I've always been proud to be a runner. And a designer. Especially recently.Runners and designers have really stepped up in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. For example, running clubs all across the country gathered for a jog on April 17th to show their support, calling it the Run For Boston. And this past weekend, Philadelphia held its 34th annual Broad Street 10-mile Run where participants showed their love for Boston by running in red socks. Both events were a beautiful thing to be a part of and a nice reminder that if you look around, there really is a lot of love and support in this world.As for designers, many have created awesome logos and apparel so that we can all (quite literally) show Boston our support. I wore my "B Strong" t-shirt (below) for the first time yesterday and got dozens of nice comments. These heartwarming and reassuring designs are a nice way to remind us all to keep Boston's victims in our thoughts.To donate to the recovery of fellow runner/designer, Christian, who was injured in the Boston explosions, and to learn about his progress, visit his funding page. Let's support one of our very own.
When I think back on my childhood toys, all I picture are art supplies. Coloring books, crayons, easels, water colors and even oil pastels. So it's rather ironic that I didn't take any formal art classes in high school. This was because my mom thought it would be more practical for me to focus on things like math, English, Latin, and more SAT prep courses than I can count. I'll probably never let her live it down. (Right, mom?)Even still, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the arts. So when I went to college, I majored in design. In four quick years, the Visual Communications program at the University of Delaware taught me everything I needed to know to make a career out of my passion. So naturally, a few weeks ago, when my professor asked me to guest lecture for his senior ad class, I agreed without hesitation. It was the least I could do for all that they taught me.Going back to the classroom was seriously nostalgic. And seeing the second-semeseter seniors preparing to graduate was exciting. I remember being in their shoes all too well.After I gave the students the low-down on my role in advertising and answered any questions they had, my writing partner and I assigned a project that we'll critique in a few weeks. It calls for some serious creativity and I can't wait to see what they come up with! I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. But in the meantime, let's take a walk down Art School Memory Lane with a few photos from my day on campus.
As I mentioned last week, I recently returned from an amazing trip to Peru.My favorite part of the trip was dusting off my Spanish. It has always been a love of mine, so practicing it in real-life situations was such a treat. And in only nine days, my Spanish improved significantly.And that got me thinking. Design is very much a language too, isn't it? It is a way of communicating information, and just like any spoken language, the best way to improve upon it is to practice it.We could study design in a classroom for years. We could know every designer, color and typeface out there. But it's the physical act of designing that is going to make us good. So take on real-life projects. Solve real-life problems. Practice design like a language. Speak it often.Do you think design is a language?
While I was planning my Roaring Twenties party last month, I thought it might be a good idea to read The Great Gatsby. (Yes, it's true. I've never read The Great Gatsby.)In my online search for the novel, I happened upon a stunning F. Scott Fitzgerald Classics set by Penguin's premier cover designer, Coralie Bickford-Smith. Each book is designed with distinct art deco patterns on foil jackets.Of course, I fell in love and unnecessarily bought the entire series (The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, The Last Tycoon, Tales of the Jazz Age, Tender is the Night, This Side of Paradise and Flappers and Philosophers: The Collected Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald)!No buyer's remorse here. They look absolutely gorgeous on my book shelf.The only problem? They're too pretty to read! (Yes, it's true. I've still never read The Great Gatsby.)Tell me, have you purchased this book set? How does it look? Show us pics!
Etsy is an e-commerce site for hand-made items. A virtual craft fair, if you will. And not too long ago, I opened my own storefront. I sell wedding and shower invitations, as well as save the dates. At the moment, options are limited, but there is much more to come.One of my most popular items is this Love Story save the date bookmark.I love it because it is memorable and unique. But most importantly, it is useful. And it is available for purchase here at $3 each.And yes, of course there is a matching Love Story wedding invitation suite. It will be featured on the blog later this week.Tell me, what's your favorite Etsy shop that we must check out?
I celebrated the Fourth of July holiday at the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. On my drive back to Philadelphia, as I was passing through Moravia, this street sign caught my eye, baffled my mind and made me laugh. Can you guess why?That's right. Why is it so damn complex?!One of my top rules of design is, give the audience a little credit! People are actually pretty smart. If you put the symbol of a bus on a street sign, people will understand that there is a bus stop ahead. Why the need for so many added colors and symbols? If anything, these added complexities take my eye off the road for longer than necessary.I'm sure Einstein wasn't talking about graphic design when he said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." But it certainly applies. Design simple.So tell me, have you seen anything lately that is overdesigned? Do share!
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?
We are in it now! The prime of wedding season, that is. And I have designed about a dozen wedding invitations. In doing so, I was recently asked, "When you design these, do you get upset that you're not getting married?"The answer came rather quickly.... Nope!And it's true.Fact is, I haven't found what I want yet. Therefore, I will wait. It's cool!Then later, while writing my blog post "Resolution: Color", I came across the website for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. While browsing the site, I fell madly in love with one mural in particular. It read, "For what I want, I can wait."My thoughts exactly. I had to check it out.So this past weekend, I drove to West Philadelphia. And as I neared the corner of 48th and Market, the mural came into site. Though it sounds sappy, the biggest smile appeared on my face. It was gorgeous! I love the bright blue color against the bright blue sky, the simplicity and the strong message.The mural was designed by Stephen Powers. It is actually part of a 50 mural series entitled "Love Letter". The series adds amazing color and energy to West Philly. If you don't live in the area, you can see some examples at muralarts.org. And if you do live in the area, apparently there is a "Love Letter" train tour every Saturday and Sunday. Another thing to put on the "to do" list, for sure!So tell me, what is the big hurry?
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?
How did excessive penises become a bachelorette party phenomenon? Who decided straws, necklaces, cakes and confetti shaped as penises was a good idea? I'd like to know.Because last weekend, I attended the most amazing bachelorette party I’ve ever been to. And guess what? No penises. It was a breath of fresh air.Props to the Maid of Honor for designing the perfect day. First, we took a limo from Manhattan to Long Island, where we tasted wine at Duck Walk, Pugliese and Vineyard 48. The setting was picture perfect.My favorite wine of the day was the Southampton White at Duck Walk. It was a rich, dry wine, made from Southampton-grown Pinot Gris and blended with Chardonnay. It was fruity, smooth and refreshing.After wine tasting, we took the limo, overflowing with champagne and fudge, back to Hotel on Rivington on the Lower East Side. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. Especially if you can pull a few strings (or completely luck out like we did) and get the Owner’s Suite. We’re talking all-white linens, secret passageways, corner all-glass master bathroom (pretty sure I bared all to the City of New York when I showered on Sunday morning) and best of all, a side-length balcony.That there is the beautiful bride on our amazing balcony overlooking the cityAfter we basked in the glory of our celeb treatment, we went downstairs to CO-OP Food & Drink. The mix of American food and sushi was delightful. And equally as important, so was the design. It was colorful and modern, with a touch of grit.CO-OP Food & Drink. Designed by DeVinn Bruce, featuring photography of New York City icons by EJ CAMP.Amazing day, right?So tell me, do you prefer bachelorette parties without the penis paraphernalia? Or is it just me?
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?
What better way to kick off “Resolution Color” than with a trip to Rincón? Rincón is on the Northwestern coast of Puerto Rico and the colors there are brilliant. Check ‘em out:Right: Casa Isleña Inn. This is where I stayed for five nights. Their Tapas Bar is amazing and their Sunday brunch is the talk of the town. The staff was incredibly kind and helpful. I highly recommend this inn if you plan to visit Rincón.The Pools Beach Restaurant and Bar. Here, I enjoyed some amazing sushi, as well as fine conversation with the writer behind papayathief.com. You should check him out!Rincón has lots of surfing beaches to choose from, including Domes, Maria's and Tres Palmas. The surf instructors are patient and fun. They encouraged me to "Think nothing and be confident." Those two things are pretty difficult your first time on a surfboard, but click after a dozen face plants.And yes, that’s me on the right, wearing hot pink for the first time since I danced to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” in my elementary school talent show. Resolution color!Tell me, what other colorful places should I be sure to see?
This week, I received a wedding invitation in the mail that looked quite familiar.It was the wedding invitation suite that I’ve been working on for months with my soon-to-be-cousin-in-law, Maria.Maria and I began discussing the project back in January. She requested “a classic, traditional look...”I panicked.Traditional isn’t really my thing.But then she added, “...with some fun, personal touches”.Thank goodness.To me, the most important thing in wedding invitation design is to capture the personality of the couple. I never want to design something that looks like it was purchased at the card store down the street. Then what would be the point of hiring me? Am I right?The design that Joe and Maria chose focuses on their wedding venue, Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. Canisius College is also where they met many years ago, and will always be a special place to them.Thank you to Michael Smith (www.mssgraphics.com) for granting me the rights to his ink drawing, "Christ The King Chapel at Canisius College"Tell me, what do you think is most important when it comes to wedding invitation design?
I moved to Philadelphia for a job opportunity 9 months ago today. Prior to my move, I was living in Boston. My dream city. Or so I thought. I was sure I’d live there forever.My decision to leave was a tough one. But I must say, I think it was the right one. Philly’s got flavor! Flavor, that to be honest, I don’t think Boston had. For example, it has thousands of vibrant murals. Literally. I see at least twenty on my morning jog alone. It’s got funky sculptures, plenty of yarn bombing (or as I prefer to call it, Grandma Graffiti), vibrant houses and as expected, lots of interesting people.This new city has inspired me creatively in many ways. Today, I'll tell you one.Philadelphia, you have inspired me to add more color to my life.If you know me, you know that I wear a lot of black. And by a lot of black, I mean only black. I’m not sure why.It might be because black is always in style. Or because it’s slimming. And matches everything. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative in advertising. Or because doesn't get dirty (most probable).But that phase of my life (28 years) is over! So thanks for the inspiration, Philly. (And new friends who have not been afraid to call me out -- “How many black tops do you own?!”, “What are you going to wear tonight? Black?”, “You wish you checked the weather? Why, what would you have worn instead? Black?”)So let’s get colorful!Tell me, where should I go shopping first?
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?
If you’re in the creative field, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of all-nighters. Creativity takes time. And in that time, one can experience a slew of emotions.Below, check out the Ten Stages of an All-Nighter as I see them:My apologies for some crude language, but my goal was to depict all-nighters as accurately as possible. Thank you Mark Garman and Amanda Abrams for your constructive critique of this infographic and for making countless all-nighters more enjoyable.So tell me, what stages did I miss? I know you have some good ones.