Animation on Toast

Ok Go has a history of creating amazing music videos—this one is no exception. Well worth a few minutes of your time.

In other news my blog has been pretty quiet lately. I'm taking a great class at SVA right now, and it's taking up quite a bit of my time. I expect we'll return normal programing in Decemeber.


Advice from Chuck Close

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and somthing else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

Via: We Are The Digital Kids
Image via: Contemporary Art and Artists


Judged by Their Covers

There's a new grocery store coming to Stamford called Fairway. According the ads I've seen, it sounds like the kind place for people who really care about food. That sounds great to me, but the ads at the train station don't communicate that same passion for food.

When creating/critiquing work I find it helps to try not pay attention to the meaning of the text, but instead to guess at its content and intended audience purely from evidence give by the graphic elements. In this case there's something about the chunky Dom Casual-esque font and the color scheme that seems closer to local mechanic or tire shop, and not—great place to find exotic foods you won't find elsewhere.


Design at Apple

“Design at Apple is at the highest level of the organization, led by Steve personally. Design at other companies is not there. It is buried down in the bureaucracy somewhere… In bureaucracies many people have the authority to say no, not the authority to say yes. So you end up with products with compromises.”

Taken from the interview: John Sculley On Steve Jobs


Now you know

Earlier this evening I was wondering what typeface Good Magazine uses for body copy. Rather than actually look at the text I did what all good Millennials do; I googled it. Unfortunately the results seemed to focus mostly on the logo typeface and not on the text inside the magazine. Now that I know the answer I thought I'd fill the void I found in my search.

The answer is Sabon, although feel free to correct me if you know otherwise.



Leaf Garamond

This was for a project I was working on recently. The concept didn't end up getting used, but I had fun making it so I thought I would share. Hopefully Mr. Garamond isn't rolling in his grave now.


Something I fail to understand

I was in a bookstore this weekend and noticed this collection of books on table. Maybe it's just because I'm what some might call a millennial, but the fact that these books even exist seems a little silly to me. If this cat can figure out how to use an iPad those two manuals might be a bit of overkill.


Some Amazing Light Painting with the iPad

This video is too fun not to share. I've done a little bit of simple light writing in the past but this takes that idea to a whole new level.

via: Brandflakes for Breakfast

James Victore on Branding

“The definition of branding is not letting the competition define who you are.”


Jessica Hische on Drop Caps and the Death of Print

Jessica Hische's custom typography is always amazing. In this video she talks about her daily drop cap project and the death of unnecessary print.


A Visit to Roger Black's Studio

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Roger Black's studio with a few other students from SVA. He spent an hour with us, giving a tour of his studio and showing us some of the new projects that he's working on. As a designer who is still very much at the beginning of a career I'm very appreciative of mature designers who are willing to be generous with their time and answer questions.


Back to Basics

I was at my in-laws' house this week. They were putting some old furniture out by the road free for anyone to take and they asked me to make a sign. Normally I would have fired up the mac and picked (insert your favorite condensed sans serif here), but I didn't have my computer—all I had was some paper and a sharpie. I'm glad that's all I had, I had so much more fun drawing the letters than I ever would have setting the type in Illustrator.


Michael Bierut - Creative Mornings

Michael Bierut is one of the designers I admire most. At Creative Mornings he spoke on designer-client relationships.


Some of my work outside of work

It's been a while since I've shared any of the projects from my SVA class. Below are two of the projects I did in Genevieve Williams' class.

Public Service Announcement Poster Series
The prompt: Take a local cause or event and design a series of posters.

My Idea: SONO Artsfest, Cure for the common weekend

The prompt: Research a topic that's important to you and create an infographic that reflects your findings


Variation on a theme

This logo done by Alan Fletcher for the Victoria and Albert Museum has always been one of my favorites.

The museum commissioned Troika to make sign for them. They created a moving sculpture from the logo—I don't think they could have done a better job. Watch the video it's well worth a minute or two of your time.

via: The Ministry of Type


Not so Beautiful

Not the worst thing, but a missed alignment opportunity.


Some things are better in print

I'm not a sports fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I couldn't help but appreciate the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer the morning after Lebron made his decision.

Getting my news on the web is great, but this layout communicates so much more than any generic web sports page layout would have.


Just the way I planned it

In my experience, very few projects make it through the review process exactly like I had originally planned. After several rounds of edits and revisions the final product can end up looking pretty different from the idea as it was conceived in my sketchbook. This project was an exception to that trend.


April Greiman

“Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.”


Looking Back or A Good Place to Start

This blog is nearly three years old, so I figure I'm overdue for a look back. I started out in the land of graphic novels, but after a little more than a year I made a sharp transition towards graphic design.

A few things that have been noticed by others along the way.

Some people really seem to like the typographic eyesore series.

I've also received a few visits from people looking for a lesson on kerning and for information on why it's a bad idea to stretch type.

However the post that has received the most traffic from google has nothing to do with typography.

A lesson learned

If I had to pick only one thing I've taken away from this process over the past three years it would be to always keep exploring. I've seen so much art and learned so many new things just from checking out the influences of the bloggers I follow. The stream of inspiration has been pretty much endless.


As I have grown as a designer and blogger, I've taken inspiration from Ben, David, Khoi and Tina; their blogs have functioned as my morning graphic design newspaper.



Here are two pages of notes I took for Intermediate Design with Genevieve Williams. Even though this was for documentation only I thought they ended up looking nice, so here they are.


Good design isn’t everything

Last weekend my wife and I moved into a condo and out of the apartment we had since we got married. As I spent a few days carrying boxes up and down stairs I thought about the time we had in our old place. If I examined the experience like a designer a lot of flaws came to mind. The dishwasher leaked into the apartment below us, making it all but unusable; the seals were broken in several windows causing condensation to build up between the panes; for about a year our bedroom window leaked profusely whenever it rained; the boiler frequently ran out of hot water and the walls were painted really bold bizarre colors.

At first glance the laundry list of problems would seem to indicate that we had a pretty frustrating time living there but this wasn't the way I felt. Instead, thinking back made me realize just how much I enjoyed the three years we spent there. The imperfections that I mentioned while annoying didn't impact my overall experience. The reason for this is relationship. The positive experiences interacting with a person far out weighed the negative experiences interacting with objects. If the objects in the apartment had been flawless but the relationship was bad my experience would have been very different.

This is a pretty specific scenario but I think the concept applies pretty well elsewhere. Good design can solve many problems, but the truth is sometimes it can only go so far—I can't accompany a brochure and control the experience a person has interacting with representatives from the organization. My role then is one of creating great first impressions and doing my best to make the object I designed easy and enjoyable to use, after that it's out of my hands.

“Graphic design will save the world right after rock and roll does.”

In honor of John Wooden

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."


Typographic Day Ruining - Parking Lot Variety

This is probably the worst parking lot typography I've ever seen.

It doesn't have to look like this, just look at what a brilliant job Axel Peemoeller did with the signage for a parking garage.


Paula Scher – Hillman Curtis Artist Series

One of my favorite lines from this interview is when Paula Scher describes her thought process for designing the Jazz at Lincoln Center logo.

"I always look for some basis for being able to give back someone's values to them visually."
—Paula Scher



“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”


Rory Sutherland: Life lessons from an ad man

Rory's thoughts on perceived value are provocative and entertaining, well worth 17 minutes of your time.


Typographic Day Ruining

If you're musician you know this feeling. You might be walking along and all of the sudden someone is singing a song you like, but they just keep hitting all the wrong notes. No matter how hard you try you can't not hear all the mistakes. In the same way I can't help but notice all the annoying quirks this typeface has.

Here are a few of spots that drive me crazy:

At least it's nice to know I'm not the only one.


An Unwillingly Uninformed Customer

My old television from college finally died this week, so it's time to go find a new one. I usually navigate the tech buying experience confidently, but I felt really indecisive after being greeted by a wall of nearly identical black boxes.

When making a decision I typically have some sort of brand loyalty to fall back on . The information I "know" about a particular product may not always be objective, but at least it gives me some kind of an opinion. I know that I want either a Canon or Nikon when purchasing a DSLR camera. For inkjet printers, I know that I should go for an Epson. I even have an opinion when it's time to get some laundry detergent. I know that Tide's the best, but it's also the most expensive so I should look for something else. However when purchasing a LCD TV I have almost no information. Sony, Vizio, Samsung, LG and the list goes on—they all seem the same to me.

Some brand differentiation in the flat panel television market would be great. To all you companies manufacturing LCD TVs—please make life easier—give your customers a reason to love your product so they don't have to wade through an endless sea of tech specs to make a decision, anything less is leaving money on the table.

Photo from Robert Scoble


Mr. W

I know it's almost three years old, but this is a really clever spot. Well worth two minutes of your time.


The reason for the lack of posts

For the past several weeks I've been working on this drawing for ARISE, an arts experience at my church. The piece is titled: Every Day. It was done on a 30"x40" piece of Stonehenge paper with black colored pencil.


Flaunt arrived

Flaunt the portfolio book by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit arrived yesterday. It looks great and was well worth the purchase. Michael Surtees has an interesting review of Flaunt over on his blog.

The only downside:

It got mangled during shipping.


Looking for Peace Invitation

I did some work recently for a church I used to attend. It was good to be able to work for cause I believe in, and for people who trust my in decisions.


Mixed Messages

Is it really? Doesn't sound like the kind of ice cream I'd want to eat.


Plugging into the Matrix

No longer making decisions about where to eat doesn't sound very appealing. I'm thinking the message got lost somewhere in the creation of this strange, 'surrender your free will to Zagat' poster. The tagline, "Let Zagat Be Your Guide" indicates what the main message probably should have been—too bad it didn't play a more integral role.


Michael Bierut: 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks

Well worth 19 minutes of your time.
From the 99% Conference


Nostalgia in the Mail

I just got Copper and Amulet 2. I doubt there's anyone who reads this blog now that would remember this, but this blog started out as a venue for me to display a graphic novel I was working on. While I was working on the graphic novel I took a lot of inspiration from Kazu Kibuishi. I loved Copper and learned a lot from Kazu's post about his process creating each page, but after about a year away from college my pursuit of comics started to dry up. As I took my first job I always viewed myself as an illustrator who did graphic design, but that's changed pretty drastically—now I think of myself as a graphic designer who used to do illustration.
Reading through Copper was refreshing for me. It gave me the feeling of creative inspiration that makes me want to grab that pad of bristol board out of the closet and start a new series, but I think for the time being it'll have to wait.


Air Conditioning as a Selling Point

Every once and a while I come across a company promoting their new, easy to use website. I don't think a good website should be a selling point anymore. Businesses that highlight the fact that they have decent websites remind me of motels with neon signs showing that their rooms are equipped with air conditioning. At some point air conditioning ceased to be a luxury and started to be a standard. From that point on the sign that might have communicated quality now says old fashioned, or in need of upgrade. The longer those signs remain in place the more outdated they make the facility look. The lesson I take away from this is to focus marketing efforts on benefits that are truly unique, and not spend time promoting features your customers expect you to already have.


Seeking Balance in a Self-imposed Spotlight

There’s a piece of advice you’ll be familiar if you’ve spent any time assembling a portfolio, “you’re always judged by your worst piece.” I’ve adhered to this advice almost religiously as I’ve gone through many versions of a portfolio. The more I go through this selection process, the more I’ve started wondering how self-curation might apply beyond the 10 or 15 pieces I call my work.

Social media provides us access to more information about each other than we’ve ever had before. Right now I have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Flickr, Blogger and Delicious, and I’m not nearly as involved as many of my peers. Being connected has been a great thing for me; I’ve learned so much from designers who’ve taken the time to blog, seen many things I never would’ve stumbled upon on my own and even made a few friends along the way. However, always being judged by your worst piece has difficult implications in light of this transparency. While it can be liberating to think of the web as an open forum full of room to create, the reality of constantly being on display can dampen the freedom.

A worst piece isn’t even necessarily bad design work—it could be a poorly written blog post, a foolish tweet or even a questionable Facebook photo. Granted it can seem pretty narcissistic to worry that people are paying so much attention to you that they’re evaluating your every gesture. Frankly, it’s not likely that people are paying attention to me at any given moment—it’s the fact that the information is available that gives me pause. Every time I click publish, I think, “This has my name on it, am I prepared to stand behind this tweet, drawing, design etc., as a representation of me?” This hesitation is often a good choice, and yet sometimes I feel as though it has a tendency to make things stale.

An example of my struggle between sharing openly and strictly curating my work occurred last fall. As I was walking around my neighborhood I noticed how much trash was lying around. Normally I wouldn’t consider it a dirty place, but the more I looked the more there seemed to be little pieces of garbage everywhere, so I went out with a bag and picked it up and made a poster with the trash to vent my frustration.

Afterwards I did something that I almost never do—I posted the image to my blog the day I made it. Usually when I’ve just created something I’m way too close to the work emotionally and have no ability to judge it objectively. Later that week Brandflakes for Breakfast linked to that post and sent more traffic my way than my blog had ever seen. Looking back I’m glad I posted it, and I still believe that the poster was a good idea but there are definitely some things I might have changed had I waited.

Here’s my big question; do I post more raw materials that haven’t been fully vetted yet, accepting that some may be real garbage and I may get judged as such? Or do I hold back most of the untried pieces until I’ve had an opportunity to really think about them, accepting the fact that some of the good stuff may never see daylight? I don’t know that there’s a strict right answer to this question. It heavily depends on an individual’s willingness to take risk. In answering this question for myself I take inspiration from this quote by Howard Zinn
“If you don't want to take risks you've lost your freedom”


Typography by Ronnie Bruce

Well worth a few minutes of your time.


The kind of garbage only a designer would love

While I'm at it here's a picture of the floor of the middle school that my church meets in. While everyone else is socializing, I'm thinking about how chunky this "W" is.