August 31, 2014

Tweeted August 2014: Food for thought

Tweet icon designed by Adame Dahmani from The Noun Project collection

“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
—Franz Kafka
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 29, 2014

“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule
to read some poetry and listen to some music every week.”
—Charles Darwin
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 29, 2014

“Success is going from failure to failure
without losing your enthusiasm.”
—Winston Churchill
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 28, 2014

“It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator.”
—Maria Popova
Tweeted by @CreativeLive on August 27, 2014

“A theme is something that is worth something to everybody.”
—Frank O’Connor
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 27, 2014

“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
—Samuel Beckett
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 26, 2014

“There are still faint glimmers of civilization left
in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.”
—Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Tweeted by @stuartbache on August 24, 2014

“I’m really after keeping the reader
in a heightened state of vigilance.”
—Mark Leyner
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 23, 2014

“We can’t practice compassion with other people
if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.”
—Brené Brown
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 22, 2014

“Getting started is like getting a rocket off the ground.
You need the most energy and the most push to get started.”
—Robert Crumb
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 22, 2014

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”
—James Joyce
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 22, 2014

“It is impossible to love and be wise.”
—Francis Bacon
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 21, 2014

“We all live in suspense from day to day; in other words,
you are the hero of your own story.”
—Mary McCarthy
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 21, 2014

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
—George Eliot
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 20, 2014

“A good interview reveals something that the subject
has never said before.”
—Kenzaburo Oe
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 19, 2014

“Character—the willingness to accept responsibility
for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.”
—Joan Didion
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 18, 2014

“I spent so much of my life telling people the things
they wanted to hear instead of the things they needed to.”
—Clint Smith
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 16, 2014

“You have these intellectual fingerprints,
and you can’t help leaving them on things.”
—Michael Frayn
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 15, 2014

“Go after what creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself
to handle the stress that follows.”
—Kelly McGonigal
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 15, 2014

“Only humankind is so thoroughly narrative,
constantly reinventing the past or imagining the future.”
—Jim Crace
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 15, 2014

“The act of teaching is one of the most valuable ways to learn.”
—Adam Braun
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 15, 2014

“Being a writer is like being an individual proprietor...
You don’t like the way I do things, get out of my shop.”
—Peter Carey
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 15, 2014

“If you raise money from huge numbers of people,
you feel beholden to huge numbers of people.”
—Tim Wu
Tweeted by @s_pease on August 14, 2014

“More iterations don’t fix faulty assumptions!”
—Mark Hurst
Tweeted by @swissmiss on August 14, 2014

“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”
—Virginia Woolf
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 14, 2014

“I think of the notebook as a house for words,
as a secret place for thought and self-examination.”
—Paul Auster
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 13, 2014

“I think I’ve damn well earned the right to be judged on my own.”
—Lauren Bacall
Tweeted by @50000feet on August 13, 2014

“We live in a world where if you tell people you’re depressed,
everyone runs the other way.”
—Kevin Breel
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 12, 2014

“It doesn’t seem to me that life conforms to systems.
Only systems conform to systems.”
—Wallace Stegner
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 12, 2014

“If you didn’t feel troubled with the world,
you probably wouldn’t go to the effort of making art.”
—W. D. Snodgrass
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 12, 2014

“You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer
you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”
—Robin Williams
Tweeted by @Fender on August 12, 2014

“The whole joy of writing comes from the opportunity
to go over it and make it good, one way or another.”
—James Salter
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 12, 2014

“Why write? To write. To make something.”
—Claude Simon
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 11, 2014

“Safe is good for sidewalks and swimming pools
but life requires risk if we are to get anywhere.”
—Simon Sinek
Tweeted by @LiveGrey on August 10, 2014

“Not only do I want the reader to [but] I want to get inside
the events and feel what it was like.”
—David McCullough
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 10, 2014

“A novel is a marriage: one has to be cunning,
devise compromises and make sacrifices.”
—Amos Oz
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 9, 2014

“Stories are a fundamental human form of thought.”
—Iris Murdoch
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 9, 2014

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn
before the rest of the world.”
—Oscar Wilde
Tweeted by @TheSchoolOfLife on August 9, 2014

“It may be unhealthy, but I feel that without literature
my life would have no meaning.”
—Naguib Mahfouz
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 9, 2014

“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”
—Bill Cosby
Tweeted by @LiveGrey on August 9, 2014

“It’s the most exciting moment when you discover life
in what you’ve created, a life you have to respect.”
—Mario Vargas Llosa
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 8, 2014

“I am glad I have found a readership, but one can’t write
only what is likely to sell. A writer is not a shopkeeper.”
—Tahar Ben Jelloun
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 7, 2014

“Four hours of uninterrupted time is the best gift
you can give anybody at work.”
—Jason Fried
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on August 6, 2014

“That art is as much about ideas as it is about things,
about emotions as much as about materials.”
—Holland Cotter
Tweeted by @mkonnikova on August 6, 2014

“Not everything will be okay but some things will.”
—Maira Kalman
Tweeted by @swissmiss on August 6, 2014

“Any time a writer tells you where a book starts, he is lying,
because I don’t think he knows.”
—John Gregory Dunne
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 6, 2014

“The things you think of to link are not in your own control.
It’s just who you are, bumping into the world. But how you link them is what shows the nature of your mind. Indivduality resides in the way links are made.”
—Anne Carson
Tweeted by @parisreview on August 5, 2014

“No company with such disregard for their own customers
will succeed for long.”
—John Gruber
Tweeted by @swissmiss on August 4, 2014

“The tallest oak in the forest
was once just a little nut that held its ground.”
Tweeted by @collabfund on August 4, 2014

“Leaders must show they care about their employees’ agenda
before they can expect employees to care about the company’s agenda.”
—Doug Conant
Tweeted by @DougConant on August 2, 2014

“If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility
to send the elevator back down.”
—Kevin Spacey
Tweeted by @marciamarcia on August 2, 2014

“The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”
—Harry Golden
Tweeted by @ItsFeelingGr8 on August 1, 2014

• • •

See: Patronage series of duly discovered

Patronage Package 8 of Duly Discovered


“Smartphone Apps Help To Battle Campus Sexual Assaults”
by Juana Summers


September Publishing: “unique stories, extraordinary lives
and expert insight”

by Katherine H. Courage, Contributing Editor, Scientific American

“Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life”
written, designed, and illustrated by Summer Pierre

“Smart People Should Build Things”
by Andrew Yang


“Student Guide to Web Design”
by Janna Hagan

ConstructionKids, “hands-on learning for ages 4–12”

Summit of Thiel Fellowship


“The SUM”
by The Bold Italic

“What makes a Rockstar Copywriter?”
by Redacted

“Return of the Neighborhood as an Urban Strategy”
by The University of Illinois at Chicago


“The Art of Video Games”
by American History Museum of Smithsonian Institution

“Phantoms in the Dirt”
by Museum of Contemporary Photography


“Y Tu Mamá También” (2001)
directed by Alfonso Cuarón, becomes part of the Criterion Collection

Stanley Kubrick editing “Barry Lyndon” (1975) in his garage (1974)

Trailer to “Autómata”
directed by Gabe Ibáñez, co-written with Igor Legarreta
and Javier Sánchez Donate

TV documentary series of Craft in America


“Print Isn’t Dead”
by Jennifer Dionisio

“Movie Poster of the Week: The Illustrated Lauren Bacall” 
by Adrian Curry

“Archival Large Cake Print” 
by Summer Pierre

“Drawing on Anatomy: the art and science of the human body” 
by Susan Dorothea White

“morning run”
by Elizabeth Baddeley

“Healthy Snacks in the Office” (with lovely packaging)
by Script & Seal

“Custom Book Portraits”
by Summer Pierre

“It’s Hump Day!”
by Shauna Panczyszyn


Album “Barragán” by Blonde Redhead

Album “Manipulator” by Ty Segall

Album “Tied To A Star” by J Mascis, Co-Founder of Dinosaur Jr.

Album “The Golden Echo” by Kimbra

Album “Sparks” by Imogen Heap, Singer-Songwriter, Composer, Technology Pioneer

Album “Tudo” by Bossa Nova Singer Bebel Gilberto,
daughter of João Gilberto and singer Miúcha

Album “I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss” by Sinead O’Connor

Song “High As Hello” performed by Tweedy—Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy
and his son Spencer, including Lucius

Song “Fuck You” by Garfunkel and Oates


Desks of Silicon Valley workers by Ike Edeani

“The Start of Something New” by Laura Helen Winn

Robin Williams cheerleading for the Denver Broncos (1980)

Architecture and Interiors by John Faier


Mindful Creator, “exploring what it takes for artists and creators to cultivate meaningful work without losing ourselves along the way,” hosted by Brett Henley

Story Signals, “dedicated to purpose, focus, clarity,”
hosted by Matt Ragland


Lagom “celebrates innovation and creativity…”

Oak Street “explores the interaction
between media, culture, community…”

Pith + Vigor for gardening community


The Farmery: “urban vertical farming and retailing system
designed to produce and sell locally produced food”


“Ebola Is Rapidly Mutating As It Spreads Across West Africa”
by Michaeleen Doucleff

“Humanities, All Too Humanities!” 
by Joel Stein

“Circle Interchange renamed in honor of former Mayor Jane Byrne, first and to-date only female mayor of Chicago” 
by John Byrne

“Mystery of The Slithering Stones in California’s Death Valley”
by Christopher Joyce

“Raising A Birthday Glass To Comics King Jack Kirby” 
by Jessica Bloustein Marshall

“How The ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ Melody Came To Represent Asia” 
by Kat Chow

“Build A Toothbrush, Change The World. Or Not” by Joe Palca

“Ebola Took Her Daughters and Made Her An Outcast”
by Nurith Aizenman

“Typewriters, Underwater Hotels And Picture Phones: The Future, As Seen From 1964” 
by David Kestenbaum

“A Maverick Director, At Home On The Range”
by Mandelit del Barco

“The Power of The Peer Group in Preventing Campus Rape” 
by Laura Starecheski

“For Food Startups, Incubators Help Dish Up Success”
by Allison Aubrey

“888,246 Ceramic Poppies Honors Britain’s World War I Dead”
by Ari Shapiro

“The Machine That Tried to Scan The Brain—In 1882”
by Chris Benderev

“Ask a Debut Novelist”
by Ted Thompson

“Sometimes, Early Birds Are Too Early”
by Matt Richtel

“The Designing Woman: The perfect career of Lauren Bacall—an exquisite beauty with the quickest mind in the room—in five films”
by Dana Stevens

“Unforgettable Day in the Recording Studio With Robin Williams”
by Dahlia Lithwick

“What Robin Williams Taught Us About Teaching”
by Anna Kaymenetz

“Studio Ghibli Is Not Dead Yet—So: People, stop freaking out. For now.”
by Brian Ashcraft

“Tips on How To Avoid Burnout”
by Nidhi Thapar

“Jackie Robinson West Advances to Little League World Series”
by Paul Skrbina

“What Makes A Nation Happy?”
by Eleanor Beardsley

“War Correspondent Reflects…Pet Turning 100 (In Dog Years)”
by Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

“Lev Grossman: A ‘Magician’ Grows Up”
by Petra Mayer

“Mystery Writer Evokes Sights, Sound and Grime of 1970s New York”
by Neda Ulaby

“Will Americans Buy Bug Snacks? Maybe…If They’re Funny And Cute”
by Luke Runyon

“Attention Design Nerds: The creation story of ReadMatter’s logo”
by Erich Nagler

“What Do Philosophers Do?”
by Rebecca Rosen

“Rosetta Spacecraft Arrives At Comet After 10-Year Chase”
by Geoff Brumfiel

“Cracking The Girl Code: How to End the Tech Gender Gap”
by Eliana Dockterman

“Why Do Band Photos Look Like That, Anyway?”
by Stephen Thompson

“21 Black Women in Tech to Know”
by Kimberly Foster

“Everyone Goes To The Store To Get Milk. Why’s It Way In The Back?”
by David Kestenbaum

“Female Bricklayer Defied Doubters To Build Baltimore Landmarks”
by StoryCorps

• • •

See my series of tweeted food for thought.

August 26, 2014

A Journal of Life: Erin Huizenga at 33rd CreativeMornings in Chicago

At the 33rd gathering of the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings, Erin Huizenga, designer, strategist, and educator, discussed her experiences with “Failure,” CreativeMornings’ global theme for August 2014. Along with the great success that she has achieved through her realized projects—like EPIC, an organization that pairs creative professionals with Chicago-based nonprofits, and the Well Conference for branding agency Remedy, she has experienced resistance and setback in her career. She revealed a to-do, informed over time, that strengthens her:
“To fail forward: To pursue what I believe in”
A method that Huizenga recommended to help cope with defeats, was keeping a journal. She drew(1) the audience in with selected pages from her personal journal. Her emphasis on establishing and maintaining a journal advocated an enduring human need to recount, to translate, to sketch, to doodle, to draw.

Whether in the form of a timeline (above) or a chart (above), Huizenga’s documentation of her experiences with friction, in the company of her triumphs, is a way of claiming her life as it unfolds. She encourages using a journal as part of a “life-enhancing”(2) toolkit. The genesis of much of her work has its roots in journal-keeping.

Huizenga’s talk reminded me of an interview I had published the day before, with Summer Pierre, a cartoonist, writer, and illustrator (in this order). Pierce fills sketchbooks with drawings, prose, and comics—however brittle, dormant, in their tender condition as thoughts. Her sketchbook-keeping is kindred to Huinzenga’s journal-keeping. They’re opportunities to visualize imagination. They’re therapeutic attempts to record disappointment to soothe its inflammation. Both act as a bridge built for reflection, which, at any point, whether explicitly or softly, can fuel liftoff of a new and bright set of circumstances.

The author Anaïs Nin kept journals over a sixty-year period. Brainpickings’ founder and editor Maria Popova featured Nin’s book “On Writing,” which was adapted from a lecture given at Dartmouth during December, 1946. In the following passage, Nin describes the allure of establishing a journal and persisting its expression:
“…in the Diary I only wrote of what interested me genuinely, what I felt most strongly at the moment, and I found this fervor, this enthusiasm produced a vividness which often withered in the formal work. Improvisation, free association, obedience to mood, impulse, bought forth countless images, portraits, descriptions, impressionistic sketches, symphonic experiments, from which I could dip at any time for material.”
The journal—whether used as a sketchbook or a diary—is a medium for navigating the spaces and times that living digests. What it particularly consumes are the failed scenarios. Huizenga’s first recommendation, of keeping a journal to cope with failure, absorbing it and channeling it, is the first grounded step to guide the other six life-enhancing methods that she prescribed:
Explore what-ifs
Go for it
Give yourself a break
Reframe success
Be grateful
I suspect that Huizenga’s first task of journal-keeping was the most fit start, because it stimulates the record of life by promoting sensitivity to it—being sensitive to what worked and what did not. With the latter, it’s inevitable, but not final. Taking note of failures in one’s journal could turn into stepping stones taken to experience victories, or as Nin put it, “vividness.”

(1) Verb surely intended.

(2) From this quote: “Space travel is life-enhancing, and anything that’s life-enhancing is worth doing. It makes you want to live forever.” Stated by Ray Bradbury, born in Waukegan, Illinois—one of the most celebrated 20th-century American authors. Erin Huizenga’s CreativeMornings/Chicago talk coincided with his birthday: August 22, 1920.

• • •

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” James Joyce, Author

• • •

Big thanks: to both The Marketing Store—for hosting—and Braintree for sponsoring Chicago CreativeMornings #33; to organizer Kim Knoll and operations manager Kyle Eertmoed of Knoed Creative, who spoke at Chicago CreativeMornings #7, and to the Chicago CreativeMornings crew—Joy Burke, Pedro Carmo, Rusty C. Cook, Benjamin Derico, Erick De La Rosa, Steve Delahoyde, Talis Eisenberg, Chris Gallevo, Keith Mandley, Neftali Morales, Isaac Steiner, Martha Willis—for their volunteer work in making CreativeMornings happen in Chicago.

Read more about the people who make the Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings possible.

• • •

View more photos of 33rd CreativeMornings in Chicago. Read more Chicago CreativeMornings coverage.

• • •

2011 was Chicago CreativeMornings’ debut year. Download the entire collection of selected insights.

August 25, 2014

Anticipation for Cusp Conference 2014

Chicago-based design firm Multiple is having again their Cusp Conference in 2014. This is the seventh annual gathering, uniquely steered by Multiple’s drive to shape and deliver an alluring staple of people and projects that compose, from their conference’s definition, “the design of everything.”

A hearty slice of “everything” was what I received when I attended Cusp for the first time last year. The conference’s start consisted of a watermelon-crowned (literally) anthem with the vigorous refrain of freshness, and the artistry of lego-sculptures that incite a vital and elusive sense of playfulness. The conclusion included an enormous tour of classic rock music fiercely performed by millennials. In between, there were servings of comics, letterpress printing, and architecture in outer space, as part of an eclectic menu of other atypical topics. My incessant bubble of self-absorption was popped.

Framed by the event’s full timeline and intimate venue, chatting with attendees and speakers yielded an abundance of interests, from contemporary art to the typeface Helvetica to medical education to entertainment to work environments to the Big Bang. My lunch was spent with 2012 presenter, Jeannette Andrews, a professional magician. There was an all-things-considered impression of these interactions. Like bubbles gravitating and snapping into place, my specific lens of interests, in design and writing, was colored by encounters throughout the conference. Its social landscape reinforced writer Guy de Maupassant’s belief: “Each human being becomes a little universe within the universe!”

With large gatherings, two expected results were achieved: new professional connections to possibly mature over time; new nuggets of subject matter to possibly investigate. The major result, also practical, but more fortified as an overarching feeling, was beholding a panorama of wonder. I felt a bold trace of what the writer, Henry Miller, called an “unquenchable curiosity.” Having been stuffed with wonder is an opportunity to carry it in a manner that would influence my day-to-day, rather than domesticate it, rendering the experience flat.

A visible factor defining a conference is the composition of its audience. Being a designer, there was the likelihood of drawing peers. Introductions were exchanged with creative directors and in-house designers, but adjacent to this was hailing roles beyond mine. I happened upon an educator, a stylist, a documentary filmmaker, an engineer, a social researcher, a physician, and a scientist. My assumed ratio of primarily meeting those within and related to my discipline was gladly stirred with remarkable detours.

Another dominant pattern emerged from the attendees I met: a majority (substantial number of whom were repeat attendees) asserted the Cusp Conference’s broad spectrum of speakers and topics as a central part of their decision to go. The event’s broad nature diverged from my area of practice, and I believe applied to other, if not all, attendees. It’s a divergence welcomed and judged necessary, in order to fuel and hone one’s work that has tendencies to get stuck and subdued.

Creative revelations are motivated by gatherings like the Cusp Conference. Its two days, packed with a wide array of people expressing and representing their respective field of practice, serve the human reflex to seek wonder and curiosity, and be inspired by their potential. They are sensations in need of nourishing, because they beget collaborating, drawing, dreaming, editing, leading, organizing, visualizing—all of the seasoned actions toward orienting a perspective, evolving a style, making and shipping things with vigor, succeeding in tiny and big ways—furthermore, iterating one’s worldview.

Exposure to elsewhere—other crafts, disciplines, careers—sustains one’s toolkit to keep being able to bring ideas and opinions. Browsing Cusp Conference’s 2014 roster of speakers, you’ll find a “director of dreams,” a designer of “luxury sex toys,” and an opera singer who founded “America’s first online caregiving service.” These are only a few of the speakers that invite wonder and curiosity. As a list, the speakers include a variety of interesting people doing many fascinating forms of work that propel them.

I anticipate the combined effect of Cusp Conference 2014 to echo that of 2013: seated but spellbound. And when the gathering itself is over, I expect a collective surge in energy toward persisting creative efforts.

• • •

See my recap and photos of Cusp Conference 2013.

August 21, 2014

Writing and Art Together: Summer Pierre, Cartoonist, Writer, and Illustrator

It was through this tweeted exchange about morning dancing that I discovered Summer Pierre, with her brilliant range of drawings and writings. Here, she tells more about her drive and work in illustrations, comics, including a series of book portraits. One detail, among many, you’ll find out during the course of this interview, mornings very much suit her creativity.

On being a cartoonist, illustrator, and writer

You are a cartoonist, illustrator, and writer. Is this the order 
of the disciplines you do? Is there a role you primarily 
call yourself? How does each discipline influence each other?
I think the order I would give myself right now is Cartoonist, Writer, and Illustrator. I am doing more comics than anything right now, and as a result, feel that my illustration is in a place of transition. That being said, writing fuels it all. I have been drawing longer than writing, but there is something about writing that is the taproot of all that I do.

One of my custom book portraits

How did you arrive at wanting to work in illustration and comics?
I made comics as a kid and always loved visual storytelling. As an adult, I struggled to figure out a way to put my writing and art together that was fluid. Turns out, the struggle was unnecessary! I just needed to return to my old love of comics! Illustration was similar. I’ve been inspired and encouraged by all the illustrated books for adults that have come out in the last decade. I feel like it’s a lucky time to be a visual storyteller. There’s so many good things out there, that it’s hard not to want to throw your own hat into the ring.

Can you give a tour of how an idea, for illustration or comic, 
gets real? For example, out of the many I take delight in, how did you make, step by step, your “Archival Large Cake Print”?
I work extremely well within a series and/or lists. For the cake print, I simply decided to try and draw a list of my favorite cakes. It helped that I was trying to lose post-pregnancy weight and couldn’t eat sweets. It was a blast to draw delicious-looking cakes—they are so visual and pretty. Inspired by this process, I drew a bunch of my favorite cookbooks, then American novels, then children’s books.

Lists give me clear trajectories, something that isn’t always apparent in art. I think that’s what I like about working in comics—the literal framework, the panels give great boundaries to work within. When I started doing comics “seriously,” it was simply a daily practice of putting something, anything that happened during the day in 9 panels. I often have no idea what I am going to create from, but by the time I draw out the frame, some little kernel will make itself known and a small story will emerge. I don’t draft it out first in pencil—it’s purely what comes as it comes. As a result, it can be a bit wonky, but it’s also alive and I like that.

Speaking of “out of the many,” amplified by your 
vast Flickr gallery, do you sleep? Morning or night person, 
and why the preference?
Sometimes I sleep (ha). Being a parent has made sleep a challenge and a commodity. I am a morning person. I adore the mornings and feel energized by them.

Adjectives that I apply to your work are witty and nostalgic. 
How would you describe your visual style?
Oh, I like that! I think I would describe it as imperfect, but accurate.

How do you practice drawing and writing in order to 
feel competent and confident at realizing this skills?
I do it every day. I do it when I can, with what I have. Being a parent has cut my time down, but it’s also given me fantastic boundaries and deadlines. I get a lot more done because I have to. Honestly, the thing that I learn all the time about being competent is that you learn always by DOING. Sometimes the doing is a mess, but that’s part of it.

One of my books, “Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life”

What is your vision of growth, as it relates to your career?
Stretching my sense of limits. The last 2 years have been about acting on long-held dreams. Every time I catch myself yearning and hesitating on a goal, I think, “Screw it!”, and try it out. It doesn’t always work out, but when it has, it’s blown me into a new reality.

Who, where, and/or what are your influences 
in illustration, comics, writing?
For comics, I’d say my main influences are Charles Bukowski, Dorothea Grossman, Anne Lamott, Hergé, and Lynda Barry. Bukowski, Grossman, and Lamott aren’t cartoonists, but their writings have been huge beacons of how and what I want to cover in my comics. Hergé’s “Tintin” blew my mind early on, and I still feel his influence to this day. I took Lynda Barry’s class 8 years ago and it changed my life. Her work is hilarious and profound, and while she has probably no idea who I am, I consider her a mentor. I often think: What would Lynda do? I should make a bracelet with “WWLBD?” on it.

Some of my vintage looking packaging collection

I adore vintage-inspired illustration with bold colors. I love old packaging so much and look for it everywhere (and collect it). The color in my work, and the color I look for, are inspired by two sources: “Tintin” books by Hergé and Technicolor movies. The color in “Tintin” still makes my mouth water. Old movies filmed in Technicolor look like illustrations to me. I would love to make illustrations that look as good as a Technicolor movie! I love the work of Jessie Hartland, Sarah Fanelli, and of course, Maira Kalman. Kalman’s work constantly urges me to look for delight and joy, and to draw it.

Who, where, and/or what keep(s) you going 
as a cartoonist, illustrator, and writer?
That changes all the time. Lately, it’s mortality. My mom died last year, and it really woke me up to how short our time is. Even if we live to be 100, it’s not that much time. There is so much I want to do and to tell, and I don’t have much time. So I run with it, wanting to know my life as much as I can, while I still can.

How do you get the word out about what you do? 
How do you attract people to your work?
I keep a consistent blog, a tweet, I send out an occasional newsletter and promotional postcards. I also love to write postcards and connect with people. If I love something that somebody does, I tell them as personally and as honestly as possible. I also just started going to comics conferences, and these have been fantastic. I love meeting people who love comics as much as I do.

On creativity, illustrating, working

How do you handle disagreements while you’re working?
I listen carefully and I try to speak up for myself. Truthfully, I am better at listening than speaking up for myself. I am currently learning the value of integrity in conflict, instead of the knee-jerk reaction of pleasing people.

Menu-project inspired by my first trimester

Was there a part of your work that was particularly trying, 
and how did you deal with it?
See above! Nowhere is this more apparent than in my negotiations around money. Like a lot of artists, I struggle with feeling strong in money negotiations. I recently had a job that I totally undercharged a client, and it taught me SO MUCH about what my time is actually worth, and how it not only set a precedent for how the client worked with me, but how I worked for the client. I decided to educate myself on pricing so that the boundaries have been so much clearer, and the work, as a result, is better.

My home-studio space

What is your workspace like? How does it contribute 
to doing the quality of work you want to do?
I have a studio space at home, but sometimes being home gets too isolating, so I go to the a café or library. It helps a great deal. When I lived in Brooklyn, working at home was great because the rest of the world was so stimulating. Here, my life is SO quiet. I need the public spaces. Every time I go out to a café or library, I overhear a conversation or a song being played, or have an exchange with someone that usually ends up in a comic, so it can be a very good thing for me.

Stack of my working sketchbooks

Recent comic in my sketchbook

What tools do you use and recommend to work: 
for collaborating, getting things done, and running your practice?
I do literally all raw work in my hardbound journal/sketchbook, made by Canson or Cachet: art, notes, planning, etc. It works as a filing system to have it all in one place. Then I have spreadsheets on my computer for submission work, accounting, and databases. Keep it as organized and clean as possible. My experience is that systems of organization and execution can be the last thing you want to set up, but are key to managing workflow and business. I thank the sweet stars all the time for my spreadheets!

How important is it for you to follow your instincts?
I think it’s extremely important. I have learned time and time again to listen to that “funny feeling” in my gut when it crops up. Sometimes it’s baffling as hell why it shows up, but I am NEVER sorry when I do pay attention to it, and ALWAYS sorry when I don’t.

If a person approached you and said, “I want to illustrate 
and make comics,” what’s your response?
“Great—now get down to it!” Most of the time I have learned that when people TALK in terms of “wanting” something, they aren’t ready to have it. They just want to talk about it, so they can feel close to doing it, without doing it. So I keep such conversations encouraging, but short. We all have dreams, but the less you get ready for them, and the more you do towards them, the better. Talk to me when you’re doing them—I’ll be so happy to hear from you.

How does the city of Hudson Valley, New York, 
contribute to your work? And what makes it special for 
I’ve been in the Hudson Valley only 2 years and I’m not even in the “cool” part of it. I’m on the other side of the river, where access to New York City is a little harder. That being said, it’s inexpensive and gorgeous. Prior to living here, I lived in Brooklyn, and while I miss access to NYC and the culture, the Hudson Valley has been a powerful environment in helping me clarify what I want to do. Here, I have felt freer to find my authentic voice that isn’t attached to ideas of “hip” or “cool.”  How I relate to the Hudson Valley is still emerging, but I can’t deny how much it affects me as an artist everyday.

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All images courtesy of Summer Pierre.

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Read more from Design Feast Series of Interviews
with people who love making things.

August 20, 2014

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Elizabeth Baddeley’s Curious Kansas City

What are you working on—on the side?

I keep up a blog called Curious Kansas City, where I draw and write (when time allows) about interesting aspects of my hometown of Kansas City.

But really, my side project is drawing on location. I do it everywhere I go. I actually just got back from a trip to California, drawing all the way! It all began when I was in grad school and took a drawing-on-location class taught by Carol Fabricatore. It met every Friday for a year and lasted five hours! I feel like I really never knew how to draw before that class! About a year after grad school, still living in New York City, I felt like I was missing an element in my illustration work. I was so caught up with taking and finding a photo reference. It was exhausting. I made an effort to go outside and draw on a regular basis.

When I moved back to my hometown of Kansas City last fall, I decided to continue this practice, but I wanted to push it. I wanted to give my drawings a more journalistic approach. That’s when I started Curious KC. You learn so much about a place while you are sitting in one location drawing for an hour or more. Images in journalism are so photo-based, but when you photograph something, you snap a photo then you’re done. Drawing takes time. You see a lot of people come and go, overhear a lot of conversations. People come up and talk to you, curious about what you’re doing. You get a different sense of a place.

When you live in New York City, you get all kinds of responses from people when you tell them you’re from Kansas City. Not all of them are positive. And trust me, I get a lot of raised eyebrows from KC folks when I tell them I lived in New York! It’s just the way people are when they don’t know about a place. I want to show people that every place is interesting. There are stories everywhere you go.

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

Wednesdays are my drawing on location days. And I stick to that. If I’m lucky, I’m able to squeeze in another day here and there. I seek out places to go and put them on the calendar. Since I am a full-time illustrator, I consider this part of my job. I have the mindset that I have to tend to this just as I would emails or updating my website. It’s mandatory. I’d much rather draw than email anyway. The work I do in my sketchbooks has greatly influenced and improved my more commercial work. I’m overly sensitive when people say things like “Gee, you must have a lot of free time.” This isn’t my free time. It’s my drawing time! But I also like to draw in my free time.

Why have side projects?

I don’t necessarily consider this a side project. It’s just another facet of what I do (that doesn’t happen to pay, ha ha). I got my MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts. Studying there, and working with Marshall Arisman, completely changed my mindset when it comes to creating. When you create work that is important to you, versus what you think people want to see, it shows. Eventually, if you stick to it (and that’s the key), people will actually hire you to create that kind of work. No one is going to give you the perfect content to work with. You have to create it yourself. Working on Curious Kansas City is simply me creating the kind of content I want to work with.

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Diptych courtesy of Elizabeth Baddeley.

This debut series is provided in affiliation with 50,000feet.

August 19, 2014

Looking at Letters and Designing Them: Laura Meseguer, Type Designer

At BunkerType in Barcelona. Photograph by Jesús Morentin.

Laura Meseguer is a freelance graphic and type designer in Barcelona, Spain. In addition to running her studio, working on both commercial and commissioned projects, she is the co-founder of Type-Ø-Tones, a typographic design foundry. Here, she elaborates on her approach to designing letters and alphabets.

On being a typeface designer

How did you arrive at what you do as a typeface designer? 
Was there an initial encounter of typography that played 
a role in your path toward becoming a typeface designer?
It has been a quite long time for me working as a type designer, but it happened, naturally. My father was a printer, and I had a great drawing teacher at school. Later, I studied graphic design and began to work in design agencies at the time when computers arrived there.

It was the moment when I joined Type-Ø-Tones (my digital type foundry) where I began to discover more tools and experiment a bit. My referents in design were those where typography played a main role, either as lettering in logotypes or as a huge headline on a magazine page. So, from the very beginning, I started to look at letters and its design as ways to express ideas and concepts.

Letterpress printing with wood-types at Familia Plómez, Madrid.

What were essential activities/steps you took to start 
and establish yourself as a typeface designer? 
Why were these activities/steps important?
Joining Type-Ø-Tones in 1992 is relevant, because I found a group of enthusiastic beginners like me, and enrolling in the Postgraduate Type & Media program of the the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, during 2003–2004. This is a full-year experience of learning ‘how-to’ methods and topics taught by professionals who teach you different ways to approach type design, and give you necessary feedback to achieve a personal project on a professional level. This experience encouraged me to become a full-time type designer.

What is lettering and typeface design’s purpose 
or obligation in our society, the world?
To assure culture and education, because they are the visual representation of words.

Who are your lettering and typeface design-related influences?
Maybe my lettering work is influenced by calligraphy, and my type design is influenced by letters that are both emotional and functional.

Calligraphic alphabet composition of the Tipofino Collection, a personal retail store of typographic things, printed with different techniques on paper and clothes.

How do you arrive at the idea of a typeface you want to realize?
My personal work is based on ideas I want to see in a completely functional alphabet. In viewing a typeface as a system, I try to think of systems in a different way, not only considering the weight or condensation values. If not a family and just a single typeface, I always look for an attribute.

Design of a high-contrast display typeface inspired by the pointed pen 
and copperplate calligraphy, yet with a retro-chic twist.

Personal project of lettering and poster 
for Comuniza Studio’s second-anniversary celebration.

What is your process of designing a typeface, 
from notion to availability?
When having an idea, the first thing is to write it, and quickly sketch it by hand, defining some attributes, both functional and aesthetic. This allows me to put the limits within which I will play in. Later, I keep on sketching by hand till I have some key characters defined and structured—for all the styles I want to design—allowing me to understand better if my idea of design makes sense, or if I need to change some aspects.

After some feedback—coming from the client if it’s a custom project, or some colleagues if it’s a personal project—I may reflect some changes in new drawings that will be scanned and digitally redrawn. Here, the process requires a workflow of drawing, testing, and production.

Similar to a lot of other elements of visual culture, 
it feels like a typeface is birthed every moment. 
What is your take on the proliferation of fonts?
This is a resulting mix, consisting of many circumstances: more training and education, more tools, more means to easily promote and distribute your work. You can think that all fonts are equally good, but this is not the case, considering that a camera doesn’t make a photographer, or a computer doesn’t make a type designer.

Design of a display typeface with strong character. Lalola has already received two mentions, the Typefacts’ Best Typefaces of 2013 and the prestigious Type Directors Club 2014 Certificate of Excellence.

I like your typeface Lalola (formerly Lola). 
Must ask: How did you arrive at the name?
Actually, in a very intuitive way, Lola is a very popular Spanish name, associated with women of character and personality, as it is in this typeface.

Whether in a bookstore, physically or online, 
do you judge a book by its cover design?
I have a nice collection of books whose covers were designed by great lettering artists as Michael Harvey or Ricard Giralt Miracle. It’s difficult to find such quality work nowadays. There are some exceptions, but sadly, many book covers are designed by people with a huge lack of knowledge and sensibility regarding typography.

What is your workspace like? How does it contribute 
to doing the quality of work you want to do?
I work in a shared studio space, used by other graphic, industrial, and interior designers. It’s a peaceful space, with lots of natural light—qualities that are very important for me

How do you get the word out about what you do?
Mainly through my website and Type-Ø-Tones, and, of course, sharing it via the usual social networks. I am happy to see my work published in blogs, books, and magazines, and to be able to explain it in lectures or workshops.

How do you attract clients and work?
This is a difficult task that takes lots of time. I have done little with activities concerning self-promotion. Better if I get an agent, someone who can offer my work in the best way and in the right direction. So far, I’m lucky enough to receive projects from many clients, from different places and activities, who understand the power of custom lettering and type design.

What is your definition of growth, as it relates to business?
Feeling confident, because of having clients who trust you and allow you to keep your freedom.

On creativity, design, working

How do you handle disagreements while you’re working?
Before I start a specific project, I always talk a lot with the clients. People who ask me to work on a custom type-design project know that I’m probably the best for that project. It’s also is a matter of confidence and trust.

What part of your work is particularly trying, 
and how do you deal with it?
The production phase. If the budget allows it, I prefer to collaborate with someone. Every part of the process is important, but I enjoy better working on different kinds of projects and escape routine.

What tools do you use and recommend to work on ideas 
and make them grow, to collaborate and get things done?
Like many other type designers, I work with specific programs, such as FontLab and Glyphs, on the development and editing of fonts. For collaboration, what tools are used depends on the workflow and the requirements of the project.

Design, curating, editing of a publication 
devoted to the use of typography in contemporary magazines.

How do you stay creative?
What are some of your sources of motivation/inspiration?
I feel very much inspired by calligraphy, the vernacular lettering, and all the precious signs you can find throughout the streets.

What is your definition of bad design?
Obviously, it’s design that doesn’t accomplish the requirements it was designed for.

If you were asked, “Laura, how can I do the work you do.” 
What’s your response?
That ‘nobody should try to work like someone else’—perfectly fine to be inspired by others, we all do, but it’s best to find your own way and practice a lot, because working hard is the only way to do type design.

Any other aspects of your work that would be interesting to 
creative practitioners and aspiring product/business makers?
Respect and give value to the work that type designers do, and explain it to others.

How does the city of Barcelona contribute to your work?
It contributes to my way of seeing. Barcelona is a mix of many things, most of them very inspiring, still: the modernism, the color of the city, and the climate, of course—everything that influences our daily lives can be reflected in design.

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All images courtesy of Laura Meseguer.

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Read more from Design Feast Series of Interviews
with people who love making things.