Category Archives: Inspiration

Great thoughts on the six things Derek Sivers wishes he learned before starting school at Berklee. Oh yeah, he also founded

What are some things you wish you learned before starting school or your job?

Just because something looks good doesn’t mean its useful. And just because something is useful does not make it beautiful.

Joshua Brewer

Think Google – amazingly simple and useful, but not beautifully designed.

There is a difference between usability and beautiful design. It can be ugly and usable or it can be beautiful and unusable.

Every once in a while you find something that is both usable and beautiful. For this: Think iPod.

When I was attending Truman State University, there were a few artists I looked up to because their work was amazing. One of those people was Suzy Williams! She can design, illustrate, printmake (is that a verb?), draw, and even fabricate (OK, really, she does fibers work… quilts and things)  Check out her portfolio.

I also noticed recently that she has started blogging. If you enjoy looking at great illustrations, check it out!

“You’ve got to crush it about the single thing YOU know best.”

Linchpin: GaryVee from Seth Godin on Vimeo.

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I ran across this documentary on Hulu about a  month ago. Lemonade tells the story of laid-off folks (mostly in advertising and creative fields) who are taking full advantage of all their extra free time. They are pursuing their true passions and finding so much joy in it. You might say that they are making lemonade out of lemons they’ve been handed in life.

Now it’s your turn!

What’s your lemonade story? Comment and share!


Check out the product on their website 


They photographed the page my quote is on! Click to view it larger.

Photo Credit goes to Brand New

Brand New Sketchbook

I got my ‘mystery product’ from Brand New today. It is a miniature sketchbook to continue sketching logos. I, along with the folks at Brand New believe strongly that great design starts with a sketch. The edges of each page contain a quote from various designers who contributed to this blog post on June 11, 2009.

I’m honored to be included in this, even if it is just a small sketchbook. Thanks Armin!

Oh yeah, Brand New has redesigned their website today! Check it out.

I got an email today from someone named Armin Vit. I was hovering over ‘mark as spam’ until I read the subject line.

Brand New Mystery Product

Now, for some reason this caught my attention as not being exactly spam (don’t ask me why). So I opened it.

If I have contacted you it means that we have included your quote (in our mystery product).

I almost forgot that a few weeks ago I contributed to a discussion on Brand New’s website. The discussion simply asked ‘Why do you sketch logos?’ and can be found here.

This is what I said:

I sketch on paper rather than the computer because when I use a computer to generate ideas, even the bad comps look good since they are in a polished, clean state. I get a false-sense of completeness when I jump to the computer too quickly. Sketching your ideas on paper removes any false sense that that particular idea is good simply because it’s kerned nicely.

They have created a ‘mystery product’ which includes a select 16-24 folks’ comments on why they sketch logos. I was chosen out of the more than 200 contributers.

The email also said that they are sending me a compliment ‘mystery product’. My guess is that it’s a small book or a poster of some sort. I’ll post a picture of the mystery product when I receive it!

I recently had a conversation with a good friend about design styles. The question was posed to me…

That begs the question….is it better to develop your own “style” that you become recognized by, or have an arsenal of styles to draw from to please your clients?  Both have valid arguments…

That’s a tough question.

I think a designer should provide the client with the best ‘solution’ for their particular design problem. That solution should transcend any particular ‘popular design trend’ but could have elements of various design trends and styles. I think designers come up with their own style from looking at great work and remembering what they felt was effective. The design solution should ultimately be the best one that reaches a particular target audience. So, really what a client ‘likes’ doesn’t matter so much as what reaches their target audience. Hopefully the client has their target audience in mind and there is no problem pleasing the client and reaching the target audience at the same time. That is part of the job of a designer: to educate folks about the design process.
There’s also an argument that says designers should show more than one solution for a design problem when presenting ideas to a client. I’ve read a lot that this just confuses the client and puts them in the role of ‘art director’. Really they should be advising and reminding us who their target audience is and answer all questions in terms of whether their target audience will respond to it. That’s why design ‘styles’ and ‘trends’ really aren’t the point.  It is true that everything does somehow fit into a particular style or trend but that is the nature of design and how we group things in our minds. Maybe a particular design style should be defined by what reaches a particular audience at this particular day, month or year. Therefore, when that design style changes it really is a reflection that what is reaching a particular audience has changed.

I’ve spent the last four months working on starting my own freelance business known as Creative Improv. It is a unique collaboration between myself and Michael, but also might include more folks in the future depending on the specific project (photographers & programmers). Michael and I would always tell each other, “you know we should start a design business”. Well that’s what we’re doing. I’m the designer while Michael is the creative director. Check out our website so far: – not much yet, but more is coming.

Creative Improv’s thought process is centered on the idea of simplicity that Jazz Bassist, Charles Mingus puts forth:

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.

Speaking of simplicity: This is one of the first concepts for the Creative Improv website.

click to view it larger!

Be sure to ‘follow’ creativeimprov on to keep up to date on the website progress and new projects we are doing!