What Reading Does for the Creative Mind

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

Despite the research, documents, and experts that recommend reading books as part of your daily routine, there are staggering statistics out there about how little people read nowadays.

  • 25% of adults will not read a single book this yearf0581e1b7edc85b9eb3b198eff5c8741
  • 33% of high school graduates never read another book for their entire life
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book after college
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year

When it comes to those of us in creative field, such as designers, writers, marketers, etc., the problem isn’t that we don’t read, it’s that we spend our time reading blogs, tweets, magazines, and other short form snippets. It is in our nature to want to consume a lot of information in order to stay up to date. But this does not work our brains the same way as a book. Reading a book forces us to ditch the distractions and focus. It’s this focus that acts as a catalyst for the many perks that come from reading books, not the least of which is an increase in creativity.

Exercise Your Brain! Mental fitness is equally as important as physical fitness, and like our bodies, our brains need exercise daily to stay fit. But instead of exercising our minds, we immerse ourselves in the internet, and then we wonder why we have such a hard time coming up with creative ideas. Reading just 20-30 minutes a day can significantly increase the strength of your mind and creativity.

Increase your Concentration! We live in the information age. A fast-paced world where we’re surrounded by gadgets feeding us words, data, links, status updates, etc. It is often TOO much to digest, our mind is overwhelmed and we don’t even know it! Pick up a book, concentrate. Allow your mind to focus on ONE thing and you’d be amazed at how much deeper you can consume and absorb in-depth information.

Release Stress and Worry! Research has shown that reading is by far one of the best ways to relax your body and mind. It allows the mind to concentrate and escape into a literary world eases the tensions in the rest of the body. A recent study showed that it takes about 6 minutes of reading to slow your heart rate and relax your mind.

Be a Better Communicator! Reading not only increases your knowledge about things, people, experiences, etc., but also your vocabulary, which in turn, can make you a better communicator. In the creative world, being a good communicator is essential to our work. Your vocabulary increases exponentially the more you read. Words nurture creativity and having more words at your disposal will help you communicate effectively.




“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss


source: TheCreativeMarket.com

Branding: The Office of Economic Vitality

This branding project hit my desk one morning with a pretty tight deadline. I love creating identities, but this one was tough. The challenge here was to brand one of Leon County’s newly established offices with a simple and clean color palette while also sending a clear message of what the office aims to accomplish: Business Growth and Development

Business growth and development essentially means developing and implementing growth opportunities within and between organizations. In my brainstorming, I wanted something that was informative and represented the services, but sleek and sexy.

The Office of Economic Vitality’s new logo outlines a key with a skyline silhoutte. This represents that the office has the answers to business growth and is the key to the success of your business. The EV inside the head of the key brings the name back into mind and gives the key a sharp look. The  sans serif font choice adds a clean and sleek look to the text heavy logo. The amount of text is required here because we needed to fully represent each entity that make up the office.

2014 Annual Report Design…

Leon County’s Annual Report is by far one of the most imperative documents for the organization that informs the public of Leon County’s overall performance over the past year… And I get to design it. Unfortunately, there will not be a lot of new design elements to be introduced this year because the frame work will need to remain the same as the previous year. So I am searching for ways to make this document fresh and new, while keeping the overall frame work.

I am researching ways to report results and display overall teamwork through placement of photos and design elements. I want this to look modern and fun, while still relaying important facts and research. Often these two concepts don’t go well together and the overall design leans more to one end of the spectrum. I’m looking to balance this equation with my design.

Here are a few snapshots of the research I’ve done to draw inspiration:

CANVA – Amazingly simple graphic design…

I’m always searching for sites that offer inspiration, first and foremost, but also easy access to ideas and design elements. A co-worker of mine stumbled upon Canva.com. Canva is an easy to use online design tool that allows people who aren’t graphic designers, design beautiful designs for just about any occasion.

Canva offers layouts for invitations, posters, Facebook covers, Twitter covers, google pages and tons of other design elements. For me, I use Canva to draw inspiration or if I am designing something quick and simple for Leon County’ social media pages. Canva certainly deosn’t perform as well as some of the other design programs I’ve used, but it is quick and easy and you don’t have to be a designer or know to use the site!

Check Canva.com out and create simple, yet beautiful designs.

Below are some designs that can be created on Canva.com.

Font Picks of the Month…

Choosing the right font and typeface for a design is one of the FIRST things I do when designing. There are so many factors that come into play. Does it mesh well with the type of event? Is it too busy? Is it clean enough? Does it need to be more playful? Does it work well with the other fonts used, if any? Is there enough contrast? As I said, SO many deciding factors need to be considered.

I like using fonts that I can get away with in pretty much as situation. They are my “safe zone fonts.” Of course there are those few exceptions, but for the most part they work. But that doesn’t hold me back from discovering new fonts and trying them out.

Each month I choose a few and add them to my font book. I thought I would share my picks of the month:

To learn more about font choices, read What Font Should I Use by Smashing Magazine.

Operation Thank You – The Perfect Logo…

Another Leon County project has sparked many creative thoughts.

Just to inform you: Leon County has a long tradition of supporting its local veteran community through an array of programs and services. Since 2012, the County has held Operation Thank You events each year to honor veterans who have dedicated their lives in order to protect the basic tenets of freedom. Operation Thank You Events have helped the County to forge strong partnerships with a number of veteran groups in the community, allowing the Leon County Veteran Services Division to better serve the more than 18,500 veterans and their families in Leon County.

Okay, back to design, Operation Thank You, since 2012, has had a working logo that has been used through different collateral/promotional pieces for the event. A former designer for the county established the working logo and I can’t commend her enough. You know a logo is the perfect logo when it can be used on hundreds of different pieces, and it all works! I enjoyed developing different designs for the event, which will be held on June 6, 2014.

To learn more about this year’s Operation Thank you, please visit: www.LeonCountyFL.gov/OTY

Below are some design pieces that were used in promotion:

Live Well LEON – Save the Date Design…

As part of becoming a part of the Leon County family in beautiful Tallahassee, FL, I’ve been getting familiar with the overall design elements and requests made throughout our departments. One recent request was to create a save the date for the annual Live Well LEON Well-Being Fair. I was able to incorporate the bright colors from our Live Well LEON logo and create a flyer that was informative, clean, crisp and bursting with color.

For me, it was important to use our bright colors, but most importantly, BE DIFFERENT in the way that the information of the event was laid out.

The event was a huge success, many Leon County employees came out to the event and gathered tons of information on how to better improve their overall health.

Below are the design elements that were created for the event:

He only takes the best…

My father, Valentin Z. Rodriguez, passed away on February 11, 2014 at approximately 9:45 AM. The immediate cause of his death was respiratory failure, candidemia, sepsis syndrome and renal failure. All with which started from a mild fever and cold that led to the flu and developed into pneumonia.

But none of this is relevant in my mind right now. What IS relevant is that he was a great man, a caring man, a good husband, a loving father, a supporter, a true friend to many–he was so many things. I reflect on all the memories I have with him. He is the reason I am who I am today. He was one of the only people who could light a fire underneath me. A fire of desire to succeed and make something of myself and my life. I lost my mother recently as well, in September 2012. And during this difficult time of my life, I have found only one thing is for sure–only time helps heal the heart from losing someone special.

I am surrounded by the love of my brothers. They help provide me strength to keep striving for the best. I now take care of my baby brother, Zack. He is nearly fourteen and this will be a huge change for me. But my parents would be proud. He will be well taken care of and I expect advice will be given from above from time to time.

Again, none of this is design related, but this blog represents my mind in general, and this has overcome my every thought. However, to wrap my creative juices around it, I’ve created this graphic of the poem that was represented on my father’s funeral take-aways. This poem describes my father and his journey to life in Heaven so distinctly.


A Graphic Designer’s Christmas List

Deciding on Christmas gifts is always such a hassle for me around this time of year. I never know EXACTLY what to buy someone. I thought it would be nice to post a gift guide for those of you who might have a graphic designer on your list this Christmas. Whether it is a family member, friend or co-worker, this gift guide will definitely help you find the perfect gift!

For the graphic designer who is also a bookworm:

gift guide 2013

1.New Ornamental Type: Decorative Lettering in the Digital Age – $29.17

Perfect for someone who is trying out their hand in typography, type aficionados and for those who just love a design made well with amazing typographic work. The book is filled with amazing and not to mention really inspiring works.

gift guide 2013

2.Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design – $10.77

Written by famous American Graphic Designer Chip Kidd. Go is not your typical book about graphic design. The book also showcases how to creatively use the many graphical elements. Apart from that, the book invites it’s readers to complete projects that they can share at the site GoTheBook.com.

gift guide 2013

3. Paul Rand: A Designer’s Art – $250

We are sure that by just a mere mention of Paul Rand’s name to any graphic designer will make them squeal like little kids at the sight of chocolate. But what about giving them a book written by Paul Rand himself ?

gift guide 2013

4. Grid Systems in Graphic Design/Raster Systeme Fur Die Visuele Gestaltung (German and English Edition) – $61.00

A perfect gift for those who have graphic designer family or friend who are raving about grids. This is also perfect for students who are going to take graphic design next school year.

gift guide 2013

5. The Graphic Designer’s Business Survival Guide – $18.44

Here’s something great to give if you have a friend whose dream is to start their own design firm. This one great thing about this book is that it offers loads of advice to help designers on how dealing with clients and building a great relationship with them.


For the graphic designer who is a neat freak:

gift guide 2013

1. Quirky Cordies Desktop Cable Management – $6.99

Here’s something to manage those annoying cords better. Perfect for those who have a ton of stuff plugged but the problem is those tangled wires.

gift guide 2013

2. DEWALT DWST17804 Tstak 2 Drawer with Dividers – $38.53

If you have a friend whose looking for a nice desk drawer then this one is perfect for them! Can be stacked with the same product, durable and not to mention it locks! We suggest you get two of this awesome space saving drawer.

gift guide 2013

3. Victor Wood Midnight Black Collection, Tidy Tower Desktop Organizer, Black, (5500-5) – $89.99

A clean desk is a productive desk! Help your friends organize their things. Chuck those paper, notes, magazines even folders in this nice desktop drawer.

gift guide 2013

4. iStick: Multifunction Desktop organizer with built-in USB Hub and Memory Card Reader (US Only) (Black) – $39.99

Apart from the fact that this is an awesome space saver, the Cyanics iStick Multifunction Desk Organizer has a USB port, a compartment to place your phone and it has a nice design. What more can your designer friends ask for right?

gift guide 2013

5. U BOARD SMART – Monitor Stand and Multi-function Board with built-in 3 Port USB 2.0 – $44.89

Similar to the Cyanics iStick Multifunction Desk Organizer the only difference is that it doesn’t have the multicompartments that the other one has. Instead it has a clear glass that acts like a mini table. Perfect for those who want to sketch out their ideas while working in front of the computer.

For the graphic designer who is always on-the-go:


gift guide 2013

1. Drawing and Sketching Pencil Set In Zippered Carrying Case – $6.24

It’s a pencil case and a sketch pad rolled into one. Apart from that the set is only 10-3/4 by 6 inches big which makes this one pretty compact. If that won’t put a smile to your friend we don’t know what is.

gift guide 2013

2. Kattee® Vintage Canvas Leather Hiking Travel Backpack Tote Bag Fit 17 Inch Laptop – $56.99

Designers bring a lot of stuff with them and one of the most frustrating part in packing is where to put that humongous laptop of theirs. To make things worst some laptop bags doesn’t last that long. This travel backpack here by Kattee is perfect since it offers a nice big room for a laptop that can even fit a 17 inch laptop not to mention it is very stylish and durable.
gift guide 2013

3. Anker Potable Charger – $29.99

It’s frustrating and annoying for everyone with a smartphone or a table to find their gadgets out of juice before getting to their destination. Same thing for graphic designers even double at times since they need their smartphones or tablets to check emails, send out proofs and do minor tweaks. This is where Anker Portable Charger comes in it gives those gadgets extra boost of power specially during long travels.
gift guide 2013

4. Royal & Langnickel Essentials Art Cargo Carry Bag – $29.37

Speaking of bags Royal Essentials Art Cargo Carry Bag just looks amazing! Made by artists for artist is great for holding all your friend’s tools. It even has a detachable case to hold brushes.

gift guide 2013

5. EZOPower Portable – $39.99

This device is pretty neat! It’s a multifunctional, portable and user-friendly device that allows you to  transfer photos, music, movies and other files from an SD card and USB storage device to any smartphone and tablet. Not only that but it also doubles as a power bank. We suggest get 2 of this one for a gift and one for you.


That completes the gift guide! Buying any of these gifts would certainly make any graphic designer’s holiday special!


Source: www.youthedesigner.com