Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolution Time Again

Every year we start with the renewed hope that we can better ourselves. Last year I made goals to exercise, take more photos, and take breaks. I did take my first vacation this year, but otherwise have failed miserably in my goals. What can you do expect take a step forward and try again. Trying is better than not taking action because you are afraid of failing.

EXERCISE: I make the same resolutions that millions of others are making at this time of year: to exercise, to live a healthier lifestyle, and to not live behind a computer screen. Spening a minimum of 9 hours a day behind a computer screen and never getting up creates bad habits to fall into.

ILLUSTRATIONS: last year I tried to focus on photography, and it didn't work out too well. I will try again to stir my creative juices with practing my illustration skills. I will try to post my activities on my dribble profile, so be sure to follow me.  As a sort of 2b option I will tack on that I should create one painting. I used to make lots of paintings but I did not create single new one last year. I would like to complete one painting this year.

DISCONNECTED: These days bewteen my new iPad, my smartphone, the mutple computers I have access to, I am overly connected. I would like to think that I can "disconnect" completely at least once a month, but I think it will be harder than that. Hopefully this will happen a few times during the year, and maybe I can get my husband to join in so that we can reconnect with the people in our lives and not the devices.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Apps for Designers (at least for me)

My husband pulled a big surprise on me this Christmas...he got me an ipad. I have spent just a short time exploring the App Store, but I still have discovered some favorites. Of course there are all of the adobe apps I would love to to get my fingertips on, $9.99 per app adds up quickly, so I will be waiting for some iTunes gift cards for Adobe Photoshop Touch, Adobe Ideas, Adobe Collage, and Adobe Proto for quick design on the go.

Two apps that I did buy and love:

IFontMaker: this app does just what it sounds like, you can make your own fonts! This is really awesome if you are geeky like me. I enjoy being able to customize the brush to enhance the letterforms, and I think I will find greater control once I buy a stylus. $6.99

LetterMpress: this my favorite app ever! It is also the app that made me want an iPad (...since I discovered that this app was exclusive to iPad my husband had been secretly saving up to get me one...isn't he sweet?!) The imagery, texture, paper ink, even the sounds remind me of my days in the letterpress room. It can never replace the joy of running a press, but it is a lot of fun to layer your prints and share them. $4.99

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is where we are headed right now. With all of the devices that users can interact with your site it makes sense to create a responsive site from the get-go. Size is becoming something we just can't/shouldn't control any more otherwise it will limit the capabilities of users to interact. It is difficult to incorporate response from an existing site, and is typically easier to keep the variety of screen sizes in-mind when you begin designing a site.

With these type of sites you need to use media queries to allow pages to auto adjust to screen size or float down to the next line. A transition being made to fluid grids and using percentages and EMs rather than pixels and points to adjust type and images.  There even needs to simplification in mind that when you get to a mobile phone size screen that parts of the information you see on a desktop or tablet go away complete so that users can focus on the most pertinent information. The extra code to help you pages adapt to screen sizes means that you should have a single set of code rather than multiple sets that respond to various devices (iPad, android phone, or ect...)

This field of responsive design is spreading like wild fire, because of its usefulness across the many ways we choose to access websites today.

Check out Hyrdant's adaptive website.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Inspired by Vintage

Getting inspired for the holidays with this vintage postcard from the 1960s. The vibrant simple hues of this porstcard really draw me in. They are great colors for the season! Image. (I also kinda like the presents that look somewhat like they could be presents from Target.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Type of the Season

'Tis the season the for decorative and script typefaces. This is year I definitely have a favorite, Black Jack, designed by type designer Ronna Penner. It's not a traditional script and has some whimsy to it, which makes it perfect for me. It looks more like a natural hand written type than the calligraphic type of Shelley or Kuenstler. So add some whimsy to your holiday season this year.

Happy 12/12/12!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

White Space

I am sure I have mentioned the importance of white space before, but as the holiday seasons approach clients want to fill their ad spaces with holiday specials and other information, and most of the time you can send a better message if you just cut the


Keep your customer's attention by focuses it on one or two promotions (depends on ad dimensions). Verbal vomit and plethora of holiday graphics will not make your ad stand out in the sea of other ads doing the exact same thing. Simply by allowing dramatic white space and bring you more attention then LARGE ALL-CAP LETTERS IN RED and flanked in holly, especially when all the other ads look the exact same. Readers/customers will just pass it over.  

It can be hard to hold back when you have so many great things that you want to share with clients, but rather than over cluttered ads, utilize the different mediums available for advertising today: print, online ads, tv, and social media. In fact using different (but similar) promotions on different mediums might help you discover if the location of advertising is working the way you want it to. This also allows for greater saturation in the market.

This is a good lesson year-round, not just during the holidays. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Be Nice

Santa is not the only one looking to mark you naughty or nice, and in business it never hurts to be nice. It can be easy to put on the nice face for clients, customers, and bosses; since they are recognized income. It can be harder to be nice with coworkers, employees, secretaries, and sales representatives (especially when you have had a bad day).

Some say you need to be a shark to get ahead, but I find that being kind has better results. The advertising world in a mid-sized city is a small market, and eventually you will need something that another agency, former employee, or ect. If you played nice people often happily will find a way to fulfill your request, rather than avoid your calls or flatly refuse to help you at all.

Coworkers and employees need you to be nice because you spend at least 8 to 9 hours, 5 days a week with these people (that is more time than I spend with my spouse). The more positive work place that you create for yourself means happier employees and working environment. When you are happy with your work environment it increases your happiness and stress level in your home life as well. Coworker bonding is essential for keeping the workplace happy, productive, and enduring. a bad work environment typically leads to high turnover and hurt feelings (with someone you will most likely work with sometime down the road).

So say a kind word, ask about their life, and give praise when someone has done a good job!

Friday, November 30, 2012

QR Codes Revisited

I have discussed QR codes before, but this time I am look back over a year later and seeing that they have become such a flop. QR has a couple points working against them:

Time: Phones have not yet made this an easy code to capture. First you have to unlock your phone, download a barcode app, open the app, and then finally scan the code. That is when you encounter the second problem.

Useability: Many companies that are using these QR codes and do not have a site that adapts for mobile devices. These traditional websites can be difficult to navigate on the small screens.

Repetition: And then some companies just make it into another spot to post the same marketing material that you got the code off of. When you go through all this effort to check out the code you want a reward not more advertising.

I experienced this same frustration when I was flipping through the catalog of one of my favorite store: Paper Source. This is one time I was intrigued to see me from a company and wanted to scan the code. It took me to the home page of their regular site. It was a let down.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Cupcake Batter
1.5 c of all-purpose flour
1/2 Tb baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick of butter
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
3 Tb maple syrup
2/3 c milk

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 Tb water (you may need more depending on consistency)
1/2 bag of powder sugar
1 Tb dried egg whites
Pinch of salt
1/3 c cocoa powder

Candied Bacon (bacon and brown sugar)
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together all ingredients of cupcake batter. Pour into lined muffin tin. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile make chocolate frosting and candied bacon. For frosting mix all ingredients together this should be thick consistency. For the candied bacon cook on medium heat in a skillet, when the bacon is cooked halfway sprinkle brown sugar on both sides. Cook until the bacon is done. Let cool.

Assemble your cupcakes and enjoy. First there was breakfast for dinner, now there is breakfast for dessert. (This recipe is based on the one found here.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Moving Forward

As a young designer I hear a lot about how much design and the tools we have used have changed in the last 20 to 30 years. It's true computers were not capable of the tools that we utilize today, and they were not as available to everyone. My more experienced colleagues have had to adapt to quickly changes times and develop new skills, styles, and techniques. It makes me wonder what I will be seeing in my future as a designer. It seems like technology is exponentially accelerating that vastly different fields that I could, and probably should, immerse myself in.

User Interface (UI) is a discipline that is just exploding, and for good reason. It takes into account how users will utilize electronic devices, website, apps, and other software. There are some companies that cater just to the discipline, and is becoming necessary for agencies to have a specialist on staff. UI gives customers the simplest and the easiest interaction possible. This requires adaptive websites and software from all devices and browsers (if you are using one), as well as interpreting what the customers needs maybe and tailoring to the individual. This takes research and coding capabilities to a new level.

3D Printers. Who knows what applications we will use 3D printers for in the future of graphic design. They are becoming more affordable so they are becoming utilized in fields such as: bio-composites, mechanical engineering, architecture, industrial design, and I am sure much much more. It will force designers to move from mostly 2-dimensional outlook to a 3D. I am sure it will have some interesting results.

Digital Applications. Print is not going anywhere anytime soon, but we have been moving to a more digital world. Digital books and publications have soared. Websites are standard necessity for any business. More people are carrying smartphones or tablets that have access to internet and apps that need to adapt for useability. More of my own clients are sending emails rather than direct mail these days. Designing for a digital medium will carry its own requirements and will be adapting as new technologies become available.

I don't know what the future will hold, but I guess that is part of the fun.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Kitchen Adventure: Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan
3 cups cornflakes (crushed)
2.5 Tb Parsley Flakes
1 Tb Dried Basil
1 Tb dried Oregano
1/4 c flour
2 eggs
2 Tb milk
1 Tb water
3/4 c flour
Vegetable oil
Pasta Sauce (Separate recipe or use store bought)
Parmesan Cheese

Slice eggplant into desired thickness, sprinkle with salt, and leave to sweat in a colander for 30 min to 1 hour. In a skillet heat up 1/2 inch of oil. In a bowl combine crushed cornflakes, parsley, basil, oregano, and 1/4 c flour. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, milk, water. Put 3/4 c flour in a separate bowl. 

Coat eggplant in flour. Dredge in egg mixture. Then coat again in flour. Dredge in the egg mixture again, and then coat with cornflake mixture. Cook on each side about 2 minutes at a time in the oil (if you cook it hot and fast it won't end up super oily. 
Set aside on paper towel. Top with warm pasta sauce and sprinkle with parmesan. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gilded Home

It always amazes me the effect a simple coat of spray paint can do. This is a simple DIY. The paper house cost $2.5 and $4 for a can of spray paint, but I have plenty of spray paint left. Lucky for me that gold is a popular finish this year. It will always work great for plans for decoration for the holidays. This transitions easily from Fall to Christmas.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Humor in Pain

Sharp Suits have stumbled onto an extraordinary idea to all the complaints and criticism designers tend to hear about their work. I wanted to share some of my favorites from this collection, and these were all contributed by Mark and Paddy. Sadly I have heard some of these phrases, some of these just have been designed with a style I find interesting, others are just funny. Sometimes that best part of having a difficult client is being able to find humor in the situation.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Starting a Blog

I found this wonderful article, about why you should blog. The writers at Design Shack were specifically speaking to developers, but this applies to all of us. Whatever profession you are in there are good reasons to begin a blog: it requires you to educate yourself, give back to your community, and it helps you improve your writing skills. Yes, blogs take time and you will probably not be one of the few that become famous and become professional bloggers; but it will be beneficial for your well-being. If you have a blog, and you been away awhile there is no better time than the present to pick up your blog and get back to writing. My favorite quote for the article pretty much sums up why you need to just do it!

"First, begin right away. Believe me, you’ll never have time and you’ll never know enough, so toss out those as reasons to wait. If you can’t manage this now, you’ll never be able to pull it off.  "
Coincidentally, I recently viewed this live chat from Joy Cho from Oh Joy! Joy talks about her new book, but most importantly answers questions from other bloggers about how to have a "successful" blog. If you have the time to view it or just listen to it Joy and Naomi have some great pointers for bloggers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cut It Out!

Die cut done by hand require artistry, skill, and patients. Technology has come a long way to allow computers to make complicated die cuts simple and fairly affordable. It instantly gives a new dimension and dynamic to your printed piece. Especially since communication is moving more and more digital. I find that most clients do not want to make the leap to this extra expense, but it can be fun to dream about a future project with die cuts like these:

M. Brady Clark
Via CardObserver

Via Avie Design

Nicolas Zentner
via Design Boom
Made by Julene
I don't know where this came from, but it is amazing

Monday, November 12, 2012

HTML Cheat Sheet

I have been doing quite a bit of coding lately, but since I do not do this everyday I have trouble remember coding I need for even simple code tidbits. So I created a sheet cheat for myself, so I thought I would share what I have been looking up constantly lately:

em dash(—) —
en dash(–) –

<div style="font-size: 18px;
                    border-right: 1px #7c1120"></div>

Tables ( I have been working in word press and needed to use tables to create columns)


Always check your closing tags </> is very important, and can mess up your code badly if you forget to do it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Smells Like Home

Nothing will smell more like than making bread. The smell of yeast growing, dough rising, and the smell of freshly baked bread will always remind me of my dad. He is a gifted artisan bread maker. He was home for a short while and we spent some time in the kitchen working on our own recipe for a marble rye bread. It is memories is what makes life wonderful. We each worked on our kneading: me on the light, him on the dark. He would correct my handiwork, and help me better my baking skills. And I got to make a pretty good reuben!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Following My Own Beat

I am not much of a music geek. I usually find what I like and continue to listen to it until I am sick of it. Even with my limited music appreciation it is essential for me to have during work. My typical at work jams require: mellow, can be background at times, but still has a zip to it, to keep me motivated. I tend to listen to Pandora to give me the work mix I desire.

Currently listening to:
Tegan and Sara
Florence + the Machine
Lana Del Rey
The Killers
Mumford & Sons

(I don't get the weird dancing in this video, but I am really liking this song right now)
What is your favorite work song?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Monster Mash

This time of year always gets of thinking of the creatures that go bump in the night, but I have always had a soft-spot for adorable monsters. These creative illustrators have made monsters the cool kids you want to hang out with, and I love the vibrancy and texture.

Anna Johnstone

Tad Carpenter
Chad Lesch

Unknown: if you know please let me know