Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Workaholism Monster

Sometimes this big meanie grabs me by its tentacles and as much as I wriggle and squirm it won't let go.

“The workaholic maintains a frantic schedule. He is consistently preoccupied with performance. He finds it difficult to refuse additional responsibilities. He is unable to relax. If someone you know exhibits these characteristics, he or she is probably a workaholic.” - Bill Hybels
Many have called me a bona fide workaholic. I've even said it myself. There are days I pride myself in the title, thinking that it equates good work ethic and movement towards success. The truth is, if I don't dash away and get out from under it's shadow, I become exhausted and uninspired. Even as I say that I think to myself, "But you love what you do! Work is fun, Megan!" and that's true. I love what I do. Work is fun. But too much work isn't healthy - for me or my clients.

My mentor shared a powerful thought with me earlier this year: If you never say, "No", what does that say about your "Yes"es? 

With the new year just on the other side of midnight, I'm proposing a renewed focus to myself. Focus on saying yes only to the things that will take me where I go. Saying no to the things that won't. Making my "yes"es have value. The Workaholism Monster might be incredibly alluring and impossibly strong, but that doesn't mean I'll let it control my life.

Cheers to saying "No." in 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Clark Boys | Photo Book

I'm so glad I can finally share this project! I've been waiting because it was a Christmas gift to my in-laws and I didn't want to spoil the surprise. Last Christmas I scavenged through a large cardboard box full of old photos of my husband and his family (which includes three younger brothers!). I came out with 100+ photos that I brought home, scanned, edited, and compiled into this photo book.

You've gotta have the classic tub shot...

And all the sports....

And the vacations to Disneyland...

And the messy baby....

I started and ended with some photos from even before the boys were born. The baby in this image is my mom-in-law. I hate to think of what happens to photos over the years when they haven't been digitized. Now we don't have to worry about that; the book turned out to be a great keepsake for all of us in the Clark Clan. It was created using Just like the Weber-Capell Wedding book.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Weber-Capell Wedding | Photo Book

For Christmas this year I designed an album of my sister's wedding photos for her and her husband using Blurb. is a super resource for those of us interested in self-publishing...or simply interested in creating a quality coffee table book or photo album. Like this one!

The wedding was in my parents' backyard and it was beautiful.

Even Buffalo, my parents' abyssinian cat got in on the fun.

It was a fabulous day - one that we all had fun remembering on Christmas Eve when I could finally let the couple open this gift. Happy First Christmas as a married couple, Mal + James!

Photo credit: Miguel Rivera, Mark Coffin and Megan Clark
Here's some of the wedding signage from the day, by the way.
Printing by Blurb.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I found this stamp last week in a stash I've had since I was a kid. I love the simple, beautiful illustration...and the reminder to sneak in all the kisses under the mistletoe you can manage this holiday season. Merry Christmas and happy smooching!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DIY Coloring Book | For the holiday or any day.

If you like to get crafty and have Photoshop and one last loved one or little munchkin on your list you'd like to give something special, this is for you. Better hurry - you have less than 24 hours to get it done!

My girlfriend had me help her create a coloring book from some of her photos as a Christmas gift. She got the idea from a website she ran across earlier this year; I take no credit, but I love it and wanted to share with all you DIYers. My sister's step-daughter, Sydney, is 9-years-old, so a coloring book seemed like the perfect gift I could custom make for her. Here's how I went about creating it*:

1. Start with selected photo open in Photoshop.

2. Make the photo black and white: Image > Mode > Grayscale

3. Adjust the contrast in the photo: Image > Adjustments > Levels
Move the black arrow and the white arrow in towards the gray arrow to get more contrast.

4. Turn the photo into an illustration: Filter > Sketch > Photocopy
The size of your photo will affect the way this step works. The larger the photo the more crisp the lines in your illustration will be.

5. Clean up the illustration: Filter > Sketch > Stamp
Adjust the Light/Dark Balance and Smoothness bars until you're happy with your image.

6. Save and print! I put a nice thick border around my images and printed each one out on an 8.5x11" sheet of thick white paper.

7. Give and color! Here are a couple other pages from Sydney's Christmas coloring book:

Merry Christmas, Sydney!
*I'm using CS3, so depending on your version of the software, your commands and the results may be different.

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Yesterday I posted the new French Press coffee line labels. But there's one more! The Holiday Blend Label (see the sneak peek here). We modified the stamp logo to be a bit more festive (that was the clients' idea - I can't take credit, but I think it's awesome) and applied the UV spot varnish to it as well as to the reindeer. It came out really well. So well, in fact, I decided a bag of coffee with this jolly label was the perfect Christmas gift for several family members and snatched up a few. Now, off to pack up and head out for the holiday weekend! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Project: French Press Holiday Coffee Label
Client: French Press Roasters
Design + Art Direction: StudioM
Printer: Brown Printing

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

French Press Coffee Labels. Complete.

The French Press coffee labels are done! They made their debut at the shop in Salem the week after Thanksgiving. And they've received a warm reception. From most, that is. Mike Taylor, the boss-man at French Press, told me a funny anecdote last week when I went to visit: the wife one of the regulars stopped in to stock up on whole bean coffee, which happened to be labeled with the new designs, and when she got home her husband threw a fit because he was convinced she got coffee from the wrong place. (The bags used to simply be stamped, as seen here.) Once he calmed down and realized that in fact it was French Press coffee, his coffee, he was happy as a clam with the new label. Whew.

The only thing you can't see from these high quality scans is the UV spot varnish we had applied to all the French Press 'stamp' logos. See the light reflecting off it in the photos below? Yum.

Project: French Press Coffee Line Labels
Client: French Press Roasters
Design + Art Direction: StudioM
Copywriting: Jason Barnes
Printer: Brown Printing

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Inspiration | Vintage Labels

There are days when I just can't sit still at my desk all afternoon. So I get up. Stretch. Make a cup of tea. Walk the dog. Sometimes all those things still don't cut it. I'm restless and in need of inspiration. Last week I had one of those days. Consequently, I decided to bundle up and venture outside and into downtown Vancouver. My little feet landed me at River Maiden, a teeny coffee shop at 701 Main Street. They serve Stumptown. The barista is an aspiring graphic designer. It's a nice place. Latte 'o perfection in-hand, I ambled back onto the street.

This might come as a surprise to many, but Vancouver, Washington is a gem of a place when it comes to antique stores. We have several. And I, although likely biased, think they are good ones. My next stop was one of these such stores. It's called Old Town Antique Market. It was there I found these beauties.

I've always been a sucker for vintage prints, but these are especially tantalizing. These are wooden crate and can labels that were never used for one reason or another. Sometimes the crop wouldn't be as large as the farmers anticipated, so they'd have a lot of labels left over. The unused labels were stored in the packing houses or at the print shop until they were recovered in the late 1950's as cities were expanding and the old buildings were being torn down.

"If only it could talk..." That's what I always think to myself when I acquire a new old thing. These labels would probably tell us of their birth on an loud clanging press with a dirty press-man hovering overhead. They would explain the smell of the ink and the crispness of the new paper that has since become frail. They would talk of the anticipation of seeing the world post- being slapped on the side of a crate and the ensuing disappointment of never being pulled from the palette. Then, they would recount, years later being discovered by construction workers and cleaning crews, finally brought into daylight and fresh air after decades of musty, quiet living. Eventually, they would recall the look on my face when I uncovered them in the antique store. The twinkle in my eye as I admired the color scheme, hand-crafted type, painstakingly perfect illustrations, print quality and pristine condition. Now, they look at my desk from their perch. So when I do get restless and inspiration-less I just gaze their way. Then I stretch, make a cup of tea, walk the dog and get back to work.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Shhhhh....Katey's Graduating | Surprise Party!

Way back in May I got a call from one of my girlfriends' moms, Cheryl. Her daughter, Katey would be graduating from Portland's Linfield Nursing School in December '09 and she wanted to throw her a surprise graduation party. A party always makes for lots of planning, but a surprise party....well, that requires even more. I offered to help with what I know best: design.

For the invite we wanted to go with a festive holiday-esque design. We chose a classic cranberry red and infused the layouts with pretty, luxurious patterns and scrolls. Katey is a big fan of Anthropologie, so they were definitely a source of inspiration. We slipped all the invite pieces (invitation, RSVP card and a pre-printed RSVP return envelope) into a metallic pearl envelope and "Wa-lah!" Gorgeous and complete. I couldn't wait to show the piece off, but had to wait almost 8 months to do so or I would have spoiled the surprise.

While I was designing an invite and helping to compile a guest list, Cheryl booked the venue and caterer and we both schemed with Kyle, Katey's husband, how to do it all without Katey catching on. Tons of planning and thousands of lies later, the evening of the event finally came. The graduate was truly surprised....not a small feat! Congrats, Katey. We're all so proud of you!

Hugs and tears all around.

The event planners thought of everything!

Kyle's toast to the graduate.

Amy, Katey, Brittany, Myself and Tiffany
College Housemates Reunited

Our little college family.

The event was held at the Marriott Residence Inn at Downtown RiverPlace in Portland.