[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.

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.

RETRO Designs Are the New Trend…

Using retro themed design elements is the latest trend in graphic design. Retro designs can be characterized by period icons, vivid graphics and pale colors.

Although I’ve noticed this trend in layout design as well as advertising and logo design, I’ve chosen to include images of logos particularly.

Why the New Trend?

I believe retro designing interweaves time, styles, tastes and ages. Mixing modern graphics with old designs helps to create a vintage appeal. People often associate “value” with old things. While value element helps draw in visitors, the  modern design elements help keep them hooked. Maybe the fact that a lot of us think that life was much more simple “back then” has something to do with the design’s popularity. Perhaps retro and vintage designs take us back to a place where life was much more relaxed than it is today.

Design Elements to Retro Design

Retro designing has several elements are often repeated. Handwritten scripts are very popular. Some designers use old cars, retro product models, old fashioned photographs, early electronic devices and other such old images for creating retro look.  Some designs reflect the celebration of sixties to space travel while others prefer to highlight post-war optimism and ad campaigns of ‘50s. The use of military themes like old war planes and badges are also very effective. There are certain elements that contribute in making a design retro.

Here are some examples:

1. Using Shapes

Vintage Labels-Wallace_05











2. Color Schemes










3. Typography









4. Textures










So whether using these retro elements in designing is an attempt to bring back the memories of past or just to keep up with the trend – either way the outcome can be quite eye catching. When a designer purposely develops an old design and blends it with a modern appeal, we get true retro effect.

A New Look for that Special Day…

There are few projects that prove to be more difficult that the wedding invitation. This is for the “perfect day” and everything needs to be spot on.

Not only does it need to be effective and notify the guests of the information for the wedding but it also needs to portray the “personality” of the couple’s relationship, which often is the tricky part.

In most of my research, I’ve came across the more traditional wedding invitation designs, which is great for some. But for those brides who are looking for the more modern and edgy design, the more traditional looks don’t cut it.

I’m working on a current wedding project which includes the invitation, wedding program, guest book, engagement and wedding photo book, table name cards, photo powerpoint presentation, and keep sake items. The wedding is next year in the Spring but with the amount of items to design, my research starts now!

I found an article about wedding invitations particularly on Designer Daily’s blog that really gave me some ideas on a NEW LOOK for the special day! They proved to be effective with tons of personality.

Check them out!

Covering Tragedy…

It seems now more than ever that tragedy finds ways to repeat itself. The past several years of these devastating events have Americans fearful for their lives every day. For those of us who were so lucky to have not been a victim, we find ourselves grateful that our families and loved ones weren’t involved, yet ironically we search for details, images, videos and tapes to get us closer to the truth. It is almost as if we would’ve wanted to be there every second along the way. Well one thing is for sure, we want the whole story with as much coverage and as many evocative images as possible.

When magazines cover tragedies there is a fine line between appearing insensitive and being mindful of those involved and their families. The following slideshow features covers about tragedy. Different techniques were used and some are more effective than others.

If these covers bring feeling, emotions and memories to mind, then they work! Kuddos.

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Rue Mag = Your Everything Modern Chic Guide

My newest magazine discovery and obsession. This lifestyle magazine specializes in everything modern chic, including fashion and home décor.

The layout is clean, fresh, simple and to the point. Colors are vibrant, cool yet explosive. Photography speaks for itself  and tells the story meanwhile articles are short yet informative.

Check out Rue Magazine at www.ruemag.com

The Perfect Spring Palettes…

As Spring is here and the April showers begin, new fads and color palettes are on the rise. Just like every other element of graphic design, color palettes follow are constantly evolving. This year’s color trends are as diverse as they are compelling; brights and neons combine with greyscale to add some zing to clean, modern styles, while pastel palettes lend a softness to playful designs.

What’s great about these new color trends is that they all combine seamlessly and help distinguish important elements and break up sections as well as conveying a style or mood, which is essential in graphic design.

Here are some inspirational Spring 2013 color palettes that I’ve noted:

Colour Lover also offers a huge selection of color palette suggestions:

Colour Lovers Spring Palettes