December 23, 2008

Green & Red & Chaos = Holiday Crunch Time!





Though these photos were taken at a fun little shop in the Barri Gotic area of Barcelona (I just never posted them) I thought they would be perfect to put up now to share. There are a few reasons for this. One, the color scheme is perfect for the Christmas holiday season. Two, the chaos at which perfect pieces of furniture are mounted to the walls at zany angles (no levels used here!) reminds me of the last-minute shoppers rushing in and out of stores on Fifth Avenue; zigging, zagging, taking photos in the middles of the sidewalks of decorated windows and lit-up large Christmas trees, and above all feeling frenetic*. Three, this is a gift shop and its that time of year to give.


*This is a result of going to Toys ‘R Us three days in a row – two visits included the insanity that is the Times Square location. If you have ever been during non-holiday season and seen the hundreds of people in and out around the Barbie house, the ferriswheel, the large-scale Lego display, and every other department, now I want you to multiple the insanity by 3000 and that’s how it feels the days leading up to Christmas in the mammoth toy store. Whew. I am tuckered out just thinking about it.

December 18, 2008

The Cab that Makes You Sing.

I had a moment this morning that I have at least once a week. It was that moment when I say to myself "Only in New York..." Walking from the subway to my office along the crowded midtown sidewalk, up ahead I saw a girl with a microphone standing in front of a small red carpet and a funny-looking car. I heard her yell out "Get a free cab ride!" – too bad I was 5 minutes from my office otherwise I might have taken her up on her offer. Only as I got closer to the girl and the cab did I realize what the catch was: you had to SING for your ride! It was a karaoke cab giving free rides to those who would sing a sing IN the cab. I of course googled this when I got to my desk and found out it is a promotion for Memorex. They have a gadget that you can attach to your iPod that lets you sing karaoke to it.

So if your voice is in tune and you need a ride, get to one of the six NYC locations. I can't promise your performance won't end up online (because it will here), but you could save $20 in cab fare!

December 17, 2008

What the Weather Brought in the Last 24 Hours.


The snow came down on Manhattan streets yesterday in what can only be described as flying puffy cotton balls. It was a beautiful sight from a window in midtown as my coworker and I stood in the window of an empty office watching the white swirl down past us.

With umbrellas in hand and boots on foot, six girls came together last night to share a holiday tradition, wine and cheese, friendship, and sugary homemade cookies.

Fog and haze filled the spaces between skyscrapers this morning as well as the verticals of the Brooklyn Bridge. The FDR Drive was spotted with the bright yellow of small rectangles (NYC taxis) zooming by the gray low clouds.

Perfect ice crystals formed on holly berries in front of a Christmas-ready brownstone in Brooklyn on a walk back from the gym. The tiny red balls seemed elegantly strung on their thin, brown branches.

A chill in the December air inspired the daydream of a couple who wanted more than anything to cuddle up with each other all cold day long to watch movies and ignore the world outside. Alas, we are both at work today.

December 12, 2008

5 Reasons to Start Holiday Shopping.







Once I buy gifts it means I get to surround them in beautiful and well-designed giftwrap from the Container Store. I know, who would think that a store that sells caddies, boxes, and shelves would have such perfect giftwrap? Every year (since CS came to NYC) I like to take a stroll down their aisles and admire the perfect patterns and coordinating color combinations. This year is no different! The previous are a sampling of their wrapping paper for this year (and motivation to start shopping).


December 11, 2008

Pantone Gets Funny.




Anything Pantone makes me happy. Creatives with good senses of humor make me happy. Put those two together and you have the wonderfully talented and funny designers at Sandstrom Partners and their “custom-named” monthly color palettes. Just a small sampling but I recommend going to their site and not only seeing the rest of their calendar but the remainder of their gorgeous designs.

December 10, 2008

If Helvetica could speak.


*I wish I could credit the site I found this on but I have been on a ridiculous number of design blogs today doing package research and do not remember where I found this gem above (I of course had to type style it IN Helvetica).

December 9, 2008

Farms on the Rooftops!


Imagine if we could create farms on all of the rooftops in New York City? Imagine if more restaurants were able to use more locally grown produce, meat, herbs, and other foods? Imagine if someone had already began looking into this? Well, Jim Denevan already has. Check out his video (via the Absolut website from "In An Absolut World") and learn all about it.

video

December 8, 2008

The First Snow.


Saturday was a wonderful NYC night spent in fun dressy clothes, with close friends, delicious cocktails and a celebration of a happy wedding engagement. Once the party was over we found ourselves outside and to the sight of the first snow of the season! 19th Street had never looked so pretty...

December 2, 2008

I Have Been Tagged!

I have been tagged by a wonderfully talented best friend over at CM Illustration. The rules of the game are to write 6 quirky yet mundane things about yourself, so in the spirit of the holidays and tagging here I go! In case you were wondering, all photos were taken by me in the past couple of years (with the exception of the CD cover).


1. I have been playing soccer since the age of 5 and still continue to play to this day. I am a pretty relaxed (though sometimes hyper) person and consider myself a lover and not a fighter, but when I get out on the soccer field, it can be a different story.


2. The only pets I have ever had are goldfish (well, ALMOST only pet as I did have one crazy cat my junior year of college). This may not sound weird but the manner in which I get them is a little quirky; I am insistent on buying them in twos, calling one a boy and one a girl, and naming them in "duos" (ie. Hansel & Gretel).


3. When I have a stack of books, they MUST be organized in height order from tallest to shortest. Ask any of my roommates – I don’t have OCD!


4. Back in college when I first started eating sushi, I thought the green blob and the peeled white or pink slices served alongside my salmon rolls were things other than wasabi and ginger. Being a sushi neophyte, I thought it was guacamole and onions. Don’t ask me why I thought a Mexican sidedish was being served with a Japanese staple.


5. The Counting Crows have been my favorite band since the age of 14 when the cute, older, sophomore football player who sat next to me in biology introduced them to me (via his discman, no doubt). I know, I know, they are a little dated but I still am happily brought back to freshman year when I hear “Mr. Jones”.


6. Two jobs I always wanted but never had when I was a teenager were 1) a gift wrapper at the mall during holiday season (I know, I should have my head examined, but I LOVE decorating presents!) and 2) a lifeguard at the beach during the summer (who wouldn’t want to be paid to get tan?).

Here are the rules:
* Mention the rules on your blog.
* Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself.
* Tag six other
* Go to each person’s blog and leave a comment that lets them know they are tagged.


I have tagged a few of my favorite daily blog reads:

Design Crush
Richie Designs
Nerdy Fashionista
Design is Mine

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving, how I love thee. Let me count the ways...



I feel like a kid in school the day before Thanksgiving; I can't concentrate on work, I am watching the clock waiting for early dismissal, and my desk is getting a quick straightening. I guess the only difference now is that there is no official bell (just the blessing of my boss) telling me when I can leave. I am giddy in anticipation of going home for my most favorite holiday of the year. It's funny because growing up it was always my favorite time of year, whether we were hosting in our own home or driving to my aunt and uncle's or grandmother's.

The idea of "home for the holidays" now has taken on even more special meaning for me as I literally DO have to travel home to see my family (though thankfully, not in an airplane on the busiest travel day of the year as my poor brother does coming from Texas). This year in particular feels extra great because I was abroad in Spain for almost three months and one realization I had over there is how important it is to have family nearby (or within one time zone)!

Since my brother and I both "flew the coop" and moved south (he a lot farther than I did), I think our family looks EXTRA forward to this one time a year when all of us are brought together. In fact, my bro and I have been talking about it for the past few months via the phone and email! I know it's more than my Mom's cooking (though that IS a main reason for excitement!). It's the tradition of getting together and seeing cousins and family who we don't get to see all year, sitting around the table and sharing what we are thankful for, talking about New England sports and politics and the latest movies, watching little by little as the number of chairs added to the table grow, and just feeling so warm because I am surrounded by the people I love and eating a fantastic meal!

So although the news may be depressing these days, relish in knowing you have your health, your friends & family and have a delicious Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2008

Right-brainers.


A creative-minded coworker alerted me to this book via an article from O Magazine yesterday afternoon and was kind enough to make a copy of it (the article, which was an interview between writer Daniel Pink and Oprah) for me to read on my travel home from work. Reading the article inspired me to a) want to buy the book and b) realized how exciting it is to be in the field of design. Though at this time in the world people are just thankful for having a job, I am hopeful for the future this book talks about – where the world is led by right-brained designers, writers and other creators! It is definitely going on my book wishlist.

November 21, 2008

Now THIS is How a Fashion Show Should Look!




I know this was in mid-September but since I was out of the country (that's been my excuse for not knowing some things) I was just alerted to Stella McCartney's fashion show for her Spring 2009 Adidas collection. My trend-watching coworker brought it my attention to it and we loved it! How clever to have some actual ATHLETES modeling WORKOUT clothes! No one really wants to see size 0 girls with no muscle in running pants and sports bras. Nobody's bodies really fill out workout clothes like that. I loved her new approach!

November 19, 2008

The Basics: Just a Notebook & A Pen.

One of artist Matt Mullican's sketches/drawings

One of my favorite things about being a graphic designer who had their teachings in the basics of art FIRST and then learned about design, is that I have always loved to draw. In fact, years before I learned about Illustrator or Photoshop (or back in my days of high school design, Freehand) I was mapping my paper with crayons and pens and paints; pretty much anything I could get my hands on that made a mark on my drawing surface.

This still holds true today.
My coworkers joke with me daily that I can't complete a story or idea without grabbing a writing utensil and post-it or piece of notebook paper. I try to start all of my design projects with a great pen that flows black ink from it's tip easily onto my blank paper. Notes, words, layout ideas, logos, photography layouts. All new projects MUST start with this basic idea of "sketching". Once these sketches are finished, I have moved to my Mac, and even after the project has been completed and out the door, I love to look back at my original ideas/plans. I think they show more character and purpose than the finished product (sometimes, not all) and so it is because of this love of not only the written word and picture on paper as well as the thought process that I also LOVE looking at other people's sketches. I think you can tell so much about a person and what their true intentions are. After reading this article about artist Matt Mullican's notebook love I am reminded of the basics of art and design and why I do love it all so much. And why making time for that pen and paper is so crucial.

November 18, 2008

Remember These?!


Tonight I am heading to the Society of Illustrators Children's Book Illustration show (which is by FAR my favorite show of the year which I have been attending for 6 years now) and so when my coworker asked if I would like to take a walk to Barnes & Noble and check out the kids books I more than happily obliged! What better way to get my excitement level up for the amazing art and kids' books I would be seeing later in the day? Well, imagine my pleasant surprise when browsing through the children's section and reminiscing about books of my past, when I came upon the newly designed Judy Blume books (published by one of my favorite children's booksellers, Scholastic)?! More specifically, the Fudge series which I absolutely adored as a child, ala Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great, Superfudge, and Double Fudge just to name a few. I love the clean simple, yet fun, colors and cute minimalistic illustrations popping out of the vertical striped bar!

November 17, 2008

Get Happy!



As you might all know, I was pretty awe-struck by how incredible all of the design around Barcelona was. Well, not just their printed pieces had me smilin' but some of their video/TV as well. This is a TV spot they had there (though I had first seen the print ads in the metro which just had me grinning when I saw them) advertising for TMB (their transportation authority, essentially the company that runs their metro). I not only found the finished TV ad online but BETTER...the MAKING of the ad which is far more interesting (watch until the end, and you can see the completed version which is higher quality than this YouTube video I found). Enjoy!

I have also decided that I need to get the song from iTunes (but can't figure out who sings it!).

November 14, 2008

Back in NYC! And building Muppets!




What better way to start off my first posting in NYC than to talk about the New York City toy store FAO Schwarz and their fantastic and fun new product – build your own muppet at The Muppet WhatNot Workshop! I just made one online and then continued to laugh for about 3 minutes at my silly creation. The finished products are definitely a little pricey ($90) but I love the concept of combining creativity with personalization and toys. You can ALSO give the gift of making a muppet TO someone. What a fantastic gift for a little kid (err, or a 28-year old graphic designer!).

November 6, 2008

The Last Day. The Final Adios.


They just put these up on a bunch of poles down in Plaza Catalunya and I couldn't resist taking a photo as it seemed a perfect design way to send me off...I love the graphic icon of Barcelona (from left to right at the top of those globule things are the silos of: MNAC, Christopher Columbus statue, the "needle" on top of Montjuic, Sagrada Familia, two towers that are down by the water at Port Olimpic and the funny-looking Agbar Tower)

I am incredulous that I am sitting here in Aroma Cafe for the last time of my stay here in Barcelona; in awe, in fact, that I am typing what will be my last blog posting from Spain. I never thought this day would come, or I did, just not what seems so soon. When I first arrived and was looking out the window of the bus and thinking "how did I even GET here?", November 7th wasn't even a blip on the radar of "near future". Even a month ago, it seemed fairly close but not realistically close. Now? Well look what happened, my trip is done, my 79 day stay here is over, and I am off to the airport with my FULLY stuffed suitcase tomorrow morning.

Without a doubt I can say that this trip has been the experience of a lifetime and if I had second thoughts about it at any time during the year (which I know I did), I am glad I ignored them and decided to come anyway. The things I have seen, learned, heard, smelled and tasted have all been amazing (well not all, but MOST). The journey to a country where I knew no one and didn't know the language all too well was an experiment in mental toughness and I think I came out fairly unscathed. There were definitely times when I longed for things very American; a good brunch, peanut butter, English speakers at transportation terminals, warm water that I don't need to "heat" first, and a small myriad of other things I am sure I will notice once I get back.

In terms of getting everything I wanted out of this journey while being here, I can confidently say I have. This also seems like it has been the biggest "field trip" of my life. I just hope my memory can retain all that I have learned and taken in; especially my Spanish. Though I am definitely not fluent by any means, I feel much more confident about talking to people and asking about things; I've even been watching "Anatomía de Grey" with my flatmates and have come to understand MOST of what's going on (though its still strange to me not hearing the REAL Cristina or George's voice) though I'm excited to watch it in English.

A few people have been asking me what my feelings are about coming home. I remember right before I arrived to Barcelona and wondering that same thing, what would I be thinking on November 6th? Well, I can say that I am ready to come back to the States. I feel very fortunate that I was able to do this for myself and seen what I have but "real life" calls and I am ready to: go back to working fulltime, seeing my friends and Matt, picking up my cell phone to call people whenever I want (without having to do the math of the time difference), being able to dry my clothes in a dryer and not on a clothesline where I pray to god that the neighbors above don't empty their buckets of water, knowing how to read all of the menus in any restaurant I may go into, not having to inhale second hand smoke (like I am right at this very mooment) in all public places, drinking water from the faucet and overall living in New York City!

In case anyone was wondering this is a quick list of things that I have accumulated since being here:

• 6 times I have gone to the Sagrada Familia
• 10 times I will have been to the Barcelona Airport (I am up to 9 now and tomorrow morning will make the 10th)
• 4 flatmates I have had since living here
• over 2500 photos I have taken since leaving JFK Airport
• 2 articles of clothing I have dropped from the clothesline - but retrieved with the handle of the broom
• 9 flats I looked at when needing a place to live
• too many to count are the number of olives I have eaten
• 5 friends/family I was lucky enough to see while being over here
• 1 trip I will never forget

I want to thank all of you who have been reading this blog since I came here. Thank you for your kind words in either the comments or in your emails you have sent me. It means SO much that my friends and family have been reading and 'seeing' what I have been doing; it feels good to have "been in touch" even if I haven't physically seen or talked to anyone.

Signing off from Barcelona for the last time...
Jen

November 4, 2008

Last of the Park...and Madrid.





Some more pictures from the park. The last one is actually a view through a cool railing that overlooked the entrance; which is NOT how I had entered, I came in through a much less perfectly manicured lawn.

Overall, I liked Madrid more than I had initially thought I would; it grew on me after I woke up my first morning there. I loved the energy of the people and I also liked that it sort of reminded me of a Spanish NYC, complete with people dressed mostly in black. It is definitely very different from the “anything goes” attitude of Barcelona but I still enjoyed my stay there.

Crystal Palace IN the Park.





These photos are ALL from the Palacio de Cristal inside the park. I couldn’t stop shooting it! I guess there is a “water exhibit” of some sort inside but alas, it was closed one day of the week – Tuesday (aka the day I was there).

Parque del Retiro.






The last sightseeing of this trip to Madrid was at the Parque del Retiro. I was one minute from not going to the park because it was just way too cold to be strolling around on the cloudy, raw day that it was on Tuesday but I decided to plow through as it was on my list of things to do, I love parks, and I would be in a warm airport soon enough!

Well, as with almost everything I have almost decided not to do, I was very happy I had that little pep-talk with myself because I loved the park and would have been sad if I had not seen it. I couldn’t stop taking pictures and I was even getting annoyed with myself each time I HAD to take a photo (which involved taking off my right mitten and exposing that hand to the elements); but there were such pretty things to take photos of! The park also re-reminded me how much I have missed running (there were a lot of runners in the park) since I have been here and made me for the only time jealous that I hadn’t chosen Madrid to live instead of Barcelona because I would have had a FABULOUS park to run in as much as I wanted.