Category Archives: My Life

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 was recently browsing a few of my past Visual Communication professor’s websites. I found my work highlighted in their ‘student work’ section. Check them out here.

http://bethsteffel.com/html/studentweb5.html (live site here)
http://bethsteffel.com/html/studentweb6.html (live site here)
Beth now teaches in San Bernardino, CA at California State University

I also found my ‘yes we can’ Obama video on Gary’s website.

http://www.garyrozanc.com/index.php?id=403 (see the whole series here and here)
Gary just started at Truman last Fall and is probably best Viscom professor I’ve ever had.

It’s humbling to see your professors highlighting your work on their website. Always a nice surprise when I randomly come across it.

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: http://creativeimprov.com – 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 Twitter.com to keep up to date on the website progress and new projects we are doing!

from left - Home Storage Solutions magazine cover, 'Stack Your Storage' magazine spread, Table of Contents

from left – Home Storage Solutions magazine cover, ‘Stack Your Storage’ magazine spread, Table of Contents

A few days ago I received a package in the mail. The package was from Dave Stone at Workbench Magazine. It contained the magazine that I spent all summer conceptualizing, branding, designing and redesigning. I had so much anticipation during the past 4 months about what it would be like to finally get the printed copy of the magazine. If you are a designer, you know the feeling of getting to see your design work finished and printed.

From the beginning of the summer, I sometimes doubted my ability to take on such a large project. After all, it was 100 pages and I was charged with the task of designing and redesigning every article in it. Beyond that I got to come up with an overall brand and style that could be used throughout.

I got to work with the amazing Doug Appleby. He’s an assistant art director at Workbench and a pretty awesome photographer as well. He challenged me to never settle for less. This usually meant designing 15-20 versions of a single magazine spread. I must have learned something, because by the last week of work, when we were putting together the table of contents, it only took about 5 versions – with a few tweaks.

If you want to see a preview of the magazine, check out http://www.woodsmithstore.com/w0901a.html

Check out this blog post – “An Amazing Summer So Far“. It was when I first started my internship at August Home Publishing.

I have been excited about my chance to vote in this election. I visited McCain and Obama’s website almost every day along with watching numerous CNN news videos and reading stories to keep on the campaigns. I was ready to vote.

I registered in Adair County on October 8. I filled out my registration form with help from voteforchange.com. I had printed the form and was walking from the library on campus to the County Clerk’s office downtown. On my way there I saw a table on the quad that had people registering students to vote and they said they would be turning in all the forms.  Keyword being ‘all’. So I turned in my form to them. I haven’t thought much about registering since October 8 because I assumed I was registered. I had no idea that they usually send a voter ID card, so I wasn’t expecting one. November 4th at around 1:30pm I drove across town to the ‘Moose Lodge’ to cast my vote. I wasn’t on the list or in their palm pilot of registered voters in Adair County. I then drove to the County Clerk’s office to see if they had my form just laying around. No such luck.

The County Clerk told me that there have been many problems with getting registration cards back from the organizations on campus that asked for blank ones. She even said that a group that registered people at HyVee hadn’t turned in even one registration card.

I turned to leave only to run into two more Truman students who were there for the same exact reason.

I spent the rest of the day letting various media outlets know what injustice had just occurred. I wrote a letter to the editor in the INDEX, e-mailed the professor in charge of the INDEX who said they would a story on it (found here). I also sent a news tip to the TV Station in town – KTVO. I was promptly contacted to be interviewed on camara by them. KTVO told my story on the 5:00 news, 6:00 news and the 10:00 news. They showed different video clips of my interview  on each newscast. The 10:00 clip was the best, because it showed how excited I was to vote.

I even tried casting a provisional ballot, but was told by the County Clerk that even if I did, my vote would not be counted since I didn’t have a registration card filled out.

Lesson learned: When it comes to college organizations, don’t rely on them for anything that is remotely important to you.

I’ve sent my résumé to twenty places. Five have told me they aren’t hiring. Two have told me I don’t have enough experience. The rest haven’t responded to any correspondences I’ve initiated.

You might be wondering why I’ve titled this post ‘Great Opportunities’. Here’s why:

This week I was contacted by a place I didn’t even apply to (because I didn’t know there was an opening). They would like to interview me for a web developer position. I had a phone interview Friday and will soon have a video conference interview.

Also this week, I was called by Jeff at StandPoint Communication. He heard about me from Todd, a guy I used to work for at Web Services. He would like to partner with my new company (more on that very soon!) to offer graphic/web design services to his clients. But the real kicker, his clients are people like previous Miss USA’s or celebrities who are now motivational speakers. He mentioned, “If say Miss America 1975 calls me and wants a website, I will say ‘hey, call stephen’.” And so there I am talking to Miss America 1975… and that’s where my new company comes in. I won’t say any more about it at this point.

and… my birthday is coming up. These are great birthday presents. ha!

Exciting times.

My last semester has started and I’m taking Advanced Motion Graphics, Advanced Digital Graphics, Chemistry and Internet Programming. For Adavanced Digital Graphics we had to photograph each letter/number in any category we chose. I decided to photograph architectural things, mostly in alleys and outside. The gallery below shows my results. Please note that the thumbnails are cropped wrong, so to get a better feel for them view them at full size.

Bloggers often talk about news stories/write their own opinions on a certain national story/issue. I have even heard news anchors mention the blogosphere and the shear number of bloggers who will write about big news stories. Well, recently I’ve experienced this same phenomenon at a very personal/local level. But unlike some bloggers who rant and rant about their narrow-minded opinions, this splash in the local blogosphere was made for all the right reasons.

Blogging is a way to tell your side of the story in a situation that would be difficult to confront otherwise. It also is a way to tell what you know to be true, even if others are saying otherwise. I experienced this in the past when I expressed my thoughts about pledging/depledging a certain fraternity. Although my situation did have some backlash, it was a way to let people know what I thought.

So when a community of believers experience something that they don’t believe is right or warranted, blogging is an outlet for them to tell friends, via their blog, their feelings and what they see as the truth in the matter. I find it especially interesting that this small community of bloggers has embraced Michael/Melissa and express to the world what they know in their heart is the truth. So to summarize this recent phenomenon in my local blogosphere here are the thoughts on the situation at hand:

To summarize my thoughts on the matter. I haven’t been living in Fredericktown for the past three years to experience things to the fullest, but I have been friends/student of Michael since 7th grade, and I know he is the hardest worker, best musician, funniest person I’ve ever met. That’s what makes this situation so difficult because there has been silence from one side over the whole matter. I really want to understand the MH side of the situation, but with a lack of openness on their end it makes me question things. Michael has been up-front with me and open, and so I have to rely on reason and logic and know that he did nothing worth what was dealt to him.

And so, there you have it… my thoughts from 500 miles away from the situation. I hope I’ve positively added to the conversation that others have written about.

Two weeks ago I began an internship at August Home Publishing. I think I’ve learned more about layout and design in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. Doug Appleby is the Assistant Art Director for Workbench magazine. He is the greatest designer I’ve ever worked with and for. He always knows how to push me to do more with my design, and his ideas never fail to work. Although, unlike professors I’ve had, he doesn’t tell me exactly what to change, he inspires me to see what I do and don’t like and we end up agreeing on what should be changed. Check out his website. He has some great photography.

Workbench magazine is one of five that August Home publishes. It is the only magazine that was not started by August Home, but was bought a few years ago. It is the only one of the woodworking magazines they publish that is changing their target audience to the 25-40, male AND female crowd.

Workbench is different now, because its look and feel is very similar to what you see on TLC. Before this switch in audiences, something like putting type on a vertical path or something on an angle would set people on edge… and I’ve heard that it sometimes still does. But to design for Workbench is to really understand the audience of younger male/females.

Something besides all horizontal text, white-bread photography and cluttered pages is needed to reach this audience. So, white-space, unique info-graphics, and innovative spreads are my best friend this Summer. My job is to redesign about fifteen articles that have been previously published in the past 4-5 years. These will be in a new book coming out in January of home-improvement articles about home storage. I’ve got two articles 90% done.

The design process at Workbench is a push and pull to go further with design and really get in touch with the audience, and also uphold the tradition of the magazines at August Home Publishing. I can’t wait for my first layout meeting with the art directors and the company president. It shall be interesting.

Oh, I also met Senator Obama two days ago. I shook his hand-how cool is that?!?! Check out my photo album from the Obama Rally!

I’ve got website projects in all stages of production. A recent website project for Truman Media Network (TMN) is being programmed right now http://transfer20.truman.edu. My goal for TMN was to make it very accessable to visitors. I took many cues from CNNs website.  Also this was a test in “making a website with an existing logo that isn’t very well designed” The best thing to do is to use much whitespace around the logo and let it stand for itself, and don’t try to hide it with texture background or large graphics near it.

My two websites for my portfolio are now done. The two clients I decided on were a church in st. louis and a blues guitarist The audience for each is drastically different, and I hope the design depicts this. There’s also a mini-site for the church for their three week message series titled “Questions” With the blues guitarist I tried making it distinctly different from another guitarist website I made.

I’ve got another freelance client that wants a website, logo, brochure, banner for their drug prevention coalition, Putnam County Partners in Prevention. This will have to wait until after finals week in order to start brainstorming.

Meadow Heights also needs a website redesign, which I need to get done with… Why do I never have enough time for everything? haha

Today I presented in Advertising about a proposed “Students for McCain” website that Anshu (group partner) and I felt was needed for McCain. The website is here. I suggest watching the videos, especially the one about everything that is younger than McCain, such as the golden gate bridge, velcro, mcdonalds… and on and on. Get this, Dick Cheney is even younger than McCain.

Another website/poster campaign that just went live is for “Information Security Awareness” This has been a semester long project to create posters and the website.

In about a week I will be moved in near Des Moines, preparing for my first day of work at August Home!!! SO EXCITED.