Feeling the Design Inspiration

branding, design, design inspiration, inspirational people, letterpress, music, typography, vintage design, websites

Do you ever have days where you just feel like little bites of inspiration are coming at you rapid fire? In a good way! I feel like this week has been full of fun graphic design pieces and I wanted to take the time to share a few of my favorites from the last few days.

While reading an article on one of our local New Orleans websites about Bob Dylan horrifying the crowds at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, I got to thinking that I wasn’t sure which Newport the festival is named for. So, I looked it up (Rhode Island, but I think I’m the only person out there who didn’t know this!) and was pleasantly greeted by a lovely website! I’m totally down with the current vintage and hand made/hand cut trend. You already know I love letterpress, so any chance to take it to the electronic side and warm up your space on the internet is welcome in my book.

music festival website

website design music festival

So of course, I clicked around to find out who made this beauty, and it was none other than Christopher Capotosto, the mastermind behind bunches of other great folk music related design. Check around his website for some lovely examples of his work!

The other bit that hit me yesterday was a paper sample look book from Utopia Papers. It came packed in the lightning bolt slip cover so just a little sliver of “Spark” showed itself in the hole. The inside is full of samples of brochures and catalogs and other pieces that used Utopia’s stock for the final product. View the featured pieces here.


My Utopia online search pointed me to Pratt’s Center for Sustainable Design Strategies and it’s definitely worth your time to poke around the student and thesis project pages – especially for Communication Design and Architecture. Oh how I wish there were a program like this in Louisiana!

That being said: What are your thoughts on grad school? Did you go? Are you planning to? How important is an MFA vs. a more business focused art program?


Good Design Karma

design, freelance, typography, websites

Today I want to briefly discuss free fonts. Very few fonts are actually free. I’m not sure how we got to this odd “free” download system we’ve found ourselves in, but there is a fine print 9 times out of 10 and it’s important to be good citizens and respect your designer.

1. Very few of the fonts on the free download sites are officially free for all uses.

2. Free fonts on the free font download sites are often labeled free for “personal use.” I would say I see this about half the time. Awesome! Download and stick it on everything in your house! Put it on your kid’s birthday invitations and make wall graphics for every wall in your home (you know what I mean, Pinners). But if you find yourself turning that home-organization habit into a business and throw a logo together with that font, beware you have crossed the line between business and personal!

3. Free fonts that are not officially “free” and are those not labeled “free for personal use” but are instead labeled either “purchase for commercial use” or “not to be used commercially” at all. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the designer would allow people to download any part of it for free if that’s not the intention! I guess in hopes we’re all good citizens and will pay our designers – which every designer will tell you is not the case.

4. So here’s what you do – if there isn’t a clear “donate now” button by the font on the website, you need to read the “read me” file in the download file. They are not long – usually less than a page, if not less than a paragraph. You can do it. It might say you don’t have to do anything! Surprise, it really is free! But it will probably give you the name of the designer and their email and maybe a link to their site. Contact the designer and they will send you directions for how to pay and probably a suggestion of how much (I haven’t seen one for more than $25). If they don’t suggest an amount, then use your best discretion. It’s a one-time fee guys! That’s a good deal. The other good news is that when the designer is being paid out in this way, they probably don’t have a major surcharge taken out like they might through bigger, expensive font sellers.

There’s my two cents on making sure you’re an upstanding citizen and user of all the design love out there on the internet. Be nice, so that we can continue to have inexpensive options for things like fonts. And while you’re at it, quit stealing photos off of flickr! God/goddess/buddha/karma knows that you didn’t take that picture!

End rant.

Thanks for listening! Here’s a funny for you! Graphic representations of terrible client suggestions, courtesy of Sharpsuits.

Design News from the Internetz

advertising, architecture, branding, design, guerilla art, outdoor art, typography

I saw an article yesterday about a fun project that someone is trying to get started in Richmond – PARK(ing) Day! You may recall my previous post about my love of the parklet. Well, PARK(ing) Day is a wide spread event, held September 21 this year, where people put money into a parking meter for whatever time it will allow and then they roll out a mini park in the space instead of putting a car there. More details on the PARK(ing) Day website and some history about the event. I think this sounds amazingly fun and it’s not something we’ve seen yet in Richmond (or many other cities I frequent).

Image of the original parklet from PARK(ing) Day website.

In other news from the internetz, what is up with the Chinese ghost towns? This is so creepy and confusing to me. Working in infrastructure in the US makes me ask all kinds of questions about who thought that building new “cities” 2 hours from existing cities and not connecting them with any kind of mass transportation was a good idea? China doesn’t have as many cars as the US. And who is the target consumer for these spaces? China, though economically miles ahead of many many other developed countries still has an extremely large poor population. Hearing that they have a surplus of these high-end apartments and retails spaces is truly disturbing.

On a lighter note, here are some wonderfully minimalistic print ads for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Image from Bored Panda.

Lastly, I just want to say that I’m thrilled not to have to see that hideous London Olympics logo anymore. I’m looking forward to the breath of fresh air and good taste that is the Rio logo.

It  makes sense without being too literal, the colors are lovely and there’s something really unique about it.
Seriously, what happened London? Was that the only design bid you received?

Image from the Guardian.

London’s 2012 logo was designed by the firm Wolff Olins, and I suppose it was supposed to be avant garde and edgy or something. It’s looking a little dated already, to me.

Rio has enlisted the firm Tatil Design from Brazil to design the logo for the 2016 games. I don’t speak or read Portuguese, but what I can pick out from their site has something to do with using the human figure as inspiration for a logo that would recreate well in 3D. Way to keep it classy, Brazil.

Sunday Design Tidbits of Fun

design, design books, fine arts, guerilla art, inspirational people, music, non-profit, typography

Thank you to all who voted for my shirt designs at Storyville Apparel! I got the designs in before the voting ended, though I thought I had a few more hours of voting. But to those that tried and couldn’t, I thank you for your effort and support as well! I will find out tomorrow morning at the Storyville blog whether or not I won. Even if I didn’t, Storyville has some very cool items for you to check out!

I read the other day on Steven Heller’s Print Magazine blog that there is a new book about one of my favorite typographer/designers coming out soon! Long past due, this new book at Herb Lubalin will be out in August, and I cannot wait. Pre-order here.

Shepard Fairey is on the move again, with a new mural up in Paris called “Rise Above Rebel.” Check it out at Street Art News! And in other Shepard Fairey news, the VMFA in Richmond currently has one on view. The link is a little unclear as to whether it’s a new acquisition or is on loan, so you better check it out sooner than later just to be safe!

Yesterday I took a trip out to Culpeper, Virginia to see the property my dad has recently acquired. On the way home I stopped into Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park to see some of the National Park Service wayside panels I designed about 10 years ago! From what I understand, it took them about 6 years to produce and finally install the pieces, but that’s still no excuse for waiting so long to see them in person.

And my husband ordered himself some new business cards that he designed himself this week! I’m either rubbing off on them or he’s been holding out his design skillz on me – I love them!

And my last little tid bit of design news for the day is that the Music Box musical architecture experience in New Orleans has seen it’s last big events before they will disassemble and begin work on a permanent structure. Check their blog in the next few days for sound and video clips of the work and talks – they are fantastic about uploading parts of all the amazing events that have taken place. I’m sure they will update the weekend’s events as well. But for now, they have plenty of interesting clips to keep you busy.

Proposal Development Inspiration

design, TEDx, typography, Uncategorized

Hello blog friends, and thank you for your patience during this very busy time in my life. There are exciting things happening all around me. Most notably, my previous post about TEDxHullStreet here in Richmond actually opened a whole new world of TEDx for me. Turns out, a lot of the big thinkers and doers around town have been secretly planning a bigger, badder and more adventurous TEDxRVA event and I have had the pleasure of hooking up with them and becoming part of their endeavor. So, TEDxHullStreet will shortly be defunct and I hope to get my planned and potential speakers involved with this even more exciting TEDxRVA. More details to come!

Beyond the TED world, I’ve been crazily trying to keep up with my proposal load at the day job, which has led me to explore other options for going about designing an interesting and unique approach to the average government form proposal. I’m super jealous of the creative approach the private sector accepts for proposals – and really, architects get to have all the fun. At my job, we have very little room for inspiration, and I would love to share some gems with you, but the internet turns up nothing for creative proposals. Nothing! So why shouldn’t we search outside the box for inspiration?

Livestrong Annual Report

I love the tabs on the Livestrong, very text-heavy document. And the bright splashes of their signature color.

Target Annual Report

Loving Target’s use of bright and easy to consume infographics. I hate, hate, hate a needlessly complicated infographic. I hope that fad goes away quickly.

Volkswagen Vision Publication

VW did a great job integrating modern graphics with throwback typography.

GAP Annual Report

GAP succeeded in getting the important info across without overwhelming the user/reader with too much information. Not overwhelming the user is definitely something to strive for in the proposal world.

There are tons more examples out there to take inspiration from. I’m looking forward to a bit of a revamp on our proposal this time around!

In unrelated news, I’m on dribbble now! Follow me!

Letterpress Surprise!

design, letterpress, printing, typography

I had a productive day gardening in and among steady rains in my swamp of a backyard today. Came inside, poured some rum drinks for Scott and I and found a bit of beautiful mail from some of my favorite bloggers over at Peach Farm Studio! Yay for letterpress bookmarks! Thanks guys! Happy Saturday!

letterpress design

Vintage Graphic Design Finds

design, fine arts, poster, printing, typography, vintage design

I spent today with my mom and her bestie and the birthday girl, my Tante Karin, antiques shopping our way around downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was lovely weather in a quaint, Jefferson-era setting. We hit up a bunch of different stores that never disappoint in the design inspiration category.

The first item of interest I noticed was this 1925 No No Nanette record album. The colors and fonts are so classic for that period and the illustration is priceless. They were not afraid of soothing negative space. It makes me long for the days of outrageously fine arts-driven music albums. Artists inspired by other artists.

The next pile of design fun was a bowl of these amazing buttons. Some were political, probably 1950s to 60s, and others highlighted the Rose Bowl – I’d assume one button for each of the two teams playing that year. I’ve always loved this style of bold, boxy political buttons. I had a killer “I like Ike” one that is probably somewhere still at my dad’s house. I also had a “we give a damn!” one with an elephant that I’d love to see again.

Found these Columbia Records relics at the same place as the other two items. These are direct relatives of the album art I posted about here, from the late 1940s. Awesome.

This incredible piece of Americana was from a different store. Have I mentioned how much I love kitschy political design work? What’s not to love here? And if you think you’re getting a taste of my political leanings, you might be wrong!

Who doesn’t love a crazy b-list movie poster? In all seriousness, I miss how often our society used to put hand illustrators to work.

I mistakenly took this little cutie as some sort of beer ad or book cover, but turns out it’s the cover of a Gmund paper sample book. These papers are something I’m going to look into, as they are made with malt and hops, and my German heritage and design-nerdiness makes me want to dig deeper. I’ll keep you posted on my findings. Right now I’m going to sit sheepishly and feel silly about my mistake. Adorable package with fantastic typography, either way.

The last item of interest was not found in a store, but spotted on the street. It was a KONY 2012 flyer taped to a building. Do you all have opinions on this campaign? I’m still undecided as to what’s real and what’s not. I watched the video and I read some articles that counter the video, but the information is still pretty foggy for me. There are some holes and I have some lingering thoughts on “doing more harm than good” when it comes to working with semi-(or fully) corrupt foreign governments. What do you think? Is the campaign just a hipster film maker with a personal agenda?