New Series: The Weather

How do you capture the [mostly] invisible?  The feel of the wind on your face? The rushing gust of wind through the trees?

I started this series with this thought in mind: how to make icons that represent the movements of the weather? Once upon a time, many years ago, I was part of a science “olympiad” which took 8th and 9th grade students and had them compete in science.  My section of competition was the weather. I had to learn as much as I could about it, the patterns and the methods behind it.  I think this bubbled and frothed in my mind throughout the years and this project has been a great way to revisit this.




You can view the series to date HERE on behance.

Here’s to icons!



Great [f*cking] Advice

Hooray for stumbleupon.  Besides allowing me to whittle away a few hours in my down time (along with blogs, pinterest, weheartit, etc) it gives me new things to look at.  And this site is certainly one of them.

“Good Fucking Design Advice” (not for the faint of heart! ha!) is a really interesting site that has great design advice communicated in a very funny way.  Want more advice? Keep clicking away!

Good fucking design advice


Gotta love time sponges.

Stay [f*cking] passionate, design friends!


Philly Design Adventure Times!

Another annual AIGA Leadership Retreat has come and gone.  This event is one of those experiences where one feels fortunate to be a part of. (gah! ending on a preposition! oh, well…)  Every year local chapters wrangle a representative (or 2, or 3, or 5…depending on the size of the chapter) to come to one spot and get inspired, get information and get connected!

The days were full of information that almost was mind-boggling. Every year I leave feeling a strange combination of being mentally fatigued and super excited to accomplish all of my goals.  The swag tables are awesome and the cards/postcards/posters I gather up fuels the fire of my brainstorming for the year to come.

But I’m missing the most important element.  The people.  I live in an area where the arts and design worlds are not particularly appreciated as much as it should (but it is a step up from some surrounding areas, so I guess at least that’s good?) and most of the time I feel rather alone and isolated.  Last year in Salt Lake City, I attended my first AIGA Retreat. And it was the first time in quite possible ever that I didn’t feel alone. I found people with similar interests as me (“secretly judging you by your font selection” … that sort of thing  haha) who loved and lived the art and design world.  I found, for once, a pocket of people that I could call friends.  These new friends of mine stayed in contact with me all year and for this alone I thank AIGA.  So at this year’s retreat, I had the honor of reconnecting with my friends and had the pleasure of meeting so many more new friends.

I love design. I love teaching design. I love following its trends. I love looking at both beautiful and ugly typography. I love books on design. And these were all reasons I joined AIGA.  But here’s the real secret: I joined AIGA because I wanted to meet my own kind, to make friends.  I have not only met friends, but I have made lifelong connections to people in a community that I am a part of.

So with that all being said….here’s to AIGA. Here’s to this organization’s almost 100 years of being a group and to many, many more.

Because Jessica Hische is awesome.



We all know that!


Jessica Hische seems to be everywhere I turn lately…seen here, there, and everywhere.  While I was researching a topic on website design for an online class I’m taking, I stumbled across Don’t Fear the Internet, created by Hische and Russ Maschmeyer.  This site is perfect for print designers trying to take the leap into web design (such as myself…ha!).  From there I stumbled upon her “Thoughts” page on her website:


Her Thoughts page is ideal for designers just starting out in the field, who are tackling larger issues like pricing, ethics, etc. in their design work.  If you’re just starting out (or need a refresher) be sure to check it out!


Design on,





We all have them.  Some days I feel like we designers have way more than most.  Most of the time I become obsessed with ideas or techniques (or new typefaces….hellllllllllo Ostrich!).  Right now I am obsessed with notebooks.  Lots of them. Oodles of noodles of them.


Why, you ask?  The Design Observer Group did an article on Michael Bierut’s 85 notebooks and this made me think of my piles of notebooks, just sitting there gathering dust.  Whereas my sketchbooks have been predominately in the “idea struck by lightning” stage, Beirut’s has a more organic flow, not just of books but of style of content.  This has re-inspired me greatly.  Typically I work in a black sketchbook that is spiral bound. I cut and paste and draw and doodle and get ideas out, but without much organization and structure.  Bierut to the rescue!  I shall keep doing what I do with my sketchbooks, but I am going to start a side project of notebooks for projects (rather than my current method of working on projects where I doodle ideas on post-it notes…egad! yes, I know, that’s bad!).


So what is your current design obsession(s)?  Do tell!

(new) Year’s Update!

So!  The New Year’s project has been going along quite swimmingly!  I’m on painting number 55 and I’ve moved into some textural pieces.  It’s been really interesting to just see where each day takes me.  Some of the paintings have become more illustrative in nature and have sparked a new project that I will be updating on here soon!

In the meantime, here’s a sample of one of the more recent deviations for your viewing pleasure.


Design on!,




(new) Year’s Resolution


It’s that time of year again.  The time of making (and breaking?) resolutions for the new years.  I usually don’t do this traditional past time but I decided to break from my own ways.  I decided to resolve. To resolution?  To resolute?

So here it is.  My ponderances lead me to thinking about my art.  As most of you know, I work a lot on it, but can get bogged down in the serious side of things. So I am going on a bit of a lark this  year.  I am going to do a painting a day. Not a masterpiece a day, just a nice lighthearted painting to keep my creative juices flowing.  By the time all is said and done I will have a years worth of daily doodles to look upon.  So far this has been going pretty well and I’m hoping it will unblock some of my blocks.

Qui sait?!  🙂



Messy drafting table!!




I did something similar to this in concept, but on a smaller scale, with one of the Digital Photo classes I taught.  I found a tumblr blog that does photo a day challenges for various months (seen HERE!) (There are other ones out there, fyi, this is just one of the many). Everyone had a lot of fun with it (unless they lied to me!) (I had fun!) and this was the foundation for the 365 painting challenge.

So. Here’s to a new year and a new you and a new me. Well, hopefully not NEW new us, but the us with a bit of newness!

Happy fresh year,


For the love of inspiration!!!

Oh, for the love of inspiration!  What to do when you have none?

It happens to the best of us. The dry well. The flatline.  The clenching fear of nothingness.  The lack of inspiration.  Whether from burnout or just plain-old “hey-I-have-no-idea-what-to-do-for-this-project/client” syndrome, creativity sometimes takes a backseat to other things in our lives. The question remains?  How do you re-spark that light?  Here are some of the things I do to recharge my brain cells.

1.  Walk away

That’s right.  Just walk away.  So you’ve been staring at the screen or your sketchbook for the past 12 hours?  Just walk away.  Put on your shoes (assuming you had none on), grab your coat and take a stroll.  Walk to a local park.  Walk up and down the city (or town, in my case) block.  Hop on your bike and find a new path to explore.  Just get away from your computer for a bit.  Facebook will only distract for so long and it’s not helping you get any clever, new ideas, so just unplug for a bit and step away from the maddening crowd.  Alone with your thoughts, chances are the inspiration will reignite and you can get back to business.

2. Libraries

My god I love libraries.  I call them my natural habitat.  Why, you ask?  On those shelves are worlds of possibilities.  I like to choose a section at random, meander down an aisle and grab a few books on some subject I know nothing about.  What better way to revv up your creative juices than to explore a completely new subject.  Bookstores are also useful for this too.  Heavens bless the bargain bins!

3.  Talk

Talk it out.  Find someone, anyone and just talk about your project.  Chances are you’ve just stared at it, thought about it  for just a little too long.  Find a friend, a fellow designer, a partner, an unwilling suspect at the convenience store line (may want to not do that last one, fyi) and tell them about your project, show them your sketches and see what they think.  I do this all the time and have found my parents to be great design sounding boards.  While they are not designers, they see the world differently than I do and through free flow conversation on the project, my loose ends tend to wind back up and I’m recharged and ready to go…with new points of view!!

4.  Blogs/WeHeartIt/Pinterest/and the like

As much as I have a love/hate with social media, there are some aspects that are just divine.  The ideas generated online are mind-blowing (don’t think about the vast quantity of ideas out there, your head may explode!!) and it’s there for the idea generating.  Look up new blogs. Search for design inspiration on Pinterest.  Look up letterpress on  One site I’ve been loving lately is the website grain edit. Tons of info, great ideas, lovely layout.  This will for sure help get you out of your funk.


Grain Edit

I think one thing that befuddles us is when we forget that the computer is our tool.  Use it like a tool.  Research on it, sketch on it, but don’t depend solely on it.  Find new pictures, print them out, glue them in a sketchbook, flip through it, sketch out new ideas.  Find new color schemes, new actions or brushes.  The computer is our tool, use it as such!  Have fun with it and the ideas will flow! (may as well grab a cup of tea or coffee as well to enjoy the ride)

5.  Books

Wait, what? Have I already mentioned books?  Well, I’m going to mention it again.  There are fabulous design inspiration books out there.  Some of my favorites are Caffeine for the Creative Mind by Stefan Mumaw, Creative Workshop:  80 Challenges to Sharpen your Design Skills by David Sherwin, and Graphic Design Thinking by Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips.  AIGA hosted an event on this a year or so ago (webinar if you’re a member of AIGA and want to search the archives for it.  I would but yeah, not right now) and the variety of brainstorming processes was fabulous.  I incorporated many of the techniques in my classes after watching/reading about it.


I also love Fingerprint: The Art of Using Hand-Made Elements in Graphic Design by Chen Design Associates and Michael Mabry.  I LOVE mixing media within design and that’s a great resource on it.  If you like these, you may also like Stefan Bucher’s 344 Questions:  The Creative Person’s Do-it-Yoursellf Guide to Insight, Survival and Artist Fulfillment (whew that’s a mouthful!) new book that is at once both interactive and introspective.  A great resource!

Here’s a sample from Bucher’s book:


344 Questions: The Creative Person’s Do-It-Yourself Guide to Insight, Survival, and Artistic Fulfillment by Stefan Bucher

So, if you’re in a rut, there are ways to get out of it.  Life “things” and work “things” sometimes blur the lines of our lives but the inspiration is there for the taking. Research, books, walks, taking a break, coffee, tea, talking.  Try a little of each and see what works best for you.  Chances are your inspirational muse is sitting right beside you, arching their eyebrow at you wondering why you couldn’t hear them.  🙂

Design on,


Typography of a Town

Hello world,


The other week was my class’s field trip to Harpers Ferry.  My students are given an assignment to “work for” National Geographic (get the cover shot and inside article supporting shots) and were to document their concept while we were at Harpers Ferry.  I have been doing this trip for a number of years and I typically go along and shoot my own images as they’re taking theirs.  This time I decided to try something different.  This time I gave myself an assignment.  What fonts describe a town? 






With this in mind, I began my exploration of Harpers Ferry with new eyes.  Since it is part of our National Park system there was, of course, a plethora of default “bossy” fonts (go here, see this, do that, don’t park, park, do not enter, YOU ARE HERE!!) but the signage in the town was rather remarkable.  I was suprised by how much of it was handlettered (particularly the restaurants, menu and all). 


Take a look of the set of images on my Flickr page and let me know what you see as a recurring theme. (I know I saw quite a few themes!!)  I’m curious to see your synthesis of the typography of the town.


Design on,