road trips

Every once in a while, I need to Google stuff just to get my brain to switch modes. I decided I totally need to document these random searches for my own benefit. And everyone likes pictures. 

my favorite piece of writing

Warning, explicit (but brilliant):

I was updating my site today, and I knew I wanted to use this Charles Bukowski quote. And it got me thinking about one of my favorite things:

The History Of One Tough Motherf***er

he came to the door one night wet thin beaten and
a white cross-eyed tailless cat
I took him in and fed him and he stayed
grew to trust me until a friend drove up the driveway
and ran him over
I took what was left to a vet who said,"not much
chance…give him these pills…his backbone
is crushed, but is was crushed before and somehow
mended, if he lives he'll never walk, look at
these x-rays, he's been shot, look here, the pellets
are still there…also, he once had a tail, somebody
cut it off…" 
I took the cat back, it was a hot summer, one of the
hottest in decades, I put him on the bathroom
floor, gave him water and pills, he wouldn't eat, he
wouldn't touch the water, I dipped my finger into it
and wet his mouth and I talked to him, I didn't go any-
where, I put in a lot of bathroom time and talked to
him and gently touched him and he looked back at
me with those pale blue crossed eyes and as the days went
by he made his first move
dragging himself forward by his front legs
(the rear ones wouldn't work)
he made it to the litter box
crawled over and in,
it was like the trumpet of possible victory
blowing in that bathroom and into the city, I
related to that cat-I'd had it bad, not that
bad but bad enough
one morning he got up, stood up, fell back down and
just looked at me. 
"you can make it," I said to him. 
he kept trying, getting up falling down, finally
he walked a few steps, he was like a drunk, the
rear legs just didn't want to do it and he fell again, rested,
then got up. 
you know the rest: now he's better than ever, cross-eyed
almost toothless, but the grace is back, and that look in
his eyes never left… 
and now sometimes I'm interviewed, they want to hear about
life and literature and I get drunk and hold up my cross-eyed,
shot, runover de-tailed cat and I say,"look, look
at this!" 
but they don't understand, they say something like,"you
say you've been influenced by Celine?" 
"no," I hold the cat up,"by what happens, by
things like this, by this, by this!" 
I shake the cat, hold him up in
the smoky and drunken light, he's relaxed he knows… 
it's then that the interviews end
although I am proud sometimes when I see the pictures
later and there I am and there is the cat and we are photo-
graphed together. 
he too knows it's bullshit but that somehow it all helps.

© Charles Bukowski. All rights reserved


needing some edumakashun!

I just finished a cycle of print materials at work. The focus on these materials was IMPACT, IMPACT, IMPACT. Our board was very pleased with the results, but immediately followed up with, "So this is what it will look like on the web?"

Oh. Crap. The website. It's so outdated, so clumsy, so boring. So I need to start strengthening my skills STAT. 

Found some great resources:
I had no idea this existed until today! I think I am going to take the Creative Tune-up and WEB UX Design.

This website has a lot to offer as well, and stuff for non-designers or not formally trained designers. Landing pages that generate conversation, what an idea!

Skillshare has gained popularity lately. What I like is that these courses are designed by people working in the field now. The variety of topics is great too! 

cows work hard

A very wise woman (my former boss) once told me that an investor in a farm looked at the dairy cows, and after a while, he got upset. "Why aren't they working? They are just grazing!" And the farmer said, you can't see it but they are working. She told me that design was the same way, people look at what I do but don't understand, until one day, fresh off the press, something powerful (the milk) comes out. Turn off your email, let fires snuff themselves out sometimes. Let the real work happen.

some seriously cool marketing pieces

I am most impressed with the ADT box. If I found that in my house, I might freak! And I love the cardboard record player.  

Love these pieces but even more so, I love the following acknowledgement at the end of the article:

Is it Worth It?
The examples above are all quite impressive, but the key question to ask is whether or not it was worth the expense. The problem with great direct marketing ideas is that they’re usually targeted towards a fairly small number of people when compared to a commercial or other more traditional advertising method. However, they have the potential to be far more impacting than mass media.
So what do you think? With a limited budget, is it better to make a small impact on lots of people or a large, meaningful impact on a small number of people. Also, which of the examples above do you think would effectively encourage action and which would merely be seen as an moderately interesting piece of physical spam that still hits the garbage can immediately?


radiolab: awesome as usual

Admittedly, this is our favorite gather-around-the-bullet-speaker-on-the-front-porch-and-have-a-couple-beers-podcast. We listened the one about the ants a few times. Nerds, I know. Give this one a listen. Oh and make sure you listen to the one about Beethoven at 160 BPM. Awesome. 

Our world is saturated in color, from soft hues to violent stains. How does something so intangible pack such a visceral punch? This hour, in the name of science and poetry, Jad and Robert tear the rainbow to pieces

To what extent is color a physical thing in the physical world, and to what extent is it created in our minds? We start with Sir Isaac Newton, who was so eager to solve this very mystery, he stuck a knife in his eye to pinpoint the answer. Then, we meet a sea creature that sees a rainbow way beyond anything humans can experience, and we track down a woman who we're pretty sure can see thousands (maybe even millions) more colors than the rest of us. And we end with an age-old question, that, it turns out, never even occurred to most humans until very recently: why is the sky blue?



renovating brand

What the hell is a brand renovation? It isn't a new term but one you don't hear about as much as branding or rebranding. Well we are in the process of renovating or refreshing our brand here at our tiny lil' arts org. 

It seems like maybe the hole we fell in when we created our very timely and trendy logo was a wide one that lots of organizations may have fallen into. But before I get into that...

So this refreshing or renovation is not like rebranding in that we are not changing our messaging (thought we ought to) or our voice, our programs, our audience or our mission. We ought to, but it seems like it isn't a good time until we figure out what our programs should be based on the needs of our constituents.

That being said, the things we need to fix:

Our logo has too many parts. As do all of these logos. The MAAF is a perfect example. Split that pup in two and you have 2 great logos. Southern Arts has lots of S's.

Our logo has a timely, but not a timeless look. The red black logo. The splatter font. The condensed font. The checkerboard thing. Bad. Bad. Bad.

And don't get me started on font. Each one of these logos has 2 different fonts. Arts Midwest has 3! Brush script with bold lowercase and a monospaced all caps! What!

I could go on but here are my goals for this project:

1. It looks good in reverse, any color, and black and white. We have traveling exhibitions and different programs that in a sense have their own brand. So if I am doing an exhibition about the Hudson River painters and need to make our logo dark green, or a Sister Corita exhibition and make it hot pink, I want to be able to do that. Instead of being the red and white logo, or the multicolored logo, or the navy logo, we are known as the anything logo.

2. BUT to accomplish this, this new logo shape has to be powerful, strong, easily recognizable and extraordinarily unique. Take color out of the equation of color + font + shape = logo. That means font and shape must be strong, must be conceptual and smart, and must say everything about you.

3. Speaking of fonts. One font. So on any given piece of material we only have 2 fonts. And the logo should be able to stand on its own without a font. I do think NEFA does a great job of this.

Well, I have been doing quick 4 minute logos, printing them and throwing them into a basket. We are going to take these and identify some characteristics and just keep hacking away till we get there. Stay tuned for some more process updates!

beautiful fonts, free fonts

So just purchased this lovely font for work. Lemme tell ya. I know it's hard to invest in fonts. and man, I could spend THOUSANDS, but sometimes it's so worth it.

But if you can't afford $500 for a font there are options. Helpful hint: get on twitter and search #fonts. Lots of links to free and affordable fonts. A lot of websites sometimes put a font on special, like

some links, have at 'em: 

I will be excited when this app comes out. I don't get tired of talking fonts. I think the font you are into right now can say a lot about your state of being.

get a design job

We are working on getting my fiancé a nice starter job. I'll start with what to apply for then get into the details.  These are just some tips I am thinking of:

1. Know what you want!

If you know you are better at layout, and not as good at web design, spend your time applying to companies that fit that bill. Don't waste time on a job you won't succeed at or one you are just going to be bored with. This will help narrow the search.

2. What do you want to learn?

If you are good at layout but really want to get into web design, Educate yourself outside of school if you have graduated or plan your coursework. A lot of design students just take the curriculum courses needed to graduate. But, a lot of school offer courses outside that curriculum that will help you get a nice gig. For example, if your like me, and you are interested in arts or museums, take a museum studies course. If you want to work with international companies, minor in a language. If your interested in GUIs, research device companies. Garmin comes to mind.

3. Do some freelance, but NOT for free!

Unless someone is making a billboard with your contact info for some work, don't do free jobs. You make every one who paid for schooling and training look like a chump. Including you. Barter if you must. Track your hours on a freelance job and be realistic with your estimates. As a student, you might charge someone 15 bucks an hour. That's ok if you get portfolio pieces. But when you start having design notches in your belt, make sure you charge. Make design briefs. Make estimates. Have invoices ready. Freelancing can be a great way to earn some cash, but manage yourself like you are your employee.

4. Knowing people...

I hate to say it, but having a good network is important. Foster those relationships. BUT never assume just because you know someone you will get a job. Be prepared. Don't interview or request meetings without taking the effort to know the folks you are talking to, and having your resume and portfolio ready.

5. Consistency is important

Make sure your info is up to date. Use grammar consistently. If you use periods at then end of your descriptions on your resume, ALWAYS use them. Pay attention to em dashes, and en dashes. Make sure images are at high res. Pay attention to Ms. Vs Mrs. Simple things will prevent you from an interview. Do a find replace for getting rid of double spaces. Under the type menu, click show hidden characters. Set up tabs! Don't use spaces in lieu of tabs! Watch out or widows and orphans! Don't hyphenate. If you don't work for a newspaper or magazine, it isn't needed.

6. Be polite.

Send off thank you notes. Send hard copies to HR, if you apply online.

7. Keep working.

If you don't have a job and are still looking, I know from experience landing a job while out of practice is hard. Keep working on your portfolio, freelance, whatever. And stay in the design loop. Even if you're not a member, AIGA has great articles and resources to read. Subscribe to Communications Arts. It is the best.

8. Invest in yourself

Take a class on writing resumes. Join a club. Buy a hand crafted teak portfolio. Learn how to make an interactive portfolio. Get on Vistaprint or Moo and get business cards. Buy nice paper, or a nice printer. Investing in yourself will make you eager and proud. It will give you the confidence you need to land that gig. I remember someone dropped of a portfolio at my work, a three-ring binder with newsprint. It showed a lack of respect for her own work. How could I trust her to have respect in the company's work?

9. Don't give up yet!

With silly people claiming they are designers, while making terrible things in word, a new hope has come out lately. Skilled designers are becoming commodities. Companies are looking for in-house creatives. Don't be afraid of these jobs. You don't have to work at a big agency to be fulfilled!

With your resume and identity package, be creative and have fun! Just be mindful that I gamy get faxed or photocopied. And edit yourself. If you had 15 retail jobs, list pertinent info. And for god's sake, your high school resume (unless you won some HOW magazine award) is of no interest. The ideal resume is 1 page, 2 if truly necessary. And easy to pick and pull info from.