January 31, 2015

Patronage Package 13 of Duly Discovered


Timeline: “Would You Like Some History with Your News?”
by Richard Procter

Slack: “Reporters, Designers, and Developers Become BFFs”
by Alisha Ramos


“A Voyage to South America: Andean Art in the Spanish Empire”
by Art Institute of Chicago

by Rob Brink


“Fashion China”
by Gemma A. Williams

“The Fifth Age of Work: How Companies Can Redesign Work
to Become More Innovative in a Cloud Economy”

by Andrew M. Jones

“The First Bad Man”
by Miranda July

“Exclusive First Read: Scott McCloud’s ‘The Sculptor’”
by NPR Books

“Through New Eyes: a Typographic Revolution”
by Will Moran

“Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat”
by John McQuaid

“How to Revive the Worn Out Cliché”
by Orin Hargraves

“The Indie Author Power Pack:
How to Write, Publish & Market Your Book”

by Sean Platt, Johnny Truant, David Gaughran

“Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction”
by Nathan Shedroff and Christopher Noessel


“At its Core, Warped Family Drama ‘Mommy’ is ‘A Story of Love’”
by Rachel Martin

“The Chief Executive Artist Bundle”
by Ondi Tominer

“The Must-See Documentaries for Designers & Artists”
by Javin Ladish

“Making Rye Pasta”
by Alder

“Nowhere to Call Home: a Tibetan in Beijing”
by Jocelyn Ford

“Diane Von Furstenberg: Inspirational Words
for Independent Women”


by Kerri Pang


Truss Chairs by Mi Workshop


“Our Dear, Departed Books”
by Tom Gauld

by Summer Pierre

Ribbon/pin/button for France’s National Day of Mourning
by Richard Wade Morgan

“The Impolite Gentleman”
by James Yang

by Jenelle Huddleston

“Art is Free: Responses to Charlie Hebdo”
by “The Atlantic magazine” Illustrators

In Memoriam

Colleen McCullough, Author

Rod McKuen, Songwriter

Ernie Banks, Baseball Player

Al Bendich, Defender of Free Speech

Jane Wilson, Painter

Stuart Scott, Sports Commentator


“Class Historian” by BRONCHO

“Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart

“Dengue Fever: Retro Pop, Cambodian Style” by Rachel Martin

“Medusa” by GEMS

“Open” by Rhye

“Wait” by M83

“Cruel” by St. Vincent

“The Times They Are A Changin’” by The Brothers & Sisters

“Smug” by Poliça

“Weekend” by Smith Westerns

“The Workplace” by Jim O’Rourke

“Tempest” by Lucius

“Come Walk With Me” by M.I.A.

“The Ballad of the Hanging Parcel” by Tiny Ruins

“Back, Baby” by Jessica Pratt

“The Scene Between” by The Go! Team

“To Here Knows When” by My Bloody Valentine

“Gathering Stories” by Jónsi

“Very Busy People” by The Limousines

“GMF” by John Grant

“J. Cole: ‘Ain’t Enough Of Us Trying’” by Microphone Check


“Our Big Bet for the Future” by Bill and Melinda Gates


“Further” by Brian Clark


by Erika Dufour

“10 summer days spent in New York City”
by Roth and Ramberg

Street Photography
by Micaela de Freitas

“Is this the Happiest Photo Ever Made?”
by Ben Cosgrove

“Women of Steel: LIFE with Female Factory Workers in World War II”
by Ben Cosgrove and Liz Ronk


“Sawdust & Dirt” by Michael Kline


Seven Interruptions: “The average person is interrupted 7 times
an hour at work”

Flag: “Tasteful ad on back of each photo allows free delivery of prints”


“Why the Workday is So Filled with Meetings”
by Yuki Noguchi

“In China, highly educated women
are mocked as a sexless ‘third gender’”

by Lily Kuo

“How to Fix the Oscars: Abolish Nominations”
by Adam Sternbergh

“This City is the Surprising No. 1 Place to Get a Job in America”
by Laurie Kulikowski

“Is Being a Writer a Job or a Calling?”
by Benjamin Moser and Dana Stevens

“Google’s Quest to Write the Rulebook for Interactive Design”
by Kyle VanHemert

“Homeless Man Encourages Others on the Streets to ‘Get Up’”
by Pamela Fessler

“Rising Football Star: Prepare for the Worst, Pray for the Best”
by Michel Martin

“Virtual Games Try to Generate Real Empathy for Faraway Conflict”
by James Delahoussaye

“17 Ridiculous SkyMall Products that You Need
to Buy Before It Closes”

by Sophie Kleeman

“Charleston’s Food Trucks”
by Holy City Sinner

“Urban Life in The 21st century”
by NPR Cities Project

“The Test: Why are Schools are Obsessed
with Standardized Testing—but You Don’t Have to Be”

by Anya Kamenetz

“We are Studiomates. Soon we will be Friends.”
by Tina Roth Eisenberg

“Russell Brand, Amanda Palmer, and Shepard Fairey
Get Bundled as a Filmmaker Shoots for Total Disruption”

by Jennifer Miller

“The Ten Most Popular Web Fonts of 2014”
by Type Wolf

“At 90, She’s Designing Tech for Aging Boomers”
by Laura Sydell

“5 Things You Need to Know about Xiaomi”
by Adriana Lee

“As Cities Push for Their Own Broadband,
Cable Firms Say Not So Fast”

by Frank Morris

“Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond”
by Katharine Q. Seelye

“When the Disruption Hits the Fan:
Why the New Republic Has to Stop Being So Conservative”

by Reid Hoffman

“A Timeline of Ramen Development”
by Karen Leibowitz

“One of Many: Why Job Seekers Don’t Stand Out”
by Chris Arnold

“Tate’s Digital Strategy 2013–15”
by Adam Wood

“What can make audio go viral? NPR experiments
with building earworms for social media”

by Eric Athas

“What Writers Can Learn from ‘Goodnight Moon’”
by Aimee Bender

“Beyond the ‘like’: What comes next in social measurement”
by John McDermott

“Pomplamoose 2014 Tour Profits (or Lack Thereof)”
by Jack Conte

“Advice for business owners ‘pursuing their passion’
from a bleeding heart veteran”

by Lime Red Studio

“Talking to tanner woodford about the chicago design museum”
by Design Applause

“Restaurateur to Introduce Salaries, Stable Schedules,
and Health Insurance for Employees”

by Bryce Covert

“‘Play Freely at Your Own Risk’: a history of adventure playgrounds,
which offer children the opportunity for no-rules recreation”

by Amy Fusselman

“Making Peace with Music that Everyone Loves but You”
by Spencer Kornhaber

“Max Temkin, Designer & Co-Creator of Cards Against Humanity”
by Will Shandling

“Selma was snubbed because the average Oscar voter
is a 63-year-old white man”

by Todd VanDerWerff

“How Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith Use Technology:
an Excerpt from ‘Process: the Writing Lives of Great Authors”

by Elisabeth Donnelly

“Get to Work: on the Best Advice Writers Ever Received”
by Sarah Anne Johnson

“Big Wins for ‘Transparent’ Make It Clear:
TV’s Undergoing a Revolution”

by Eric Deggans

“As Start-Up Strategies Evolve, So Does Role of a Business Plan”
by Eilene Zimmerman

“Brain Freeze” by Jeremy Gordon

“The Doctor Who Championed Hand-Washing
and Briefly Saved Lives”

by Rebecca Davis

“Haruki Murakami will take your questions
on cats, jazz, and the Nobel Prize”

by Heather Timmons

“Ellar Coltrane, Taking Notes on Life and Girls for ‘Boyhood’”
by Tamara Keith

“Exciting new ideas in space technology
are getting short-changed by Congress”

by Adam Wernick

“After a long, cold journey, NASA’s New Horizons probe
has Pluto in its sights”

by David Leveille

“Resolved: 7 creative habits for a pivotal year in design”
by Josh Clark

“How to Promote Yourself without Looking Like a Jerk”
by Dorie Clark

“Women of Woodworking”
by Katie Thompson

“Healthy Body, Unhealthy Mind” 
by Pico Iyer

“Gorgeous ‘Pillars of Creation’ Shine in New Hi-Def Hubble Photos”
by Macrina Cooper-White

“Why Your Own Intuition is the Most Powerful Force You Have”
by Nathan Furr

“Art Installation Opens Passage to a Different World”
by Steve Inskeep

“Why We Write, Why We Stop,
and How We Can Possibly Restart and Keep Going”

by Julianna Baggott

“Why are some people so good at persisting?”
by Nathan Kontny

“Different kinds of broken systems”
by Seth Godin

“The ‘Happy’ Phenomenon”
by Pharrell Williams

“Behind the Scenes: How Do I Get So Much Writing Done?”
by Gretchen Rubin

“When Life Hacks Go Too Far”
by Kristin van Ogtrop

• • •

See my series of tweeted food for thought.

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January 28, 2015

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Carol Neiger of GivingQuilts

What are you working on—on the side?

GivingQuilts is an eCommerce website for a group of people to create a personalized, handcrafted quilt. GivingQuilts employs a technology to create a quilt with inspirational quotes in each square—resulting in a special gift from a group of friends and family.

I started GivingQuilts after a close friend became ill. Her husband told me that cards and letters kept her going through the awful months of chemo, so I rallied friends and relatives to create a friendship quilt to comfort her through her illness and recovery. It was a complicated process! Seeing how moved my friend was by the quilt gave me an idea. I wanted to make giving a handcrafted, personalized group gift—easy for people spread all over the globe.

GivingQuilts redefines an American tradition by combining the best of two worlds: master craftspersonship with new technology. The love is still the same. People have formed GivingQuilts groups to honor and celebrate important events, like a new baby, graduation, achievement, retirement, or to show support for a loved one who is facing an illness. GivingQuilts are lovingly handmade in America—each step of the way: I create the fabric design and the typography for the quote squares, which are arranged on one sheet, and then sent to be printed digitally. After printing, the fabric is shipped to my quilter where it is cut, pieced, sewn, and quilted. In addition to the quilts, I added pillows and Challah covers to my product line, and letting the project grow organically by listening to my customers about products they want.

GivingQuilts is unique because it combines a collaborative project, created online, and combines technology with handcrafting. Groups of people have made collaborative quilts for close to two hundred years. Friendship Quilts, also known as Signature Quilts, have been popular since the 1840s when they commemorated relationships left behind as families migrated westward. Often a square would contain a personal note, a poem, or a verse, along with the maker’s name. The recipients, many of whom would never see their families again, passed the quilts down to their children. This tradition has been carried on by asking individuals to send squares by mail in order to create a complete quilt, but as anyone who has tried to coordinate a Friendship Quilt knows, it’s a difficult job to get proper size squares back in a timely fashion. And then someone has to actually make the quilt!

I love to make the complex simple, and GivingQuilts makes this lovely tradition easy for all involved, and takes the responsibility off any one person in a group. To start a quilt, one person (the quilt coordinator) initiates the project, selects the color and size, and invites people to participate–all is automated. No one else does this the way I do—supplying original fabrics, color schemes, quotes, and the skilled people to make this happen, all on one easy-to-use website.

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

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs
and developing our wings on the way down.”
—Kurt Vonnegut, “If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young”

It was a long process to develop the products and website, and I had a lot of input and help from my team and developer at NeigerDesign. But, I work primarily on my side project during evenings and weekends. I wrote a business plan, a marketing strategy, and use tools like DropboxMindjet’s MindManagerTrello, to schedule and organize all of the aspects of GivingQuilts from new product development to marketing activities.

I am not a quilter, so finding the right quilter was one of the biggest challenges. I interviewed more than thirty quilters to find the right individual. I needed someone who had outstanding skills, but also who could expand as needed, and who took the business seriously. I found that person, Marybeth Tawfik, on LinkedIn after an exhaustive search on quilting clubs and associations.

Why have a side project?

Artists and designers are passionate people. Creative individuals have a constant flow of ideas. I have always been a huge advocate of the sketchbook (mine are of the hardcover variety and over 9 x 12 inches) and use it in three primary ways: to record new ideas, to develop design solutions, and as an initial step for selecting which ideas to execute. GivingQuilts was one idea that made it out of the sketchbook!

I also see GivingQuits as a way to support my other passion—my fine arts practice (example above). Materials, like oil paints and canvases, are expensive, so I like the idea of developing a side project that has the potential to bring in additional revenue, free of time requirements and the constraints of design consulting.

“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.”
―Leonardo da Vinci

• • •

Diptych and sample artwork courtesy of Carol Neiger.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.

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

Please consider supporting Design Feast
If you liked this lovingly-made interview, show your appreciation by helping to support my labor of love—Design Feast, which proudly includes this blog. Learn more.

January 27, 2015

Don’t be shy at making a body of work: Fashion Designer Maria Pinto at 37th CreativeMornings in Chicago

Fashion Designer Maria Pinto (left) spoke at the first 2015 gathering of the Chicago chapter of the CreativeMornings community on January 23. She was interviewed, on stage, by CreativeMornings/Chicago Host Kim Knoll of Knoed Creative.(1)

This date happens to coincide with creative icons born during the week, notably: David Lynch, Paul Cezanne, and Francis Bacon. Selected quotes from each on creativity are interwoven into this write-up.

Body of work

Pinto gave frequent emphasis to art, stemming from her studying at the Art Institute of Chicago. This emphasis also related directly to her reunion with painting. Her connection with art is crucial to her process of conceiving and executing a new fashion collection. I recalled my binge watching of “Project Runway” episodes. In this reality-TV series, the finalists complete a fashion collection—a process that to a fashion designer is like writing a novel to a writer. It is a seamless, compelling narrative, without potholes—or “little bastards” as Pinto labeled—fracturing the aesthetic flow. A fashion collection is a vision realized. Its process is a tightrope. In regards to fashion—the clothes and culture, Pinto evoked the words “instinct,” “reason,” “message,” and “show.” These characterize a body of work, in fashion-design parlance, a collection.

From podcaster James Altucher, in his “Lessons learned after interviewing 80 highly successful people”: “A life is measured in decades.” A corollary could be that a career is measured in bodies of work. This is art pursued as much as possible, as long as possible. It is the pursuit of “some strangeness in the proportion” as the philosopher Francis Bacon (born January 22) claimed: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.” It is the pursuit of “realizing sensations” as the painter Paul Cezanne (born January 19) claimed: “Painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing sensations.” Strangeness. Sensations. These factors adhere naturally to Pinto’s points in doing work that one envisions with ease and craves to execute.

In addition to painting, Pinto steered openness to the influence of art in other forms. For one collection, Pinto was influenced by the monumental sculptures of Richard Serra. In another, the films of Sofia Coppola were influential. In her current work, Pinto is inspired by architecture, particularly that of Chicago-based Jeanne Gang, and technology. Art is gleaned from expected—and unexpected—sources. Pioneering fashion designer Coco Chanel believed, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” Filmmaker David Lynch (born January 20) corroborated with: “When you’re an artist, you pick up on certain things that are in the air. You just feel it. It’s not like you’re sitting down, thinking, ‘What can I do to really mess things up?’ You’re getting ideas, and then the ideas feed into a story, and the story takes shape. And if you’re honest about it and you’re thinking about characters and what they do, you now see that your ideas are about trouble. You’re feeling more depth, and you’re describing something that is going on in some way.”

Influence of art

Throughout her interview, Pinto expressed a proactive affinity with openness to sources that may unfold in influence to help diversify one’s creativity and bond potentially with one’s sensibility. This combined effect could be beneficial. This coheres exactly with a blog post by designer Josh Clark who wrote about his resolutions for a “pivotal year.” Clark resolved to look at more art, as he put it: “Walking through a museum or art gallery is electrifying to me. I love to see this collected result of hard creative work and thought, especially in a different discipline than my own. I imagine the problem the artist was trying to address, the process they took to solve it, how many different routes they might have attempted in getting there. I arrive at museums with a big goofy grin on my face in museums. I leave wanting to make.”

Art of self

During the question-and-answer portion, Pinto gave a direct if-then statement when asked about assessing a cumulative body of work done over time: “If you don’t like what you do, then no one else will do.” This speaks to like-mindedness. It also instructs one to commit to one’s work, to believe in it, in a manner that only the creator, the fashion designer, the artist… can do—honestly. Good work can be described as honesty unleashed.

At the 35th CreativeMornings/Chicago gathering, humanitarian rap artist Jessica Disu, a.k.a. FM Supreme, spoke to this quality of honesty when one is true to her/himself. She shared what one of her teachers told her. It proved to be a life-shaping directive: “You have to keep moving, no matter what happens. Whatever you are going to do, do it seriously. Because you owe it to yourself.” This echoes Pinto’s push to like your work by liking yourself.

(1) CreativeMornings/Chicago Host Kim Knoll previously interviewed Sign Painter Ches Perry and his son, Alex Perry, on stage at the 32nd CreativeMornings in Chicago. Read my write-up.

• • •

Soundtrack while writing:
“Seven Horses” by Jonathan Rado
“Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem
“Queen” by Perfume Genius
“Wash.” by Bon Iver
“Natural One” by Shearwater
“Wheelgunner (Dub)” by Justin Martin & Ardalan
“Cleopatra” by Weezer
“Magic Bus” by The Who
“Delia” by Bob Dylan
“Stuck Together Pieces” by Atoms For Peace
“Get Well” by Nothing
“Silver Timothy” by Damien Jurado
“I Love It” by Icona Pop
“Bad Vibrations” by The Black Angels
“Live Room” by Tim Hecker

• • •

Big thanks: to Morningstar (Host), BraintreeVitamin T, Green Sheep Water, for being Partners of Chicago CreativeMornings #37; to organizer Kim Knoll and operations manager Kyle Eertmoed of Knoed Creative, who spoke at Chicago CreativeMornings #7; to the team of volunteers—Keith Mandley II, Neftali Morales, Talia Eisenberg, Benjamin Derico, Erick De La Rosa, Chris Gallevo, Kyle Newton, all—for greatly helping to make CreativeMornings happen in Chicago.

• • •

• • •

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

Please consider supporting Design Feast
If you liked this lovingly-made write-up, show your appreciation by helping to support my labor of love—Design Feast, which proudly includes this blog. Learn more.

January 26, 2015

A partner-publisher in the world of books: Genevieve DeGuzman of Night Owls Press

It was from discovering the book “The Fifth Age of Work” by Andrew M. Jones that I found out about its publisher, Night Owls Press. Their interests in topics like “work and business innovation” plus “D-I-Y culture and the collaborative economy” coincide with mine. Furthermore, they’re a small and independent press. Here, its Co-Founder and Managing Editor, Genevieve DeGuzman, gives her opinions on writing, editing, publishing, and the timelessness of books in both printed and digital forms:

On being a publisher of books:

Delighted to discover your business of Night Owls Press—Congratulations on your fifth year!—and liken your co-finding a book-publishing company to finding a type foundry. How did you arrive at the desire and decision to realize Night Owls Press?
We started the book imprint back in 2011. Before that, Night Owls Press was mostly me doing freelance editing and ghostwriting, odd jobs, and scattered projects here and there. As a free agent, I was fortunate enough to work on various book projects for a wave of startups and fellow entrepreneurs. From there, it seemed like a natural, organic step to forge ahead with our own publishing experiment. Our first book on coworking was born, “Working in the UnOffice,” and then eventually we started the imprint—our catalog.

Why start a book-publishing company 
in our Web-based and digital times?
As a publisher, we don’t really buy into the feud between print or digital, because we’ve always done both. To us, an e-book or paperback are just different formats. I personally enjoy producing both, with a slight preference for print. Digital books are convenient because you have the immediacy and the portability. And the margins for a publisher and author are better. Print books, however, are timeless. You can’t flip or browse through an e-book the way you can a print book. And there’s something intangibly pleasurable about paper. It’s the physicality and heft. You can sort of annotate e-books, but you can’t dog-ear pages or write in the margins. When reading an e-book, I miss the delights of creating my own marginalia. On a more practical level, a lot of our authors use their books to market their own services, or to promote their own work or research. Frankly, it means more to give a physical book to someone at a networking event or a conference than it is to e-mail them a PDF.

I think the more relevant question is whether a small press can survive in a world dominated by self-publishing and the big publishing houses. Are small presses even relevant anymore? I think so. Basically we consider ourselves filling a much needed gap. We are “partner publishers,” providing the end-to-end support of traditional publishing (editing and content development, production and distribution, marketing, and sales) with the independence of self-publishing. We are “all-in” when we work with authors, just like a traditional publisher, but with a lot more hands-on care and attention. We essentially become co-investors in the projects we take on.

Logo of Night Owls Press designed by Michael Kostuchenko

Concerning news related to book publishing, there was the Amazon story, foundation of self-publishing, advancement of eBooks and eBook software and readers, what are your takes on the evolving “landscape” of making and selling books?
I think self-publishing has empowered a lot of authors, which is a wonderful thing, but it also has downsides. It’s made it easier to publish, which unfortunately has led to a lot of knee-jerk, quick-to-market products where the quality is just lacking. People underestimate the time and care it takes to produce a good book. It can be a resource drain and expensive (especially if you’re hiring professional freelance editors and designers). When working with a press, prospective authors get a range of built-in editorial support for their manuscript, as well as distribution and marketing support for the book once it’s out.

Being a published author and seasoned editor, what are some of your must-dont’s to help writers, especially those who don’t have access to an editor, be better at writing, and to help editors be better at editing?
My advice: If you’re going to self-publish, don’t try to do it all. It has nothing to do with intrinsic skills or talent. Get help. When you’re still in the draft stage, hire an editor and make sure you hire the right kind of editor (most people need a developmental or content editor, and later a copyeditor and proofreader, not to mention a book designer and a publicist).

Some people don’t want to deal with the business of developing a manuscript, designing a book, figuring out distribution platforms, publicity, and sales. It can be overwhelming and time-consuming. One of our goals when working with authors is to help free up their time. With an editorial team behind them, authors can just focus on their content, to bring out the best book that shows off their expertise.

The critical part for me as a book editor is making sure that expertise comes through in a compelling, engaging way. The main problem with a lot of the raw manuscripts I see is that they’re usually too statement-focused. They read like manifestos without any real narrative center and progression of ideas. In these cases, the prose tends to be shock-and-awe, declarative, the writing full of strings of ideas that don’t really coalesce and go anywhere. Authors often come to us with manuscripts that have been cobbled together from blog posts or hasty drafts. Turning that body of work into a book is a complex process. As an editor, I help authors build that necessary narrative arc, that progression of points and ideas.

To strengthen a manuscript, I often advise authors to do research, to interview experts or practitioners in the field they’re writing in, for example, and to include those experiences. Really it all comes down to stories. Stories really do make a big difference as vehicle for information and ideas. I can’t emphasize enough how important narrative color and drama are to the reading experience, even in a how-to book or guide.

Books edited, published, and promoted by Night Owls Press

Who and/or what do you look up to as sources of motivation 
and guidance in your work as a book publisher?
We really admire the trailblazers in the hybrid publishing world like She Writes Press, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love what they’re doing with their authors and admire the reach they have.

Can you give a tour of how an idea gets real? For example, please pick one of your books in your catalog. What were the steps and tools used to materialize it?
Whew. It’s a long process, a journey. We talk at length about our publishing process here.

What is advantageous about being a small 
and independent press? 
Wonderful question. We also address this in detail in our blog post “Why Authors Should Publish with a Small Press.”

On creativity and working:

One of my residual resolutions is to read books. Impressive that you are a highly avid reader. How did you discover books? And how do you manage to be an active reader of books?
Reading is such a pleasure for me that it’s hardly a matter of making time for it. I often have to schedule time away from reading. I joke and call myself a “homebody with a wanderer’s soul.” In a cheesy way, reading lets me be that. I’ve committed to being a regular book reviewer on Goodreads and LibraryThing too, so that encourages me to read and get more involved in conversations around books.

Most people don’t know this about me, but I’m a chronic re-reader. The first-time I read a book or an article, I read for sheer pleasure, often at a quick pace. In this reading mode, I’m usually just an observer, a sponge. The second time, or even the third time around, if it’s a favorite work, I read to discover, mull over, extract. Good writing is never accidental; it’s earnestly deliberate. There are effects and subtexts the writer wants to convey—even if we’re not consciously aware of them (probably more apparent in fiction than nonfiction). Usually I’ll find that I gain some new insight with each re-reading. Life experience and age filters reading differently; something that moved me in a certain way at 22 moved me in a different way when I turned 35.

Was there a part of your work that was particularly trying, 
and how did you deal with it?
I can be annoyingly self-critical when it comes to editing, but I’m much worse when it comes to my personal writing projects (mostly fiction). It can get to a point where the self-deprecation is no longer charming but paralyzing. There’s a common saying among neurotic creative types, especially writers: “you simultaneously think your work is absolute crap, but at least it’s better than anybody else’s crap.”

As a creative entrepreneur or freelancer, it’s important to learn how to harness that roller coaster of emotions and self-doubt. (A good school of thought for entrepreneurs is Stoicism. Tim Ferriss has a great post on this.) I try to stay grounded by facing my deepest fears head on—mulling over the worst-case scenarios in my head—and nurturing an instinct for what I can control and can’t. The kind of anxieties and fears experienced by entrepreneurs have their roots in uncertainty, they say. Uncertainty is probably the biggest downside of running your own business and a deterrent to many who want to start a business. It’s not easy accepting risks.

Whenever I start to feel that tickle of frustration or fear or worry, I dwell on what we’ve achieved and how far we’ve come. It’s always going to be an upward climb, and the idea is to learn how to enjoy those obstacles and challenges. Come on, smooth-sailing is boring anyway.

How do you stay creative? 
Obsessive documentation. Compulsive note-taking. Keeping an open mind. After all, creativity is simply making connections between disparate parts.

Along with reading, I write and note-take on a regular basis. I’ve joined several writing groups online and in person to encourage me to write, to keep stoking the fire. Everyone should keep a notebook. Personally, it helps me keep a handle on the swirl of information and perceptions I have, all the half-worlds of stories and ideas that often get lost in the day to day. Later, I can take those notes and work them out on the page. Most of the things I write never see the light of day or are ever shared, but sometimes there are winners. And I live for those hardscrabble, hard-won gems.

Staying creative also means not being a slave to the cult of serendipity and inspiration; it’s not always about the endorphin rush. Staying creative means working through mental blocks or bad moods. As a writer, that means writing even when the words aren’t flowing, even when writing a sentence feels like pulling blood from a stone. In practical terms, that means setting daily goals and putting in the necessarily mileage. (“500 words a day is a good day.”) Sometimes—most of the time—it means producing work that will make you shudder and fill you with self-loathing, but I’ve learned to work past that. The real writing is in the rewriting and editing anyway. First drafts are necessary precursors of getting ideas trapped in your head down on paper. I try not to put too much pressure on myself at this stage. That frees me up creatively.

How important is it for you to follow your instincts?
Very important. The gut is our other less celebrated brain. It deserves to be listened to. Sometimes the top brain, with its constant chatter and over-thinking, needs to be put on mute. Go with your instincts.

If a person approached you and said, “I want to be a book publisher. How do I become one?”, what’s your response?
“You must be a masochist!” Just kidding, sort of. Publishing is a tough business. You need to know editorial, production, distribution, and marketing. Because there are so many moving parts, publishing is highly collaborative; you’re only as good as your teams and the people you work with, from editors and designers to printers and publicists. It’s also important to master the tools of the trade like Word, Pages, InDesign, and Photoshop, and to understand the basic principles of good book design.

Cover art iterations with illustrators Monkey + Seal

You also need to have a proficiency and passion for communication, language, and rhetoric on paper. Doing all these things by the seat of our pants was a big mistake in our evolution as a press in the early days—and we’re still continually learning. Finally, it helps tremendously if you’ve worked in the business either at a literary agency, publishing house, editorial firm, or bookseller.

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All images courtesy of Genevieve DeGuzman.

• • •

Directly related: Designer and Novelist Elaine Chen on pursuing the architecture of writing

• • •

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

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January 22, 2015

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Skot Waldron of Locurean

What are you working on—on the side?

I was approached, a little over a year ago, by my now Locurean business partner Whit Whitmire about an idea he’s had for a long time. I had no idea at the time that Whit was the land/agriculture/cattle buff he is, until I got to know him and see him in action. His family owns Brasstown Beef, a cattle farm that supplies all-natural, antibiotic, hormone-free pastured beef and pork. He began talking to me about all of the “problems” within the local farming, food, and drink industry. Indeed, he was greatly frustrated by the failings of the resources available—or lack thereof—for simply finding and connecting with conscious, responsible suppliers/vendors of the food and beverage products we want.

We’re tired of spending our time Googling search terms in hopes of discovering producers nearby. We don’t want to wade through the endless string of websites that boast “local” or “farm-to-table,” but no list of a single farm. We don’t want to waste our time on multiple user-UNfriendly, exclusionary, or crowd-sourced websites and listings characterized sharply by a lack of curatorial management.

I’m no farming/food expert like my pal, Whit, that is, unless liking good food makes me one, and yes, being born and raised in the South has made me appreciate the culture of food that much more. Just listening to what Whit had to say caused me to look at the industry in a new way. Not to mention, it was a great business idea. So, I jumped on board. We formed the partnership and got moving with idea generation and scoping out exactly what Locurean would be.

From local farms, markets, restaurants and supper clubs to distilleries, breweries, vineyards and much more, we look forward to offering the first comprehensive and holistic platform for finding businesses and organizations dedicated to the production, use, and support of local food and drink.

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

The way I manage everything else—with iCal.

Seriously, it took some time to figure it out, but it’s definitely doable. Takes some understanding from all parties involved. Communication is huge.

Why have side projects?

At Multiple, Inc., we have the opportunity to work with clients in all kinds of industries. So, we kind of know our way around a lot of different “things.” A side project is just one more way to learn about a different “thing.” Plus, when it makes a difference, all the better. Oh wait, and sometimes it can make you more money too. Sometimes.

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Diptych courtesy of Skot Waldron.

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Read more about the joy of side projects.

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

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January 14, 2015

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Brandon Keelean’s Together+

What are you working on—on the side?

Right now, I’m in the middle of creating a children’s book addressing the stigma of HIV in communities throughout South Africa titled “Growing Together.” I wrote the book alongside Jacqueline Hull and am working with a wonderful illustrator, Jenelle Huddleston. The book tells the story of Khulani, a young caterpillar ostracized at his new school because of his disease. Khulani is HIV-positive like more than 6 million people in South Africa, and he struggles to find acceptance among the other bugs who mistakenly believe his disease is a curse. The story culminates in a school-wide soccer match during which Khulani is finally able to prove himself. With the guidance of the school headmaster, Fr. Mantis, the other bugs come to understand they should treat Khulani with the respect he deserves.

The book is an initiative created as part of Together+, and is actually the second in a series. The first, titled “Blooming Together,” was written by two of my former classmates at Notre Dame and tells the story of four flowers whose journeys parallel those of refugees living in South Africa.

Together+ started as a campaign created by my classmates and myself at the request of the Johannesburg-based Kgosi Neighbourhood Foundation while I was still a student at Notre Dame. Since then, it has expanded into an organization that helps facilitate design-driven projects to improve communities.

Right now, we’re working on a project to address poor indoor air quality due to combustion heating—a serious issue in poorer Johannesburg neighborhoods and throughout the world. The World Health Organization has a great primer on the subject if you want to learn more.

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

I have a great team. I couldn’t do it without them. In addition to Jacqueline and Jenelle, I work directly with my former design professor Robert Sedlack; Paul Horn, Executive Director of Kgosi Neighbourhood Foundation; Andréa Pellegrino, a social impact strategist and principal at Pellegrino Collaborative; and Jimena Holguin, Program Manager for Community-based Research at Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. When life gets busy or I run out of capacity, I always have people to fall back on.

Over the years, countless others have been involved in this project. There are too many people to list individually, but Together+ owes many thanks to our partner organizations in South Africa who have supported us, including Cotlands, Médecins Sans FrontièresAfrican Center for Migration and Society at the University of the Witswatersrand, Dominican Convent School, and The Catholic Institute for Education.

I also owe thanks to Sappi and their Ideas That Matter program. Together+ was awarded $40,000 in September to cover the material and production costs for “Growing Together.”

Why have side projects?

It’s uncommon that a project touches your heart, but this one did. And it continues to keep me grounded in the realities of the world. I have been fortunate enough to travel to South Africa four times, for up to two months at a time, and it has been wonderful to connect deeply with the community in Jeppestown, a neighborhood of Johannesburg and where Kgosi Neighbourhood Foundation is located. The community faces challenges, sure. All communities do, and some of the situations community members face are heartbreaking. But the people I’ve met have some of the most uplifting spirits you could imagine. It’s incredibly rewarding to work alongside a community so full of life and positivity. They are my motivation.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Brandon Keelean.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.

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

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January 9, 2015

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Mr. Walters’ Nerfect

What are you working on—on the side?

As a full-time working artist, I personally don’t see any particular project being on the side. At one time in the past, when I worked as a graphic designer for various agencies, I guess I could’ve considered any creative enterprise, personal and such, a side project.

These days, either by intent or luck, I create work in a variety of disciplines, and what naturally comes out of me, what I’m interested in, is what I exhibit in gallery shows, and the items I mass-produce are those I sell at various events, venues, and via retail relationships.

I guess, based on where we first came into contact, we could say that my brand of artistic novelties, Nerfect, might be considered a side project of sorts, and at one time, when I had regular jobs, it was. In this brand, I developed a variety of wares featuring my artwork and characters, including t-shirts, stickers, buttons, toys, etc.

Many artists might see such an enterprise as a side project, a necessary part of funding their major projects, but I see it as an equal avenue to explore ideas. It’s an affordable and accessible way for people to bring some of my artwork home.

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

When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually explain that I work on a handful of different jobs just to make ends meet, and this is the truth. I usually have a lot of projects that I’m working on for my own enterprises or for a client, and they tend to overlap time-wise. I gave up the luxury of actual free time ages ago, when I decided to strike out on my own, so I’m pretty much on the clock all the time.

I keep a pretty detailed calendar at home, and am a huge fan of being able to jot things down as they come to mind, or if I discover something outside. I’m never without a Field Notes book, which I use to sketch out ideas, note take, and to recreationally draw in.

I also keep a couple Word files on my desktop of my ideas and goals. Every couple days, I’ll add to them, review and reorganize things. It helps me keep myself organized, to know what I need to get done for the week, and sometimes the process helps me revaluate if that brilliant idea I had a couple weeks ago, still is strong, or if it can be put on hold.

At the end of the day, I’m not one of those creative types that has a ritualized schedule that yields creativity. It’s the variety of personal experiences and unexpected discoveries which helps get that part of my brain working. Being able to document and organize your ideas is the key to keeping everything working for me.

Why have side projects?

As a creative person, it is just in my nature to be working on things. The creative process, and the happiness that comes from completing a successful project, is what I love. I don’t understand how people go through life without something like this.

The act of making things and taking up personal projects on the side can also transform you. You learn things about yourself and find alternatives to the journey you take through life. Very few people come across that thing that changes their life, playing it safe and doing simply what is expected of them.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Mr. Walters. Photo taken during Show of Hands 2014 of his Field Notes spread.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.

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

Please consider supporting Design Feast
If you liked this lovingly-made interview, show your appreciation by helping to support my labor of love—Design Feast, which proudly includes this blog. Learn more.