October 5, 2016

The Sweet Spot


“If you can find the what the overlap is between what you love doing and what people want, I mean, that’s the thing, right, and everybody talks about that – I’m very lucky that I got there. You and I both share the perspective that it took A LOT of struggle, A LOT of struggle, to get there, and it was not easy.”

“I don’t think I realized how hard it was until I found that fit, that overlap, between what I could provide, what I like providing, and what people want to buy. And then suddenly it was like, ‘Oh, this is what easy mode is – this is what it feels like to be graceful.’ Running head first into a wall for a few years, I thought that was normal, I thought that was what owning a business was like.”

Nick & Kai discussing the sweet spot on How To Make Money Online

Running head first into a wall… sounds about right 😉

October 1, 2016

Artists Who Become Great Just Work Harder…

“I believe artists who become great just work harder at it then anyone else. I really do. I mean painters, and things like that, they just work harder. They might have some ability, but they don’t have anymore ability than anyone else. They’re just driven. I think drive is the most important thing.”

“But what about responsibility, obviously you’re the best at what you do, so don’t you feel you have a responsibility…”

“…to be good, and to take it seriously… I owe it to my audience.”

Howard Stern & Norm Macdonald discuss being responsible for the work.

September 1, 2016

All That Leads to the Dark Side

The oppression, the destruction, and the genocides started with the fear of the “other people.” Fear that led to hate. Then hate led to the justification to dehumanize the others. There are two universal stories in the world: the beautiful tales of love and the ugly tomes of fear. If we are to see peace on earth, it is time that we outgrew the tight evolutionary grip of fear. Unfortunately, overcoming 6 billion years of evolution won’t happen quickly.

Ben Huh from A Gap Year Around the World…

It’s certainly worth taking ten minutes from your day to read the entire article.

August 29, 2016

Rapha’s Head of Design, On Design

…and to me, that’s what design is, it’s not creating the product – it’s the process that you go through. It’s not the final thing, it’s how you got to the final thing. It’s the journey. It’s all the crap that comes with it.

From An Inside Look at Rapha

August 19, 2016

Creating a Value Based Design Business

The key to any business’s success is all about the value it creates. Same goes for employees, products, or any relationship. As designers, we often struggle in defining the value we create beyond “we can make it look nice” especially as more of our industry is commoditized by talented production artists and DYI platforms. Why should a client pay upwards of $10k for a “custom website” when a simple Squarespace site, or in some cases, a well-executed Facebook presence, can accomplish many of their business requirements for much less? Same can be said for logos, printed materials, on down the line.

We must be able to define and sell the value of our services and offerings if we expect to have any longevity as design professionals. It’s something I constantly am working towards, and too often, find myself back in that production/generalist mentality instead of narrowing my focus around the true value proposition that’s intrinsic to good design and strategy.

In his talk, designer Clayton Farr provides some much needed direction for creating a value based design business. A few of my key takeaways from what Clayton had to say:

As a business, you must decide what work you’re going to do, (just as importantly) what work you’re not going to do, for whom you’re going to do it, and why.

This is a daily struggle as a recovering “wandering generalist” who needs to pay the bills.

Become intensely appealing to a certain group.

How do we become the person who a friend recommends as “Just the guy/gal for the job”?

Clayton’s four principles for defining what you do and where you do it:

1. Think Beyond Money – What is the higher purpose – why do you exist?
2. Competencies – What are you uniquely qualified to do? Play to your strengths.
3. Who Are Your Customers? Is there a need and can you bring value to them?
4. Culture – What are your principles?

Finally, he has some excellent advice regarding pricing: Don’t negotiate costs, negotiate value.

Can I produce this for what it’s worth profitably? If it’s only worth X amount, but it takes you this much to produce it, it’s not a project you should take on. It’s not financially viable for you or anyone else.

View Clayton’s talk in it’s entirety above.

August 18, 2016

To Be Frank, I’m Fried

Kurt Vile

Ears are still ringing and mind is still foggy from last night’s Kurt Vile show at the Urban Lounge. School night, or not, it was totally worth it.

July 5, 2016

Mountain Mama Meals Logo

Mountain Mama Meals

Everyone knows that a logo is the backbone of a brand, however, this post isn’t about the value of a well designed logo. Instead, it’s intention is to highlight the fact that the creation of a logo doesn’t need to be a long, drawn-out process. While setting expectations and maintaining open communication is critical to the process, sometimes what is needed most simply is making a decision and standing by it. Too often we get caught up in analysis paralysis. The amount of information readily accessible at our fingertips seems to only add to the stress of decision making. At a certain point, the details we often get hung up on, simply don’t matter that much, and it’s better to make a decision and move on.

With that said, I had the pleasure of working with my good friend Peregrine on a logo for her new business, Mountain Mama Meals. She had an extremely tight timeline, however, quick turn-arounds are often blessings in disguise as they tend to keep projects on point with no room for excessive analysis or over-thinking things. Together, we knocked out the above logo in four days, from concept to delivery. Would the end result have been better had it taken 3 weeks or 3 months or a allowed for enough time draw a custom font, or execute tightly on an abstract concept to make it a truly award-worthy piece? Perhaps, but that sort of thing is more about buffing out the awards section on a designers Linkedin profile and in reality, adds very little value to the client or their business.

Instead, Peregrine received a solid mark that looks great in one-color and on her website that will grow with the brand and business. If down the road it needs to be refined, then we have a great foundation in place to build from.

Logo in Four Days – Here’s How We Did It:

1. Day 1 – The Concept

In today’s society, the hard part isn’t finding inspiration, but instead, filtering through the abyss, as there are infinite potential options and directions one can go. The pros all know that the path of true creativity can only be achieved through constraints. Think about how many of the best songs in the world only use 3 chords or stay within the same scale. For the most part, they’re all rather formulaic. So we laid out the knowns, and then solved for X

The knowns: 1) Must look good on a website. 2) Combination Mark, meaning symbol + words 3) Playful aesthetic 4) Should reflect the product ie; healhty & delicious home cooked meals delivered to your door.

With the above criteria for a successful logo established, we hopped on a call and had a quick creative brainstorming session. By the end of the call, we had the concept locked down and signed off on, with a rough sketch of our idea.

My notes from the call read: Bowl mark w/ funky or paisley steam. “Mountain Mama Meals” with playful (no punctuation) type treatment.

Logo Sketch

Above is the quick rough I sketched out after the call.


2. Days 2 – Execute

With the concept in place, it was now up to me as the designer to execute on the directives we had laid forth. I had a rough idea for the style of font to use – a bold, san-serif font most likely set in lowercase. This would give it that “playful” element that I felt Peregrine was after. Additionally, I always try to pair contrasting fonts together when possible, and I felt a lighter weight slab-serif would complement the heavy strokes of the primary font nicely. In terms of the mark, I had a solid mental image of how I wanted it to turn out, however the challenge here was adding enough just enough flourish, but not too much, so it would retain it’s structure and legibility at smaller scales, as good logos must.


Day 3 – Revise

One of Peregrine’s critiques, is that the plumes could be interpreted as splashes. She also requested a few slight tweaks to the font treatment. I tweaked the font as requested, as well as presented a few more options for the steam treatment (above). Ultimately, we stayed with the original direction which still has a bit of a “splash” element to it, as we determined that it adds to the overall “playfulness” which was inline with our original values for the logo.

Screenshot 2016-03-05 14.10.09

Day 4 – Finalize & Deliver

With the mark largely complete, the final step was to present some color options before adding color into the final mark and delivering the files. Previously she had mentioned she liked the thought of a green & orange color scheme, so while there were an array of options, ultimately we settled on her initial instinct.

Need a logo for an upcoming business idea or feel your current brand is feeling a little stale? Get in touch and let’s work together to make something great!

Send Me a Message!