Steve Jobs Biography

My family and I are longtime Apple fans. I confess, we briefly cheated on them in the 90’s, but there are reasons for that (one of which being Apple’s fall from grace during Steve Jobs’s banishment), all of which are explained in the new Steve Jobs bio. We even owned one of the original Macintosh computers. Over my last visit to Tulsa, I found some of the old disks from our second Mac (strangely hidden in plain site in a trunk in our living room also containing a plethora of troll dolls…).

There were quite a few interesting facts and I’m pretty sure my family would appreciate me never reading another biography as each time I came up for air from the book I recounted several Steve Jobs facts. Here are a few I found most notable:

1. Steve Jobs appreciates graphic design. In his brief stint at Reed for college he took a calligraphy class, which gave him a great appreciation for things such as kerning and leading and all the type goodies. It was largely because of this respect that Apple took the road it did instead of the road Windows and PC’s went. He stressed over details such as the rounded corners of the Macintosh for weeks (making everyone working for him crazy on the way).

He even had the opportunity to work with Paul Rand (one of the most famous and arguably the greatest graphic designer of all time) on a logo for one of his companies, NeXT. Rand was similar to Steve Jobs in the sense that they both knew (or felt) they were the best. He reportedly told Jobs (who asked for a number of options) that he didn’t create options for his clients.

“I will solve your problem, and you will pay me,” he told Jobs. “You can either use what I produce, or not, but I will not do options, and either way you will pay me.”

I was tickled (for lack of a better word) by that, because what graphic designer doesn’t at some point think something along those lines. Perhaps someday I’ll have the clout.

2. A big point to take away from the book (and in fact a point both Jobs and his wife wanted to come across) is that despite his genius, he wasn’t perfect. I would argue to say his work borders on perfect, but his personality was far from it. I’ll say it, he was crazy. A complete asshole. But he was brilliant. When he returned to Apple (after being fired), he knew they needed to set themselves apart by not only their visual aesthetic, but also their ad campaigns. He recognized that the client for Apple wasn’t your average business associate at a law firm, it was the creative type. Their original line was “Here’s to the crazy ones.” Their ad agency (Chiat/Day) came up with this poem (which I’m sure you saw floating around Facebook after Jobs’s death):

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

It worked. It was this train of “crazy” thought that revolutionized the music industry, the mobile phone industry, and the notepad as well as personal computers.

3. As a designer, I often get requests that make no sense or that I know won’t work (slash will be hideous). It’s part of my job to interpret what they’re asking for and translate it to something that does work. Jobs took a more radical approach, but shared a similar outlook on interaction with clients. He wrote this for the biography:

Some people say, “give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’ ” People don’t know what they want until you show them.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone. I honestly don’t think I know anyone anymore without at least one Apple product (I mean, who hasn’t had an iPod along the way), but even if you don’t, from a business approach this is an excellent read. While I normally stick to a little fluffier novel for the beach, this was with me for 2 solid days (I read quickly, but I confess I toted this book to every meal I was so engrossed) in Hawaii.

Has anyone else read/or started it??


Aloha Friday: 2011 Superlatives

Happy Aloha Friday (actually from Hawaii, woo!).

2011 was a year of highs and lows and an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. I’m ready to bid it adieu and start fresh with 2012, but first I thought I’d offer a brief look back over the past year. I saw a similar post on another blog and thought I’d do my own design spin on it.

Best iPhone App: Tie between Instagram and Hipstamatic (you can tell I think this, as around 80% of my photos have been through these)

Best iPad App: Twitter. Never thought I’d “tweet”, but the amazingly clean and functional design of this twitter app literally turned me into a tweeter. Check it out.

Best New (to my collection) Typeface: Museo. Clean lines, modern flow, a nice little, versatile font.

Best New TV Show: Homeland. Hands down. Have you seen it?? I confess I love my CW guilty pleasures, but Homeland is a legitimately great show with staying power. And if Claire Danes doesn’t win an Emmy or Golden Globe, I’ll be shocked.

Best Memory: Our wedding. This was definitely the high point of my year and I’m so fortunate to have so many amazing memories from the entire week with all our friends and family.

Best Book: Steve Jobs bio. A whole post to come on this next week, but if you have some free time, pick up this book.

Best New Website: Pinterest. This site has alleviated my need for the countless amounts of “inspiration” folders I had cluttering my desktop.


Hope everyone has a nice New Year’s and a fabulous start to the New Year!


Happy Holidays from the Simpsons

As it is Christmas Eve Eve, I thought I’d share our 2011 holiday card with you. I had a lot of fun designing them and I think they turned out great! The ribbon up top was actually red grosgrain ribbon (not this particular quick photoshop job) that Mike and I put together by hand. Even little Logan had an appearance on the back though she wasn’t at the wedding last May (I know I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure I have the cutest dog that ever was).

And because we all know I love a good custom stamp:

I know I’ve been somewhat absent on this blog, but will have LOTS of things to show you after the new year, as I’ve been busy. For now, I’m putting the computer away for the next week to enjoy Hawaii. Hope everyone has a fabulous holiday and a Happy New Year!

Introducing Pumpkinhead Paperie

So last week I mentioned a way I’ve found to incorporate working with paper. With my own wedding and the several I worked on last year, I decided I wanted to start a separate site that is strictly a paper house. Thus, Pumpkinhead Paperie was born (check out the site, still a work in progress, as I finesse my WordPress skills).

Pumpkinhead Paperie designs Save the Dates, Wedding Invitations and Collateral, Birthday Invitations, Holiday Cards, Birth Announcements, Shower Invites, etc… Essentially all things paper. Though I have featured the majority of these projects on my design site, I wanted to brand these separately as a site dedicated to all things announcement and invitation related. Essentially, a bride looking at invitations doesn’t necessarily want to go perusing my logo studies and brand brochures, though I’d obviously encourage it 🙂 (Note: This does not mean in any way I’m abandoning all the other projects I do, just another aspect to my design business)

Why pumpkinhead? My mom called me pumpkinhead growing up because my birthday is on Halloween. I also love all things pumpkin, so it seemed oh so appropriate. The fact that I’m launching in October is a happy mistake (mistake in that I’ve had this logo designed for the past year, but the whole getting married thing sidetracked me a bit), but also oh so appropriate. Despite not having officially launched yet, I’m already working on a Florida wedding invitation set and starting a Texas save-the-date and then invitations.

If you don’t mind, please mosey on over to facebook and like my page!

The very beginning of pumpkinhead…

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

My Client Website Designs

After an unannounced (unplanned) hiatus from blogging, I’m back. Work has been busy and we’ve been enjoying the fall weather (especially after a quick jaunt to Houston this past weekend) here in Denver.

When certain clients approach me for new projects, there are several examples of work they won’t usually find in my portfolio. These include things like banner ads, powerpoints, flyers, and a lot of times active websites. It’s not because I’m not proud of these projects, but mostly because I have less control over the final product. For example, when I build a banner ad, I have very little space and most of the time are using not-so-great web fonts. Or, when I build powerpoints, I have very little control on content, just background images. So, while I have lots of examples of these things, I usually wait for someone to request to see them rather than flaunt them on my portfolio site.

Websites are another animal. I don’t tend to show a lot of active websites to potential clients because honestly a lot of it gets botched in the development. Developers versus designers is another post on it’s own, but the short of it is that developers are usually satisfied with high function while designers clearly care about aesthetic over function. {Note: Designers, care about function, we just believe there is a way to achieve it while also achieving something aesthetically pleasing.} After something has gone through development, it often doesn’t look 100% like I designed it. So, sometimes I show .pdfs of websites from my final designs versus sending the URL’s.

Lately, I’ve been working on so many websites I’ve gotten a bit curious poking around old sites of mine and thought I’d share a few. These sites are ones I still work on occasionally (some, regularly) where I was pretty pleased with the development. This kind of gives you an idea of a large amount of the work I do these days. All of the these sites I designed both the logos and the brand look.

Katz & Louizeaux

Maggie S. Photography

OHM Acupuncture

Mountain Daisy

Brenda Simon Photography

With a lot of the work going interactive these days, it’s harder to keep complete design control. I’ve also had several projects that are confidential throughout the development process. And as a lot of those projects are only in the beginning stages, some are never even fully developed as they don’t receive enough funding. Thus, they’re somewhat stuck in my computer as I’m not allowed to share them. However, I do have several sites that are in progress right now that I’m excited to show you all soon.

A Designer’s Worst Enemy: Spec Work and Crowdsourcing

Every time I hear about or see a competition for spec work or crowdsourcing I get angry… Seriously makes my heart beat faster. It’s a topic in design that is incredibly important and effects each and every one of us, so I’m going to spread some information about it. First, what do these words mean? The No Spec campaign defines spec work as this:

“Basically, spec work is any kind of creative work rendered and submitted, either partial or completed, by a designer to a prospective client/employer before taking steps to secure both their work and an equitable fee. Under these conditions, a designer will often be requested to submit work under the guise of either a contest or an entry exam on actual, existing jobs as a “test” of their skill. In addition, the designer normally unwittingly loses all rights to their creative work because they failed to protect themselves by means of a signed binding contract or agreement. The client/employer often uses this freely gained work as they see fit without fear of legal repercussion.”

In essence, a designer completes work for free with the promise of a “good portfolio piece” or “work in the future”. Spec work these days go hand in hand with a newer concept called “crowdsourcing”.

“Term coined by Jeff Howe in Wired magazine in 2006 as, “The act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call.”

There are even design companies (which I won’t mention or link to, because I refuse to give them any recognition) that complete ALL of their design work via crowdsourcing. It usually takes the form of a competition, where the company advertises a cash “prize” if your design is picked. The work you complete that is not picked, goes unpaid.

I will admit, several years ago when I first moved here I was roped into a spec work project. I was interviewed first and told that I was only one of several people “competing” for the job, so it seemed like a safer bet. It wasn’t. I spend hours of time working on a project for a company that I was never paid for and never contacted by again. I suppose everyone has to learn their own lessons and I certainly learned mine.

I think the biggest issue with spec work today is that it’s not just young designers who are being duped into the promise of portfolio pieces and future work. It’s seasoned designers who are becoming desperate for work and remaining relevant through this tough economy. The problem is that crowdsourcing and spec work are cheapening the field (literally) and will continue a vicious cycle that will make it impossible for design work to ever be valued as it should.

Why did I choose to write about this today? I stumbled across a little article by No Spec that links to the US Department of Interior crowdsourcing their logo. This SICKENS me. Crowdsourcing harms the Graphic Design profession and freelancers in general, but to be supported by a U.S. Government branch? This isn’t a political blog, so I’m not going to open that can of worms, but I think the issue of spec work is something people to be aware of as more jobs are becoming freelance versus full time.

I posted my pic in support of the Anti Spec campaign here. You should too!

Does anyone else have a career that is being threatened or harmed by practices like crowdsourcing or modern technology?

Our Hawaiian Wedding: The Collateral in Action

You’ve seen the some of the collateral, but there are a few surprises in here and it’s fun to see it all in action!

Table with the programs and guestbook:

We included new Polaroid cameras for guests to have their picture taken to put next to their message to us. I customized the guestbook with a personalized first page and an engagement picture in the front window.

My mom visited Asia several months before the wedding and surprised us with an entire suitcase full of these AMAZING parasols! They provided shade while waiting for the ceremony to begin and were a fun keepsake for guests!

2 DELICIOUS signature drinks. Rodney’s  (Rodney works at Hokulia, our venue) Mai Tai’s really are the best in the world.

Note the cocktail napkins have changed from “Are Tying the Knot” to “Tied the Knot”. We also ordered customized stirrers with our married initials (which happen to be my personal married initials as well!) from Horchow.

I made the flag garland around the cake. I may do a whole post on this. I’m debating because honestly it didn’t turn out exactly as I planned as the humidity pulled apart a lot of the glue in an awkward way. I think overall it turned out nice, just not exactly what I was thinking.

The tables were more than I imagined they would be. My mom worked with a wedding planner in Tulsa to make the runners. We chose a fabric that was similar to burlap, but a bit higher quality. We had two different colors and my mom figured out a way to knot  smaller pieces on top which gave it a more complex look and perfectly accented the gorgeous wood furniture (not only did we save money on rentals by using Hokulia’s furniture, we had a better quality than we could have rented). It couldn’t have been more perfect!

Had to make sure the name cards wouldn’t blow away, so I re-utilized the hemp string from the invitations to tie them around the menus.

LOVE this shot. That is how the sky photographed right after sunset. This table had our favors (small woven boxes with chocolate turtles inside) that doubled as escort cards.

And to top it off a name sign for the Simpsons! This post concludes the Mundt—Simpson wedding package!

I’m off to Tulsa tomorrow for a few days. The “lowest high” for the time I’m there is 103… Wish me luck!