Sunday, December 27, 2009

Promises and promises

Okay, so I've done this before, all promising things (like a website) that haven't come to fruition. Well, you've got to cut me some slack. I've got a lot of things going on--including laziness, which I am doing my absolute best to correct.

Here are some upcoming things that I'm planning for the blog:

- The letters: a weekly post about my favorite letters and a short bit about why.

- Inspired or insipid. I post one thing that I found truly inspiring and explain why. You leave a nice or nasty comment saying if you agree.

- A 365 project: either photography, drawing or design, or maybe some combination of both. I'll spare showing all seven days work of work (I'm sure some of it will be sub par - it is okay to fail) and just post my favorite for the week.

More explanation will be provided upon commencement. I will totally assign arbitrary days to these weekly posts (I'm thinking Tuesday, Friday and Sunday in that order). I do plan on cleaning up the blog and building a website, so put that into the plan for 2010.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Personal Logotype

Since the summer, I've been working on a logo. And I've come up with plenty. Unfortunately, they've run the gammit from clip art-ish to so-so. I'd like it a lot once I was "finished" with it, after tweaking it for hours. But I think I finally have one that I'm ready to share. I'm pretty happy with it. I haven't decided on a color palette yet, so for now, you get to see it in it's rawest form: black on white. (The best and true way to judge the value of a logo.) Please, feedback, gimme gimme gimme!

Maybe you noticed that those are actually two different logotypes (good eye!). Or at least two different typefaces. The first one is Trade Gothic in light which has a great 'g' (not shown). (I bring up the 'g' because my variations of this logotype include the words design and photography.) The second typeface is Drescher Grotesk BT in Light which has a great ampersand (not shown). I think I lean a bit towards the 'a' in Drescher Grotesk as well. What do you think?!

Whatever words of wisdom or catty critiques you might have, I want to hear it all. This is my first time around and I'm still working on it. So I won't take too much offense. Thanks!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Client

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about the designer-client relationship. I've had some really great clients who love my work and trust me and pay me, and also some awful clients who, from my point of view, have lied and cheated me throughout the whole process.

Really I'm just wondering--how do we talk to our favorite clients? Do we act as if they're friends, telling them personal details? How do we talk to the difficult ones? Do we play the alpha-dog? How do we educate them? Is it even our job to educate them, or do we just ignore them and move to the next client, leaving them to harass another designer?

Here's a pretty amusing video on the client-designer relationship:

You can also read amusing stories of clients from hell, at Clients From

Please share your stories and insights about clients in the comments.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Decapitated Panda -- Good Product Design?

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but haven't had the chance. And tonight I do. A light-hearted romp into my life if you will. For a long time, I was running all my schoolwork (design heavy stuff) on a 128 MB USB. Seriously, I know. Then I found out how small that was and how cheap biggers ones are that I upgraded to a Tribeca 1GB. And I couldn't resist buying the super cute panda! (It was much cleaner with paint fully intact when I bought it.)

And I took it home and unwrapped it from it's indestructible plastic casing, and I pulled its head off. --Wait, what?! Seriously. Tribeca, or whoever, designed the USB so that in order to use it, you had to pull off the panda head to reveal the USB port.

And now my adorable little panda is a decapitated piece of metal--gasp--robot Panda! (That joke would make more sense if you could see the body/USB part of it. Oops, didn't upload that photo. But robot panda was a great joke for it.) The whole point of this blog is just to say--wouldn't it have made more sense to make the feet the part that comes off? Because then you'd plug in the panda USB and a happy panda face would be looking back at you, instead of just a panda body. Strange indeed.

Side Note PRO: I really do like how the little light between its feet glows red. That's pretty cute.
Side Note CON: The panda body is a little chubby, because you know, pandas are and this is obviously a close to real life replica. But this extra pudge means the panda USB won't fit into the USB ports on the side of the MAC keyboards and that is sad.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pantone: Color Leader, Cultural Failure

I want to start by saying, I love Pantone. I love each tiny chip of perfect alphanumeric code of color. I envy people with Pantone mugs and bookbags. And I am aware that Pantone is an industry leader in terms of color and design. It's for that reason, that I'm concerned about how Pantone is choosing to lead the industry culturally.

Pantone recently sent me, at my request, a bunch of promo materials for their newest products and programs. They sent me collateral on Pantone Goe, the Pantone Chip In program, Pantone Fashion & Home, and Pantone's "Less Mellow, More Yellow" booklet. (I've since been to the site, and have not found a way to request these samples again.)

If you didn't know, Mimosa is Pantone's color of the year 2009. Hence, the Mellow Yellow booklet, to highlight all the various emotional connotations of the color yellow beyond mellow: aggressive, playful, zesty, surprising and intimate. I certainly agree with Pantone that yellow can be all of these things. However, I do not agree with how Pantone chose to represent these many shades of yellow (see below). My commentary continues after the images.

It's late, so I'm going to keep the critique simple and short.

The aggressive photo
plays with the stereotype that black men are aggressive. But particularly because black "gangster" men are aggressive--note the bandanna, tank top, chain necklaces and tattoos. What really makes this offensive, is that they didn't even shoot the man in an aggressive pose such as head on with direct eye contact. Instead, he is shot at an angle, and his eyes are looking to the viewer at an angle--suggesting that he is responding to our gaze, not directing his own. They took all the "aggressiveness" out of this photo through the subject's pose, and relied on his cultural markers to identify him as aggressive.

Less offensive photo idea:
Shoot an image of a person head on, eyes straight, in what appears to be some type of business suit. The tie could be yellow.

In the playful photo the woman is nude. She has no gaze because her eyes are shut. Her mouth has the hint of a smile. (I'm surprised they didn't shoot her mouth slightly open.) Her body positioning is offering itself to the viewer by elongating her neck and turning the head away. She is supposed to be playful, but is portrayed as the play thing instead. Also, the black lipstick, heavy black mascara and yellow band across her neck make this image reek of bondage themes, and she is clearly not the dominating one.

Less offensive photo idea: Show her moving! Show her actually acting playful, and preferably with clothes on.

The zesty photo makes the least sense to me. Again she is nude, because that is important when licking fruit and wearing bananas on your head. (C'mon, bananas? Are they really zesty?) Her eyes are positioned at an upwards angle. She is positioned to be looked down at and upon. Her mouth is suggestive. She's certainly not eating that fruit.

Less offensive photo idea: Show "zesty" foods or zesty behavior. Zesty is not a synonym for sexy. My zesty guacamole is not sexy. Use lemons, limes, peppers, spices. Or show her making a "zesty" face. And zesty face is not equal to sexy pout face.

The surprising photo isn't particularly offensive on its own. But it is offensive when shown with the rest of the series. A white male has his clothes on. He is positioned head on and in control. His gaze is direct. The meaning between the word-surprising, and the image is clear. It is surprising that there's a spoon on this guy's nose. There is no direct (and un-offensive) correlation between the word and the subject in the other photos. This photo is so blatantly different from the others. Why weren't they all shot in this way?

Less offensive photo idea: Make the other photos work better rather than perpetuate ridiculous stereotypes.

The intimate photo completely disregards any subtlety. The photo is a voyeuristic snapshot into the top of a woman's tank top. This photo gives the woman no agency, not even a face. Her mouth may be smiling, but it's not actually clear. She's being viewed from above, so she is looked down at and upon. Her body is being objectified, because it's not the entire woman being looked down at, only her cleavage. The short depth of field and soft focus on this image is completely unlike any of the other photos. And even more ridiculous--there's not even any yellow in the image! Except for the photoshopped flowers and swirls on top of the image. In that case, why use this image at all?

Less offensive photo idea: Intimate doesn't have to mean sex. This photograph could easily work by showing an adult parent coddling a child. Or heck just show a baby with a yellow cloth diaper or blanket--let the intimacy be inferred.

I don't want to forget the woman on the cover (1st photo) who is also nude. She's touching herself in an intimate way. She's not rubbing her neck, she's running her fingertips across it. Her mouth is slightly ajar.

Less offensive photo: Anything.

To sum up: Women are zesty, playful and intimate. Men are aggressive and surprising. Women are best gazed upon and nude. People of color are at their best when they represent stereotypes. And the main point to sum up about Pantone is that they either do not care about the messages they are sending out into society or this is just a huge glaring yellow blemish on their PMS chip.

Pantone's already declared yellow to be much more than mellow--aggresive, playful, zesty, surprising and intimate. Now I'm adding controversial to the list.

What do you all think?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Preserving a Language

Recently @Issue posted an article (Designing A Font To Preserve A Vanishing Language) about Juliet Shen who is designing a font to preserve the language of the Native American Lushootseed tribe. It's really amazing to see the impact design and typography can make on culture.

What was amazing about Shen was that she took their alphabet/sounds (which were being represented by a mash-up of Times Roman and the International Phonetic Alphabet, work done by Thom Hess) and created a typeface for it.

From the article:
Shen recalls, "At the first meeting, one of the oldest of the language teachers said, ‘This is a graceful language, but it doesn’t look that way.’ The sound of the language speaks of the physical environment that the tribe has inhabited – like water washing ashore, wind moving through the trees. My internal design brief was to get rid of an ‘adapted’ look and make it appear as if it has always been.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poster Design

Here's the latest poster for Turn Around Norman. The music is very cool and jazzy (that's not meant in a demeaning way.) I couldn't get away from a sort of 40s film noir vibe. You can listen to some tunes at: We Turn So I tried to capture that. Real modern typeface--really, this type is categorized as modern--with some sans serif. Many shades of grey. I went with orange instead of red for readability, but I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think the circles and dots create a neat light effect--lighting being very important in film noir. I don't know... not a total film noir poster but somewhat reminiscent of it, maybe? How'd I do?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Poster: Creating Music Series

Recent poster I did for the Creating Music Series.

Definitely recommend going-great music, great musicians. (and it's free.) Towson University.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Very Satisfied Customer

I used to big a real make-up junkie. I even wanted to go to beauty school for a while. Things change, and while I'm not as interested in covering myself in pretty colors (or rather, I have less reason to do so) ranging from smoldering to punk, I recently decided, what the hey, I'll go buy some new make-up.

And boy, is it great!!! I got a promo thing in my email from animal friendly, rock n' roll makeup line Urban Decay, and I bought the Urban Decay Book of Shadows vol II. And I was super happy with the product and its packaging.

See photos:

The box: Super pretty, swirly and sturdy. Came with purple ribbon and what looks like foiling or metallic inks.

But there were so many great things inside the box. The peacock print, the large mirror, the pull-open doors, the promo booklet about Urban Decay and oh yeah, the makeup itself.

It gets better--- there were extra goodies that I didn't even pay for! Jackpot. Purple make-up bag, eyeshadow, eyeliner, eyeshadow primer sample, and mascara. I mean seriously, that is easily worth $30. Most of these were full size products, not sample. Whoo-hoo.

The lesson?
1. People want to get what they pay for. Urban Decay products while not cheap, obviously look like they're worth the money (i.e. it looks like someone took the time to put this package together nicely.)

2. People want to interact with their purchase/company. Sure I could have just gotten a box of eyeshadows and thrown it in my drawer. Instead, I ooohed and aaahed over it, I played around with it opening and closing things, I read the promo booklet, I took pictures of it and wrote about it!

3. People love a little extra something. Not just because it was free, but because it was a surprise.

Urban Decay, you get two big thumbs up from me. (In case it needs to be said, I have absolutely zero affiliation with Urban Decay.)

Saturday, August 29, 2009


So, I've always been fascinated with photographs and images, but honestly, don't know much about them in the scholarly sense. I'm taking a digital photo class this semester, and I'm hoping this will vastly improve my skills. (Although, I'm hoping to find out that I'm not completely lacking in skills ::crossing fingers::)

Recently, I went on vacation to Italy and Switzerland. And took a lot of photos. 500 photos. And as much as I love them, and some are just for memories there are many I want to go back to and work with to make them photographs, and not just snapshots.

Here are a few low-res images that I've been playing around with.

View from the Top:

After the Storm:

Film Exhibit:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beast Wedding!

Above is the new poster (of my creation) for the Jersey Band Baltimore CD release show. Jersey Band plays a new genre called lung core. It's hardcore music with a full out horn section. It's really cool and you can listen to them here. The CD is called Beast Wedding. Also playing the show: Quartet Offensive (plays Pavement), Soul Cannon and Leisure Icons. It's at the Ottobar in Baltimore on Thursday, August 27. The show is $8 and starts at 9pm. It's going to RAWK! Ha.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Attendance Map of Oriole Park - 2009 Season

(May take a while to load.)
Basically goes through the first half of the Orioles season 2009, showing attendance for each opposing team's series. I thought that by displaying the information (opposing team, game number, percentage in attendance, actual tally of attendance, day of week and time, and whether the Orioles won or loss) this way, it would help the Orioles marketing team look at this data from a new perspective. Why were there huge jumps or major drops in attendance in a series? Which games were just anamolies--such as Matt Weiters pro-baseball debut against Detroit that made the attendance spike to 87% from just 24% the night before--and which games/series have no obvious reason for the climbing attendance--such as Texas' second night when attendance reached 84%, but averages about 45% for the 4-game series.

How can they improve attendance overall? Does a win or loss effect the next day's attendance?
Expect an update when the 2009 season is over.

Song by Warning Track Power, "How Bout Dem Os"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Changing the Face of Search

Move over Google, there's a new search engine in town and it is pretty.

Bing essentially keeps Google's pared down, essentials only aesthetic. Bing has it's logo, a search box and button, and a few key category links. And a few, poignant links at the bottom to entice the bored web user (yes, they exist). Oh, and did I mention the beautiful photos?

Today's (7/14/2009) Bing:

Ooh what beautiful purples and blues. Ahh, Paris! Ahh, the Louvre! I honestly believe that the use of a single image on the homepage may help Bing take a bite out of Google's hold on the search engine market. Here's why:

1. It's Trendy
Seriously, I mean that. The web is going to see many more of these large format photographs as backgrounds in the future. Don't believe me? Check out Smashing Magazine (#4) or Web Designer's Wall's great collection of large-image background sites that are already ahead of the curve.

What I particularly like about Bing, is that in this web of digitally layered abstraction, to have a single, well executed photograph is very calming (is that the right word?). It's like a fresh breath amid the chaos.

2. Users Connect
The image, which changes everyday, helps the user connect to Bing in two ways. 1. It gives users a reason to visit the site, even if they're not trying to search. But just by going to the site, the image or one of it's related links will entice the user to click. A click will take the user to a search results page. So, even though I just came to look at a picture, I clicked on one link, and voila, I see Bing in action. Similarly, the changing image entices people to set Bing as the user's homepage, for the same reason as previously stated and hopefully with the same benefit.

The second way users connect to the image is by the content. The images on Bing (as far as I have seen) have always been a location. And it's an added bonus for the user, if they recognize the location in the photograph. If they visited there on a trip, the user is likely to share this photo with others, saying something like, I can't believe it, I've been there! (This happened in my office when a co-worker recognized a small seaside town in Italy that he had visited. As a result, all eight of us sitting around him headed over to Bing to check it out.) For example, the image above is of Paris, but a very specific location in Paris. And that's why it feels special if you recognize the place. They've managed to make Paris personal. Not only does the image cause a positive emotion, but makes the user likely to share this positivity. Again, increasing the number of visits to Bing which could easily increase the number of users.

3. Connecting the World
The locations displayed can be small remote locales or large, well known cities. It's as if Bing is scouring the world and bringing it into our homes. Is this not symbolic of what the internet does? Globalization is here. And Bing is bringing us the beautiful side (much needed among this depressing economy and environmental destruction.) The photographs give a location to this virtual space and it feels very welcoming. We're not blindly jumping into a virtual portal, we're setting out for an adventure beginning in Paris at the Louvre.

In writing, the most fundamental principle is that a piece of work must be both unique and universal. And Bing has found that very difficult common ground.

Bing is off to a great start with a strong visual viewpoint. But just because you build, and just because people come, does not mean that people will return. Ultimately, the real test for Bing will be its usability, its optimization, its search strategies, its advertising potential (in the future?) and its ability to bring something better than what is already out there.

I would let you know, but so far I only Bing for the photo.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Pregnancy Flow Chart

To see a detailed version, open this PDF and zoom.
Most information from the chart from: The

About the Pregnancy Piece of Mind Flow Chart

The flow chart examines information variables (medical, lifestyle, work and fun) over time (1st, 2nd, 3rd trimester). The start point was placed in the upper left hand corner, and colored yellow to differentiate it as the starting point. Decision markers were made black, information boxes were blue, and circular, ending points were either green or red for a negative/alerting or positive result.

Occasionally, information had to be placed next to the chart but was not actually linked to it (see "Every Visit Checklist" and "Daily Vitamin Checklist".) I'm hoping the written cues in the decisionmarkers--see left, see far left--is enough direction for the viewer to understand what to do (i.e. to look at the checklist but keep on the flow chart.)

I also think that the flow chart displays the significance of the medical process. I think it's easy to get caught up in the "fun" stuff like buying baby clothes and thinking of baby names, but really the most important aspect of the pregnancy (i.e. having the most steps involved) is the medical part. It helps keep the pregnancy in perspective about what is important.

Project Expansion

With more time, I'd like to include the information regarding what some of those tests are as well as why some of those activities would be beneficial. Probably result in more informational boxes, not actually changing the process within the flow chart.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Need a Little Lost During the Break?

A project I did for class: Mapping the first 16 days on the island. It's not as detailed as like, my apologies, but summer school is quite compact. I'd love to open it up to show each individual, as well as expand it to show the entire 101 days. That may be a crazy long undertaking though, and am I really that devoted of a fan? Plus, how would I handle the time travel?!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Short Story

Okay, so this isn't design, but I thought I would share anyway. Previously, I always thought I would be a writer. I've given up the pen recently for pursuits involving manipulating images via photo editing software. But I still love writing, and on a semi-regular basis, I teach some creative writing to some high school students. I try to write when they write and here's what I did:

"Where are we going Dad?" Kerry asked. Kerry was slung across his father's chest in a carrier bag. Kerry hadn't been in a carrier bag since he was young and couldn't fly, but recently his feathers had been molting and not growing back. Kerry hadn't flown for weeks now. This didn't worry Kerry, his parents kept telling him he'd be fine as they swept fallen feathers or smoothed out dying ones.

"We're going to Shadow Grove. Mom wants some special herbs, and I thought you could use some fresh air and sun. Your skin's too blue, it's not healthy." Brunji, Kerry's father, said. He kept his eyes ahead on the lookout for preying birds. Dusk was setting in and the attack birds would be out soon.

Kerry and Brunji soared over the tree tops, ducking up and down. Brunji wasn't yet old, he was still robust and when his wings flapped they sent breezes rippling through the mountains. Kerry stayed nuzzled against his father's white plumage. He didn't worry about predator birds, he was safe. The thrill of flight exited him and made him desperate to fly again. Whatever disease that was ruining his feathers, Kerry was more determined to beat it.

"Dad, when will my feathers grow back?" Brunji didn't answer. Kerry wasn't sure if his father heard him but decided not to ruin the quiet moment.

They circled down, and with ease Brunji landed in the grove. There were no trees, only a large field with a scattering of bushes. The grass was golden in the sun's diminishing glow. Brunji unlocked the carrier with his beak and Kerry hopped out.

"Go stretch your legs." Brunji said as he headed towards the bushes to gather herbs, the carrier case slung across his body. Kerry walked around, touching trees and digging his talons in the dirt.The fireflies began to come out--twirling and teasing Kerry, using their tiny wings to zig and zag just out of reach of Kerry's beak. He paid little attention to his dad who was still keeping an eye on him from the bushes. Kerry flapped his wings, giving them a good flutter in the open space, but no, he certainly couldn't fly with those bare wings.

The rustling stopped from across the way, and Kerry glanced up from his bug game. His father had moved towards him. The night was approaching and shadows encroached, but Kerry could still see the grim look on his father's face.

"Why so blue Dad? What's wrong Dad?" asked Kerry as he started to run to his dad. That look from his dad made Kerry's heart panic. Brunji said nothing, only stared at his son. Brunji extended his wings, he was a giant in the shadows, and swiftly began to rise into the sky.

"DAD!" Kerry yelled, screamed until it echoed through the mountains. Desperately beating his bare wings, trying to reach the air that was separating him and his father.

Brunji flew away through the mountains with all the might he had. The carrier bag empty. He wanted to be far away, removed from the far reaches of echoes, before the predator birds came out for the night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cultural Context

Hey everyone, did a poster, and without saying too much about it, I was hoping I could get some feedback. What do you think the message is? Is it visually captivating? Anything not making sense? Are both taglines effective? Is one stronger than the other?

I'll offer up an intended meaning if I find that the poster is being taken the wrong way. Let me know what you think.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Calling all Cartography Geeks

Was recently shown this nifty site: Hyper Cities

They take google maps and then overlay historical maps on top of it. You can keep layering multiple maps and change transparencies and such. This has gotta be a useful teaching tool. It creates a mash-up of genius proportions. I love, love, love it.

If you checkout the Chicago map, you'll see that Soldier Field stadium was built on water! I mean imagine what this means if Chicago were to ever get flooded? Don't go to the stadium! But I suppose people already learned that lesson.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Consider My Mind Blown

I was in class the other night, and I totally had my mind blown in the best possible way.

Back Story:
After several delays on January 28, 1986, Shuttle Challenger launched. In the second minute of its departure, the shuttle exploded/disintegrated. In retrospect, scientists were able to discern that extreme damage to the O rings were the root cause for the explosion.

That morning, engineers from Thiokol and NASA managers exchanged information regarding the launch. The engineers, based on their data, felt that it was unsafe to launch. Over 10 charts and graphs were sent between the two groups, the engineers desperately attempting to convince the NASA managers of their concerns. Below is an example of the types of visual information Thiokol sent over:

My smart and kind professor, Nancy Kaplan brought to the class' attention that the "story" Thiokol was trying to tell was not being properly revealed. What is their point in this graph? It's difficult to say. Thiokol didn't presenta strong enough argument about the dangers of the flight, and the NASA managers gave the go ahead that led to disaster.

DaVinci of Data:
Years later, enter the "daVinci of data" as the NYTimes calls him, Edward Tufte (hello, new nerd crush, this guy's work is awesome!)

Edward Tufte is renowned for taking data and turning them into visual displays that are one, and most importantly, conherent and bursting with vital information and two, beautiful.

Visual heirarchy:

He took the information that was sent between the Thiokol engineers and Nasa managers and reworked them. He figured out what was important and what was less so. Here's the graph that Tufte came up with:

I apologize for the low resolution. But the y axis is "amount of damage in O ring", and the x axis is "temperature increasing." And it becomes VERY OBVIOUS, with the data they have, that as the temperature goes down the O rings damage increases.

The data points are from like 53 degrees F to 84 degrees F, roughly. At the lowest recorded temperature, 53 degrees, they recorded the most damage to an O ring (level 4). This being the case---how could you launch a shuttle when it was only 26 degrees F outside?

The graph shows the "story" clearly and immediately. Good design saves lives. Tell that story the next time a lousy client belittles the significance of your profession.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Great Divide

A few days, as part of my I'm-a-professional-so-I've-got-to-start-working-on-my-branding etc etc, I joined Twitter. Yup, Twitter that name dropping social networking thing. I justify it on the basis that Twitter, from what I've been told, was like made for the graphic design industry. Or maybe this is how everyone in the industry justifies jumping on the band wagon?

Anyway. There are two things that I wonder about. 1. Isn't Twitter just another social fad? We have Twitter, and before that Facebook, and before that Myspace, and before that AOL Instant Messenger, and before that ICQ. Ahh the good old days of ICQ.

What is interesting is the relationship these all have to each other. AIM and ICQ were direct chats. But, as we become adults and are time frames are no longer consistently in sync like they once were when you and all your friends were in high school. And as a result, we can't be online at the same time. (Although, I question this, because people are now connected at much more ease and thus for longer time frames even if not fully engaged with the activity of being online) Thus, we use social media like Facebook and MySpace to leave messages.

So, what is the improvement of Twitter over these other social media? The fact that people must articulate themselves in less than 140 characters--do we no longer have anything real to say to each, or has our communications devolved into a grunt-and-point, err click, system? Perhaps, users like that there is less spamming? Although, commercial entities are trying to jump onto the social networking bandwagon--it's like parents trying to be their kids' best friends--you're not fooling us, you're not really a friend. But that's another aside.

What is it that makes Twitter a better social outlet then Facebook, MySpace or plain old blogs? Is it because it gives us the impression that we're chatting and thus connecting to people? Recently, it was noticed that men follow other men on Twitter. Normally on social media sites, men follow women. I'm not about to take a gender stance on this, but rather want to say, that maybe the popularity of Twitter has to do with being able to follow someone without needing their permission/approval/acceptance. (Although a user can always block another user from following them, but street is initially one way.) Any other ideas, anyone? I suppose in a few months, I can report from the field with some brilliant new insights.

2. While, I don't know if Twitter has an inherent value, I plan to give it one to suit my needs. My Twitter account is now my professional resource. I follow other designers and I want them to follow me. I post design posts/blogs on Twitter. I plan to make with the nerdy talk about typefaces and spatial organization. This way I can let Twitter represent the professional me and maintain a social self as well on Facebook. "Funny" photos or discouraging words about work are better left for the inner circles of my friends and family who aren't going to judge (i.e. stop paying me) because of them. I plan to reposition my relationships in this new way, and hope no one will take offense. Of course, I'm willing to allow some leeway for those who fall in both worlds.

I just don't think it's fair for people to be fired for writing, work is boring, on their Facebook page. It's a common sentiment and what company could be so insecure and so dehumanizing at the same time. (This happened to a girl interning.) Plus, it does help to keep the online profiles organized. It's a minor way in which to keep my public information in check, not everything is for everyone. And I think it'll be better for each respective audience, my family doesn't care about the latest design trends, nor do my colleagues and clients care that the sushi place around the corner gave me wicked neaseau.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Here I Go Again

Wow, March 10th. I knew it had been a long time, but really two months? Yikes. I suppose I should be glad it hasn't been longer. I'm not hear to promise more updates. With summer school, a full-time job, and ya know, a life, it's hard to keep up.

I am here to tell you that although you may not get detailed reports on what I'm doing, I want to assure you that I am doing stuff. (I guess this is just a reassurance to myself.) I'm working on my website design, as well as other business collateral. I'm doing fun and exciting freelance projects. I've even been writing a bit, here and there. The ideas are churning and I am doing my best to keep up with them.

So check back, and I promise to do the same.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Someone to Look Up To

I can't say I have a lot of heroes or know a lot of people that I aspire to be like. (I love my parents, but I don't exactly want to follow in their footsteps professionally.)

But then I read an article about Marissa Mayer in the While, I find the idea of being "the gatekeeper of Google's homepage" probably one of the most flattering compliments ever, it's actually the fact that she seems ridiculously meticulous about displaying a consistent face of Google that makes me swoon.

She's the type of woman to say, "I don’t like the words ‘invite’ and ‘view,’ ” she says. “Those two words are recreational. It feels too informal and lighthearted." She knows that Google uses Google not we, that italics are hard to read on screen and that to make a design simpler--take away a typeface, a color or an image (NYtimes). It's not that she knows these fundamentals of design, it's that she adheres to them with a vehemence. Her and her team are creating a style manual for Google that will no doubt influence the future design of the Web. (I'm hoping this leads to less used-car-salesman type looking sites.) It makes me think web design, and doing business on the web, is about to get a swift kick in the ass.

Mayer says, "Once I let up, then something gets by." I appreciate someone who understands the horror and consequences of just letting some tiny thing get by.

The other half of the article goes on to talk about Mayer in a personal light: as a woman who like fru fru things, as personality or mild celebrity etc, things I don't really care about. What impresses me most about this woman, what makes me look up most to this woman, is that she does her job damn well and that the Google higer-ups (although, there aren't many higher up than Mayer) know how important she is to the Google machine.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Would You Pay to Read This?

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Patrick Coyne, editor of famed Communications Arts, give a talk about the history of CA. During the Q&A portion, there were several questions about the consequences of the economy and the design industry. There were several things said of note, but what I want to talk about most is his comment of, since when do people expect information for free? Good point, Mr. Coyne. Is the world turning into one giant public library?!

In context, he began speaking about how online news sites, he mentioned the likes of the have considered introducing a micro-pay system--essentially, you'd pay for each article read--although, I'm sure they could make it much more complicated with all sort of packages and inclusions than that. But Coyne basically suggested, why do people (consumers) expect labored over content and information for free? CA has always been a pricey magazine, and people pay for it because they know the content is worth it. And they at CA charge a fee because they too think it's worth it. There is an understood value to the product. That seems to be the bottom line: people pay for things that are worth it. People pay for cable, fios, HD-whatever TV hookups even though the internet has many shows and movies for free. Although, usually illegally free. And some honest, ethical people even pay for their media consumption (TV and music) online.

I expect the online as the free medium model currently in place will soon disappear. More sites will offer more content at a high quality for a paid rate. And why shouldn't they? I would much prefer to pay a bit for NY Times journalism than have to get my news from... well, from some place, un-researched, biased and crappy. I foresee that commercial entities will start asking for payment, and more and more people will begin to pay. For example: I pay for Netflix more for the instant online stream of movies than the 1 unlimited movie I receive in the mail. I'd probably even be willing to pay a bit more if their online streaming movies included even more selections and more recent selections. (Did you get that Netflix?) But some users will continue to pirate material, but those numbers will decrease and the action will become very socially unacceptable--the Seinfeld of the future could do an episode about people stealing media off the internet. Eventually the copyright, digital and entertainment laws will catch up with the internet explosion of the mid 90s, and laws will be set in place, and paying for well done, well communicated information will be commonplace.

However, inevitably, we'll pay a low and fair price for our online consumption, and they'll raise the prices (those greedy jerks) and a new technology will come forth that disseminates great information in a new way for free, so we switch to the new technology because we all feel ripped off by the providers of the old technology, until.. yeah you can guess what I think will happen next. But I'm a cynic.

I've noticed this pay system taking root in the design industry. Such "smaller" (I don't know how I'm quantifying that) design reference sites such as PSD Tuts and Web Designer Wall have opened up for shop. (Although, PSD Tuts has always maintained a, you get more if you pay, mentality. Much like the design standards company Adobe and their Layers magazine and information. They give you a little tease but don't expect them to put out without the cash.) PSDTuts and WDW have opened up Graphic River, "a graphic art department at your fingertips," and Icon Dock, a free stock icon site, respectively. Similarly, some of the best design tutorials on the web are from, and yup, you have to pay for them. has recently introduced audio files to broaden their market.

I believe this trend is going to continue. Now, some would go so far as to say that I'm cheap. I proudly consider myself thrifty. I don't buy something, unless I really think it's worth it. But I also believe in ethics of creative property ownership, and I pay for media information that I may use in my designs, such photos and flourishes etc. (Just don't ask me about my online television consumption). I'm not trying to throw stones. I'm really not. I just think that people should reassess the question, is the product I'm buying worth it? Do I want the quality of this to continue to be worth it? Because in a few years, you and your wallet will be forced to address these questions.

But be on the look out for this, and I'd be interested in hearing of more examples.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Meaning Behind The Commercial

Recently, I've reentered the world of television. I was a given a little 11 inch (?) TV with antennae and sure enough I've found myself turning it on for the news and then getting stuck watching for an extra hour. Well, I'm noticing a trend in commercials... mainly that they haven't changed at all when it comes to portraying men and women. Take for example this recent, innocent Yoplait yogurt commercial:

Let's break this down: a perfectly healthy looking woman is on a diet. And it's so difficult to keep her mind off snacking that she goes crazy knitting to keep herself busy. The male in the commercial is introduced only for humor--he comes in with a knitted basketball jersey and says, honey this is too hot. Now, this guy looks like you're average guy--he's a bit on the chubby side. But you don't see him knitting like an idiot, frazzled because of some stupid diet, instead he's dressed up ready for a game of basketball. There were several ways to approach this comic relief--he could have entered wearing a knitted sweater and been like, honey, you know it's July right?--but instead Yoplait chose to reinforce gender stereotypes that women diet and suffer and that men are active and sports minded.

The real culprit is the recent Volkswagen car campaign. In it, different people are driving around in different cars and they're all playing off the same logo. Okay, fine. (I'll post it as soon as I can find it online.) In one scene, a woman asks her (presumably) boyfriend, "Am I high maintenance?" To which he lovingly replies, "No," only to look back at the camera with a look on his face to say, of course she is high maintenance. I think both men and women should be offended by this. Women: stop asking trivial questions that you should know the answer to. How not self-aware must you be, if you don't know the answer to: am I high maintenance. Men: You all are apparently liars. You wonder why women constantly have to berate you over the same thing? Do you like my haircut? Are you sure? You mean it? You do like it right? Really? It's because of commercials like this that constantly depict you as lying. How are we supposed to trust you when every media outlet portrays men who are untrustworthy. Stop being so whipped that you can't give an honest opinion. And equally important--why would you put up with a woman who is high maintenance if you find it so unappealing? These two lines of dialogue add nothing to the commercial or ad campaign. They only serve to subscribe to conventional gender stereotypes.

Both commercials are a real disappointment.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Wastelands of the Internet

I was recently pondering the vast, infinite(?) waste that exists in cyberspace. Sure enough, I was able to find a very broken down version of a home page (all personal web sites were called home pages back then. I built using one of those freebie hosting companies--remember Tripod and Angelfire? (Believe it or not they still live on with Lycos' help. Although, I wonder in what condition.)

There are so many broken and dead links that I wish some cybernet cleaning crew would come in and erase all of that defunct data. I mean sure, if you search mustaches on Google you get 700,000 plus results... but who cares? If searchers rarely go past the second page of results... really, who's ever gone looking on the 285th page of results for real information and not just amusement? Why keep that extra non sense around?

However, this easily dances around the idea of censorship. I mean if things are going to get cleaned up (i.e. deleted, removed, ex communicado) who gets to decide what? I propose it being time based. I propose, if a site hasn't had activity (either maintenance or a visitor) in over a decade you have to wonder if it is still relevant in our demanding, instant gratification, hyper time-sensitive, time is the new money, era.

Now some people might counter with the notion that maybe you want information about what mustaches were like back in the 1990s and visiting one of those sites is the best way to get authentic (I use that term loosely) information. Quite true. However, even if you were able to discern information with the broken imgs with no alt tags and the repeating, eye sore of a background with yellow text... you don't think you could find that same authentic information in a fancy, updated site?

That's the beautiful thing about the internet. Not its waste, but its regurgitation--okay, that's actually quite annoying if you're like me and are checking for new things every few hours--but really, that regurgitation of information occurs both linearly and vertically in the time continuum. You'll still be able to find your info on mustaches in the 1990s and this time, chances are the images will have been updated and the design much more user friendly.

Thus, no need for those forgotten sites. Except pure nostalgia... and I certainly wouldn't want to deny anybody their right to open up their space of internet to pull out chain letters and fanfiction and muse about how wonderful the good old days were. Because I guess it's true, our memories are no longer physical movie stubs and passed notes folded up like cootie catchers. Instead, in 15 years, we'll find long forgotten tweets about waiting for your luggage at BWI and archived e-mails, casual notes sent to ex-flames professing how you can't wait to see them or how such and such was funny.

I suppose I'm torn on the issue. These online wastelands are back alleys of tiled, but not seamless backgrounds, full of shady animated gifs lurking from the shadows if not lying decrepit on the concrete like a bum in his own soiled waste, the smell of decayed information wafting in the wet air... but to me or you, to someone that waste is the drive past an old home, looking in to see if the wallpaper has changed but glad to be driving past.

Okay, enough with the poetic analogies. Check out this article from the NY Times which is somewhat relevant: Do We Need A New Internet? They consider whether the need for better Internet security will cause a gated community mentality in a sense to protect users and businesses and governments. (I understand the need for this for all governments and/or financial institutions... but beyond that?) People working on this endeavor believe that new software and hardware will come out that will, sort of reroute you into a safer internet--no doubt only if you're willing to pay for it. We've all seen the urban decay as rich, wholesome folk moved from the cities into the suburbs. I wonder what damage will be inflicted upon the many who will be left out in the ghettos of cyberspace. How come we only come up with ways to make it easier for the people who already have it easy?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Front Page News

A Professor sent me this link and I think it is really quite incredible. (Uses Flash)
Newseum: Front Pages

I really liked it from a news media outlet perspective, but also design wise. Being able to see so many front pages of the same day is quite remarkable. A few days ago, after a plane crashed in Buffalo, NY, I checked the site, and it was clear which papers thought that was an important news story and which ones (like papers in NYC) thought it was an article better saved for the inside sections. Just a great resource to keep an eye on things whenever you're feeling like you're out of options on how to design a piece--remember, hierarchy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thievery Corporation Poster

The group, Thievery Corporation is coming to Rams Head Live in Baltimore soon. They [Rams Head and/or TC] were ever so kind to invite students to participate in making a poster/art for the show. Below is what I've been working on. Any thoughts, please? Black or white? Does it fit the band? Is there anything to add? Things like that would be helpful.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Concert Poster

I do a lot of design work for local jazz ensemble, Quartet Offensive. For those in Words & Images, the first project (profile), I did the Rolling Stone article about their bassist. 

Most recent poster done for them:

Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's Good to Be Home

I'm sure this has been much anticipated by my faithful followers, and I am pleased to announce ::sweeping low bow and gesture:: I'M BACK!

All jokery aside, I am returning to write for the Gray Suite. I've been busy in my absence, writing for film review site: (go take a look, but please excuse the disgusting decor and design, not my fault), as well as maintaining the simple and low-brow humor of 24 year olds at (not for the easily offended.) So feel free to visit those, or just curl up with me here in front of a roaring fire and ultra cool, faux bear rug (because killing animals is wrong.)

For those who don't know my plans here they are: I plan to develop a fabulous site designed to all these me and design. The Gray Suite will be transitioned to that site when it's up and running. However, considering I only have designs of the new site on paper in pencil, it won't be any time too soon. Since I enjoy manual labor and getting my hands dirty, I've decided that I'm going to build it myself rather than hire a developer (although, I'm sure I'll have help from friends--right? please?).

In the mean time, I'll be keeping you up to date with some of my work, the site's design and thoughts about whatever I might think up.

So, check back soon.