Friday, May 28, 2010

Melissa Tomeoni. A new identity > Follow-up

On Wednesday of this week, Melissa Tomeoni announced something exciting: She's officially launched! She and I have been working on some super secret and very cool branding that has debuted with her new website. This is the logo she chose, based on several we reviewed in early April:

The goal was to create a mark that represented a new branch of her current work, focusing on newborns, children and graduating high school seniors, that communicated modern luxury. Same Melissa, same stellar photography, new business name.

Stay tuned for more from me and Melissa. We've got some great stuff still in the works. Until then, a virtual toast to Melissa and her business acumen - clink! clink!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Modern Mouse Art

I created this modern art piece today. It took eight hours, but I only had to work on it for 2 seconds. Impossible, right!? Nope!  This type of multi-tasking was all made possible by IOGraph, an application that tracks mouse movement. I heart multi-tasking. I hit 'record' and eight hours later I hit 'stop'. Ta-da! All done. You can tell where my cursor sat for a few hours while I was out-of-office (huge blob top center). It's also obvious that I closed a ton of windows by the cluster of lines meeting in the top left corner. I like to see abstract things, too. Like sequins, a galaxy of stars and planets, paint splatters, ant trails, roadways, tangled strands of hair, Mickey Mouse ears...What do you see?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Invest in gold.

Golden ratio. Golden section. Golden mean. Golden proportion. Golden cut. Divine proportion or divine section. Whatever you call it, it's a universal law that uncovers logic in beauty. No matter how long I study it, I can hardly believe it. There's a measurement found through all of nature (pondered on by great minds for thousands of years, but really revealed in nature by Adolf Zeising in 1854) that...well, let's let Adolf himself give us the low-down:

"The Golden Ratio is a universal law in which is contained the ground-principle of all formative striving for beauty and completeness in the realms of both nature and art, and which permeates, as a paramount spiritual ideal, all structures, forms and proportions, whether cosmic or individual, organic or inorganic, acoustic or optical; which finds its fullest realization, however, in the human form."
What a phenomenon. (Maybe that's why it's sometimes called divine?) The golden ratio is frequently represented by the Greek letter Φ (phi)I've really never been a math whiz, so I've translated the calculations into visuals to help me and others like me understand. If you want to read another clear interpretation, look hereAs illustrated above, the golden ratio is 1 to .61803. For every 90 degree turn, the radius of the spiral grows by a factor of Φ. What's more, the golden ratio, and why I'm even talking about it today, applies to everything visual. It's not just a science thing. Have you ever wondered why some artwork is so beautiful and complete-feeling while other artwork just isn't? It's because artists caught on to this phenomenon long before it was spelled out and used it to make their work full of tension, energy and interest. Like this little piece, perhaps:

Above, in Leonardo DiVinci's Uomo Vitruviano he shows "the proportions of the human body in geometric form" which happens to be based on the golden mean, just like Adolf told us it was. As you can probably imagine, art students today are taught about the golden rule so they can use it in their work, whether it portrays a human subject or not. This includes graphic design students. Knowing how to work with the golden rule is like being armed with a secret of the masters. Unfortunately, it doesn't make you insta-good, but it helps.

On that note, another layout method I learned in college was the Rule of Thirds, or "two-third/one-third" Rule. It's similar to the golden mean, but is easier to apply and reference. It can be represented using the same diagram as the golden mean, but actually plays better with the graph paper since it's based on whole numbers rather than fractions. (Another reason to love graph paper!) 
When you use this sort of grid, your work will just feel better. It still sort of feels like a mystery to me, but I keep going back to it for brochures, websites, business cards and the like because I think nature really does know best. I'm pretty sure it's created more fantastically beautiful things than we as humans will produce through all of time, so I trust it.

Photographs of artwork from
Illustrations ©StudioM

Thursday, May 20, 2010

We are PRTLND.

I was turned onto We are PRTLND by a recruiter from Razorfish - Regan DeKoning. (She's great, BTW.) It was created by Chris Kalani of Portland, OR and I think it's brilliant. Super duper simple (the smartest things usually are) and easy to use. If you're shopping for a creative mind, you can browse quickly and painlessly. Scroll over an image and see the individual's name and talents. Click, and you're sent directly to their website. No silly profile page, excess information, or cumbersome navigation. You can continue to load additional profiles, filter your search and/or add yourself. I did all of the above and was particularly happy about how easy it was to join the PRTLND club. Speaking of...see anyone you recognize below?
I highly recommend this to creatives and non-creative needing creatives alike. Scroll yourself silly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adobe CS5. Wow.

This morning Bridgetown Printing hosted another Adobe event featuring Creative Suite 5 at the Portland Art Museum. Besides loving all the learning we did, I loved the juxtaposition of the classic, timeless artwork (including private parts, I know) and our newfangled visual technology and software in PAM's Sunken Ballroom. The fabulous new features and frills of CS5 were presented by Kelly McCathran who you can find on AdobeTV (this is somewhere I will be spending a lot of time in the near future). There were countless "ohhh....ahhhh..."s and even several "gasp!"s throughout the morning. What compelled them? Things like photo merge, patch, puppet warp, page curls in PDFs, bleed guides, perspective grid, drip features and...what? Yes...I know you don't believe me, but there really is something called Puppet Warp. Cross-my-heart. Check it out here. (BTW: Feel like you're reading a foreign language? You should've been there. I didn't realize I am so not fluent in the language of keyboard shortcuts. I'll practice and next time that will help me keep up.) And, last, but not least, WEB DESIGN in InDesign. Hallelujah. I knew I was on to something by being stubborn and doing all my digital layouts there although the experts thought it was silly.

My eyes couldn't open wide enough to take in all I was seeing. Really. And supposedly I have big eyes to start with. Bridgetown, thank you. And Adobe, thank YOU! My mind is sufficiently boggled. In a very good way. Long live CS5!

Favorite quote of the day: 
"You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many gigs of memory." 
- K. McCathran

View the post from the last Bridgetown + Adobe event here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Squishy Stuff. Story. Delight.

Last night I joined the creative masses heading downtown to Ace Hotel's venue space, The Cleaners, for another installment of AIGA's Designspeaks series. This time with Frank Chimero.

Instead of telling us his story, in his presentation called The Shape of Design, Frank told us about the idea of story, squishy stuff and delight. Here are just a few thought nuggets from these three categories. (He talked about other things, too, but these were my favorite.)

Let's start with the squishy stuff:
  • Design is not logical. Design is illogical. Because people are illogical. We are "emotional and squishy".
  • People are imitating the wrong stuff. Everything is homogenous. "It's all so damn slick."  You can't even tell that a person made it. "Squishy > (is greater than) Slick."
Moving on to story:
  • We say we're visual communicators, right!? Story is the oldest instance of how we communicate. It's in our bones. So shouldn't we visual communicators know how to tell a story?
  • Story bonds us. Story helps us understand each other.
And finally, delight:
  • Success in design can equal three things: Persuade, Inform, Delight.
  • Delight is the teeny tip of the Design Nobility Pyramid - it's success in design in it's highest form, according to Frank.
  • Where surprise and clarity convene, you find delight.
  • Delight is a designer's super power. We can make someone feel.
  • And when we think of it that way, our mindset changes from thinking of ourselves as communicators to believing that we are gift-givers.
"Be skillful. Be vulnerable. Be thoughtful. Be HUMAN." 
- Frank Chimero

You can view some of the slides from this evening hereRead about previous Designspeaks events here and here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

StudioM | News

StudioM has incorporated. Sounds scary, doesn't it!? It really wasn't scary, thanks to Kyle Pearson at Willcuts Partners. He guided us and instilled much confidence in our hearts through the process. "And why must you incorporate," you might ask? Well, there are lots of reasons*.
1. It protects personal assets.
2. It adds credibility.
3. No one else can file with the same company name in your state.
4. It's forever. Really. A corporation doesn't end if the owner kicks the bucket.
5. Tax reasons. This is really like 5,000 reasons in one. I would know.
6. Horizon. (This is my own, made-up-by-Megan reason.) The business horizon is wide and the studio should do what it can to be prepared for the voyage into the expanses. There is hope and growth in the distance. Incorporating my business is the responsible and smart thing to do if I'd like to go the distance and find that hope and growth along the way.
Now, before I sign off, let's jump back to Reason #3. If you've ever incorporated yourself, I'm sure you quickly discovered the same thing I did. Quickly. There are no names left to choose from! We tried every rendition of StudioM with no luck. I considered that reason enough to give in to the thought of rebranding the studio. Yes, you heard (er, read) me right: rebrand. Let's be honest. The last thing I dream of doing with my life is spending countless hours generating company name ideas - punching them into the Washington State government website only to see "NO! YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT ONE EITHER." Although energized by the thought of a rebrand (since I chose StudioM on a whim in college and have never been head-over-heels), I had no desire to whittle away my evening playing that game. So I walked away. Sometime between that moment, a lulling car ride across town, the fuzzy time spent falling asleep and the alarm clock jolting me awake the next morning, I found a name. It's nothing fancy and it makes perfect sense, but it felt like a gift. Especially when I typed it in and saw "THIS NAME IS AVAILABLE". Harps chimed in and played scales in the background. At least that's how I remember it.

Are you dying to know what it is yet? Sorry, but that's like my Rule #1 when presenting anything new and suspense. The studio's 5-year anniversary is coming up in January, which would be the perfect time for a roll-out, but if all goes well, we won't wait that long. Until then (whenever then will be), let's all raise a glass to the horizon and embrace the unknown.

*Reasons to incorporate derived from list found here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who Let The Girls Out!? Spring 2010

Ladies! Listen up. The Newport Shoppes are throwing their city-wide shopping party next weekend (Saturday, May 22). It started back in 2008 and we branded the event to look feminine, funky and fun (it is all of these things). They typically hold two events a year - one in the fall and one in the spring. (Here's my post from Fall 2009.) It's killing me that I can't go this time, so all of you who are in the Spokane/Coeur D'Alene area have to go and do all the shopping without me. To learn more, visit the Shop Newport blog.

Friday, May 7, 2010

UpTown Ballroom | Website in the works

This week has been a week 'o websites. I can't show all of them since I've signed contracts with agencies and studios that said I won't, but this is one that I can because they're a client of mine: UpTown Ballroom. They're a Portland, Oregon ballroom dance studio that has the skill to train advanced dancers, but the warmth and desire to work with beginners, too. Therefore, the design aesthetic is simple, with a little infused glamour.

Oh! And the menu is something I'm pretty excited about. It will be a Flash element - when you roll over 'Menu' it will slide down to reveal all of the menu items, as show in the second screen shot. Again, simple and glam at the same time! The motivation for the redesign has to do with a very exciting offer coming up....I'll be sure to tell you more once it's official.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lots of content can be lots of fun!

Just because a piece has a lot of content, doesn't mean it has to be boring. This is a piece I did for Studio Christy earlier this year. It's a digital information document (which means it's something she emails rather than printing and delivering).  There is inherent value in a printed piece; this truth can help in potential clients understanding the value of your work and services. Therefore, it was important that this piece to seem tangible although it will only be viewed on-screen.

So, our challenges were A) dealing with loads of text and B) making the virtual feel real.  

The gridding system I used was based on an invisible line drawn down the (almost) center of each page. This required the content to behave. The consistency it created also allows for quick browsing. Use of headers with all-caps and hits of color helped, too. 

I capitalized on the natural state of photos as snapshots. The pages were designed to feature the portrait work in this manner (with white borders and drop shadows). The off-kilter imagery looks as if the viewer could reach out and touch it. Additionally, the first and last pages appear to be front and back covers. The reason for this was so the piece would look like a booklet, helping us reach our goal of 'realness'.
Of course the success of the piece was largely due to the Christy of Studio Christy and her great work. Don't you just want to squeeze the little one on the front!? It's a pleasure to work with quality photography. The piece was designed using the brand elements and guidelines we established in early 2008.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Howard-Clark Wedding | Print Pieces

Yeehaw! Michelle and Troy are gettin' hitched. They happen to be family, so I'm extra excited for the wedding and was honored to be asked to design the wedding invites. The gala will take place at a barn in Auburn, WA next month, so we wanted to go for a country motif (sans anything hokey). Plus, Michelle loves horses, cowboy boots and anything that says the opposite of urban. I'm really happy with the way the buttery yellow plays with the deep brown. And the script is so them. 
The next wedding-related task on my list: break in my cowboy boots.
P.S. If you'd like to see some photos from their engagement shoot, hop on over to the Soulmates Photo blog.