In the name of science

We murder flowers here at MINE™. Just another day at the office.

This flower was sacrificed to the client-gods in the name of science.. Or, well, a project that happened to include plant diagrams. Christopher ran around town looking for all the right ingredients to get this flower diagram perfect, but to the universe’s avail, we ended up with the less ideal of objects. Still, it’s a reminder about how a fun and simple idea can be communicated even without the most ideal of situations. We’re sorry, flower. You did us good.

While I can’t disclose the details of the project today, (as usual) I can say Nathan and Christopher have been working away on an annual report that a) includes the beginnings of the flower diagram pictured above, and b) has branched off into another interactive e-commerce website that I am very excited to work on. It is unfortunate that only now have I realized how much interactive design work entices me more than what I have done prior. It’s a new frontier, and I want to be a part of it.


Hysteria, the Perils of a Woman


What is one of the intern’s most important roles here at the studio? Besides making cool-graphic-art, it’s actually the preliminary research we conduct before we start any project. While “research” includes looking at the obvious; I’m looking for everything else– things people don’t often notice or realize. People are always looking for that secondary layer, and my role is to dig up and infiltrate everything you can about the competition, the people, the industry, the product, so we can make that experience of that product or service, exactly what it should be. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s part-espionage and part-design-process. Everyone knows someone who knows you, who knows your past employer, who knows your mother, who knows your ex-lover, who knows your future employer, who knows that you have a dog named Spot. San Francisco is a small city. I’ve been surprised every time what I can find out about people with a simple google-search. Apparently, a lot.

My point is, I’ve learned that getting to know the people who are making the decisions in the industry you’re about to create work for, can be quite advantageous for the designer. While it may not look so great to name-drop, it may be better than not-knowing any names at all.


Lost In Translation


The storm of work over the past week has finally subsided and now the office has slipped into the flow of spring cleaning. Purging the office / home garage couldn’t feel more invigorating on a slow day when San Francisco is a beautiful 75 degrees outside.

In other news, something special arrived in the mail this afternoon. What could it be? Oh, a chinese-translated version of the Just Design book? Let’s take a moment to look at all of its glory. The designers have clearly retained much of the original design. Apparently, according to Nathan, many design-related Chinese books look like this. It’s an interesting green-tea-esque color and the soft cover binding that is of a type of paper stock I’ve never felt before. I quite like it. While we’re not sure as to what those tiny floating images are on the front cover, we still think it is very charming.

I can imagine (non-sarcastically) how difficult it must be to re-layout the book from one language to another. I recently created an English / Chinese sided invitation design for a project and I now wonder if they had the same problems of how to the treat the English language, as I did with the Chinese language. I feel as though learning a native Asian language (that doesn’t use latin-based characters) like Chinese or Japanese, changes the way you visualize and prioritize basic visual elements that extend far beyond than reading a letter. For instance, I imagine when a Japanese child learns how to read and write, you learn that the Japanese character is all about balance of that space and how the strokes interact with each other. And I feel as though I remember feeling that sense of balance everywhere I looked. I wonder if the Chinese designer thought that way about the English language. Probably not.


Required-viewing for all those who have a case of the Mondays.


Build build build build transcend


Build: Pizzeria Roma officially opens tomorrow to the public. One of the great things I’ve learned about doing restaurant work at MINE™ is the simple fact that the project has to always end, because the restaurant also always to has to open. Nathan attended the pre-opening party at Build this past weekend, and has returned with a full-report of only good things to say about the food and how the design ended up. I hope to try it out soon to try out one of the 10 different old-fashioneds they make with their “hand-carved” ice cubes. #bourbon4life

I got to work on the bar menu for Build before they launched. It was fun, and an experience. While we didn’t realize the content for the bar menu had nearly over 100 different items, we managed to make it work. What was originally a menu that was sketched out to be about 3 pages of 3 categories, it naturally blossomed into a menu of 8 categories and 12 pages that would be clipped into a wood clipboard. Definitely required some quick problem-solving, especially when the menu size couldn’t change as we had already ordered the wood clipboards. I’ve learned in situations like these, there’s not much you can do, except try to make it your best work you can do with what and who you have. See “more” for some behind-the-scenes moments.


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I’ve been bad.

It’s been quite the ghost-town on this blog. Sorry about that! The office has been busier than normal, which means this blog always manages to be 1st to be forgotten.

In recent news, we’ve had quite a few visitors since my last post. We’ve had exciting new clients, old friends, new friends and even a group of 12 students from ASU visit the office. One of the visitors even brought Miette cupcakes; the only person whose name I remembered, naturally. It was Jessica, she was sweet, and is also looking for work.

Meanwhile, my project for Katherine Delmar Burke’s School is finally wrapping up. It went generally smooth, and while we didn’t have the flexibility to get-weird with the form, it was refreshing to work on a publication again. Especially because the last I made a publication was for Eric Heiman’s class last term, in which I made a digital publication in Adobe DPS. That means no-production required—it was great. While I missed the land of RGB, it was nice being thrown back into the world of print again. I was also surprised about all the keyboard shortcuts that I managed to remember.

Thank God It’s Only Tuesday

The days here at the office have been going by very quickly recently. Perhaps it’s the daylight savings?

I’ve been working away on a publication-of-sorts for an all-girls private school here in San Francisco. It’s been my own little design project in which I’ve generally have had creative freedom. It’s a pretty conservative publication with a lot of images of lady alumnae that still connect with this school that goes as far back as the 1940s. It’s been about two weeks into this project, and already I’m starting to reminsence on Eric Heiman’s publication studio class I took last semester.. Okay, okay, fine, Eric. You win. All the rules and crying babies (figurative) have come back to somehow haunt and help me all at the same time. I’m excited for this project to wrap up so I can start helping out on other projects. That’s one natural trait of a designer, the ability and drive to multi-task and give yourself too many things to do at once.

Sorry dad, I never meant to be a graphic designer.

A few other things to think about while I’m away:

- Cyberattacks becoming our new warfare
- The Black Market / .onion / Tor
- The CIA offering $80,000 for entry-level designers (see link here)
- Kavinsky’s new album
- The sequester / Paul Ryan’s new GOP Budget Proposal
- The rare and beautiful weather right now in San Francisco
- How excited you are for me to graduate CCA


Logo TDC_Paula Scher

Getting Your Foot In The Door

We had a student visitor from Indianapolis today, he’s a graduating senior coming out to the Bay area doing some studio visits and Christopher had him come to MINE™ to look over his work. He actually made and brought a laptop sleeve out of a shirt, with his portfolio inside. Not only is he a designer, but also clearly possesses sewing skills. That’s new.

Speaking of portfolios, if you haven’t taken a look at the newest Type Directors Club Annual designed by Paula Scher, you should! It features award-winning works from our very own CCA design faculty (Design Is Play, Volume Inc.) and our own studio. While I’ve only witnessed the side of design awards from the “I’m just a student” perspective, I believe I’m starting to finally see the more internal view of how awards are handled. It’s basically like a children’s pageant. It’s always so hyped up, has a huge production, only to find things are probably rigged anyway. #chroniclesofacynicalintern



Daily Prose

A few posts behind, but we’re still here working away like elves. I’ve been given a couple new projects to work on in the last week, so this blog can sometimes be thrown on the back-burner.

We had one of our favorite clients return to our office yesterday for a quick pop-in meeting to go over some design iterations for their investor presentation. I forgot how important it is that you have to take the time to create a thoughtfully designed presentation, especially when it’s for your client’s client (their investors). You’re sending them off to present an idea that you’ve presented to them, so then they can have the funds to bring both their idea, and ours to life. Vicious cycle, isn’t it? In other news, I think we’ve learned our lesson in how excited we can really get on a project that includes solely printing on a risograph.


“8 Inches” or Whatever That Means


This week is all about commitment. It’s pushing yourself, whether you’re unsure of yourself or not, to pull the trigger and follow through with your work. It is likely you won’t do well the first time around, but I’d still commend you on getting to a place where you people can have a dialogue about whether they actually give a shit about it or not. Once you’ve got their attention, you hope to deep space (I believe more in the universe than I do god) that whatever you’ve done has allowed  your viewer to walk away with something they didn’t originally come with. It’s all about having a point of view.

On a side note, I have a feeling we won’t be entering in any awards this year. Shocker! This may change, but who knows. Design awards are overrated and incestual. (Begin discussion)
Also, I’ve realized I’ve been the mysterious new blogger of this MINE™ blog who hasn’t introduced herself. Officially, I’m Liz. Unofficially, I’m basically awesome.



Case of the CAIS Red

It pleut en San Francisco aujourd’hui. Hace frio hace frio hace frio in the studio. And our heater may or may not explode at any given time.

Today I prepared final preparations for a project that included making mechanicals and making edits to copy. I got to do a lot of 1-on-1 emailing with the client, which got me to learn a lot about how I can clearly articulate and virtually communicate to someone in a clear manner when I need to say something the client doesn’t want to hear, necessarily. I feel like in this day and age  there’s an email work-etiquette that you should follow, and while I’m pretty confident in my virtual-speaking tone, you never know if you can ever be clear enough in an email. It always seems to work out more smoothly when you have a nice client, though.

photo copy


Sorry I’ve been a little behind on blog posts! We’ve been a little crazy here at the studio. Naturally all of our projects are peaking right in time for when Christopher decides to go on a Hawaii vacation. I found that our phone has been ringing way more often that normal, but luckily in return for being a talented phone-message-taker, I got rewarded for some overdue In-n-out burger. Doesn’t that image just make you salivate? Yup, just in time Valentine’s Day, y’all.

On another related burger note, we had a client meeting yesterday that went really well. It was one of those meetings when the moment the client leaves the front door, and the first thing Christopher and Nathan say is “Now that was a client.” Exciting, right? I often wonder if clients can feel the good ju-ju at an end of a good meeting just as much as we do. While we don’t have that luxury of always having the client who loves what you do and actually chooses a direction before he leaves, it was still refreshing to sit in on a meeting and witness some productive collaboration. Hopefully I’ll land some of these lucky clients in my design future. What are the odds of that?


Screen shot 2013-02-11 at 5.02.04 PM

@media [ not | only ] screen [and] (expression) { }


Responsive. Web. Fundamentals. Yay.

I spent most of today further informing myself on responsive web fundamentals and how the issues surrounding responsive images only stress the fact that responsive design is still a new way of designing websites. And as a designer, I need to pay careful attention that how techniques change and how implementations are carried out so that I’m prepared to adopt them as they mature. It’s a bit frustrating knowing that how I go about preparing a website to be truly responsive won’t be necessary in probably two or less years. </end rant>

Just so you know, I’m freshening up on some web-knowledge as there are a few new web MINE™ projects are on the way that include giving our website a face-lift. I have a feeling people have been waiting for this for awhile.


Bostock's Trained Lions

You are a unique snowflake


How far will you go for a client? What does it mean to you when you care more about a project than a client does? Can a compelling idea only go as far as the client will allow it to be?

Just a few pseudo-existential questions that you may find asking yourself half-way into your project. Don’t worry, it’s the natural trials and tribulations we accept when we sign our lives away as a designer. We’ve certainly come across here at MINE™, and today was one of those days. Perhaps I’m being a bit excessive, but you can’t look at me virtually in the face and tell me you haven’t been let down by a client. Long story short, I feel as though maybe it’s not worth (your energy and your financial capacity) to continue to pursue a compelling idea when the “odds” are high in that your client will shoot them down.

I’ll end with my favorite Lil’ Wayne quote that I hope enlightens you as it does for me:
“I do what I do and you do what you can do about it.” 


anke eve 5


Today was a long day of research for a client that is thinking about using “pioneering women motorcyclists” as a visual motif. Bad. Ass. This means that I’ve been learning a vast amount of information about early women motorcycling. Did you know that many European women who rode motorcycles were often journalists? Apparently that was a popular occupation. Anyway, besides photographic research, I did quite a bit investigating into how custom patches are made for the same client. While I’m not explicitly allowed to talk about the client relationship.. I will say that it is nice to have a project that balances out with some fun applications. Alongside the custom patchwork and visual motifs, there’s also some to-go containers, a website, sexy-girl tshirts and some interior decoration. If only this was my personal diary with a lock, and not a wordpress public feed.

It seems as though I’ll be able to work on the menu once the content gets finalized. Pretty exciting. Setting type that has to do with food? I’m okay with that. Only as long as I get a free pizza.


Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 5.05.08 PM

Today’s Word: Death

We learned a lot about each other today in the office. We also cleaned and organized the comp room, I never thought it would be possible. There’s still 4 large piles of cool design books that need homes, but hey, I can’t complain. I feel as though when you do spring cleaning at home, you never “find” anything neat– the most you’ll find is that dusty pen you’ve been looking for or even a quarter or two if you’re lucky. Whereas a part of being an intern here is being surrounded by cool things. I “accidentally” find awesome stuff. Life is hard.

Christopher had a 3 hour client phone meeting today and I helped research for things while he was with the client. I also watched some lynda tutorials today (thanks to CCA and the free lynda account) on responsive web design which was very enlightening. I’ll be on my way to rendering some new features to the MINE™ website.

Until tomorrow.



Today’s Word: BEYONCE

Today Christopher was teaching Transitions to Professional Practice in the morning, so it was a slow start to the day. I took care of some to-do lists he had prepared for me to work on when I came in. I’m also working on putting together a simple video showing the assembly and installation of some signage MINE™ did for a client. It’s pretty epic. I’ll make sure to share it once it’s finished.

In other news, I chipped away at the to-do list which included building some mechanicals for a project. Not too exciting, but someone has to do that stuff. Naturally, it’d be me. #lifeofanintern The office and I also caught up on the traumatic Superbowl events, collaboratively photographed Christopher for nearly an hour, and attempted to solidify a song that would fit the video I’m working on.

On an ending note, you should check out the youtube video above. Jonathan Harris is a computer programmer and.. I’d say a social philosopher of sorts. Nathan showed me this film as my current thesis proposal is the “myth of happiness.” Nathan always manages to find a way to be inspiring at least 1x a week. Or your money back.




Today’s Word(s): You no like pork bun?

Today was a bit eventful: we had a visitor come in today and I continued to continually chip away at the mobile-version of this blog. Unlike when you do design work or anything that produces any type of image-making whatsoever, the end-product can vary from the amount of time and effort you spend coding. It’s tedious, requires a lot of trial-and-error (especially when you don’t have a simulator or any mobile inspector tools) and it’s incredibly frustrating when media queries don’t work when they’re supposed to. #nooneprobablyunderstandsthis

But, I will eventually get it to work. This blog is moving along and still needs a few tweaks with scale-issues on the iphone.
We’re also planning a huge spring cleaning here soon: in the comp-shower-room and the garage. So keep a lookout on a future craigslist post for free + cool stuff from Christopher. It’s going to be awesome. What’s more awesome? I get first dibs. What’s even more awesome? So do you, if you read this blog.

On an ending note: a visitor came into the office. His name was Tyler and he sounded very intelligent. That’s all I know.



Today’s Word(s): Coin Smash

The latter part of the day was filled with more errands, research and following up with vendors. I find it so fascinating to speak to different sales vendors from around the country, as it’s typically unusual I have the chance to speak to people outside of San Francisco. Perhaps I was lucky today in that I spoke to two different people who clearly lived on polar ends of our nation. (I determined from the accents they spoke with.) One lovely woman, Lois, who helped me with ordering some print samples, was from Virginia. She managed to remember who I was because of my “voice.” I don’t really know what that means, but, hey, at least there was something she thought was memorable enough. Another gentleman I spoke so monotonically I couldn’t tell where the heck he was from. Pretty impressive. Anyway, this all brings me to ask, do San Franciscans have an accent? I have heard once I “sound” like I’m from Los Angeles–what does that even mean? Does that mean anything to you?

Anyway, I’ve also been chipping away at the back-end of this blog to get it to work for mobile devices. WordPress makes it incredibly difficult to translate media queries and it doesn’t help that this specific wordpress theme hasn’t been actively in use in the community for nearly two years. I’m sorry if you are one of the few who actually read this blog on your phone.. I’ve got it to work to float into a single-column, but the posts magically decide to cut into each other. Still doing some backwards engineering (and lots of research and trial + error) to figure it out. If only there was a developer tools for use on a mobile device! That would be really lovely. #endnerdrant



I’m into weird stuff

Today was filled with research for a personal art project here at MINE™ and more cosmetic updates for the CAIS client. I’ve been on the hunt for some artwork that is inspired or contains elements of ancient Chinese snake mythology, and while it’s been more difficult than it seems, I’m really bumping up my research-strategy skills. By the end of my internship, I’ll probably be able to find about everything about anything. …Watch out, people.

I’ve also been learning quite a bit about the different techniques to print onto dinnerware. Sadly, I can’t really explain why.. But, again, it has to do with our future personal art project here. We’re getting into some weird stuff. More updates to come.

Intern out.

Screen shot 2013-01-28 at 5.27.01 PM


Today consisted of some minor editing on the back-end for this blog and working on the CAIS (Chinese American International School) invitation. One thing I learned today: trying to set type with Chinese characters is much more difficult than it seems. I was working on the Chinese version (that was to be printed on the back of the English version) and while I tried my best to take it typographically perfect, I still had to make sure the Chinese characters looked optically comparable to the romanized characters.

This reminds me of a conversation I had once with Jon Sueda, who works at StripeSF and is an old professor of mine who teaches at CCA. I was asking him about his experience in the Netherlands when he worked at Studio Dumbar and his difficulties of being an American designer in a country that spoke and designed in mainly Dutch. While Jon was lucky in that Studio Dumbar does more image-making than type-setting work, Jon did mention that it was incredibly difficult to set type with Dutch words when he had to. He spoke generally about how we can often forget the power of language and take for granted the ease of being proficient in a native language. Fortunately, the translation of anything that is image-making is much more universal as a designer than attempting to set type in a different language. #shitimstuckinamericaforever

On a lighter note, I was reading up on my usual intern-design-rss-feed for today and noticed NYC’s road / parking signs got a face-list by Pentagram. Take a look for yourself. If only we could have the power for this type of change in California.. Sadly here, I’m assuming we’ve kept our unfortunately designed and totally confusing parking signage so that drunken ‘tards will read them incorrectly, get tickets and funnel the city $$$. Keep it up, California.



Today’s Word: Myth

Today was an interesting day, it was a mixture of preliminary criticism of my thesis proposals (hence, today’s word) and chipping away at fixing up the look and functionality of this blog. It required quite a bit of research to figure out how to get this website to function correctly on an iPhone, and while it’s not completely there, I hope you like the update. It looks a bit more familiar to the MINE™ main website with the use of the graphic rule, and I widened up the columns a bit so it’s easier to read. I felt as though today’s project reminded me that I actually enjoy sitting in front of a screen coding in a blacked-out room all day. It’s refreshing to give yourself a crash-course project when you have the time for it. Christopher has also been great about generally letting me do whatever to the blog; I didn’t want to change much, just make it look formally more similar to the main website.

On a funnier, lighter, (whatever emotion) note, Christopher brought these bad boys into the office today. The largest pin is even signed by the infamous UC-logo designer. Booya! That is totally going to sell on eBay years from now for like, a ka-billion dollars. I still don’t mind the logo so much when the “c” is knocked out. The gradient still gives me the creeps.. and I’m typically the one always defending and arbitrarily-over-using the gradient.

Thesis presentations tomorrow. Until Monday!






Put An Egg On It


Kobe beef is back! According to a Forbe’s article that came out last year, a limited amount of kobe beef can be imported into the United States.

Today Christopher was at CCA teaching his Transitioning to Professional Practice class, so he was gone until about 11am. If you haven’t noticed already, I gave the blog a little bit of a face-lift! It is semi-working now on iphone devices as well, but lots of elements are still a little twitchy. I forget how irritating working in CMS / wordpress is, but, I will try my best. Today felt like a short day with mostly errands and rain. Until tomorrow.



Untitled I


Today was eventful in that it was first time it was uneventful. The office was gone for the day for a meeting with a pizza-related client, so I stayed back and did a vast amount of research on Renaissance paintings. An explanation as to why I did such extensive research will come up for another day.

On a more exciting note, take a look at the interview with Massimo Vignelli in Business Week’s article regarding his thoughts about American Airline’s new logo.. Uh oh. Is it me or does that typeface look like Myriad Pro? If I was to chime in, I’d have to side with Vignelli when he says that “I will not be here to make a bet, but this [new logo] won’t last another 25 years.” Ouch.


Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 5.17.35 PM

Today’s word: Futile

T G I F 

Today was a slow day, lots of errands and research for some “customizable commemorative plates.” Sounds freaky, right? What could we be making that includes designing onto dinnerware? You’ll just have to find out! Check back for updates. I promise it’ll be up on the blog before Chinese New Year (February 10th).

We had a couple interesting conversations today about a few interesting people. One of those groups of people include the infamous and controversial Sagmeister & Walsh, specifically their new brand identity. Take a look and comment below if you have any of your own opinions Personally, here are a few of my own observations:

1. I don’t think it’s that controversial, jarring or unexpected; sex sells and that standpoint has never been an issue in the past for Sagmeister.
2. I am curious about the conversation of gender roles that’s going on here; there’s a cd application where a girl is going down on a guy, but not the other way around?
3. Let’s be real, Sagmeister is a million years old and Jessica Walsh is 20-something and super hot. Are they trying to talk about this?

Take it all in and let it simmer.

Until another day,


New Friends.

Today we had visitors from the Northwest. Tyler and Nicole swung by the office as part of their San Francisco studio-tour all the way from Portland. We talked about hosting our own poster shows, compared the design scene in each other’s cities and shared food references. They were a cute duo; I believe Tyler was the sole designer while Nicole handled the business management side.  They had mentioned they just hired a full-time intern, but I wonder what kind of magical powers they can conjure by completing all of their work with only two designers. Then again, here at MINE™, it’s just Christopher and Nathan and, well, myself. So, I’m sure we can relate.

Anyhow, their design firm is called Factory North, check them out and ask to drop by their studio space if you’re ever in Portland!

Afterwards we went to grab a bite to eat at 903, right up the street from the office. While we had to fight over who got the last Kirin beer, food was nevertheless still tasty.

Onto the next day.


Today’s Word: What?

Because today I am temporarily handicapped and deaf in one ear, I’ve decided to switch up blog posting and do a list-style of my thoughts and intern tasks today.

1. Arrived at exactly 8:30 and slipped on the front stairs
2. Finished up the CAIS work
3. Read / organized emails
4. Researched / infiltrated Italian signage and typography Flickr groups
5. Researched some more until my eyes bled (not literally)
6. Ate lunch in front of the Bernal Heights library
7. Yelled at CCA on the phone for ruining my life
8. Watched other people design things
9. Watched the same people design some more things
10. Did some simple tasks: cleaning, organizing
11. Copped out of writing my blog entry


Today’s words: I’m right and you’re wrong

Today was another day of enlightening design discourse; it boiled down to having a healthy debate about whether someone else could be more right than you are, or if it even matters. Naturally, in the life of a designer and intern, we’re put in this line of fire quite frequently. I won’t get too far into details, but I will say the conversation began with this article posted in the Chronicle and AIGA. Moral of the story: Why didn’t anyone warn me that I would be entering an occupation where people would be telling me I’m fucking up for the rest of my life? #thankschristopher

On a lighter note, I also got to work on some print material for the Chinese American International School here in SF. It was a quick assignment, essentially laying out type and working with a pattern that pays homage to traditional Chinese pottery. Pretty neat. Aside from CAIS, I’ve been fortunate to see the process of another restaurant branding project that Christopher and Nathan have been working on. It’s fascinating to see the “blossoming” of the interrelationships between the client and designer in this project; I personally really think it’s like a dating relationship. You’re constantly trying to sustain a relationship where you both are on the same page about things, about where the relationship is at, about what the other person is trying to say—and it’s tough. Sometimes you get these exciting senses of renewal and sometimes it must really suck, but when things are going smoothly, I imagine it can only turn out to be really great.

Lastly, yesterday was pizza day! We online ordered and “customized” our Domino’s pizza (they’ve just recently re-designed their brand) and road-tested their new pan pizza. It arrived in a black box with some fancy ephemera-like illustration and typographic elements that looked pretty good. I was surprised. Their pizza on the other hand, was not surprising. It still astounds me that their pizza has managed to taste the same way since I had last eaten it when I was 16.


Jeff Canham

Today’s word: Revival

It’s a new year with which seems to be bringing in light new clients, projects, and epic MINE™ music playlists. Everyone in the office seems to be taking the 2013 year personally in their own way: Christopher has decided to go on a styling-hiatus and wear the same outfit for the rest of the year. More details about this for another day. For me, I’ve decided to do “words-of-the-day” in which a single word is chosen that sums up the culmination of the day. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with all these words yet, but possibly it’ll turn into a personal art-project of sorts. Hence today’s word of the day.

Anyway, today was a slim day of continuing work on typographic signage that will be a part of side-panel for an exterior of a restaurant. It’s been one of the first projects I’ve been assigned since I’ve started here at MINE™, and while it’s not overly-strenuous work, I forgot all the variables that entail and should be considered for a sign. To catch up on past events, the other day we took a field trip to Jeff Canham‘s painting studio at Woodshop in the Outer Sunset. We’re working with Jeff for a project and I’m looking forward to see what he will come up with that will be custom for us! Excitement. He’s an experienced sign painter, an extremely talented illustrator and a lovely human being. I’ve tagged an image below of some of his pieces.

We also swung by the Bun Mee restaurant on Fillmore to grab lunch and check out the space. Food was tasty and the space was pretty neat. All-in-all, a smooth week. #thankschristopher

I’ll close with some life-saving advice shared by Christopher today:

How to Survive in Your Car That’s Been Submerged In Water
1. Do not open any windows or doors right away, you want to save the air that’s become a pro-life-pocket inside of your car
2. Take this time to unlatch yourself from anything that might be prohibiting you from freedom (seat belt, etc)
3. Break a window and let the water flow in, once the water has reached the height of the car ceiling, take a deep breath and swim out of your window to the surface.

We just saved your life.

Today I fulfill yesterday’s dream of eating day old pizza

Today has been the fourth day of my new internship at MINE™ and begins my first blog entry. All I have to say is: the world has definitely ended in 2012 and I must be dead or have arrived in the place down below. Just kidding. I’m alive and have been spending intimate moments with the “intern binder” all week.

While it’s definitely a change compared to my previous internship, it’s been quite pleasant. It’s been a week of mental transitioning and tea-drinking, but I suppose they inevitably go hand-in-hand. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed our conversational rants on shit happening in the world– sometimes the discussions are incredibly enlightening, almost transcending, while other times I imagine we probably just sound like a bunch of assholes. Regardless, they are always interesting and magically manage to veer back into the world of design. The good stuff. It might even be possible to say that design is the thing I may be good at, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a good person. Haha, uh-oh.

Oh, Baker and Canon have arrived home and already they’ve come stumbling into the room with their limitless of energy and happiness. I can definitely getting used to having the day end with happy, screaming children.

I’ve also been assigned to work on some typographic signage which I’m having fun with, more details and gossip to come.


Hungry MINE™rs

Today we had a great lunch meeting across the Bay at Chez Panisse, meeting with a few folks from Realm Charter School about their upcoming direction for the school. Both the meeting and the company were top notch. It was my first visit to the restaurant  and I thoroughly enjoyed it—hopefully we have another meeting there soon.

On our way back, we noticed a peculiar Berkeley street sign: the letters HM crossed out in red (like a no-smoking, or Ghostbusters cross-out). We hadn’t seen that kind of sign before and began speculating as to what the meaning might be. No heavy metal? Stop hate-makers? Down with the hyphy movement?

Apparently we were not the only ones wondering about the signs.

Why does design matter?

Christopher was recently asked to participate in a video series being put together by AIGA SF as part of the upcoming cause/effect design competition. The overall goal of the series is to encourage designers to make an impact on society through design. The folks being asked to contribute need only answer a single question and record their response via any lo-fi or hi-fi video camera.

Rather than take a standard “talking head” approach, we decided to latch onto the part of the instructions that read, “…the answer can be as direct or abstract as you choose”, and create a video that is as much a discussion starter as it is an answer. We figured that in the larger context of a database of these videos answering the same question, it might be fun to offer a break from the more traditional way of responding.

We were right about the fun part—at least in putting the video together. I’m still figuring out what it exactly means. All I can say for now is Kenny G + Public Enemy + Gotham.

Be on the lookout for the cause/effect videos later in January.

Get ready to…

There aren’t too many college football fans aside from me around these here parts, but today is a pretty big day. That can mean only one thing—toy duck diagrams.

Where do ideas come from?

It is in the active engagement of the artist with his or her world,

conscious attention,
and a dash of serendipity,

that ideas are born…


The buddy system

Sometimes the color shift is slight. Sometimes you can’t trust your own monitor.

These things held true this afternoon as I was prepping a few slides for a client presentation. At first I noticed a distinct color shift on the slides, so I went back, corrected it and re-uploaded the files to our ftp site. When viewing the revisions a second time, everything looked right on my screen; no shift in color—in all web browsers. Christopher checked on his monitor, though, and the colors were still off. So I went back to my monitor and used the digital color meter to confirm that, yes, there was a numeric change happening—it just wasn’t revealing itself visually on my machine.

The system does work, kids. The correct changes were made in plenty of time before tomorrow’s presentation.

Sharing is caring

This gift has been sitting on my desk all week. I get to open it tomorrow at lunch. Here at MINE™ the holidays never end.

A visitor

Today was kind of a busy, heads-down at the desk work day (not heads-down as in napping—nor a friendly game of Heads up, Seven up, mind you—but rather in sustained feats of concentration). Now that folks are settling back into their offices after the holidays, the pace is picking up a bit and we have a handful of projects in the works that seem to be gaining speed.

I spent most of my time sketching logo ideas for a new group that is being started by one of our existing clients. I was given a brief of the situation toward the end of the day yesterday from Christopher. At the outset it seemed like the task might be fairly straightforward, but as with many things in life, it’s not as easy as you sometimes envision in your mind. While I came across some decent directions early on, I noticed that I was staying kind of close to home in terms of ideas, not really breaking off onto tangents I probably should have been. This afternoon I did break away from my original thinking and made some better progress after just sticking with it.

About midday some guy named Belonax, Tim Belonax came strolling into the studio and visited for a bit. For those that might not know, Tim was the designer here at MINE™ for the last five years or so, before he headed down to SoCal way back in the summer of twenty ten for graduate school. Tim visited with us for a bit before heading out and off into the sunset.

Holiday mail

Happy New Year.

We are back in action after a nice little holiday break. When I got into the studio this morning, a variety of holiday cards and greetings from various design firms and designers were waiting to be open and read. The incoming mail here can be great (from my perspective, anyway), and this one piece in particular caught my eye, from the studio Office here in San Francisco. Unfortunately the mail carrier decided to crunch the wonderfully crafted envelope containing this limited edition print haphazardly into the mail slot, resulting in slightly damaged goods.

Even being a bit roughed and creased up, however, the print doesn’t lose a thing.

Making a list, checking it…

The life of a design studio intern, believe it or not, isn’t always glitz and glam. My primary task for the day has been updating MINE™’s holiday card recipient list so that Christopher can take time over the next week to make a note in each one before they’re sent out.

This task has consisted of cross-checking lists, making phone calls and sending emails to get updated addresses, more list cross-checking, and compiling a new master list for Christopher to work from. Sexy stuff.

Once we wrap up our work for the day, the studio will be open tomorrow for one more full business day in 2010. We will then close up shop for the holidays and be back at it on January 3, 2011.

So happy holidays to all. Be safe and we will see you in the new year!

Out with the old

A couple of exciting things happened since the last time we spoke.

First, last week was my final one as a student. I have officially made it through California College of the Arts’ rigorous undergraduate Graphic Design program. My experience culminated with a Friday full of thesis presentations and and an evening exhibition/reception. It was nice going to sleep on Friday night not worrying about getting up the next day to work on my thesis project. While it is a great feeling of accomplishment to be done, I know that in reality this is only the beginning. And that is even more exciting.

Second, I designed the annual MINE™ holiday card that will be mailed out in the next week or two. Every intern during the fall/winter season gets that honor (along with assigning secret santas to Christopher’s family). The goal with each holiday card is to show the transition from one year to the next in an interesting manner. Once all the cards are mailed out and the recipients have a chance to read them, I will post a few images of my design. Here’s a clue in the meantime…


For those of you who have been following Christopher’s Just Design (formerly The Good Design Book) updates, today we made more progress on the book. I spent a good chunk of time helping with the index, making sure we correctly identify everyone mentioned across the almost 200 pages.

We started with the obvious listings— those designers and design studios with featured projects in the form of detailed insights and big colorful photographs. We realized, however, that there are other people mentioned, referenced, or quoted in some form or another that should also have a place in the index.

The process of defining the scope of the index quickly revealed itself to be a bigger task than originally thought. We proceeded with our original plan for the time being, but it sounds like we will go back and rethink our parameters in order to grow the index even more.

Inspiration to all

We are approaching the end of the year. For those people in school it is crunch time right about now. Don’t worry, you’ve got all next week to sleep. For those people out there working, it can get a little hectic managing workload and clients’ timeframes. If you cancel your vacation/travel plans to finish jobs in time, the chances are high that your clients will suddenly decide to take the next two weeks off. If you don’t cancel your vacation/travel plans, all egg nog might break loose at the office. Whatever your situation, whether student or pro, young or old, tall or short, there is nothing like a little dose of motivation to get through this time of year, especially when it comes in the form of:

Lessons daily

Today’s client meeting went well. We showed eight possible logo directions and a handful of color combination possibilities, and overall the client was quite pleased with the work. It’s always interesting hearing a client’s initial feedback, and it’s often apparent from their reactions whether you, as a designer, have successfully tapped into the thing(s) they are looking to convey with their business. A few of our directions were set aside in favor of others that were a bit more on target. At the end of the meeting, some good decisions were made as to which directions we would continue exploring.

I made a mistake during the meeting, though—one that no intern should ever make. We had gotten to a point in the conversation where the logos had been narrowed down to the top three. I had been listening/observing quietly for the bulk of the meeting, but the client suddenly asked which logo I preferred. While I was quick to express which one of the final three I was leaning toward, I felt that I did a poor job of articulating exactly why. That is the mistake— I didn’t come across as totally prepared to answer the question. Truth be told, it probably didn’t even come across as such. I just felt that I could have expressed my opinion in a clearer manner, and if it weren’t for me writing it down in this blog, nobody would ever give it a second thought.

As an intern, one should always be prepared for that situation, even if it never comes up. If you are never asked what you think during a meeting, you still need to know what you think and why you think it— for your own sake. Then, when you do get asked, be ready to speak out with confidence.

That time of year

We continued working on the new restaurant project today in preparation for a meeting with the client tomorrow. Even when I wasn’t participating directly, I took time to just observe how the elements were coming together and how Christopher was organizing and sequencing the actual presentation slides. In addition to getting the opportunity to work on “actual” design projects here as an intern, the observation and note-taking of these types of details are a very valuable aspect of the job. When one first starts dealing with clients outside of school work, there are a lot of questions about “how to present this”, “when to bring that up”, etc. that just can’t be replicated in a class. It is the little details like this that add a great deal to one’s design education.

It wasn’t all serious business today, however. Late in the afternoon, Christopher got off the phone with a client and informed us that we might have a book project coming up. There was a short pause, and then he followed up with, “It’s that time of year again.”

Without turning to look, I assumed he meant something like, “we always seem to get book projects around the holidays” and expected his follow-up to be along these lines. I was sure surprised when, instead of hearing him say something about the potential project, I hear a wooden “clink” sound just over my left shoulder. Turning, I see him with the classic wooden toy in hand, cup-and-ball (or ball in a cup):

Apparently “that time of year” refers to the MINE™ tradition (of sorts) of sharpening the ol’ skills with this fine precision toy instrument. This toy tool is indispensable in any graphic design studio, as it offers a way to sharpen one’s hand-eye coordination and mental and physical dexterity— always handy in crunch time. (“Okay, let’s see how many times I can make it before Acrobat opens.”)

I was curious about the design ratio of the object (ball to cup to string, etc) and did a little search, learning something new along the way: “Theory has infiltrated Cup and Ball design and will serve us well as we venture in the unknown.”

I guess looking back, it was all serious business at the office today.

Mum’s the word

The past couple of weeks here at MINE™ have seen us spending a good portion of our creative energy on a new project—the identity and overall look and feel of a brand new restaurant opening in San Francisco. I always find it interesting in writing a daily blog about my experience here at the studio, but understanding that specific projects can’t be discussed in detail until they reach a certain point in the process.

It’s hard sometimes to not jump right in and talk about the scope of the project, how we’re going about sketching for the logo, how awesome the client’s vision is, etc. Eventually we’ll get to that point, but because everything (and not just in terms of our work on the project—but everything, everything) is still so fresh, we need to stay a little vague for a while, which I of course completely understand.

This is one of those projects. We have been sketching logos with a variety of writing utensils, looking at a number of possible color palettes and how they might work in the interior space, prepping for our upcoming meetings with the client and architects, and just overall wanting the restaurant to be serving up some of its food already (!). As the project progresses I will be sure to fill in details here and there. For now, though, just picture in your mind awesomeness.

List less

Hi friends.

I have been out of the office the past couple of days, sick and listless on the couch at home. Before that, we had an extended weekend due to the Thanksgiving holiday. My fragmented work schedule will continue this week, as I am off tomorrow to work on my thesis project, and then will return Friday afternoon after class to help with a few things in the studio.

But in the meantime, I am here to tell you that I like lists. And here are a few things I did today. [more]

MINE™ Intern tip of the day™ No. 2

Modular carpet tiles—in the studio and in the home—can be a lifesaver with pets and small children around.

MINE™ Intern tip of the day™ No. 1

It is not a good idea to do street food visual research on an empty stomach.

Essential research

We took a little field trip today, enjoying time in the chilly-in-the-shade, warm-in-the-sun November weather while conducting some first hand research for a potential new client/project.

A little after 1 PM we piled into the Mini Cooper and made our way to our first stop, Saigon Sandwich, to pick up—what else—sandwiches. Lunch in hand, we headed over to the Lower Pacific Heights/Fillmore area and basked in the sun while eating our sandwiches and discussing the potential project in Alta Plaza Park. (We also discussed what it would be like to ride bikes and toboggan down the slopes of the park.) When our sandwiches were consumed we walked a few blocks for dessert at Tango Gelato, where we enjoyed the flavors of cardamon orange zest and [some other flavor that was really good] before heading back to the studio to finish out the day.


We have recently begun a project for an outstanding organization, Creativity Explored, a nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell art. They have about 120 artists working in their studios, ranging in age from 20 years to 82 years old. We are currently rethinking/redesigning their website and prepping for our next meeting with them.

Part of our work the last few days has been conducting research on unique and interesting approaches of information organization and navigation that are being used on the web today. It has been really inspiring seeing what other designers and developers are doing, sans flash. I start thinking about my own website and how I can incorporate or rework certain elements.

In addition to admiring the awesome designs of the sites themselves, it has also been great seeing work on display from across the globe. One project in particular caught my eye, from Yuri Suzuki (video after the jump). [more]

The gift of flight

Today we finished up the gift card designs for House of Air after receiving feedback and spending the afternoon making some modifications to one of the designs. We are going to submit two design directions to the company that produces the card—an “ace of penguins” playing card-inspired direction, and miniature boarding pass direction, to keep with the whole “giving flight to the flightless” theme. The cards will be ready just before the holiday rush next month.


I can’t believe that there is one month left in the school year (and until I am done with school for good), and just over a month left until the year 2011. One of the things that means is that my internship here at MINE™ will be coming to a close in early January. The 11th, to be exact. Man, time has flown. Today I fielded my first internship inquiry from an eager young student here in the city, which put my expiration date into clearer focus. (If you are interested in applying, give us a shout sooner than later!) It’s too soon for me to start reminiscing just yet, but I have really appreciated my time here at the office. It is a really great place to work/intern/learn. If you’re thinking about applying, do it now. It is going to get a little crazy around the holidays, so now is your chance. May the force be with you.

Bao wow

We had the pleasure of eating lunch today with CCA graduate and former MINE™ intern Heidi Reifenstein, who is in the process of packing up her stuff and moving to her home state of Alaska in a few weeks. I have met Heidi just once before, so it was nice to hear what she has been up to and what lies ahead for her. She’s great; check out her work.

As we were walking toward our chosen lunch spot for the day (a little place on 7th recommended by Frank La at Oscar Printing—where we stopped for a press check), we passed this bun truck. I have seen the truck around before, but didn’t know much about its story, so when we got back to the office we did a wee bit of research. Turns out there is a little “controversy” surrounding the truck and another bun truck owner in NYC with a menu item of the same name. You can read a little about it here and here and here. If nothing else, good for business, right?


Now boarding

This afternoon we started working on a quick project for House of Air. Due to their immense popularity since opening a couple of months ago, they will start offering gift cards in the upcoming weeks—perfect timing for the holidays. We have an opportunity to design the front and back of the cards, and one of the directions we are thinking of has to do with airline tickets. We pulled some examples of actual tickets as well as a few pieces from our archives where other firms have taken a similar approach.

Just another day at the office

So intense.

Nuthin but a [Kenny] G thang

Today was filled with all kinds of goodness. When I got into the office in the morning I had a few things to upload for a printer before heading out to CCA to visit Christopher’s Level 3 GD class. They are in the midst of a multifaceted project that requires the creation of a 30-second public service announcement, and I was stopping by to lend a hand with any Final Cut Pro or After Effects questions they had. Most people were doing fine and just getting hung up on some little things here and there, so I was glad to be able to help in any way I could.

Once back at the office, I packed and shipped an Everything is OK poster for a fan out in the DC area and filed some print samples in our somewhat-recently reorganized print sample storage area (always fun; love those boxes). Then for our mid-afternoon work break we created a little online Kenny G/Dr. Dre remix. Try it for yourself: Open this link and also this link and press play on both. So smooth.

A Stern meeting

After seeing the result of MINE™’s involvement with the Stern Grove Festival the past few years, today I got to be a part of a meeting to discuss the artwork for next year’s event. We trekked up the hill at lunchtime and met the Stern Grove folks at Liberty Cafe. [more]

One more…

My last post was slightly premature, as when I got into the office this morning I found out that I had one more task to complete with regards to the Realm Charter School project. Because of the somewhat complex nature of the three pieces and how they fit together, I needed to make one more comp of everything for the printer. The rep that we are working with stopped by this afternoon and got a first-hand view on how everything worked, and then took the comps to send to the rest of her team. We were initially going to just include an illustrated diagram on how everything folded together, but having the actual piece in your hand is just so much more helpful and could potentially save us a lot of headaches down the line.

In other news… [more]


Today was sort of a milestone for me. After an early morning meeting with Victor Díaz—who signed off on the final Realm Charter School booklet/poster/application designs—we wrapped up our work on the piece and prepped the files to send off to the printer. This is the first project during my time here at MINE™ that I have been a significant part of since day one—that I have seen through from its inception to its completion. It has been great seeing the process unfold, from the initial client meetings, to the photo shoots in Berkeley, to the actual rounds of design and writing. I am proud of the piece, and of my contribution to it, and am looking forward to getting a copy. I am also looking forward to the next round of Realm projects that come our way.

Peace, love, recycle

When I was younger I spent hours practicing my signature. I filled notebooks with my name rendered in different styles and with varying writing instruments. Because I had played sports since a wee lad—and knew I would be continuing as I grew older—I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have a sweet-looking autograph in case I started gaining a big fan following or they started making basketball cards with my picture on them.

Those two things never really happened (although I did design my own cards in middle school). Then, a few weeks ago I realized I could have spent all that practice time doing something else and just “borrowed” a “Justin” signature from somebody else, like James Victore:

Tuesday newsday

We have a pretty full week here at MINE™, but it’s been kind of a deceptive busy thus far. We’re not running around the studio in a mad rush, so to the outside observer it might seem like we’re a bit slow. That is not the case, however. [more]

‘Tis the season

Here we are in the last week of October. You know what that means…

Friendly skies

Today I called around to a handful of custom flag manufacturers here in the city, as we are looking into making a real life version of the flag featured in the newly completed Realm logo. Maybe it was just my lucky day, or maybe flag manufacturers in San Francisco really enjoy what they do, because the folks on the other end sounded very friendly and happy to speak with me. [more]

A list of events

Tuesday, October 19, Twenty Ten.

1. Got into the office this morning and tidied up from the previous day—filed away some print samples, entered some business card info into the database.

2. Started working on photograph edits for the Realm Charter School booklet. Then switched gears and began printing/comping the booklet/poster/application for Christopher’s early afternoon meeting in Berkeley. Christopher got back from CCA around 11AM, where he was a guest critique(r) for another Level 3 GD class. We made some changes to a few of the pieces and I continued comping them up.

3. Christopher headed out to the meeting with comps in hand, and I took a lunch break. PB&J. So good.

4. After lunch I worked on some basketball jersey designs. Switched the radio to some “70s greatest hits” and researched vintage basketball jerseys. Stumbled upon the Pittsburgh/Minnesota Pipers, which I didn’t know about before (my ABA knowledge isn’t too deep). Switched the radio to “90s pop classics” and realized some 90s pop songs give me a stomach ache while others make me smile.

5. Took a break from the jersey designs to watch excerpts from Rad. The two best songs ever recorded are featured in that film (it’s true).

6. Worked a little more on the jerseys, then packed up and heading out for the day (while it’s still light outside, even!).

Good good good

Since my last skateboard deck post, we have received three more completed boards. From left to right, some fine-tip brush work by Graham James, Art Director for FTC Skateboarding (spot all the letterforms?); a classic Sam Flores illustration with lush colors; and a clever submission by design firm NOON, showing a mastery of the woodburning tool. Nice.


Almost every day we get something interesting in the mail. Sometimes it is a big, shiny, bubble-wrapped envelope, sometimes it is a cardboard box with a hammer in it, and other times it is simply a nice piece of mail from a fellow design studio saying hello or recent graduate looking for work. Yesterday we received two such pieces (not the shiny envelope or hammer).

The first is a smartly designed invitation from the studio Dowling Duncan. On one side is a nicely typeset bio of one of the partners and a large embossed D. Flip the invite over and you find the bio of the second partner along with that same D now appearing debossed. Smart.

The second piece of mail is from a fairly recent design school graduate from the state of Ohio; a simple but well put together mini-package of work. The outer envelope has a paper band that wraps around the envelope and is a nice touch. It takes what would ordinarily be a gray envelope and elevates it just enough to become a little bit more.

Take stock

I got into the office this morning, filled the water pitcher with a fresh supply, and was about to sit down at my desk when I noticed on my chair sat a hardcover book. Whenever something is placed on my desk or chair, it usually means that it either needs be filed away, or entered into a database first and then filed away. Since Christopher was not around (teaching class at CCA) and would not be back for a few hours, I didn’t quite know if he wanted me to scan it into our Delicious Library, whether he had seen something in it that he simply wanted to reference for a specific project, or if it was just to be filed away onto the bookshelf. The book is titled The Art of the Market: Two Centuries of American Business As Seen Through Its Stock Certificates. I decided to spend a few minutes browsing through it, and while the book itself is fairly standard fare (feels slightly textbookish), the images in it are pretty amazing. Seeing how much detail has gone into these certificates over the years and imagining someone spending hours engraving this by hand is quite impressive. I asked Christopher about the book when he got back to the studio, and it turns out he had simply been browsing for another book, saw this one for $4 and thought, “why not?”

We believe

We are zeroing in on the final design for the REALM booklet. (Red Sharpie smiley face not included.) Spreading out sketches, notes, comps, etc out on the floor helps the process.

The best journeys

The other day I watched a documentary titled 180° South: Conquerors of the Useless, a film that follows adventurer Jeff Johnson deep into the heart of the Patagonia wilderness as he retraces the 1968 journey of Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins. It is a well made film that I recommend you check it out if you have the chance. There is a quote that stood out that I wanted to pass along, as I think it is applicable to creative endeavors. The quote especially resonates with me as my thesis class is in full swing…

“The best journeys answer the questions that in the beginning you didn’t even think to ask.”

At first it sounded a little Hallmark-y, but it does indeed ring true. This idea of just having a starting point—something that you are interested in or passionate about—and then jumping right in and doing things is one that comes across throughout the film, and is one that is reiterated time and time again by my thesis instructors, past thesis students, and other instructors that I speak to about the process. At first it can feel a little strange for some—or even backwards—to be asked to start making things before they have a perfectly formulated statement of what they are trying to accomplish. I think, though, that this quote encapsulates much of what the thesis class is getting at. In the process of trying things out that are in some way connected to your original starting place, no matter how unresolved that starting place may be, new ideas can shake loose and prompt you to go down paths that you would not have come across had you kept your thoughts inside your head.

How tall are you?

Here we are, back at it again. This is my first post in a few days as I was out all day Friday (thesis class at CCA), and we stayed working fairly late on Thursday night, taking care of some things for the REALM charter school project we’ve got rolling. Things are shaping up pretty nicely with it and I am looking forward to seeing the first final printed piece. We have some more revisions to make to the booklet before we send it out, however, and so today we headed out to Berkeley Tech to meet with Victor Diaz and take some photographs of students for the piece. Victor gave us some great feedback that he got from a small focus group of board members and parents, so we will be implementing some of those changes over the next few days. As far as the photo shoot, the kids were great. They are so photogenic and have such great energy that really gets communicated through their eyes. It will make for a much more compelling piece versus having stock photos or just a type only solution. It was fun talking to them during the shoot about odds and ends—whatever it took to get their minds off the fact that they were getting their picture taken; what sports they played, where they grew up, how tall they were (I like throwing the question back at people since I get it often; 6 foot 7 with shoes, if you’re asking). This project is one that feels good being a part of.

Graphic design is not interesting*

*thanks for the title, Mr. Oldham

I reread Craig Oldham’s 10 Penneth today while taking a break from some design work (because that’s what we do here at MINE™: design work). I really enjoy this collection of maxim-like statements and accompanying essays, and definitely recommend picking up a copy if you are able to do so (most likely this means ordering from him directly). Oldham starts off the collection with the above statement, then goes on to further explain his thoughts, including the sentence, “What makes Graphic Design interesting is not Graphic Design itself, rather what you communicate by using it, which changes every project—that’s the interesting part.”

This idea is one of his that I have found especially interesting as of late while beginning the new school semester. Thesis requires us to select a topic that we love/find interesting enough to explore the entire semester. This means, of course, that we can choose “Graphic Design” as a topic if we so desire. On one hand, I have heard people urge students to create a graphic design project about Graphic Design, reasoning that it would most likely be the only chance to explore the profession as a topic itself—”What a great opportunity to understand it better before entering the real, client-driven world,” being the reasoning. On the other hand, I have heard advice to not stay within a design bubble 24/7; to use design as the vehicle in which to explore some other topic or issue—one of the same points that Mr. Oldham makes. While I have enjoyed seeing thesis projects created along the lines of the first approach, I tend to favor the latter for myself, as I think the feat of learning about a new topic/issue is a rich activity when it exists with and informs one’s studies in making things (ie, design).

Plus, when you are at a holiday party you might have more interesting conversations when you can weigh-in on the updated methods scientists are employing to unearth new species of dinosaurs vs. explaining to people the history of such and such typeface (the glassy-eyed head nod doesn’t mean they want you to go into greater detail).

Angel in the office

A smorgasbord of activity was on the menu for today, beginning with a little packing and shipping of some Collector Plates and World’s Greatest Mugs. Lately these have been leaving the studio at a fairly swift pace, so if you’re thinking about picking one or both up, do it now while they’re still in stock! (wink, wink.)

I also worked on some logo sketches for the REALM charter school project. I scribbled out some initial ideas on paper, took a lunch break, then came back and explored my ideas a bit more. Christopher then came over and we reviewed what I had roughly sketched, looked at what we had done last week, and then made decisions as to the most interesting ideas to explore further. I then scanned the sketch of one of my better ideas and got it to a point in Illustrator where we can present to the client. Tomorrow we’ll pick up where we left off.

A little earlier in the day, we were paid a visit by Graham James, Art Director for FTC Skateboarding, and his beautiful Siberian Husky, Angel. This dog had the brightest blue eyes and softest coat of fur that I have seen in a while (the pictures don’t quite do her justice). Plus she was very well-behaved, even with the scent of the cat everywhere. Graham dropped off his skateboard submission and we spent a few minutes chatting with him before they headed out. It was a nice surprise visit.

Good good good good good

When I got to the studio this morning there were a couple more skateboards that had been delivered over the weekend (I mentioned them in last Thursday’s post). That bumps up the count to five that we have in our possession, with more on the way. (From left to right, in order of arrival: Robynne Raye, James Victore, The Decoder Ring Design Concern, Frank Chimero, and Michael Hodgson.) Every day I come into the studio I look forward to our friendly neighborhood postman paying us a visit because of the possibility of him delivering a new board.

This afternoon we spent some time brainstorming possible titles for Christopher’s latest book. Several names have already been proposed to the publisher; they came back with some ideas of their own, and so now we’re approaching the last round of back and forth, most likely reaching a conclusion this time tomorrow. If I am allowed to reveal the chosen name then, I will post it here. We shall see!


This post should be about a penny

Packing galore today. My job was to take care of things that I haven’t been able to get to the past few days due to our busy schedule the past week or so, and mainly that meant a little packing and shipping. It is easy to underestimate the time it takes to fill out competition entry forms (either online or on paper), attach forms to backs of entries, include x-number of extra copies of entry forms, print, pack, label, run to the post office to ship. Whew. It’s a good thing this doesn’t happen everyday. On top of taking care of the competition submission entries, we also sold a number of our World’s Greatest Mugs and Collector Plates, so those needed to be packed up and shipped as well. It’s pretty cool, though, thinking about the fact that in a few days someone in Ireland is going to start sipping tea out of one of our mugs.

We also spent time working out the details for our skateboard design for the upcoming charity fundraiser with House of Air. It is going to be pretty nice if we can pull it off—which shouldn’t be too, too much of a problem. We also got emails from Frank Chimero and Mick Hodgson, and they both included pictures of their completed boards. Nice stuff, and once we get them in the mail next week I will post photos.


I mentioned yesterday that we had our first presentation to a new client in which we actually showed pieces of design. We spent a few hours here in the studio with the client and overall it was a very productive meeting. Rather than select one option outright, the client liked different aspects of each piece (I have noticed over the past couple years that this seems to happen often), but luckily we had already built into each direction this ability to kind of mix and match. So we will spend the next several days taking the feedback and pushing things to new realms.

In other news, a new skateboard came in the mail the other day. This time it came from the folks at The Decoder Ring. Sweet.


We spent the day at MINE™ preparing for a client presentation scheduled tomorrow afternoon. We have met on a few occasions with this particular client, and tomorrow is the first day that we will be showing design directions for essentially a multi-page booklet. We will show a few different variations and propose some specific materials and formats that will help keep costs to a minimum and hopefully create a piece that will be most compelling for its intended audience. This project is the first wave of several more that we will be working on with the client as the weeks and months go by. This is the first project that I have seen and been involved with from the very beginning; new client, new project, the whole thing. I submitted one design direction, and even if it is not the one the client goes with, it was good to think about how I might translate a particular message or feeling to the page. It will be even more interesting to see/hear how the client responds to all of the directions, and ultimately the reasons for choosing one. I’m excited to see how it goes tomorrow.

A long history

Today consisted of a lot of tiling for the 35-foot long timeline we are designing for House of Air. When it was all put together and unrolled, it stretched from my chair inside to the sidewalk outside the front door. I wanted to get a photo of the outdoor portion spilling into the street, but the wind was having other thoughts. So these will have to suffice.


Yesterday was the beginning of a brand new semester at California College of the Arts; just like any ol’ other semester, I guess, except this one is the last one of my student career and it feels a little different. It’s funny, just yesterday I asked Christopher if he ever gets nervous as an instructor before meeting his new class. I mentioned that usually at the beginning of each semester I feel some butterflies about the unknown ahead of me, but that they quickly dissipate as things get underway. And you know, I wasn’t nervous at all about this semester until last night. Now I’m feeling a little uncertain, a little nervous, but I have one more day to get certain. My only class, Thesis, meets on Friday. We were given the word “enough” to guide us in our selection of a thesis topic—one that will become a part of our lives in a big way over the next few months. Today in the office Christopher made sure to bring up the word every chance he could. Several of our discussions this afternoon seemed to always lead back to it—or at least bring it up along the way. It’s been in the back of my mind all day (actually, on several occasions moving up to the very forefront.) So now I am off for the day, about to head home and make sure that when Friday comes I will be as prepared as I can be. The only way to take care of the butterflies is to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Decked out

One of the projects we are working on with House of Air is a fundraiser for local charities that will take the form of an auction of custom one-off skateboard decks. We asked a handful of artists and designers (twelve to be exact) if they would contribute to the cause, and we are now starting to see the decks trickle back to us in the mail. Last week, Robynne Raye of Modern Dog alerted us via Facebook that her board was complete (hers is the board on the left). Then, just this morning, the postman rung the doorbell with a box from James Victore, with his completed board safely packed inside (his is on the right). I will keep you updated as more come in.

It’s an exciting time to be a skateboard deck.


Some of the most insightful talks that I have heard and books I have read have come when the person writing or speaking lets you in on not just their successes but also their failures. With design-related talks and books, it’s inspiring to hear about all the ups and downs, highs and lows of their experience, rather than sitting through a recount of greatest hits. Friend of the studio, and CCA instructor Bob Aufuldish gave such a talk about a year ago. It was one of the best talks I have heard and I find myself at various times thinking about different parts of it as I carry out my work.

This post is in no way meant to be inspirational, and in no way am I on the same level as Bob Aufuldish or any of the designers that I would find in the books hinted at above, but using the spirit of the that idea as a starting point, here is a list of things that I failed to do this week. [more]


(I didn’t run this blog entry by Christopher today as I am writing it after hours, so I hope he doesn’t mind me posting these non-studio images. I’ll find out tomorrow. Fingers crossed.)

The beginning of the Fall school semester is right around the corner. Classes at CCA start next Tuesday, which means I will be finishing out my last few months at MINE™ on an adjusted work schedule. Instead of coming in all day, every day, I will be shifting primarily to a four-day work week with some three- and possibly even two-dayers thrown in as need be, depending on my workload. I only have one remaining class, but it’s a significant one: Thesis (notice it has a capital T? Now that’s serious). We meet every Friday, all day long. I’ve got one week until it’s time to roll!

It is going to be interesting to see how the Fall differs from the Summer in terms of overall flow here at the office. Christopher will be gone for chunks of time when he’s teaching classes at CCA and tending to other school matters. For the past couple years he’s been teaching a Level 2 Graphic Design course, and this semester is his first at Level 3. Having had his Level 2 class, and then progressing through the GD program, I am interested in seeing the projects he’ll have his students work on, and ultimately how he likes this level compared to the one he was teaching previously.

I bring up school partially because today I was only at MINE™ for half the day. As part of CCA’s Sputnik team last semester, I designed artwork for the upcoming Faculty Exhibition. So today, I left work early to install signage at the gallery on the Oakland campus. (MINE™, by the way, has a piece on display). I had a certain window of time that I needed to be on campus, and Christopher was kind enough to allow me to cut out early in order to make it happen. Since my entire afternoon was taken up by this task, here are a few images from the process.

Again, this is not work done here at the studio. This was done by me for CCA.

Instead of a postcard announcing the show, the school wanted something more functional; a bookmark. To make it a bit more interesting, I proposed that we create a series of individually numbered bookmarks that could then be tiled together to form the show’s wall graphic at the gallery. The trick was that [more]

Approaching final countdown

We are approaching the finish line—or rather the countdown for launch—with House of Air and things are getting busy. While the construction of the space is continuing forward at a rapid pace to meet the September 15 opening date, there have inevitably been many little changes to a lot of the elements that we have been working on—signage tweaks left and right, edits to artwork for shirts, stickers, and other merchandise, adventures to the library and Presidio Archives in attempt to secure high-resolution images for a historical timeline. Everyone in the office has been working most of the week on one aspect of the project or another. It is all coming together, though, and building 926 should be a pretty crazy place beginning in a few weeks. [more]

Big winners

There is an interesting article and ensuing discussion on the Design Observer website today, titled “Death to Design Awards.” Check it out if you haven’t already.

I think the discussion is particularly interesting to designers just starting out, or who are still finishing school, where design awards often seem very attractive as confirmation of our existence in the field and as nice material for the ol’ resume. And the only way to get design awards is to enter design competitions. During a typical semester at school, we will get a few emails from administration alerting us to the deadlines of various competitions and encouraging us to submit work. The prospect becomes more enticing when the school is able to pay for the entry and shipping fees. Some schools make a very concentrated, seemingly institutional-wide effort to submit their students’ work. Just in the same way that design competitions are big money makers for the organizations that put them on, competitions can also be big money makers marketing campaigns for educational institutions, as a way to entice young creative folk to fork over the dough enroll in their fine hubs of learning and culture.

Any time I flip through the student awards section of various design magazines (which isn’t often), I notice that a lot of the winners seem to be coming from a small handful of schools. Issue after issue. To the uninformed, it would appear that there are just a few great design schools out there; schools that squash the competition and rack up all the awards. The truth is, of course, that we only ever see a tiny fraction of the total amount of great work, as a lot of stuff doesn’t get entered in the first place. CCA, for example, while every now and then will send us competition announcements, does not seem to place too much emphasis on winning design awards. I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but in talking with other students at school, it isn’t really that much of a focus for them. What is interesting, though (or actually, not that interesting), is that almost all of my instructors (who I have loved having as instructors) have won an award or two or several.

Maybe we should abolish the competitions and establish a group that patrols the world, dishing out awards where they deem fit. It becomes illegal to enter yourself into a competition. Instead, someone else has to tip off this secret patrol group of your whereabouts and design doings. The group then investigates, undercover-like, and the next morning you wake up with a medal hanging from your lemon tree. Or maybe the design profession should adopt a system of awards similar to the performance-based pay system that many want to establish for school teachers. The higher the students score on standardized tests, the higher your salary. The more money that the company you designed the letterhead for makes that year, the shinier your medal. That way, it’ll be obvious which designers deserve the gold medals, right? No more subjective crap. Company with the biggest profit = designer with the biggest medal. Simple.

Hmm, now this secret patrol group will most likely need a logo

United Stats

I have not spent too much time since I’ve been here at MINE™ looking at the Google Analytics for the blog. Every once in a while I have found it interesting to see how people are getting to the site, where they are coming from, how many pages they check out, etc. However, it is just not something I pore over like it helps me breathe (maybe if we were getting a million hits a day the data would be more diverse). Today, though, I will post just a few “highlights” (ooh, exciting) from the blog’s traffic data over the past month. [more]


Back in the day, about a year and a half ago while in Level 2 in the Graphic Design program at CCA, the teaching assistant for my class handed us this list of 13 guidelines [more]


I came across this scrap of paper in the comp room. The rest of the text had been chopped off, but it was obviously the tail end of a sentence about design thinking.

With a slight modification, scientific evidence of the redundancy of the term.

Pass the marshmallows

One of the benefits of working in shady Bernal Heights becomes crystal clear on days like this. The thermometer outside is hovering in the 90s (weak, I know), but here we are inside the studio with our delicious mugs of hot cocoa and vintage sweaters—a brisk 56 degrees.

Actually, it is not that cold in here, but it is true that I was a bit on the chilly side at one point in the day, wishing I had brought my sweatshirt with me. (Yesterday I did actually put my long sleeves on in the afternoon. Then again, I am sick, so the measurement is skewed.)

So thinking that a walk outside in the sunshine would do some good for my cold, I felt the real temperature of the day (closer to 100 on pavement), getting a little toasty traversing the hills of Bernal on foot. While it was nice to be out and about, it felt particularly good to get back inside the cool confines of the studio. Plus, I got an extra 3 hours of sleep last night, and woke up feeling better. As I was making my way into work this morning, I realized that I grossly undervalue the importance of sleep and downtime.

Blah! It’s Monday

I am sick today and while it could be much worse, it is still not too pleasant. [more]

Boom! It’s Friday

Waffles up

I went to eat yesterday with some fellow interns and classmates at CCA. We sat against a brick wall and had ourselves some [more]

Taking flight

Since we were out of the office most of yesterday, here now are a few photos from our excursions…

We spent the afternoon checking out the progress on the House of Air construction:



Today was a bit different from a typical MINE™ workday. We were hardly in the studio at all; about an hour in the morning, then about 45 minutes around lunchtime, and finally again for about an hour at the end of the day. Instead, we paid visits to a couple of clients and met with them in their own spaces. Even though we had a lot to do at the studio, it was a nice change to get out and about. I will post some pictures from our trips tomorrow.

We started the day by heading over to Berkeley to meet with Victor Diaz. He is a man with a vision (watch more about him here) and with a great group of people supporting his quest to establish Berkeley’s first charter school. It’s exciting to be a part of this project and see the passion oozing from Diaz and his crew. We ended the day by heading over to the Presidio, where construction is in full-swing at building 926, home to House of Air. It was my first trip to the site, and it’s exciting to know that the place will be open to the public in a matter of weeks.

Again, photographs of the day to come tomorrow. Good night!

Sounds like a fruit to me

Here again, a random selection of notes jotted down from the past week or so.

SPAM 02510 popped up on the caller ID at one point this week when the phone rang… funny. Christopher saw it, and possibly with flashbacks of this running through his head, said that he would answer it. Sadly (or thankfully?), no such interaction occurred this time.

One of the great things about design is being able to ask dumb questions in a strategic manner. Great insight that can be applied to a number of business—and life—applications.

Two is a company. Three is a crowd. I wanted some input on a question/decision I had last week; should I grab drinks with friends after work, or go to an AIGA talk? Since there were three people around, I applied this logic to the [more]


The sample archive shelves in the garage have been re-organized for a few days now, but the last of the labels were applied this morning.

Here is what things look like now:

And in case you missed it, here is what the situation was before:

What’s old is up

One of the great things about working with a diverse range of clients is getting the opportunity to learn about a diverse range of topics. For the past several months, MINE™ has been working with House of Air, a state of the art trampoline park that will be opening this fall in a former airplane hanger in the Presidio. We have been involved in many aspects of the project, and most recently have begun designing a timeline of a history of Crissy Field that will exist there inside the building. A big part of the task involves research. The good folks at House of Air pulled a number of historic images, and we have been digging through archives as well, slowly starting to construct a visual and written narrative of the place. It has been pretty outstanding seeing some of these images and hearing the stories of the area over time. As a bonus, we (or at least I) learned some new things about San Francisco’s Trafficways plan from the late 40s and the Freeway Revolt in 1959 and early 60s. Quite interesting.

I’m getting more and more excited for this trampoline park to open.

I scream…

All this week I have been wanting ice cream. The craving has grown with each passing hour. I drink water to try and distract myself, but it just hasn’t been working. I flip through print samples and design books to take my mind off it. No dice. I think all my mention of it this week has caught on here at the studio, because yesterday at the end of the day we decided that today we would go out for lunch and then ice cream. So at about noon-thirty we headed up the hill for lunch at Liberty Cafe, with plans to grab ice cream at MaggieMud afterwards. Since we had to be back at the studio for a client meeting, we decided to drive instead of making the trek on foot like we normally do.

We park; pay the meter. Eat Lunch. Skip dessert. Liberty Cafe has ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery on their dessert menu, but I was set on getting some Salty Caramel on a waffle cone from MM. Pay the bill; drive down the street. Park; pay the meter. Sinking feeling as we cross the street to MaggieMud. Lights are off. Nobody inside. Closed. What!? 59-degrees on a cloudy summer San Francisco day and the ice cream shop isn’t open? What is the world coming to!