Monday, February 15, 2010


In the spring of 2007, I worked with another designer on a project for a fundraiser at Saint Mary's Basilica. We got the project through some mutual friends and it was a great chance to do some unique design on a very tight budget. While sometimes for a designer, this seems very limiting, sometimes it can bring out your best work. The creative and strong concepts come from strong ideas and are not dependent on the expensive paper or printing.

The theme for this spring event was Ohanami which is the word for the Japanese cherry blossom festival. The only limitations were the budget and the desire of the event planners, for us not to use pink. The challenge would be to create a design that looked sophisticated for the audience, captured a sense of spring and expressed the meaning of Ohanami without sub-text.

Ohanami save the date card

After doing research and investigating some illustrations, I decided on a simple, beautiful and sophisticated approach. I used a light blue to white gradient and overlapping, somewhat silhouetted cherry blossoms that would express an evening event and also the name of the fundraiser. The brown highlights were used to bring in the eye but not distract from the softness of the overall piece. The falling petals were used to draw the eye across the piece from top to bottom and from left to right.

Ohanami Poster

We were asked to design a save the date card, letterhead, invitation, RSVP card, poster and program. A light, serif face was used in conjunction with a condensed, sans-serif that complemented the piece's airy, open style.

Ohanami letterhead

The printing was done at very low cost, so the design and typography needed to hold up to less expensive paper and inks. We also chose to place in the Japanese characters to add a small, but important link to the heritage of the words themselves. They also helped to draw the eye into the center of the piece, where the main content was held.

Ohanami program cover

The pieces were very well received and the project was a really great exercise in several design and production challenges. The design was translated successfully over several pieces, conveyed the mood and theme and also reproduced very well in a very small budget.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pond Hockey 2010

This post is long overdue, but it took me a while to go through all of my photographs from the day. Like every other year, one of my favorite events during the Minnesota winter is the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis. I don't follow any particular hockey team during the season, but love the game as any good Minnesotan should. I also have the good luck to have the championship right in my neighborhood in South Minneapolis.

This year, the championship was from January 22-24. My husband Jason and our friend Paul and I decided to go on Saturday the 23rd. The idea was to spend a couple of hours on the lake, watching some good old fashioned hockey competitions. Well, this year, the Minnesota weather decided to throw us a curve ball. Instead of the usual, coldest week of the year (well below zero), we got a few degrees above freezing and rain!!!!

Our friend Paul came over to pick us up with an umbrella and plastic bags in his shoes. I still wanted to tough it out and go. So I put on my Minnesota Northstars hat (thanks to our friend Dan Hertzberg) and we made the trek down to the lake.

It was a total mess. For one, usually this event is completely packed with spectators, and this time is was mainly just the players on the ice. They were literally playing in about 2-3 inches of water on top of the ice. Many of them were not playing with a puck, but a small ball that was easier to control… kind of.

I was soaked from head to toe in about 10 minutes and Jason and Paul indulged my love for hockey for about 30 minutes before deciding it was maybe not going to get any drier.

I did see a few kids out there, still having a good time! Children seem to be resilient through these kinds of things.

We only stuck around 30 minutes or so before heading out through the puddles, back home. I am not sure if it even continued into Sunday with the rain still coming down. Hopefully, we have better luck next year. If you ever want to see some heart-warming stories about the joys of pond hockey, check out the movie Pond Hockey: A Documentary Film.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Foot in the Door 4

Yesterday, my husband Jason and I stood in line yesterday (for an hour or so) at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to submit our work to the Foot in the Door Exhibition.

It is an open exhibition to any Minnesota resident and is a great opportunity to show some of your work. It is open to any medium (as long as it is not alive or growing). It is limited to one piece per artist and as long as it fits inside of a 12"x12" box, it will be shown at the exhibition.

Jason submitted his framed illustration Burger Cat. It is his take on a very hungry kitty being taunted with his greatest desire, a juicy burger, that is just outside of his grasp.

I submitted a framed black and white photograph I took of a singer in New York City last October. I was really happy with how this shot turned out. It captured a perfect moment during his performance, but also showed the uniqueness of his face.

The show is on view from February 19 through June 13, 2010 in the MAEP galleries. With thousands of submissions, it should be an eclectic, fantastic show!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grid Systems

Grid systems are such an important part of design, but often one that in the busyness of multiple deadlines, get overlooked or not done at all. I am of the opinion that they are not necessary in every case when the designer is using a more organic approach or is very comfortable with the layout. I think they are viewed sometimes as being too restricting. But, in a lot of cases, a strong underlying grid can expand the design possibilities and add structure and organization. I think this is especially important when text is being used so that the legibility is fully considered.

I was recommended the book Grid Systems by Josef Muller-Brockmann.

Aside from being written in both German and English, the book is very clear and thorough. It takes a fairly traditional and structured approach to the subject matter. But, it breaks down all the information and gives may examples of how they can be used.

You can tell instantly by the imagery and typography that the ideas in the book are taken from the 1960s, but the content really has never gone out of style.

It is a great reference if you are ever stuck with a layout or need ideas on how to organize complex or a multitude of information. I am a solid believer in classic information and approaches to modern design being respected and understood. Once you have these good foundations on basic elements and structure, breaking the rules is easier and more effective.

I would recommend this book on the shelf of any designer. If you know where to look for the information, it can help make sense out of some of your text and visual elements.