[book review] Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

In an effort to keep my creative mind fueled, I always read books that challenge my creative processes and imagination. 

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-12-36-41-pmSteal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, a young, hungry artist and writer based out of Texas, is by far the best read I’ve experienced on creativity and pushing yourself to step outside of our norm.

Austin Kleon was asked to speak on creativity to college students in New York. He shaped his speech around the ten things he wished someone had told him when he was starting out. The talk went viral, and the author dug deeper into his ideas and created this book. Along with his writings, “Show Your Work” and the “Steal Like An Artist Journal”, his perspective on the creative world and how we pour into it, is insightful to say the least.

His book was not only a quick and stimulating read, but is filled with humor, dynamic illustrations, fun exercises and examples that helps you think and explore your creativity. He explains the art of sharing ideas and the process behind the product created by other artists.

I wondered HOW I would pass along this immense amount advice into a single blog post. The purpose of sharing this with the world is to provoke thought among my creative peers.

Alike my newly found creative hero, Kleon, I’m sharing my sketched notes I jotted down along the way. ENJOY!


Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.

“Write the book you want to read. Make the movie you would watch. Create the art you want to admire.”

Find 3 creative héros, research them, learn about them, study their work and copy their work.

Manifesto: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, build the products you want to use and do the work you want to see done.

“We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we DO know is, that we do not get them from our laptops.”

Computers have robbed us of the feeling that we’re actually making things. Putting our hands on our work helps us to feel connected. Sketch more.

The computer is GREAT for editing ideas, and its really good for getting your ideas/work ready for publishing. But it brings out the uptight perfectionist in us. We start editing ideas before we even have them fully thought out. The delete button is RIGHT there. We have such easy access to it and hit it far too often.

“The work you do while you’re procrastinating, is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

Take the time to mess around. Get lost. Wander. You never know where its going to take you.

Geography is no longer our master. Find a place that feeds you — creatively, socially, spiritually and literally, with good food.

The greater the distance you are from the well-known (home), the greater the insight.

“If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to leave the room.”

Be boring, its the only way to get stuff done. “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you can be violent and original in your work.”

Take care of yourself. The romantic image of the creative genius doing drugs and sleeping around is played out. Its for the superhuman and people that want to die young.

Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time.

The trick is, find a day job that pays decently, doesn’t make you want to vomit, and leaves you with enough energy to make things on your own, spare time.

Get a calendar! It helps you plan work, gives your concrete goals and keeps you on track.

Marry well. A good partner keeps you grounded. It takes a lot for a person to be married to someone with a creative pursuit.

Creativity is subtraction. Choosing what to leave out and keeping what is important in art is the real challenge.

It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations means freedom.

The Perfect Fit for your Creative Talent

In my quest to find the perfect fit for the next career as I move to Dallas, I’ve been asking myself, what does a creative designer need in a company to be successful? A lot of people suggest to do freelance work, or start my own business, but I’m just not ready for that yet. More than that, I want to be a part of a creative movement that nurtures innovative design.

An ideal company is one that is the best at what they do. THE competition in the industry. A company that appreciates a relaxed atmosphere and creates a co-working space that lends to productivity. A company that values a FUN and memoffice-room-723x396orable experience for their employees every day. I want to work in flexible setting, where everyone is treated equal and as adults. Most importantly, I want the opportunity for growth and self-development. A company with a stable foundation and has plans for its future. One that hires only exceptional people, people who are smarter than them, disciplined and responsible people. They hire people who are enthusiastic about their products and future of the company. Those with self-starter minds that live a healthy and active lifestyle and take care of themselves, those that view their bodies and minds as their biggest investment. Lastly I want to work in a company with a culture and vision that EXCITES me and ignites my passion as a creative leader.

Finding the right place to take my talent has been tiresome, yet rewarding and refreshing. I’ve compiled 12 factors that should be considered before accepting a new job offer, just remember it isn’t ALL about the money. Finding pleasure in your job, puts perfection in your work.

12 Factors to Consider Before Accepting Your Next Job

1. It makes a positive difference. Choose a job that adds value to our world, that leaves it better than you found it, and genuinely helps other people.

2. You enjoy your co-workers. Given the fact that you will spend a large percentage of your day at work, be sure you enjoy the people around you. It is comforting to know that they support you, cheer for you, and work together as a team.

3. You feel appreciated and valued. A paycheck is nice, but that goes straight to the bank. On the other hand, appreciation is something you carry in your soul every day. This appreciation can be communicated through respect, unexpected gifts, or just an old-fashioned “thank-you.”

4. You are trusted. It’s nice to know that somebody isn’t always looking over your shoulder. And when you are given a task, you are given the freedom to complete it. If you’re in a leadership role, make sure your boss trusts you to make the best decisions and values your input.

5. It is something you love to do.  Make sure this job keeps you motivated by its very nature.

6. It fits your personality. Anyone who has ever taken a personality test knows we all have unique personalities that thrive in certain environments. Some enjoy working with people, others enjoy completing tasks. Some like making the decisions, others don’t. Find a job that fits your sweet spot.

7. It challenges you to grow. Look for a job that will make you better, as a matter of fact, the BEST at what you do. Whether through challenging assignments, educational opportunities, demanding excellence, or informal mentors, a job that forces you to grow beyond your current skill set will make you a better person and it, a better company.

8. The company’s values align with yours. At the end of the day, your integrity is what matters most. Don’t compromise it every time you walk into the workplace. If you are at a job that requires you to suspend your personal convictions, you don’t need to be—nor should you be.

9. A flexible, results-oriented culture. A culture of flexibility suggests a results-driven focus—one that is more interested in you successfully completing your job with excellence than clocking in a set amount of work hours during a specified time of the day.

10. It values family. You value your family. Your job should too.

11. It brings balance to life. Work is not so bad when you love it. But if you are not allowed to explore other endeavors (play/hobbies/family) because of its demands, it is not healthy for your soul, life, or body. Find a job that allows you to enjoy your life outside of work too.

12. It brings you satisfaction. The ability to look back at your day, your year, or your life with satisfaction is more valuable than any number of digits in the bank. Love your work and company and what it stands for.

Magazine Industry: Trends and Challenges

printvsdigitalHere is a little research for ya! I am personally NOT a data person, but I found this topic to be very interesting. I still hear people say “print is going to die”, and I have also heard, “with the technological advances, who needs print publications anymore?” I’ve always believed that a printed product serves as that tangible “friend” that you just can’t get from a digital form.

First Research analyzed 32 different data sources, representing 4.5 million privately held businesses and detailed magazine industry financial benchmarks.

Top Results Included:

  • The US magazine industry is concentrated with 50 companies accounting for 60% of total revenue.
  • Profitability relies heavily on “marketing expertise”.
  • General Interest magazines make up 65 % of revenue.
  • Most companies have outsourced printing due to lower expenses.
  • Digital subscriptions have grown 560% since 2011.
  • Consumer magazine market expected to shrink up to 2017 internationally.
  • Total US consumer spending increased 1.6%, which drives magazine sales.
  • Total US revenue for periodical publishers increased 1.8% (includes magazine industry).
  • ­­Magazines aren’t a “growth industry” but they will remain relevant.

Industry Trends:

  • Magazine companies are revamping their websites to optimize for mobile devices and social aspects and include more multimedia content.
  • Websites are being updated regularly to remain as up-to-date as possible
  • More magazine publishers might need to allocate more resources to a website redesign specific for mobile and social media users.
  • Multimedia companies are growing
  • Changes in the distribution system
  • Digital editions of magazines as downloadable files rather than websites

They found that the top industry drivers were energy prices, Technology innovation and government regulation.

The identified industry challenges were that publications were dependent on advertising sales for revenue, there has been a decrease in paid circulation sales in the past decade, there is little room to negotiate price due to the consolidation of distributors, retailers, ad agencies and suppliers, theres a huge competition with free Internet sources, and the postal rates are steadily increasing.

All of this research to conclude that the magazine industry is managing to remain relevant and purposeful through the technological challenges and advances in society by finding new distribution channels and better predicting the direction that it must go in the digital world. The industry continues to face multiple challenges, but is skillfully shifting towards the production of digital publications and finding new ways to better integrate within social media, while still sustaining a large part of their print publication sales.

Creative Business Card Designs

Great business cards communicate a whole lot of information — both directly and indirectly — about the people and companies they represent. The average person thinks of a business card stating the standard name/address/e-mail/phone data (does anyone use fax anymore?) information. But as a designer, we know creative business card designs convey personality, philosophy, attitude and brand. Along with interesting printing or production techniques, a business card can leave a lasting impression on your company. Here are  few things to consider when designing your next business card.


Sleek and Shapely

Business cards which are not rectangular in shape or have designs cut in them are made through a technique called die-cutting. The process is simple but will cost a bit more than regularly shaped cards. The process is kind of like a hole puncher one would use on paper to go in ringed binder. A template is made of the required shape which is used for cutting.  Similarly, card exteriors could be cut in any shape as well. This technique are attractive to the eye and are much more dynamic.



Letterpress Option

5a0dd5dac0d7228666aede3a89998befThe letterpress printing technique gives an elegant look to the business card. This is done by pressing the paper through an inked raised surface, this gives the business card color and depth. The letterpress business card combine the craftsmanship of traditional letterpress with the modern ease of digital printing.





Lift with 3D PrintingLift-it-with-3D

Using an embossing technique in printing gives your business card a three dimensional effect. There is a certain die used similar to die-cutting, one for pressing the paper, which gives three dimensional, lifted look.




11-Liverpool-Foil-Business-Cards-aFoil Stamping, Transparent Prints

You have the option of giving more grace to your business card by applying foil to desired areas. The foil has a shiny look and could be used in cards which have plain solid color. With foil stamping, you get an irresistible focus point, and a unique effect that you simply can’t achieve with metallic inks.










The Vintage Revival

The Vintage Revival stemmed from a series of themed events that was promoted with vintage design elements. The month of events ranged from retreats to fitness to barbecues. It was important that the events were obviously a part of the same effort, but also catered to the individuality of the events.

Why has vintage design become so popular? What elements should be considered when designing for a vintage theme? How difficult is it to make something vintage, but feel modern as well?  What vintage trends should I consider including? These were questions I took into account before putting the designs together.

Based on my research, this is what I found:

Badges and Circles

The badge concept lies at the very heart of most vintage designs. Designers typically shoot for a nice, simple shape that can be stamped anywhere and on anything. Circles are by far the most popular shape for these badges, but you’ll also find plenty of hexagons, shields and diamonds.

Handrawn Vibes

The hipster movement embraces all things handmade, therefore vintage designs have a sketchy or hand drawn look that fits really well into this aesthetic. The artistic talent in this category is really impressive. Though vintage collections tend to be quite masculine in appearance, so it’s nice to see designs that push back just a bit on this trend and add complex floral arrangements and beautiful, muted colors.


As we look back at early to mid 20th century design, we see simple designs without gradients, feathered shadows, or three-dimensional  renders, but they still make bold visual statements. The main icons that are used are hammers, axes, wrenches, and factories. Our tech savvy generation is drawn to visuals that remind us of the industrial revolution.

Featuring Nature

A lot of vintage design treatments feature animals like deer, moose, elk, etc. If it has antlers, it’s in. This lends to the overall outdoorsy trend in vintage designs (featuring mountains, trees, tents, etc.). Also, nautical themes are extremely popular, such as anchors, fish, and ropes.

A PhotoLogo

When we look back at how vintage logos were displayed ten years ago, we would typically see a solid background or maybe a gradient. The bright, colorful and complex Internet logos of the time looked too busy for anything else. In today’s age of design, our monotone, hipster logos are very simple. But look fantastic when simply overlaid on top of a great photograph.

Simple Line Art

Design trends change how we create vintage graphics. Now that flat design is trending, vintage design often feature thin lines and simplified illustrations.

With all of this in mind, I developed a series of promotional fliers that consistently represented the theme, while appealing to the modern eye. Vintage design trends are continuously developing. Take inspiration from different designs, color choices and create something beautiful.


Exploring Color Theory

Choosing colors for a design is both highly subjective but also highly scientific. Most designers search for a color palette that looks nice or will make their client happy. However, its much more than that. The most effective color choices go beyond the personal preference. Colors have an ability to influence mood, emotions, and perceptions; take on a variety of meaning; and consciously and subconsciously attract attention.

For us designers and marketers, the challenge is in balancing these roles that color plays to create an attractive and effective design. The basic understanding of color theory is very important. Traditional color theory can help you understand which colors might work well together in your design. Using colors in a design involves a lot more than choosing two or three hues and applying them equally in parts in your layout. Effectively applying color to a design project has to do with balance — and the more colors you use, the more complicated it is to achieve balance. Simplify your choices.

Try splitting your color choices into dominant and accent colors. The dominant color being the most visible and most frequently used in your design, while one or more accent colors will complement and balance out that main color.

A well-known rule of thumb for using a basic, three-color palette in a design is known as the 60-30-10 rule. Your dominant color will account for 60% of the color in the design, while two accent colors use up the remaining 30% and 10%. A good analogy for understanding how this works is picturing a man’s suit: the suit jacket and pants account for 60% of the color in the outfit; the shirt accounts for 30%; and the tie offers a small pop of color at 10% — creating a balanced, polished appearance. Using different shades and tints (or lighter and darker versions of a chosen hue) is another effective way to keep your color palette simple and balanced.

Color choice can really do a lot for your design, so use it to your advantage.

Below is an info graphic that helps a little with color coordination.


The Perfect Color Palettes…

For the love of color, I’ve gathered a few inspiring color palettes to display. It’s always important to design with a nice color palette, which is usually sampled from a strong image or theme. Complementary colors make perfect sense when designing with such beautiful images. Even though the visionaries may not notice, designing with specific color palettes help the interpretation of the design.


Below are some inspiring color palettes:

Garden & Gun: Soul of the South

I’ve talked about (aka Facebooked, Tweeted and Instagramed about) writing a piece on Garden & Gun magazine for a long time. So finally here it is. It is worth the read.

First I would like to point out that it is an extreme rarity that I find a publication that I am 100% IN LOVE with in every single way. Partly because I love things that I feel are beyond my reach as a designer. It makes me strive that much more to be a success.

I first found Garden & Gun in the fall of 2011 (far too late if you ask me). I was taking my last magazine class at UF (University of Florida in Gainesville) and my professor pulled a handful of magazines out of her tote, as she did every week. She went through each magazine identity one by one and then passed them around the class for us to get a better look. The title threw me off at first, but now it makes more sense that ever.

Garden & Gun felt different in my hands. From the stock of the paper, the look and feel of the cover and as I thumbed through the pages, my dreams and goals as a designer flipped right in front of my eyes.

About G&G: Garden & Gun launched its first issue in 2007. The magazine won three ADDY Awards and eight Magazine Association of the Southeast GAMMA awards in its first year, while being named the nation’s second-hottest magazine launch in 2007 by MIN Magazine.  Since its launch, the magazine has won several National Magazine Awards and has proved that a southern focused, glossy regional magazine can  more than thrive in the iPad app era.

From its hometown of Charleston, S.C., Garden & Gun serves up a bimonthly magazine full of Southern hospitality that attracts a readership so devoted that many of them pay an extra $500 a year just to be a part of its “secret society.” And what do said members receive? A weekend tote bag, a decal and, like an invitation to the lavish wedding of a distant but admired relative, the opportunity to spend another $5,000 to attend an annual weekend retreat with the magazine’s writers, editors and contributors at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.

Design (my favorite part):
The design choices that are made from issue to issue continues to surprise and impress. The photography is outstanding and vivid. The layout is fresh and clean. The color palettes seems to be carefully chosen for the season and issue. Overall the design pieces fit together intricately like pieces of the most difficult puzzle.

Content: Garden & Gun is a portrait of Southern life at its finest. It covers the best of the South, including the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas. Stories are adventure-bound, art-loving and full of Southern tradition and values.

Audience: Since its first issue back in 2007, the title has developed a devoted following of Southerners who appreciate the perfect mint julep, a new pecan pie recipe, deer and duck hunting in Mississippi and shooting some skeet on a chilly Sunday in Novemeber. It’s a regional publication to its very core but, in recent years, the magazine has also landed on the coffee tables of New York-based editors.

Growth: While all the congratulatory praise might seem hyperbole, the numbers back up the staff’s pride. Readers are all over the country, although about 65 percent is centered in the South. Garden & Gun initially had 19,000 paid subscribers back in 2007 around its launch, with a rate base of 150,000, and has since grown to over 173,000 paid subscriptions, with a rate base of about 225,000. A subscription for six issues per year costs around $20.

Awards (all awards since launch):

ASME Best Cover Contest, “Most Delicious” cover for Oct/Nov 2012 issue
MIN Editorial  & Design Awards, Winner – Photojournalism Award, “The Call of the Hunt”
ASME, National Magazine Award Nominee, General Excellence:
ASME, National Magazine Award Nominee, Single Topic Issue Category
ASME, Best Sporting Cover, Finalist

Advertising Age’s 2011 Magazine A-List
ASME, National Magazine Award WINNER, General Excellence: Food, Travel & Design
James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

Grand GAMMA Award
MIN Magazine, Best of the Web

ASME Best Lifestyle Cover of the Year Finalist

ADDY Awards (3)
PRWEB Top 20 Hottest Publications to Watch in 2008

MIN Magazine, 2nd Hottest Launch
MIN Magazine, Top Editorial Team
Advertising Age’s Magazine Covers We Loved


Garden & Gun

Women’s Wear Daily

Off the Cuff

Designing for a Good Cause: Design vs Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. So first, here is a little info about breast cancer.
Women – keep yourself informed, get your check-ups and always be aware. It is a little bit lengthy, BUT keep reading! It is worth it the knowledge!

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2013

Here is the best part!!!
This is a GREAT WAY to design for breast cancer awareness month and REALLY make a difference.
Design Gear for a Good Cause: Design vs Cancer founded by FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) Graphic Design Alumnus launching soon!
Their Mission: Helping Families Fight Cancer

“Almost all of us have been affected by a family member or friend who has had cancer. One of the toughest struggles during this time is the family finances as patients and spouses have to limit or stop working during this time. We want to help those families pay for treatments, pay rent, put food on the table, get a new backpack for their children, or anything else they might need. The Design Community is taking a stance in the fight against cancer. We will be selling premium quality goods, and the profits will go fully towards directly impacting families during their fight as well as cancer research. We’d love for you to sign up for our newsletter and learn more about our cause and the passion behind it!”

Please contact them if you have any questions and/or want to get involved with the cause!

Branding/Package Design: The London House of Coffee by Reynolds and Reyner

Through my experience in design I have done very little package design. In efforts to stay versatile. I research and play around with services in the field that I don’t get a lot of exposure to. Which leads me to the branding and packaging the London House of Coffee, designed by Reynolds and Reyner.

Reynolds and Reyner is a design studio in the Ukraine who’s philosophy is rooted in the true power of design. They design with the belief  that it is less about making high quality brand experiences and more about the process at which they engage in, to create a real relationship between our brands and their consumers. Go and check them out at their website.

Branding is important to any new product, company, service, etc. Branding is a true everlasting identity. Products have life cycles but branding outlives products. Meanwhile packaging also plays an important role as a medium in the marketing mix, in promotion campaigns, as a pricing criterion, in defining the character of new products, as a setter of trends and as an instrument to create brand identity and shelf impact in all product groups.

Here is a look at the branding and packaging of the London House of Coffee. You can really see how true Reynolds and Reyner stayed to the process and how their ideas and project evolved.




The London House of Coffee


london-34pk copy



Overall a very good example of the stages of creating effective branding and package design. Please check out Reynolds and Reyner’s website.