February 21, 2008

Bye, bye Polaroid.

Instant photography was around before our culture was obsessed with instant gratification and the need for things right here and right now. Remember those marvelous three inch by three inch photos that popped out of that dark gray camera box and had the white border and enough room at the bottom to write a caption? Those photos that you shook in the air (and did not touch) and watched every few shakes to see if that capturing of you and your best friend with your arms around each other (and inevitably of your little brother giving you the bunny ears over your head) had come out just the way you thought? Well, as much as we all loved those (or maybe I am the only one), it has come time for the old (Polaroid) to be replaced by the new (digital camera). I know this is fairly old news, but the week before last, Polaroid announced they were no longer making their film for their widely known and (mostly?) loved cameras.

R.I.P. Polaroid.

What would YOU change?

What is thirty days to you? The time period of a monthly subway pass? One twelfth of a year? 720 hours? 43,200 minutes? Well, this brand new website, First 30 Days, is all about what you can do in a month. Or how to start to make a bigger change that just starts with a month of altering lifestyle. I think there are so many websites out there which are just full of fluff and no substance and should honestly be removed form the web. This one makes me proud that internet is around. First 30 Days is a new site that JUST launched. I have been perusing it and there is some really great and valuable information on it. The concept of the site is starting something new in your life, the steps in getting there, and how to achieve your goals. This can be applicable to little things in life (I want to learn how to play an instrument, I want my desk to be more organized) to larger things (moving to a new city, having a baby, saving money, quitting smoking, etc.) and lifestyle changes. The site breaks it down in ways that are manageable. You can also sign up for email tips each day. This is truly a wonderful and helpful site! I HIGHLY recommend checking it out and who knows? You could be on a path to something great very soon with just a few minutes spent reading.

February 14, 2008

Where will that bottle be next!?

There are not enough words to describe how I feel when I see a new Pom Wonderful ad either in a magazine or on the street or billboard. In short, they make me happy. Happy that someone has a clean AND clever design. That someone has simply art directed an ad AND made it smart. That it is really just a bottle combined with ONE other item. Love. It. This first one I have shown I recently saw for the first time yesterday while flipping through a magazine and it did what all others in the past 3+ years have done for me when I see them ––– made me stop and smile.

February 13, 2008

A day without email is like...

Honestly, I can't think of something that comes close to comparing what a day without email is like when you sit at a desk with internet capabilities. Is it like having vanilla cupcakes in front of you but you know you are allergic to the eggs that are in them (I'm not, thank goodness)? I can't even think of anything that would equate to what it's like so I will just tell you this. My new freelance assignment is at the largest company I have ever worked for (and I do love it)and therefore (as is the way of large corporations, or so I have heard and now recently experienced) have a major internet blocking in their system. Gone are my days when I had a lot of down time and no red tape to get through on Firefox or Safari; where I spent hours writing to friends and family and to this blog.

I'll tell you what my Monday was like (and hence why it has taken me so long to post something this week) and maybe you will feel my pain. Or maybe you yourself work in an environment where all "fun" sites or photos are blocked by your company? Call me naive, but up until four months ago I had never worked at a company larger than 30 people so I had never experienced this. I thought it was just an urban work myth; told by investment bankers who work at highly secure financial firms. I never thought it could happen to me; just a graphic designer trying to make her way in this creative world.

So, Monday I get to my new assignment and meet my new creative department I will be working in and then am left alone for about 20 minutes while they were all in at a meeting. They knew that I had no work to do thus far (I mean I had just showed up 70 minutes before) and therefore I didn't feel bad about getting on some Hotmail with maybe a side of Blogger and Gmail in the mix just for kicks. And I don't know, if I was feeling crazy, possibly check out Evite? Well, folks, as they say "the best laid plans...often go awry", they say it for a reason. There was to be none of that, for each of those sites I just mentioned were BLOCKED! BLOCKED? I had never seen such a thing.

At lunch I decided to take matters into my own hands and signed up for a month of internet on my cellphone. I have only checked my email on my phone two other times and that was because I was on a Greyhound bus and bored out of my mind. So sign up I did and then turned my phone off (as they tell you to do) for a few minutes, then turned it back on. I fully expected to be email ready within minutes, but no. Plans foiled again. Not only was my new company out to steer me clear of email, so was Verizon! I refused to give up and therefore kept turning on and then turning off my phone, trying to get onto the internet but with no luck each time.

The end of the day came and I was meeting a friend for dinner but not for another hour and a half. Instead of going back home and then going out again, I decided that I could not take one more second without email and bit the bullet–I went to the midtown (read: largest) branch of the New York Public Library. I figured I could get on the internet there withh zero problem. Ah, silly me, did I not learn anything that day? Email was not to be had! I rode the elevator up to the 4th floor with a B.O.-emanating man and 6 other strangers, got off the elevator, got in line to inquire about internet computer signups, witnessed the librarian tell the woman in front of me that they would call security on her if she didn't calm down, got in another line, watched an old woman print out 80 things, got back in the first line, watched security come to the desk to apprehend the woman they had been called about 5 minutes earlier, swiped my card at the computer to sign-up for some internet (finally...Hotmail, here I come!), and then found out that the wait would be 55 minutes. Clearly, the universe did not want me checking my email today.

Don't you fret, though, Verizon finally got its email working on my phone and now I am back to being connected to the world. Via a one inch by two inch screen, of course.

Photography Monday: Number 6.

Photgraphy Monday: Number 5.

February 8, 2008

Paint me a picture.

{Yuko Shimizu for Target advertising 2005}

Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a discussion panel by illustrators, held at FIT called "Personal Vision". The four illustrators, all graduates of the Masters of Illustration program at SVA, were Nathan Fox, Eddie Guy, Yuko Shimizu, and Sam Weber. They each shared a small slideshow of work ranging from professional to personal and each definitely had their own flair and style. All of what they said was inspiring, as well as what they showed. My favorite of the four was Yuko whose art I have shown above (for Target). Her work seems to have a lot of energy and motion in it and I just really liked HER as a personality. She talked about her refinding her favorite book from childhood recently and flipping through and realizing that now 30+ years later that the subjects she chooses to paint are definitely derived from the books she loved as a kid. It made me wonder if I were to go through my favorites book as a kid, if I would find some resemblance to what I design now and what I am drawn to in design and art. As I sat listening to the four of them talk about their backgrounds, what drives them, what they think about clients and art directors, what they love about this INCREDIBLE job they have and that they DO realize how lucky they are, I was again humbled in knowing that I also do what I love. Maybe some of the clients aren't ideal all of the time, maybe the projects don't go how I want them to, but I get to be creative...at work! For a living! Rejoice, creatives, rejoice in doing what you love everyday and getting paid for it!

February 7, 2008

A run, the rain, toast, & Matt Nathanson.

{Photo from roujo via Flickr}

This morning, in the rain, I had a wonderful run on the east side of Manhattan. It was of course one of those mornings that I left my apartment not realizing that there was precipitation until I stepped out of my building and saw the first drop fall on my iPod screen. There is a split second when I go out to run in the rain and have my iPod on me, where I think about turning around and bringing it to safety as I am pretty sure I destroyed one a couple of years ago from letting it run with me in a torrential downpour; these devices are unfortunately not immortal. Anyhow, this morning I kept him (yes, my pod is a 'him') tightly in my gloved hand and continued on my way.

For those that have never done it, I recommend running in the rain. There is something absolutely powerful and invigorating about pounding your feet on the wet pavement and wiping sweat/rain out of your eyes, all the while feeling the strength in your legs as you dodge the puddles.

Due to the rain, I also feel that the music I am listening to has to coordinate with the overcast weather. As I have mentioned before in an earlier post, workout music is key and I love being the music director/DJ on my runs. Normally, I need a workout mix that contains one or more of the following artists: BeyoncĂ©, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West or Bloc Party. This morning though? I needed something a little more hopeful and romantic, with just a hint of sorrow – enter Matt Nathanson.

So here I am, running in this great precipitation, listening to Matt, and at about my halfway point along one of the major highways that run through New York City, I came to a smell. No, I know you are all thinking "smell" + "NYC" = garbage/urine. Not this time. For some reason, this morning the "smell" was (ready for it?) ––– toast! Yes, toast! It was amazing and such a great morning scent that brings me back to waking up in my Grandparents house in Maine over the summer, walking down the hall and seeing the lake through the large window in the dining room and my Grandmother reading the paper and drinking coffee out of a yellow ceramic mug. And of course, inhaling that sweet smell of toasted bread combined with that one crumb burning at the bottom of the toaster oven. Who knew nostaligia like this could strike at 8:15am along the FDR?

Add all of these pieces together: running, rain, toast, mellow tunes. In my opinion I had pure morning bliss.

February 6, 2008

A Dwell Memory.

Remember the game Memory as a child? I do and boy did I like it. I don't specifically remember the pictures on the few game sets that I had, but I do know they were not as nice and design-y as the one here on Dwell's website. I of course went on there to look at their new bedding patterns and was immediately swept up in a couple of games of Memory, Dwell-style. Go ahead, try it out. And if your boss notices you "playing", just tell him/her it's design research!

Who feels...

{from wefeelfine.org; after clicking on a feeling}

{from wefeelfine.org, after clicking on all categories}

Wefeelfine.org is an amazing project put together by two guys, Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, who basically information architected the entire worldwide web of blogs. I first saw their project at an Art & Design show over the summer and was absolutely mezmorized by it. The way they had organized all of the possible content on the web into this super clean, fun, easy-to-use structure totally had me spellbound. We Feel Fine lets you search the web for feelings at any given time, date, weather, with any gender of any age and then computes it and gives you the date. For example, you want to know what females in their 20s, living in Birmingham, when it was rainy in July of 2007 were feeling "energetic"? We Feel Fine will tell you. Check it out, but I'm warning you, it's a time suck (in a good way, of course!).

February 5, 2008

Cozy critters.

I couldn't help it. I had to post about these super cute organic onesies, called Cozy Critters, from Pottery Barn's latest addition to their store lineup, Threads. Just opened recently in a few cities across the country, I walked by their store here in NYC last weekend and just loved their signage; a cute baby pin with their name in simple serif text. With one friend and one cousin having babies in the next month and past month, I am checking out baby gear all over the place and think these might make it as "must buys" for their new little girls!

Hair love.

Though I wasn't a fan of the majority of the Superbowl ads, there were some I really liked for their humor content (Justin Timberlake for Pepsi and Will Ferrell for BudLight) and some I liked for their heartwarming and comedic content (the NFL real stories). There was one in particular whose concept I didn't love but visually really liked from a graphic design standpoint; it was the Sunsilk ad using Marilyn, Shakira and Madonna. This ad was done by one of my favorites in the boutique branding business, none other than Desgrippes Gobe. You can tell a design studio worked on this, as opposed to an advertising agency through the simple and clean design and great use of the negative space and color. It was also the girliest ad during the show; aside from the "Happy Valentine's Day" from Victoria's Secret, which I kept waiting for Giselle to show up for while wearing Tom's home jersey.

February 4, 2008

It's all in the family.

{"Dream" by Doodlespark}

{"Joy" by Doodlespark}

Growing up as someone who loved to draw, paint, and create in a house where no one else had this art passion, my parents often remarked, "I don't know where you get your creativity from". It is true, my parents – god love them both for their nurturing of my love for all things arty – have not a creative bone in their bodies. Had I not looked like a hybrid of the two of them, it is possible there might have been a switch at the hospital.

Now take this duo whose creativity clearly spanned genetics; a mother and daughter team who make up Doodlespark. Doodlespark is a collaborative art effort which involves sending a drawing back and forth to each other while each adding their own personal flair to the piece. The final pieces are great and so unique because it involves not one but two hands of two different artists who definitely have a passion that is not only brought together because of genes, but because of talent. It seems like such a beautiful way to bond with a parent who shares such a wonderful ability.

*A side note which was brought to my attention by my lovely Mother (after reading this post) is that indeed she IS creative. She knits and crochets with the best of them! Thanks to her I have some exceptional blankets made not only with pretty yarn, but with much love.

February 1, 2008

7 reasons I love Valentine's Day.

I know what you are thinking. Valentine's Day is a consumer-driven holiday created by Hallmark, Russell-Stovers, and anti-depressant medication. Who else would come up with just ONE day of the year to celebrate love when it should be celebrated EVERY day? I agree, I agree, but for some reason I adore the holiday. This partly could stem from the fact that my birthday is within a week of February 14th and the Valentine vibes are in my veins whether I like it or not. My friends all know this and as they are telling me why this holiday is ridiculous (for the reasons I first gave you, plus many others...and these are friends both without AND with significant others) I am telling them how much I love it. These are some new and old reasons why February 14th makes me smile:

1. Cupcakes with cute decorations.
Well, I love cupcakes no matter what, so maybe this is a cop-out, but seriously, wouldn't these put a smile on your face if a plate of them were at your dinner table? These are from a company called Sprinkles that I found through smart & stylish blog Design Crush.

2. Conversation Hearts.
Actually, I really only truly love the green, orange and yellow ones. I have decided my soulmate is out there and only eats the pink, purple (which taste like soap in my opinion) and white ones. Anyhow, these are quintessential Valentine's candy and there is nothing better than seeing shelves filled with these at the store. I do take issue with some of the more modern conversations such as "EMAIL ME". Um, that's not so romantic.

3. Getting & receiving valentines.
What is more fun than sending AND getting pink and red envelopes in the mail? This card is a little more sophisticated than what I would have made as a 9 year-old but I love the medieval swoops and the large graphic "XO"s (you can buy it on Etsy).

4. An excuse to be crafty.
Can't you just smell the wonderful scent of new art supplies such as doilies, glitter, markers, and pink and red construction paper. Seriously, its a good thing there is not a Michaels craft store within 10 miles of me, because I would be there buying out the place right now. This craft may be a little over the top, but Martha Stewart has this great heart soap project online (featured above). I don't know if giving your loved one some soaps might be sending the wrong message, however. Maybe you just want to put them out in your bathroom the week of V Day?

5. Flowers.
These flowers are one of my favorite, plumerias, from Hawaii and taken by photographer Superhero Photo. Yes, I know some of you are ready to throw up your breakfast from this sickening sweet post, but I do think that flowers on Valentine's Day may be one of the cliches that I truly love the most. And this coming from someone who rarely is dating someone on February 14th (and in fact has been broken up with mere days before this holiday) to even get flowers. Do yourself a favor. Go to your local florist and buy yourself a bunch of your favorites!

6. Warm and fuzzy feelings inside when its 18 degrees outside.
It's tough living in the northeast sometimes. Especially when that time is the dead of winter where you step outside and your ears (though under a hat) have gone into frostbite mode. When the wind is whipping around you and it's all you can do to keep your grip on the sidewalk below. Well, Valentine's Day is a good excuse to feel warm INSIDE (as trite as that may sound). Feel joy in knowing you are loved by your friends and family and the guy who makes your coffee at Starbucks and the woman who cuts your hair and your dentist and your coworkers and your significant others. Seriously, just take a second and think about how blessed you are to have people in your life who love you.

7. An excuse to wear red.
And especially today, not just on Valentine's Day. Today is national "Wear Red" for the American Heart Association's Go For Red ! It is all about recognizing awareness of heart disease (especially in women). An amazing cause and an easy way to get the word out; just dress yourself in the fabulous primary color loved by advertisers everywhere. Wear red!