Save the Date for Upcoming Fall Festivities

Creating branding has always been a large part of my business history. I have gravitated to that creative process from the very first logo project assigned in college. We didn't call it branding back then; it was just logo design. Over the years though, many of my logo clients have come back time and time again to build on their logo's brand recognition.

After building the recognition of the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival's brand over the years, my wonderful clients came back to me for the development of the Memphis Japan Festival's branding that they will begin to manage this fall.

Since these two festivals are being managed by the same group, we decided it would make sense to give the Memphis Japan Festival a uniquely recognizable look while also having some graphic affiliation with the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival. Nashville's festival is held in the spring and the latter will take place in the fall. The colors and blossoms of Nashville's springtime festival didn't apply. Hence more fall-like colors and flora. The letting and compositions did make sense though.

We are so happy to display the fruits (or shall I say the Japanese Maple leaves?) of our labors with this new logo and the upcoming promotional materials that are to showcase this new direction.

Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 24th from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 at the Memphis Botanic Garden. We'd certainly appreciate your support in attendance. And we sure do love what we do together as a team!

 

Change of Scenery

As this month's blog is posting, I'm on a creative retreat to tap into and foster more creativity in my work and thus my life. My business is called Studio Haus for a reason: my work spills out into every area of the world where I reside. Sometimes though, I need to break free from my walls and oftentimes it involves having nature all around me. However, for this retreat to happen, I gave myself a self-imposed deadline that "I couldn't go outside and play" until I redesigned my web site.

As you may notice, graphic development of just about any kind is a welcome experience professionally for me, so my portfolio of work can seem all over the place. The fact of the matter is that I still do a lot of the same kinds of projects I've always done: logos, books, ads, brochures/catalogs/other print, and, of course, full-on marketing campaigns including signage. The thing I've always done behind the scenes though has been art and illustration. I began sharing my work publicly after realizing how much volume I had in drawers that wasn't seeing the light of day. It was then that I decided it was time to start making more art again and marketing it. However, my site didn't leave a good first impression after trying to fit this "new" element of illustration into my portfolio. Let's just say the procrastination set in.

Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.

After almost two years of trying to make the previous web site design work and getting a metaphorical jolt (again) from a single Chuck Close quote ("Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work."), I decided to go much simpler. I decided to stop trying to make something that wasn't working well into something that was easier, cleaner and more enjoyable to maintain and update. While doing these things for clients is always the objective, I'd let the attention to detail for my own marketing plan slip. So I decided to implement and prioritize my own professional deadline while maintaining my obligations to clients. That metaphorical jolt turned into a kick in the butt.

Welcome to my new web site. I can honestly say it was a joy to create. Because a web site is constantly evolving, I know I will still be finessing things along the way. In the meantime, please peruse, share, critique and hopefully enjoy.

This career I've been fostering along with my incredible roster of clients has been one I've loved from the get-go and sharing it with others is an honor. Now I'm off to work! Yay!

New States of Inspiration

This past month, I took a exploratory holiday out west followed by a research trip into the surface design world. Traveling from Nashville to New Mexico then on to New York—all very different places full of inspiration—was quite the transition.

All the textures of the New Mexico landscapes, even if they are mostly shades of brown, are simply beautiful.

All the textures of the New Mexico landscapes, even if they are mostly shades of brown, are simply beautiful.

New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment and a state I had once considered living in after graduating from college, has been a draw for me since I was a teenager—what looks from afar to be so arid, dead and multiple shades of brown contains such incredible surprises of beauty, life and color upon closer inspection. My friends and I spent many days hiking amidst otherworldly landscapes of canyons, cacti, cap rocks and other geological formations that look straight out of sci-fi movies.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument felt like a trip to the moon!

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument felt like a trip to the moon!

Mostly though, the draw of the NM visit was a couple of artists I’ve grown up admiring for their personal strength, grace, beauty and the perseverance in mastering their art. One was my high school art teacher, a major influence in my life in so many ways; and the other was of course, Georgia O’Keefe, an artist that has become somewhat synonymous with New Mexico.

As a budding artist in my youth, O’Keefe’s work had me obsessed and her inspiration feels as strong today as ever. She loved beauty and art-making and she didn't seem to let much stand in the way of her her nature to do things her way. She was strong in her convictions and drawn to the softness of nature.

I agree with Georgia.

I agree with Georgia.

Visiting her home and studio revealed how she designed her surroundings to nurture her talents: clean and simple décor with nature visible from every angle. Not only just an artist, she loved every act of creativity she fostered: gardening, cooking, even camping. I certainly would have loved to have known this woman personally. Visiting the places she still haunts was the next best thing I could ask for. I feel sure that I will return one day.

After a week of exploring in the high desert landscapes, I headed to NYC to assist a couple of very talented artists at a trade show called Blueprint. (What a transition of landscape, but that’s a whole other topic.) The show features artists in the world of surface design which encompasses everything from greeting cards, apparel, wall art, wall paper, home décor and so much more.

While I walked the floor of the Blueprint show last year (as well as the bigger show called SURTEX), this time I was assisting, observing and visiting with other artists as art buyers stopped by their booths to ask questions, discuss trends and interests, and negotiate future projects. Melissa Hyatt and Ine Beerten were gracious in their time, knowledge and talents and I am very honored to have been given the opportunity to observe them in action.

Melissa Hyatt was a first-time exhibitor at Blueprint so I learned a lot in the hours I spent assisting in her booth. And making a new friend was a bonus!

Melissa Hyatt was a first-time exhibitor at Blueprint so I learned a lot in the hours I spent assisting in her booth. And making a new friend was a bonus!

I spent the whole last day of the Blueprint show with Ine Beerten. She travels all the way from Belgium (can you say yummy chocolates?) for the NYC licensing shows (this was her second time at Blueprint and she has also exhinited at SURTEX). She generously shared a wealth of information on how to navigate the world of surface pattern design. Her style is cleverly whimsical and we share not only interests in art but she's also a yogini like me!

I spent the whole last day of the Blueprint show with Ine Beerten. She travels all the way from Belgium (can you say yummy chocolates?) for the NYC licensing shows (this was her second time at Blueprint and she has also exhinited at SURTEX). She generously shared a wealth of information on how to navigate the world of surface pattern design. Her style is cleverly whimsical and we share not only interests in art but she's also a yogini like me!

As a print designer for much of my life, seeing another side of a design industry that is quite different from what I've been used to has been incredibly inspiring and admittedly a little intimidating. I will always be a designer and the challenge to expand my potential as an artist is exciting to say the least.

If you're interested in watching my growth in this realm, please sign up for my e-newsletter (link in the bar at the top of this page) and/or stay connected through social media by clicking the gray icon of your choice below. My work can be found on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Behance. And if you feel inspired to work together on any projects, please reach out!

Oh, and that trip to NYC: it ended on a very synchronistic note. The Brooklyn Museum had an exhibit that I stopped in to see on my way to the airport featuring Georgia O’Keefe’s artwork and images that photographers captured of her alongside bits of her wardrobe. She may well be the American artist who best branded herself in modern-day history as an independent woman with her sharp features, loose black dresses, and wide-rimmed black hats. The photos that captured her reflective, distant gazes to the gorgeous horizons of her creative inspiration showed she was an artist in every sense of the word.

What a treat it was to end my NYC trip standing in front of this famous image by Yosuf Karsh (right) of Ms. O'Keefe standing in front of the famous door that captured her imagination for years until she was able to purchase the property that became her home. The week before, I stood in that entryway and took my own picture of the skull she lovingly hung there in her New Mexico home.

What a treat it was to end my NYC trip standing in front of this famous image by Yosuf Karsh (right) of Ms. O'Keefe standing in front of the famous door that captured her imagination for years until she was able to purchase the property that became her home. The week before, I stood in that entryway and took my own picture of the skull she lovingly hung there in her New Mexico home.

It’s clear to me that O’Keefe really loved the work she was gifted to create which in turn was and continues to be loved by others. Thanks to Ms. O’Keefe and of course to my high school art teacher, Ms. Fritts, for sharing your truth with the world. Your influence lives on in so many inexpressible ways. I am grateful for it all.

Wet Noses, Great Doctors & Metrics

The thing I love most about being a graphic designer/art director and artist is the myriad directions the projects that I work on can take me. Projects range from the legal realm, healthcare, festivals and events, the arts, small business branding, economic development, non-profits and last but certainly not least, books.

I love books and have had collections all over my living spaces throughout my life. It's incredible how the reading of a book can change the fabric of one’s mind with just one paragraph. To play a small part in that with book design is an honor.

Books have played a role in the design projects I have undertaken from the beginning. Oftentimes it was only the covers I worked on. The good fortune of designing covers for an author who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, winners of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize, a New York Times reviewed book, and an entire series about essays has been exciting to say the least. I've also been fortunate to design the entire contents for a blind golfer’s memoir, a book about leadership, and the first edition of a children's book, as well as some magazine redesigns, a whole other topic of discussion.

A recently completed book project, Every Nose Counts: Using Metrics in Animal Shelters, holds a very special place for me. Not only did this design project come to me under incredible circumstances but it also has the potential to enrich many lives that don't even pick up books to read:

My clients requested a cover that was simple and uncluttered while conveying the seemingly complex content of metrics collection and analysis. Since the topic of the book deals with feline and canine populations, they were of course included in the graphic.

My clients requested a cover that was simple and uncluttered while conveying the seemingly complex content of metrics collection and analysis. Since the topic of the book deals with feline and canine populations, they were of course included in the graphic.

After doing pro bono work for the Pet Community Center for several months, one of its board members, who also happens to be a dear friend, recommended my services to a couple of veterinarians (Drs. J.M. Scarlett and M. Greenberg) who were writing a book to help animal shelters, veterinarians and their staff “improve their operations and enhance the welfare of their animals if they collect, summarize and interpret data wisely.” This was and is a huge but worthwhile endeavor that has the potential to improve the lives of many animals and the people who serve them. And yet the important subject matter can be a bit dry upon reading.

Therein lay the challenge I was eager to undertake: make the information not only something people could comprehend well upon reading but also more interesting than it might be with just basic and sometimes boring bar charts and bullet points. It was an exciting undertaking and the process couldn't have gone more smoothly from my perspective.

Charts of numbers can look pretty bland and homogenized without the use of prioritized emphasis in the graphics. Color and type treatments were used to not only differentiate the importance of information but also create interest in order to keep the reader reading.

Charts of numbers can look pretty bland and homogenized without the use of prioritized emphasis in the graphics. Color and type treatments were used to not only differentiate the importance of information but also create interest in order to keep the reader reading.

The project called for many types of charts and figures to be created and utilized throughout the book which I initially knew only a little about. The research and learning process was only part of the fun in creating various graphics which will ultimately keep viewers interested. The greater challenge was keeping these graphics on the same page and/or spreads where they were referred to in the text without big gaps left in the pages. Photos made this challenge a bit easier.  

The project called for many types of charts and figures to be created and utilized throughout the book which I initially knew only a little about. The research and learning process was only part of the fun in creating various graphics which will ultimately keep viewers interested. The greater challenge was keeping these graphics on the same page and/or spreads where they were referred to in the text without big gaps left in the pages. Photos made this challenge a bit easier.

 

Info-graphics were also used sporadically in the book along with adorable photos of pups and kitties. How can anyone resist the cuteness?

Info-graphics were also used sporadically in the book along with adorable photos of pups and kitties. How can anyone resist the cuteness?

The working relationship with a project that lasts for a year-and-a-half can definitely feel like a never-ending challenge to the finish line but I can honestly say that I am sad to see this project come to its completion because I enjoyed the working relationship and design process so much. It’s a joy to work with people who are just so darned smart! We each brought our unique talents to the table and the end result is something to be proud of. I beamed from head to toe when a veterinarian (not involved in the project) said this was the kind of book design she wishes she'd had in her academic studies. We can finally say, “We did it!” Now the bigger work begins.

This isn't the first time I've worked closely with someone who I'd never met face-to-face. J.M. Scarlett, DVM, MPH, PhD (far right) and I only met at our celebratory dinner after the job was approved and ready to go. M. Greenberg, DVM (center) and I met only rarely in person. Most of our work was done via the internet. How convenient is that?! (I've even had clients that I've never met in person!)

This isn't the first time I've worked closely with someone who I'd never met face-to-face. J.M. Scarlett, DVM, MPH, PhD (far right) and I only met at our celebratory dinner after the job was approved and ready to go. M. Greenberg, DVM (center) and I met only rarely in person. Most of our work was done via the internet. How convenient is that?! (I've even had clients that I've never met in person!)

None of this would have been possible without the brilliant and incredibly generous work of Maddie’s Fund. Their mission is “to revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals.” They are “a family foundation created in 1994 by Workday® co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, the Foundation has awarded more than $187.8 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the U.S. The Duffields named Maddie's Fund after their Miniature Schnauzer Maddie, who always made them laugh and gave them much joy. Maddie was with Dave and Cheryl from 1987 - 1997 and continues to inspire them today.

“Maddie's Fund is the fulfillment of a promise to an inspirational dog, investing its resources to create a no-kill nation where every dog and cat is guaranteed a healthy home or habitat.”

Wow. Isn't it amazing the impact one life can have on the collective? Those furry creatures many of us allow into our hearts really do make the world a better place. So a very big thank you to Maddie and her very special humans, the Duffields; to Maddie’s Fund; Cornell University; co-authors and Drs. J.M. Scarlett, M. Greenberg, T. Hoshizaki; and all of the animal shelters and the people who keep them running. And a personal and heart-felt thank you to Kelly for that extra-special heart and the referral that made this special connection happen. It's truly a gift in so many ways to love what we do.