Movers & Cocktail Shakers at Descanso Gardens


If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good cocktail party! Descanso Gardens has been coming up with some really innovative and intimate events, and their latest, Movers & Cocktail Shakers was the kind that puts the fun back in fundraiser.

Held at the historic Boddy House, we celebrated the era of the home through cocktails of the times, headed up by bar director Sean Naughton of LACMA’s Ray’s & Stark Bar. Three handcrafted cocktails told the formative story of the martini and old fashioned through their common ancestor, the martinez, the construction of prohibition-era sours, and the original recipe of the mai thai with hand-pressed almond syrup. Sean told the story of each drink, including interesting info about the ingredients, and gave great mixing advice. After each demo, he taught one volunteer how to make the drink again, so we’d really learn them.

To give some real retro flair to this event, we designed a lockup using period typefaces and used photos of the Boddys as a nod to their home. It’s always fun when you get to depart from current branding to develop a themed look for an event, and this one just happens to be an era I love!

See more of our work for Descanso Gardens here.
+ See more recent work here.

redesign: inspire 2013


i’m hugely excited to announce that i’ll be speaking at the redesign: inspire conference this fall, october 21 – 22, 2013, at the smog shoppe in culver city!

described as equal parts conference, salon and retreat, redesign: inspire is shaping up to be a fantastic creative getaway [or staycation, if you’re local]. i’m already overwhelmed at the company i’m in honor of keeping at this event. as you’ll see the speaker lineup unfold through june and july, it’s a group of truly outstanding design thinkers and industry leaders. this year’s event symposiarch is lawrence azerrad, a fantastic designer i met at aiga’s blueprint: freelance panel discussion.

parlato_2013_150this year’s theme is cross-pollination, “drawing from sources beyond traditional design to enhance, strengthen and inspire our work.” i’ll be talking about my long and winding road in design, moving ever outward from the day-to-day bubble in order to give my work balance and clarity. i love the idea that this is a forum format, because while i have plenty to share from my own experience, i’m equally excited to hear from attendees as well. every speaker will be tackling this topic from a different angle. join us and get in on the conversation!

this conference has an early-bird registration deadline of june 30, 2013, for the best possible rate! register this week, and keep your eyes on the redesign: inspire site for new announcements.

open season on the parlato design patio


i was escaping the early-season heat on the patio last night with a friend, when i realized that maybe it’s time i combine my love for making snacks and drinks and my love of patio sitting with friends into one thing: patio season!

here’s how it works. choose a morning coffee [10:30am] or evening happy hour [5:30pm] appointment, tuesday, wednesday or thursday. tell me when you’d like to meet and what you’d like to talk about. if it’s open, i’ll make the drinks & snacks, you come over and we chat. about design, about business, about ideas, about food stuff–whatever, up to 2 hours.

i’m interested in connecting with old friends, colleagues i don’t see often enough and meeting new people. we’ve got the shade of the loquat tree and a nice breeze. pick a slot and let’s hang!

motor’s birthday


18 years ago, i met this kitten. she lived in my grandmother’s back yard. my mom and i went over and caught her. it was 1 month after i moved out of the house. she has been with me ever since.


motor has many special features, including 7 toes. sometimes she folds them very neatly, like this. i knew i wanted to name my next cat motor, because of the purring, but i didn’t realize i’d end up with a cat who was also a natural at very loud purring. it worked out pretty well.


she also has different-colored eyes. unfortunately, she lost her hearing sometime around when she was 3. this has caused her to be fearless of things like strangers or the vacuum, but also gotten her locked in neighbor’s trucks and apartments. she has a hankering for perimeter checks, she just walks right in. since she is cute and white, we try to give her a bath every year or so.


in addition to being cute, she is also does physical comedy. when these dishes i bought off ebay arrived with some broken pieces, and i couldn’t accept reality right away, she sat on them, leaned on them to lick her leg, and then napped on them. she sleeps a lot, in funny places, with her head hanging off things upside-down, she makes funny faces, begs for cheese, plays innocent while passive-aggressively sitting on our other cat, and she burps. when she’s done being funny, she goes back to sleep.


when you have an old cat, you spend a lot of time cuddling. it’s mostly what they like to do. when i found her, i used to think it would be amazing if she lived this long, but she is still relatively healthy and youthful for her age. happy birthday to you, motor, now let’s get you registered to vote!

AIGA blueprint: freelance

aiga blueprint: freelance
jason adam, mark leroy, heather parlato, spencer cross & petrula vrontikis. photo by paul dimalanta for aiga

last week, i had a blast participating on the aiga los angeles discussion panel blueprint: freelance! i was in excellent company, in concert with mark leroy of silver echo, spencer cross of tokyofarm, and petrula vrontikis of vrontikis design office, moderated by jason adam of hexanine.

i considered the many freelance debates and debacles i’ve been through in preparation, but it seemed once we got going, we really could have talked for hours. one great thing about running your own business is that you can always learn from 3 other people if you sit down and talk about it. everyone has a different experience or has learned some specific twist that can help ratchet the industry ever closer to best & ideal practices. jason kept us from picking apart the details of every point by moving the discussion along.

we talked about a great many things, and all kinds of questions rolled in. aside from saving your money, increasing your moonlighting till you can’t stand it and attempting to take your employer as a client, i think the most general statement about the great unknown can be summed up by these 3 steps of transitioning to freelance:

1. know yourself first. you will have to search yourself for your personal philosophy about how you want to run your business. you’ll draw on past experiences, books and articles you’ve read, inspiration from mentors, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how you want things to go. you’ll decide on your market positioning and your mission statement, and you’ll brand accordingly.

2. get prepared. knowing yourself is a good start, but you’ll want to check with industry references and standards. find out the main styles of business and see where you fall. learn about book keeping, accounting, tax qualifications, project management, legal specifics that pertain to design and intellectual property. learn all this stuff you don’t know!

3. learn on the job. the first two steps only describe the situations you can imagine—but the business world is all ready to throw you a bunch of curve balls you haven’t considered. there will be intricacies you haven’t prepared for, questionable situations that don’t point to a clear answer [or maybe they do and you’re just mired in it enough you can’t see it yet], interactions that make you question a policy or contract line. and so be it. you will learn what you didn’t know, you’ll consult your network, you’ll make a valuable mistake that informs your future, you will grow, and you will keep on truckin!

if we look happy, it’s because none of us have bosses! thanks so much to paul dimalanta for the great photos.

with that said, if you have a specific question about something, email me!. in the meantime, here’s a recap of the resources we all talked about:

jason’s recap:
on the hexanine blog!

mark’s resources:
win without pitching manifesto
the brand gap by marty neumeier

petrula’s resources: class running a design business: freelancing

spencer’s resources:
AIGA professional practices in graphic design by tad crawford
design is a job by mike montiero
the education of a design entrepreneur by steven heller
graphic artists guild handbook: pricing and ethical guildelines
talent is not enough: business secrets for designers by shel perkins
california lawyers for the arts
join the spencer-founded kernspiracy list:

my additions:
creative freelancer conference, blog & events!
the designer’s guide to marketing & pricing by ilise benun & peleg top [check their blog too] blog
smashing magazine’s legal guide for designers, check their blog too!
jessica hische’s thoughts on getting freelance work and the dark art of pricing once you have it.

and a couple of my own interviews:
freelancing 101, 102 and 103
creative freelancer blog’s interview with heather parlato on freelancing

aiga’s blueprint: freelance

i’m both honored and excited to be a panelist in aiga’s blueprint: freelance on march 28 at nextspace in culver city! we’ll be talking about running our business and share the realities of what it’s like to run your own show. this panel is full of great voices in the los angeles design scene, and best suited to designers or related creative professionals who have been curious about starting their own firms and want the scoop from a range of professionals spanning 5 to 20+ years in business.

if this is YOU, register TODAY!

in the meantime, i’ve talked about freelancey stuff before, and if you’re into that sort of thing:
freelancing 101, 102 and 103
creative freelancer blog’s interview with heather parlato on freelancing

happy monday

happy monday

i hope you’re all enjoying your summer!

i’m embarking on a pretty heavy schedule in the coming months, so i decided to prepare with a bunch of food ahead of time. one of the downfalls of feeling busy is i often justify eating things i shouldn’t because i my perception is that i don’t have time to stop working and cook a meal. while i know this isn’t true, i still fall for it, so instead i’ve stocked the fridge with healthy snacks and prepared foods i can quickly assemble into meals. i love me a good food prep day!

here’s to a great week!

solar eclipse 2012

here’s my contribution from the eclipse on sunday. i don’t have any fancy equipment, but we did rig up some reversed binoculars and poster board to watch the transition. i like the color shift that’s happening here.

i knew we were supposed to use pinhole technology to refract the eclipse into viewable form but what i hadn’t expected was that any abstract pinholes of light would create the same shape on shady walls everywhere!

happy monday

happy monday
happy monday

we spent a beautiful day on the water searching out whales and dolphins on our way to catalina. at one point, we were riding with such a big group that they were jumping all around us and riding the current the boat created. so amazing!