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:

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:

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:

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 little prayer…


This pretty much sums things up right about now. I have recited this prayer every morning and every night for the past 28 days. Some days my father seems to be doing better, some days take a turn for the worst. What an emotional roller coaster.I can’t imagine my life without this man. He has been my teacher, my protector, and my inspiration. I’ve learned to pray a little harder each day.

Although this is in no way design-realted, it is my life right now. I sleep and dream about my father becoming well. He has double pneumonia and has been on a ventilator since January 3. My heart sinks to my stomach when I see him suffering. Sometimes I  wonder what he is thinking, how he is feeling and if he will make it through this. I didn’t realize how serious it was until the doctors told me to call in family members to come see him because he might die. Those piercing words I will never forget.

People – cherish your loved ones! Cherish the memories and make use of the time you have to make them.

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

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!



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.