I recently got an email from a good friend and the subject line was "More projects by my favorite designer?"In it, she asked me to design a couple of prints. One for her apartment and one for a wedding gift. Both designed by me. AwwwwwWWWW. How could I resist an email so sweet?So below is the print I designed for her apartment. She requested it read, "Life's too short to wear matching socks." (She does not like to wear matching socks.) Hope you like it!
Every Christmas, I receive a nice hand-written card from my aunt who lives in California. This year, she signed the card, "Enjoy each day." I thought it was a simple and beautiful message, and I wanted to keep it as an everyday reminder. However, I knew the card would inevitably get lost in the sea of correspondence I've been saving since high school. So, I photographed her handwriting, blew it up, and created this print. Look, Aunt Mary Pat, you're an artist!I also entered this print into the Three Cheers! Minted x West Elm's 3rd Art Challenge. So if you want to see it for sale at West Elm, click here to vote. And as always, thank you!
Happy New Year, everyone!I recently returned from eleven days in Australia. It was an amazing getaway. And honestly, it couldn't have come at a better time. A time when admittedly, I'm a little confused about life, love, and oh how the list goes on...On my trip, I met many interesting travelers. In fact, I spent a night at sea with 23 of them on the SV Whitehaven sailboat. They came from Germany, England, France, Sweden, etc. It was a great group and by the end of our journey to and from Whitehaven Beach, we all became quite good friends. And our boat started to feel like home.There, on a boat in the middle of the ocean, I felt at home. This experience, and the many new people I met (some who are traveling for years at a time), inspired me to create the print series below. Reminders that love doesn’t have to be defined by marriage or babies. And home doesn’t have to be defined by a house with four windows and a door. Love is all around us. And home is wherever we make it. Love Is All AroundTraveler's CompassI also entered these prints into Minted's Work of Art Challenge. So if you like them, click here and here to vote (voting ranges from 1-5 and ends January 21). And as always, thanks for reading!
I just hiked the Inca Trail. Destination Machu Picchu. That's four days with no computer. For a designer, that's potentially more challenging than acclimating to the 13,800 foot altitude.And with all that time in the open air, with no distractions, I was certain I'd return to work with more ideas than I knew what to do with.Turns out, I came back with absolutely nothing.Nothing... but a clear head.But to me, this was even better. I'll be the first to admit that I have trouble putting away my computer. And my work. But the rejuvenation (and sanity) I returned with from Peru was incredible. It made me realize the power of unplugging. Escaping. Just being. Sometimes our minds need to zone out in order to zone in.Below are photos of some of us zoning out on the Inca Trail. Taking it all in. Appreciating life. Something I plan to do a lot more.I'll leave you with a quote I read back in May in an article called "Don't Fall Asleep at the Wheel: Successful Entrepreneurs Have Lives."
My advice, then, is to understand that your business will not die and fall off a cliff if you take a break. It is okay to spend [time with] people you love. Don’t feel guilty about hanging out with friends. “Balance” is determined by your work style and your needs outside of work; don't fall into the trap of working 80 hours a week—whether out of compulsion or fear of failure—and ignoring life.
(No, that cliff pun was not intended. And yes, I need to listen to this advice more than anyone.)So tell me, what do you do to refresh your mind?
How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?Silly me. I thought I came up with this question at a Jimmy Buffett concert in 2011. But according to a friend (and Wikipedia), Satchel Paige said it first.Nevertheless, it is still a question I love to ask.Sure, technically speaking, you'd be the same age. But hypothetically, how old would you think you were?My answer is 26. I'm actually 29 (as of today). But you're only as old as you feel, right?So tell me, how old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?
Is it possible to train our minds to be happy the same way that we train our bodies to be fit?Designer, Stefan Sagmeister, has been on a ten-year quest to find out. In fact, he is creating a documentary called The Happy Film. The movie will showcase Sagmeister's experiments with meditation, cognitive therapy and drugs, and their effects on his happiness level."I am usually rather bored with definitions. Happiness, however, is just such a big subject that it might be worth a try to pin it down." - Stefan SagmeisterI think this is a fascinating study. So, I took a sneak peak of Sagmeister's findings at his exhibit, The Happy Show, at Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art.One of my favorite parts of the The Happy Show was the "How Happy Are You" gumball machine wall.I was glad to see that numbers 1 through 5 were still pretty full! (And who are these people taking the #10 gumball? I'd like to meet them. Eh, maybe I wouldn't.)Anyways, the Philadelphia show ended last weekend. So if you didn't catch it... you missed out. But, you still have the documentary to look forward to. Due out Winter 2013. Woo!Personally, I like to think we can do things to train our minds and alter our happiness. Before we hear Sagmeister's verdict, tell me, do you think happiness can be learned?
The 2012 Summer Olympics kicked off this weekend. Woo!It is always such an inspiring time. A time when serious hard work pays off for Olympic athletes.Their dedication, determination and will are an inspiration. And we should all take note. Especially those of us in the entitlement generation.The entitlement generation is the group of us born between (approximately) 1978 and 1997 who think we are owed certain rights. Just because. Our generation thinks life should be easy, with lots of rewards.But what happened to working hard for the things we want? I think British Gymnast Louis Smith's tattoo says it best. It reads, "What I deserve I earn." Awesome. And true. He earned his spot at the Olympics because he worked his butt off. You can't get there any other way.Tell me, how did our generation end up with this sense of entitlement? I often wonder.
I recently finished two great books. Bossypants by Tina Fey and Girl Walks into a Bar... by Rachel Dratch (You know. Debbie Downer? womp womp).Both authors touched upon the top rule of improvisation, which I think is great. SAY YES.As Tina Fey explains it:
“SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, ‘Freeze, I have a gun,’ and you say ‘That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,’ our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, ‘Freeze, I have a gun!’ and you say, ‘The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!’ then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.”
This rule resonated with me because it applies to the world of advertising as well. Concepting big ideas is a lot like improvising. It is about being open to your partner's ideas and running with them to see where they take you. And not shooting them down too quickly, because sometimes ideas that seem ridiculous at first can turn into something fantastic.Later, I realized that this actually applies to real life too. I think we can all afford to say “yes” more often. To say "yes" to the next road trip, the next night out, the next race, the next job offer, the next party, the next date... Fact is, more exciting and fantastic things are going to happen to you if you say yes. Or as Rachel Dratch put it, “No leads to dead ends, and yes leads to possibilities."I leave you with one last quote from Tina Fey that I thought was too great to not make into a poster:So tell me, when someone asks you to go out tonight, what are you going to say?
In an attempt to add more color to my life, I finally took the time to frame and hang a poster that I received one year ago. It is Milton Glaser’s iconic poster for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, 1975. It is colorful, psychodelic and was signed by Milton Glaser himself after I attended his Summer Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.For the non-designers out there, Milton Glaser is a design icon. He is best known for co-founding New York Magazine and for creating the sustainable “I Love NY” logo.Unrolling his poster one year later allowed me to look back and reflect upon my time with him with fresh eyes. Everything Mr. Glaser said throughout the week was insightful, thought-provoking and inspiring.Unfortunately, I never passed along the lessons that I learned. How selfish of me! Luckily, I have a blog now. A means to share his insight with you all.So, here they are. The Top 7 Things I learned from Milton Glaser:7. “Only work for people you like.” Enough said.6. “Design is not about appearance. It is about effectiveness.” First and foremost, design has purpose. Good design puts order and clarity above looking pretty.5. “What you think is accomplishable determines what you will accomplish.” One of our assignments (which I will keep a secret, as requested by Mr. Glaser) seemed too large to bear. However, Milton assured us that in years past, no one had ever failed. After we finished, exhausted from staying up all night, Mr. Glaser told the group, “When I told you yesterday that no one had ever failed, that may not have been true. But the reason you could do it was because I convinced you you could. I changed your perception of what you thought was possible.” A great lesson for everyone: If you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t.4. “You develop personally by stumbling into things you don’t know how to do.” If you only do things you already know how to do, you won’t grow. Profession does not encourage development.3. “Passivity doesn’t get you anywhere.” In a hypothetical conversation about where I want to be in five years, I mentioned "my Creative Director". Mr. Glaser stated, “You could be the boss. You don't have to position yourself as working for someone.” Woah. Then he said, “You have the right to aspire to a life.” It was in that moment that I realized maybe my dreams were too small. I learned to dream bigger, and to write my dreams down. Because writing them down is a commitment, and as Milton told us, “Once you commit to your future, invariably you will move towards that.”2. “Every person is either toxic or nourishing to you.” Milton Glaser first heard this theory from Fritz Perls, a gestalt therapist. Milton Glaser recommended testing this theory by spending an hour with someone. Then, by deciding if you are more or less energized. If you are tired or less energized, that person is toxic to you. Don’t waste your time with toxic people. Spend time with people who nourish and invigorate your life.And my favorite of them all:1. “As soon as you pay attention to anything, it becomes astonishing.” This world is full of incredible things. Pay attention to them. Enjoy them. Don’t be unconscious. We live in the most amazing universe possible.As you can see, Milton Glaser is an incredibly insightful man. I feel lucky to have been in his presence.At the end of the program, he stated, “I hope this class makes you feel more powerful”. It did.I hope this blog post can do something similar for you.If this post has intrigued you, I highly recommend checking out the documentary, “Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight”So tell me, which lesson is your favorite?
If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of Mad Men yet, you might not want to read any further.But if you have, you know that Peggy put in her notice at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.Go Peggy! It was certainly her time.Don, who used to teach Peggy so much, has been slacking. And the opportunities for Peggy at SCDP have been lacking.Taking matters into her own hands and leaving the comfort of SCDP, where her career began many years ago, shows bravery. Starting a new job is never easy.Having worked at 4 different agencies in that last 7 years, I know all too well that starting a new job is nerve-racking. In fact, I have walked home teary-eyed many times during the first few weeks of each new job. The new personalities you have to learn to relate to and the new clients you have to get a handle on can be incredibly overwhelming.But there comes a time when you have learned all you can from the people you work with. That is when it is time to surround yourself with new brilliant people to learn from.Looking back, I can pinpoint specific things I learned at every agency, and specific lessons I learned from every person. I am confident that I am more knowledgeable now than I would be had I stayed at the same agency for the past 7 years.And at my current agency, I truly believe that I am still learning something new every day, and am constantly being challenged by my bosses and coworkers. That is how I know I am in the right place at this time.In summary, I believe it is time to move on when you feel like your career is at a standstill. When you aren’t challenged anymore. Or maybe it is when you aren’t even looking, but you receive a job offer that seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up. In which case, I suggest taking the chance. As Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”Tell me, do you think Peggy made the right decision?
This post references the May 13th episode of Mad Men. Yup, last week’s episode. I’m guessing that’s a major no-no in the world of blogging.But considering I’m still new to this, I’m hoping you will forgive me just this once. And in the future, I’ll start watching TV shows when they’re actually on.That said, this episode of Mad Men was called “Dark Shadows”. It focused largely on the unhappiness of the characters.But then, it ended with a surprisingly upbeat song. It was called, “Sweepin’ the Clouds Away” by Maurice Chevalier. The song captured my attention when I heard the line, “If you want happiness, just help yourself to some”. I couldn’t agree more with this message.We are all in control of our own happiness. I think we often forget this. So if you’re feeling down, think about what might make you happy. It could be something as small as going out for a beer. Or as big as finding a new job. Whatever it is, go help yourself to it!Or at least start by listening to the song below. It might inspire you.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfNV9YLZrTYSo tell me, did this song invigorate you, too?
You can’t be great at everything.It’s true.Growing up, I played the cello, the clarinet and the piano. I played soccer, tennis and softball. I went to Space Camp and acting camp.I will openly admit that I wasn’t great at any of these things. I was good at some of them, but never great.I've always thought that was sad. Then recently, Jay-Z designed a logo for his NBA team, the Brooklyn Nets. Yup, Jay-Z. Rapper, songwriter, record producer Jay-Z. He designed a logo. A brand identity in fact:Thanks to UnderConsideration for the logo imageryAnd not surprisingly, it’s not good. To me, it seems half-assed. There are a lot of inconsistencies in the typography. From super-dense tracking, to super-loose tracking, to straight-up distorted type.So, ya see? It's okay! Even Jay-Z isn’t great at some things.Tell me, don't you feel better about yourself?