Happy Everything!

Dear readers:

This is my last post of 2010. For the first time since I've been in business, I'm taking the week in between Christmas and New Year's off. I'll be checking email, I'll definitely be on Twitter (OMG. Seriously? Do you not follow me on Twitter yet? What are you waiting for??), heck, I'll probably do a little catching up. But the lights will definitely be dimmed, the pace much, MUCH slower.

When I come back in 2011 (January 2nd, bitches!), things may look a bit different. After years of toying with a redesign, I'm finally biting the bullet and starting off the new year with a whole new look. I can't wait to see what you guys think...

In the meantime, thanks for coming along for the ride thus far. I hope it'll be that much more fun this coming year. If anything, It will look great (well, at least I think so!).

Happy holidays to you and yours; and happy happy, happiest new year! I'll catch you on the flipside!



Let's be blunt

Um... I'm not sure who came up with Blunt Card, but anyone who puts "Nothing for you, whore" on a Christmas card has an excellent sense of humor and is OK in my book.


Initial this

OMG you guys. Have you still not bought Christmas presents?? What on earth are you waiting for???

Christmas is days away--days, I tell you!--and time is running out. There are a million bazillion gift guides out there, but if you're truly looking for something personal, might I suggest the monogrammed gift.

As I stated yesterday, I am a prepster at heart. Couple that with the fact that I love me some type; and--according to me, anyway--monograms are the perfect gift.

Design*sponge--a favorite design inspiration--put together a fantastic monogram gift guide. From mirrored coasters, the a fabulous Jonathan Adler pillow, to wood-cut letters, to doormats; it's all there.

I'll take one of each.


Color of the year!

I love the idea behind a color of the year. The problem with me is, I have such a short attention span, I'd be sick of it by, say, April.

OK, March.

Pantone's color of the year for 2010 was turquoise. It's a great, happy color; evoking imagery of beaches and tropics. It's so happy, that I can't think of one depressing thing about turquoise (because to me, beaches and tropics = happy. AmIrite?)

For 2011's color of the year, Pantone stayed in the "happy" range...

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Honeysuckle.

First: love the name. Honeysuckle. That's got me thinking of springtime and hummingbirds. And--you guessed it--springtime and hummingbirds = happy (oh for real. Find me a depressing hummingbird--I dare you).

Second: it's pink! I love pink!

Now, I have heard the Pepto chatter around the interwebs, and yes, I can see it. Actually, it took me a long time to come around to the color pink--when we first bought our house almost 10 years ago, 90% of the first floor was Pepto-pink. It was atrocious.

But I put all of that behind me and have come to embrace pink. And I am definitely embracing Honeysuckle. Let's look at the possibilities, shall we?

One of my all-time favorite color combos: pink and green (Hey, I grew up in Connecticut. In the EIGHTIES. It's in my blood).

Mmmmmm... love the thought of pink and navy (and if you're still questioning me, see above).

Love, love, love pink and orange (as client/friend Jill from Glow Gluten Free can attest).

I love the retro/vintage feel this combo evokes. That's it--I need to find some clothes in these colors, stat.

And finally, who doesn't love pink, together with more pink? I can recall pages from my childhood coloring books, where these 2 colors--which I think translate to Crayola Salmon and Red-Violet--were incredibly dominant.

Don't like pink? Better luck next year, sucka. Or, you know, you can hold on to turquoise. But that is SO last year.


Wait--Christmas is in HOW many days??

Answer me this, universe: how on EARTH is it Thursday already??! Wait, nevermind the fact that it's Thursday, let's discuss how it became Thursday, December 9! Just yesterday was October--am I right? Then--blink--there's a mere 16 days till Christmas; and I'm all, PANIC!

Let's see where I'm at:

Holiday cards: Check to the check. Unlike most people, I love, love, love sending (and receiving--but who doesn't love getting them?) cards. Mine are almost always ordered Thanksgiving weekend so I can get them out early on and say I actually accomplished something.

Presents: Oh, this is the season for GIVING? Like, as in presents?? Um, yeah. You can probably see where I am going with this. The children, for the most part, are done (and really, they're the ones who really count). Everyone else? Let's just say I'm VERY aware of all those ship-by-Christmas dates.

Baking: None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I haven't baked a blessed thing yet this year. I enjoy baking, I find it very therapeutic. It's also something I love to do with the kids. However, now that both Mattio and I work from home, it's getting harder and harder to find people who want 17 different kinds of cookies. Maybe we'll just make a few of our favorite kinds--but at this point it's safe to say we're not going crazy.

Movie-watching: This is another big tradition in our house. We love the holiday movies--and usually snuggle up on the couch every Saturday night with a different holiday-themed movie to watch. This year is no exception--we've already seen Elf a number of times, a bizarre version of Rudolph via Netflix (which will be fixed this afternoon, as I just went and bought the REAL Rudolph on DVD), The Santa Claus, Frosty, Frosty Returns... And of course, Christmas Vacation (sans kids).

Decorating: Tree is up. Stockings hung. Advent calendar out and filled with candy. The end.

So I guess I'm not doing so bad after all... it certainly could be worse. Now if you'll excuse me, I have presents to order...


It's my party... (well, not really MY party)

OK. First things first. How on earth do I get myself on the invite list to THIS party?

Ignore the fact that it already happened... This sounds fabulous! Even more fabulous is the design*sponge bag that came out of it:

Adorbs. As are many of the other bags...

Yup. I definitely need to get myself to a party like this one.


2010 gift guide


The all caps are a combination of unbelievable excitement (!!!) and just a hint of OHMYGODCHRISTMASIS24DAYSAWAY. Just a hint.

Anywho, the holidays are coming up, whether we like it or not (Hanukkah starts TODAY), and there are pa-lenty of gifts to be given. And my gift to you, dear readers, is my annual gift guide. Just some things I've seen that I think are pretty cool, for designers and non-designers alike.

First off, a gift for designers and type lovers: a type memory game!

As you play, you increasingly recognize what are often very subtle differences between the letters and more about the details of the letter types. They become progressively easier to recognize and distinguish from one another.

For the fancy man in your life: Ampersand cufflinks (I say fancy, because fancy men wear cufflinks).

For all the Mad Men obsessed, there's Mad Men: The Illustrated World. I love the vintage look and feel (illustrated by Dyna Moe, the talent behind the Mad Men Yourself avatars). This book is definitely on my list.

Think Geek is always a great place for fun, nerdy holiday gifts... well, because that's what they do: fun and nerdy. These App Magnets are no exception.

OK, I know nobody really wants a trash bin for Christmas--but this one's really cool (it won the Red Dot designer award in 2006. It is an AWARD-WINNING trash bin).

Finally, the 8-bit oven mitt, again from Think Geek. I love this--I saw it and immediately thought of Mattio making pizza. Don't tell him, but I might have to get it for him :)

Just a few things that caught my eye this year... happy shopping, and happy, happy gifting!


The internet loves bacon

I am a sort-of vegetarian by choice: I don't like meat. Taste, texture, smell, it's all just gross to me. Aside from chicken, which I started eating when I got pregnant with my second child (which makes me a sort-of vegetarian, rather than full-fledged), I haven't had meat in over 15 years. I could go another 15 and believe me, I won't miss a thing.

There are specific meats and meat-based products that really gross me out; and bacon, my friends, is one of them. The problem is, I married a guy, who--you guessed it--loves bacon. You know who else loves bacon? Everybody else. Seriously, bacon is all over the internet.

There is a site--which I have ordered from (for guess who)--called Bac'n. Aside from the obvious, they also sell bacon-flavored popcorn, coffee and hot sauce, to name a few. There's bacon-scented candles, bacon wallets, bacon air fresheners, band-aids, toothpicks, and gum.

Elsewhere on the internets, there's bacon lunch boxes (thank, Amy!), bacon lip balm, bacon mints, bacon t-shirts, bacon everything. Last week, on a favorite blog, there was bacon jam. People, there is bacon CHOCOLATE.

Why? Why all this bacon? I mean, I get that people like bacon. But I like ice cream, and I know a lot of other people like ice cream, too. But there's no ice cream wallets, or t-shirts, or candles (that I know of. But all good ideas!). Seriously people, why bacon?



This year I'm thankful for all of the usual things: my family and friends, our health, all the things we take for granted, like food, clothes, a roof over our heads... I'm also thankful for my business, and my super awesome, I-couldn't-do-it-without-you clients. I'm truly thankful that I love what I do for a living. I get paid to create--it's my passion in life; not many people can say that.

I'm really thankful for everyone that reads this blog. Thank you all for continuing to come back.

I hope your holiday is filled with loved ones, laughter, and good cheer. Happy Thanksgiving, blogosphere!


If I were a seatbelt commercial...

Because this season, there's a ton of people out on the roads. Because someone cares about you. Because it's the law.

There's a million reasons why you should buckle up when getting in a car. This commercial does a fabulous job of illustrating the why-should-I's, without coming across as preachy or scary.

The bonus is that it's simple message can be translated across the globe. Beautiful.

(You might want to grab a tissue for this one):

Blank walls no more!

If you're new to the blog, you should know that this past year we renovated our house. Now we have pretty new walls just dying to be adorned with some fun art. I have my eye on some great pieces I've found via my pal Cyndy over at art + interiors, as well as 20 x 200, Room & Board, and even etsy.

And then, yesterday, I stumbled across these adorable posters for the interns' room:

I might just bite the bullet and get all 4, because they are just so adorable. The illustrations are too cute, and I love the empowering messages.

(via jezebel)


Adorableness wrapped around your phone

Another week, another trip back to the altar of all things kate spade to spend a little time gushing...

This time, it's over iphone cases. When I first got my iphone, I opted for a plain black case. Fishing around for my phone in my bag a few times indicated that that was a mistake. Enter cute, hot pink kate spade iphone case. Now my iphone is easily spotted, and adorable.

Just yesterday though, some new ks iphone cases were unveiled (and a blackberry case, but--sorry BB users--really. I'm sure you'll agree that the iphone cases are much more adorable). Seriously, how much do I love these (especially the rotary phone one):

Cute, cute, cute. Add one of these to my Christmas list...


Friday LOLs

Another present from the internet: Should be on the Nanny.

Yup, this would be a site devoted to putting Fran Drescher's (as the Nanny) head on runway models' bodies. Since runway clothes are not your everyday clothes; and, let's be honest here, the Nanny was not into wearing everyday clothes (oh, and this show happened in the 90s), it's a match made in awesome.


Fashion + math =

I love fashion. I hate math. However, what a mashup these two create when blended together!

Ladies and gents, meet Fashematics. It's a little hard to describe (photo + photo = fashion photo, is the best I can come up with), so I'll let the following picture from their site do the talking:

I think this is math I can definitely get behind.


Oh. Yuck.

Blech. Blech. Blech.

Just yesterday, I was raving--raving!--about holiday windows in a Free People store. For those not in the know, Free People is an offspring of Urban Outfitters. Also under that corporate umbrella is anthropologie.

So let's just take a minute to go to the anthro website. Go ahead, I'll wait.

If you've ever been in an anthro store (ed. note: love!), you'll see that the site definitely fits the brand. Now let's visit Free People. Again, it's very fitting for the FP brand.

So, have you been to the Urban Outfitters site lately? I'm not encouraging it. Seriously, don't say I didn't warn you--you may need to wash your eyes out after.

Seriously, I get the ironic "bad on purpose" thing they've got going on, but my God, is it bad. Like, there's bad on purpose, and then there's just BAD. This might have been done on purpose, but it is BAD. And it doesn't even go with the brand. I get the UO is kind of quirky, a little mainstream-hipster-ish, if you will. But this is like MS Paint, circa 1991. And there was nothing--NOTHING--good about that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I totally have to go wash my eyes out. Maybe with a little kate spade...


Let it (paper cut out) snow

Speaking of holiday windows (as I did last week), I was down on Greenwich Avenue recently and I came across this fab window in the Free People store:

Ignore the fact that it's definitely not the best photo I've taken (hey, I was on my way to a meeting in a cafe I couldn't find, but I ran the risk of being late to snap this photo. As I tell my kids, you get what you get and you don't get upset). Let's instead focus on the awesome snowflakes with the pop of fluorescent orange: love. I'm a sucker for paper snowflakes anyway, and these just made my heart skip a little.

I've never been inside the store, but judging from the window, it looks small. But way to make use of the space you have (notice that no other store's window stopped me in my tracks).


Friday LOLs

If you have any type of Apple gadget with a key pad, you are probably very familiar with auto-correct. Especially auto-correcting words like "ooooohhh" for "poopy" (true auto-correct story).

Oh, Apple. You're so cute.

Most the times, if you're sending an auto-corrected message, the receiver knows what you meant, and has a good laugh. Well, now we can all laugh, thanks to damnyouautocorrect.com.

Yup, finally there is a website dedicated to auto-correct's bizarre version of ESP. The site is just a series of iphone/ipod screenshots, with the silly auto-correct blunder. Most all end with some version of, "stupid auto-correct."


Another post where I gush about kate spade

There are few things I love in this world so much, that it's borderline obsessive: shoes (obvs) and handbags are among those things--specifically, kate spade shoes and handbags.

The kate spade brand does a great job of being quirky, fun and classic at the same time. I have ks bags and shoes that are embarrassingly old, that I still use to this day (of course, it's always fun to add to that collection, too). So when I heard that the company was publishing a book (!!!) and it's based on the fun "things we love" section of their site (!!!!), how could I resist?

There's a great interview with ks president Deborah Lloyd and Ed Miller, who oversaw the printing, over at Felt & Wire. For print nerds (and, I suppose, sugar junkies) like me, it's like extra icing on the cake of awesome. Fun book, with some background on the different printing techniques?

I'll take 2. One in purse form, please.


Say what?

Folks, did you know that this is a sentence:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Right? It's not just me--you're totally perplexed by this too, right (please say you are. Please.)?

Yeah, I am no longer questioning my grammar. Ever.


Bergdorfs, blogs, and beautiful windows

OK, first: Bergdorf's has a blog?? Can we talk about how I did NOT know this? I suspect Mattio is behind my lack of knowledge in the Bergdorf's blog department.

Second: Hello. Not only do they have a blog, but could I just love the type treatment a little more? I think not. Gorgeous.

Third (the point of this post):Holiday windows are coming! Holiday windows are coming!

When I was a child, every year in December my family would make a pilgrimage to New York City to do the holiday tourist thing: the tree at Rockefeller Center, the Christmas Show at Radio City, and the windows. Oh, the windows! From Saks to Lord & Taylor to Bloomies, we did it year after (freezing cold) year.

So, being that we are approaching that time of year, Bergdorf's blog has let us know that the curtains are up, and the visual team is hard at work on their always-spectacular windows. They've got some photos of year's past, and are planning to release a limited edition Windows at Bergdorf Goodman book (for--gulp--$500).

While I love the idea of a Bergdorf's Windows book, I'm all for a $20 train ticket in my warmest down parka to see the real thing, thankyouverymuch.


Friday LOLs

OK, a couple of things:

1. I love Mad Men. I am a full on Mad Men junkie. It is consistently the best written and acted show on television these days. Unfortunately, that bar isn't very high; but it's shows like Mad Men that give me hope.

2. Jon Hamm=swoon.

3. The following clip isn't really funny, so much as it's swoon-worthy. Jon Hamm, as Don Draper, saying What. That's all. Just showing his range, with one single word. Did I mention swoon (oh, except for that last one. Definitely not swooning there)?


Cake and presents! Cake and presents!

3 years ago today, I was having a baby:

A baby that would grow up to be known to the blogosphere as the intern.

Hard to believe that 3 years has come and gone so fast. Happy birthday, intern! Before you know it, she'll be old enough to give me design advice, for real (instead of her usual, "Make it rainbow." Which, you know what? Sometimes works.)


The designer behind the awesomeness

A while back, I posted about these clothbound classics from Penguin (seriously, how much do you love them??).

This time, let's talk about the designer behind the awesomeness: Coralie Bickford-Smith.

The inspiration blog the 99% interviewed her, talking about a typical workday, inspirations, and the like. First of all, I totally want to hang with this woman. She sounds awesome!

The best days are when final books come in. If it's one that I've put my heart into I can't wait for them to reach our floor so I rush up to production to get my hands on them and make sure everything is as it should be. It can be a bit scary, opening those boxes of books, but when it has all worked, it's ace.

And totally want her job!

Working in central London, I can go to some wonderful places to get ideas – museums, galleries, shops. And right at my desk of course – sometimes I just get sucked into the Internet and binge visually for hours. If this is the way my day has gone I go running for half an hour at lunchtime to escape and reset my brain.

Read the entire interview at the 99%, gush over Coralie's work on her website, and--as an added bonus--check out these adorable T(ea) towels. Want.


Friday LOLs

For those not in the design industry, Lorem Ipsum is dummy text that designers use as placeholder copy. It's Latin; however, it's also gibberish, so it doesn't exactly translate to anything that makes any sense.


If you're into things not making sense--but making them, say, a hair more fun to read--I highly suggest Gangsta Lorem Ipsum. Fo' shizzle.

Lorem ipsum dolor go to hizzle own yo', go to hizzle adipiscing elit. That's the shizzle sapizzle velizzle, nizzle volutpizzle, suscipizzle shizznit, bizzle vizzle, bling bling. Pellentesque bow wow wow tortor. Sizzle erizzle. Mah nizzle izzle dolizzle dapibizzle turpizzle tempizzle shizznit. Maurizzle pellentesque nibh pizzle turpizzle. Its fo rizzle izzle for sure. Get down get down mofo rhoncus uhuh ... yih!. In hac check out this black dictumst. Donec dapibizzle. Curabitizzle tellus urna, pretium , mattizzle ma nizzle, eleifend vitae, nunc. Funky fresh suscipit. Owned sempizzle velizzle shiz my shizz.

Shiz my shizz is right, yo. Word.


The solution for when it smells fishy

Confession: I am not a scented candle person.

I tried, at one point in my life, to be the kind of person who keeps lit scented candles around the house, but it just wasn't for me. So I'm pretty sure we don't have very many--if any--candles in the house.

Fast forward to Monday night, when we had deeeee-lish crab cakes for dinner. The price we paid for all that deeee-liciousness was that the house smelled like fish. Insert wishing for scented candles.

So today, on the obligatory post-preschool trip to Target (You guys, it's like right around the corner from the intern's preschool. Every week, it taunts me), I went in search of a candle. Lucky for me, I didn't have to search far: picking up some of my new favorite hand soap (Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena), I noticed a display of Mrs. Meyers soy candles. Perfect.

You guys, I love this candle. The scent isn't overpowering at all, but it was enough to get rid of the lingering fish smell (yes, days later it still smells like fish. I think that crab cake type of deeee-liciousness needs to be strictly restaurant-only). I kept it lit for a few hours this afternoon, alternating between the kitchen and the dining/living room, and now my house smells faintly of orange-clove. If you were to walk in my door right now, it certainly wouldn't smack you upside the head. Which is exactly what I was looking for in a scented candle.

Plus, you know, the whole soy-all-natural thing it's got going on. Says the Mrs. Meyers website:

Our products combine hardworking, naturally occurring ingredients and essential oils that are tough on dirt, yet gentle on your home and the earth. Biodegradable and packaged in recyclable bottles, our products are ammonia-, chlorine bleach-, paraben- and phosphate-free; they are never tested on animals.

It's a win/win.


Fall into color

A few weeks ago, my pal Marcy and I took a day off to shop. No kids, no soccer, no crazy Saturday chores and activities, just her and I, and Woodbury Commons (Oh, and our credit cards).

It was a great day. We filled up her car with lots and lots of fun goodies (and found a ton of great deals). Since I'm a sucker for a good fall color palette, I thought I'd share some cool color inspiration that I found.

First up, a fun dress from Banana Republic (that did not come home with me):

I love everything about this; from how the everything pops against the charcoal gray background, to the bright, almost unexpected fall color palette. Nice, especially with the chartruese.

Next, a bag from Coach (that just happened to sneak in with all my stuff. "Oh, look at that, Mattio! A stray bag! Well we have to take it in and give it a good home--it's getting cold outside, and we just can't LEAVE it."):

Love, love, love pretty much everything about this. The colors are great: orange! Teal! Plum! Chartruese! Fabulous.

So, in the name of color research... Marcy, when's our next trip??


Friday LOLs

If you had a website, and it was called Good Design Advice, it'd probably be... well, a website with some good design advice. But drop an F-bomb between Good and Advice, and you've got something pretty f**king funny.


Including such gems as:

Learn from other f**king disciplines.

Remove your f**king widows.

Use a f**king color scheme.

Good advice? Absolutely. Funny? You f**king bet.



The internet is a lovely place, no? Without it, I wouldn't have seen:

Jason Santa Maria's Candygrams: specifically, the fancy candy-type by Jessi Arrington. With special behind the scenes coverage here.

Jim's Pancakes: Dude seriously needs to come over and make me breakfast. My kids might like it, too. Although, that's setting the pancake bar kind of high. Maybe he should just come over and make pancakes for me.

Kate. Spade. Bedding: WANT.

27b/6: I don't know who this guy is, but his ridiculous emails crack me up. Lucky for all of us, there's plenty of stupid people willing to banter with him.

Thank you internet. Thank you.


friday LOLs

I can't think of a better title for an embarrassing celebrity photo website than "The Internet Never Forgets" (except for the url: fire your agent. Brills).

Because it doesn't. Right, Jared Leto (EDIT 8/28/13: there used to be an embarrassing photo of Jared Leto here, but, instead of firing his agent he just got someone from his team to annoy me enough to take the photo down. 3 years later. There. It's down. Are you happy?)?


Go on with your bad self. No really, go on. You're bad.

So, a few weeks ago, iTunes 10 was released, along with a new icon. If you follow my twitter stream, the new icon may as well have been tarred and feathered. Actually, it was so reviled, that someone started an @itunes10icon twitter account defending the new design; and in the beginning, it was hilarious.

Then, last week, a new minor league hockey team was announced: the Connecticut Whale, which hinted at a throwback to the old Hartford Whalers team. Could the logo possibly be as cool? Me thinks not.

Finally, today. I get a fancy email saying I get an additional 30% off at the Gap, so I'm so there. But the logo is different--weird, even. There's this weird blue box... ? This can't be right. Can it? It is?? What???

What is going on here, people??? What is this logo badness that is going on??? The iTunes icon, to be honest, I'm kind of ambivalent about. It's not great, but eh. But that CT Whale logo--and now the Gap??? What is happening? And worse, who is letting this happen???


I know it's too early to be blogging about penguin plates

Alright, I know. I KNOW. It's October 4th. Barely October, for the love. But I am sorry, friends; it is so fa-reezing out, that I actually had to put on the heat. After I put on a long sleeve tee shirt AND heavy sweater. And drank hot tea like we're going to run out. Today is the first real chilly day of fall, and in honor of the cold, I am sharing these adorable penguin plates from West Elm:

I know it is too early. I complain about people like me. But my heat is on, therefore I can totally identify with the little guys. So today, October 4th, you guys get penguin plates.



Friday LOLs

The only thing this Oatmeal comic about working from home vs. working in an office is missing, is the kids.

Happy Friday, and weekend everybody!


I prematurely posted today. I just came across this gem: Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon rap... well, rap history. Awesome.


Notes from another intern

My oldest, the teenager, has really gotten into photography this past year. Last night I saw this photo that she took, and I thought it's a good indication of her style and sense of humor (not that she likes to trap animals in glass bottles, but...)

I think she's got a pretty good eye, especially considering that she just picked up a camera less than 6 months ago. If she lets me, I'll have to post more of her work. In the meantime, enjoy "Silly elephant got himself stuck."


Notes from the intern

What up traciedesigns readers???! It's the intern here, reporting for duty.

I'm hanging in the office all week--with the exception of when I'm in SCHOOL (Holla! Who's a big girl now??). The boss thought it'd be a good idea for me to write this week, seeing as how she's juggling work and me (what-EVER, bosslady. Whatever).

Anywho, we got a fab new sofa last week--it rocks! The best thing, though, is that instead of a coffee table, the bosses opted for an ottoman. Which is by far my favoritest piece of furniture. Like, ever. I'm constantly coming up with new ways to sit on it. See?

Man! I'm so glad they didn't get a coffee table!

K, it's almost dinner time--and you guys KNOW how I get when I'm hungry. It's enough to make the bosslady want to hide under... well, the new ottoman.


Yummy type

Whilst standing in line at Starbucks this AM, I noticed this fine specimen of type:

I've never heard of the Zac Brown band, but I think I'm going to give a listen. Because, yes, dear readers, I do judge a CD by it's cover.

Sidenote: While in line, I thought to myself, do people really buy CDs anymore? They can't possibly, right? I mean, I haven't bought a CD in... well, I can't even remember, so naturally it was eons ago. But really--are people buying CDs?

Then the chick in line in front of me bought a CD.

Question answered.


...But does it look expensive?

Yesterday I got a phone call from a company that had interviewed me a few weeks back. The conversation went something like this:

Them: "We had talked to some other designers, and the last one we hired to do the logo--for $300--didn't work out. So now we'd like to hire you!"

Me: "..."

I'm a big believer in you get what you pay for. Don't get me wrong, I love me some bargains (hello, my whole office is furnished by Ikea, thankyouverymuch), but at the end of the day, a $300 logo is going to look like, well, a $300 logo (just like my desk is just some fancy particle board my husband put together).

I charge more than $300 for logos, because I invest a lot of time into creating them. I research, I sketch, I play with fonts, I purchase fonts. I research some more.

I like to take a page in Illustrator--the program I use for creating logos--and just digitally vomit every idea I have. It usually ends up looking something like this (designed for a totally different client):

This is just one of two pages for this client, actually.

I type out the company name over, and over, and over. And then again. I play with the shapes of letters, the space in between letters, icons, artwork. Sometimes the ideas flow out, and it's like the dam wall broke, and there they are, all over the paper/my screen. Sometimes the ideas take longer. While I wait for the ideas, I sketch. And I type. And I play. And I research some more.

Because of this--all of this--I charge more than $300 for logos. And maybe I'm biased, but I think it's worth it.



New work!

Just launched: objectsblog.com. You guys remember the logo from a few weeks back, right?

Client, friend, and world traveler Pamela Peterson lets you in on her journeys; whether it's multitasking in Italy, or a Paris flea market. Truth be told, Pam has been sending me "sample" blog entries--stuff she intended on writing about--throughout the entire design process, and let me tell you. If the blog continues in the same tradition of the samples she sent, it will quickly be one of my faves. Check out Objects, and be sure to say hi to Pam while you're there.

Also, many, many, many thanks to friend and Wordpress genius Dave Cushman, of Form: Substance for the development. Dave came through in an eleventh hour emergency, and came through he did. Lots of gold stars for that one.

Enjoy Objects, you guys--I'm so psyched that it's launched!


You win, type

Normally I'm not one to celebrate anything Microsoft. So when IE9 was launched this week, my reaction was probably something along the lines of, whoop-de-doo. I mean, really.


This version of Internet Explorer supports the Web Open Font Format. Basically, it supports pretty fonts on the web. Like, not just Times and Arial, but cool stuff like, Hellenic Wide (drool). And Chunk (yum). And Coquette (swoon).

So to showcase that support, Brooklyn-based designer Jason Santa Maria was asked to help.

Ladies, and gentlemen, meet the Lost World's Fairs.

Designed with fun and typography in mind, these sites are not only awesome, but the text is... well, text. Not imagery. Friends, that is effing cool.

Read more about the story behind the Lost World's Fairs here.


Type Monday

Looking for new fonts is my second favorite thing to do, ever (second only to buying new shoes, DUH). So new logo projects mean that I'm scouring the font shops, looking for the perfect, shiny new font.

So guess who has a new logo project?

And guess who found the prettiest, shiniest, newest font EVER? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Brownstone:

After immediately falling in love, I looked to see who was the brilliant designer behind this gorgeousness. Surprise, surprise, it's Alejandro Paul--one of my favorites.

Yummy, yummy, yummy.


Friday LOLs

Baby carrots. Have you not seen this? Because it's baby carrots. And it's a riot.

Baby carrots (like, the mini, 2 bites and your done carrots) are being marketed like junk food. Extreme graphics, sex, loud music, and of course, a great sense of humor, are making baby carrots the go-to snack.

Baby carrots ("Eat 'em like junk food"), people.

Love it.

PS You can even follow them on Twitter (of course you can! They're baby carrots!).


I'm like, a winner

Some days, life is great. Others? Well, other days you have a crap night's sleep, which results in tiredness and crankiness most the day. Other days you have a raging headache and Advil is taking it's sweet ole' time working. Other days can leave you tired, stressed, and broken.

I thought today was one of those "other" days.

Then I got the mail.

American Graphic Design Awards in the H O U S E ! That's right, if anything wakes me up, takes my headache away, and calms me down, it's winning an award (or 2).

I'm so happy (and awake, and feeling good, and not stressed) to announce that 2 of my logos just picked up 2010 American Graphic Design Awards. Holla!

First up, Objects (which, if you're keeping track, has already won a CT Art Director's Club Award of Excellence):

And the Hey Fairfield logo won as well!

I'm so psyched--this has made my day--no wait, my week!


Paint swatch awesome for your feet

Oh Converse, how I heart you.

Chuck Taylor and I have had a thing going for quite some time. Plaid, flannel, velvet, or just plain black canvas (the current pick); Chuck Taylor All Stars have been in my life for years and years and years. We love them so much that it's become back to school tradition for the children all to get a new pair of Chucks in September. I love the teenager's pick:

But when buying them, I came across these (PRODUCT) RED paint swatch shoes that I love, love, love:

The hi-tops also come in red, and the lo-tops come in green. It's hard to find a pair of Converse that I don't like; but these? These are pretty awesome.


Un-Labor Day

This weekend, like the rest of the country, Mattio and I celebrated working by taking time off. It was wonderful.

Friday night we celebrated by going out to dinner (and cocktails) with friends we don't see nearly as often as I would like. Saturday night brought dinner (and more cocktails!) with friends that I'm glad we get to see as often as we do. Sunday afternoon brought an last-minute dinner invitation from another set of friends. And yes, there were cocktails.

Because both we both work from home, it's really, really hard to take time off--if only because the computer is always there. We live in a digital society where 9-5--in our case--isn't the norm. We put in our daily hours, but more often than not, after the kids are in bed, there's another couple of hours spent working. And very rarely does a weekend go by without us putting in a little more time at "the office." It doesn't really interrupt our lives too much (Saturday nights--remember, we have kids--and Sunday mornings are great times to knock out a few things)--but it's there, the work on the weekends.

We're both very fortunate in that we enjoy what we do for a living, so working "after hours" doesn't really bring too many complaints. But sometimes, you need to step away. Sometimes, you have to take the weekend off. Sometimes, you have to un-labor.

And that's just what we did this weekend. And it felt good.


Friday LOLs

There's a horse in the Apple Store: Frank Chimero's hysterical take on... well, a small pony in an Apple store. And like, nobody's noticing it:

I think, “Why?” What is the villain here that blinds all of these people to this situation? Am I nuts for thinking this is exceptional? Does anyone else see this? Did I accidentally drop acid and not realize? I must take a photo. I must verify later, when I’m not potentially tripping balls.

I think, “Would they notice if it were a tiger?” Or a lamb? Or an anaconda? What would it take to shake the haze from around their eyes? A sale sign? A new iPod Touch? Would they notice a new iPod Touch?

Are they just divinely focused? Are they meditating in a retail environment? Are they distracted by something shiny? There is so much shiny in the Apple Store. Is it enough to distract everyone from the little tiny horse that is at the Genius Bar?

Happy Friday, friends--and happy long weekend!


5 years old

It's been a busy week here at traciedesigns HQ: all interns headed back to school today, so this week was crazy with back to school shopping for the right shoes, clothes, and--oh yes--school supplies. Routine has finally come back into our lives, and we are embracing it fully.

But the other big thing about this week is that it is my 5 year anniversary. Five years ago this week, I left the comfort of a full-time job, a steady paycheck, an office with other people in it; and started my freelance career.

In the 5 years I have been on my own, I have:

--found some pretty cool new friends and clients;

--worked on projects the I might not have had the opportunity to, had I stayed working for someone else;

--won some pretty cool awards working on those projects;

--did I mention meet some pretty cool new friends and clients?

--had another baby

--worked in my dining room, my bedroom, back to the dining room, my parent's house, back to my bedroom, and finally (finally!), after 5 years, just last week I got my own office;

--had 2 different computers;

--never once stolen office supplies from myself;

--had 3 different interns (alright, full disclosure: there's a bit of nepotism going on here at traciedesigns. I don't know if you noticed, but I only hire my children as interns);

--the cool friends and clients (hey, they're worth mentioning a bunch, since they're the reason I'm still doing this flying solo thing)

I'm so happy to be doing what I love to do, work with people I love to work with. Here's to 5 more years of awesomeness!


Brushes with fame (and 2 degrees from Simon LeBon!)

You guys, sit down: I had a total brush with fame this weekend.

See, there's this band that I'm starting to love, love, love--the Limousines. Their first release, Very Busy People--love it. It's totally catchy and what I thought was a good song to work out to. Well, hold the phone, because their next release? Might just be my favorite song EVER right now: Internet Killed the Video Star. It's catchy, jumpy, totally makes me want to dance. So naturally I downloaded it off the ole' iTunes, and proceeded to jump around my kitchen whilst doing the dishes (which makes the doing the dishes WAY more fun. Also, note to self: get some sort of curtain for kitchen window. Hello, embarrassing). I love this song so much, that I tweeted about it.

And you guys, the guy from the Limousines tweeted back.

Since it's a 2-man band, technically half the band tweeted me back. SQUEAL!

Of course, at first I'm like, this is a total robot response--so I check out his twitter feed. Um, no--this guy is tweeting all over the place. He actually responded to my tweet!

So, of course that makes me super way happy, and since I love, love, love their music anyway, I went and bought their album.

Oh, and hello? According to Wikipedia (and when are they not right? Oh--nevermind...), the Limousines opened for DURAN DURAN.

You guys, that is like, TWO DEGREES from Simon LeBon.



So I just came home from an AIGA-sponsored breakfast event with the very funny, very charming Alexander Isley. Alex is an incredibly talented and accomplished graphic designer (and youth soccer coach. But "he is a better designer than he is a youth soccer coach." Amazing what you find out in people's online bios) out of Ridgefield, and today he spoke about what inspires him. His great talk was peppered with things like his mother's copywriting portfolio, Spy Magazine (which he was the art director for), books, posters, and awesome advice ("be terrified."). It was awesome AND inspiring.

It led to a discussion in which people talked about what inspired them, and what inspired them to be who and what they are today. My friend Donna talked about a book report cover that she designed in grade school (that was thoroughly rejected by her teacher), another attendee spoke about the path that led him to photography.

My path to graphic design wasn't a simple, oh, today I'll be a graphic designer. Did I want to go into the arts? Absolutely. Was graphic design an option? Not for me. But due to a financial decision, I ended up in Greenwich (it was SO NOT that kind of Greenwich financial decision. Ironic that I ended up there, though), at a school where my classes were chosen for me, and at the end of the program I would be a graphic designer. The appeal was all of the fine arts classes; originally, I wanted to go into fine art and be this starving (but not really), tortured artist who lived in a loft and wore a lot of black and was just FABULOUS. The program started with drawing, painting, a ton of figure study--everything that appealed to my starving (but not really), tortured artist. Towards the end of the program, the computer was introduced; and I realized what a great medium it was (and is), and how much I enjoyed creating on it.

This morning, at the breakfast, someone asked my friend about her book cover: perhaps the teacher's rejection of the book cover is what led her down the path to graphic design. Some days I wonder what my career would be like if I had majored in fine art like I intended. Would I still have found my way into graphic design?


Night and Day

I was trying to come up with something clever to say about Pixar's decision to publish the animated short Night and Day as a book, but then I realized that Khoi Vinn said it much better than I ever could.

So, yeah. What he said.


Photoshopping: Good vs. evil

Like many other graphic designers, I use Photoshop. And I do LOVE me some Photoshop--it's a completely and totally amazing program. I started using it probably about 15 years ago--in it's infancy--and it's amazing to see how far it's come, and all of the awesome things that you can do with it.

Problem is, Photoshop is not just used for good (I KNOW. What is up with that?). Sure, you want to correct the lighting on a model's face? No problem. Photoshop has many nifty tools for that. But what happens when you stop correcting the lighting, and say, take 10 pounds off the model instead? What happens when you smooth wrinkles, clone out beauty marks, whiten eyes and teeth, lighten hair color, and take the cellulite off a model's thigh? How much Photoshop is too much?

There's a site I read fairly often: Jezebel. It bills itself as Celebrity. Sex. Fashion. And the site does a fair job of covering all three topics. But one of the features I love most (and what really keeps me coming back) is what the writers tag Photoshop of Horrors.

Yup, before and after Photoshop pics.

Apparently last week there was a kerfluffle regarding some unretouched Jennifer Aniston pics, which prompted a post from the Jezebel editor in chief titled, Why You Must See Unretouched Images, And Why You Must See Them Repeatedly.

Agreed. Agreed. Agreed.

Because who hasn't looked at the cover of Insert Fashion Magazine Here--especially while waiting on line at the market in sweats and flip flops, hair pulled back under a baseball cap so no one can see your 1" long and growing roots, and of course makeup-less face--and thought, Gee, Unrealistically Photoshopped Celebrity looks slammin'. And I... well, I'm bloated. And I have super dark circles under my eyes. And... on and on and on (insert 10 pints of Ben & Jerry's here).

I love that Jezebel takes a stand against all the evil Photoshoppers out there by showing before and afters. I think the world--especially women--NEED these reminders. Because until science comes up with real-life Photoshop (um, sign me up for that take 10 pounds off part), we're all... normal in comparison.

But we're the best kind of normal there is--unretouched, REAL normal.


Boo-boos and Band-Aids

We are people with children--3 to be exact. Which means that we always have Band-Aids on hand.


But, being that these 3 children are girls, we don't have Band-Aids of the flesh-colored, or even clear variety. No, we have Scooby Doo, Littlest Pet Shop, Hello Kitty... I could go on, but you get the picture: if it's pink and has some sort of popular character on it, we have it. One time Mattio had to actually go to the drugstore to pick up plain, flesh-colored Band-Aids because (and who could blame him?) he wouldn't put a Barbie Band-Aid on his cut (I almost typed boo-boo. See what these children are doing to me?).

I doubt very much that Mattio would use these super-awesome, adult AND child-oriented Band-Aids, but I know I would:

Cynthia Rowley Band-Aids? I will gladly put you on my boo-boos.