Archive | December 2012

Better Late Than Never

Happy Holidays


You Win Some, You Lose Some. A Designer’s Job Search Insight.

For anyone looking for a design job, you know the task at times can seem like a daunting one. Not only do you need to create a resume that gets you noticed for your skills but it’s also important that graphically your resume stand out from the rest without being overtly “designy” and that can be a difficult line to straddle. As a designer, we also have the portfolio piece. Oh ya, that little thing. We want our work to show an aesthetic and point of view while still demonstrating that we’re capable of working within different styles. If we’ve played our cards right, these two pieces might be enough to get us noticed and get the interview. Whew! Once we’ve got our foot in the door all we have to do is convince them that our work is the best, our experience is exactly what they’re looking for and make everyone love us. No pressure at all!

Say everything up to this point goes perfectly and you get yourself a second interview. Great! Now, you might be asked to do a design test. I think in many design jobs this piece is fairly common but obviously, the scope of the test can vary. I think it’s valuable for the organization to see what kind of work you do in a real world situation but I also think it makes it tough not to become emotionally invested when you’ve put a lot of work in and you want the gig.  I know this is a fairly lengthy post but it was a valuable experience for me and that’s why I want to share. Below is the creative brief I was given as part of a design test for a job I recently interviewed for. Seeing the brief will help you understand why I made the design decisions I did. I chose to create a full identity system and the creative solution was a direct mailer and follow up email.


Business Objectives: One of our business units is transitioning its name from X to Y. It is critical that we communicate to our existing customers that our name is changing but not our commitment to the industry or them. This event is sure to increase visibility for the brand creating an ideal opportunity to restate to potential customers what makes us different.

Top Things to Communicate:

• The name change reflects our transformative growth and is symbolic of our commitment to providing greater access to a broader range of world-class systems, software, products, facilities and expertise.

• We strive to position ourselves as a companion in furthering the practice of animal health care.

• This new identity is a (bolder/vibrant), fun, more personal one that elevates experiences over things.

• Companionship is synonyms with one of our core brand attributes…partnership. Identify classic animal companion archetypes and relate with how we are delivering on our promise of helping build healthier businesses and furthering the practice of animal health care.

• Ideation Keywords: Loyal (Man’s Best Friend), Friendly, Shared Interests, Part of the Family

• Potentially include slight image modifications to theme based on Practice focus (Companion vs. Equine


MyVetSupply Identity Suite

MyVetSupply Identity Suite


MyVetSupply Direct Mailer

MyVetSupply Direct Mailer

Ultimately, the organization chose to go with another candidate. But, as I said this was a valuable experience. In the end, you win some and you lose some and you have to pick yourself up and move on. As I’m learning, patience is ultimately the best skill you can possess when you’re looking for work. If you know anyone in the Minneapolis area who is looking for a graphic designer let me know. My contact information is here. I’m also available for freelance work. Thanks for reading and as always, I welcome your comments and feedback!

Raven Steals the Sun


The Haida are a group of indigenous people native to the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of B.C, Canada. They have a rich history of legend, lore and storytelling and are most known for their carved totem poles. Here is a great collection of images of their amazing carvings and other Haida art. One of my favorite Haida legends is the story of the Raven who stole the sun.

“In the beginning the world was in total darkness. The Raven, who had existed from the beginning of time, was tired of groping about and bumping into things in the dark. Eventually the Raven came upon the home of an old man who lived alone with his daughter. Through his slyness, the Raven learned that the old man had a great treasure. This was all the light in the universe, contained in a tiny box concealed within many boxes. At once the Raven vowed to steal the light. He thought and thought, and finally came up with a plan. He waited until the old man’s daughter came to the river to gather water. Then the Raven changed himself into a single hemlock needle and dropped himself into the river, just as the girl was dipping her water-basket into the river. As she drank from the basket, she swallowed the needle. It slipped and slithered down into her warm belly, where the Raven transformed himself again, this time into a tiny human. After sleeping and growing there for a very long time, at last the Raven emerged into the world once more, this time as a human infant. Even though he had a rather strange appearance, the Raven’s grandfather loved him. But the old man threatened dire punishment if he ever touched the precious treasure box. Nonetheless the Ravenchild begged and begged to be allowed to hold the light just for a moment. In time the old man yielded, and lifted from the box a warm and glowing sphere, which he threw to his grandson. As the light was moving toward him, the human child transformed into a gigantic black shadowy bird-form, wings spread ready for flight, and beak open in anticipation. As the beautiful ball of light reached him, the Raven captured it in his beak! Moving his powerful wings, he burst through the smokehole in the roof of the house, and escaped into the darkness with his stolen treasure. And that is how light came into the universe.”

This is my interpretation of that story:

Raven Steals the Sun

If you’re interested in more Haida legends click here. Thanks for reading!

The Messenger

I’ve been having the fox come to me everywhere and so it seemed only right to devote a post to him. No, he hasn’t visited me in person but everywhere I look and go I see foxes. Perhaps its coincidence or perhaps my thinking about it has just made me more aware of it…OR….perhaps a totem animal has been visiting me. (WTF?)

Native Americans believed that every person is connected with nine different animals that will accompany you through life, acting as a guide. “Different animal guides come in and out of our lives depending on the direction that we are headed and the tasks that need to be completed along our journey” Every culture uses animals symbolically and depending on which story you like best the fox can represent many things. “The Celts understood the fox knows the woods intimately, and they would rely upon the fox as their guide in the spirit world. In Native American lore, fox animal symbolism deals with two interpretations. One perspective (Northern tribes) observes the fox as a wise and noble messenger. The other (Plains tribes) views the fox as a trickster playing pranks, or worse – luring one to demise.”  I prefer the version where the fox is is a wise and noble messenger.


Houston, We Have Contact!

I’ve touted the benefits and alternate uses of contact paper as being great for more than just lining the shelves of your cabinets in another post but thought I would share some other ideas that I’ve dreamed up. Contact paper is great because its non-committal. You can change your mind anytime and rip it down. It’s the perfect material for folks who like to change it up a lot or who live in an apartment and can’t paint. I also love that the process is as easy as peel and stick. Plus, imagine trying to get the same sharp lines if you were using paint and tape. Not possible! The best thing is that you can buy it at the Home Depot or  in most home decor stores. Here’s a gallery of a few projects I’ve done recently. I’ll spare you the play-by-play but if you have questions just ask.

1) A STRIPE FOR INTEREST: Adding this stripe behind the TV makes it appear larger and creates a more visually interesting focal point than the TV on the wall just chillin’ by itself.

Contact Paper Stripe

2) RISER DECORATION: I had seen this idea before but like it more using contact paper because it can be changed at anytime and required half the amount of time it would have taken to tape and paint. Every other riser gives your eyes a little bit of a break. I mounted LEDs under the stair rail to illuminate the stairs at night.

Chevron Stair Risers Using Contact Paper

3) BACKSPLASH: This was the perfect material to cover up an ugly backsplash that will eventually be replaced anyway. The pattern hides any indication of texture behind it and its as easier or easier to clean than tile.

Contact Paper Backsplash

4) WALLPAPER: Since this tiny hallway had tons of trim and tiny spaces to fill the contact paper was the perfect choice. Imagine how long this would have taken if you were taping and painting!

Contact Paper as Wallpaper

Hope you enjoyed! As always, if you have any questions on how I did this or need advice on making your own, just holler! Thanks for reading and remember, today’s ideas become tomorrow realities.

Vertical Zen Garden Box

I love displaying plants in unusual ways. As I  mentioned in a previous post I don’t have a lot of surface space for containers so I’ve been trying to think of clever ways to go vertical with my indoor gardening. As with most of my projects, this is simple but packs a punch. I started with 3/4″ X 1 1/2″ lumber and a piece of 1/4″ melamine and created a box. After painting it I lined with an old shower curtain cut to size. After stapling the plastic in place I used grower pots cut in half and hot glued those to the back. Then I covered the whole thing in sheet moss which I hot glued in place and then filled the pots with soil and plants. Voila! I have it standing on top of a book case with Buddha and lit with some LEDs but you could also hang it directly on the wall. For maintenance I put the whole box in the shower once a week and mist in between.


box_finished_light box_finished_dark

As always, if you have any questions on how I did this or need advice on making your own, just holler! Thanks for reading and remember, today’s ideas become tomorrow realities.

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