In our history of graphic design class today, Ms. Boo Marie mentioned a favorite contemporary designer of hers named Nubby Twiglet. Nubby wrote a brilliant blog entry last year titled Tips and Tricks For Developing a Print Portfolio. A lot of her thoughts hinge on the idea that your portfolio itself is a portfolio piece and should be designed as such. Over spring break and this week I’ve been working intensely on creating a digital portfolio for the looming internship application process. I’ve worked many hours and seem to like the result, though I’m not blown away. Nubby has some very insightful tips for the portfolio process. She also emphasizes the importance of a print portfolio. As much as Steve says print is dead—or dying a slow death—people love the tactile. Additionally,  you never know how old your interviewer will be (i.e. he or she may prefer a good ol’ book to the scary young iPad). On my next portfolio redesign I believe I’ll aim on one elegant layout that works nicely both digitally and in print. I’ve also heard of always keeping a smaller “paperback” portfolio with you, whether in your car or purse, for opportunities can arrive at any moment. For today’s designer, go with a digital, a print, and a mini portfolio. While we’re at it, why not throw in a slide and laserdisc portfolio, too. As if we’re not busy enough.


On March 9 2012, my wife and I had our daughter Elvira at Vanderbilt Hospital. The baby is incredible. Hospital decor is not. Needless to say, my exhausted brain had plenty of time to wander over two nights of sleeping next to my wife on a convertible-couch-cot thing. I hadn’t been in a hospital for a long time, and Vanderbilt is an impressive compound. I was amazed at the sheer scale and organization necessary to operate a business that’s about saving lives. It’s insane. Being a manager at a hospital must be a daunting task. This got me thinking about a radio show I’d heard a few months back about Hospital layout. 99% Invisible is a brilliant radio show that tells stories about the ingenious design that surrounds us every day and largely goes unnoticed.

This particular episode is about how a hospital in Seattle used a Toyota factory in Japan as a model for redesigning their hospital. It also goes into customer experience and how surgeons sacrificed their large offices with floor to ceiling windows, for the patient. Customer experience and streamlined navigation made the Virgina Mason Medical Facility much more successful in multiple ways. Though this story doesn’t directly relate to anything we’ve been doing in class, it does concern rational design, customer satisfaction, and it obviously resonates with me at the moment. Ah, and it gave me an opportunity to tell you about 99% Invisible. Listen in:

In lieu of this year’s ongoing student ADDY competition, I thought I’d share with you some invaluable advice from Mr. Bierut regarding graphic design competitions. Like my prior Love Life of Your Client post, I reference Michael Bierut’s Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design. The third essay in Bierut’s book is titled, How to Win Graphic Design Competitions and may even help you win next year’s ADDYs. He’s understanding of the imbalance of the many hours devoted to projects, and the seconds with which it is judged for competitions. Here’s the intro; it’s particularly interesting to hear about the judging process itself:

People who enter design competitions, particularly people who enter and lose design competitions, comfort themselves by imaging that something sinister goes on in the tomblike confines of the judges’ chambers.

When you judge a competition yourself, you learn that nothing could be farther from the truth. Behind the closed doors are table after table covered with pieces of graphic design. Like most things in life, only a few of these are really good. Each judge moves along the tables, looking at each piece just long enough to ascertain whether he or she likes it. It takes a long time and a lot of people to produce eve a modest piece of graphic design. The judging process takes less than a second.

The predictability of this ritual, which has all the glamour and sinister aspects of digging a ditch, makes it easy to devise some simple rules that will increase your chances of winning…

The whole book is available on free google books, here. This particular essay starts on page 24. Go see what techniques will help crush opponent designers.

Although I haven’t even finished our resume redesign due Tuesday, I’m fairly burnt out on the subject (though much better educated). As such, I thought I’d share another great resource for public domain imagery. The wonderful people at the Library of Congress have accumulated a massive online collection of public domain images that are free to download and are often of awe-inspiringly high quality. Exhibit A, a poster I did for a friend for a gig he has coming up in Memphis. For that image I simply searched “camel” on their site and, viola, 26 mb copyright-free TIFF of an undeniably cool vintage photo of a camel-riding soldier. A little Photoshop later and you have a compelling high-res poster with a touch of Univers. The only drawbacks I’ve found are that you cannot search by image quality and that you’ll quickly sacrifice many hours to the extensive online library. Go get yourself some Library of Congress, I know I will.

Side note, they also have some pretty incredible recordings of early American music, including a fantastic session with Woody Guthrie and another with Muddy Waters. If you like the old folk and country blues, look into Library of Congress’s Anthology of Folk.

Tin Pan South 2012 Poster

Tuesday night we witnessed the 2012 Nashville Student Addy’s. I was lucky enough to have won two gold Addy’s, one for poster design and another for editorial series. Like many of the victors that night, I was ecstatic, though personally, because my Tin Pan South poster won. As most of you know, the Tin Pan South poster for our Type II class is an actual client based project. Each year the winner gets to have his or her poster as the identity for the Nashville songwriter’s festival Tin Pan South. And you get money. Last semester, when I was given the assignment, I found all of these real client perks particularly tempting and worked my ass off on these posters. I listened to the client’s requests intently. She looked for innovative symbols for songwriting, something that commemorates the 20th anniversary, and maybe something that strays from anything too country or  Hatch Show-ey. Long story short, I spent a long time coming up with atypical songwriting symbols with an eye-catching and simple design. Although my poster does make gratuitous use of Lost Type fonts mashed up with Rockwell, and even if it is simply center-stacked—the easy way out—I think it’s a great poster with a fantastic illustration. I did receive a nice grade for the poster, however it was not picked by the client. Classic client/designer relationship; it wasn’t what the client wanted and that sucked for me. Though I masked it well, I was slightly embittered by the selection.  And Tuesday, at the Nashville Student Addy’s I got myself gratified. Though it wasn’t the client, someone professional thought highly of that damn poster. I’m sure to be let down or compromised by countless clients to come, so if anything, Tuesday was one little victory for the self-righteous, designer-knows-best sentiment in me.

Ha! I found it! I’m pretty sure one of us mentioned a story—hypothetical or not, I can’t remember—of a bakery getting shut down for making birthday cakes with Disney characters depicted on them. Well this TED talk starts with that very tale, and it’s true and crazy! They got in trouble for printing replicated child’s drawing of Mickey Mouse on a cake. A cake with a kid’s drawing of god-damned Mickey Mouse on it is illegal. Big Disney. After this anecdote, speaker Clay Shirky, goes on to tell why SOPA and PIPA is a bad idea and how it aims to “raise the cost of copyright compliance, to the point where people simply get out of the business of offering it as a capability to amateurs.” He also explains the origins of the bills and how it will ultimately fail while causing all sorts of digital censoring problems. He makes a great point about how Americans—and all citizens for that matter— want to produce, not simply consume. And xerox machines, tape recorders, and other new technology scared the hell out of media moguls, because it empowered citizens to copy, edit, and resell intellectual property. Now in the digital era, those means to remix have multiplied and became widely available. SOPA and PIPA are the media companies’ newest attempt to police us. I realize the bills didn’t pass, but something similar will likely reappear in the near future. Media companies stand to gain millions of dollars over a unjustly censored internet, and they have millions of dollars at their expense to lobby for future bills. As Clay says, “Get ready, because more is coming.”


My new-found resume friends at job mob posted another interesting list regarding resumes. Instead of the worst resumes ever, this time around they listed 36 Beautiful Resume Ideas That Work, and for the most part they’re right. Unlike the much riskier infographic resumes that Ms. Abell presented on Tuesday’s class, these designs utilize a much more minimalist and understated design style. There are also monograms galore, and you just can’t beat a great monogram.

Hmm…after attempting to link to several of the resumes, I realized that many of the links are broken, likely because the designer has changed url’s since the list’s publishing. There are still a few that work and the page’s thumbnails give a pretty good idea of each resume’s grid structure and typesetting. Below are three that work well as far as sophisticated and clean designed resumes go:

The first resume, Andre Morgan’s, doesn’t contain a headline, though it does have a profile at the top, which works similarly to the qualifications summary from the videos. The second one, Karla’s, has a few things wrong in it content wise. She includes an objective and “references available upon request”. However, I think the simple two column grid breaks personal contact info from work experience very nicely. And the latter, Kenji’s resume, nicely includes his illustration style and personality without making the whole damn thing look like a page out of a children’s book. Though no single one is perfect, they do exemplify a nice level of design without compromising format or information. Because the last thing you want to do is ruffle square old bossman’s feathers with a  harmless little resume.

In regards to the riveting series of videos about building a solid resume we’ve been watching in class, I thought I’d post an ode to the worst resumes ever. The site features a compilation of some of the worst resume blunders from several sites on the topic (note that there are several sites specifically listing crappy resumes…a sign of the times I suppose. Maybe we can learn from some of these poor bastards’ mistakes. Then again, maybe not. My stepfather is a head manager at a lumber supply company, and he can’t believe how utterly pathetic many of his applicants’ resumes are. For awhile, he’d bring them home to show us—which may or may not be legal—and they were sad. One guy scrawled across multiple rows, paying no heed to the designated rules, “I used to be a junkie, but now I’m much better.” There were many others, but that’s the only one that sticks in my mind right now.

As for the Job Mob’s collection of 150 Funniest Resume Mistakes Ever, there exist some real gems.

Among my favorites are:

Application Q: “How large was the department you worked in with your last company?” A: “3 stories.”


“I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely no one and absolutely nothing.”

and the illustrative and noble,

I once received a resume with a head and shoulders picture in the top left of the first page. The picture was of a lion’s head, wearing a coat, shirt, and tie.

Some are funny, some inane. It’s a long list, you’ll likely find something funny.

I believe I’m nearly finished with my investigation on good ol’ copyright laws. Here’s one last conversation from NPR’s Talk of the Nation where Lawrence Lessig, author of Free Culture, responds to callers and copyright proponents about the current state of copyright law and the erosion of a healthy public domain. Similar to my past posts, the conversation begins with Danger Mouse’s Gray Album, but after that strays into metaphorical blueprint heists, the film industry, Walt Disney, cable TV, and Robert Frost. Lessig’s argument’s is not against copyright laws, but addressing how ridiculously strict they’ve become. He believes that copyright laws do, in fact, stifle creativity. He’s also the very intelligent and humerous lawyer who’s featured in the prior posted documentary, RiP! A Remix Manifesto.

As NPR notes on the story’s page:

In Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture, the author and Stanford law professor argues that large corporations are using technology and the law to put a stranglehold on new ideas. He argues that the Internet age calls for a new way of deciding who can own an idea. “Thomas Jefferson considered protecting the public against overly long monopolies on creative works an essential government role,” Lessig writes. “What did he know that we’ve forgotten?”

It’s a mere 35 minute radio story and well worth the listen.

Here’s another great documentary regarding Public Domain, fair use, and sampling. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet, but I know it concerns mash-ups, details how culture builds upon itself in the digital age, and shows how biomedical engineer turned digital maestro builds his tracks. Like Copyright Criminals, largely about rights in music. Girl Talk shows you much more explicitly how music “borrows” from the past. There’s one particular medley that goes from Muddy Waters, to Led Zeppelin, to old choir tracks, to the Verve, to hip-hop, then house music. And once again, the topics covered move far beyond the music world. And the soundtrack tops Copyright Criminals. And it’s a great movie with great graphics and a great sense of humor. And it’s free to watch…fitting.

RiP! A Remix Manifesto (2009)