to present on Wednesday for early critiques. We still need to edit a bit, but I think the style of the magazine is really coming through. It's fun being able to work together on this--we can all help out and collaborate. I think things will get more exciting as the deadline draws near. We'll be able to see more and more of the body of the magazine and be confident in how it all fits together. I'd really like to start setting up the contents with blurbs and all that, so I'll be bugging the publishers for words to start setting.

(Opening Feature spread a la the lovely Abbey Trescott)

(My department design)

(Our amazing color palette!)

I spent some time revamping my cover that was chosen for the April 2 issue of Vox. Overall I'm happy with how things went. I'm still very attached the initial idea and covers, but you've got to work around the obstacles. Experimenting with photography was challenging, but I got a lot of inspiration from book cover design as well as the work of Chris Ashworth, who I've mentioned here before. I'll add images when I have a moment!

Lets see, what else. After some seriously grueling hours (1 am on Saturday nights), Epic is finally finished. I have to say, I'm thrilled with how it turned out. I am so happy to have had this project--one I've been planning for the past year. Even when things didn't go as planned, I couldn't even get annoyed. I just thought about how rare it is for someone to be given complete creative control, and how lucky I am to work with the editors of Epic. Many times throughout the process I thought, wow, I may never get to do something like this again--completely the way I want but for a group of people. Does that make sense? Anyway, it was an amazing experience. I learned a lot, and I wish I could do it every year! Make sure to come to the release party later in April. I'll have copies for anyone who wants one! Ooh, and I'm not sure I can show it to you yet, but I'll do it anyway. Here are a few of the features in the magazine (opening spreads and splash pages). The photography section and cover is in color, which isn't shown.

Oh! And Tom's in town too! Yay. He's been art directing for friends back in Dublin who are getting ready to launch a free city magazine. It's been interesting to watch his process and see how he works with the editors. I won't get into it very much, but it's all strikingly similar to my experience with Renovate Style--the good and the bad. Maybe if he lets me, I'll put up some of his work on the magazine.

In the next week I will take some time off from the Design Center and focus on putting Renovate Style together as well as that darn mini portfolio I've got to get squared away. And there's that editing exam as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Wednesday!

From the Greyface Dartmoor Sheep!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Critique: Week 8

This past week I've been getting more work done on Epic. It's coming together nicely, and the cover photo is gorgeous. I came up with a few cover concepts for the editors to choose, and they've let me know of their final decision. Andrea Guinn, who is mentioned in the post below, did a beautiful job with the magazine this year. I'm trying to take it in another direction. Most of the magazine will be quite formatted, and it's in black and white. I'm excited to say that we have a 16-page color section for photography, which will be quite nice, and I'm working on some splash pages for stories. The trick is to get this all finished by next Monday so the editors can have a week to make changes and I can send it off to print immediately after Spring Break. In case you've made it to this point in the post, I'm sorry for boring you with all of the logistics. I really can't post what I've designed since writers and photographers are only just now finding out if their work was accepted. And so I'm just taking this opportunity to think--or type--out loud.

Here are a few things I'm piecing together so you can get a general vibe of where the book is going.

Also, check out the work of Luke Lisi. He recently graduated from KU and has helped me tremendously with Epic. He and several other designers put Kiosk together a year or two ago.

Many of my ideas have been inspired by Contemporary Graphic Design, by Charlotte and Peter Fiell. It's a beautiful, well-organized book published by Taschen (well, that's the case for all books published by Taschen). Anyway, if you've got money to burn or time to kill, I'd suggest picking up a copy.

Also, I worked on three cover redesigns for Vox this week. I'm pleased with how they turned out, although I'm still in favor the first cover topic from last week. Oh well.

Renovate Style is still moving. We're getting things in order and will have pages to send to the publishers by the end of the week. It's been difficult working with so little copy thus far, but hopefully after Spring Break that side will be ready for us to really design.

You Can't Miss

Major props Andrea Guinn, a friend I met through the Design Center who was also a Magazine Design student last year. Her work is being published in a graphic design book that explores young and upcoming designers and how they modernize older methods of design, such as serigraphy and lithography. She has two pieces that will be featured in the book, and I've already told her I'm telling everyone I know.

The book is called Naive: Modernism and Folklore in Contemporary Graphic Design, and it will be released in April.

Naive addresses the influence of designers such as the legendary Saul Bass and Alexander Girard, and how their work translates to the aesthetic of today. Just shows how history repeats itself, but that there are always new ideas to be commended.

Meanwhile, over at Made by Many, the talk of the town is the blog's quick hop across the pond for SXSW. The blog makes a disappointing post about the future of newspapers in the United States. At the festival, the New York Times made a presentation about they're "success" and future online. From the description, it sounds like the whole presentation was poorly executed and pretty grim. People left early! People left early from a conference with the New York Times!! Anyway, the speakers say that the paper product itself provides more spontaneity than the New York Times website--which is absurd. And then they go on to say that they're really good at large online ads. Well, that's just great. But ads aren't gonna help you in this recession.

Tim Malbon of Made by Many goes on to say:

"Across the industry, we’re looking at a sudden collapse rather than a managed transition, but it’s noteworthy and encouraging for us Brits that our newspapers seem to ‘get it’ much more than our US cousins. It is utterly unthinkable that the Guardian or Telegraph would make the kind of presentation we saw yesterday, and it’s clear that both are gearing up very quickly for the next surge towards becoming Web-driven products.

What about innovation? What about hiring new blood? What about taking risks?
Time is running out! Get it together you Media Newspaper Giants of America. Because the British Dream just doesn't sound as pretty as the American one.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All Dressed Up

This cover got axed too, but I thought it deserved a little explanation. It is intended to be a tribute to my very favorite designer and personal hero, Chip Kidd. Although, some people might call it a complete snake--and a bad one at that. The very fact that David Sedaris will be at MU when this issue comes out called for something endearing. The idea of bringing the topic of women working in what are traditionally considered to be men's jobs, works well against the body of a Barbie. The idea comes from Kidd's design of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

When I was designing this cover, I spent a lot of time looking through my book of Kidd's work, and reading about his process. He said the following in an interview with The Onion:

The Onion: What is your process like?

Chip Kidd:
It's extremely organic. The stock answer is that every book is different, or at least reasonably different, so the process is going to change from book to book, depending on what they are. Sometimes you hit it right away, sometimes you have to do eight different things, sometimes the publisher or the author or the agent will wear you down to the point where you want it to be over with, and what you end up with is kind of a mess. You just accept it and move on. The most tiring—and yet the most rewarding—experiences are when you have to keep redoing it again and again, but what you end up with is actually the best thing. A perfect example of that is something I just did for the new David Sedaris book [
Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim]. I gave three ideas, and those didn't cut it, and then I gave two more, and I heard nothing, and I started doing photo research for a different job. Luckily, my design gene was secreting, and I saw an image that I thought would be perfect. It was great. Those moments are worth everything. They're some of the most pleasurable aspects of life—when you see something and the scales fall from your eyes, and it's like, "There it was the whole time. It just took until now to find it."

The entire interview can be found at the A.V. Club.

If you haven't had the chance to peruse Chip Kidd's book, which is called Book One, I highly recommend you go to a bookstore, locate the book, locate a chair and read it cover to cover. He has a prolific amount of work. You may own books designed by him and you don't even know it. But the book also provides wonderful insights from Kidd as well as drafts of work, axed work and letters from happy and unhappy authors.

Kidd also happens to be a fantastic writer. The Cheese Monkeys is one of my favorites, and his second book and sequel, The Learners is great too. Both of course, are designed beautifully, but the semi-autobiographical stories he tells are poignant and relevant to what any creative, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed designer can go through when he or she decides they want to be a part of the graphic design world.

Anyway, enough of my gushing about Chip Kidd. Find out for yourself why he's so terrific. Read the book!

Oh, and Mr. Kidd, if you ever happen to read this, I'd love to work for you.


Killed Ideas is a project sponsored by Blurb that is accepting the best and brightest and winningest ideas that never got published, produced or funded. Creative professionals can submit their notes, sketches, storyboards and presentations, along with a narrative that tells the sad tale of work that got axed that could have changed the face of a company, media or industry. It sounds a great project, and completely support anything Blurb is backing. I published my children's book through Blurb. It's a company that allows anyone with an idea to pursue, market and sell it.

So, in honor of this project, I thought I'd post a few of my own killed ideas, starting with the covers that got axed today. Not that any of my designs are brilliant by any means, but I thought it might be a fun way to let good work be seen. Let me know if you'd like to add any of your projects, I'd be happy to post them with a link to your blog.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bang* Bang*

Thought I'd link you to the website of Chris Ashworth. He's responsible for the covers of Ray Gun, a 90s alternative music magazine. He has tons of inspiring work, and it's interesting to see how he's translated his print background to web (Getty Images).

Daytum Dreaming

Last week I made about a post about Daytum, a website created by Nicolas Felton that quantitatively measures any kind of data you can dream up. Since the website is in Private Beta, you have to get in line for an invitation, and this morning I got mine! Hooray! And I've been data-ing away. Now you can check out how I measure up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Response: My process

If any of you couldn't tell, I sometimes get uncomfortable when I talk about my process. I think it's something I don't spend a lot of time thinking about, and if I do, it's still not typically something I want to share with others. Still, Jan is right. Everyone is different, and it certainly is interesting to learn about how other people work. I can't say I'll be working in the my bathtub anytime soon, but I think we can pick up a lot of help and advice by listening to how others work.

I think I can tell you more about how I work when I design logos because they're usually the most challenging and time-consuming to execute well. One day, when I was working at NPR, my boss literally would not let me leave for lunch until I had talked him through my process of designing a prototype for the now deceased Bryant Park Project. I remember how strange it was for me to hear myself explain an intimate and complex thought process to someone. This was different than trying to sell a client on a brand; I was trying to understand myself and my design process. When I was finally able to "get it all out," Jacques was able to tell me how I could improve, how I could work more efficiently, how I didn't have nearly enough sketches. That was the first time I truly examined how I worked, and after I finally ate lunch, I started piecing things together differently. I think serious self re-evaluation every once in a while is good. It makes you challenge yourself when you start to get too comfortable. Which, I think, might have been what happened today.

Critique: Week 7

Is it really week 7?

It's been a fun design week. Although, I can't show you much.

Last week I started working on the design for Epic Magazine, the literary magazine I'm art directing. It's difficult to compete with last years, but I've got some ideas that will hopefully make things different. I spent Friday evening with a couple of the Epic editors going over photo submissions. There were a ton to look through, and we finally narrowed it to 16 + a cover photo. It was interesting to talk through each of the submissions. Everyone has different tastes, so it can be difficult to agree. However, we decided on an loose, underlying theme, which made decisions easier. Also, looking at the technicalities of the photography and putting that above general "prettiness" helped us a lot. I've also been working on cover concepts for the magazine. I have a few that are coming together. I wish I could show you, but they involve our pick for cover photo--and that's a surprise! Just wait until the release party, then you can all have copies.

I also spent some time redesigning the FATE brochure I worked on last week. It needed some content tweaking, and now I think it will be much more useful. Oh, and good news: We submitted our grant proposal, so we should be hearing back soon. I'm glad that part is over, but it has been a fantastic learning experience.

The design team for Renovate Style has been working on the art side of the magazine. This week I put together the page dummies and went to our first photo shoot. Talbot is writing a story on an early 20th Century Columbia home that has been renovated into a bed and breakfast. Friday afternoon was spent with our photography, Mary, looking for the best places to shoot. We have some great images, and I'm excited for Abbey to start laying out the feature. It's exciting to be able to be a part of every creative aspect of the magazine--photography, image selection, design and production. I can't wait to get the rest of the copy, so everyone can start putting together a much-needed magazine redesign.

On Tuesday, I presented my logo prototypes for the Eat for Life program at the university. I thought I'd include a few favorites and some scans of my sketchbook:

I love the logo design process. The research is a lot of fun. Flipping through dictionaries and looking at the thesaurus and finding out more about the program is a lot like journalism. And then, the visual research--looking at photography, scanning magazines and perusing blogs--is really inspiring. I like to start out in a sketchbook, but sometimes certain ideas only come when I'm working in Illustrator and can see how certain shapes fit together. There are times when there is more freedom to just sketch things out, and then there are other moments when the ease of the pen tool and apple+z is just so handy.

In the next week, I will be working on cover submissions for Vox, and getting very little sleep in order to get Epic squared away nice and early.

You Can't Miss

My interpretation of a job search.

This week, you can't miss Junior, a blog of anything budding, bushy-eyed, graduate designers would want to know about the the big, scary world of design. Although some content pertains to those living in Australia, a lot of the interviews deal with universal feelings, worries and thoughts on getting a job--from the perspective of the one applying and the one who is hiring.

I thought this entry was particularly helpful, and what is addressed is something I've been thinking a lot about. These days you need a really good answer to the question: Why do you want to work for X Company? What you really need is a plan. I've been thinking of my plans. Sometimes planning the plans involves lots of conversations with myself or, more often, conversations with an imaginary Hiring Director. What can I say to convince you that I don't just want a job, but I want this job? Simon Hakim of the Aussie-based firm The Surgery says that, yeah you're resume looks great, you're highly qualified and you're a team player. But so what?

"By the sounds of it all, you just want a job. You don’t really know why, other than you’d be good at whatever it is you are applying for. You just really want to work there or you kinda just need the money.

I won’t employ someone who doesn’t really know what they want or can offer me or my clients.

I want someone saying:

“You guys could soon be the hottest creative agency, but your work can be improved, and I’ll show you how to get there” or;

“I want to be creative director in five years time” or;

“Here are three ideas for three clients you have and this is why I think it would work and what the benefit to them would be. When can we present?”

Be proactive. Understand what you want and where you are going. Have a plan. Be creative and come up with ideas that benefit the agency or their clients. Give them a reason to employ you."


Made by Many is still obsessed, like the rest of the world, with Twitter. This week they've included a beautiful slideshow that was recently presented to a client. Part of the slideshow examines Twitter over time, and now I remember that it certainly didn't look as nice back in 2006, when I met my first Tweeters. The look-back makes me appreciate how quickly things move, develop and improve. The numbers also show that Twitter did the right thing on the technological front; usership increased by 900%! If you have the time, look through this slideshow. Plus, you should look through it anyway because it's a great example of a killer presentation. Ohh, I want to make a presentation like that!

Also check out the fantastic list of things you must see! on Made by Many. I spent an hour just looking through all of the links. You can do a deep web search for yourself and then look at how to publish your very own magazine for free! yay!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Objects of my affection

Objectified is a documentary by Gary Hustwit, the director of Helvetica. It looks like screenings are slated to begin next month. Hopefully RagTag has the opportunity to show it. The poster (shown above) was designed by Build. I wish this had been at True/False!

Check out the trailer:

A letter to my parents

Dear Mom and Dad,

I hope you're having a great day.
You know how much I love patterns, right?

Well, there's this book. It's pretty amazing. It's called the Geometric Book. There are 264 pages of unique pattern illustrations and a CD that contains all of the pattern fonts in digital format--so I can edit them and use them in my own designs. And, well, it would be pretty amazing to have in my own collection.

If you wanted to look through the book, you can visit this website:


And you know, if you wanted to order it, that would be pretty cool. Maybe we could share it?

Sarah (your loving daughter) + Endless patterns = Happy designs!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You Can't Miss

For True/False, Kristin and I went to the Missouri Theatre on Friday and saw Waltz With Bashir, a beautifully animated Israeli documentary. Bashir was conceived by the film's writer and director, Ari Folman, in his journey to piece together his memories of the 1982 Lebanon War. Straight away, the audience is viciously greeted by a pack of 26 ruthless dogs that chase, taunt and trigger Folman's memory of what happened almost three decades before in Lebanon. The use of color throughout the film is sparse and the physical movement of the characters is slow. They serve as a metaphoric fog that drifts and envelopes characters who attempt to find out what happened. The film is enthralling. Since the illustrated memories of the film are mostly memories, you sometimes forget that you're watching a documentary. I found myself thinking, this dialogue seems so real--so genuine--and quickly remembered that it is all true. Bashir shows that illustrating the inscrutable can still be achieved and understood by not only the person in search of a memory, but also those watching.

Waltz With Bashir is showing next week at the RagTag. If you have any interest in animation, Israeli/Palestine relations go see this film. If you dont, go see this film anyway.

Here's the trailer:

And also an interview with the director, Ari Folman:

Over at Made by Many, everyone is obsessed with Twitter. I guess I just don't understand. The timing seems off. Twitter was happening two and a half years ago when I was an intern in Washington, D.C. Everyone at NPR was twittering. Suddenly, in the last few weeks, there has been a Twitter boom. I don't want to fault online social networks, because I participate in many of them, but why is Twitter such a big deal only now? I kind of thought it had been happening for a while--that the boomtime was over. Evidently not. I'll just blame my key sense of noticing trends and not following them.

Critique: Week 6

It's been a fun week. The Design Center moved into its new space, sans any shelving or storage. We're keeping our inspiration--posters, magazines, books--in cardboard boxes for now. We do have big, beautiful desks and cool swively chairs...ooh and carpet tiles. We also have a hilarious new Didjlight. vertical glass lamp that !!doubles!! as a didgeridoo. If you walk by our floor-to-ceiling glass walls you'll probably notice that we've all gone native and now only speak, in the words of my friend Derek Zoolander, Ambidigital.

We also have a giant, rubber red leather chaise. Since all of us share the phobia of either lying down or sleeping in public, I'm sure it will get a lot of use. This is what we look like sitting on it.

Besides adjusting to the new environment, I designed a few logo prototypes for the MBA Association at MU. This is the one they picked. Eh, not my favorite, but I'm glad they're excited about it. It's hard to get a lot of the professional student organizations to like anything besides Trajan Pro.

I also designed a little flyer for Four Front's presentation of Geri Jewell (I've never heard of her, but I like the crinkly background!)

Over the weekend I designed a department for Vox, which isn't terribly exciting. BUT! I did get to design a brochure that I'm quite excited about. It's for the Fiber Arts Tour & Exhibits that will take place this summer in Columbia.

I used different textures to give the design more depth. After all, it is a fibers exhibit. You'll notice I used Helvetica throughout. I think the structure of the font plays well off of the unpredictability of working with fibers. For me, it's also a timeless font, and works well with the fact that works from contemporary artsists as well as ancient Peruvian textiles will be shown. I'm also happy with the way my map has turned out on the back. That was a lot of fun to create in Illustrator.

This week, I'll be putting together the style guide for Renovate Style Magazine. Also I'll be layout out the early stages of this year's Epic Magazine. I need to start brainstorming feature illustrations for it, so I can have a few ready to go. Hmm, I think that's about it. Lots to do.

Response: Organization

Art met yesterday to talk about our approach to Renovate Style. It's great to be on a team with three other extremely talented, smart and creative people. What's even more fantastic is that every time I leave a conversation with one or two or all of us, I feel like we accomplish something and that we all know where we're headed. I think the important thing for me, on this project, is to be extremely organized and on the ball with our side of the redesign. It seems like a given, but being really well-organized takes TIME! and I'm getting used to it.

On that note, organization and communication have been major themes throughout many of my design experiences this semester. Whether it's simply slapping numbered post-its on 30+ design samples for a quick critique or figuring out a way to organize hours and hours of ideas into a 10 minute Keynote pitch, my life is getting a little color-coded and tabbed. Which is probably a good thing?

I do miss the spontaneity of sunny, warm days and the feeling that it is okay if I skip a few classes. Maybe I'm coming to terms with my entry into Responsibilitydom, but I've gradually noticed how planned and listed my life has become. It's great because I can keep track of a lot of different, exciting, creative and even spontaneously driven projects, but every now and then I'd like to escape for a day or two.

Diagonsis: I think I need spring break and a certain someone to make his trek across the Atlantic.