After a nice month off, the fall season is officially here for the blog. Upcoming posts will include some more recaps of the past month, and what better way to kick it all off than with a recap of the past summer? This summer marked the first Summer Interview Series, and a huge Thanks! is in order to all who participated. Below are links to each week’s featured creative…and stay tuned for future interviews. Cheers!
I first met Jeff while acting as Social Media Chair for AIGAKC. Jeff saw a real need for design education in Guatemala and has been recruiting creative professionals to help Guatemalan youth ever since through Design4Kids. After learning about the program, I asked him to contribute to our Discussions blog, and I am honored that he agreed to participate this year in my Summer Interview Series.Â Aside from his involvement with Design4Kids, Jeff also works as a designer and photographer.
How did you become aware of the need for a program like Design4Kids in Guatemala?
In October of 2006, I was surfing the web looking for programs that taught photography to impoverished kids. When I found Fotokids and learned that former Reuters war correspondent, Nancy McGirr, was teaching kids from the Guatemala City dump how to use cameras for documentation and self expression I was moved to tears. Somehow, I had to help.
About the same time I learned about photographer Phil Borgesâ€™ foundation, Bridges to Understanding. Bridges unites kids around the world through storytelling using digital cameras, audio recorders, and technology. They had a training program for adults to learn the process and mentor kids in telling their stories. Later when I learned they were conducting their program in Guatemala with Fotokids, I signed up immediately.
During one amazing week in November 2007, 16 adults worked with 16 Fotokids in Santiago Atitlan to develop, write, storyboard, shoot, record, and assemble two simple but powerful films. One of the stories entitled â€œMi Futuroâ€ was narrated by 15 year old David Ixbalan, a talented young artist who dreams of being a graphic designer but loves his village and wants to return there after he finishes his education in Guatemala City. There aren’t graphic design jobs in Santiago, so his dreams seem impossible.
Against this backdrop, Nancy McGirr told me about her plan to develop a Santiago extension of their design studio called Jakaramba. Established by Fotokids graduates in Guatemala City, Jakaramba serves businesses and non-profit organizations and provides jobs for young design professionals. Before you knew it, I was offering to come teach what I could. When I suddenly realized that I couldnâ€™t do this alone I said â€œand Iâ€™ll bring colleagues too.â€ As it turns out, thatâ€™s the best part. Not only is Design4Kids a chance to teach, mentor, collaborate, and grow with talented youth, itâ€™s an opportunity to meet and work with other talented creative professionals from around the world.
You recently finished the Summer 2010 program: could you share a few highlights with our readers?
Design4Kids Workshop 4, aka D4K4, was a little different than the first 3. Instead of working with teens, D4K4 students were mostly in their early 20â€™s: all founding members of Jakaramba. Our workshops are always structured around producing a real project for a non-profit client. This time that client was Fotokids, and the project was a 20th anniversary book which was presented and discussed with Nancy McGirr and one of the board members. You can see the results here.
The heart and soul of our workshops are the creative professionals who donate their time, expertise, and hard earned cash to travel to Central America and join our workshops. D4K4â€™s Traveling Mentors included Dutch portrait photographer Eric Lolkema, who taught Lightroom basics and lead the morning photo walks, Washington D.C. architectural photographer Stu Estler, who taught lighting and HDR photography, and HP Marketing Director Cathy Shea, who taught basic marketing and project management. All coached one-on-one and in small groups during project time.
To expand our studentâ€™s access to more creative professionals we once again invited designers to comment on the students’ first draft designs. Nine creative professionals took time out of their busy days to visit our web site and leave thoughtful critiques: Phil Borges, Rodrigo Zarco, Von Glitschka, Jacob Cass, Stephen Tiano, Neto Gonzalez, Donovan Beery, Dariela Cruz, Nate Voss, and Telva MejÃa Tefel.
Building on the success of using online reviewers in D4K3, we extended our classroom to include two creative professionals teaching and mentoring directly from a distance. Kitty Florido and Vanesa Juarez gave a class on using social media via Skype, and then worked with their students via Twitter, Facebook, and email. During the workshop, students made regular postings to the Design4Kids blog as well as to Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook. They pioneered and proved the concept of Online Mentors so well that we will offer that way of volunteering again.
Aside from coordinating the program and working professionally as a graphic designer, you are also a photographer. How have your experiences working with these teens affected your personal work?
Tremendously: I now consider Design4Kids as my most important creative work. Itâ€™s more collaborative, demanding, and rewarding than anything Iâ€™ve ever done. It benefits the kids, the volunteers, and me. We all grow together. Now the photography I value the most creating and working with, are the images I make of my students and their mentors. Both groups have all challenged me to stretch and grow myself as an artist. For instance, Iâ€™m now exploring different techniques for mixing light, shadow, and hands-on print making processes. One is screen printing, an interest that began as a way to bring our students low-tech printing technique they can do on their own. I think itâ€™s important that they learn the fundamentals of printing in a hands-on way.
How can designers and other creatives get more involved with Design4Kids? Are there other ways to show support aside from volunteering?
Our mission at Design4Kids is to help youth develop their creative potential by working with creative professionals in a project-based learning environment. We are always looking for big-hearted folks with related ad agency, design studio, photography, fine art, or marketing communication skills, to travel with us for a life-changing experience working with talented kids from another culture.
Of course not everyone can afford the time or money, so the next biggest way folks can help is to spread the word about our program to tell everyone they know in the business. You never know who might be harboring a secret desire to combine a love of travel with a chance to make a lasting impact. This is a grass-roots effort, and all of our volunteers have come to us through friends of friends and through social media efforts. So every conversation matters.
Designers may also participate as Online Mentors, or Online Reviewers. If any of you are interested, contact me at jeffspeigner [at] yahoo.com. We also accept design books, art supplies, and teaching aids. You can find a wish list here. People can also support our efforts through tax-deductable cash donations through the San Carlos Foundation and Fotokids. The funds help us purchase and transport books, art supplies, and teaching aids.
A belated post due to a busy week at work! So without further ado, our weekly feature:
I first met Jeremiah while showing work at this past year’s Firebelly Holiday shop: what an honor to be showcased in the same room! Jeremiah Chiu is a Chicago native, co-founder/partner at Plural and a musician with local group Icy Demons (that’s him on the keyboard). He received his MFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since co-founding the studio in 2008, Plural has received recognition by the Art Directors Club, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Communication Arts magazine, Print magazine, How magazine, and The Society of Typographic Arts, among others. With a focus on typography and visual experimentation, Plural explores new ideas within the design process as they collaborate on a wide range of print, web, video, textile, and music projects.
What’s your favorite part about Chicago in the summer: any fun tips for new residents, such as myself, or visitors?
Chicago’s a great city to be in, whether it’s summer or not. It’s not too big, and not too small. You can ride your bicycle everywhere and there are tons of great cultural happenings every day of the week.
I don’t know, I’ve grown up here my whole life, so I bet other cities are great as well. If you’re visiting I highly recommend going to Millennium Park.
Typeforce was earlier this year and the Post Family show recently wrapped up: what’s next?
It’s been a great year for Plural so far: busy busy busy. I’m not sure what’s next. We’re feeling really good to be buried under tons of exciting new work right now. We’ll be pushing out some more Lumpen magazines, working on a building mural with Edmar down in Bridgeport, making books with The Stockyard Institute, working on some new album covers, curating a poster show at Depaul, missing meetings with the Chicago Printers Guild, etc… Same as it is everyday… Wake up. Make things. Go to bed.
How do your installations and other artistic endeavors influence your design and vice versa?
I definitely don’t differentiate the two. Ideas are ideas. Design is the way we think. The execution differs based on the audience, location, space, time, etc…
Most of the ideas/works that end up as installations or in exhibitions are derived from experiments in the studio, all of which are nonsense. (It’s all the stuff the clients won’t buy) 🙂 With exhibitions, it’s our opportunity to do whatever, without consequences, so we usually go with the most absurd idea and just let it be. Why not?
Playing music has helped me learn to work in different ways. It helps me approach things from a different perspective, writing a tune and composing a poster are very similar things, you have an idea, and then you organize that idea into a cohesive thought and deliver the message in the best way. If you always design your poster by placing the image before the text, next time try it the other way around.
On Humble Pied, Renata’s and your advice to young professionals was to practice and experiment. What are your favorite ways to combat creative block?
Headstands. Hands down. Try not to over-think things. Take a break.
Lately, we’ve been using the phrase “keep it funky” a lot. It’s been working pretty well. I think the idea behind that is to do something you think is wrong, or that you wouldn’t do, like use drop shadow or something silly like that, and then force it to work. You can make anything good, you just have to work through it. School made me a rigid designer, and I think only now am I starting to realize how to balance that with the other “wild” side of me. The rules are instilled, everything I make will always carry more scrutiny now than it did before, because I learned right from wrong.
How did you know that grad school was right for you, and how did you decide on a program?
I decided to go to grad school because I was ready to spend 2 years devoting all of my time to learning more about graphic design. I had been working at an art gallery and doing a lot of freelance for two years after college, and as I started looking for a change of pace, things just sort of fell in place. I learned about UIC from a friend of mine, Jon Krohn, as he was studying there. My roommate at the time, Chris Kalis (future Plural partner), was also interested in the program, so we both applied, and both got in. UIC has a great program, with the faculty there, I think it’s the best GD MFA in Chicago. Marcia Lausen heads the school. After meeting with Philip Burton and hearing numerous stories about Paul Rand, Armin Hoffmann and Wolfgang Weingart, I was sold. UIC also began accrediting the Basel School of Design at the university level, so we were afforded the opportunity to study in Basel during their summer workshops. Nothing beats hearing your teacher tell you that you’re in Emil Ruder’s old classroom.
The Summer Interview Series continues this week with Mig Reyes, a designer and self-proclaimed cookie eater from Chicago. He’s now two years out of college, and has already worked at some amazing design studios such as Rule29 and Segura, Inc. After a stint at an ad agency, he realized that just wasn’t for him. Now he has found a home “within the confines of awesome,” creating for the web at the best t-shirt company in the worldâ€”Threadless.
Humble Pied is such a great resource for students and young professionals…but…why Pie? With you being such a cookie man, why not, say, Smart Cookie?
I’m definitely into cookies, but Humble Pied wasn’t so much a kitschy name as it is an actual reference to a slang term for humility. As young designers, it’s easy to caught up in our early successes and build an ego. To eat the humble pie is to be taught humility, something I think every growing designer needs to practice more. With Humble Pied, I wanted to curate and archive bits of honest advice that will ultimately help inspire and nurture fledgling creative types.
The Show and Tell Show is a great (free!) program for Chicago designers. Everyone has a favorite show and tell experience as a kid: what’s yours?
Without a doubt, I was (probably still am) a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. I went home with a fairly good report card, so parents got me the Technodrome. My mind was blown: it was the coolest playset on the marketâ€”I had to show everyone. Fast forward to now: it was a huge honor to be a guest on Mike and Zach’s Show and Tell Show, sharing my early experiences with Threadless and a passion project I had in the works. Keep a look out, though. I may or may not be playing a role in The Show ‘n Tell Show now, and I hear there’s some exciting things planned for it!
Merge, AIGA Chicago Mentorship program, AIGA Social Media Liaison…I’m sensing a theme here. Share your thoughts on the importance of making connections and how social media is affecting our profession.
I credit most of my success in my career to the mentors and peers I’ve met along the way. That being said, I also disagree with the way people consider traditional “networking.” I once wrote about how I felt about it, and presented this idea at the HOW Conference. Simply put, networking is bullshit. I always sought to make friends and build relationships, not add contacts and swap business cards. Bevel-Emboss and Merge were events setup to help people meet people who are passionate. I’m involved in Dawn Hancock’s AIGA Mentorship program to pay my experiences forward.
For those of us that missed the HOW Conference this year, give us 3 things (either from your presentation or others) that everyone should know.
The general vibe I got from this year’s (really great) HOW Design Conference in Denver was that you need to capitalize on your passions and do what makes you happy now, not later. Mike Perry offered to everyone that you need to just “Make Stuff.” In my presentation, I touched on how inspiration is temporary, so when you have the itch to pursue a potentially great ideaâ€”do it! I could pitch to you this idea I have for a “place to store a bunch of video interviews,” or I could actually act on the idea and make something like Humble Pied. People talk about real projects and things that are tangible. A designer I met out there, Laura Sanders, also doodled some notes from my presentation.
You love to experiment with type: what are you working on now?
I’m actually still experimenting with bringing proper typography to the web. I relish moments when I can figure out hanging punctuation or small caps on the web. I also have a few experiments that I plan on turning into a series, like the illustrated Lego typography and the Google Maps typography.
All images Â© Mig Reyes
This week, my feed-reader continues to be dominated by both animation links and the World Cup (hurray for both the US and Germany advancing to the round of 16 today!). However, since I already posted the best World Cup links, and I still haven’t seen Toy Story 3, I thought I would focus on a few of the illustrators I’ve come across recently.
Danielle has a lovely style that blends beautiful type with vintage-looking illustrations. I noticed her work for her adaptions of Hoffmann’s Der Struwwelpeter, and fell in love with her hand-lettering.
I met Jerrod through twitter earlier this month and have been Loving his illustration Flickr stream ever since. Lots of fun kawaii adaptions of favorite animated characters and more: Ãœber cute!
Gemma has a really great sketchy feel to her work, and I love her patterns: good inspiration for work!
Of course, all images are borrowed from each artist’s site and are copyrighted byÂ them.
Honestly, I was really upset to find that I had missed the opening reception for the Typeforce exhibit held earlier this month at the Co-Prosperity Sphere gallery. So just imagine for a second how excited I was to hear that AIGA Chicago was hosting a special event at the Typeforce exhibit last Thursday. The event, which featured a talk by Rick Valicenti, was the perfect excuse to travel down there before the exhibit closed this past weekend.
Rick’s talk focused on contributions to typography and type design by Chicago designers over the past century. As someone who has recently relocated to the area, this actually put a lot of design/type history into perspective for me. It is one thing to know milestones in design, but to be able to associate those past events with the history of the Chicago design scene was great.
As for the show itself, there was a lot of inspiring work by an amazing group of designers: many of whom were familiar faces and a few were on hand to answer questions for the evening. Unfortunately, my photos don’t seem to do the show justice, but a few of my favorites are below.
Posters and Detail by Christian Kuras and Duncan Mackenzie
Albers XL Typeface by Plural
And, The Typeface by Margot Harrington
Experiments from Will Miller
Typefaces by Darren McPherson and Will Miller
A big congrats to all of the artists and especially to everyone over at Firebelly for curating (Dawn) and doing great work (Darren and Will).
In keeping with February’s theme of inspiring creatives, I give you 3 typographers that I have been digging over the past year. If only I were as good at typography as these lovely ladies. You’ve probably heard of or seen them before, so I’ll just let their work speak for them:
A couple weeks ago, Jason Schwartz challenged me to do A Project A Week (APAW): something that I have since included in my Design Resolutions for the year. The past two weeks have been spent finishing up projects that were already in progress. This week, I hope to start working on some new work.
Week 1: Prost! Tea Towel
Week 1 was spent finishing up the embroidery work on the third tea towel in my series (see the first two here). I still need to iron it after washing before I can take better photos, but thought that I would go ahead and share the sneak peek photo. I feel like this pattern allowed me to experiment a bit more with various satin stitches. Note the Prussian Blue? I tried to make the blue/creme motif match the colors on a Meissen vase I bought during my first trip to Germany.
Week 2: Behance Page
This past week I worked on slowly migrating my AIGA portfolio over to Behance. I must say that I’m rather impressed with all of the customization options that Behance offers. I’m not quite finished uploading everything, but will slowly make more projects public as I finish the descriptions. You can view my page either by clicking on the badge to the right or by going here. Any one else on Behance? I haven’t had time to look around for other people…
What’s Next for APAW?
This week I plan on creating some goodies to share: watch for them to be posted this coming weekend.
Over the past six months, my blogging has been sporadic at best, so naturally there have been a few news items that got lost in the shuffle. So what better way to recap everything than with a nice, big post with pictures?
My Photography Featured in Food Network Magazine
If you recall, I announced this past May that my photo of Lindsay and her Fresher Than Fresh Snowcones trailer was featured in the June issue of Food Network Magazine. After finally getting my hands on a copy of the issue earlier this summer, I was pleasantly surprised to see just how big the photo appeared in the spread. Lindsay has since closed the stand for the winter, but be sure to follow her on twitter to see when she opens it once again in the spring!
My Quote Featured in Brand New’s Sketchbook
Back in June, Brand New’s Armin Vit asked readers to contribute why they sketch logos. Selected responses were to be included in a new mystery product, with winners receiving their own copy. Imagine my surprise to not only be included in the project, but also to find this delightful sketchbook in my mailbox about a month later! Thanks, UnderConsideration!
My response? “When sketching, you’re already reducing the logo down into 2 flat colors: it helps me think about the form and technical issues before I make it ‘fancy.'”
Firebelly’s Reason to Give Show an Inspiration
Finally, on a side note, I was able to attend Firebelly Design’s Reset. Play! show which was a benefit for their Reason to Give non-profit. The show was very inspirational and had some awesome work. Plus, it was a great opportunity for an impromptu reunion of Camp friends from this summer (at least the ones currently in Chicago). All of the work was great, but I especially loved the typographic explorations by Will and Darren.
As many of you know, I’m a (not-so-) reformed science nerd. (By the way, if you can name the song today’s title comes from, you win my eternal esteem.) As such, I’ve been both delighted and a tad bit perplexed by all of the Periodic Tables that keep popping up across my feed-reader (where do they all keep coming from??). I thought I’d share a few of my favorites this week with some commentary on their organization. But first, a bit of back-ground, nerd-speak on the actual Periodic Table of Elements: feel free to skip to the actual links if you so choose.
First developed by Mendeleev in the late 1800’s, the Periodic Table is organized to show reoccurring trends in elements’ properties based on their atomic arrangement and color-coding is used to distinguish between elemental groups. The left half are metals, the middle are transition-metals, the right nonmetals, and the far right column are the Noble Gases. (Or, as my favorite chemistry teacher put it, the metals are boys, the nonmetals are girls, and hydrogen is the cross-dresser.) The Lanthanide and Actinide series actually lie in the middle section of the Periodic Table, but are typically broken out and listed underneath to conserve space. Ok, on to the links!
Periodic Table of Cupcakes (via Coudal)
This Table, developed by Women’s Day magazine, gets points for tastiness. I like that clicking on each element takes you to the appropriate cupcake recipe. Bonus points are given forÂ the correct use of color-coding, and abbreviations seem to be used cleverly. That said, there seems to be a natural progression as you move across the table from one cupcake to another (ex: Yellow, Vanilla, Chocolate, Red Velvet), however there doesn’t seem to be much correlation between rows of cupcakes. Therefore, although semi-organized, I can’t award it a complete Seal of Approval. (I will, however, eat it.)
Periodic Table of Typefaces
Squidspot’s Periodic Table of Typefaces has been getting a lot of press today: and with good reason! I’m amazed at the amount of cataloging that had to have gone into the effort of ranking the top 100 or so fonts, categorizing them according to family/class, and researching their origins. Excellent use of the various information fields in each “element-box” to break out each one’s information. Huge bonus points are given for organizing all typefaces according to family or class to correspond with the actual elemental groups (ex: faces that have both a sans-serif and a serif such as Scala are in the middle where the transition-metals go). It doesn’t necessarily read from left to right or top to bottom in a progression, but it does make for easy comparison. The only confusing issue is that the rank doesn’t progress in numerical order, but overall a very handy reference.
Periodic Tables of Adobe Shortcuts
These tables, by Vent, has also made the blog rounds of late. Unfortunately, even on the original site, I can’t zoom in close enough to read the key. I’m assuming that each shortcut is color-coded by menu or kind. Points are given for the eye-candy aspect, but without seeing it close-up, it’s hard to compare it to the actual Periodic Table.
Random Chemistry-Nerd Links
- Chemistry Salt and Pepper Shakers from ModCloth (wish they had the actual Pepper chemical formula though…)
- Nomad Light Molecule (this reminds me of the old capsela kits, but cooler)
- You should also check out Tricia’s awesome round-up of Vintage Science Illustrations on S&D.