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 
startups/business/creativity-at-large?
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.

• • •

All images courtesy of Summer Pierre.

• • •

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.

• • •

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.

• • •

All images courtesy of Laura Meseguer.

• • •

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

August 10, 2014

Mega thanks to everyone who promoted my book BROKEN (Part 1)


Card icon designed by Andrew Sloan from The Noun Project collection

After writing, editing, designingpricing, and finally launching my latest book BROKEN: Navigating the ups and downs of the circus called work, my next tasks dealt with promoting it. With a self-published book, every mention counts, whether it’s in person, by email, and especially through the Web. Since the book’s announcement, lots of people helped bring it to the attention of others.

Sharing—by those beyond the maker—is truly caring, and is not a given. The championing must be earned. Whatever the form (especially the virtual), whatever the size, and whatever the scope, the time and energy to share something are not trivial, because it didn’t have to happen. People, who share things you made, could have easily ignored you. When it does happen, the result is a smile, from the inside out.

Marketing a book is an ongoing process. But I want to take this opportunity to give heartfelt thanks to the following people and groups who made the effort to spread the good word about my book. Thank you for caring and making me smile!

Gigantic thanks to these awesome creative practitioners, 
who social-media shared my book BROKEN
(chronological order):

Zealous Bee, Designers,
Producers of “original laser-cut wood and acrylic jewelry”
» Their tweet

Theo Rosendorf, Creative Director,
Author of The Typographic Desk Reference
» His tweet

Sole Sander, Designer, Illustrator
» Her tweet

Joanne Molina, Founding Editor of The Curated Object
» Her tweet

Ryan Evans, Founder of Bitesize PR, Source Sleuth, Lift Marketing, wrote an endorsement of BROKEN
» His tweets: 1, 2

Vook, Publishing platform, produced eBook versions of BROKEN
» Their tweets: 12

Kristen Corpolongo, Consultant, Researcher, Strategist, Writer
» Her tweet

Marcia Conner, Executive Advisor,
Contributor to Fast Company magazine
» Her tweet

Rita Soultanian, Voiceover Artist, Singer
» Her tweet

The Creative Group, Staffing firm
» Their tweet

Mera Mistry, Designer
» Her tweet

Stop Tweeting Boring Shit, book published by Division of Labor
» Their tweet

The Bold Italic, “Online magazine and events hub”
» Their tweet

Stephanie di Biase, Designer,
Co-Author (found through CreativeMornings) of BROKEN
» Her tweet

Eight Hour Day, Graphic Design, Illustration Studio
of Nathan Strandberg and Katie Kirk
» Their tweet

Design Directory, “A comprehensive database of hand-picked design firms, studios, museums, organizations and resources”
» Their tweet

Neftali Morales, New Media Creative
» His tweet

Joe Meersman, Studio Lead at IBM Design
» His tweet

CreativeMornings, “A breakfast lecture series
for the creative community”
» Their tweets: 1, 2

Molly Bramlet, Graphic Designer
» Her tweet

Dan Wagstaff, Founder of The Casual Optimist
» His tweet

Nicole Delger, Brand Advisor, Author of Get Funded
» Her tweet

Jeffrey Yozwiak, Production Coordinator at Vook,
managed the eBook development of BROKEN
» His tweet

Mike Keen, Software Artist
» His tweet

Paul Buck, Founder of Zerofree
» His tweet

Judith Abbate, Book Designer
» Her tweet

John Clifford, Owner of Think Studio, Designer, Author of
Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design
» His tweets: 1, 2

Guillaume Marin, Freelance Video Editor
» His tweet

Lucy Engelman, Illustrator,
made the wonderful drawings throughout BROKEN
» Her tweets: 1, 2

Dave Cuzner, Founding Editor of Grain Edit
» His tweet

Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology
» Their tweets: 12

Laura Helen Winn, Designer and Co-Founder of Hike Conference
» Her tweets: 1, 2

Eleanor Mayrhofer, Founder of e.m.papers,
wrote an endorsement of BROKEN
» Her tweets: 1, 2, 3

Elaine Chen, Designer,
wrote her soon-to-be-published first novel The Good Brother
» Her tweet

RESUSstudio, Design firm
» Their tweet

Loretta May, Freelance Graphic Designer
» Her tweet

Sergio Salgado, Owner of Furnace Creative
» His tweet

Alma Hoffmann, Designer, Educator
» Her tweet

Amy Feezor, Freelance Writer and Creative Director
» Her tweet

Brianna Sylver, Co-Founder and President of Sylver Consulting
» Her tweet

50,000feet, Design firm
» Their tweet

Veronica Corzo-Durchadt, Founder of Winterbureau,
Co-Founder of Podcast Thing
» Her tweet

Makeshift Society, Coworking space
» Her tweet

Rena Tom, Founder of Makeshift Society, wrote BROKEN’s Foreword
» Her tweet

Chicago chapter of CreativeMornings
» Their tweet

Amy Lin, Pathologist
» Her Facebook post

Jo D, Musician
» Her tweets: 1, 2, 3, 4

Ethan Bodnar, Dean, School of Design at Skillshare
» His tweet

Paul Oeming, Food Photographer,
Organizer of CreativeMornings’ Milwaukee chapter
» His tweets: 12

Angela Wang, Blogger at American Taitai
» Her tweet

George Starr, Designer, Comic-Book Maker
» His tweet

Colossal thanks to these awesome creative practitioners, who retweeted and/or favorited tweets, related to my book BROKEN (chronological order):

Michael Davis-Burchat, Portfolio Roadmap Manager at Nokia

Cara Narkun, Copywriter, Co-Founder of Zealous Bee

Joanne Molina, Founder and Editor of The Curated Object

Marcia Conner, Executive Advisor,
Contributor to Fast Company magazine

Emily Schaeffer, Designer, Photographer

Hike Conference, Educational design conference

The Creative Group, Staffing firm

Chronicle Books, Publisher

Stop Tweeting Boring Shit, book published by Division of Labor

Kate Koza, Marketing and Student Affairs Coordinator,
Institute of Classical Architecture and Art

Whisk, Design firm

The Bold Italic, “Online magazine and events hub”

James Puckett, Type Designer,
whose typeface Recovery was used for BROKEN’s title

Chicago chapter of AIGA, “the professional association for design”

The Purpose Economy, book by Aaron Hurst

Think Studio of John Clifford, Author of Graphic Icons: Visionaries Who Shaped Modern Graphic Design

Kern and Burn, book by Jessica Karle and Timothy Hoover

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Scott Berkun, Author, Speaker

Phil Terry, Founder/CEO of Collaborative Gain,
Co-Author of Customers Included

Nicole Delger, Brand Advisor, Author of Get Funded

Bitesize PR, founded by Ryan Evans, wrote an endorsement of BROKEN

Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology

Dave Goodridge, Singer-Songwriter

Lucy Engelman, Illustrator,
made the wonderful drawings throughout BROKEN

Night Owls Press, Publisher

Rena Tom, Founder of coworking space Makeshift Society

Makeshift Society, Coworking space

Tina Roth Eisenberg, Founder of CreativeMornings, TeuxDeux, Tattly

50,000feet, Design firm

Alma Hoffmann, Designer, Educator

Sergio Salgado, Owner of Furnace Creative

DuaneKing, Creative Director of Huge/KingCoyle,
Founder of Thinking for a Living

Trouvé Magazine, published by Amanda Marko

Stephanie di Biase, Designer, Co-Author (found through CreativeMornings) of BROKEN

Mari Huertas, Technology Consultant,
Manager of Operations at The Manual

Immense thanks to these awesome creative practitioners for featuring my book BROKEN in their respective publication (chronological order):

Joanne Molina, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Curated Object, interviewed me.

Claudia Gerdes, Editor of PAGE magazine,
reached out to me about getting my book featured.

Doug White, Editor of The Creative Group’s blog,
interviewed me—Thanks to John Clifford for the introduction.

Jennifer Maerz, Editor of The Bold Italic, reached out
to me—via Makeshift Society—about featuring my book.

Eight Hour Day, Graphic Design, Illustration Studio of
Nathan Strandberg and Katie Kirk, featured my book on their blog.

Lisa Hazenedited BROKEN,
interviewed me for BookPromotion.com.

Dave Cuzner, Founder and Editor of Grain Edit,
featured my book on his blog.

• • •


Work can suck—for some, not so much, for others, extensively. BROKEN is a book about making your professional path as productive as possible. Learn more and buy a copy.


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August 7, 2014

Tweeted July 2014: Food for thought


Tweet icon designed by Adame Dahmani from The Noun Project collection

“Dear everyone who writes. Stop adding double spaces. Thanks.”
—Mike Sullivan
Tweeted by @studiomister on July 31, 2014

“Doing excellent work is a choice; not your company
or manager’s choice, always your choice.”
—Vala Afshar
Tweeted by @Remi_Tee on July 31, 2014

“There has never been a better time
in the whole history of the world to invent something.”
—Kevin Kelly
Tweeted by @ryanevans on July 30, 2014

“Critique teaches you to listen hard to others’ criticism
so you can listen hardest to yourself.”
—Jessie Shefrin
Tweeted by @leksandravit on July 30, 2014

“It’s pretty difficult to solve big problems in four years”
—Larry Page
Tweeted by @leksandravit on July 30, 2014

“When a coincidence seems amazing, that’s because the human mind isn’t wired to naturally comprehend probability and statistics.”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson
Tweeted by @neiltyson on July 29, 2014

“Student questions are the seeds of real learning.”
—Ramsey Musallam
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on July 29, 2014

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
—Michael Porter
Tweeted by @expa on July 28, 2014

“An explanation is where the mind comes to rest.”
—Michael Lewis
Tweeted by @DuaneKing on July 28, 2014

“If Comic-Con people ruled the world, the future would be invented daily and warfare would be bar-fights with toy light-sabers.”
—Neil deGrasse Tyson
Tweeted by @neiltyson on July 25, 2014

“We are all designers, the difference
is that only a few of us do it full-time.”
—Sabo Tercero
Tweeted by @ChuckHTF on July 25, 2014

“Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them.”
—Fabian Pfortmüller
Tweeted by @swissmiss on July 24, 2014

“We go until it happens.”
—Dr. Dre
Tweeted by @DuaneKing on July 24, 2014

“Don’t mass-retweet praise about yourself. Please.”
—Tina Roth Eisenberg
Tweeted by @swissmiss on July 23, 2014

“We made it very clear that being a female scientist, that’s normal.”
—Maria Klawe
Tweeted by @LadyBits on July 22, 2014

“Happiness is not something ready made,
it comes from your own actions.”
—Dalai Lama
Tweeted by @JessCLively on July 22, 2014

“Work Better.”
—Paul Jarvis
Tweeted by @karenebaker on July 22, 2014

“We need to stop designing for platforms and start designing for people. It’s all one product and one task.”
—Matias Duarte
Tweeted by @kathikaiser on July 22, 2014

“I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
—Galileo
Tweeted by @50000feet on July 21, 2014

“There is always room for improvement. No matter how small.”
—Tina Roth Eisenberg
Tweeted by @swissmiss on July 21, 2014

“We have these brief lives, and our only real choice
is how we will fill them. Your attention is precious.”
—Jonathan Harris
Tweeted by @NaomieRoss on July 21, 2014

“Your best work is your expression of yourself.”
—Frank Gehry
Tweeted by @kerriehui on July 19, 2014

“If you want to be a writer, you have to write.”
—Philippa Hughes
Tweeted by @creativemorning on July 18, 2014

“The writer’s intention hasn’t anything to do
with what he or she achieves.”
—Lillian Hellman
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 18, 2014

“It’s from their having stood contrasted
That good and bad so long have lasted.”
—Robert Frost
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 18, 2014

“Our income went up, but our happiness went down.”
— Lee LeFever
Tweeted by @creativemorning on July 18, 2014

“It’s not technology that improves learning.
It’s how you use technology.”
—Annie Murphy Paul
Tweeted by @jlbknr on July 17, 2014

“People think they can work and be productive in the face
of all those interruptions [email, texts, gchat]. They can’t.”
—Alice Robb
Tweeted by @mkonnikova on July 17, 2014

“I will never understand why big companies hire
design studios/agencies on the other side of the globe!
I believe in local and face to face.”
—Tina Roth Eisenberg
Tweeted by @swissmiss on July 17, 2014

“If you hire people who believe what you believe,
they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”
—Simon Sinek
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on July 16, 2014

“Most people have much better things to do than form
highly nuanced and non-contradictory political opinions.”
—Dylan Matthews
Tweeted by @tylerrooney on July 15, 2014

“An artist was someone who worked,
not some special being exempt from the claims of ordinary life.”
—Tobias Wolff
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 9, 2014

“Writing is attempting to find a life that does not yet exist.”
—Richard Powers
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 7, 2014

“More than a commitment to the art or to the craft,
writing is a commitment to being alone in a room.”
—Orhan Pamuk
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 7, 2014

“Nothing is useless, everything bears on future work.”
—David McCullough
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 7, 2014

“I don’t eat breakfast. I just drink a glass of water.
I think that is perfect for writing.”
—Kenzaburo Oe
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 7, 2014

“Education is what people do to you,
and learning is what you do to yourself.”
—Joi Ito
Tweeted by @TEDTalks on July 7, 2014

“Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.”
—Joss Whedon
Tweeted by @ABookBestQuotes on July 6, 2014

“All artistic creation is a substitute
for erotic frustration and disappointment.”
—Daniel Mendelsohn
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 6, 2014

“You can never bend reality to serve the fiction.
You have to bend the fiction to serve reality.”
—Stephen King
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 6, 2014

“Reading is socially accepted disassociation.”
—Mary Karr
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 6, 2014

“I don’t think writers are supposed to give answers
or explain characters fully.”
—Ha Jin
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 6, 2014

“Life is a whole journey of meeting your edge again and again.”
—Pema Chödrön
Tweeted by @AniPemaChodron on July 4, 2014

“When you say NO, you are refusing the request
not rejecting the person.”
—Geraldine Bown
Tweeted by @SheQuotes on July 4, 2014

“There is no better time than the present
to be with our family and friends.”
—Annette Bridges
Tweeted by @SheQuotes on July 4, 2014

“I have no interest in designers who don’t have interest in design.
If you don’t want to do the work, change your role.”
—Zachary Jean Paradis
Tweeted by @zacharyparadis on July 2, 2014

“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings,
we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”
—Thurgood Marshall
Tweeted by @goodreads on July 2, 2014

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
—Albert Einstein
Tweeted by @collabfund on July 2, 2014

“To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing.”
—Pablo Picasso
Tweeted by @whereismeersman on July 1, 2014

“A truly fine writer will deal with seemingly unimportant matters
and make them transcendentally important.”
—William Styron
Tweeted by @parisreview on July 1, 2014

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way
to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
—Thomas Edison
Tweeted by @marciamarcia on July 1, 2014

• • •

See Patronage series of duly discovered.


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August 6, 2014

The Tactile Craft of Sign Painting: Ches Perry at 32nd CreativeMornings in Chicago


Photos by Nate Burgos. View more.

“Heritage” was CreativeMornings’ global theme in July, 2014. It was fitting that Chicago’s chapter centered attention on sign painter Ches Perry, and his son, Alex Perry, from Right Way Signs, to speak. For the first time, the format of this talk was done as a live interview, conducted by Kim Knoll, the organizer of CreativeMornings/Chicago.

Ches is a traditional sign painter. Demands of this discipline include applying ink to a vertical surface—one controlled stroke at a time—with graceful ease and delicate patience. The results are characters of letters, letters with character.

The rise of sign painting accompanied the birth of towns and cities. It blossomed with the presence of buildings and the prominence of commerce. This tradition of sign painting was an inheritance—the first type of heritage I sensed—adopted by Ches as his occupation. In turn, his son became inspired—perhaps, imprinted, a second type of heritage—to join his father in the sign-making business, and adapting its relevance in a world of digital communication, that is, “digital exhaustion” according to Alex, based on reactions from his and father’s clients.

The rise of plotters, from the 1970s onward, and vector graphics in the 1980s, encroached on the appeal of hand-lettered and painted signs. Computing technology brought speed and standardization—unlike sign painting, which requires time and defies uniformity. Plotters coldly automating letters, as Ches put it, “is a drag.” A composition of machine-driven letterforms is an assembly, whereas a composition of human-driven letterforms is a medley.

Throughout the interview, Ches exhibited a quiet demeanor, particularly during his live demonstration of hand-painting a custom sign. A smooth-and-connected performance, up-close and personal between brush and board. Every inked brushstroke was applied without hesitation, with quiet confidence, matched by a spirited quietude of attention by the audience. I was grateful to witness Ches’ soft-spoken reservation, indicative of a humble practitioner, flowing into a graceful display of craft under calm.


Photo by Nate Burgos. View more.

Alex described his father bluntly: “He just wants to paint the sign.” Clearly, Ches was the aesthetic arm (in more ways than one) of Right Way Signs. He reinforced the pattern of a person who is primarily and visibly concerned with a particular portfolio of techniques and tools. In Ches’ case, his professional cache bear-hugs sign painting.

Accompanying the skills of sign painting are its stories. As examples of Ches’ work digitally projected as a backdrop to his and Alex’s interview, they shared anecdotes of vertigo while making signs hundreds of feet above the ground (at the same time operating mechanical ladders), deft improv of correcting spelling mistakes (recognized midway or afterwards), mutant-like optical judgments in drawing letterforms elegantly executed on an extra-extra-wide rooftop (that can clearly satisfy aerial views of the sign), including the aromatherapy from chemicals of primer and pigment characterizing a sign-painting studio. The interview served up a streaming narrative of sign-painting-lore.

The timing of this talk was also a personal delight, prompting me to reminisce about typography discovered and photographed during my trips across America. A major portion of this documentation is focused on hand-painted signs, including “ghost signs” (that have deteriorated over time). Ches’ works keep relevant the long marked timeline of hand-painted signage and bolsters the memory of our information landscape from era to era. It’s a memory composed, literally and historically, of signs of the times. These kinds of signs also stir memory at an emotional level, for after noticing one while on the road or during a stroll, and recognizing its handmade texture and working-class vibe, it warms you up from the inside.


Caribou, Maine. Photo by Nate Burgos


Galveston, Texas. Photo by Nate Burgos


Augusta, Georgia. Photo by Nate Burgos


Monterey, California. Photo by Nate Burgos

Considering this talk’s online registration filled to capacity in less than a minute, and that 145 attendees (exceeding capacity) were captivated, it proves again that the handmade (signage and beyond) is inspiring, even in the modern climate. Ches Perry gave a refreshing look inside his tactile craft, fully endowed with the human touch. This was the third type of heritage I sensed, one that is wide-reaching with the potential of uplifting sensibilities… a cultural heritage.

• • •

Big thanks: to Grind—for hosting—and Basecamp for sponsoring Chicago CreativeMornings #32; 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, Chris Gallevo, Neftali Morales, Jeremy Mumenthaler, 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.

• • •

See step-by-step photos of Ches Perry’s live demonstration of sign painting at 32nd gathering of CreativeMornings’ Chicago chapter.

• • •

Read my interview with Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, who are the filmmakers of documentary “Sign Painters” about the American tradition of hand-painted signs.

• • •

Read more Chicago CreativeMornings coverage.

• • •

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




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August 5, 2014

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Shauna Panczyszyn’s Three Word Stories



What are you working on—on the side?

My side project is called Three Word Stories. Late 2013, when I was doing lettering warm-ups in the morning, I realized that creating three-word lockups* seemed to be the easiest for me, especially to get my hands warmed up and ready to work. That eventually progressed into the idea of lettering three-word stories, or three-word sentences. From there, I’ve invited several friends to participate in the project and work on adding more myself.

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

I try to find about an hour in the mornings, ideally once a week, to create a new three-word story. However, there are some days I will start working on one, and the next thing I know, it’s lunchtime. I try to not work on any Three Word Stories beyond the sketch phase on days that I have deadlines, since I often find myself taking longer to create them than I expect. So I save the digitizing for days I don’t have a heavy workload or deadline, so that I can make sure I don’t rush through them.

Why have side projects?

I think side projects are a fantastic way to exercise your creative muscles. It gives you something to be passionate and excited about outside of your professional work. Since they only have limitations you have set yourself, it’s a great way to really push your skills and try new things. I love trying new techniques and lettering styles in my side project.


* Refers to how the words interact with each other and their placement.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn.


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


Donate to appreciate
I’m a part of CentUp’s community of Publishers (find out why). If you liked this lovingly-made post for a new addition to Design Feast’s Series, show your appreciation by clicking on the CentUp button below. You’ll have the opportunity to support my work, directly related to my long-term and intense labor of love—Design Feast, which includes this blog—and at the same time, support one of the great charities that CentUp works with. Your caring positively motivates me. Thank you for your consideration!

If you’re a first-time user of CentUp, you’ll be prompted to sign up.
For every new user, CentUp will give 100 cents to try their tool.