recent work: wilcox look book

wilcox look book 2013

the latest project to emerge from natural curiosities founder, christopher wilcox, is simply: wilcox, a clean and modern look at art, design, fashion and music all made by hand in their echo park studio. we played with different aspects of telling this story, and settled on these dye explosions as a unique take on process that also keeps the bright color pops of this brand alive.

after a late-2012 soft launch with a blog introducing the showroom space at HD Buttercup, a full e-commerce site is just around the corner.

see more recent work here.

creative inspiration


palomino branding
palomino branding, image:

a stunning brand & identity for palomino restaurant & bar in seattle by superbig creative, complete with these letterpressed gift cards. see the set at


cool people printing
cool people printing, image: has started a new tumblr: cool people printing, full of nothing but cool people keeping the art of printing alive!


menus for chez panisse
menus for chez panisse, image:

speaking of food and cooking and printing and letterpress, patricia curtan, who loves and does all of these things has released a book of nearly 4 decades of work for chez panisse in menus for chez panisse. it looks like pages of beautiful typography, illustration and printing, i’m very curious to take a look at this book.

event calendar: november 28 – december 4, 2011

826LA bookmaking workshop
826LA bookmaking workshop

it’s hard to believe we’re actually moving into december already! this week, i’m really looking forward to this bookmaking for adults at 826LA, followed by the first colLAboration event on site at golden road brewery, followed yet still by a holiday open house & sale at peter shire studio. maybe after all that, i’ll need the sunday sound bath at yogala!

if you’re all jazzed about cyber monday, there are things you can click on and buy in this store right here.

michael pollan + maira kalman

food rules cover by maira kalman
food rules cover by maira kalman

i’m fine with admitting that i’m a pollan convert, having read most of his food-related books before food rules. at this point, i figured i probably didn’t need to buy this latest one, since i do know what to eat. however, throw maira kalman into the mix, and i might have to buy this illustrated version for all her fantastic style. i love it when great people work together!

creative inspiration

Just My Type from Pentagram on Vimeo.

take a high-speed spin through the new book just my type, video by pentagram! see more of a profile on


many point lake
many point lake, image:

i already think undertaking a logo a day is a pretty big deal, but branding 10,000 lakes is going to brand one minnesota lake every day for longer than most of your parents’ marriages … or try to at least! take a spin, they’re really sweet.

design industry

so, look, it’s not like i’m trying to tell you what to do or anything, but there’s a reason i spend so much time getting to know you and doing research before whipping out your next logo or web site. embrace design strategy is written from one designer to another, but it’s also a great look for clients into why we do research, why we interview you with lots of questions, and why we might sometimes seem like we’re spending too much time getting to know you. it’s all in the strategy!

echo park

awesome innovations in echo park include a very recently-unveiled solar-powered trash & recycling can at sunset & echo park avenue. get the full story from


some fun summer foods have been profiled for Seasonal Eats on LAist lately, here are the most recent:
Seasonal Eats: Capture the Spice of Summer with Jalapeños!
Seasonal Eats: She’s a Peach
Seasonal Eats: Crunch into Sweet Corn!
Seasonal Eats: Melon-Tastic!
Seasonal Eats: Summer Plums!

make it mod!

make it mod! cover & interior spreads
make it mod! cover & interior spreads

another fun cover & layout for quayside publishing, make it mod! is 224 pages of full-color retro recreations you can do yourself with found, upcycled or everyday hardware store items. this book was super-fun to create, full of color pops and mid-century details.

see more recent work here.

oranges by john mcphee

oranges by john mcphee
oranges by john mcphee, from the LA public library

i’ve been converting my daily grind to a more walkable system, and all my regular trips down to sunset boulevard got me thinking that i’ve got to use my local library a lot more. I thought one of my commitments could be to read more [since my personal fallacy is that i perceive myself as too busy], and use the hold system to get books from all over town transferred to my local branch. a recent good experience with the control of nature by john mcphee made me a huge fan of his style, so i decided to check out his body of work, and settled on requesting an early work, oranges.

as a california native, i grew up with orange trees on the property of nearly every home, with the exception of my current one—though i have remedied this by planting dwarf kumquats, meyer lemons and mandarins in the last couple years. for me, oranges have always been something you eat fresh off the tree, so i was curious to see what mcphee would dig up on them.

despite a publication date in 1966, oranges manages to be fairly timeless in reportage, save for then-current fascination with concentrate. in true investigative style, mcphee talks to the men who made the industry, gathering tales of best soil types, most-sought characteristics, devastations of great frosts, and personal stories of the pickers themselves. mcphee has a knack for weaving the facts of the story with rich anecdote, in much the same way michael pollan does today, for a very enjoyable, highly-narrative non-fiction read.

mcphee leaves few stones unturned in his historic research of oranges, though he does favor the florida industry, giving little time to the california industry. i was surprised to learn that oranges were more used for seasoning than fresh fruit in cultures past, and that sour oranges were preferred to sweet, for their more flavorful use in cooking. my friend emily recently made an orange peel powder seasoning for our LA food swap, and i think i’ll be doing a lot more of that with my orange peels in an effort to take advantage of this delicious flavor.

fascinating, too, is the near-obsession with orange juice concentrate that came to market around 1950 and would be in full bloom by the time of this book’s publication. the many industrial uses for oranges that deconstruct it far from a whole food, and break it into chemicals or flavoring agents used to falsely reconstruct fresh-tasting orange products are truly depressing to read. i have often read and said that the industrialization of food systems happened only with my grandparent’s generation, but the damage was so widespread that my parents would be indoctrinated with convenience foods completely, such that by my generation, we were raised on a ton of processed garbage even when parents gave it their best efforts. for that reason, seeing this evolution toward the end of oranges is stark, but to someone who has always been connected to fresh fruit, it should be. we should never forget how spoiled we are in california.

i only wish i could have read a version with the original cover. some of my research into mcphee’s books have revealed that his publishers worked with pretty great designers, though a cursory search isn’t leading me to the designer of this one. this cover is bright and exciting, especially to the new yorker mcphee was, passing through penn station for his obligatory daily glass of fresh-squeeze that inspired him to pitch the story of oranges to the new yorker. little did he know, he’d find enough information to fill a book. since he went to the trouble, and since it’s a fantastic piece of work, timeless beyond its publication date, i think you should read it.

oranges, original cover

i’ve written a profile on oranges for LAist, but there are enough different species of orange that one or another is in season to cover the full year. lately, i’ve taken to chopping up the peel of every orange i eat, spreading the pieces on a plate and drying them in the oven using the pilot heat, and then storing in a jar to add to loose tea blends. zesting your citrus is a great way to harness the oil, which is the main flavor component that allows us to perceive freshness in juice and orange flavored products [which is the reason why it was entirely separated from oranges and used to flavor other things industrially]. it’s powerful and delicious, don’t let any of yours get away.

how to paint flames by bruce caldwell

how to paint flames
interior spreads from how to paint flames by bruce caldwell

another fun project from motorbooks international, how to paint flames by bruce caldwell, a book all about the techniques of painting several styles of flames on any car or truck. the projects are detailed, showing all different types of stencil and mask creation, or how to use air brushes and layer transparent paints and glosses, and the photos are super-fun for any car buffs out there.

see more of our recent work here.

creative inspiration

for all the LA-lovers out there, a time-lapsed video of 24-hours in downtown LA from


recycled calendars by cranky pressman
image: fpo / cranky pressman

since calendar days and dates repeat every 2, 6, and 11 years, cranky pressman designed a faux 1966 calendar to be reused this year, 2011, with the encouragement to use it again in 2022. cool concept, and super-cool looking! see the whole profile at under consideration.

design industry

more for the print’s not dead files, felix ng has started up an arts and culture journal, bracket, and the boyle heights neighborhood of LA just got a new bilingual paperthe boyle heights beat / pulso de boyle heights—reported by teens and funded by the california endowment as a joint collaboration between usc annenberg and la opinión.

for more in print on design, the elements of graphic design by alex w. white is out in 2nd edition.

take a spin through the typography of miami with 8 hour day!

los angeles

illustrated map of LA, 1909
Birdseye View Pub. Co.'s birdseye map of Los Angeles, California in 1909.

here’s a lovely little illustration of our burg of echo park, circa 1909. more on the big map blog.

LA observed has a video of the newly-reopened angeles crest highway, which has been closed for the past 18 months following the station fire. looks like the restoration included lots of newly-topped road.

if you’re looking for an out-of-the-way tour of los angeles, 7 days in LA has a great selection of indie tours that go beyond the generic hollywood tour and give different perspectives on our rich history.