Back in 1995, I was a recent college grad with no kids. But when the movie Toy Story came out, a friend and I ran to go see it; we were both intrigued by the animation--which was (and still is, in my opinion) groundbreaking. With my new degree in graphic design, I was completely fascinated with how the animators at Pixar acheived the level of exquisite detail that they did. That, and the story was pretty cool, too.

Fast forward (gulp) 12 years and 2 kids later: today I took the girls to see Ratatouille, the latest Pixar creation. My kids wanted to see it for all the reasons any kid would want to. I, on the other hand, am still drawn to the animation. And yet again, Pixar never ceases to amaze. Truth be told, the story didn't look all that great (it wasn't really that bad, but I've seen better--and worse, for that matter), but the animation--it was incredible. There are times when you could swear you're looking at a photograph; it's just that real looking.

Last year I took my oldest to the Pixar installation at MoMA; again, utterly amazing. To see familiar characters as they started--as simple sketches--and the detail that goes into the development of not only the characters, but the "sets" themselves; it was so cool. The time, effort and energy that goes into creating these movies is evident in the quality of the animation itself, but to see how everything starts out is almost overwhelming.

After walking out of the museum, my daughter turned to me and said, "I want to work for Pixar."

Not a bad career choice, kid. Not bad at all.


Party time, excellent!

So last night Mattio and I trekked on up to Portland, CT, for the 32 Annual Connecticut Art Directors Club Awards Show: Design Ain't Pretty. I mentioned in an earlier post that the stationery I designed for Saturnia had won an award, so off we went to the show last night to collect the goods.

This was the first time for both of us, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. When we arrived, we checked in, mingled and ate. All the award-winning entries were on display, so we checked everything out, including the competition (when all was said and done, there were 6 awards of excellence and 2 silver awards for the stationery category). There was some really awesome--and inspiring--stuff all around.

When it came time for the stationery award, they announced there were 6 awards of excellence, then they ran down the list. It was incredibly nerve-racking. We ended up taking the last excellence award--not bad considering a) what I was up against; and b) it was my first year even entering.

When we left, they handed me my award:

The only thing I bummed about, was that I filled out all these forms to enter, and then more forms when I won, and they still did not get my information correct; for not only the display showcasing the stationery, but the evening's program as well. Somehow my company got mixed up with another, and another art director's name was added to my stationery:

Ah well, after all was said and done, it didn't ruin my night. I was in some pretty good company last night, the competition was fierce, not only for the stationery category, but for everything.

Congratulations to all the winners out there!


Home Improvement

Riding around town I can't help but notice all the home improvement going on: there's a sign on every other lawn advertising painting, driveway sealing, pools, landscaping... the list goes on and on. Obviously now is the time to do it; Connecticut's cold winters and unpredictable springs make it pretty impossible to, say, repave a driveway.

But what I have noticed in recent years is that all these home improvement signs... well, they suck. There's one that I saw just recently that stood out in particular:

Oh, Brothers Pool, how clever you are, using the 'L' in pool as the side and bottom of... a pool. The only thing is, when you're driving down the road at, say, 30 miles an hour, you're only given a window of about a couple of seconds to process what you're seeing. And the first time I saw a sign advertising a Brothers Pool, I did a double take--now, I know deep down the sign was for a pool company; and yes, I will admit to at times having a dirty mind, but that sign looked to me like it could have said Brothers Poo.

I know, I know, the water gives it away; of course it's a pool company, silly! But seriously, now every time I see one of their signs, I have a little Beavis and Butthead moment and think, "heh heh, Brothers Poo."

Now I'm sure that Brothers Pool puts together a fine product, but my first impression of their logo is ingrained in my head as Brothers Poo. And I'm pretty positive that is not what they were going after when they created their logo.

Other signs are not quite as drastic, but still pretty bad nonetheless--I'm all for using some kind of icon with your logo, but perhaps it doesn't need to be so obvious (yeah, I'm talking to you, builder with the 3D logo/house). After all, a lot of these services (pools notwithstanding) are for improving the looks and curb appeal of your home--why not improve your company's curb appeal as well, and create an identity that's easy to read, looks good, and doesn't make potential customers giggle like a bad 90's cartoon?


Muchos Gracias!

I am currently doing some freelance work for a small design firm, who just happen to be interviewing for a full time employee. While I was working in their offices last week, a package came. But not just any package, it was one of those Edible Arrangements. And it wasn't just any old Edible Arrangement, it was chocolate covered fruit. But it was almost mutant fruit--the strawberries were literally the size of small apples.

Sidebar/Edible Arrangements plug: if you are ever looking for a great edible gift, Edible Arrangements is the most delicious! Every time I have been on the receiving end, they never fail; the fruit is always beyond fresh and yummy, and the presentation is fantastic. Well worth the $$$!

But back to the story... so Edible Arrangements had been delivered--so what? Well, the person who sent it was one of the job candidates, who was sending it as a thank you! Holy cow!

My first immediate thought (besides how many strawberries can I get away with eating without looking like a pig), was, huh, I feel cheap. I haven't formally interviewed for a job in a very, very, very long time (with the exception of freelance gigs.. but somehow that feels different), and the last time I did, I can tell you that I did not send any type of food as a thank you.

So the bar has been raised. Or has it? Of course, everyone who worked at this firm joked that this person had just guarenteed themselves the job... but is sending an expensive basket of fruit really the way to seal the deal?

Food for thought... (heh heh heh)


Mini me

Last week, my 12 year old had a project for school that involved creating a postcard. She did this elaborate drawing/paper collage for the front of the postcard, but then kind of stopped when it came to the back. This might be a good time to mention that she is very computer savvy; she's pretty proficient in the Microsoft Office suite, knows what she's doing online, and even gets frustrated at her grandmother's dial-up service ("Mima, your internet is so slow! Why don't you just get a cable modem??!"

But back to her project. She kind of frowned at the postcard, and explained that she needed it to look like a postcard, but wasn't sure how to do that in Word. No problem, I reply, your mom's a graphic designer (at which point she just rolled her eyes)! I opened up Quark and showed her how to lay out a page to look like the back of a postcard. Then I opened up my font management program, and showed her how to open up different fonts. Then I went to do something in the next room.

When I came back, there was a couple of discarded printouts on the table. I asked what they were, and I kid you not, her answer was that she was unhappy with her font choice, and went into the font management program and played around with some other fonts. My heart melted a little.

Then just yesterday, she was working on another project, this time on Mattio's computer. She wasn't quite cursing, but she was definitely mumbling under her breath. "What's wrong?" I asked.

She then went on this rant about "Dad's fonts", and how he doesn't have a font management program and she was entirely unhappy with her font choices. I almost cried.

My little girl is becoming a font-addict, just like her mommy...


London Bridge is falling down

Have you seen the new logo for the 2012 London Olympics? No? Well, feast your eyes...

Wow, huh? It's a bit... Andy Warhol. Kind of... bright, and definitely... non-traditional. My first thought was, "ew!" Upon closer examination, my thoughts are still "ew!" but now with good reason: it doesn't say anything about London. I'm certainly not saying that you need an image of Big Ben, but I don't know... it looks a little more Depeche Mode circa 1981 (alright, so they're British) than London 2012.

The even bigger issue here is that the people in London hate it. Despise it. Have a petition out to redesign it. Even more outrageous? The price that was paid to the firm Wolff Olins to design it: £400,000 (about--GULP--$797,120 American dollars. Ummm... note to the Olympic committee: I'm available).

But the funniest part of all of this is the Daily Mail has a contest going to see if regular Joes can design a better logo. Guess what? They can't. Actually, I'm reminded of that hilarious scene in European Vacation, when Chevy Chase can't get out of the traffic loop, so the family is stuck driving in a continuous circle all day: "Look kids, there's Big Ben."

And the Millenium Wheel. Oh, and look, there's the Tube. I realize that these are not graphic designers (The Mail actually brags about the amount of time spent on these logos: not much. Hey Daily Mail: no kidding!), but these designs aren't much better than the original. There are a few (using the term "few" loosely here) that stand out a little more than the rest, but nothing to write home about.

The final nail in the coffin is that there was a commercial produced introducing the logo. The logo moves in the video. The bright pink and yellow logo moves in the video. Calling all epileptics: don't watch this video! That's right, the logo is inducing epileptic seizures.

Seriously, Olympic Committee: Call me.


And the winner is...


It's design awards season, and I'm not shy about entering my work. After all, I work really hard at what I do, ensuring that each of my clients is getting a quality piece--print or web.

So I'm thrilled to announce that the Saturnia stationery (check it out in my portfolio) I designed is a winning entry in the Connecticut Art Directors Club 2007 "Design Ain't Pretty" Awards. I didn't enter a lot in this contest (unfortunately, these things add up to be quite expensive), but I'm really happy with the way the whole logo/stationery system/website came out and I couldn't be happier that it was recognized by a jury of my peers.

In related news, the Saturnia website is getting ready to launch soon. You can view the temp page here, but don't worry, once the site goes live I promise to let you all know.

Happy Friday everyone! I, for one, know that I'll be celebrating this weekend!