The end & the beginning

And so, friends, another year comes to an end. I'm not big on reflecting on the past year (if you've ever met me then you know my brain can only hold so much. So pretty much the first 3/4 of the year have already been wiped clear).

I would like to share my 2010 "to do" list with you. I'm hesitant to call it resolutions, because I feel like it's really easy to break resolutions, whereas I'm always happy to cross stuff off my to do list. So, here goes:

1. Blog more. I think I say this about every 3 months, or whenever I get really busy and can't keep up with things. The problem is, I need to practice what I preach; I'm always telling my clients if they want a blog, or to be on Facebook, they have to be consistent. I need a dose of my own medicine.

This year I am going to make a conscious effort to blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If I make it a part of my routine on those days, then I feel like I'll be more likely to do it. And readers? Don't hesitate to call me on it. If I skip a day, send me a note, write me a comment, do something to make me feel bad for letting you down.

2. Update my website. This is a long time overdue. I actually came up with a redesign in July (July, people!), and have yet to find the time to implement it. That has to change.

I actually came up with a really great idea a few weeks back, and I was really hoping to implement it January 1, but unfortunately (or fortunately, if you're my husband and you like checks coming in) I ended up getting a wave of business the past few weeks and again, have been unable to find the time to get my own stuff done.

This January, I want to make better use of late nights and get my own stuff going. I don't want to let these great ideas go to waste.

3. In non-design related news, I'd like to lose about 10 pounds. I did over the summer, and then ate my way through the fall, only to have gained most of it back. I'm fairly active, it's really all about the food. I actually started this on December 26th, and so far, it's going pretty well.

4. In more health-not-design-related news, I'd also like to be more consistent in a running routine. Again, I started over the summer, and kind of fell off in the fall. I try and get on the treadmill for 45 minutes at least once a week, but sometimes that doesn't even happen. If I could incorporate some kind of 2x per week running routine into my schedule, I think that would be good for me, and completely doable.

5. Work more efficiently. This is a biggie. Because it's just me, and because the children need to be picked up, dropped off, and everything in between, my work day gets pretty spread out. I'm usually good until about 2:30, and that's when it slowly unravels. I jump back on once the little ones are in bed, and that seems to work out fine... but I don't want to spend my nights--and, let's face it, weekends--working.

I've had a taste of time off these past few weeks and it's nice. I'd like that to happen a little (a little, guys, not a lot) more often. I love what I do, but I also love my family. To make that happen I have to start working more efficiently to maximize the time I do have working sans children, so I can spend more time with them when I don't have to be working.

6. Keep my sanity. That's more of a wish than an actual item to be crossed off of a list.

We're adding a second floor onto our house, and I'm sure that during the construction, tensions will be high (we'll all be living on the first floor--all 800 square feet of it). I'm just hoping that I can remain relatively sane throughout the entire process. My big saying regarding the construction is "big picture." As in, we have to look at the big picture, here. The finished product is going to be great. We just have to concentrate on that end result to get through the not-so-glamourous part.

I think that's it for now. I'm sure goals will come up throughout the year, but those are the biggies.

Thank you all so much for continuing to read the blog, for continuing to come back (especially when I don't always have fresh content) and for your support. I wish you all nothing but a safe, happy and healthy 2010!



Merry Merry

Have I mentioned that I love forced time off?

It's been a long Autumn; work has kept me insanely busy, so much so that I found myself working many, many more nights and weekends than I would have liked. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do, so work for me really isn't work--but at the same time, a day off from the computer every once in a while is nice. Three days off is vacation!

Christmas here was great; the Snuggie--of all things--was a big hit. The kids seem pretty happy with what Santa gave them, as was I. Santa was nice enough to bring me some cool Pantone mugs, Adobe coasters, really awesome woodcut type (!!!), and a season ski pass to a mountain we like up in Massachusetts. Good Santa.

Christmas also brought a trip to the Apple Store; not for anything fun and good mind you, but some routine computer maintenance. Unfortunately, the Genius I got wasn't so smart, as he was unable to fix any of my problems (to be fair, most were, as he put it, "third-party applications," and he told me about 17 times that he was not licensed in those "third-party applications." However, he was licensed to fix my Mac problems, which he couldn't even do). But the trip did give me a chance to play with the new Magic Mouse--hello, awesome!--however the store had none in stock--hello, letdown!--so I guess I have to order it online.

This short week brings lots more work, but also lots more cleaning. We are about to embark on major home renovations (so major that traciedesigns HQ has to move for a few months--more on that to come)--they're actually starting to take walls down this week. I'll be blogging about the whole process, so you too, can experience all the fun and excitement (and tears). When all is said and done, our new space will be fantastic. Living through it all, I am convinced, will not be.

I hope all of you had a Merry Merry as well, and wish you nothing but health and happiness in 2010 (Whoa. I just typed that out and it sounds like I won't be blogging again until after the new year--which certainly isn't the case).


A Festivus for the restofus

Today, my friends, is Festivus. My grievances have been aired here, here and here (there was even a Festivus miracle!). Our Festivus dinner will be take out (yahoo!), and the Feats of Strength will be celebrated by a trip to the grocery store tonight. Yeah, I'ma definitely need some Feats of Strength for that trip.

No aluminum pole, but the tree is up, and if I haven't mentioned it yet, I think it's my favorite tree thus far--ironic, due to the fact that we bought it when we were grocery shopping (we're normally cut-your-own folk), and we'll be taking it down within days after Christmas, due to major home renovations (more on that to come).

We both might take a much needed break tonight, and since there are no Festivus movies (why is that?), we might just watch Elf.

Happy Festivus!


Holiday cheer

I love this time of year--I love buying and giving gifts, love sending out cards, love baking cookies. I love the lights on our tree--actually, I really, really love our tree this year. I love the fact that it's completely and totally eclectic--I think the old school lights really do it for me.

I think my most favorite thing over the holiday season is giving gifts, though. I love shopping for other people, and I love the really good feeling I get when I make someone else happy.

Which is why, when this arrived in my inbox this morning, courtesy of the always awesome Debbie Fay, I couldn't ignore it. I love stories like this:

A Victim Treats His Mugger Right
(listen to Diaz tell his story here)

Morning Edition, March 28, 2008 · Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"

Diaz replied: "If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome.

"You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

"The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi," Diaz says. "The kid was like, 'You know everybody here. Do you own this place?'"

"No, I just eat here a lot," Diaz says he told the teen. "He says, 'But you're even nice to the dishwasher.'"

Diaz replied, "Well, haven't you been taught you should be nice to everybody?"

"Yea, but I didn't think people actually behaved that way," the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. "He just had almost a sad face," Diaz says.

The teen couldn't answer Diaz - or he didn't want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, "Look, I guess you're going to have to pay for this bill 'cause you have my money and I can't pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I'll gladly treat you."

The teen "didn't even think about it" and returned the wallet, Diaz says. "I gave him $20 ... I figure maybe it'll help him. I don't know."

Diaz says he asked for something in return - the teen's knife - "and he gave it to me."

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, "You're the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch."

"I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It's as simple as it gets in this complicated world."

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo.


Designers Gift Guide

So, I know what you're thinking: what on earth does traciedesigns want for Christmas (other than shoes--c'mon, that was WAY too easy)? Well, I'm glad you asked, because I've scoured the internet (OK, not really) and I came up with what I think are some pretty cool gift ideas for the designer in your life. Here we go:

Remember Carrie Bradshaw's "Carrie" necklace? Well, Survival of the Hippest has taken the name necklace to this decade. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Social St@tus collection. Twitter handles, hashtags... if it's on Twitter, it can be around your neck.

Because the Apple logo is cool, but let's face it: all alone, on the back of that laptop? That thing can be bo-ring! Why not incorporate it into some sort of design; say, space invaders, or Snow White. C'mon people, let's get creative here!

So they don't have 167, so 716 will just have to do: Pantone Flash Drives. Geek, meet art.

Photoshop Magnet Kit. Now, when I go to the fridge, it'll be like I never left my screen! Seriously, if there is one thing I want from this list, this is it.

Or maybe it's this: The Ampersandwich tshirt. I just finished up a logo using an ampersand, which I though would be the most awesomest logo project ever, until I realized the multitude of awesome ampersands out there. This shirt wouldn't have made my decision any easier, but it would definitely make me giggle.

Oh and by the way? The client ended up going with a custom made (by yours truly) ampersand. Holla!

Type soap. Now I completely understand all those stupid little soaps my mother had in the bathroom when I was a kid, that we weren't allowed to use. "But why not?" "Because they're just decoration!" "Why is soap a decoration??!" Ahhh, now I get it.

So there's your 2009 designer/geek gift guide. Use it wisely, you know, for your favorite designer/blogger/all around fun gal named Tracie... or anyone else creative in your life. Be merry!



I am thankful that I don't design logos like this:

On the flipside, I would like to get that paycheck, cause I'm willing to bet it's more than what I make in a year. But still.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



Because it's November 20, and my windows are open...

Because fall is the most awesomest season. Ever. Don't even try and argue...

Because if this Abstract City post doesn't get your creative juices flowing, well... I don't know what to tell you.


Things that don't suck--they blow!

Now that I am with iPhone, I pay special attention to all the cool apps you can get (As does my husband, although for very different reasons: "ANOTHER iTunes purchase??!"). NYTimes app? Love it. Starbucks app? Check. iShoes app? Hello, have you met me??

But today I stumbled upon Blower, an application that, well, blows. From mashable:

We know how hard it is: birthday after birthday, those stubborn candles aren’t extinguishing themselves, and your poor lungs aren’t getting any younger.

Help comes in the form of an iPhone application called Blower which actually moves air through the speakers of your iPhone (strictly speaking, the same thing happens when you play music through those speakers, but let’s not be too harsh on the novelty part of the application).

Hunh. Alright, I'll admit, you can really wow your friends and family with this one: "Look what my phone can do!" But seriously folks, watch the video. There's no way I am putting my precious phone that close to flame. No way. I'll blow out my birthday candles the old fashioned way, thank you very much.


More shoes!

Sometimes all you need is a statement shoe. Tory Burch, truer words have never been spoken.


Duhn duhn duhn (Cue ominous Friday the 13th music)

It's Friday the 13th.

Normally, I'm not one for superstitions (although, you certainly won't catch me breaking a mirror on purpose. And once I had to technically shoplift an umbrella so I didn't have to open it inside--I worked in visual merchandising [which is a fancy term for dressing mannequins], and I was working on a display that needed umbrellas. Rather than open one up in the store, I took the umbrella--technically unpaid for--and opened it outside).

Where was I? Oh right. Yeah, I guess you could say I'm just a wee superstitious. Because let's face it: lots of bad things could happen on Friday the 13th.

So what better way to celebrate this ominous day (does one celebrate Friday the 13th? Or does one merely observe it?) than with a bad logo? Behold, the new Photoshop logo, my friends (which, according to the 2007 time stamp on Brand New's post, isn't really so new after all--serves me right for not upgrading to CS4):

Hunh. Apparently the criteria for designing the new logo was to use all kinds of Photoshop filters. Filters that have many great uses... logo design NOT being one of them. Musings about Adobe's Older PS logos, from Brand New:

What was beautiful about it, was its almost fascist execution where nothing strayed too far and, as well, rarely overlapped. Even with the addition of the Macromedia product line, Adobe found a way to render everything under a single visual umbrella that on the surface may look simplistic, but I dare anyone to attempt tie the complex brand architecture with a prettier, simpler, broader design.

It's pretty unfortunate that the graphics program standard for so many people is represented by... this.

Says Adobe:

To represent this rich family of products, Adobe is introducing the Photoshop visual logo. This logo will soon appear in all Photoshop-related marketing, so keep an eye out for it. The Photoshop logo on a product, service, or technology, represents the rich legacy, technical quality, and attention to detail that has made Photoshop the gold standard in digital imaging.

Or, as The Dude might say, "It really ties the room together."

OhNoTheyDin't just quote The Dude!

Tragic, tragic misuse of Photoshop, logos, filters, and Big Lebowski quotes.

In other words, the perfect Friday the 13th post.


New work (plus a small Twitter story)

So this past summer, I went to my first Tweet Up--that's a Twitter Meet Up for those not in the know--in New Haven (they're actually held all around the state; since then I've been to Tweet Ups in Fairfield and Hartford as well). While I was there, I met Ed Kuryluk, who just happens to live up the road from me. Ed runs Hey Fairfield, a site where users can discuss issues that pertain to Fairfield. I thought the idea was great (I had been on the site prior to meeting Ed), however it was really lacking in the brand department. Enter traciedesigns.

I wanted to get my hands on this project because A) it seemed really cool. B) Ed seemed like a pretty cool guy. And C) There was no logo--I could start from scratch.

And start from scratch is just what I did. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new Hey Fairfield:

And, I know I'm all pro-Twitter, but come on, people! This is what Twitter is doing: it's bringing together people who otherwise might not ever meet, and creating relationships. Ed and I converse fairly regularly on Twitter now, we've been to other Tweet Ups, and met even more people, and are building those relationships as well.

Yay, Twitter! And yay, Hey Fairfield!


Birthday baby

My youngest is 2 today--I can't even wrap my head around that. Time flies when you're having fun.

Happy birthday, my sweet baby girl.


Can you hear me now?

This Sunday, I'm proud to announce, the traciedesigns phone fail is no more. That's right, new phones were procured by the entire Valentino clan, including (drumroll, please) an iPhone for yours truly.

First of all, how on earth have I lived this long without this device? Seriously, I was never a hater, but this thing does everything short of making dinner for you (and I'm sure someone is hard at work on an app for that).

Let me tell you that this phone all but paid for itself within the first few hours of ownership: a glowstick app (break the glowstick, then shake the phone to make it light up) completely amused 2 very cranky children to no end. Thank you, iPhone.

Oh, and the fact that it makes phone calls--the fact that we actually HAVE service in the house--is the icing on the cake.

This is definitely one party I'm sorry I was fashionably late to.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Yeah, that's right, I posted this from the phone. Cause these days? That's how I roll.


Public speaking? Maybe I'll just tweet, instead

Last week I was fortunate enough to present to the FINE Networking Group about branding your business, traditionally and through social media.

First, let me say that public speaking is not something I do. I get completely nervous, stumble over words, forget things, and in general, just suck at it. So I kind of surprised myself a little when volunteering to do this. Actually, I believe my exact words to my husband, 2 days before the event, went something like this: What on earth is wrong with me??! Why would I volunteer to speak publicly??!

I practiced. A lot. And then some more. And you know what? It wasn't so bad. Actually, it was kind of fun.

The social media topic--specifically Twitter--got the most response. I think people were interested in the branding aspect, but they really wanted to talk Twitter. And since I love Twitter, I had no problem with that whatsoever.

So would I do it again? Sure, why not? Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of my public speaking career? Or maybe I should just stick to Twitter.


Pr*tty Sh*tty

The other day I kind of happened upon this blog: pr*tty sh*tty--actually, I think someone I follow on Twitter had tweeted about it (and if I could find the original post, I would SO credit you!).

This blog is quickly becoming a favorite, if only because they are not blogging about Target's new Up & Up packaging, or Nickelodeon's new logo, they're covering design that we see every day, yet don't notice all that much. Parking garages, moving vans, movie posters... There's actually a pretty great quote on the about page--from Michael Surtees' Design Notes blog--that does a great job of summing it up:

Designers who win awards for edgy design they did for a friend’s business, with a print run of one hundred or something like that? They’ve got no art director, no creative director, no client’s representative, no agency person. Where’s the obstacle to good design there? But take something like a cheese. When I see a really good package for a cheese, I know what that designer went through to get there. It makes me want to fall on my knees and kiss that designer’s feet, that cheese.

Go see pr*tty sh*tty. It's really pr*tty gr**t.


Tracie designs (and finally blogs)

I think at this point we all know by now that a break in between posts means that Tracie is busy designing--a good thing for me, but maybe not so much for this poor, neglected blog. What have I been up to?

First and foremost, Art/Place launched earlier this week. Yay! This was a pretty hefty site for me--for a while there, the mail consisted of bills and discs from artists. I always enjoy working with other creatives and this site was no exception.

I've also been working hard on 2 logo projects: one was presented last week, and one will be presented in the coming week or two. I've decided to feature both of these processes in depth--once a final logo is approved. Sorry kids, you'll just have to wait.

Tomorrow, I'm headed to the city to help a client engage their business in social media. I can't wait for Glow Gluten Free to start tweeting about their delish cookies. I'll keep you posted there, as well. Better yet, follow me on Twitter if you're not already--I'll more than likely be tweeting about it.

Also, next week, I have a big presentation coming up: I'll be speaking about the importance of branding at the next FINE Networking meeting, Thursday, 10/15 at 9AM at the Westport Country Playhouse. I have to admit, I'm a little nervous, but anxious to see if this is the start of my public speaking career.

Finally, this past Monday was my birthday. I don't feel much older (thank goodness), but I do feel that this past year was a great one for me. Throughout my 20s I really struggled with finding the kind of person I wanted to be--not so much finding myself, but maybe getting comfortable in my skin. Now that I'm--gulp--halfway into my 30s, I can honestly say that I am very comfortable with the person that I am today. I think I have grown leaps and bounds in the 4 years that I have worked for myself, more than my entire 20s combined.

So next week will bring more logo design, working on that presentation, a few small projects, and of course, not neglecting the blog.


No sleep till Brooklyn

Monday night my pal Greg and I took a field trip to Brooklyn--DUMBO, to be exact (and no, we didn't stop at West Elm)--to see a panel of top designers make presentations and pitches as they would to their clients. The lineup was as follows:

Jonathan Alger, C+G Partners: pitching Yankee Stadium graphics (which they won the job, btw)

Debbie Millman, Sterling Brands: Tropicana redesign

Jessie Arrington, Workshop; and Liz Danzico, SVA: Charter for Compassion

Michael Bierut, Pentagram: Museum of Arts and Design

First of all, the cool factor was way high; DUMBO, the fancy bar/performance space, me, Greg (oh come on, we upped that cool factor by quite a bit), Debbie Millman, Michael Bierut... The place was going to burst with awesomeness.

Second? The presentations were awesome. Jonathan Alger was very charming and funny explaining his pitch to "Mr. Jeter" while making funny asides about his (not Jeter's) lack of baseball stadium knowledge. Debbie Millman addressed the Tropicana "elephant in the room" and went through a a bunch of back and forths and market research (note: the orange juice in a glass concept tested very, very poorly). Jessie and Liz had an incredibly detailed presentation about the Charter for Compassion (including a very awesome logo), and Michael Bierut just killed it with his logo process for the Museum of Arts and Design.

All in all, it was a great time. It was pretty amazing to watch the presenters actually present their work as if they were pitching the actual clients. So cool... definitely glad we went.


Mad Cap Monday

Ciao, Monday! Are you digging the drop cap? Lovely, isn't it? Designed by illustrator Jessica Hische (who's also behind the awesomeness that is Buttermilk), Daily Drop Cap is a new site devoted to a different stylized drop cap every (work) day. The best part?

Each day (or at least each WORK day), a new hand-crafted decorative initial cap will be posted for your enjoyment and for the beautification of blog posts everywhere. To use a Daily Drop Cap on your site or blog, follow the instructions in each post and read about the usage limitations. Enjoy!

Enjoy? Um, yes, I think I will. I hope you will too. This might have to be a new Monday feature; I can call it Mad Cap Monday. Ooooohhh, I think I like that--nothing like starting off the week with some gorgeous typography.


New work! (sort of.)

It shouldn't be so long in between me posting new work... my apologies for the gap. I'm working hard on 3 really cool logos; each one is for a completely different business. One of them, for a local website, has been all but approved, so I'm going to give you a little taste:

I'm so excited for this one to get approved and go live! The other two I'm working on are, interestingly enough, for 2 areas of business that are making lots of headlines these days (and, unfortunately, not in a good way): finance, and real estate. Perhaps if they're looking for new logos, that's a sign of a turnaround? I'll keep you posted.


Fait accompli

This weekend was looking to be pretty ordinary as far as weekends go; no crazy projects for me--or my husband, for that matter--no pressing issues, no plans in general. Which, considering my life is dependent on ical alarms, was pretty refreshing.

We've been working, for almost 3 weeks now, on potty training Eleanor. This weekend, she jumped over a major hurdle: actually announcing that she "had to go potty" before the fact (usually it's after. Way after). That is HUGE. Considering she's not yet 2, we're really impressed with how far she's come. A pretty amazing accomplishment.

The other pretty amazing this that happened this weekend is that Madeline, 6, mastered riding a 2-wheeled bike. Pretty much just like that. I let go of the back of the bike, and she weebled, and wobbled, but she didn't fall down. And, of course, the more she practiced, the better she became--and as a result, her self confidence soared. She thinks she can do anything now (which, of course, she can).

I think what makes me most excited about both incidents is that we never set short term goals for either child. No pressure at all, they just accepted the task at hand, and decided that they would do it. So inspiring.

So that's the way I'm tackling the to-do list today; I'm just crossing things off as they get done. Sure, I have deadlines, and there are many things on that list that take priority, but I'm taking a cue from the kids, and just doing it.


PARK(ing) Day

I consider myself pretty lucky to live Fairfield. It's a nice, middle class town; we have great schools, 2 fabulous shopping districts with an abundance of stores--both chain and mom and pop--and a ton of parks and open space.

One thing Fairfield doesn't have--to my knowledge, anyway--is an active participant in PARK(ing) Day. What on earth is PARK(ing) Day, you ask?

Originally created by Rebar, San Francisco art and design collective, PARK(ing) Day is an annual, one-day, global event where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.

Anyone can participate in PARK(ing) Day, though it is strictly a non-commercial project, intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play.

When on earth is PARK(ing) Day? Tomorrow!

I wish I had the time and the resources to do something like this! Plaid, an agency in Danbury, does:

Employees with Plaid, an interactive firm based in the city, are planning to spruce up one of the parking spaces in front of their office at 155 Main St. as part of the international PARK(ing) Day.

The project, which includes more than 500 "PARK" installations on four continents, is aimed at challenging people to rethink the way streets are used and reinforces the need for broad-based changes to urban infrastructure.

Employees with Plaid are planning to line their parking space with a large rug, along with a couch and other chairs that residents passing by are welcome to use. There will also be free wi-fi access available -- many of the company employees plan to do their work from the parking space on Friday.

New York City has it's own PARK(ing) Day planned as well:

Park(ing) Day NYC is a New York City Streets Renaissance collaboration which supports the conversion of parking spots throughout New York City's 5 boroughs into human-friendly places for a single day. These small, temporary public spaces provide a breath of relief from the auto-clogged reality of New York City, and aim to spark dialogue about our valuable public space and how we choose to use it.

Awesome, awesome, awesome! Let me know if you come across any PARK(ing) Day displays, I'd love to see it!


Phone FAIL: The Saga Continues

Some time this summer, my Palm Treo--which was admittedly not the fanciest, nor the best, smartphone, but did the trick--croaked. Not just croaked, but died a very ugly death. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Valentino," they said at the Sprint store, "we can't retrieve any of your data. This phone is dead." Now, had I been able to backup said Treo, that would have been one thing. But since it stopped syncing with my computer half a lifetime ago, it was a fail of the most epic proportions (do you see where this story is going yet?).

To add insult to injury, because I was roughly 5 months out of a new contract with Sprint, even the most basic phones cost upwards of $200. $200, for a phone. Just a phone. To make phone calls with. No internet, no email, just. a. phone.

Whatever, Sprint.

Thus began my campaign to switch over to AT&T and get an iPhone. Hubby was not--and is still not--thrilled. AT&T is notorious for crap connections and horrid customer service (well, OK, horrid customer service and cell phone providers go hand in hand). But, at the other end of the spectrum is the pretty, shiny, iPhone. The iPhone, for the love! So we sacrifice... right? Right???

I'm still working on it.

In the midst of all of this, the Friday before last, my Sprint connection in the house--which, mind you, has been flawless for 4 years now. Oh, and is also my business line--just dropped. That's it, no bars for you. I have to either stand in one spot and hope and pray that the connection does not get dropped, or go outside, to talk on my cell phone. Sprint's answer? Oh, they don't have one. But they do have a product that they can sell me to boost my signal inside my home.

Seriously, they have no explanation why all of the sudden my service--which worked fine before--has dropped. Nothing. And their best customer service practice, even after I told them I was considering leaving, was to sell me yet another service.

Oh, and by the way? When talking to the customer service rep, guess what? The call was dropped.

Whatever, Sprint.

So now I just have to hope and pray that I have an AT&T connection in the house. Because Sprint can go and jump off a cliff, as far as I'm concerned.


Yummy site

Jason Kottke, who writes the brilliant kottke.org, posted this on his personal Twitter account today:

I hate the web. It reminds me of all the interesting books I won't read, places I won't visit, ppl I won't meet, ideas I'll never understand

Completely and totally agree.

Except when--well, you know how when you go to a website, and an ad gets your attention, so you click on that and are brought to another site? Then another external link calls out to you and before you know it you're 20 sites in and you've just randomly happened upon the most. interesting. thing. ever?

Yeah, that happened to me today. Ladies and gentlemen, meet OutNext:

OUTNEXT is a web magazine featuring all the things you crave, the best modern contemporary design, hot gadgets, amazing places, ... We are just passionately curious! and you?

Ummmmmm... yes. Yes, I am passionately curious. And passionately in love with half the things on this site! I think the only thing wrong with the site is that it hasn't been updated lately.




I just love weddings. I love that they are full of happiness and joy. You'd be hard-pressed to find something sad at a wedding--unless you count some unfortunate bridesmaid's dresses.

However, all you bridezillas out there might be interested in this: The Dessy Group (which has very lovely bridesmaid's dresses, btw) has introduced the world to Pantone Weddings. That's right, with Pantone Weddings you can:

Design inspiration boards that show off your favorite colors, styles, accessories and inspirational photos.

Share your inspiration boards with your wedding party and vendors via email or post them on your wedding website or blog.

Coordinate your colors with Pantone Color Swatches that you can leave with your bridesmaids, florist, wedding planner & more.

Being a designer, not a bridezilla (but yes, a little bit of a control freak--maybe you can call me designzilla. Oooooh, I kind of like that), I can honestly say, Holy crap! This is BRILLIANT!

Playing with this, it makes me wish I could get married all over again, so I could bring a little designzilla to being a bride...

(via HOW Magazine)



Well hey there stranger! Holy cow, it's been a while, right? What is up with the owner of this blog? What a slacke... oh, wait. Nevermind.

So suffice to say it's been a busy week (or two). I've been pretty crazed, getting ready to launch a site for a gallery (deets to come soon), working on some collateral for a hospital, meetings, meetings, meetings, and getting more new work. Yep, I've just signed on two more logo projects. Yipee!

Also? Mark your calendars: October 15th I'll be speaking to the FINE Business Networking group on the importance of branding your business. I joined the FINE Networking group earlier this summer, and have nothing but positive things to say about it. It's an interesting and diverse group, and I've even gotten a few jobs through the people I have met there. So come check me out Thursday, October 15, at the Westport Country Playhouse. All the cool kids will be there (plus, you know, the whole branding thing).

In my two-week absence, I've collected a couple of interesting things to post. So stayed tuned... I promise, no more neglect!


More type, yummy, yummy

How gorgeous is this logo?

Launched just yesterday, Typedia is a wiki-type (sorry for that) site that allows registered users to log in and classify and edit fonts while educating other users. From the about page:

We love type, and we have a burning desire to learn as much as possible about typefaces: where they come from, who made them, and why they look the way they do. We want everyone to be able to share in that rich knowledge and enjoy the art and artists of type design. Over time, we think Typedia could grow into a great educational resource for people to learn about their favorite typefaces and discover new ones.

But let's get back to that delicious logo. Designed by John Langdon (you might know him as the fancy pants who designed all those Angels & Demons/DaVinci Code ambigrams), there is a mighty blog post about how this logo came to be. OK, I'm a type geek, I'll admit it, but Oh. My. God.

There's the initial "brief." The sketches. The feedback. More sketches. If you have any curiosities at all about how logos are created, I highly suggest reading this.

Amazing. Amazing logo, amazing type, amazing story.



In Italia

Identity designer and illustrator Felix Sockwell took a 2 week class in Italy, and shares his sketchbooks with us:

A-ma-zing. Be sure to check out the rest of this peek inside his mind over on his blog. Makes me long for a 2 week trip to Italy, blank sketchbooks in hand... (also? Said trip will be financed by some bazillionaire so I can just draw and shoe shop, all. day. long.)


Let's hope it's a Monday Puzzle

Found via Twitter last week, a building--in the Ukraine--that's painted to look like a crossword puzzle:

Which is pretty cool in and of itself; I mean, you have this big white wall, right? Why not do something cool with it?

But wait, there's more:

Questions for the puzzle can be found in various locations around the city, on monuments, theaters, fountains, etc. Each evening people meet at the building to check their answers. The way this works is that in the day time the puzzle is empty. But at night special florescent lights come on, and the answers in the puzzle become visible.

That. Is. Awesome.


Yummy chair

First of all, you have to love a site called chair whore. Because, let's face it, chair whore? How awesome is that? I love it.


I WANT--no, wait--NEED this chair in my life. So, so gorgeous. Take a gander over on hive's site (their motto should be hello, yummy!) for more kartell ghost chair yumminess. I sear, ever since I've seen this chair, I think I chant that in my sleep.



The not so terrible, horrible, very bad logo

One of my favorite children's books is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I'm sure you can guess the plot, but to sum it up:

People of all ages have terrible, horrible days, and Alexander offers us the cranky commiseration we crave as well as a reminder that things may not be all that bad. As Alexander's day progresses, he faces a barrage of bummers worthy of a country- western song: getting smushed in the middle seat of the car, a dessertless lunch sack, a cavity at the dentist's office, stripeless sneakers, witnessing kissing on television, and being forced to sleep in railroad-train pajamas. He resolves several times to move to Australia.

Moving to Australia might be extreme, I'd settle for an extended vacation. Especially to Melbourne, just based on their new identity:

I think Armin Vit, of Brand New, hits the nail on the head:

The gradients are subtle and help add a sense of depth and breadth that you would not get with a flat logo, which is clearly evident in the 1-color application where the logo looks like a bad diagram in progress and loses its enigmatic feeling from the color version.

The more I see this logo, the more I like it. I love the gradients, the shapes they create, the left vs. right; all in all, I think it works really well.

So the next time I'm having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (hopefully not too soon!), instead of a move to Australia, I'll be a little more specific and dream of a vacation to Melbourne--if only to admire their identity in person.


Splat no more

In our house, I'm always the one encouraging the children to turn the TV off. Or better yet, don't turn it on. Alas, they are children, after all, and Spongebob beckons. And, quite frankly, sometimes they need the downtime (don't we all?). The channel that gets the most wear in our house is probably Noggin (pre-school Nickelodeon); regular Nickelodeon takes a close second.

So it was with great interest that I read that Nickelodeon has redesigned their logo:

Huh. My initial thoughts are it's very... well, it looks kind of like a lot of other logos out there nowadays. I mean, give it a little reflection, and you've got yourself a pretty little Web 2.0 logo. Right?

I appreciate what Nickelodeon is doing--“The decision to streamline the network identities came after they started putting all of the channels' logos on the same business card—and decided that it looked like a mess,”--but the iconic splat, as well as the many, many, many variations of it, is one of the things that made the Nick logo work, what made it fun, and what made it appealing to kids. And if you're Nickelodeon, isn't that the point?


My budding artist

It was a boring day for the children here at traciedesigns HQ, so my 6 year old was nice enough to make some wall art (courtesy of Wiki Stix) for one of our "plain, boring" walls. I think I have a budding 3D artist on my hands!

Up top is the wall art itself. The second photo is the artwork, with a portrait of the artist as a baby above it. Her installation completely brightened my day.

(Also? See that? I tell you I'm going to be offline for the rest of the week, and a couple hours later there's a new post. Who loves you?)

Gone Fishin'

Well, not really. But unfortunately, something came up last minute and I've had to step away from the computer for the week. No, not a real vacation, just life.

I can't promise any new posts this week, but I'll try. If not, then I'll see you next week--promise.


Yum, yum, type

Let's just take a moment, on this lovely Friday afternoon, to admire the gorgeousness that is wood-cut type:

Hello, delicious. Oh, wait--what's that?

These are NOT keyable fonts. They are IMAGES made from scans of actual, hand printed, wood type, suitable for use in any Image Editing Program like Adobe Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro. You CANNOT TYPE with them. Each letterform or graphic element will need to be hand set one piece at a time... much like using real wood type!

Excuse me, I have to wipe the drool from my chin. Much thanks to my pal Dave from ConnCreatives for introducing me to this beauty, and ultimately, for making my bank account about $330 less.


The flip side of Twitter

It appears Letterman isn't a fan. Here's some cute banter with Kevin Spacey, about Twitter (and it's cost):

Oh, what's that? The fail whale image above isn't a Letterman clip? Oh, right. Due to an epic YouTube FAIL, the video was way too wide for my blog, and as a result, cut off about in the middle (perhaps this is a blog FAIL? No, I think this is a YouTube FAIL). Go here to see the version that is too wide for this space.


Another Twitter post

Sorry to those who haven't jumped on that particular bandwagon, but I gotta. I understand completely that Twitter is not for everyone (my mother just joined Facebook a month or two ago--helping push that 50 and over demographic. Now whenever she hears me talking about Twitter, she gets a little too intrigued: "Twitter? What's Twitter? Should I be on that, too?" Um, no mom. No, you should not be on Twitter). I have an acquaintance who has flat out refused to get on Facebook; every time we talk and Twitter comes up, she can't even wrap her head around the concept.

I, on the other hand, love, love, love Twitter. I follow an eclectic group of people who give me daily inspiration, as well as all kinds of resources, information, news, and laughs. I've heard others say that it's great for those lonely souls who work from home, it's a portal to the outside world; and I couldn't agree more. Not only that, but I feel it's introduced me to a slew of people that I otherwise might not have ever met.

So it was with great interest that I read Suzi Craig's (one of those, I probably would have never met her without Twitter folk) latest post, aptly titled Fear and Lacking in Social Media.

The notion that Facebooking and Twittering and Digging and all the rest will waste everyone’s time is true and false. It can be a time suck if you let it. Just like any type of outreach, you need to focus your time. But, the rules of engagement cannot be all business - these are social settings. Play, make mistakes and relax. You are building relationships and learning from other people and that takes time and effort. I think it is a liability to not play in online communities, whether you’re a recognizable name or bathroom hog Bob. People will talk about you but if you’re not there, how can you respond? Also, this stuff is not going away. The more you blow it off, the more it will bite you in the ass. You can’t hide so give in and learn.

Our fear is focused in all the wrong directions. You should fear getting left in the dust by your competition who has better relationships with your customers. Fear alienating your audiences who want to have experiences with you in a variety of environments, not just the ones you dictate. Fear NOT doing anything, versus doing something. Make mistakes. Let your lawyers scream and roll their eyes. Then, get your company together and talk about a strategy about engaging in online communities. Put some parameters around how they should engage online as a representative of your company, then let them go. If something bad happens, respond, fix it and learn. Repeat. If something good happens, respond, share it and learn. Repeat.

Amen, sista. See y'all on Twitter.


Alexander Girard at Urban Outfitters!

20th century artist (and Herman Miller designer) Alexander Girard's yummy prints and patterns can now be found at Urban Outfitters! Love, love love!


Identity crisis

I'm going through a bit of an identity crisis: my own. See, a couple of months ago, I got it in my head that I needed a new website. Well, really, I do. The old one is looking, well, OLD these days, and a new, pretty site was just calling me.

So I began working (and working, and working) on the next version of traciedesigns. Three-point-oh, if you will. And just as I got the design to a place I was thrilled to be in, I began growing increasingly impatient with my logo. Well, I was already doing all this designing for myself... why not throw a logo in there as well?

The problem is, I'm kind of a hard client to please. I have this one design that I'm favoring, but every time I look at it, I see something else that I want to do to it. Sometimes that little something else works. Sometimes, it doesn't. Either way, I can't keep evolving this logo, otherwise it will never get done, and therefore, be completely useless to me. It's a vicious circle.

So, I guess the point of my post is that something new is on the horizon. Oh, don't worry, there will be much fanfare and song and dance once the new (3.0) traciedesigns is launched. In the meantime, stay tuned...



I stumbled upon this beautiful gallery of monograms today:

Monogram Inc. has a lovely gallery of, well, monograms. Some of the designs are so graphic, so striking. It makes me want to monogram everything!

(found via logodesignlove)


More books by their cover judgement

After the post about book covers last week, it was almost perfect timing when I stumbled upon this brilliant roundup of seven (just seven??!) of Chip Kidd's favorite book covers.

While I don't necessarily agree with all of his choices (Twilight? Really?) I definitely see the reason behind each pick (Twilight. Really).

For an added treat, check out Chip's blog post on the story behind having his Newsweek cover pulled out from under him.

Oh, and by the way, the Little Bee cover--in case you were wondering--was designed by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich. His other book covers are pretty amazing as well--however his site takes a great amount of patience to navigate.


Tweet Up

Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first ever TweetUp (or TweetCrawl, as it was billed). It was great! I met lots of cool people, including Ed Kuryluk, the brains behind Hey Fairfield. Turns out Ed lives right around the corner from me--and it took us meeting up in New Haven to find that out!

Some of the people I met I have actually followed on Twitter for quite some time. Others I just started following as a result of meeting them. My only regret was the fact that I have the lamest phone ever, and therefore could not tweet the event at all. Luckily, Matt Crouch took care of that.

A huge thank you to Suzi Craig, of Fathom, for putting the event together. She is taking suggestions for the next crawl, I'm crossing my fingers it's in Southern CT.

UPDATE: Suzi wrote this post about how awesome the TweetCrawl is/was. I think it pretty much sums it up perfectly, with an added dash of what makes an event like this work.


Good Day

Good has some of the best information graphics around. The latest? A collaboration with Michael Newhouse on... well, basically when your next day off will be. Head on over to Good's website to see the entire chart.

Oh, and don't get too excited over having the 24th off for Pioneer Day--that's only for those who live in Utah.



I'd like to see the movie that tries to beat Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland for best costumes.

Pick up the August issue of Vanity Fair--or just pop on over to Get The Big Picture--to see the other photos from the movie (sadly, there are only 2 more). There's actually more over at IMDb--including some set illustrations.

I am drooling with anticipation!


Why yes, I do judge books by their covers

So today my little corner of the Twittersphere has been going crazy with links to Seth's Blog: The Purpose of a Book Cover:

Tactically, the cover sells the back cover, the back cover sells the flap and by then you've sold the book. If those steps end up selling a book that the purchaser doesn't like, game over. So you have to be consistent all the way through and end up creating a conversation after the purchase. Books are better at creating conversations than most products (when was the last time you talked about a pool cue), but there's lots of opportunity here, no matter what you make.

The whole post really resonated with me, because just last night I was at my book club, and it was my turn to choose books for our next meeting. One of the books I had brought with me I picked solely for the beautiful cover. Of course, when I was at Borders picking it out, I did flip it over to the back flap (more great design--hello? I was so not putting this book down at this point), and then I read the inside flap, which completely intrigued me. The book? Little Bee, by Chris Cleave.

How could you just walk by this book? The elegant script, the spot varnish, and the great type--that's what grabbed me WAY before I knew what this book was about. And yes, I know I'm a designer--that stuff should grab me--but for anyone, I think it's a hard book not to notice.

When I presented it to my club, I told them point blank that it was a book chosen for the design. Of course, once I read the inside flap to them (I didn't even start on the back cover design, I think I was boring them to tears with my font talk), there was no question on what we were going to read next. I think it will, but I'm anxious to see if the plot holds up to the spectacular cover design.


LOVE this!

How gorgeous is this type??! I have to get my head in gear for my little Madeline's upcoming birthday invitations--this is just the kind of inspiration I needed!

Yum, yum!


The 3/50 Project

These days, driving past empty storefronts has become all too commonplace, unfortunately. If the empty store in question is a "big box" retailer, I feel sad--after all, they are part of our economy, too--but what kills me is seeing a local mom and pop retailer closing up shop.

So when I came across Elements' latest blog entry regarding the 3/50 project (tagline: Saving the bricks and mortars our nation is built on), I wanted to spread the word. The concept is pretty simple: pick 3 independently owned stores, commit to spending $50/month in them.

I'm definitely on board to do my part--it shouldn't be hard, as my new favorite lunch spot has now become my at-least-twice-a-week lunch spot (ahem, Chef's Table, ahem). So what do you say? $50 a month spent locally--are you in?


Walkman v. iPod

Remember the Sony Walkman? Of course you do, because we're all of a... certain age (remember when the term "growing up in the 80s" didn't sound old?).

Those that were born in the 90s and later don't have much appreciation for the technology at their fingertips. Which is why I read 13 year old Scott Campbell's walkman encounter with tears of laughter in my eyes (Also? Because my children have described records as "really big CDs." Because when Madeline, who's 5, came across a box of tapes, she asked, "What are these? Wait--they play music, like an ipod?" Because my mother, who still has a ton of VHS tapes, told the kids she had to rewind one of them, they promptly asked, "What's rewind?")

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down 'rewind' and releasing it randomly
Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn't is "shuffle", where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down "rewind" and releasing it randomly - effective, if a little laboured.

I told my dad about my clever idea. His words of warning brought home the difference between the portable music players of today, which don't have moving parts, and the mechanical playback of old. In his words, "Walkmans eat tapes".

The rest of the article is well worth the read, if only to reminisce about life before the ipod. I remember tapes very fondly--I had boxes and boxes of them. Before my Walkman (which evolved with technology--I did have a Discman in college), I had a bright red Panasonic tape player I would carry with me everywhere (my parents probably invested in the Walkman for their sanity, I'm sure the Reflex--rewind--the Reflex--rewind--the Reflex--etc. got really, really old after a while).


This post is considered PR

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the latest CT AIGA event, 25 Questions with Pam Williams:

25 Questions [Public Relations for Creatives] Compiled + Answered by Pam Williams of Williams & House.
After a multitude of conversations and surveys, Pam has amassed the most pressing questions about public relations from individuals and firms at varying stages in their promotional efforts. She will share her responses and send us off with solid, proven P.R. strategies we can all start to use as early as Friday, June 26th.

It was long--very long (clocking in at just over 2 hours). But I walked away with 2 hours worth of great PR information, including:

--Public Relations is really connecting with people.

--You should strive to connect with one new person a week.

--There are a multitude of ways to get your name out there, even when you have no news to share (utilizing tools such as Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc).

--Be nice. Be genuine. Don't lie.

--And finally, Peonies is located 3 miles right outside of Essex village. (For those not in the know, Peonies is Pam's resale shop. Now that I know where it is, I think I need to pay it a visit).

Of course, I took much, much more away; this is just a snippet. The other really, really cool aspect of the night was the great turnout. Our little CT AIGA chapter is young--barely a year old, and the turnout was great. I'm thrilled to be a part of the CT AIGA, and look forward to many more great events like this! Thanks to everyone (Chelsea and Amy--and everyone else) who put it together!


New toy!

While the internet has been all a flutter with the latest toy from Apple, I'd rather go old school and play with this new toy:

OK, yes, I would rather play with the iphone--but I can't. I'll take this as a close second, though!

(found via gariphic via Twitter)


Yummy background

How delicious is this background from Coach?

I love everything about it--the colors, the pop-art-i-ness of it all, it's just great. What a refreshing design fit for summer.

And if Coach is exciting me this much over a background... I can't wait to see the bag that goes with it! The Coach Poppy line is coming on Friday--stay tuned...


How I (almost) got an iPhone for Father's Day

See the phone on the right? That's been my phone screen since about 1:00 this afternoon. According to the people at Sprint, not only is it completely unfixable, but they can't even get any--ANY--information out of the phone. This is, as Ashlee would say, an epic fail.

As a result, I spent quite a bit of my day at various Sprint stores, and on the phone with various Sprint reps. Very long story short? Our contract isn't up until the end of November (155 days left; believe me, every one will be counted), and it would cost an obscene amount of money to A) Buy a new phone (even the cheap, crappy ones are almost $200); and B) walk out on the contract, switch to AT&T, and get the new iPhone. So, we wait.

In the meantime, you can giggle to yourself every time you call me; I'll be answering with that bad boy up on the left. It's practically a collector's item, what with the old Sprint logo and all. Miraculously, we found the charger (keep in mind that most days I can't find my keys, yet we've managed to keep track of a 5+ year old phone charger that hasn't been used in years) and charged it up--it's all set to go. Yipee, I think.

155 more days... 155 more days...



I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a redesign. So this week, when I came across the new (and smaller--but we'll get to that in a sec) NY Times Magazine, I devoured it.

First: According to the editor's letter, it's 9% smaller. Just enough to notice. What I don't like was the reasoning behind the size change: paper costs. Really, NY Times Magazine? It couldn't be about paper costs AND the environment? Just a little bit?

Second: "The cut in trim size does not mean there is 9 percent less room on every page for words and pictures." Can we say, new--condensed--font? Introducing Lyon Text:

Also? New display typeface Knockout and Nyte. New, brighter color palette. New design elements and TOC. The addition of KenKen to the puzzle page (Oh, alright, I really don't care about that one--I haven't quite caught onto KenKen just yet). And now, finally, The Way We Eat added to the front-of-the-magazine section, The Way We Live Now.

I really liked the old design of the magazine--so I haven't quite formed my opinion of this redesign quite yet. I do like the addition of the witty illustrations at the tops of the pages; however I'm not 100% sold on the new font. In time, I suppose...



...found where you least expect them.

Today's profile on FPO is a Dylan poster (no, not that Dylan poster):

Oh, did I mention that the artists are 4 and 6?

The poster is great. The fact that it was produced by a 4 and 6 year old is just the icing on the cake. From their father:

Due to the impatience of the crew and pressure on the squeegee, each poster had differing amounts of ink coverage. As an introduction to screen printing and poster design, this project was perfect for my two kids. They were pretty much engaged throughout the process. Of course, they had nothing to do with the clean up. Based on this experience, they each designed and made another poster the very next weekend. Now, they are giving out these posters to friends and figuring out what their next compositions will be. Mission accomplished.

What a fun Saturday afternoon project (if, you know, you're into silkscreening. Oh, and have patience)! I think my favorite aspect of this whole experiment is the fact that the experience left the kids wanting to make more. Adorable. It sounds like it's win, win, win all around (with the exception of clean-up).