creative inspiration: design for food


some beautiful examples of food-related design lately include this really nice packaging for earl’s best, using typography based on hand-lettered signs. see the collection at


i’m really liking this simple & traditional seal for fred’s market, paired with the clip board menu system. nice hardware and easy to switch out. see more at art of the menu.


this menu has more going on than appears in this photo. i really like the typography for each section. the pages are stacked above, but the final presentation has them hand-stitched together, and marked with a wax seal. very nice handmade work! see more at art of the menu

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!

1 tank per month challenge


with the month of april wrapping up tomorrow, i’m able to review how my first 1 tank / 300 miles per month challenge went. i’m happy to report i came in at 240 miles this month, and while i thought it would be lower, i did take some luxuries, and had some emergencies that reminded me every month is going to have ups & downs and not to worry about them. i’m already driving a lot less, and even doing errands far less frequently.

the two main things i’ve learned are these:

+ i subconsciously allow myself to run a bit late, and only when it’s too late for other options do i confront driving. when i didn’t have a car, i didn’t really do this, so this is the fine line i have to watch.

+ i don’t mind the act of driving, but negotiating with bad drivers is infuriating, and happens a lot more often than i realized before i scaled back. the main times i was irritated this month revolved around driving.

the main thing now is to keep it going, and find new and exciting excursions to take. i still used my guidelines for making errands walkable and my on-the-go lessons of carless travel to get by. i’ve learned to run for busses [you catch them more often than not] and check ahead on my metro app for which options are arriving when. currently, i’m working on utilizing the amtrak surfliner, which allows bike walk-ons, for trips to bike-friendly beach cities. we’ll see how it goes!

happy monday

it’s tax day, but i finished my taxes early, so i decided to share funny stuff instead. don’t use this funny stuff to procrastinate on your taxes!

if you’re like me, you regret almost every errant glance into comment threads or yelp reviews for their self-important tone. whether they’re true satire or just a collection of the most preciously ill-formed opinions, these parody reviews crack me up. when you’re done checking the yelp reviews read by real actors above, read onto some of these:

this film goes wrong in the wrong places. Sure, the acting is bad, the plot confounded, the editing nonexistent. But if i wanted to see a film this bad, I’d go watch all the stupid videos I recorded with my friends in elementary school. Eight and a half is about 2 hours and 18 minutes of just that.
sight & sound’s 10 greatest films of all time and their 1-star imdv reviews

Jar of uranium ore: I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty.
funniest amazon product reviews

And from their number arose a cry ancient and of another world entire and the raiders spurred their mounts through the paneglass of the American Apparel and the souls within perished under the blade and the cudgel and their cotton hides were taken from them.
yelping with cormac

completing the cutting boards


last month, i talked about community woodshop and the first half of our cutting board class. last week i completed the class and came away with 2 nice cutting boards. the first step in finishing up is to trim the uneven edges, which i am doing with a squaring template on the table saw above.


once i got my trimmed pieces, it was time to decide if i would do any cross cuts and flips. the wood grain itself will always look pretty on its own, but i used the trimmed edges to see where they flipped cuts would match up. i decided to cut the board into 5 pieces and flip symmetrically.


after these final design edits, when the glue is dry, we plane both surfaces and decide on any edge finishes. i decided on simple rounded edges for one, and only one round for the other. then it’s off to the sander to get all surfaces perfectly smooth.


once they’re ready to go, we got out the beeswax. it’s more of a heavy grease that smells like fine bath products and soaks into both wood and your hands, giving both a nice finish. the color of the wood really came alive with this application. i think they look great, but now i’m a little hesitant to take a knife to them. next up, i’ve signed up for basic cabinetry. i can’t wait to see what manner of trouble i can get into there!


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

support hamilton wood type museum

more efforts to help hamilton wood type museum relocate to their new digs are afoot—this time from neenah paper, asking designers and printers alike to submit their favorite samples and share their love of letterpress with the world.

moreover, neenah is offering a kickstarter-style fundraising effort of their own: you donate to them for beautifully affordable letterpress rewards, and they match your donation to hamilton! donate here!

friday fun

Husbands – “Dream” from Cauboyz on Vimeo.

this is a great type-only video, and i love the reveal at the end that it’s not just some digital animation. very cute.