Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One of My Favorite Cities Featured on Design*Sponge

Illustration by David Siglin

Today Design*Sponge featured Greenville, SC as the city guide of the week. Greenville is a city that is very near and dear to my heart. My mother was born and raised there, my grandparents live there, and it was the first place I lived on my own after college. I cannot say enough wonderful things about it: the people are friendly, the food is delicious, the city is historic, the shops are a plenty and the roads are NEVER too crowded. I made a lot of good friends in Greenville and often find myself reminiscing about the "good ole days." It made my day to see this blog post, and while I don't normally repost things directly from other blogs, I felt this one deserved the "shout-out".

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday Can't Come Soon Enough...

The Renegade Holiday Craft Fair is this weekend, and I can hardly wait. I am hoping to get a LOT of holiday shopping done. If you are in the Chicago area you should also plan on going. See you there!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sandmeyer's Bookstore: An Absolute MUST!!!

(photo by Brent)

How have I not walked inside before??? Sandmeyer's Bookstore is an amazing independently owned shop in the heart of Printers Row, Chicago. The books inside are from the best and most recent literary and publishing design crop. They have illustrated children's books that are hard to find, design books that just came out, and much much more. It is less than a five minute walk from my house. I love everything about books. So the question remains, how I have I not walked inside before???

Well, at least I finally pushed through the doors on Saturday evening. I walked in to buy a new book with my American Express Small Business Saturday promotion in mind, and I came out a much happier individual with two new books and a new favorite store.

While inside I picked up the Little Book of Letterpress which is basically a directory of the newest and best letterpress printers, and Sloane Crosley's book, I Was Told There'd be Cake, which I have been dying to read since I started stalking her articles in the New York Times. Let's just say that I am already half way through ...Cake. It is fantastic and I find myself relating to almost all her essays.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving a day late! Hope those of you who ventured into the land of Black Friday shopping got some great deals.

Reid and I had a successful and delicious first Thanksgiving by ourselves in Chicago, but we missed being close to our family. We woke up and watched the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade, which runs outside our window, and then started cooking. After about 5 hours in the kitchen we sat down to eat. Our tiny turkey was much better than expected, my great grandmother's dressing was delicious and the bourbon cranberry sauce was just tart enough.

Now, the holiday season is in full swing, and I am delighted to say the least.

It is during this time of year that I realize how truly lucky I am to have such wonderful family and friends. We are truly blessed, and I hope I can use my gifts to help those in need.

I wanted to take a moment to also thank each of you for reading my blog and giving me the inspiration to keep it going! Your emails and comments make my day and make this blog what it is. THANKS!

(I made the above picture to show how thankful I am for my blog readers. It is made from handmade paper that I found last week embroidered onto craft paper with thread. The long weekend made me crafty.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Peek into my Office & Studio

Since my office/studio (or the second bedroom of our apartment) is pretty clean today, I decided to quickly photograph the space so you can get a peek into my work environment. I have always believed that the work space of a creative mind is vital to producing good design and art. While the tiny room is not perfect by any means and is a continual work in progress, it does give a glimpse into how I work and the things and people that inspire me on a daily basis.

Posting the above picture makes me realize how much stuff I collect (books, prints, illustrations, etc). The room is a little bit like the way my mind works – all over the place but also methodical, thoughtful and creative. Even though my little room is jam-packed, I promise everything has a very important purpose and place.

The pictures are also a good way to give you some great creative links for your Thanksgiving holiday!

Above is the new "clothesline" hanger I just built. It allows me to hang a lot of inspiring work and change it as frequently as I wish without poking a TON of holes in the wall.

From Left to Right:

Above Front to Back:
  • a custom collage by my cousin and spectacular mixed-media artist, William Goodman, of Enhanced Mixture. This was his wedding present to Reid and me. I was beyond thrilled to receive it, and love keeping up with all of the new work that William is doing!
  • a piece from Lynne Gelfman. This is another wedding present from the artist and her family. We felt so honored to receive such a beautiful piece from her collection. The depth of texture and the emotion that comes from it is monumental. I cannot wait to someday have a nice big wall to really showcase it on.
Russell hard at work. He literally spends most of his day here when I am working, and he doesn't understand why he can't lie on top of the keyboard. And, if you are looking for a loving cat to add to your family this holiday season, visit Feline Friends Chicago (where we adopted Russell).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We are Blockheads! Brightening my Day

So, I have been cleaning out my studio/office space this afternoon which led to some mild redecorating and finding prints that I had momentarily forgotten about. I tend to buy anything inspiring that deals with wood type, letterpress and/or linoleum cuts. During my quick but massive reorganization, I found hand printed cards that I had bought from my friend and previous student, Joseph "J" Olenik. It made my day to find these cards after months of them hiding in my drawer. Joseph's work has always made me smile with his slightly cynical but extremely playful outlook on life and design. Each card is beautifully crafted and most of them take humorous twists on things close to Joseph's life (aka, design, skateboarding and coffee!!!). I couldn't resist buying multiples (pictured are some of my favorites). They are the perfect little something to brighten your favorite "artsy" friend's day!

Joseph is the principal printer at We Are Blockheads! and makes all of his illustrations and prints completely by hand. He recently relocated to Denver and has taken his one man shop with him, but his website will allow me (and all of you) to purchase prints nationwide.

*All images from We Are Blockheads!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Design: Carla & Rich's Save the Date

A few months ago my good friend, Carla, asked me to design her wedding stationary. I was thrilled that she thought of me and could not wait to get started.

Today we sent her Save the Date postcards to print (above is the final design), and I wanted to share the process and end result.

Carla came to me with a beautiful color palette (deep purple and butter yellow), a wonderful outdoor venue for the wedding and a huge stack of incredible engagement photos taken by J Wiley Photography. All of those great things combined with a bride that was willing to explore design options, leads to the kind of design process you dream about. From the beginning, I wanted to keep things fun and fresh with a tiny hint of classic. And most importantly, I wanted to capture the playful and loving dynamic that makes Carla and Rich such a great couple. I just hope Carla is as excited about the end result as I am!

Below are earlier versions where we explored multiple fonts, layouts and photographs so you can visualize the entire process:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Inspiration: Eleanor Grosch

I first saw Eleanor Grosch's illustrations a couple of years ago thanks to Grain Edit. Ever since, I have been heavily inspired by her work. Initially, her illustrations prompted me to create a technical assignment for my beginning illustration class where they had to create an animal out of basic line, geometric shape and minimal color. Now, I just love looking at her new illustrations (I am most impressed by her animals) on her website and checking her awesome blog – both found here, justeleanor.com.

Today, I found out that she has designed a series of holiday cards for tinyprints. Her Thanksgiving cards are above. How fantastic is the combination of pumpkin pie and a turkey in her simple, sophisticated illustration?

On her website, she has a series of desktop wallpapers. I couldn't resist and just changed my screen to the giraffe with its warm fall colors and use of asterisks as spots.

Who can resist a cute dachshund?

Have a great weekend everyone! We have lots of design, crafts and grocery shopping planned. I promise to post as I am inspired. (And I just got a new printer so expect some new photos of my work soon!!!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ideal Bookshelf: an ongoing art project

My friend, Emily, just messaged me that I had to look at Jane Mount's new ongoing project "Ideal Bookshelf". I am so glad she told me about these beautiful, literary paintings. The best part about each piece is that she bases the book spines off of pictures you send her of the actual books sitting on your bookshelf. It doesn't get more personal than that.

As a pretty avid reader, my life is inspired by the books I read. I would love one of these to remember and capture those "life-changing" books.

Below is the link to her site. These would make fantastic Christmas gifts. I already have a couple of people in mind who would LOVE to get one!

Ideal Bookshelf 97: IS

*All photos from Jane's Blog

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Support an Awesome Idea (Movable Type: Cross Country Adventures in Printing)

Just saw a link to Kylie Durrie's new letterpress adventure! Click here to watch her promotional video and let's all help her raise the funds to achieve her goal by clicking here.

I am a newbie when it comes to traditional letterpress, but my passion for it is strong. I believe in the history, the art and the educational value of teaching and creating with traditional letterpress printers. Kylie's dream is a valuable one and she could spread her knowledge to all kinds of people across the USA!

*Thanks to a new favorite blog, Oh So Beautiful Paper, for posting this!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Font Love: Aphrodite

Aphrodite Pro is a stunning font, in my opinion. It is whimsical, playful and modern. Plus it has all of the key elements of a good script – extra flourishes, multiple glyphs for each character, etc. It's debut on myfonts.com (my favorite font website) came in April 2009. Soon after, I bought it to become the typeface for our June 2010 wedding. Above is the front of our save the date postcard using the Aphrodite Pro.

Recently, I have seen Aphrodite being used around town. Real Simple Magazine and the new Restoration Hardware catalog are places that I have spotted the font. I respect both the publication and interior decorating store as knowing and using good, simple design. Seeing Aphrodite being used by them solidifies my love of the font.

This month's Real Simple Cover

The current Restoration Harware Catalog and one interior shot.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Frank Lloyd Wright & A Book Coming to Life

Yesterday was Veterans Day, which meant we had a day to thank all the men and women who have served for our country, and that Reid (a government employee) had the day off. So after I was done teaching, we decided to take an adventure west on the green line. I have been dying to visit Oak Park since I moved to Chicago, and finally after two years we made this desire a reality.

Since high school I have respected Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture, design and overall visual philosophy. The older I get and the more I learn about him, I honestly like him more. I have seen a bunch of his buildings in the past, but had never been to the small town where he started a family and essentially established himself as a master of modern design and architecture. Walking through Wright's section of Oak Park was incredible. It brought all the reading and research I have done on Wright to life. I love moments like this – where history becomes real. And even more than just history coming to life – I love when historical fictions come to life.

A couple of years ago, I read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. The purely fictional novel based on historical fact is an excellent book of love, tragedy, feminism and architecture. Of course, it doesn't portray either Frank or Mamah, Wright's lover, in a perfect light, but, to me, it makes them and their love so much more real. I couldn't put it down.

The trip to Oak Park helped me bring the book to life and fantasize about everything in the book: building the Cheney house, the "architectural" meetings between the two lovers, the walks to and from each others houses, etc. I even made Reid walk a bit out of the way to see the Cheney House so I could daydream out loud, and we were both a little disappointed in what we saw. It is a beautiful prairie style house built by Wright, but the yard and general upkeep were lacking. All in all both Reid and I truly enjoyed this adventure.

Pictured are just a couple of snapshots from the trip:

*Also, if you haven't read Loving Frank, I highly recommend it! Plus check out the website for the book. It has a great walking tour video of Wright's houses, plus some interior shots.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Repetition LOVE: the illustration of Judy Kaufman

One of the best things about the infinite blogosphere is that I am constantly finding links to wonderful artists, designers and crafters from all over the world. One blog leads to another to another, and on and on and on. It is just delightful!

The find of today is the work of Judy Kaufman. The design element, repetition, doesn't get much better than this. They are absolutely striking.

Judy is an illustrator and graphic designer from Barcelona. Her etsy shop, where I found these prints, is a must visit (and her website is pretty cool too).

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hand Lettering & Monograms

I have spent a big portion of my afternoon working on my new logo and identity (pictures to come once it is done – I promise). My new identity involves hand lettering, which, as those of you who design custom type know, takes a LOT of time. A lot of time drawing also means a lot of time to think. While drawing and thinking I realized that recently my blog hasn't shown many posts about my design...

Above is the original, hand-lettered monogram from our wedding. Typography and illustrating letters are MAJOR passions of mine, and I used my wedding as a platform to do what I love best. During the planning period, I was inspired by Victorian monograms and wood type. I wanted our logotype to feel fluid, fun and celebratory: something that would fit our Smoky Mountain, outdoor wedding. Our invitations were beautifully letterpressed by Rohner – I will post photos of them in the near future.

I absolutely love doing custom typography, especially monograms. It is one part of my design business that I truly adore! Plus, I am always looking for more excuses (babies, weddings, stationery, wall art) to do more hand lettering! I may be a little biased, but I think these make great gifts. Please email me if you are interested in learning more about a custom monograms (1-3 Letters). I would love to talk to you about your "monogrammed" vision.

Monday, November 8, 2010

History of Graphic Design Assignment

Every term that I teach History of Graphic Design (which is turning out to be very frequently), I ask my students to do an assignment based on using history as inspiration vs. using it to copy. We then have a round table discussion about their findings. It is one of my favorite days in the class because all the students get very involved and the conversation often turns into a healthy, educational debate.

The other day while at the new Kickstand Espresso Bar, I saw the paintings of Homeless Cop, a Chicago based painter. All of his paintings, both in the cafe and on his site, are modern, edgy, controversial, colorful and geometric. Plus a wonderful combination of historical influence and pop culture.

So, if I was going to complete the above mentioned History assignment...

I would share Homeless Cop's painting, A Japanese Girl Broke my Heart...

Compared to Hokusai's The Great Wave of Kanagawa.

It is a direct and modern replica, but not a copy in my opinion. Great Use of historical inspiration. Beautiful!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Love

Today has been a nice relaxing Sunday: a little shopping, house cleaning, designing and reading our new subscription to the New York Times. Reid and I share the newspaper very well – he takes all the business and political sections, I take the art and style section and we share the sports :)

The style mag this week is excellent! Just wanted to share some of my favorites...

- check out Gretel: an online shopping site with beautiful and amazing finds for the home.
I want these melted candlesticks!

I hold a special place in my heart for pigeons. This light is awesome!!!

The founder of Gretel, Abby Kellett, uses color so well. I think I have a new favorite site!

- Donna Wilson's site is my other huge inspiration for the day. I love tactile design, furry creatures and textiles which is everything she does best. I have seen her work before, but was reminded of it today. Now I just need to get my hands on one of her sewn creatures (seen below)...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Go Zenyatta!!! (a perfect Saturday of food, art and horses)

Its been a couple of days since my last post, but it was my birthday so I took a little break. The last two days have been spectacular. I am not a huge birthday person, but I figured for the big 3-0 I should celebrate a little more than normal. Reid made that very easy to do – we ate hole in the wall Mexican on Thursday and he threw me a little chocolate and wine get-together last night. I am a very lucky gal.

And the weekend is off to a great start as well...

I met one of my very good friends who recently moved to LA for brunch today at Jam. It was delicious food, cool decor and wonderful to catch up with Grace. I have been dying to go to Jam for awhile now, mostly because I like ONE Design Co's website and portfolio. They build neat websites and create good branding. As we were leaving I peaked into the art space/patio next to Jam to find a couple of interesting pieces by Chicago/Texas artist Roy Tijernia. The patio is a serene and creative escape from the busy Chicago streets. Plus the two pieces that caught my attention, Ghost Herd and a large metal horse sculpture (both pictured), are visually beautiful with what I imagine to be serious statements on animals.

Ghost Herd is a statement on the Chicago stockyards. Each of the hides exudes a feeling of absence and memory. The metal horse sculpture, which I don't know the name of, contains so much emotion. The large metal creature shies away from the bustling and loud Damen St. that is directly on the other side of the metal paneling. The majestic creature outwardly shows how scared and tense he is. The metal is combined with a real halter and horse tail. Stunning! I cannot wait to go sit in the patio next spring.

I have spent the rest of my Saturday sitting around, cleaning and watching the Breeders Cup. Zenyatta, the amazing 6 year old mare, is getting ready to defend her Classic title to be undefeated in 20 starts. I truly hope she does it - she is beautiful, athletic and quite a diva. Pictured is her photo shoot from W magazine. On this note, I will complete my post to focus on the race.