creative inspiration


lab partners for monocle magazine
[image: lab partners]
from the farmlands, through the cities, to the sea! this illustration by lab partners is an amazing perspective on landscapes. thanks for the link.


david hiser for documerica
[image: david hiser]
an amazing find shared on the how design blog: images of the 70s. the documerica project, commissioned by the EPA, hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems. quite an outstanding collection!


alto font
if you’re looking for some great sans serif typefaces that work well in a variety of layouts and styles, check out’s fundamentals: workhorse sans serifs for a great list with examples in action.


sleepers & coal by adam hill
[image: adam hill]
thanks to for showcasing this outstanding work by adam hill in their for your inspiration monday feature. this selection of gig posters shown have some really awesome type treatments and uses, along with his uniquely stylized illustrations.

design industry

a couple from aiga, did you know they’re expanding the resource center to add useful things like the aiga center for practice management, aiming to support all aspects of the business side of graphic design? it’s true! all those questions you might have about rates, legal issues, financial planning, and project management can be found in this public resrouce for best practices. another fantastic aiga development just released is the living principles, helping designers move toward the creation of work that is environmentally, culturally & socially sustainable.. their mission statement: The Living Principles for Design aim to guide purposeful action, celebrating and popularizing the efforts of those who use design thinking to create positive cultural change.

creative inspiration

design history

see america vintage u.s. parks posters

this collection from the archives of national geographic of vintage US parks posters are stunning and inspirational specimens of illustration and design. don’t forget to take a spin through the vintage national parks photos while you’re there. thanks boingboing for the link!

vintage mens adventure magazines
refresh your beverage and get comfortable, this collection of vintage mens adventure magazines from art of manliness is entirely too awesome to pass up or rush through. i might have to buy the book.

another one from the history blogs, <a href="smashing magazine presents 100 years of propaganda: the good, the bad, and the ugly

design industry

werner heisenberg by shannon may
[image: shannon may]
i love art and i love science, so when they come together in exciting ways, it makes me super happy. design sponge shared these awesome illustrations by shannon may this week, and i am loving her web site. even her logo has a cute illustrated diagram worked in. fantastic!

how magazine has some great follow-up blog posts now that the how conference is over. and we’re back is a nice first look at what went down. more how conference love has a little more collected from around the web, some speaker presentations and such.

looking into a summer internship? how magazine has a great article on getting the most out of it: advice for prospective interns. for another perspective on interns, design sponge biz ladies column features hiring interns this week.

need resources to save time and be efficient in your workday? freelance switch offers this collection of cool things you might need: top 3 productivity articles from workawesome.

have a facebook page for your business? not sure what you can add easily that will enhance your presence there? my colleagues over at pi design have some suggestions: jazz up your company facebook page.


GOOD's guide to education innovation
[image: meg paradise]
run over to GOOD’s guide to education and check out all their amazing programs, illustrated with these playful & fun pieces by meg paradise of parliament of owls. look at all their portfolios while you’re there, they all do amazing work.


if you can’t get enough of the world cup, take a look at what designey things are happening at tinyhaus and their piece for nike!

HOW conference 2010, day 3

big blue bear, convention center, denver, colorado
[photo: ©larsonmirek on flickr]

[recap day 1 and day 2 of the HOW conference]

we’re in the home stretch! at this point i was really exhausted—but it’s back to the convention center for the final wrap up on HOW 2010!

designing the future, dodging the vectors

i’m always interested in what the aiga is up to, and wanted to hear what richard grefé would talk about as their new direction. i have to admit, this presentation went by too quickly for me to keep up with the notes, but grefé talked about how design has changed from simply executing on creative direction, to strategic thinking. his idea of dodging the vectors is about the fact that traditions in design practices have become the vectors we most often follow, and it’s time to divert from those in order to evolve the industry, both in practicing differently and teaching it differently. we start as makers of artifacts, and evolve into designers of higher concepts and more interdisciplinary hybrid intangibles. similarly, the global landscape has changed, and since american culture is received less openly, we have to change how we appeal to the rest of the world. aiga will adapt to these changes by investing in the new generation of designers, meeting people where they are, recognizing that social responsibility counts and that institutional authority is no longer valid. interesting points, i’m going to have to download his presentation to recreate the full picture. i couldn’t write fast enough!

rediscovering play: bringing fun and passion to your work…and life

kevin carroll, closing keynote at HOW 2010
[photo: ©larsonmirek on flickr]

kevin carroll was a very inspiring closing keynote for the conference. while he talked about play as a universally important aspect of human culture, my takeaway was that he connected with something he felt passionately about and made it his life’s work, working with ann willoughby to make his ideas accessible in a few forms of media. but above all, his message was to find play and connect with our need to play as an uplifting social exercise. i really enjoyed his style.


overall i really enjoyed my first HOW conference. there were so many amazing people here with so much to share, even advice that may have seemed obvious was re-framed in new contexts as food for thought. there was so much good programming that it was hard to narrow the choices down for concurrent sessions.

that said, i do have a few critiques
first, a lot of the sessions were named something a bit misleading. the session titled killer copy was not about crafting killer copy, it was about creating clear content. three word taglines was not about branding practices so much as changing process and approach. i started to wonder how many other sessions i passed over due to the title [and description] that would have been interesting to me. second, a lot of these presentations are too portfolio showcase-heavy. i remember a time when i might have been more curious what artifacts these designers were producing, but currently i’m a lot more interested in their process and style than having half [or sometimes all] of a presentation be a portfolio show. this is probably due to how online portfolios have become so available remotely, but what i want to see & hear these days is more about how you think rather than what you made. third, the exhibition floor should be open a little more often. it seemed like it was only open during the breaks, and i get that, but a conference like this is so back-to-back that we need lunch breaks outside. the only time the floor was open was when it was flooded with people, and as such, i never got a chance to walk & talk with vendors. they paid for those booths, give them some quality time with attendees, not just a swag-fest.

getting respect is a 2-way street
another thing i noticed in a big way due to the nature of CFC and HOW happening back to back is the difference of the attitude toward design between business owners & independent professionals like myself and in-house designers. in both arenas there is a lot of talk about how to communicate the value of design, how to convince our clients and bosses that design is a priority not to be overlooked. at CFC we talk about strategic thinking v. simple execution on directives. we talk about knowing the value of what we produce, creating a fantastic experience for our clients, and charging accordingly. and we talk to each other about how we plan to do this, things we have done that work, evidence that we have converted clients to believers because they see the return on their investments. this was also discussed at HOW, but when i’d talk to attendees, i also heard in-house designers talking about working on the side for rates that could never support an independent practice, doing branding work on an hourly rate with no value add commensurate to the service, or working to justify the value of design to the higher-ups and then turning around to pressure their contract designer to do extra work for free. when david berman challenged designers to do 5 hours of work per week for a cause, i heard grumbling along the lines of …but how do you pay the bills? when i related some of brian dougherty’s sustainable best practices to someone i met, the response was but how do you get clients to pay for it? this was disheartening, but it’s no surprise to me that getting respect in this industry is so hard when so many people are willing to sell it out in one way or another, or come to the most simple, somewhat-cop-out answer. there’s an inherent flaw in trying to sell your clients and bosses on the value of ideas if you’re selling logos on the side at production rates. to be valued in the way we say we’d like to be at these conferences, we all have to bring professionalism and respect to everything we do, in all areas of our practice. we all have to live this message more so we can talk about it less.

HOW conference 2010, day 2

HOW conference 2010 exhibition floor

[recap day 1 of the HOW conference here]

how can we use design to influence positive change?

this breakfast with kit hinrichs was a late addition of interest to me. hinrichs started off by showing some of his work relevant to the topic, and then introduced his senior designer, maurice woods, to present on his labor of love the inneract project, where he offers free design classes to creative kids and teaches the concepts of creative problem solving. woods shared some pretty outstanding work from this program, which grew from a few interested students to a thriving classroom of engaged kids, bringing design to their personal passions. this program has a host of sponsors, including sappi paper, who handed out a cool booklet on creating positive change afterwards.

visual storytelling: resonate and activate audiences

i was interested this presentation by nancy duarte since i’m considering doing some speaking in the future. her talk was hands-down rockin’—and it should be, because she’s been in the business more than 20 years. too many presentations are about the presenter and not about helping the audience. duarte talked about deciding who your audience is when they walk in, and who you want them to be when they walk out. creating a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter that starts ‘to whom it may concern.’ duarte talked about contrasting between what is and what could be, take your audience back and forth between the two, using storytelling to talk about transformation. she had a fascinating way of telling her own story to illustrate this, starting out as a slide design company, moving through the transformation to powerpoint, and facing competition from abroad in a global marketplace, she had to transform her own business to remain competitive. she also talked about mapping out some of the most famous and poignant speeches in history, and formulating her own for presentations that have the most impact. using contrast as a structure, add a veil of emotional appeal in each transition to connect the audience to the story. use different media and try to illustrate points a few different ways. every presentation needs a star minute that everyone will remember. finally, deliver profound experiences, be the authentic you.

evolve: the future of sustainable design

this presentation by brian dougherty was just what i was looking for: something that goes beyond using recyclable paper. dougherty described that as the formative years of green design, and said he wanted to push it further: there must be better options than green & leaves or sustainability as a movement will hit a dead end. over time, green design has become about designing for outcomes. if you look at green design as a vehicle for changing behavior, design for change is your job. in order to do this, we need to make green design accessible, consider it part of a whole system that uses best practices, and give tools that enable the right actions. dougherty talked about his concept of designing backwards, considering the final resting place of the piece before creating it. if we don’t want it in the trash, we must design it to be used or recycled; if we want it recycled we must make it easy to de-ink; if we want to waste less, consider a package that uses as much of the sheet as possible to avoid throwing out unused materials. take these concepts up the chain, talk to vendors, find out about materials and processes and think about how best to use them.

three. word. taglines. [and other horrible branding practices]

tate linded at HOW 2010

as a branding specialist, i was curious about what tate linden had to say about branding practices. he ended up talking less about the practices themselves and more about developing a process that breaks out of “the written rules” of how traditional business has been done, and gave examples of how he wrote his own. the client is best qualified to open up insight into what they think their brand means. it’s up to you to add value. some of his practices include exploring all avenues before choosing one [rather than downplaying the alternatives to the client or allowing consensus to water-down concepts], always working directly with the decision-maker on every project, and knowing your target and going after their motives. some of the brand practices he cautioned us to avoid: company names that are acronyms, three word taglines that aren’t a call to action.

neenah white party

heather parlato & beth goldfarb at the neenah white party
[photo: neenah paper]

after all that action was over, we had a break for a couple hours before the white party. we took our time having dinner and then dressed up in our white outfits. i assembled a paper dress of tissue and outdated paper swatch books, because “it seemed like a good idea at the time” and “i am nuts.” beth made that awesome tissue flower for me, it really ties the whole ensemble together!

[continue with day 3 of the HOW conference here]

HOW conference 2010, day 1

how conference 2010 backdrop
[photo: ©larsonmirek on flickr]

from one conference to another, we jumped right into the HOW conference on monday morning. my conference buddy, beth goldfarb, and i had matching agendas for today, so we got our breakfasts and jumped in.

design and social responsibility

david berman gave a really inspiring presentation on how design can change the world if we start asking what can we do with design, where will we have the greatest impact? he showed several examples of design solutions to seemingly non-design problems where a strategic system + clear information becomes a network for people in need and changes lives. examples:, and if we had the innovation that created facebook dedicated to good causes, we could change the world. indeed! berman also talked about some of the failures of bad design and how it’s altered the course of history: the palm beach ballot fiasco, how traffic lights could be redesigned for the color blind and how is using the space between soda bottles to ship essentials to third world countries. i have seen this theme since the beginning of my involvement in aiga, and am glad to see people are still talking about it, because the movement toward better practices has been a slow one. we helped create consumerism, so we can help move away from it. berman challenged the audience to dedicate 5 hours of their work week to design for worthwhile causes. hopefully those who were moved by this will find a way to make it happen.

a perfect marriage: great design and killer copy

the most effective design i see appeals to me because of how the design and copy interact cleverly, so i was sold on attending this presentation by erin anderson of she opened with a common scenario we’ve seen too often: where design of a site and content for it have been developed separately and then pieced together as 11th hour content, which is always less effective than a site that has been developed with design & content hand in hand. web users read 20-28% of the words presented on a web page. don’t fight this fact, plan for it. think about your target audience, their lifestyles and how they interact with information. prioritize content by what you want users to do when they visit, and don’t bury these items with less relevant content. plan content so users see themselves in it. don’t forget about mobile users, low visibility & literacy users, and international users, who may be using a different interface, or may not be able to read the content you’re presenting. in short, for the best outcome, involve your writer early, have them come to all the meetings, involve them in brand objectives and create an editorial style guide so all future content stays on message and within style guidelines. plan an editorial calendar for refreshed content at regular intervals, and do periodic content audits to make sure everything on the site is still relevant. she also gave a run down of best practices writing tips to keep in mind when creating your own content.

how to sell your ideas to bosses, clients, and other decision makers

sam harrisson at the how design conference
[photo: ©larsonmirek on flickr]

sam harrison presented how to sell ideas, kicking it off with a funny selection of negative client feedback. often our reaction is to think ‘they just don’t get it’ but this is a dangerous victim mentality. i liked how harrison isolated every aspect of a selling situation and gave examples of best cases and how plan for them. involve clients from the beginning so they are invested in the concept long before the final pitch. know your buyers and how close to buying they are in the spectrum between awareness and action. ask open-ended, simple, and follow up questions, and always add what else should i have asked you? and listen to what might be the most important thing they tell you. every presentation is a performance. they have certain expectations of you, and it’s on you to rise to them. be the best possible version of yourself when you present. get to know the room, practice your delivery, ask for a stress-free time in your client’s schedule, and don’t distract them with hand-outs. then harrison gave his 5 secrets for putting together a good presentation: have 1 theme, open with a strong start using a story, question, fact or quote, use simple language with memorable quotes peppered in, be visual with your words, and add drama using a prop or visual demonstration that makes your point. go in passionately and the client will pick it up. give your ideas the energy they deserve!

make stuff

mike perry presented on his extensive work outside the strictly commercial, showing illustrations, collaborations, zines and sculptures. his approach to work has turned more into taking commercial work in order to fund an art career where he can explore his own themes and ideas. his work is hard to describe, but take a spin through his site and watch some of the video tours and you’ll get the idea.

folded inspiration

kit hinrichs and trish witkowski showed folding techniques from the conventional to the totally awesome, presented by sappi paper. hinrichs showed a selection of his own work, and then witkowski talked about how she got interested in folding, which led her to get a ph.d on the subject. she also presented all kinds of complicated folds—all with the kind suggestion to please talk to your printer and binder through the entire process to insure success. these were really awesome ideas in the area of paper technology, and the presentation came with a book full of diagrams and samples. total paper fetish love!

since this was the only night without a party scheduled, i took it off & went home after dinner. saving my energy for the next 2 days!

[continue with day 2 of the HOW conference here]

creative retreat: friday

i’m on retreat this week and the studio is closed. however, i have lined up a selection of getaway-themed posts to enjoy while i’m gone. one is set to go up each day, so stay tuned…

for my friday articles, i figured i’d keep in the theme of the creative retreat and point out 3 articles that can help you plan and prepare for your own creative retreat. i think these kinds of activities are great for the development of any business, but especially for creative types, we need regular excursions to recharge our senses.

5 ways to have a successful retreat, from

how to host a fun and productive staff retreat, by lisa simmons for

plan a management retreat with lasting results, by christine corelli for CED magazine

if you haven’t planned a business retreat before, i highly suggest at least a year-end getaway to step outside your business, reflect on the past year and plan for the next.

article of the week: packaging design

biz ladies: how to design the perfect packaging by yael miller, from

packaging design is an entire area of design that has its own set of challenges and criteria. it’s not simply some extrapolation of graphic design to a 3-d object. it’s the buyer’s first interaction with your product, and its specific purpose is to introduce and entice. miller’s article is a great primer on how packaging should function, what you should consider when creating packaging for different products, and a breakdown of your cost options. an excellent read for designers and clients alike!

event calendar: april 26 – may 2, 2010

here’s what i’ll be doing

tuesday, april 27, 7:30-9am the LA area chamber referral breakfast, FREE to LA area chamber members. strengthen your network and meet other businesses from around LA. if you’d like to check it out, let me know and you can be my guest.

thursday, april 29, 10am PST seth godin talks with penelope trunk of brazen careerist, FREE with your brazen careerist membership [also free]. i’m always curious what seth has to say, and i keep missing these webcasts because they’re live. i’m going to make sure to catch this one!

thursday, april 29, 7:30-10pm eats & geeks: tapas, wine & chocolate. Founded by Claudia Yuskoff, EATS & GEEKS is for like minded creative professionals to take a break from the digital grind and gather for an exquisite meal prepared by members. join the facebook group and meet up with us!

other events for this week

monday, april 26, 7:30-9pm yo at the santa monica apple store. FREE! Join Yo Santosa for a show and tell at the Third Street Promenade Apple Store. She’ll share her experiences in the print, branding and motion worlds; her work has run the gamut from Pinkberry branding to such television and feature main titles like Desperate Housewives and 300. Ooh la la.

thursday, april 29, 6-9pm the art of connecting: drawing others to you FREE. A presentation by DR. BILL SALEEBEY author of Connecting Beyond the Name Tag, will discuss the importance of setting and timing in networking and how we can bridge different worlds.

saturday, may 1, 1-5pm 7th annual portfolio review & job fair discounted to AIGA student & professional members.

creative inspiration


this display face sans merci by SMeltery reminds me of so many vacations, postcards, cafe signs and posters i’d see along my travels. i think this typeface does a great job of recalling the flavor of many european visual type styles.

want a font created from your handwriting? fontifier will provide you with the tools to create one with simple instructions and costs just $9 per font.

design industry

the earth glass project is turning glass bottles and containers into upcycled jewelry. some of these pieces are quite exquisite, and as a wine lover, i think it would be really cool to have one of these rings [each one is a different size].

box bottle bag is a new book by andrew gibbs inspired as a best-of collection from his blog the dieline where he collects samples of all types packaging design. if you’re into packaging design, or you have a product that needs packaging design, this book & blog are a great survey of packaging material everywhere!


the 50 best color sites for designers from print magazine is a great list of everything from color palette software, usafe matches for readability, and help with color theory.


as creatives, we have to keep a steady stream of tricks and workarounds to keep things feeling fresh so we can prevent burnout. 5 ways to regain your creative joy from outlines some simple practices you can implement so creative flow isn’t such a struggle.