Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shop Naturally and Give Creativity

A wooden Leaf Puzzle from Just Hatched Esty Shop

But today I ventured into the Community section of Esty and watched a interesting video about one of their artists, Woodmouse. Her and a team of artists started a website called Natural Kids which makes open-ended, natural kid items. Such as, wooden toys, unique plush animals and natural children's clothing. For example, giving your child a brightly colored piece of fabric can be a creative journey during playtime. This fabric can become a tent, a superman cap, or a kite. Giving your child something so simple can be very healthy for the mind, and we need to nurture creativity. As a Designer you have got to appreciate green creative toys that can grow your child's creativity too.

Get to know Esty

Lemongrass Sage Soap (Vegan friendly) from Sherri's Scents & Soys

I always check on Etsy to see what wonderful things are being created and sold by individual artists of the world. It is my mother's birthday coming up so I was looking to see if there was anything I could get her handmade. I love Etsy for a lot of reasons. One, their opening webpage changes hourly with selected items that fulfill a theme of that day. Two, they really push for quality, with products and photographs. And, three, this is the place I can easily find what I'm looking for.

I know your probably thinking that with so many stores and so many items how can finding a particular item be easy. Well, lets say I'm shopping for lemongrass scented soaps. I select "buy" select the "Bath and Beauty" category and select "soap". Then when I'm in, I keyword lemongrass or all natural. I can instantly find the perfect soap I need in seconds. I usually shop the stores a bit just see what else they have. And say I like what was offered at this one store I can either save the item or save the store in my favorites and go back to it at a later time. Fantastic!

Beer Cozies by Eve's Little Earthlings

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Martin Group Blog

Get The Information
by Greg Meadows

More and more marketing tactics are aimed at collecting information. How to get hard information with a soft sell is every marketers quest. People don’t want to be mined. They don’ want to be preyed upon – but will offer up information if they don’t feel threatened. And - yes - in many cases people don’t even realize they are giving it up. This piece in the New York Times caught my eye. Orchestras are using text messaging to interact with a captive audience, and to collect information. While this approach is novel and rather interesting, I was more initially taken by the premise. I am always being told to silence of shut off my cell phone when entering a concert hall or movie theater. Now - in these scenarios - I am being encouraged to turn it on. Check out the article and share your thoughts.

Reply Comment From Amanda Roberts

There are tricky ways for companies to get a hold of your information and this is just one more. For example, if you use a credit card to by an item at a retail store and the cashier asks you for your zip code, and you provide it, you have unknowingly agreed to receive promotional mailings from them, if you want a free music download become friends with us on Facebook or Twitter, and if you want to vote for a song to be played at a concert send us a text.

With all this social media communications out there people are really giving companies and organizations a lot of inside to their personal life.  They’re granted access to individual people’s likes and dislikes, their friends and family and everything in between. And that needs to be respected from the company to get the same benefits in return. Company “X”, you want this access, okay, you can be my “friend”, but don’t come in my house to talk too much, abuse my network, and steal my stuff.

Just simple common curiosity and taking care of your neighbors can really go along way. That is what really keeps customers thinking positively about you and returning for more. As for the concert text, if the organization wants to reply “sign up for the mailing list” in a return text I think it’s a good trade. If I’m interested in having more of a relationship with you I’ll sign up. Also, if you want more up front, let me know in advance, I need to know what I’m getting into for this relationship to work. You can’t just have needs, you have responsibilities too.

With the way that we socially communicate and share all this information companies better be careful; it’s a dating game now, and it’s only going to work if we both benefit.  It’s not “just business” anymore, you’re in a relationship.

Friday, July 23, 2010


So I haven't blogged in a while and that is because I was preparing for a very important "informal" interview. Informal meaning there wasn't any openings within the company and I wasn't to get too excited or nervous. But I was nervous, this was a big company to work for, and I won't disclose the company, but let’s say they have Wal-Mart’s floor plan in a miniature model just sitting on a side table, big company.

I totally redesigned my website before sending contacts with this company and really put my heart out there to get an interview. I applied for a position that wasn't creative just to get my foot in the door. She, the Director of HR, replied to my application saying it wasn't a design position but was kind enough to interview with me to see what I had to offer.

After redesigning my website and identity system I felt fresh and new. I ran though my portfolio reviewing it in my head several times, read up on books on what to say, and did a few mock interviews with my mother and my husband. Things were looking great. And honestly I think the interview went well, except for one part. At the end of the interview when she was getting to know how I could fit in the company, if there was to be an opening. She recommended another position. I foolishly responded that I just wanted to do visual creative work. My baggage came up to front and this is not the company you say that to. Any position here would be a stepping stone to becoming a better designer. Learning the ropes within the company could only make me a stronger employee in the end. And I know this.

My baggage of getting hired as "A" and then working as "B" has happened on more than one occasion and I think my brain had made a decision not to let employers do that again. But this is not a my old workplace, I'm not going to come in as a designer and then run a phone, a cash register, or a paper folding machine from the 1950's that literally growls at you. I mean any position there would be a position within the design process. I'm just hoping that I didn't come off as a snot. I have worked positions in the past that have either started or sent me to the top of the ladder very  quickly, which I sometimes stress in an interview to make myself look “big”, but I did not want to give the impression to this company that I was too good to do something other than design.

Anyway, even if I feel like I'm getting old, I 'm still very young in this business. So, I recommend to everyone to keep an open mind about the position you are offered. You many have worked in a position called an Art Director, but what that might transfer to in a much larger creative workplace might be an experienced Graphic Designer. And this is not a bad thing; this actually means you have found a company you can really grow with.

I also recommend not leaving your bicycle out in the rain, its pouring outside.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

HOW Poster Design Awards 2010

"From about 800 Poster Design Awards entries, judge Steve Hartman chose 10 winners, using a judging system that involved several rounds to narrow the field." Read more: HOW Design - Poster Design Awards 2010 Winners 

Chip Kidd at Oswego, NY

The Learners, by Chip Kidd
I was really jealous when my sister saw Chip Kidd speak at her graduate college, but now he is speaking at my her and my old college SUNY Oswego"Chip Kidd will be on campus on September 15, 2010 visiting classes, giving a talk on Graphic Arts at 12:40 during College Hour, and then a big presentation at 7:00 pm."
Read more at AIGA Upstate, NY

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 7:00 pm  
 SUNY Oswego Campus
7060 Route 104
Oswego, New York 13126-3599 

I hope I will be able to go! Requested the book, The Learners, from my library already.

Mashmallow Design and Appreciation

Cooking is an art, marshmallow making is a science, so why can't a Graphic Design Blog talk about marshmallows? Great, I'm glad you agree. Let's think about those late nights in the summer that you spend outside, cozy by a campfire or warm grill hoping there is some marshmallows, and maybe chocolate bars and graham crackers nearby. You know, things that make standing outside, getting eaten by mosquitoes totally worth it. These nights are the ones I remember most from summer. A good campfire always brings joy. But I'm trying to simmer my sweet tooth lately and marshmallows have been calling. So let's take a moment and drool over these gorgeous photos and if you can't get them out of your head here are the recipes to go with them.

Start with the top right photo, then working down and then to the left.
Campfire Cookies, you'll have to scroll the page down a bit for this one.
Sweet Potato Cupcakes, and don't worry she has her own s'mores cupcake recipe on this page too.
The corner photo is actually for Old Fashioned Pudding, pictured with toasted marshmallow atop.
Warm Toated Mashmallow S'mores Bar-saved the best for last.

And of coarse if you feel like making your own marshmallows here is a recipe from

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Inflatable Kayaks

Roundup: Inflatable Kayaks | Product Reviews

You knew there would be such a thing as Inflatable Kayaks. I would be totally for it if I didn't think that they would pop and I would be suck some wear alone far away from a dock or shore. I want to be positive about such a good design twist to the kayak, but it seems just too good to be true. For example, do you know of a comfortable air mattress? Or an air mattress that has stayed inflated all night? If you do let me know and I will invest.

I have rode in an inflatable boat before and it wasn't that bad, but it was more a joke type of a boat that I would never take too far off shore. A kayak I feel its a boat designed for long rides and rocky rapid type adventures. So, I'm curious as to how the reviews will go from customers about these inflatable style kayaks, and I hope they stay positive because these look really cool. I love the idea of rolling up my kayak to fit into the drunk of my car; it can fit right next to my huge tent, that rolls up nicely as well.

Shamu training in the Work Place?

I saw Amy Sutherland on the Today Show and couple years ago talking about her article which later became her book, 'What Shamu Taught me about Life, Love, and Marriage', She was speaking about how animal training can be used within your daily life, on humans as well as animals. I listened carefully to what she had learned from following a school for animal trainers and applied it to my life, as she did hers. What she said just made sense, ignore unwanted behavior and reward good behavior. And if an action gets out of hand punish immediately, but not too harshly, and let your trainee know why he/she is getting addressed. I was interested in the idea and always wanted to read her book. Last week my eyes fell upon it at the library, like fate.

I think a lot of people do the opposite and just take for grated good behavior when its happening and shout at bad behavior the moment it occurs. I was lucky to have a natural act of thanking my husband for things as a appreciative wife, but I also had learned to nag when I didn't see results from my requests. Part of applying, Shamu results, was teaching myself to be patient. As a result, I feel my marriage is great, we don't yell at each other and we really help one another out. Very often my husband will say how great our marriage is, and how great we are together. Which is wonderful since we have been happily together almost eight years now.

Another thought that I always had was why don't employers reward more? I wish that more bosses would just say, "Thank you". Yes, employees love a good party or gathering every once in awhile. But that individual, "Good Job" can go a long way. Yes, I know that your paycheck is your reward but employees take it for grated just as much as employers take day-to-day work from their employees for grated. I think if you want great employees you got to nurture their happiness, its more bang for your buck. I know I would naturally work harder for a company that takes care of me versus intimidate me into work, wouldn't you? In the end the employee feels good about their work, good about their company and in the end will speak well to others about your company. Sounds like the best type of advertising to me. So make an effort today to send a quick, email to an employee that might not be doing so hot, and see what happens. Encouragement can go a long way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Marian Bantjes

Marian Bantjes: Intricate beauty by design | Video on

I like watching TED videos because they are just so inspiring. I watched this one the other day about Marian Banties. I know her work from my sister Jessica, or from when I went to see Stefan Sagmeister speak in Charlotte, NC at an AIGA event; I'm not sure what came first but her sugar designs (above) are fantastic. As for this video she does get carried away in the first couple minutes with her slide show, yet in the end it comes together. Marian Banties reminded me that a little time for your personal or commercial designs can go a long way. Not only because you can end up with a great piece, but because of how happy it makes you to do what you really want to do: to is create something for you with the time you have.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

DesignMilk Sweet Finds

Drum Light by 326 : A tap of the drum turns on the LED lights inside the snare and another tap turns them off. The sound activation has been designed not to be triggered by ambient noise. The lamp’s heigh can also be adjusted.

Do you have any friends or family members that would just love this? I sure do.

Buckle Up Key Holder: Keep your keys safely buckled with this buckle-shaped key holder by Thabto.The key-ring buckle fits perfectly into its mate, which hangs on your wall, keeping your keys buckled up until it’s time for you to buckle up again.

I'm always looking for interesting ways to stay organized.

Concrete Chesterfield Sofa by Gray Concrete: UK-based Gray Concrete created this concrete Chesterfield sofa for exhibiting at 100% Design London. The sofa is made by taking a mold from a real Chesterfield, which is then used to make a glass textile reinforced casting. The cushions are a part of the casting. Before making the mold, the padding inside the cushions was replaced with a rigid foam which was modeled to make “bum prints.” The molding techniques used by Gray Concrete pick up detail really well so the concrete sofa really looks leathery. There’s even a concrete 50p piece stuck down behind one of the cushions to complete the realistic effect.

I love chesterfields, the color gray and the idea of this fun outdoor furniture piece.

Dwell Patterns for Heath Ceramics: Debuting this weekend at Dwell on Design is Dwell Patterns, a new line of tile from Heath Ceramics and Dwell Media.
This new modular tile system is the result of a successful collaboration between Chris Deam (designer, architect, and husband to Lara Hedberg Deam, founder of Dwell Media) and Catherine Bailey (Co-founder and Creative Director of Heath Ceramics along with husband Robin Petravic). Separately, two halves of successful power couples; together, a dynamic design duo.

Love this blue one, my husband is in the tile business, I'm sure he'd appreciate me posting these.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Clipping from Pratt's Crowdsourcing & Disruption Panel Poster by Alexander Smith

There is a lot of debate on the subject of crowd sourcing. If you’re not familiar with the word, crowd sourcing is when a lot of people are asked to complete the same task. For example, CrowdSPRING, a website company which offers creative competitions; for example, competing to design a logo for the prize of “x” amount of dollars. Anyone can enter and it seems that you can enter as many times as possible.

As you know I'm currently an unemployed designer looking for work. My portfolio could always use a new project or two and why not do a project that might win me a few hundred bucks or so. So, I ventured into I opened a Login account which surprising asked for very little information. I could upload projects and make a portfolio of sorts, but I mostly just wanted to get started. I began with a small logo project with an award for $300. It was for Social Media University (See project here, if still posted) My first thoughts are how much time should I put forth into this logo? As with previous projects I charge by the hour. Well, I guess that is how I could do it this time, but maybe I bit less time since I may not win the prize.

So, I started by reading the "details" which is the design brief tab of CrowdSPRING to get to know what the "buyer" or company requesting the project is looking for. I collected the information, important requests, and materials (which can be provided files to download or links to research) needed to start the project. I read what I could about the company and also looked at logos from companies they had worked with. I designed my own visual design brief on a page in Illustrator. I felt good that I knew what the company might have been looking for. Here is what they provided as resources and examples of logos they liked:

"1. logo for - more modern, 2.logo for - more simple, traditional, now ubiquitous on laptops around the world, 3. Apple logo, 4.BarCamp Logo, 5. Firefox Logo, 6. Harvard Logo 7. logo

We are really fairly open to different ideas, but want something solid/reputable with the typography, and somewhat stylized as modern like that clubhouse logo (which is actually an abstraction of the house we did that event in during SxSW)"

Although not much information was given as to where or how this University was to be run, what I got from the company is that The Social Media Club or clubhouse works like this: they would have one individual rent a house nearby a conference, such as South by South West (SxSW), a music Conference in Austin, Texas and the house would get filled with members of the Social Media Club and they would report out media about the city, the conference and any other things.

I started to sketch. I focused on the word "modern" in relation to the SxSW conference logo (above) looking for inspiration. After sketching a bit, I looked at the “gallery” of submitted logos. Mine was very different from the other entries and although it worried me I also thought maybe my logo was something that might surprise them.

This is what I came up with and below is the description I proposed.

“This Social Media University Logo is designed around their media club logo of a house. I have simplified and modernized the design and made it look like you are looking up at a building, such as house/university, and also that the building is looking out at the world. I gave it an attainable height as well as making it appear social and inviting. It’s accompanied by a modern academic font”.

The next day my submission got a reply. CrowdSPRING sends you email updates on the projects you are active in and watching. This was my reply from buyer socialmediaclub.

“Entry: Social Media University
socialmediaclub: the font is good, the proximity to our current logo conceptually is interesting.
overall it doesnt work for me, but its a good try and good fonts for a fun conference - not as modern as I would hope, but nice
Score: 3”

So, I scored 3 out of 5 stars, with some positive feedback and feel good about that.

I have worked on other projects since the Social Media University and have felt a bit lost. I can send a personal email to the buyer or make a public post to get more information, but I still feel a loss of connection. A logo should be more than just a visual description of what you once posted online. It should be a communicating image that grew out of strength and work, not by a gallery of choices. As a result, I feel that my work for the individual buyer is not as strong as it could be and they should know that their logo, from me or any other artist, will not be at its highest potential, because of this lack of connection.

Other ways CrowdSPRING can disconnect, is offering to a buyer to make their project private. You, as the artist, may not be able to see the score of other entries to see their thought process within a project, the buyer may not respond as well or at all , such as providing a score, to your entries, or you may not be able to read or see other entries at all. When many projects get submitted the buyer can “update” their Details page and add comments on what they have received so far, sometimes these are helpful comments and sometimes they are too general.

Other downs to CrowdSPRING in the eyes of the artist can be: If buyer doesn’t like any submissions they can ask for a full refund, Crowdspring does offer a prize to but not as much as the prize was once listed as. Some projects you have to sign a contract to never communicate the project to anyone. Payouts are per Paypal, but nowhere on the site does it mention the commissions of CrowdSPRING and if the winner will actually receive the full prize amount. I know on another crowdsourcing site, it seems that you do not get the full prize amount.

In the end I felt disappointed, I wanted to do better for the client and it just was not going to happen in this way. Also, I feel bad for the buyer. One project that was going on at the same time as I was working the Social Media University logo had a prize amount of $5000, this meant everyone and their mothers where entering. It seemed to me that getting 3,467 (and counting) entries is just too overwhelming, not to mention the public comments were getting out of control and filling my email. I don’t know about you, but for a buyer, that’s just too many options to choose from. As for the Social Media University, there were only 148 entries and I felt there were a lot of submissions that were very good, while others horrific. Below is the winning logo by CrowdSPRING profile name pixy, who as of today has won 2 of 68 entries.