Monday, January 30, 2012

More Than a Pixel Pusher

Some days I feel like all I do is move pixels around the screen until someone says okay that's what I want. Going back to my roots in design studies I need to remember that graphic design is much more than pushing pixels for ideas that other people have already made up. My job is to help the client serve their customers or audience. I believe that my clients can contribute to society, and it is my job to facilitate them.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that my husband and I were discussing the importance or lack-of-importance of the university school system. My fundamentals in design, that my work is more than making things look pretty: each part of a design should serve PURPOSE. This is something I never would have learned through "on the job skills training". Sure there are a lot of things left to be desired about the university system (like the lack of recourse students have when advisors and instructors fail to be available and delay your graduation due to their mistakes and not the students, but this is another rant for another day.)

The functionality of design is what separates design from art (although that line is very blurry). Type and image do not function in the same way that a chair functions, but it is essential all the same. Visual Communication can provide valuable information about services, products, or ask us to take action for a cause. 

" Design is not so shallow, but damn does it look good."

Friday, January 27, 2012


i·co·nog·ra·phy [ahy-kuh-nog-ruh-fee]

Icons are becoming a standard repertoire of  modern designers, most commonly used in logos, instructional signs, and phone apps. We are surrounded by icons: restrooms, road signs, and other everyday graphics. With these simplistic images they can inform us about rules, products, dangers, and point us in the right direction. We would be pretty loss without using images to point the way.
Humans have been developing icons since man began drawing in caves. They painted images of horses and other animals to represent the everyday life in 33,000 BCE. In the not-so-distant past magazines and advertisements required that each "job" was separate: art director, photographer, typography, illustrator, and ect...These days with the use of computers designers can really do it all, but big corporations are able to pull in experts in each field to develop design excellence (because it is hard to be the best at everything).

College instructors are encouraging visual communication students to develop icons as a part of dynamic systems to help make brochures, annual reports, magazines, and other texts easier to navigate and utilize. If this begins at university then we can bring these skills to the workforce and use it for real use that truly serves a purpose. My first project as a visual communications major I had to develop over 400 bird symbols for the first lecture, and continued to develop more symbols over the coming weeks. This was boot camp for developing various iconography using various mediums.

Symbols are used in small sizes, and tend to be simplistic with high contrast. Simple is beneficial (especially when the symbol is small), but it should contain enough details that it does not need an explanation in order to use the symbol. Icons should hit our basic cognitive understanding, based on its representation.

I encourage you to make an icon this week that represents something in our daily life, and post a link below.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Kitchen Adventure: Meatloaf Cupcakes

It is no secret that I love cupcakes, and I have been looking forward to trying this savory cupcake. A meatloaf "cake" with a baked homemade ketchup crust, and mashed potato icing sprinkled with chives and bacon.

Cupcake recipe can be found here.  The homemade ketchup recipe is a modernized version of this. I made this ketchup in a make-it-work moment. I realized I was a half cup short on this recipe and had to make something quick. 

Homemade Ketchup:
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tb of brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

 Puree in blender, and add to a sauce pot on the stove. Then add the following spices, and cook for 45 minutes.

pinch of cayenne
pinch of celery salt
pinch dry mustard
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground ginger
pinch gound cinnamon
salt and pepper

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spray Paint is Magic

The trans-formative power of spray paint can turn rusted stair railings to primed and flat black in seconds, and can take any dime-store trinket from lame to stylish. I have relied on spray for years to help change up accessories with my favorite colors. I want to get more involved changing items around my house that currently were just gifts taking up space to unique home accessories (or maybe hitting up flea markets with friends to find a best buy).  Spray paint is easy to buy at craft stores, which often have 40% off coupons. So spray paint is a cheap and quick way to re-purpose old materials.

For beautifully painted pieces keep this in mind:
  1. Always spray outside or in a spray booth
  2. Make sure it the object is clean, and free of grease and dirt (otherwise paint won't stick well)
  3. Spray in smooth, even movements (back and both).
  4. Let it dry between coats or it will drip.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Chinese New Year is approaching on January 23rd, and next year is the Year of the Dragon. I want to throw a themed party so that I can enjoy some tasty Chinese food.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Warm and Cyan, Muted Filters, and Nostalgia

Lingering like the smoke of hooka "hip" photography has been utilizing warm muted palettes. Photographers and photo editors are trying to hit us at our most basic human emotion "nostalgia" all the warm fuzzy feelings of the past are projected to current trends.  Partly due to hipster fashion stores such as Urban Outfitters, appealing to the techy 20-year-old take s a backward step in time. Photography, fashion, and electronics are going back cir. 1970s for a perceived counter-cultural  style. But it is these persons who are inspiring current design trends.

Photographers have responded to this audience by provide images that feel more like film photography. Colors of the 70s of golden hues, cyan, and burnt umber are prevalent, as well as the use of grunge textures to give the image a sense of age. Instagram thrives on a series of nostalgia filters and trying to counteract its digital nature with film-like qualities. Should this trend continue to linger or does it need an exhaust fan?

Tumblr Photography, Photography Graphics, Photography

Monday, January 16, 2012

Resolution Failures

Halfway through January and I have completely bombed my resolutions. Working nonstop, definitely not taking a photo everyday, and just as lazy. Failure does not mean I give up. I just have to pick up these resolutions again, and continue restarting until I get it right. These resolutions are not some petty wishes, but goals to make me the future person that I want to be.

Maybe I should lay off the chocolate...but I am no hero.
Found on pinterest.

  How have you been doing on your resolutions for 2012?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Inspired by Ugly Betty

Netflix has enabled me to watch a bunch of shows, that I would never have thought I would like. Currently I am doing a series marathon of Ugly Betty. I love Betty's quirky style.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kitchen Adventure: Butternut Squash Gratin

This weekend I delved into a Butternut Squash Gratin recipe. The sweet flavors of the squash and the salty nutty flavor of the creme sauce that covers the vegetables. This recipe has healthy spinach hidden with the sumptuous flavors that really makes this dish a home run. Next time I might add a dash of nutmeg on top to really enhance the flavors. (The drink is my Jack & Ginger).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Color Fan: Yellow and Grey

Lately I am really inspired by the yellow and grey combination.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Marbled Makes a Come Back

Marble paper was popular in the 70s and 80s; it has come back style. From paintings to lamps to fabrics the marble texture is here, for now. In general I am not a fan of this look, but hand dyed marbled paper can easily take my breath away and becomes an art that stands on its own. I prefer it as art or on handcrafted books, but not as wallpaper, furniture, or other decor. The look becomes too overwhelming and still feels 80s rather than modern. The prints and textures in these papers are absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Beginnings

New Years always renews the hope that we can better ourselves to be the person we have always wanted to be. Most resolutions fail because it is hard to break habits. Changing habits take time and resolution. Creating a goal helps you to strive for completion, but it is important to make that goal attainable. 

Photo for today.

Make a Routine: Some recommend daily habits, and if you are focusing on a daily schedule I would recommend only change one habit at once. Typically we make resolution lists, not a single item. If you can focus it down to one that is great, but I have too many goals. Instead, I make a weekly schedule that works in each goal in a routine. Maybe, one item occurs on every Monday and Thursday and another on Tuesday and Friday. The importance is consistency, because humans are creatures of habits. Creating a routine helps to develop new habits.

Self-control: Many people struggle with the ability to let their no mean no, and yes mean yes. Whether it is working out or avoiding distractions to complete a client project, exerting self-control is essential to success. This is one of the hardest skills to perfect. Building up your willpower takes baby steps, because it hard to come to a dead stop. It takes grit.

30-day Trial: Similar to making a routine, taking a trial is about rewiring our brains for new habits to form. Popularized by Steve Pavlina you take one habit and focus on it dailyfor 30 days to become a conditioned habit. Once you commit to this strict monthly act, it becomes easier to keep making that choice after the 30 days are over.

Do you have any helpful suggestions for developing new habits?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Social Media Chaged the World

In the past year I have doubled my social media outlets, and I am not the only one. Most people check facebook, twitter, blogs, and ect. multiple times a day. Social networks are a great way to stay connected with friends and colleagues and provides quick and easy ways to share ideas and information.  Social media often leads to a disconnected analog world as well exposing more of ourselves than is wise. Social media is being utilized by business to attract new clients and developing personalities and a brand. With the right methods social media is a great place for customers and brands to get a long and stay informed, but social media is easily falls prey to over-zealous posting and bland personality that can alienate customers even further.

1) More Connected: Getting reconnected with old friends and distant family draws most people to social media. Different networks are adding diverse tools to help you share thoughts, images, videos, and more to keep your friends to connected to your daily life and big events.

2) More Disconnected: Sitting at a restaurants I was looking around and noticed that about 20% off the customers were bending over and entranced with their mobile phones. My own husband was taking a photo of his beer to post on facebook. Because we are busy letting a multitude of online friends know what were are up to, sometimes we are neglecting the friends and family who have come to see us face-to-face.

3) Easier to gather and share information: My new favorite social network is Pinterest. It is a great spot for me to shave images of interest, recipes, and design inspirations. (They need to work on an app for android since not everyone has an iphone!) Social networks have coded in ways for the community to share links, images, and videos so that we can organize our ideas and share them instantly. Which can be good and not so good.

4) More Exposure (Good): Social media sites such as LinkedIn can be a great way to get noticed whether you are a company or a potential employee looking for hire. The other sites are well used by business to build on their customers basis because their current customers have friends and they might become customers too.

5) Over Exposed (Bad): Social media has lead to a large epidemic of verbal and visual diarrhea. We are sharing more and faster than we ever could have in the past. I still have not discovered the point of Foursquare except to let people know you are not at home, and could rob you right now. Also letting out details of your life makes it easier for hackers to steal identities and personal information.

Social media can be a great tool, but you must use it wisely. Oh, and Happy New Year!