April 30, 2009

Show Me Dharma

Yay, my Show Me Dharma logo was chosen by the insight meditation organization of Mid-Missouri to be used in their print publications. In all honesty, I was beginning to feel a little defeated by design, so this success was a great confidence booster and just what I needed to make it through the rest of the semester. Below are  the redesigned logos; I refined the typography, made the text bigger and adjusted the dots on the "swirl" part of the design. I think the text could go even bigger than this, but I'll see what they think. 

April 29, 2009

Smooshy-faced Cats

Click here and watch the video. 

The 41 second mark is priceless.

Design pt. deux

First of all, how adorable is that couple in the oval frame?! Very. These are my initial designs for the pet look-alike department pages. When I found the photos on the server I was floored — they are amazing! I was expecting something much different, but this professional, cheeky and almost "glamour shots" look is exactly what I was hoping for. I am planning on adding a subtle drop shadow to the frames (to add some context) and maybe a decorative hanging hook/ribbon above them with the names below treated like artwork labels. I'm not sure if this whole vision will work for a department, but I think it could look really cool.

Next up, more Renovate | Style work. Here are two of my three departments (I still need to get the editor's letter from the server.) The first is a three page department on easy ways to update your home's interior. It's a little more detail oriented than the rest of the departments, so I was excited to do some product cutouts for the "Hob Knobbing" page. It looks a lot like my original prototype department's nice to be able to add a personal touch to my pages while still keeping them within the style guide. 

You know when you're designing and you just CAN'T look at a page any longer? That's how this following spread was for me. It's just two pages! About products! Why is this so hard? I wanted to avoid cutouts because I had already used them on the previous page, but how the hell do I incorporate DOORS, SUITCASES AND ARMOIRES on one page without using cutouts or boring square photos? I searched and searched Meredith for a single room shot that featured all of these items, to no avail, obviously. I finally just decided to do a strange feather effect on the single images to avoid the compartmentalization that sometimes consumes department pages. 

I will leave you with this, the redesigned ren|ovation page, the last page of the magazine! 

This Week in Design

So, I have a lot of design work to post. First — pet covers! Here are the redesigns I will be showing tomorrow. I decided to keep the photo collage going and create a dominant image. I like how the speech bubbles give the pets a "voice," because afterall, this is THEIR issue.

I love pugs. I made this cover just because I think a simple pet shot gets the message across on a cover. In my mind it would be a photographed piece, and the dog would have a leash (attached to their collar) lying on the ground, their owner in the distance running after them. 

Global Journalist. I was a little nervous because of the more serious mood of this publication because I tend to have a bit too much fun with my designs sometimes. However, I lucked out because the Peru piece I was assigned has beautiful photography that basically did the design for me. I have three pages, starting on a single right splash page. I stared at that single blank page's so hard to go from double-truck openers to single pagers. I decided 
I wanted to use the pristine and beautiful photo of the Machu Picchu landscape in contrast with the photograph of a hoard of tourists on the second spread for contrast. So, I was stuck with this somewhat ambiguous horizontal photo to use on my opening page; I just couldn't really figure out what to do. I ended up using a black bar  slightly overlapping the first photo to create a visual barrier representative of how tourism is destroying and "overlapping" the beauty of Machu Picchu. I like the font because I don't find it distracts from the photography or the content, but at the same time looks current.

Renovate | Style. Pictured here is my "Hats to Home" feature. I was very pleased with the way the entire feature developed. My theory behind the trippy opening spread was born from a single word that caught my eye in the dek..."shift." After reading that, I decided to "shift"
 different parts of the image to reflect the shifting of both the interior of the lofts after their renovation, the exterior of the building over the years and also the neighborhood. This story featured a more modern interior than the rest of the features, so I just decided to go with it instead of trying a traditional layout that would make no sense with the content. 

April 23, 2009

VOX Redesign

Can I just say, THANK GOD. I feel like this VOX redesign is much-needed and Meredith found fabulous ways to solve some common design and aesthetic problems with the current magazine's style guide. 

My favorite part of the new style guide, by far, is the addition of photo cutouts. I think doing whole or partial photo cuts will make the publication look more professional and also adds an element of spontaneity that is missing from the current design. Like Meredith said, the cuts are a little "treat" for the reader, and I especially love the freedom to overlap and layer that comes with this element. 

The side-by-side hed and dek treatment, complete with  newly updated typefaces, sounded a little unorthodox but looks great. The contrast between the bold hed and delicate dek works really well in creating a clear hierarchy among the page elements. Also, the vertical bar between the two is a very popular current design element that works much better than the whole stacked Frutiger/Frutiger thing that was getting quite old. 

April 21, 2009

Louis Vuitton Don

Okay, so there's been mention of Kanye A LOT in the media lately, and I feel obligated to at least say a few words about his new Louis Vuitton shoe campaign, South Park parody (which, by the way, was gold) and a new release with the Clipse and Kaws.

First, the shoes. The "Louis Vuitton Don" has truly lived up to his self-given nickname and just launched his shoe campaign with the French luxury name. A few of the ads are a bit risque, but definitely in high fashion taste rather than sleaze.

The shoes range from around $700-$1200. *editor's note: thank you Tim for filling me in on the even more obnoxious price tag. The pink-soled shoes retail at around $1140. What!? Even for Louis Vuitton this is ridiculous, especially in comparison to their extremely popular and classic "Speedy" purse that runs around $500. Yes, not cheap, but I think many would pay much more for a purse than a pair of obnoxious sneakers (sorry K). But, just in case one pair of overpriced urbanized designer shoes isn't enough, they do come in multiple colors. As far aesthetics go, I am liking the all-red leather ones featured in his ad above — I mean, if you're going to go with the suit and sneakers look, go all the way.

Next, the South Park parody. I must admit I was a bit worried about this one seeing as how my loyalty to Kanye is blind, undying and all-consuming and everyone else's love for him is, well, nonexistent. I ended up thoroughly enjoying the episode and thought they effectively ripped him to shreds by not only making fun of his ego (to be expected) but also his ridiculous sense of determination and lack of self-awareness. I, personally, just love that they used such horrible graphics for his concert set; Kanye would never stand for that typeface!

On another note, the Carlos Mencia rip was long overdue.

Lastly, Kanye along with the Clipse and Kaws recently released a new song (with no shortage of hater shout-outs) called "Kinda Like a Big Deal."

...Kinda Like a Big Deal? Not so original, but hey, at least Kanye isn't depressed anymore.

The track is a little raw, but a nice beat compliments of Mr. West and the lyrical work of the Clipse make up for any production shortcomings. It is a refreshing step away from the over-produced and over-synthesized mash-up of crap that has been released on the hip hop scene lately — thank you T-Pain for starting a horrendous mainstream hip hop trend that has mysteriously creeped its way into the underground and just will.not.leave.

With this release, however, it looks like the synthesizer might finally be on its way out.

April 9, 2009


I really like Peeps. While many find them disgusting or even downright offensive, I love the tiny marshmallow delights both for aesthetic appeal (they are so awkward and cute) and taste (mmm you can taste the grains of sugar.) I even searched far and wide last halloween for a Peeps costume, but then decided I should probably keep at least a little self-respect and be Lil' Wayne instead, complete with lollipop chain. 

So much the whole self-respect thing...

That being said, meet this crazy peep-collector. Someone sent this to me on Facebook, which I'm hoping is not some sort of indication that my peepsession is spiraling out of control — I mean, I don't even own a stuffed peep!


April 8, 2009

Days With My Father

Wow. WOW. Thanks Joanna from Cup of Jo for introducing me to this intensely emotional and touching website. You can follow the story here.

And if the content itself doesn't touch your heart (impossible!) this is an amazing example of webspiration. I wish I had the skills to design something so intricate and visually powerful.

Meet Jason

Jason is a designer for a branch of the HNTB Architecture and Engineering firm. Learn a little bit more about him and see what advice he has for beginning designers. 

1. What inspired you to become a designer?
I always wanted to be an architect but I sucked at math so I discovered graphic design. This is how a lot of graphic designers come to be.

2. How many years of experience do you have in the field, and how extensive is your design education?
I have over 11 years of experience in the field. My design education is very extensive, considering it never ends even when you have a job. How much college have I had? That isn't the simplest of questions. I started at JCCC to get my basics out of the way. After that I went to KU for a year. Then back to JCCC to enroll in their graphic design program. Eventually I graduated with an Associated degree and over 160 hours of school. UGH!

3. What do you wish you had known as a beginning designer?
That I also need to be a salesman. You're constantly selling your ideas, not just explaining them.

4. When and why did you begin specializing in graphic design, as opposed to magazine or book design?
I don't like designing inside a box. Those are both too limiting. Said by someone that follows a corporate standards manual. =)

5. When did you begin work at HNTB?

6. Describe a typical day on the job (the more specific, the better!)
I work in the marketing department within HNTB Architecture. I work on new business proposals, interviews (fancy dog and pony shows). I work on trade shows, magazine ads, career fairs and any internal or external collateral needs. Any given day I could be working on any or all of these things.

7. What kinds of pressures are you under in this position?
Lots of tight deadlines and a high expectation of excellence.

8. What design trends are you predicting for 2009?

9. How do you keep your work up-to-date and current with these trends?
Books, magazines, annuals, design blogs and portals and lectures. I don't get too big into trends. I stick with classic design rules and that seems work. Observing the world around me is my biggest influence.

10. Your favorite and least favorite part of the job?
Winning a huge project and being a part of that success. Losing a job and being a part of that.

11. What kind of software do you use regularly, and how important are web design skills for designers and art directors? 
The CD suite Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator and in the web world Flash and Dreamweaver. I think it should be mandatory to have some web knowledge.

This week in design...

My flash drive is officially full. I never thought that would happen. This is the reason you haven't been seeing as much of my work posted lately; I'm  having trouble remembering whether certain files are on my flash drive, external hard drive, bengal space or the VOX server. Well, I think I've finally found my most recent stuff, so here ya go. 

Last Thursday my finalized payday loan feature ran. I was really happy with the end result, and think the contrasting of the obnoxiousness of the splash page with formality of the story's entry point is much more obvious without the full gradient.  The page is all party on the left and business on the right, much in the same way that payday loans seem too good to be true, but must be used carefully and responsibly. 

I also designed some VOX covers for the "Screen Saviors" story. The top one is my favorite redesign, followed by the one I actually submitted. I submitted the one with the movie stills just to help clarify exactly what the story is about; "Screen Saviors" alone is a little confusing. 

I also redesigned ren|ovation, one of my Renovate | Style department pages. It looks a lot more visually appealing now, and the directions are much easier to follow. I'm still playing with the brick background; some thought it was a bit too busy. I was thinking about changing the brick to a white brick (for texture and readability) but John thought we should keep the red brick and change the photos in the frame to black and white. I really love the pop of color the paintings bring to the page so I'm hesitant about doing that. Which one do you think would work best?

April 7, 2009

Favorite Fonts

yes, I called them fonts. I don't think I'm experienced enough to say I am an expert on typefaces yet, so this is just a list of where I am right now with my font preferences. 

Helvetica Neue Ultralight: duh

Baskerville: classic

Big Caslon: so elegant, but the sharp points are menacing at the same time; kind of like how stilettos are both dangerous AND feminine.

Tw Cen: similar feel to Gill Sans, but not nearly as recognizable 

Din: thanks to Sarah and Renovate | Style, I really enjoy the versatility of this one. It can look fun  (light) or serious and technical (condensed)

BlairMDITC: used a lot on book covers, and looks great with lots of tracking and kerning

Rockwell: I can never make it look good in my own work, but really appreciate it when I see it done well in other design 

Comic Sans: ha, just kidding! I appreciate you even reading this far.

Shameless self-promotion

Last week we presented websites. Mine was ROUGH. If I remember correctly, NONE of the menu bars link to the correct pages, which is really fabulous and professional. I am, however, really excited to get my links working and flash slideshows up and running in the next few weeks. Pictured above is the nameplate I'm using for the main page and logo of my professional site, and although I probably would keep using it even if everyone hated it, it was great to hear that almost everyone thought it looked visually appealing and worked with my stark(ish) website concept.

I was also thinking about using this same nameplate for the covers of my mini portfolio; I would use it on the cover (white text on black background) and then mirror the text on the back cover (so it would be backwards when you flip it over.)  I think it is a timeless enough concept and design to use on something as important as a mini portfolio, but is also graphic enough to garner attention. Let me know what you think; is just having my name on the cover of the mini portfolio too generic or ambiguous? Also, what do you think about the black with white text? I was a little worried about fingerprints, but those would show up even worse on white. Do employers even care about this?

I am in midst of redesigning my resume as well. I've got the text part finalized and am playing with the design. Would it be obnoxious to use the same nameplate for my resume too? I kind of like the idea of creating a brand for myself, but also worry it may be redundant and tired after awhile. Comments DEFINITELY welcome regarding any and all of these concerns!

The Odyssey

Tonight I was talked into attending "The Odyssey," a dinner put on by the Hotel and Restaurant Management students each Tuesday. The HRM students are divided into a team in charge of one dinner and treat it like they are running their own restaurants; kind of like our Meredith projects. This week's theme was dubbed "Odyssey" because it was a tantalizing tastebud tour through the Mediterranean. The meal began with a Coppola chardonnay, pita and hummus (warm toasted pita + fresh hummus = my favorite) and a Greek salad. For the main course I ordered the grilled swordfish with polenta (or you could get veal or lambchops) and baklava with cappuccino ice cream for dessert. Sounds amazing, right?

It was by no means terrible, but I have to admit that despite the ultra upscale sounding menu you could definitely tell it was a student-run dinner. The pita was dry and cold, the salad salty, the swordfish oily and sweet(?) and the baklava had no honey. But the chardonnay, garlicky hummus and cappuccino ice cream were all-star and made up for the rest of the meal.  Good or bad, I recommend the experience because you can STUDENT CHARGE everything and it's a great learning opportunity for the students.

I guess the reason I bring this up is primarily because of the dinner table talk. While in the middle of complaining about the food and our futures, or lacktherof, I brought up the color hunt video we watched today in design class. Well, I felt like a complete nerd because there I was, bursting at the seams trying to explain how the designers were in full safari gear, matching hundreds of swatches to leaves and murky water and strange grasses and Amazonian sky — while my friends stared at me blankly. They didn't get it. I guess that just means I'm in the right capstone.

I will leave you with this lovely image of the Mediterranean sea. Back to the grind; I have faith that someday all this hard work will pay off and I'll be able to soak in this view everyday from my Greek villa.

April 3, 2009

Proud to be an Iowan

...and for once it has nothing to do with a sports team, a vegetable or some sort of natural disaster recovery.  I am extremely shocked, but even more pleased, with Iowa's unanimous rejection of the same-sex marriage ban.

Ironically enough, my roommate decided to rent the movie "Milk" tonight. After the disaster that was "Rachel Getting Married" — I really tried to appreciate it, but just couldn't — Milk was a timely and much-needed dose of optimism, inspiration and, yes, hope.

And, in case you haven't seen it, here is an amazing typographic video accompanying Harvey Milk's 1978 "You Cannot Live on Hope Alone" speech. 

Happy Happy Friday!

Why I will never fly United (or Delta or American or...) ever again.

April 1, 2009

Renovate|Style Update

Here is my latest Renovate|Style department. I realize it has a lot of problems, but I think I like its' direction. I really like the photo cut-outs, I just need to work on featuring photos that more clearly represent the project from start to finish and adjust sizes and placement. It's hard to look at a page from a virginal perspective (as John put it, ha) and realize that not everyone knows what the hell a "DVD memory keeper" is. Jan and John gave me a really good suggestion to create my own DVD case frames in photoshop so I could put colored paintings and more refined designs within each frame. This will a) give me a prettier dominant photo, b) appeal to an affluent audience by upgrading the project to a finer art level  and c) solve the whole problem with the page's "taxi-ness."

I really like the yellow highlighters bleeding off the left edge of the page, but I can see how the page really isn't easy to follow or clean looking at all. I will work on creating more modular text areas (perhaps to mirror the grids of the frame?)  to help create a more cohesive page that is easy to use and bold yet refined.


For me, there is nothing more inspiring than just looking at a ton of stuff. Although it may not be the most professional way to go about designing, it sure gives me ideas. These are some of my favorite inspiration posters; clearly I focus more on typography than actual illustration, which I think is pretty telling of my personal style. 
One of my favorite bands! I love the flower child theme they've got going on. It's a much needed and drastic change from other band posters circulating the lampposts.

Pink and red are two of my favorite colors (especially together), and I think this poster does it in a nice, subtle way. The designer lets the text scream at you rather than using just the color for impact.

Chartreuse! Ah! I love it! And I know some people hate filled bowls, but I think it can make an impact when needed. It can be particularly effective and more relevant when used for events and publications that cater to designers; they can appreciate it rather than wonder what happened to the "Os."
First off, adorable dogs. They would be even more adorable if they were twin pugs. Secondly, as a self-proclaimed hater of all "baby" colors, aka pastels, I must admit that this dusky purple succeeds in feeling quite modern.