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).


I guess the real question here is...

...Will Conan save the princess?

I'm not a big late night TV fan--if I can stay up past Jon Stewart's monologue, that means I'm usually up working--so in our house, Jay Leno's last show came and went without mention, as did Conan's first week as Tonight Show host.

However, I got in late last night, and I did turn Conan on right before bed, if only to see his new backdrop. Have you seen it?

It's fine, it's a backdrop; serving the exact purpose it's there to do... look nice behind the host. However, the folks over at Serious Lunch (found via Gizmodo) must have played a LOT of Nintendo back in the day, because they found that Conan's kind-of stained glass backdrop is really Super Mario in disguise!

Check out Serious Lunch for an animated gif layover of both images.

I think it's really cool--plus, it gives me an excuse to restart my quest to beat MarioKart; apparently, there's a ton of inspiration I'm missing as I try not to fall off Rainbow Road!


So yeah... I want this

First of all, let me just say that I am a huge, huge fan of Swiss Miss. Not just a (huge) fan of the blog, but a fan of her; as her personality shines through in most everything she writes about. I really want to sit down and chat with her for a bit; we clearly like the same sort of things, and if we ever ran out of cool design stuff to talk about (ha!) we have parenthood in common as well.

But enough gushing--about Swiss Miss, anyway. Let's gush about this awesome, AWESOME chest of drawers she came across:

Made by Kent and London, it is definitely drool-inducing.

Inspired by vintage printing blocks, this beautifully finished chest of 26 drawers is made from solid oak - the perfect place to file everything from A-Z!

I think they probably could have stopped at the word perfect--because it is.

(Thanks swiss-miss!)


Hey Microsoft, Bing this!

OK, maybe I'm just biased; but man, when it comes to design, Apple really gets it right. Microsoft? Yeah, not so much. Behold, the new Bing logo:

Bing is supposed to be the next Google--the search engine that is going to change. Your. Life. Or, at least help you find things better. And, taking a page from Google's book, they've designed a pretty bad logo. Brand New has a pretty good post titled Bing sets New Record in Horizontal Scaling. I think we all know where this is going to go:

This is like setting the resolution of your screen to 6,000 pixels wide by 1,000 high. I can’t even imagine how someone arrives at a design solution like this. The shapes resulting from the strenuous horizontal scaling are simply too unflattering and unattractive. There is bad taste and then there is this. What was going through the designer’s mind? “I’ll scale it a little bit. Hmmm, maybe just a little more. More. More. I have so much power. I’m drunk in scaling power. More. More. Scale it more. Don’t stop. Do it. Okay, that’s enough.”

So there you go; yet another check in the bad design column for Microsoft. I think one of the commenters said it best when they said: "Was it designed by an engineer?"


New logos: refreshing, or no?

This weekend I was thumbing through the Week In Review, and what would have been a pretty decent article on some recent logo redesigns was completely ruined by the fact that the magenta plate was about 1/16 of an inch off on press, which meant that every image that had even the tiniest bit of magenta in it pretty much sucked.

Thank goodness the article is online.

Behold the new breed of corporate logo — non-threatening, reassuring, playful, even child-like. Not emblems of distant behemoths, but faces of friends.

Companies like Walmart, Stop and Shop, and even Cheer laundry detergent are going out with the old; in with the new, softer, more fun, wheeeeeeeeee, we're having a good time over here! I mean, lots more lowercase and swooshes (but not those late 90's/early millennium tech swooshes).

Check out the slideshow at the top of the page for some before and afters.


Toy Story 3

Seeing as though we just saw Up this weekend (I love you, Pixar!), I thought this was appropriate:

Can't wait!