My New Hobby

…TYPE ASSIGNMENTS!  This is what I designed for a typography assignment that was due in the first few weeks of the semester:

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….pretty bad.  Not a very good sense of alignment, or use of type faces.  I liked the little decoration-y things at the top and bottom, and I still do, but in this design they just look like they’re floating and random so it doesn’t work.  It also reminds me of weddings or something and that’s not the point of the quote.  SO I re-designed this assignment for FUN, and I came up with something much, much better.  What I know for certain is that I  learned a lot since the first week of the semester and made an obvious improvement.  And I had fun while re-designing it so I decided I could make a hobby out of it.  Maybe start my own little mini-business on Etsy, who knows 😉  Anyway, here is the final product:

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 9.43.14 PM


It’s a little blurry because I had to take a screen shot of it, but I’m 100% positive it’s the stronger of the two.  So go get inspired by your favorite quotes and make fun type assignments out of them…it’s FUN!  And a great GIFT IDEA!!

Helpful Design Book


“The Non-Designer’s Design Book” (Third Edition) by ROBIN WILLIAMS is a design book I bought for a course this semester that ended up being SUPER helpful so I thought I’d share.  Williams has a really straightforward sense of humor so it’s also a fun read 🙂

Here’s what’s covered in the book:

  • the CRAP design principles
  • tips for using color in design
  • a section on branding packages, so like business cards, letterhead, envelope, flyer, newsletters, brochures, etc.
  • designing with type, including a really helpful section on the different categories of type as well as how to effectively contrast type


What I like best about it is that she provides multiple good AND bad examples of just about every piece of design advice she gives.  Visualizing what she’s talking about makes it really easy to apply what you’re learning along the way.  She also lists the typefaces used in each of the example designs which  is A GIANT TIME SAVER.  There are short ‘quizzes’ at the end of each section – I like to think of them as worksheets, but they’re easy and they’re helpful.  I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who isn’t necessarily in the design profession because it really makes a difference – the way the book is designed makes it really easy to follow and apply to whatever work you’re doing.

My Portfolio Website

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I just spent the last 5-6 hours or so writing codes for my personal portfolio website … UGH!  But the good news is that I think it’s pretty close to being finished.  I have to upload content to the actual portfolio page and of course fix a few formatting issues, but I thought I’d share my progress so far.

Notice my use of the CRAP design principles?  The formatting is ALMOST aligned consistently and when I contrasted font size, I made sure it was by A LOT (notice the header and navigation bar).  I probably did the best job with repetition – the background image, the opacity of the text boxes on each page, same fonts and colors, etc.  And as for proximity, all of the relevant information is on the correctly labeled page i.e. my contact information can be found under the “contact” page, etc.

Comments?  Suggestions?  Lemme hear them!

🙂 Here’s the link to my Portfolio Website …enjoy!

The CRAP Design Principles

frustrated-graphic-designerFeeling frustrated and/or overwhelmed by the thought of designing a media piece for your company or perhaps even your own business?  Don’t stress, you’re not alone.  Even traditional designers with years of experience are not exempt from such feelings.  Whoever you are, and whatever your background is, this post is here to bring you four of the most basic design principles to serve as a starting point and less overwhelming objective to focus on.  Don’t worry, they’re simple.  And the acronym, “CRAP” is even easier to remember – so no excuses people!

Contrast – if you are going to change an element in the piece you’re creating, MAKE A BIG, VERY NOTICEABLE CHANGE.  The elements you might consider adjusting include things like type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space between elements, etc.

Repetition – always consider repeating visual elements within your design.  The repetition will tie together the design and give it a stronger sense of unity.  Be selective about what elements you choose to repeat, but promise me you’ll always remember that LESS IS MORE.  A.K.A. do not repeat every single visual element in your design or it will end up looking like a hot mess.  Along with the visual elements previously listed in the contrast section, any symbols or images used in your design are also good candidates for being repeated throughout your piece (think watermarks).

Alignment – Random works well for some people, but most of the time, it does NOT work well in design.  The idea behind this principle is that nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily.  That is, every element should have a visual connection with another element on the page in one way or another.  For example, all of the paragraphs in this post are aligned with one another.

If I started a paragraph here

and then here

or maybe here…

the post as a whole would look like crap (the non-crap principle kind of crap) and most of you would probably not even consider reading it.

Proximity – Items that relate to each other should be grouped together.  This will keep your design organized and allow viewers to successfully grab every bit of information without having to search for it.  For example, if you’re designing a flyer for the upcoming live shows at your restaurant/bar/theater/whatever, things like the address, phone number, and daily hours of your establishment should all be found next to each other or as a list in the overall design.


That’s it!  Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.  Remember those AT LEAST, and you’ll be happy you did.  One last suggestion – take a moment during your day that is convenient for you to look for these principles in flyers (and other media pieces) around your community.  You’ll start to recognize good and bad examples of design as well as gain a better awareness for how important these principles are to the overall impact of each design.  Good luck! 🙂

photo source:

A quick & easy design tip: keep a notebook



Advice from Daniel Pink.  (If you’ve not yet been convinced of how much you’ll learn from reading his books after reading post after post on my blog that have been inspired by them, I would be shocked.  Moral of the story: go buy them and start reading, seriously.)  I bought a pack of black, lined Moleskine notebooks at Target and dedicated one as my “Design Notebook”.  The things I write about in this notebook include the following:

-If I see great designs, I make a note of them.  I like to include things like price (if applicable), who or what company produced and/or designed them, a description of the thing’s attributes (specific reasons why I like it) like color, size, function(s), etc.

-I do the same thing for bad or flawed designs.  Sometimes I will include an additional sketch or description of how I think the bad design could be improved.

-I also make sure to include the design of experiences.  For example, what about this event made it so memorable?  What aspect(s) of my favorite undergraduate experience was my University responsible for fostering/what did they specifically do to shape that positive experience?  Why do I shop at Target instead of Shopko?  Stuff like that.

If you can commit to taking up this advice, then “before long, you’ll be looking at graphics, enteriors, environments, and much more with greater acuity.  And you’ll understand in a deepr way how design decisions shape our everyday lives,” according to Pink.  You will also learn a lot about yourself and your own preferences, according to me.

If you like this idea and decide to invest in your own design notebook, please please PLEASE share your ideas with me in one way or another.  And FYI I’ll probably be posting some excerpts from mine sometime in the near future 🙂

Today’s dose of designspiration: Karim Rashid’s “Karimanifesto”

No matter what your passion is, we all have those specific individuals in the industry that we look to for inspiration.  If you’re reading this blog, then you probably have a number of designers or individuals in related fields that you stalk on the boardwalk during every second of free time – searching and yearning for every bit of design inspiration, known by me as ‘designspiration’ (okay I confess, it’s a term I copy cat-ed from the popular as you can.  That being said, this post is all about one designer I’m inspired by: Karim Rashid.

If you’re unfamiliar with Karim, here’s a very quick bio taken directly from his website (

“Karim Rashid is one of the most prolific designers of his generation. Over 3000 designs in production, over 300 awards and working in over 40 countries attest to Karim’s legend of design.  In his spare time Karim’s pluralism flirts with art, fashion, and music and is determined to creatively touch every aspect of our physical and virtual landscape.”

What I am sharing with you as today’s dose of designspiration is Karim’s fifty-point guide to life and design titled, the “Karimanifesto.”  So without further ado … the Karimanifesto!  Get inspired people 🙂


1. Don’t specialize

2. Keep your desk neat, clean, and empty. This means you are staying on top of everything.

3. Treat employees and clients the way you would like to be treated by them

4. Return every e-mail, phone call, and fax the same day it arrives regardless of where you are in the world

5. Before giving birth to anything physical, ask yourself if you have created an original idea, an original concept, or if there is any real value in what you disseminate

6. Know everything about the history of your profession and then forget it all when you design something new

7. Never say ‘I could have done that’ because you didn’t.

8. To be is to build

9. Unveil an actuality – create a surprise, a phenomenological event

10. Good Karma

11. Observe everything, everyone, AND EVERY MOMENT

12. Work is fun, beautiful and rewarding

13. Don’t work with someone if you sense different views, or because you believe there is potential because there probably isn’t

14. There is not potential in everything or every project

15. Don’t work on your weaknesses, work on your strengths

16. If you do not like your job, quit!

17. Laziness is the anti-Christ

18. If you are not talented, do something else

19. Reduce the carbs – take the fillers out of your life

20. Carry one credit card and no coins

21. Own 30 pairs of same color socks and 30 pairs of the same colored underwear so that socks always match, and do your laundry every month 

22. For everything you buy, you must give away the same thing– so you always stay at equilibrium and never accumulate more than you need

23. Don’t consume or overeat because you are depressed

24. Consume experiences, not things

25. Do 6 things at once (multi-task), then you will never be bored

26. Don’t use words like taste, class, boredom, style, ugly, or mass

27. Pleasure is more psychological than physical

28. Minimalism is boring – sensual minimalism is friendly

29. More is more

30. Form follows subject / object follows subject

31. Don’t dream it, be it

32. Celebrate technology

33. Normal is not good

34. Never be satisfied with your work

35. Perseverance, consistency, and rigor form success

36. Being famous should not be a priority – work should be

37. Pay your dues – learn from others

38. There are 3 types of beings – those who create culture, those who buy culture, and those who don’t give a shit about culture. Move between the first two.

39. Work is life

40. Think extensively, not intensively

41. Think Relaxed, not rigid

42. Omni Vincent Amor, Omni Vincent Amok (*translation: Love conquers all, love conquers all things)

43. Experience is the most important part of living, and the exchange of ideas, and human contact is all life really is. Space and objects can encourage increased experiences or distract from our experiences.

44. Be the change you want to see in the world (Gandhi)

45. Edit your life

46. Addition by subtraction

47. Think before you endorse

48. There is no more brand allegiance – brandump

49. The past is pointless

50. Here and now is all we’ve got

Which points resonate the most with you?  I’ve bolded a few of my favorites, feel free to share yours! 🙂


The power of design: 8 examples showing the increasing importance of design in today’s world

Twiggy basting brush by FRED - not your average kitchen utensil

Twiggy basting brush by FRED – not your average kitchen utensil

As I have mentioned, I’m reading “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel H. Pink and I’m learning A TON.  In his section on design, I was amazed at how much we are surrounded by design in today’s world and wanted to share his insight.  And these examples I’m about to share don’t even include the things that are constantly in front of our faces either – i.e. the typefaces of anything and everything we pick up to read whether it’s a newspaper, magazine, book, or flyer; the clothes in our closets; the houses we live in and the furniture within them, etc.  But all of these things, including the examples I’m about to share, are “part of your life because someone else imagined them and brought them into being,” according to Pink.  So I invite you to take a minute or two to read through the following post and become enlightened with me about the prevalence of design in today’s world.  You might be surprised, I know I was.

1. School’s are popping up around the U.S. that are known for their design-based curriculums.  One example the book mentioned is The Charter High School for Architecture and Design. CHAD is a tuition-free public school in Philadelphia with a curriculum centered on design – unique because it combines design with math, science, English, history, etc. to teach core subjects.  According to the book, CHAD staff members hold the belief that, “design is interdisciplinary … we’re producing people who can think holistically.”  While not every student that attended CHAD will end up with a career focused on design, CHAD’s deputy principal states, “We’re building an awareness in students of what design is and how it can affect their lives … I see the design curriculum as providing a modern version of a liberal arts education for these kids.”  Very interesting.

2. As Pink calls it, the “democratization of design.”  One example of this phenomenon that we all know and love: Target.  Pink talks about how back in the day, designer fashions and/or products were commodities for the wealthy and elite.  In today’s world however, companies like Target are making such design-oriented merchandise available for just about everyone.

3. The automobile industry.  According to Pink, there are more cars in the U.S. than individuals to drive them.  “That ubiquity has brought down prices and boosted quality, leaving design as a key criterion for consumer decisions,” Pink states.  If you’re still skeptical, here is an additional great quote I found that completely backs up this fact by BMW’s Chris Bangle: “We don’t make ‘automobiles,’ [BMW makes] moving works of art that express the driver’s love of quality.”

4. Your kitchen. Where I live in Madison, WI, there is a store named “Pop Deluxe” nearby on State Street.  It’s all about unique little things – including but not limited to kitchen utensils in the shape of animals or other objects, for example.  Why have these products become so popular you ask?  Well, it’s pretty simple and it comes down to this: “The typical person uses a toaster at most 15 minutes per day.  The remaining 1,425 minutes of the day the toaster is on display.  In other words, 1% of the toaster’s time is devoted to utility, while 99% is devoted to significance.”  SO, we see that toaster sitting on our countertop more than we actually use it.  The question you should ask yourself then, is: why not look great while it spends time sitting there not in use?  Answer: there is no reason it shouldn’t look great.  Therefore: toaster must look good.  BAM.

5. Health care.  According to Pink, “a growing body of evidence is showing that improving the design of medical settings helps patients get better faster.”  For example, there have been studies that have observed recovering patients (with identical ailments) in opposing settings.  I.e. dreary conventional ward of hospital vs. modern, visually appealing ward with plenty of natural sunlight.  Guess which patients ended up using less pain medication and were released from the hospital earliest?  Patients from the modern, design-focused wards.

6. Public schools.  A study at Georgetown University found that aesthetically/physically improving a school’s environment can “increase test scores by as much as 11%.”

7. Public housing.  Architects like Louise Braverman are focusing their energy on the idea of improving aesthetics in otherwise “abominable” settings.  For example, one of his projects – located on Chelsea Court in NYC – contains buildings with “colorful stairwells, airy apartments, and a roof deck with Philippe Starck furniture – all for tenants who are low-income or [formerly] homeless.”  Imagine what improving the aesthetics in these areas around the nation could do to decrease stereotypes and discrimination based on appearance.  What a wonderful movement.

8. Design and the environment.  This one is simple.  “The ‘green design’ movement is incorporating the principles of sustainability in the design of consumer goods.”  Obviously we’ll always need to put in an effort to preserve and protect our planet, that’s for sure.

That’s all for now, folks.  Can you think of any examples from your life that I haven’t mentioned and should be included on this list?  Please share them with me!! 🙂

5 quotes on the importance of design

So I am currently reading an amazing book you may or may not have already heard of called “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel H. Pink.  I’ve been mesmerized since I opened it and I would strongly suggest you go pick yourself up a copy ASAP.  But anyway, I’m anticipating a ton of related blog posts in the forecast so definitely stay tuned.  For now I’ve come up with a list of 5 quotes that I pulled from the Design section of the book to share:
#1 – “Design, stripped to its essence, can be defined as the human nature to shape and make our environment in ways without precedent in nature, to serve our needs and give meaning to our lives.” -John Heskett
#2 – “Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.” –Paola Antonelli
#3 – “It is not true that what is useful is beautiful.  It is what is beautiful that is useful.  Beauty can improve people’s way of life and thinking.” -Anna Castelli Ferrieri
#4 – “Design is the only thing that differentiates one product from another in the marketplace.” –Norio Ohga
#5 – “Design correctly harnessed can enhance life, create jobs, and make people happy – not such a bad thing.” -Paul Smith

All good points about design and why it has become increasingly important in today’s world.