Recently we took a trip to Los Angeles. Being a staunch Northern Californian I was raised to think of LA as a soul-less wasteland of smog and cars (sorry!), but every time I go I discover something new and interesting. This time around we took in some of the region’s architecture (of which I took terrible pictures for some reason), including the Petersen Automotive Museum.
Not being a big car person I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my favorite thing about this museum turned out to be the montage of photos Pixar designers took on their cross-country road trip to get ideas for the look of the original Cars movie. As a designer, I love how obsessively they research every detail, even things that don’t ultimately make it into the final movie. Similarly, Josh Holtsclaw has a great post on his site about the look they created for The Incredibles films, including complete branding packages for entities like the hotel where the Parr family stays.
Since I was reading Susan Orlean’s fascinating The Library Book at the time (and because I’m a library nerd), I also got interested in the history of the LA Central Library building, which led me to the Los Angeles Conservancy (check out their walking tours) and their amazing branding package created by the design firm YYES. There’s also a nice case study about the rebranding, which features ultra-simple, interchangeable icons of iconic LA buildings, here.
I love it when travel not only provides a break from the daily routine, but also opens up my eyes to new design ideas. What travel destination inspires you?
Better yet, pair your tea towels with a book, plant, baked goods or another item and use the towel as an eco-friendly wrapping – you’ll save the paper, and it’s like getting two gifts in one. Plus, if you start now, you might actually have time to sew up the towels before the holidays (unless you’re a really champion procrastinator like me, and then you’ll be hemming the night before your gift exchange).
With all the tea towel choices out there, you can find something that pairs with almost any gift idea or recipient – the hardest part may be choosing which one to use! (Or giving it away!)
Tea towels pair naturally with food- and kitchen-themed gifts, but anything small-ish will fit – here are some of my favorite ideas:
As you know if you read my posts or follow me on Instagram, I love to see what people make from my designs! Melinda of Weighted Works recently sent me a photo of a weighted blanket made with my Significant Otters fabric on the front and minky on the back – just looking at it makes me want to crawl under it and take a nap!
According to Weighted Works, weighted blankets can help users feel more calm and relaxed, and can help manage the symptoms of insomnia, restless leg syndrome, autism, PTSD, nervous system disorders and anxiety.
Oddly enough, I actually noticed this effect the other day at the dentist’s office, when they put the lead apron on me for some x-rays – it felt so nice I got a little sleepy, which is saying a lot given how much I hate going to the dentist. Maybe I should have asked if I could wear it for the whole visit…
Sometimes I spend a ton of time carefully drawing a million details for a fabric or illustration…and sometimes I get a really simple idea that just works on the first try. “Bandage Stripe” was definitely the latter – it came together really quickly, but the colors make it special.
I can see this fabric making great scrubs, an ice pack cover or a fun pouch to hold your first aid supplies – because every 5-year-old will tell you that boo boos feel better when you have a cool bandage (or bandage-themed accessories!).
Sometimes the cobbler’s children do get new shoes! Spring is in the air and it seemed like the right time for a little brand refresh – check out the new Lellobird logo!
I’d actually been thinking about making some changes for a while; like many of the clients who come to me for a logo update, I realized as my company grew that the original logo needed some tweaks to grow with me. The old all-yellow logo didn’t work well on light-colored backgrounds, which affected how I set up labels and letterhead and other things. The rectangular shape of the bird meant that on social media sites my little bird’s beak and tail feathers were forever getting chopped off to fit in the circular profile pictures. And I struggled with how to use the logo in one-color or black-and-white situations.
The solution was actually pretty simple: I created an outline version of the bird, with some wing details mirroring his angled legs, to give him some definition in both color and black-and-white uses. And I shortened up his tail and changed the angle of his beak and eye to give the logo a more circle-friendly aspect and a slightly cuter appearance. Then I put a yellow fill behind the outline for when I need to add color, just slightly offset from the outline for a playfully retro feel.
I’m really happy with the big change just a couple of edits made! And since I keep referring to my logo as “he,” now I’m thinking that little bird needs a name…
If Spoonflower’s Winter 2018 Magazine doesn’t make you want to start a sewing project, nothing will! Check out all the project ideas and luscious fabrics, including my Time Travel Map (pg. 57) and Significant Otters (pg. 63). (There are fun DIY projects featuring wallpaper, too, for those of you who don’t sew.) Now get crafting!
I’ve selected several of my fabrics as fundraisers for specific charities, and I donate a portion of the proceeds from their sale every year. Thanks to all of you who purchased my designated fabrics and products this year, I was able to make donations to the following organizations in 2017:
International Rhino Foundation
Rhinos seem like such tough creatures, but due to poaching and habitat loss, all five rhino species are threatened with extinction. The IRF works for the survival of the world’s rhinos through conservation and research. I especially like the way they partner with local communities living near the rhino populations – many of them struggling for survival themselves – so the locals benefit from conservation efforts, too. Sales of Rhinoce-roses and Rhinoce-roses Tiny (and products made with them at Roostery) benefit the IRF.
Friends of the Oakland Public School Libraries
As a life-long library user, a one-time library employee and a long-time library volunteer, I was shocked to learn that 30% of OUSD schools – including 14 of the 17 high schools – don’t have working libraries. FOPSL’s goal is to have an up-to-date library at every OUSD school in order to support literacy and “provide access to quality literature, information and technology to all OUSD students.” Sales of the Library Tea Towel Calendar (also at Roostery) benefit FOPSL.
North Bay Fire Relief
I created my Tea & Hope Tea Towel (also at Roostery) explicitly to be a charity item, with proceeds going to a different non-profit every six months. The first cause I chose was the fires that burned through swaths of Sonoma and other North Bay counties in October 2017, which were darkening the sky to perpetual dusk even at my home 60 miles away as I was designing it.
The North Bay wildfires destroyed more than 8,900 structures and created problems both immediate and long-term for the area – officials estimate it will be 5-10 years before all the local infrastructure is rebuilt. We visited Sonoma recently and while the burn areas were sobering, it was inspiring to see signs everywhere thanking the first responders and confirming #sonomastrong.
For the first six months of 2018, the beneficiary of funds raised through sales of this tea towel will be the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees and others suffering from humanitarian crises.
Last but not least, bees! I’ve been a long-time supporter of Heifer International because I like their model of not just giving a hand-out but a hand-up, giving things that help people improve their lives and then encouraging them to share with their communities. Bees provide honey for food and also help pollinate crops, increasing yields. This year, sales of my Bee Towel tea towel (also at Roostery) helped purchase two sets of honeybees for Heifer recipients.
And, because I can’t resist a good infographic, here’s how the donations break down:
None of these were huge donations, but they’re a start. Whether you can donate money or time, I encourage you to think about ways you can make your own corner of the world a better place in 2018, too.
Being a one-time Nebraskan and an all-time tinkerer-with-things-to-make-them-better, from logos to household appliances, I was super excited to see that Skillshare is hosting a contest to redesign the Nebraska state flag.
Kaye’s first rule, “Keep it simple: The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory,” especially resonates with me – I always strive to have logos I design be something you could sketch out with a pen on a napkin and still recognize.
So I got to thinking about Nebraska – I haven’t been there in 20+ years, but in some ways I think that’s helpful when designing a flag, because it’s easier to distill a place down to its essence when you’re not right in the middle of it.
The number one thing I remembered and loved was the sky – wide and blue, crossed with clouds that cast far-reaching shadows across the open land, filled up with storm clouds and once a gathering tornado I wasn’t allowed to watch, being banished to the basement. So I knew right away the top half of my flag would be blue for sky.
When I think of Nebraska, I also think of fields of yellow – goldenrod dotted with red-winged blackbirds,
corn tassels, prairie grass, the Sandhills. The current Nebraska flag is also blue with a gold/yellow state seal (like 23 other state flags!), so I liked that these colors refer back to the historic flag.
Looking at maps of the state, I was struck by how the Platte River makes a graceful swoop across the state, which is almost rectangular, and decided to use that swoop as a distinctive and place-specific way to divide my blue and gold sections. After I went through a few iterations of color and line width, this is my final product:
Having seen other flag re-design missions falter, including Mars’s campaign to revamp San Francisco’s city flag, I’m not sure if this one will officially go anywhere (change is hard, I know). But I’m eager to see what other people come up with!
My Boxy Foxy fabric came in seventh in this week’s Spoonflower Tangrams contest – thank you to everyone who voted! It was fun and a little bit challenging to work with tangrams – they’re easy to draw, because they’re just geometric shapes, but I tried a few different ideas before I found a way to make them visually interesting. I enjoyed seeing how many images I could build with just simple shapes.