Thursday, July 29, 2010

Designers Don't Read

Fortunately for Austin Howe, this is just the title of his book and not a statement of truth.
I took a speed-reading class in middle school. (Yes, really.) Regardless, it is hard for this designer to find time to read. And when I do, I want to read something good. Something with lasting power. Something worth remembering and sharing.  Something like what Austin Howe has compiled in Designers Don't Read. It's crisp, audacious and stirring.

Earlier this week I serendipitously jumped into a project that Austin Howe had previously worked on and came home to find his book had been plonked through my mail slot. I know. Bizarre. Howe bizarre, to be precise. Through these two very unrelated but ultimately very related events, Howe's legendary skill and insight has swooped into my life.

Designers Don't Read is written with the premise that designers are busy (Amen!) and need bite-size inspiration (double Amen!). Howe's gone so far as to indicate the approximate amount of time it will take one to read each essay-slash-chapter.

I nested down vowing to read only the first chapter that night and savor the remainder over time. Then I blinked and was on page sixty-six. I have a feeling that my speed-reading skills aren't at all the reason I blasted through those pages quickly.

Howe's written such compelling, digestible content. I've already scribbled all over on the pages connecting the dots between so many half-thoughts I've had that he's fully articulated.

"So, I guess my encouragement to smart, strategic, ambitious 'graphic designers' is this: stop thinking of yourself as a 'graphic designer' because if you are smart, strategic and ambitious, you are most definitely designing more than 'graphics.' You are not just a 'creative problem solver.' either, although that is no doubt a job requirement…

"Think bigger. Broader. Wider. Higher. Refuse to be thought of as a decorator, or worse, as a production artist - someone whose job it is to take someone else's ideas and make them look good."

"Designers are not decorators; they are problem solvers. And it takes brains to solve problems, not just taste."

This stuff is literary tonic for the languishing designer's soul.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Does this brand make me look fat? CRAVE Event

CRAVE Portland hosted an event yesterday in conjunction with with Riley Weiss called "Does this brand make me look fat?". It was catered to local business owners and covered many aspects of branding. All of us in attendance learned that a brand is more than a logo, a color palette, a website or a business card. Ultimately, a brand is a promise.

You can follow here to catch wind of future events:
Riley Weiss Twitter

Monday, July 26, 2010

Second Glance Sneak Peek

The Glancing Girls and I have been whirring away on their logo redesign for the last couple of weeks. We're making excellent progress, but the big reveal isn't ready quite yet. To satiate all you curious souls, here's an official sneak peek of all eight (yes, 8!) Round One options. Which one says smart, saavy, fun and ecologically-friendly most to you?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Hairy Friday!

This is what I'm working on. Have you hugged a Sasquatch today?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Exceptional Women NW

Doug Zanger was raised by a single mom and though he's had several high-caliber male role models, he finds women's stories of hope, inspiration and success full of interest and exceptional-ness. Hence, the creation of Exceptional Women NW. You can find it on PDX.FM. I discovered Exceptional Women NW a while ago when I attended an event and heard Rebecca Armstrong of North had shared her story with Doug. I went on to listen to it and be absorbed by everything she said.

Needless to say, I was so honored when Doug asked if he could interview me for this series. (Via twitter. really might work!?) Doug's a reputable and well-rounded creative. He writes (for oh, a small publication called Advertising Age...heard of it?). He teaches. He blogs. He runs Xhang Creative. And obviously, he's in radio. Just to feel like my story and the StudioM journey was something someone like him would be interested in made my heart skip a few beats.

Moving on to pounding hearts: my interview was recorded last week, but aired today and can be found online > here (episode #116). It was a first for me, but Mr. Z did a fabulous job asking good questions and unearthing tidbits of my story and what my studio is all about. Thank you, Doug. It was such a delight.

Monday, July 19, 2010

StudioM News | Metamorphosis

Back in May we announced our incorporation, but didn't disclose the new company name. Thanks to a few fabulous opportunities that have emerged for StudioM, our new incorporated name will be broadcast to the general public. The last thing I want is for anyone to get confused, so we're letting the cat out of the bag before the butterfly's ready to emerge from its cocoon:

There you have it! Much more to come.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mystery Illustration - Revealed!

This explosive illustration was posted right before the holiday weekend, and I promised I would reveal it's purpose after the 4th. So, happy after-the-4th. The StudioM team created the above graphic for a band called White As Wool. You can find them on Facebook and MySpace.

This is a shot from the show they played with Madison Heights on July 4th at Tumbleweed Park in Arizona. Photo credit: Unknown

The band really likes the artwork of Andy Goldsworthy and wanted to take his concept of negative space as inspiration for their t-shirt graphic. The shirts debuted at the show shown above. So the "W" is obviously, but why geese (Canadian geese, specifically), you might ask? Well, there are several reasons, all articulated by the client during our start-work meeting:
  1. They fly in a ‘V’. In doing so, the leader’s always cutting the air to make the way easier for its followers.
  2. They honk, which, scientific studies have shown is them encouraging the leader to keep going, 
  3. And finally, they are always together. No goose is ever left behind. They live in community at all times. 
The band member who lead this project has a strong desire for their music to do the same thing for its community as Canadian geese do for each other. Kind of quirky, but cool, right?

 Illustration in action!

White As Wool will be releasing their first album in the near future.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Quote | Andrew Lewis

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Second Glance & The Annex

I've been following the Second Glance blog at for months and simply cannot get enough of the exceptional style aesthetic of the Glancing Girl. She posts such delicious fashion images with the most breathtaking details. Daily. It's like a breath of fresh air infused with a jolt of energy.

Nancy Kniesel, the owner of Second Glance, has been working with her consignment shop for over 25 years. And I'm happy to say that our batty career courses have crossed and my own work with the shop has officially begun. StudioM has been contracted for a company rebrand and website redesign. Second Glance's client base is shifting, growth is inevitable and business is good, but they've had basically the same logo since day one. The best time to ramp up brand and marketing efforts is when things are booming...that's now for SG!

Earlier this week I motored south about two hours to Corvallis, Oregon to meet this new client. There are two SG shops. Both downtown. Just around the corner from each other. The main shop is the original; The Annex was created for a younger audience and is run by Nancy's daughter, Jessica. Both locations are charming, eclectic, stylish and full of verve. Although I was only there for a couple of hours, and mostly before opening, the shops were bustling! There were ladies skipping in with bags of clothes to consign and others moseying through looking for a weekend dress, the perfect earrings or to spend the balance on their resale account.

The mother and daughter team, along with their other powerful team members (yes, I'm talking about you Jen!), have a passion for the environment and have uncovered a truthful parallel between a positive shopping experience and a woman's self esteem. They're also committed to being conscientious towards the environment, where they consider consignment to be rooted. Read more on that here.

It's such an priviledge for StudioM to work with such savvy business women. As one of the Glancing Girls says, "chin chin" (cheers!) to a well-designed future, ladies. And to the rest of you, stay tuned to the future reveal.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Long story short, I'm busy. While I am in a creative industry, being busy doesn't necessarily mean I'm being creative. That's why I love this pretty little reminder (from a pretty little client friend named Brianna) to keep doing what I love. I'm so thankful for work and so thankful for all the people that remind me that what I'm working towards is worthy and valuable. Thank you.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Mystery Illustration

Interesting, no? We'll tell you all about it after July 4th. Happy holiday weekend!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Shanty is turning two!

In honor of Shanty's second birthday, I'm posting a set of vibrant photo tiles from my first trip to the shop in Newport, WA. Just because they're bright and fun and summery. The past two+ years working the Maggie, Shanty's spectacular owner, have been so enjoyable and rewarding. She is a dreamer and it's been such a pleasure to design many of her dreams to life. Raise a virtual glass and toast Shanty with me today! *clink, clink*

If you'd rather clink with a real glass and toast to Shanty in person, Maggie will be hosting a birthday party at the shop today from 9am to 7pm. Oh, what I would give to be able to snap my fingers and be there for the cake walk and a cocktail today. I guess some long-distance love will have to do. Love to you, Maggie!

To read more about the event, visit the Shanty blog.