Catching up

It's Friday! Yay! As it's the end of the week, and I haven't had a meaningful post in a while, I thought I'd catch you all up on the happenings here at traciedesigns headquarters (that is a snazzy word for my house, isn't it? I quite like that, actually!):

--Earlier this week I worked on some biz cards for my pal Jill over at Glow (I know she reads this--and I'm totally not saying this because she does--but man, her cookies rock! They're gluten free, and in the name of research, I've eaten my fair share of gluten free cookies. Her cookies totally blow the others out of the water. And if my kids like them (which they do), they have to be good!). Coming soon: Glow cookie packaging, which I am so psyched to share!

--Also worked on some logos: one for a firm I'm doing some freelance for, the other for Justin and Mary Marantz, who have to be, by far and away, the most patient people I know.

--Finished up and presented some web designs to family friend, family babysitter, author, and petsitter Sharon Martins. Her first book was recently published, about a cat named Murray, and the trouble he gets into. Check out the book here.

--Laid out a pdf brochure for Hospital for Special Surgery. Interesting fact: according to their graphic guidelines, the word "the" does not belong in front of Hospital for Special Surgery. It's not "the Hospital..." it's just "Hospital."

--Scanned and worked on some imagemaps for Marcy.

--Made some updates to the bodd website.

--Got some new work! Yay! The talented Christy Murray has hired me to redesign her logo. And since I'm loving the logo design lately, I am psyched!

Also, I have to mention: 2 weeks ago, Mattio was away for the week. He was due home father's day weekend, and seeing how he was going to be travel groggy upon his return, and it was father's day and all, I had someone come and mow the lawn. But not just any lawn service; I called up my new pal Dan Delventhal (interesting fact: he also works as an extra in movies shooting here in CT) who runs mowgreen.us. Dan came by and cut our grass--with a push mower. Yep, the only thing powering his lawnmower was his sweat. I have to give Dan a little link love, because the yard looked great--Mattio was relieved it was one less thing to do--and I love the cause. Thanks again, Dan!

Whew! Rereading this post, I didn't realize just how jammed packed my week was! I think this weekend I'm going to have to treat myself to a pedicure...

I kind of like this weekly wrap up feature... Let me know if you do, too; and maybe I'll keep it going. Enjoy the weekend, folks!


Baseball logos

The Toronto Blue Jays have piqued my interest.

There. I said it. Being a diehard Yankee fan, that's probably the one and only time I'll ever say anything like that.

But alas, this post isn't about baseball, it's about logos. Baseball team logos, if you will (seeing as how the Yankees have had the same logo since the 30s--how's that for some branding staying power??!--I couldn't really write about them).

The Toronto Blue Jays have actually gone through quite a few logo reincarnations as of late (4 in the last 8 years alone--that's some serious branding issues right there), and I thought it was interesting to look at. Check out the Blue Jays' website to see the whole timeline.

Also, a quick Google search led me to this site, where you can actually check out the logo timeline of almost any sport's team. That's some crazy free time, right there!


Friday fill ins

It's been a crazy week, and I haven't had a ton of time to post (although I have quite a few ideas in my head); so I took the easy way out with a Friday Fill in. Happy weekend!

1. A smile is worth a million bucks--especially from my kids!.

2. Monopoly is my favorite board or card game.

3. I would love to have more down time with my family in my life and less work related stress (although, wouldn't we all??).

4. When I think of the Summer Solstice, I think of flip flops (natch), the beach, Cape Cod, and a cold beer on a hot day. Ahhhhh...

5. I just remembered I need to check and see if I've made the kids doctor's appointments. Yep, I have!

6. One of my favorite song lyrics goes like this: off the top of my head, "Please, please, please; let me, let me, let me; let me get what I want, this time" from the song of the same title, by the Smiths.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to reading more of my book (it's express from the library, which means I have until Tuesday to finish it), tomorrow my plans include the beach, if the weather cooperates! and Sunday, I want to relax, but I know I'll end up working!


The branding iron

So, I've spoken of the black hole that I tend to fall into once I stray online... today was one of those days. I have no idea what I was looking for in the first place, as all sense of time, space and direction were lost once I found the "Brand Timeline Portrait."

The brand timeline portrait is a timeline of all the brands you use throughout the day. I actually found the link through a similar type-project, "33 logos in 33 minutes." What the hey, I figured, I could do this.

Ummmm, yeah. I never realized just how many brands I use throughout the day. So my brand timeline portrait is from when I get up in the AM (usually about 6:45, depending on my daughter, the alarm clock) to when I leave the house at 8:30 AM. So basically, in an hour and 45 minutes, I use slightly less than 50 brands. And that's not even double dipping--for instance, I use Tom's of Maine toothpaste, and deodorant; however Tom's of Maine is only on there once. And forget about Trader Joe's--so much of what I buy is Trader Joe's brand!

I had the best of intentions and started out in the order of how I use the brands (Get up. Turn Fisher Price monitor off. Look at RCA alarm clock. Go get baby and change her Pampers diaper and use Huggies wipes; etc). However, that quickly became overwhelming, so at some point, it's just a list of all the brands I used this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tracie's brand morning portrait:
UPDATE: I broke the image up into 3s, because unless you had a microscope, it was impossible to see these because the picture had shrunk so much.

I can't even imagine how large this image would be if I kept track my entire day! It's pretty amazing the logos and branding we come across in our daily lives, and don't even think about it.


Sigh, spam

I came across this funny article on Spam today (the "food," not the unwanted email). There are a number of astonishing things:

--Residents of Hawaii eat an average of four cans of Spam per year. That's just insane. Four... really? There are 4 people in the entire state of Hawaii that actually eat this stuff?

--More than 60 million people in the U.S. eat Spam. Seriously? This stuff was a joke when I was growing up. People really eat this stuff? Really??

--The photo accompanying the article. First of all, the price: three bucks for a can of meat? Look a little closer: do you see Spam light (really? Spam light??), and, just when I though bacon was the most vile thing on the planet, I see that Spam makes bacon.

Mmmmmm, bacon, my husband would say (although I'm pretty positive he wouldn't be talking about the Spam variety).


Friday night oversharing

From Marcy, this meme was inspired by one of her friend's reactions to the NY Times Mag cover story a couple of weeks ago, pretty much about a girl who just. wouldn't. shut. up. Seriously, if you haven't read the article, here's a quick summary: Girl blogs about every detail of her life. Boyfriends get mad over her tendency to "overshare." Girl password-protects (now ex) boyfriend-related blog posts, then writes a cover story for the NY Times magazine telling all this and more.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the oversharing meme:

1. Name the singer/band/performer you are most embarrassed to admit you actually paid good money to see in concert.
I went to so many concerts in my high school/college years, and there's got to be an embarrassment in there somewhere... I just have yet to remember it.

2. Which reality TV show have you watched more than once (come on. I don't believe you if you say "none," unless you don't own a TV)?
I will watch What Not to Wear from time to time; and as the seasons progress, I've been more and more into Project Runway. When I first started working from home 3 years ago, I used to watch TLC at lunch, which was A Baby Story, A Wedding Story, A Makeover Story... I've since graduated to lunchtime reruns of Melrose Place (Hey, I'm oversharing, OK?).

3. Which complete trash novelist have you not only read but enjoyed enough to read more than one book of his/hers?
Growing up, my mother was all about Danielle Steele, so I'm sure that I've read a couple of her books. Blech, I felt dirty just typing that.

4. What sappy musical could you watch over and over and over again?
The Sound of Music, and I have happily passed this gene down to my girls.

5. Who was your first celebrity crush?
[sigh] Corey Haim. Not to be confused with "the Coreys," cause I really didn't see the attraction with the other one (Feldman?). But it didn't last long (I'm glad to say, as now he is washed up and kind of gross looking)... sidenote: there is a great song by the Thrills, that I love love love, called Whatever Happened to Corey Haim?

6. Who is the most embarrassing celebrity on whom you have a slight crush today?
I would totally agree with Marcy and say Rob Lowe (ever since St. Elmo's Fire, he will always have a special place in my heart).

7. What movie that everyone else and his cousin and even his dog has seen have you never seen?
The Crying Game. I remember all kinds of hype surrounding the movie (there was some big secret--the guy was really a girl, or the girl was really a guy?), and it was one of those movies I just never got around to seeing.

8. What were you drinking the first time you ever got drunk?
Well... I was drunk, so the memory is a little fuzzy... it was probably some frilly mixed drink.

9. Which old re-run will you still pause to watch if you’re flicking through the channels and see that it’s on?
When Madeline was an infant, Nick at Night reran all kinds of sitcoms from my youth: Cosby, Family Ties, Cheers... Midnight feedings were based not on what time it was, but by which show was on. I will watch almost any sitcom from the early 80s (Square Pegs, anyone?). And I will always, ALWAYS stop and watch Mary Tyler Moore if/when it's on, no matter what I'm doing. "Oh, Mr. Grant!"

10. What book/movie/t.v. show that only a fifteen-year-old would think is funny makes you laugh?
This one is tough. I always enjoy The Wedding Singer whenever I watch it--but that takes place in the 80s and I think a lot of the references would be lost on a fifteen year old. I laughed my butt off watching Superbad, but if you've seen it, you know it's completely inappropriate for fifteen year olds (or so the parent in me thinks... but I'm sure plenty of fifteen year olds have seen it).


"...But can you make my logo BIGGER?"

Back in my agency days, I had quite a few clients who became backseat art directors; driving me batty with requests such as:

"There's not a lot going on here, it feels empty. Is there something we can add that will eat up all this white space?"

"I know my logo is light green, but just this once, can't we make it red?"

"What if we moved this over here, and added something else over there. Why don't you try that?"

I swallowed my pride (and kept my job) by fulfilling their requests, only so they could see that I don't have a kajillion dollars in art school student loans for no good reason.

So when my pal Troy passed this along today, I identified all too well. It's a little long, but anyone who's ever had a request to "make my logo bigger" will certainly appreciate it.

You can also check out the website here.


Designing Google

Whenever I come across something interesting that I think might be a good blog topic, I tuck it away in the back of my mind, for those "slow news days." A couple of weeks ago, I discovered Google Artist Themes, which I thought would make a decent future blog post.

Good thing I saved it; this Sunday's Times Magazine had a blurb by Virginia Heffernan about how you too, can unleash your inner graphic designer and use Artist Themes to customize your Google home page (among other things--my mind began to wander once I got to the part where she painstakingly color coordinated an online user group page).

Just as I was hanging it up as an aspiring stereo expert, I perceived a new skill set taking shape, one that eclipsed my old sound geekery. Graphic design! Sure, I can’t write any actual code or even do much with HTML, but the finish work on my technology now consumes days. I customize everything with colors and fonts and photos and choices of backgrounds, wallpaper, screen savers. It’s like decorating my 10th-grade notebook with stickers of Rossignol and Vuarnet logos, as well as cryptic verse from Edie Brickell — all meant to suggest both a rich interior life and an intimacy with high-end brands.

So last month, when Google unveiled in Manhattan its new “artist themes” — colors and patterns created by a range of celebrities, with which to decorate an iGoogle homepage — I earnestly browsed as I have never done at MoMA.

I was just as excited when I clicked on the Artist Themes link, and was taken to a page of "artists and innovators". Of course, my inner Carrie Bradshaw immediately gravitated towards Diane von Furstenberg and Dolce and Gabbana, but then Tory Burch caught my eye and I knew the search for the perfect background was over: I'm a sucker for Tory Burch. I love the bold graphic design of her patterns and colors. I find it incredibly refreshing, that in a fashion world where something is always "the new black," Tory has separated herself from the crowd by designing with so much color (well, that and her T pattern rocks my socks. And the Reva Ballerina Flats, can't forget those).

But back to Google... there's something for everyone; heck, even the Wiggles have their own theme (something that tells me that falls under the category of "innovators"). Truth be told, I barely use iGoogle; but the few times a month I do end up there, I smile to myself every time a different Tory Burch pattern comes up on my screen--as if my computer wasn't designer enough.