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.


Friday LOLs

I have gushed many a time about how wonderful the internet is. Just when I think I've found the awesomest of awesome, the internet goes and pulls something out of a back pocket I didn't even know it had. Stumbling on these little treasures is both a blessing (duh) and a curse (I'm usually about 7-10 topics/websites away from what I was originally looking for. And that original topic/website has been long forgotten about by now).

So last night, I came across yet another internet awesome: Pinup RDJ.

Says the site:

Vintage pinups are the pinnacle of art. Robert Downey Jr is the pinnacle of sexy. It's not rocket science.

Rocket science it is not. Hysterical? Um, yes. Times two.

The site is peppered with these morphed images of Robert Downey Jr, and, well, 50s-era pinups. In between that awesomeness are answered reader questions (for example, How do you not explode from your awesomeness? Answer: oh believe me, I suck at plenty of things to keep it balanced.)

Thank you, internet, for the gift of awesomeness that just keeps on giving.


From the intern

What up traciedesigns readers??!

It's the intern here. Checking out what my paren--ahem, bosses--mean when they talk about "blogging." I still don't get it, but Momm--er, the bosslady--tells me to keep typing. Like I don't do enough around here.

So what exactly have I been doing all week? Well, lucky for you, I kept a photo diary of a day in the life of the intern. Read on...

We start out with the best intentions; working of course:

But it's much more fun to just press all the keys on the keyboard and play around with the mouse (Of course, it totally helps throw the boss off of any suspicious activity if you look real cute and smile. Like, A LOT):

After all that exhausting work, I need to relax a bit:

Since we're on a whole technology "theme" at the office, it's super fun to play Robot. How do you play? You just throw a shopping bag over your head and talk in a monotone voice. I made this game up. I know, I am SO ahead of my time.

All this playing wears me out though. I hear much work gets done while I'm napping; but for all I know, the boss is sleeping, too.

PLAYTIME! Nothing sparks my creativity like the swings.

Finally, lots of days at traciedesigns end with ice cream. Today was one of them.

As I am known to say: "Yummy, yummy in my tummy."


More books--again!

One of my most favorite bloggers out there is Oh Joy. I love her sense of style; she has a great eye for design, fashion and decorating. So when I heard that she wrote a book on freelancing (with fellow freelancer Meg Mateo Ilasco), of course I bought it.

Creative, Inc. arrived a few weeks ago, and so far it's been a great read. Like me, Joy started her freelance business 5 years ago, and says: "This is the book I wish I had when I started my freelance business..." Amen, sistah.

To promote the book, the ladies made the most adorable stop motion short:

And--squeal!--they're doing a 3 city book tour that just happens to stop in NYC. I'll totally be there.

In the meantime, if you're currently freelancing, or even thinking about it, put Creative, Inc at the top of your to-be-read list.


More intern

For quite some time, I have been whining about getting an intern. Someone to help with the day to day at traciedesigns, another set of hands (and eyes).

What I got was definitely another set of hands (and eyes), just not quite what I was hoping for in the help department.

Folks, my almost 3 year old intern is back.

So the eyes aren't for bouncing ideas off of, so much as scouting Nickelodeon for good shows. The hands? Well they actually need *my* help with changing all the dolls' clothes.

But don't get me wrong, this intern has her benefits: she's pretty instrumental in not letting my ego get too big. She forces me to take work breaks and do fun stuff (see above re: dolls' clothes. Have you ever played dolls with an almost 3 year old?). And all that fun stuff? Well, it gets the creative juices flowing in ways that a 5 minutes outdoor "break" has yet to do.

So while I'm completely thankful for the help I have throughout the year, those times when the intern gets to stay home and "help" is a blessing as well.

Oh, and PS: The intern has been talking non-stop about guest blogging this week. Stay tuned...


Scenes from a dinner

So in the year that I have owned it, my iPhone has come through for me in big ways. Like, HA-YUGE ways. Sure, that whole email/internet/phone thing comes in handy, but I'm talking necessity here. Necessity--like, I brought all three children out to dinner, and I have nothing to amuse them. Come on, I know all you parents out there are going, OMG. WHAT was she thinking??!

Cue the phone.

Because not only do I have game and amusement apps ready to go, the phone also comes equipped with a camera. For any budding photographers. Such as the 7 year old.

Take, her Self Portrait, for instance:

Waiting for a Table:

Portrait of Chocolate Milk:


It amuses me to no end to find these "secret" photos on my phone; and she knows it. So... well played, middle child. And, well, thanks, Apple.

Not so new office, not so great floors, and the intern

So today I was going to blog about my new office. I was going to tell you guys all about how I was finally going to have a space of my own, maybe even post a few pictures.

So notice in the above sentence I used past tense: I WAS going to blog about my new office.

Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication; and our floors--well, they didn't turn out as expected. So here I sit, at my desk in the temporary digs, still waiting on my office. The good news is that the painters are there today, painting it all up nicey-nice. The bad news is that whole floor thing.

Hopefully it will be fixed soon, because all week long, I have an intern all excited to go and help me move. OK, she probably won't be much help, but she'll certainly make it more fun.


Friday LOLs

While I'm not a fan of violent movies, I really loved Fight Club (and not just because of Brad Pitt). That said, I would totally go and see Jane Austen's Fight Club. Totally.


In miniature

Love, love, love tilt-shift photography.

Love, love, love NYC.

Love, love, love this tilt-shift video of NYC.

The Sandpit from Sam O'Hare on Vimeo.


(Thanks to Twitter friend Meg Mateo Ilasco for the link!)


Friday LOLs

OK, don't judge, but one of my favorite-ist websites ever is Go Fug Yourself. It's HILARIOUS. The entire premise is photos of celebrities--sometimes A-list, sometimes Z-list; they don't discriminate--wearing their worst. But the Fug Girls, as they are known, are not super mean about it; it's fun--definitely not Mean Girls.

So while I share the Fug Girls' taste in fashion (and Diet Coke, and old-school Brenda Walsh, for that matter [I said, DON'T JUDGE]), I am not of the same level of knowledge as they are about Jennifer Love Hewitt. Or Lifetime movies, apparently.

Did you know that, a few weeks ago, Jennifer Love Hewitt was in a made-for-Lifetime movie called the Client List? Did you know it was NOT based on a John Grisham novel? It is actually a movie about a woman FORCED into prostitution--not because she's held captive by terrorists or anything, but because her husband has a bum knee.

I'll just sit here while you re-read the above sentence.

The Fug Girls knew this, and reviewed the movie. People of the internet, they told us there was a Dashboard Angel of Judgment. They used the term "kind touching" in lieu of prostituting. There are lessons learned:

This is the first lesson of the movie: Totally Let a Dude Look Down Your Shirt If You Think It Will Help.

And this is the second lesson of the movie: If You Say You're Trained In Shiatsu And Your Prospective Massage-Therapist Boss Looks At You Like, "Whoa, She's Into Dogs? Ooookay," Do Not Think Anything Of It; She Probably Just Misheard You And Is Totally Not A Secret Prostitute.

This is the third lesson of the movie: Kind Touching Is Totally Okay If Your Husband's Bum Knee Basically Forces You To Do It, Because Really, Then It's Sort Of His Fault.

OMG, the review of this movie--which, a-duh, was truly awful from the start--is freaking HILARIOUS. Seriously. Take 15 minutes and read this review. Because it is peppered with things like this:

Have you ever wondered what it looks like when you decide to Kind Touch your way to salvation?

Yes, this is 15 minutes of your life that you will never, ever get back; but my God will you laugh. Plus, think of the 2 hours that the Fug Girls had to spend actually watching this thing.


Magic shoes + quick fixes

Ladies, I wish that toning your thighs and butt were as easy as popping on a pair of "magic shoes" (LOVE that) and doing normal daily activities--don't we all? If it were that easy, I'd own 10 pairs of Fit Flops, Sketchers, Reeboks, and more. I would be the queen of magic shoes!

However, seeing as they're being referred to as magic shoes and all, I just can't bring myself to buy a pair. Which I think is OK by Nike, who does not make a pair of magic shoes. Instead, they make sneakers. Plain old, non-magic, sneakers. And in their ads, they come right out and say it: This shoe works if you do.

Gotta love the honesty, right?

(Read the full article on Ad Freak)


Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce awesomeness

Like millions of other people, I love, love, LURVE Mad Men. The writing is amazing, the characters so well-developed; and that Don Draper... well, let's just say SWOON.

Season 4 is only two episodes in, and while I am love, love, LURVING it, I am absolutely love, love, LURVING the set design the most--specifically, the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices. 60's Modern? I'll take 2.

Seriously, those sofas! The tables! Forget the fact that last week they had no conference table at all, or that there's non-existent second floor offices, I want the room that Peggy's always working in--the one that doesn't seem to be her office (or is it?). The one with the Helvetica poster in it (awwww, yeah).

You can check out more of the SCDP office photos here. And in case you feel like surrounding yourself with Mad Men-esque furnishings, head on over to Knoll for more drool-worthy stuff. Yummy.

Oh, one more thing: can we talk for a second here, about how fantastic Peggy's hair is this season? Holy cow, girlfriend looks good!


More books!

I swear, you guys, this is not becoming a literary site. However, in doing a little purse research (coincidentally, my friend Becky prompted said purse research, and she is a ferocious reader), I came across this:

Kate Spade is all literary clutch crazy, with new bags depicting awesomely-designed covers of Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, and the Importance of Being Earnest.

Adorable? Yes, please.

Also, in case you're interested, Becky also let me know that the entire Penguin Hardcover Classics line of books is available at their site. Read on!