• 5: books James Victore recommends


    Pretty diverse set, no? I want to give couple of them try. But he’s right about me not wanting to read Ralph’s again. I really agree that it’s our immersion in the world that helps make us diverse and strong designers.

    James Victore, for those of you new to the scene, is a graphic designer I admire. I’ve written about him a couple of times.

  • “Your Work is a Gift” -James Victore


  • Confidence isn’t for you

    One of my ongoing resolutions is to be more confident. This was not really accomplished last year and when New Year’s came around again, I didn’t actually make any promising. I realized that, besides my horrendous typos, I didn’t have bad habits that I was treating to break. Rather, my resolutions were me trying to improve myself. Something that I think is a bit harder to accomplish because you can spend a lifetime working on it.

    But a couple of days ago my dear friend Robyn sent me this little 2015 packet. It had postcards encouraging me to make 2015 a year of hospitality. To spread the love, so to speak, through a variety of little missions of kindness. The very first card asked me to name two additional resolutions for 2015 (besides being more hospitable).


    And so, here I was confronted with the question of what I should resolve to do for 2015. And the rest of my life, really. I knew I already had an itch, something that bothered me: confidence. Especially this last semester when I struggled so much to get through each week. I felt like the confidence my abilities plummeted. Somehow I knew I was capable, but I felt useless. My friends have this odd impression of how I work that is far more pleasant than my actual work process. I don’t really glide through the finish line, it’s always a clumsy stumble or I’ve desperately inched myself across. I know that’s not always the case, but that’s how it feels to me. I have this vivid image of what I want to have accomplished and if I haven’t, I’ve failed.

    So, my goal for 2015 is to be more confident. I realize now that goal is too vague. That’s why I haven’t really been able to do it. I need ‘confidence metrics.’ What does it mean to be more confident? What are confident actions? I have this professor I admire and she’s friendly but direct. She’s comfortable with her actions and thoughts. She’s contentedly confident and it’s so intriguing to me. I want to be more steadfast myself.

    I went to this amazing talk at Interaction15 this week and the last speaker, Mike Monteiro (a symbol of confidence) gave his talk on the 13 ways a designer screws up a presentationalthough I have the link, you should wait until the video comes out because he’s an ahhhhmazing speaker. One of the most important takeaways I got from his lecture was that confidence isn’t for you, it’s for your client. Or anyone else if you don’t work with clients. It’s to reassure them that you’re the best person for the job, that they hired you for a reason. They have a problem and you’re going to fix it. If you are confident, they will feel that and feel better about their decision for you to help them. They are vulnerable. There is something outside of their expertise that they don’t know how to fix and they can only hope that you’ll help them. Because you are the expert. It really turned confidence on its head for me. I never thought of how it might affect the people working with. Although I have gotten feedback that my teammates have wished I was more confident…

    Here’s what I propose to do:

    • Ask for the things I want. I usually keep my mouth shut because I think I’m being polite. I don’t even know if being polite. For some reason I think I’m being more polite because I’m invisible. I think of the times that people ask me for things and I don’t mind one iota. I think the same goes both ways. James Victore gave us this speech when we were doing a workshop and the punchline was: Just ask. Just ask for what you want because maybe you’ll get it. In fact, usually you will. This could be a minor thing like sharing supplies or even getting paid the amount I think I deserve.
    • Don’t apologize. I seem to always apologize for not having done enough. Ask Mike said, what ever you did is exactly what you were supposed to do. If I haven’t harmed anyone there is no need to apologize.
    • Take a compliment…Instead of fighting it. Someone is trying to give you something even if you’re refusing it (and even if they’re wrong ;) ). It seems dishonest to let people think I work more effortlessly than I do, but I guess it makes people happy.
    • Volunteer in class at least once a week. To be fair, I often feel like I can’t think of anything fast enough, but I’ll try. I know what a difference it makes to the professor.
    • Answer emails in 15 minutes without fretting. I’m definitely fret over what I should and shouldn’t say longer than I should. I edit an email 10 times before sending it (for content, not grammar. It’s still always filled with typos). They are just people and I should respond as confidently to people I’m working with as I do with my students.
    • Talk louder when I’m teaching. The more confident I project myself as a teacher, the happier they will be to be my student. I feel like I’m yelling in class already, but I think I could be more audible.
    • Use less words when you’re giving feedback. Get to the point sooner. They want your help. I think I hedge my answers too much like I have something to prove. Instead of letting my first answers sit and grow, I expand on them to death and the more I talk the messier it gets. Just say what you think and stop. Related: don’t use any qualifiers in my sentences (may, might, a little, kinda, “I think,” “I feel like,” etc). Mean what you say.
    • Say at least one positive thing about your work. Let’s be real, Jacklynn, not everything is the worst.

    Remember: confidence is for them.

  • 5: Good Habits



    1. Be on time.
    2. Really listen. No phones, no laptops, just you and the person talking. Make eye contact.
    3. Be proactive. Find your own solutions.
    4. Be positive. If you can’t be positive (which you can), at least be hilarious.
    5. Act kindly. It will never go wrong.


    Things I strive to do every day. I would like to expand upon this topic soon, but it’s stemmed from this quote that James Victore introduced me to:”Make your habits gold.”

  • Some pictures from NYC Bordo Bello

    I took a ton, but here are a few.

    Very happy to help out Elysia, current AIGA Colorado president and designer extraordinaire, as she brings Bordo Bello to New York for the first time! The exhibition will be up at the AIGA National Design Center Gallery until July 3rd.

    Bordo Bello originated as an AIGA Colorado project in 2008 as a unique fundraising & arts project for the Denver community. Artists are ask to submit original skateboard designs and/or artwork to be sold at auction. All the proceeds form the auction go to supporting local arts mentorship program. I was lucky enough to also help at the super intense auction in Denver last year when they were auctioning over 300 decks and happened to move to New York when Elysia brought the exhibition to here!

    The New York exhibition features over about 25 new decks created especially for the event and the rest of the exhibition were previous decks that were on-loan from the owners. Ten were for auction that night and 14 remain for sale on ebay up until Saturday.

    Some of the NYC exhibition artists include: Debbie Millman, James Victorie, John Contino, Dana Tanamachi, Johnny Cupcakes, Louise Fili, Matteo Bologna, Will Bryant, Mig Reyes. Alex Bogusky, and Jessi Arrington, but there were many more! 

    I had to take a picture with the James Victore board. I mean, I we’re practically best friends (I took a workshop with him in undergrad and he follows me on Twitter…).

  • Another one to add to the list: Laurie Rosenwald

    On Saturday I had the tremendous good fortune to help out with a workshop by illustrator Laurie Rosenwald through AIGA. I had seen her work before through little animations she’d made for David Sedaris and then back-tracking to her own personal videos after really enjoying the design style. I remember after seeing this video coveting the raw style and honesty in the work, the same reason I enjoy James Victore‘s work (and person) so much.

    the shrink pimp from laurie rosenwald on Vimeo.

    Read more

  • Who & Why


    I’ve been thinking about design a lot lately and what I want to do. This is the first time I have been able to dedicate myself completely to graphic design and that my time hasn’t been split up between communication and design (not that I’m complaining, I enjoy both). I’ve been thinking about the designers who I know and like, and why. Yes, they all happen to be famous, but it’s obviously much easier to learn about designers when you can read interviews and attend lectures from them.

    Here’s my who & why:

    Read more


  • Some design reflection

    I love this lecture by Chip Kidd. I love his zest.

    It’s not often that I go to some lecture or forum and not enjoy it a least a little bit. At the very least, I’m content and don’t really regret going even if it’s not the most extraordinarily compelling.  Opportunity cost stuff, you know.

    However, last week I went to a two hour creative forum (with an hour of mingle time) and I mostly regret staying. Recently, it’s been the norm for me to see somewhat eccentric, passionate, and energetic people. The two designers they feeatured were…and of course I only saw them for two hours and they probably have a whole different side of them…the stereotypical high-brow design-tools that the media makes fun of. The kind Woody Allen would want nothing to do with. There’s confidence and there’s arrogance. They didn’t feel like any of their clients were capable of being insightful, creative, or understanding their work. That’s no way to be. Everything should inspire and influence you. There are many kind of wonderful design styles that can influence you. There are surprising perspectives that anyone can show you.

    They talked about being reductionists. As in, they were able to find the “true essence” of the project and represent it. As in, a lot of white space, short phrases, periods, black type. They describe having a several hour presentation of their work with their clients where one of the partners reads out of a 20-page packet of design justification. Doesn’t that sound horrendous?! They said sometimes their clients don’t understand how amazing their work is so they have to explain it to them. They explain every single thing they did do and explain every single thing they didn’t do. Ugh.

    They were the polar opposite of the idealists-we-can-change-the-world designers. They talked about limitations and making sure that their clients stayed grounded. In the way that some people feel the need to justify work that is subjective by making it scientific, they have to justify their art by dragging everything through an arduous process which distances themselves from their clients and audience as superior.

    I believe that good design embraces its audience. Clarity and simplicity are not the same thing. There is a way to make meaningful design in varying levels of complexity. I believe that no one should be lectured on why they should or shouldn’t like something. Even if it’s not instantaneous, it should hit them like a ton of bricks.

    James Victore described it like this: You want your audience’s reaction to be “Huh? WOW!” not “Wow!…Huh?

    Something has to give. And it’s not serifs.

  • Back to School II: Sharpie Giveaway!


    The Sharpie. A wonderful creation. This year I have prepared for my back to school adventures with a new pack of Sharpie Markers, Sharpie Pens, and the new Sharpie pencils. So you can imagine my delight when I saw that One Pearl Button was having a Sharpie Giveaway as a back-to-school event. Leave a comment on her post to enter! (I’ve been secretly following her for a year,  I love her blog and you should too, she’s been on my blog roll)

    Last semester for my book arts class I made this:

    (30 x 22 inches, click to enlarge)

    With Bic permanent markers. Gasp. My friend’s mom got them for free for being a school administrator so they were at hand. But I would love to do another one in the Sharpies. I’m sure if I did, everything about it would be better. ::wink wink::

    It’s my walk to elementary school when I was little. It has my peach-colored house, which I was embarassed of; our neighbors dog, Stormy; The lady with the beautiful backyard that always had birds in the fountain; The part of the sidewalk with the annoying bushes; The house with the puppies and the green & white privacy screen. And so on..

    Alli is also part of the Sharpie Squad. Is that neat?

    Last year James Victore, a famous graphic designer, came to do a workshop at my school. He does a lot of his art with Sharpie Markers, and when his new book came out, James Victore or, Who died and made you boss?, Sharpie made a special James Victore Sharpie which said “Victore” instead of Sharpie. Evan got one!

    Here’s one of his pieces: