Archives for category: design

Here are three awesome things I found on the interwebs today.

The United States of Good Beer is an infographic of sorts that shows each states’ favorite brewery. This combines two of my favorite things: well designed infographics and great local beer! Living in Bloomington, IN, I have the pleasure of being able to drink Upland whenever my heart desires.


I stumbled to this photo of a bookshelf nook and immediately fell in love. One dream I have for my future home is a fully-stocked library, and the only thing that could make it better would be an architecturally awesome reading nook, like the one below. I can just imagine getting cozy with a cup of green tea and and a design book.

This wrapping paper is fantastic. It’s creative and can be used for anything. Personally, I like to wrap things in newspaper (reduce, reuse, recycle!), but I still think this is awesome. I think Christmas and Birthday paper can get really cheesy, but give me anything covered in type and I’ll automatically love it. Unless that type is Comic Sans.








Here are a couple of my recent doodles, completed during a lecture class to prevent me from falling asleep. I have a robot and mustache(moustache?) obsession, by the way.

So, here I sit in the midst of the busiest few weeks I’ve ever experienced in college. Finals are approaching next week; this week is called “Dead Week,” since everything is supposed to be quiet, full of study, etc. Wrong. I have had projects, papers, and a final exam this week, along with finishing up photos and video that I shot for my Little 500 internship, and starting training for a new job. 

Yes, I have a new job. No more dealing with beginning photography students leaving trays of chemicals on the floor of the darkroom! Lab monitor Danielle is gone. I am now working at the Indiana Daily Student  (IDS) newspaper, doing mainly ad design and also working on larger projects and campaigns. I’ve only had 2 days of training so far, but I can tell that I will have a great time working there.

The worst of my finals are mostly over. I only have one exam left (although it is huge), and the rest of my work consists of a design project and multiple final book projects for my book structures class. It’s possible that I will be up until 4am making books every night this weekend, but I truly don’t mind doing it. I just hope that I don’t end up with a mediocre project since these are somewhat last minute.

I’m really excited about the first project I have planned for the summer, which is to photograph all of my projects that aren’t already in some digital form. This includes all of the books I have made/will make this semester, of which there are 10 or more. I feel like I haven’t photographed anything for myself in a very, very long time, so this will be a nice bit of artistic therapy. I do have a full list of summer goals written out already, and I’m eager to start them all! They mostly revolve around design, revamping my website, making books, etc., but I also plan to go through clothes and everything else I own, looking for donations for Goodwill. There is definitely too much clutter in my life…which is probably the reason for my personal preference for minimalist design. See, that psychology minor didn’t go to waste.

18. Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
(From the Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, by Bruce Mau)

Between now and the end of the Spring semester I have an incredible amount of work to do on school and personal projects, so I figured I might as well document their progress. Here are some of the projects that will prevent me from sleeping for the next 6-7 weeks.

The T(ea) Book
        One of the projects due in 6 weeks for my Book Structures class is a partner project, where each pair comes up with their own book concept and design. My partner, Sara, and I, discovered a shared passion for tea, and are making a tea book. This book will contain tea-related imagery (my strength) and will be printed on fabric (Sara’s strength); the pages will be held together with a length of ribbon with a printed quote. The inside of the book will contain famous quotes about tea paired with the imagery. The box will be a canvas or muslin covered slipcase with a lid, similar to a tea box. We will likely stain the muslin…with tea! Because we our book is so simple, we had trouble coming up with a title, but then landed on the simply typographic letter “T.” It will reflect the simplicity of the pages containing text.

The Word Book
         For the same Book Structures class I mentioned above, we need to complete a final book project on our own. I’ve been having a lot of trouble coming up with ideas, and this particular idea is still a very tentative one. I have favorite words in the way that I have favorite songs; I hear or see them and I’m comforted, I laugh, or am prompted to think. The book idea I’m proposing will be an entire alphabet of my favorite words; my favorite word for each of the 26 letters. The page containing the word will have pronunciation, origin, definition and whatever other information I feel like including. I may also pair the words with sketches, imagery, or illustrations, although the book will be very typographic in nature.

        I have no ideas yet for the cover or binding style, but I might want it to look something like a dictionary (although I don’t want to use leather!) This proposal is still very tentative, and I may change the plan at the last minute like I usually do.

       My favorite word starting with “N” is nostalgia, and the letter “O” is onomatopoeia. Pinning down my favorite words for each letter will be incredibly fun….which is why I might stick with the idea; it will be entertaining!

Green Production Posters
     For my Production Graphic Design class, we have a poster assignment in which we need to conceptualize, research, and design a series of 3 informational posters on some part of production. I decided to incorporate another area of interest of mine, sustainability, and will be going through the steps the designer can take to be more eco-friendly in 3 areas: Prepress/Design, Onpress/Printing, and Post-Production. I’m the only one of my classmates researching this topic, and I’m even more excited about it since more businesses and individuals are now striving to be “green,” and the topic is becoming more prominent in everyday life, including the life of a designer.

     I have about half of my research done and am still in the sketching process. I’m still not sure about imagery/illustration, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out soon enough.
     Rough thumbnails:

Music Business Cards
     I’m in the process of making music business cards for my Dad, to promote him as a musician for small events, rather than for just executive purposes. These cards will be very simple but dynamic, and clearly emphasize music. I’m still in the sketching process, but I’ll start working on them more as my school projects near completion.
      A few sketches:

And of course, my portfolio website is an ongoing project, although it hasn’t seen any changes in quite some time, especially because I now think it’s boring, want to revamp my logo and my entire website design.

Starting shortly, I’ll be taking on some small design projects for friends that will help them out while helping me build my portfolio.I’m also applying for an internship with Blue Line Style for Little 500. If I get the position, I’ll be one of the photographers documenting the events surrounding Little 500 and the races themselves. I have a meeting on Tuesday to learn more about the internship, so I hope it goes well!

Earlier this month, Indiana University’s Counseling and Psychological Services sponsored “Celebrate Your Body Week,” an annual event consisting of activities that promote positive body image and educate students about the dangers of eating disorders and over-exercise. Students were invited to submit work related to the event for a gallery. Unfortunately, I was too busy to get my idea realized and printed before the deadline date, but it did inspire me to address this issue through art. I created this triptych to show the extremes of an eating disorder in a straightforward, simple way, without incorporating a person.

I have unfortunately witnessed the destructive nature of eating disorders in friends and peers from high school until now. I have heard many women (and men) my age become visibly distressed over the pressures of being thin in today’s society. We have all felt these same pressures at some point, but it is truly tragic to see them take over the human mind and transform negative thoughts into self-destructive behavior. It is painful to watch a friend chew gum for lunch, and eat a few crackers for dinner, but it’s nothing compared to the pain felt by those with the disorder. It is important to raise awareness for eating disorders, and educate people about their dangerous consequences so that we can combat the causes.

Advertisements depicting unrealistic Photoshopped bodies on actual healthy and beautiful women are certainly not helping the problem (see link below). Nor are the general requirements for editorial and fashion modeling, which are (according to my internet research), between 5’8″-6’0″ in height and 90-120 lbs. Those are nearing Barbie’s unnatural and slightly emaciated proportions, and create unrealistic ideals for young women, not to mention the low self-esteem women feel when they see these magazines and wonder why they can’t look the same way.

A huge mistake by Ralph Lauren’s advertisers shows the odd desire for disproportionaly skeletal women in the fashion world:

Campaigns for real beauty and fashion shows incorporating more “plus size” models are starting to appear, and I can only hope that they continue to push the emphasis towards a healthy body, rather than one that is unnaturally thin. V Magazine is starting to help, by showing that women larger than a size 4 are just as beautiful.

This is an issue that I will continue to follow, and I will do my best to use my photography and art to propel modern society’s image of the ideal body away from where it currently resides and towards something more realistic, and less dangerous. I urge others to do the same.

Because I am lacking in photographic inspiration, and can’t think of anything new to shoot, I’m going to play with old images. I love monochromatic images; black and white will never go out of style…but sometimes I want something more. I recently discovered the beauty of duotone images. Duotone refers to a halftone reproduction of an image, where one color is superimposed over another. When one of these tones is black (as in grayscale/black & white imagery) and one tone is a specific color, you can get some really fantastic subtle effects. I’ll manipulate one of my images for the sake of comparison:

Here is the original monochromatic photo        

This is an obvious duotone photograph, where the superimposed color is an red-orange (specifically PANTONE 166 C) I rarely see duotones with this intense of a bright color…it seems more common to use extreme colors when they are cooler tones, like the example below.

So…yep that’s blue (PANTONE 2915 C to be exact). Pretty extreme for a portrait, but it can be really dynamic for cold landscapes and the like. Now, for subtlety.
Now this one also has a blue tone (PANTONE 544 C), but it is a lot more subtle. It just gives the image a cool feel, rather than screaming HEY LOOK I’M BLUE. Anyway…I like it. There are places where it can really enhance a photo in a quiet way.

This effect is perhaps my favorite. The superimposed color is a light beige/brown, called PANTONE 5835 C. It is a subtle warmth added to the photo. Not immediately noticeable or bothersome, but it adds a nice effect to the portrait.
You might think you see this all the time, with sepia and hue-adjusted photos, but it is a different effect. Hue adjustments change all the tones of the photo (shadows, midtones, highlights) to reflect that color. A duotone is a combination of two tones, that create a more natural effect. The highlights generally remain white, and the darkest shadows stay more or less black. Hue adjustments and sepia of course have their place in photography and digital manipulation, but I am a huge duotone advocate. It works within an image rather than overlaying an obvious effect on top of it. 
So, if you’re wondering how to do this:
1. Open an image in Photoshop
2. Change the color mode to grayscale, to make the Duotone option available  (Image>Mode>Grayscale)
3. Change the color mode to duotone (Image>Mode>Duotone)
4. A box will pop up where you will choose your color
5. In the “Type” box, change the selection from Monotone to Duotone (Yes, there are other options there…you can do Tritone and Quadtone too!)
6. Click on the white box for Ink 2, and choose your color. (You can change your color options under the “Book” tab. I stick to PANTONE Solid Coated, because it is a common system used among professional printers)
7. Press OK, and you have yourself a fancy Duotone image! You can always go back and change your color in the .psd file, by getting back to the Duotone menu.

In the box that comes up after clicking on “Duotone,” you’ll see a small box next to your ink selections with a diagonal line through it. If you click on it, you can adjust the curve of a particular tone. If you know how to use the Curves adjustment, you might want to try this out. You can adjust specifically where you would like to see the most color (midtones, highlights, etc) with this feature. It gives you a lot more control over the use of color in your image.

Three cheers for duotone!! Hopefully I’ll have some NEW images up soon that showcase this technique in all its glory.

Since I’m always talking about how much I dislike pencils, I figured I should explain why. I guess it’s not that I dislike them, I just think that pens are 2000% better for certain things, where pencils are normally used. I am a strict ink advocate. I only voluntarily use pencils for marking measurements and where I’m doing actual representational drawing (which is rare anyway). The rest of my drawing/sketching/writing is done with pen. And because I love lists oh so much…. this is why pencils suck:

1. Pencils aren’t permanent. Yes, I understand, the whole point of pencils is to erase your mistakes. But I don’t think we should be doing that. “Learn from your mistakes,” is a very common philosophy, which I think most people agree to be true. Shouldn’t this apply to art and design as well? When I’m sketching out an idea, I don’t try to make it perfect. If I make a mistake, I try again. Keeping screw-ups in my sketchbook shows me what doesn’t work in a particular design, and on occasion the mess-ups can turn into a final design element (ex: a rounded corner that was supposed to be sharp).

2. Ink is quicker. When I try to sketch with pencils, it takes me forever, because I get caught up in shading, detail and shadows. Pens generally have one line width and weight. With a pencil, by the time I make everything perfect and pretty, I’ve lost the idea. Pens allow me to ignore the detail and just get a rough idea on paper, ignoring the small mistakes and focusing on the big picture (literally).

3. Ink is bold. With pens and other permanent mediums, you get bright, bold colors. I think that it’s easier to see what colors work in your design when you have the extreme versions.  Color can be adjusted later, so the easiest way to immediately choose what might work is to have the quick, yet bold color right in your sketch. With colored pencils, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the choices, and blending of color. My favorite colored pens to sketch with are the Staedtler triplus Fineliner ( They have a wonderful line, great colors, and are very fun to sketch with. I’ve also incorporated them into the final product of mixed media art pieces.

4. Pens are more aesthetically pleasing. Writing in ink is definitely more beautiful than writing with pencil. Ink can create smooth lines, and fantastic letterforms. The typography geek in me gets so excited to see how certain letters looks with different types of ink…in pencil they are just boring.

5. The flow of a pen somehow makes it easier to get my ideas onto a page. This might be more of a personal preference, but I find it easier in every possible way to get words and images onto a piece of paper with ink rather than a pencil. I’m not sure how exactly to explain this preference, but that’s just how I roll.

Think in ink!

In posting that last thing about my 365 project, I realized that it’s almost February and my New Year’s Resolutions exist only in my head. This is quite strange, because I usually write everything down either on post-its, in a planner, journal, or in one of my various notebooks that comes with me everywhere. My horrible short term memory and unbelievable lack of organization of thoughts requires this. So, before I forget them completely, I might as well list them here on the internets, where I can’t forget or accidentally recycle them. It’s a long list, but I’m confident that I can do, or start, most of them. Not in order of importance…

1. Run/workout often (cliche resolution, so it had to be first)
2. Meditate daily
3. Start doing yoga
4. Finish my portfolio website (almost done with this one!)
5. Build up the fashion photography/portraiture parts of my portfolio
6. Blog regularly
7. Be more involved in social media/increase online presence (twitter, flickr, blog, deviantart, etc)
8. Keep playing guitar (just started learning before the new year)
9. Get into the world of animation and film (keep making my stop-motion videos)
9.5 Become more comfortable in Flash and Adobe Premiere Pro
10. Lessen my carbon footprint, and encourage others to be more environmentally friendly
11. Travel somewhere over 6 hours away from Bloomington, IN
12. Read more nonfiction, especially topics regarding religion, art, philosophy, and the environment
13. Give myself personal design projects, mock clients, and deadlines to strengthen my portfolio and design process

There’s the basic list. I’m sure I’ll end up adding a few as I remember them, but even if not, it looks like I have a productive year ahead of me….I hope.

I really don’t like pencils. I believe that it’s important to see the progression of ideas, even if they start out terrible. I do not dwell on the mistakes, but with time a mistake can transform into the best idea of all. Much of my work has turned out this way. Countless people stand by the phrase “learn from your mistakes.” Shouldn’t that apply to art as well?

Don’t forget your mistakes. Use ink.

I am nearly 9 full months into my 365/photo a day project and I’m stuck. I feel like there is no creativity left to squeeze out of me, and all my photos are boring. I’m over 2 weeks behind on uploading to flickr, mostly because I’m not excited about my work lately. In order to edit and make it a great image, I have to be excited about it.

I’m getting inspired to write, play music, design and even do video projects but I can’t seem to find inspiration for my photography. Pushing through this project is tough, but I’m doing it and the end doesn’t seem too far away. I can’t wait for the day when I can photograph when I want to, and when I’m inspired. My work will be much better for it, I’m sure.

Until then, I’ll continue to channel this inspiration into my design. One of my recent assignments was to create a ransom letter in the typical letter cut-out fashion. While working on my ransom letter from Mother Nature, I became inspired to do a series of ransom letters. I think it can be quite an interesting commentary on the art of type.

For now, I’ll listen to Simon and Garfunkel in a desperate search for inspiration in the music that I love.