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.


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.


Screen shot 2013-04-02 at 10.58.07 AM

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



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.



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.



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.


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.

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…


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.

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!


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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]

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.

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).

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.


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.

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]


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]


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!

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.


Color correction. I spent a good portion of today continuing to prepare photos for the new website. No magic here, just good old fashioned Photoshop work; just like your grandparents showed you. We also had a visit from a recent design graduate out of the state of Washington. I always enjoy it when people stop by to show their work, especially because I am in the process of putting together an “official” portfolio for myself, and because I will probably be in a similar situation at the start of next year. It’s nice to see how others present themselves and their work.

If you haven’t heard yet, Christopher finished the writing for his latest book last night. This afternoon we spent some time helping him brainstorm for a few final details, but the bulk of the work is done. Keep checking in on the Good Design Book blog because there is going to be more activity on those pages. We talked about a few contests and activities/events surrounding the book… I’ll stay hush for now so as not to steal Christopher’s thunder. Just stay alert.


One of the jobs in the works here at the studio has a component that requires us to create 15 or so small (nickel-sized) icons that will be used in a clients’ conference/training materials. Each icon will represent a particular step or activity in the training, and will allow participants to easily locate and [more]

Friday roundup

A modest collection of phrases and images for this Friday’s roundup post. I was in the office just four days this week after returning to foggy and cold San Francisco from a week-long trip to the hot and sunny Pacific Northwest.

01.  While in Seattle last week, I stopped by and visited with friend of the studio Robynne Raye of Modern Dog in their studio. She was very kind for taking a few minutes out of a busy day to show me around. It was also awesome that only half of our conversation was about design—the other half was about, get this, dogs! (I like dogs, so this was win-win.)

02. “This is going to be my legacy to you.” While working in InDesign with Christopher next to me directing me on a particular edit for a client, I began to replace an element on the page with another, forgetting a shortcut technique that he had shown me several weeks before. This was his friendly comment to me before reminding me of the shortcut.

03. We were silently working the other day when Christopher suddenly told us of a thought he had that morning while getting ready for the day. It was about the saying, “the past helps us understand the present.” He offered up the reasoning that it might be, in fact, the opposite that is true; that the present helps us to understand and make sense of the past. I eventually concluded that there is no such thing as the present; that instead we exist in a rapid sequence of “pasts.”

Such are the conversations that randomly occur every now and then here at MINE™.

Penguins + skulls

= hang time.

Today I spent the bulk of my time working on some logos/artwork for House of Air. A little something extra that might grace the surfaces of t-shirts and head protection gear. I got to do a little research on the bone structure of penguins to inform the creation of the work—sweet. We’ll find out in the next few days what the HOA folks think, but it’s all looking pretty nice. Also in the works is a classy red carpet gala/grand opening invitation for another client.

Overall there was a lot of activity today. Christopher is in the process of writing a book, and a lot of his focus the last few days has been directed toward that endeavor—on top of all the day to day details of running a studio. I’m realizing that one of the big challenges in the “real world” (post-school) is in fact balancing all of the daily tasks, client interactions, emails to answer, etc with the creative work—whether it be designing or writing or whatever; the process of making time to think/create amidst the hubbub of the everyday.We also had a potential new client come in for a first meeting. It’s an awesome project from a pretty inspirational guy, so I’m excited to see what happens moving forward.


Whoa, it’s like I went through a time warp. I go to sleep after a day’s work and when I when I sit back down to blog, two weeks have passed! My apologies for the moment of silence to all of the loyal blog followers out there (I’m especially looking at you, Pennsylvania—keep the visits coming).


Time is…

One of the things we’ve discussed in my Transitioning to Professional Practice class and that I am experiencing in my internship here at MINE™ is the idea that when you’re working for someone else, in their studio, your time is no longer your own. When you start a project, you can no longer approach it in the same way that you might approach a project for school—time-management wise. In school, you might get a new project brief toward the end of a class session, and then have at least a whole day or two before you have to show anything new. In a studio setting, you get the project brief (or direction from a creative director) and in most instances need to start working right away. As students I think many of us are used to working late at night and into the wee hours of the morning, or at particular times we feel most creative or productive. The adjustment moving forward, of course, is how to be creative and productive at any point during the day—especially if working for someone else—and how to overcome any creative blocks along the way. I think showers might play an integral role here.

Rapid rewards

Today I spent most of my time working on design directions for the exhibition catalog project I mentioned the other day. I am very excited about this project and am looking forward to when we get feedback from the client. One of the things that has been nice is finding a way to work around the budget constraints and real-world printing logistics. That’s one of the things that feels so rewarding to me—finding a way to get it done within the constraints. [more]


Happy Monday evening to all MINE™ fans and friends out there. We have some new projects on the horizon and spent a little quality time with a few of them today. One is an upcoming exhibition catalog. I read through several pieces of information on the exhibition and did some research surrounding some of the topics and concepts addressed in the show. Because it’s still early in the process I can’t divulge too much information, so in the meantime I will (hopefully) pique your interest with the following project I came across during my research.

This project is from a group of design students in Denmark. Dubbed the ecochair, it is a “multi-functional piece of furniture… made of a 100% cotton mattress and a frame of reusable corrugated cardboard.” (Image below from their website.) The video on their site is also worth having a look!

Properly formatted

One of the things that has been on my mind recently is the upcoming creation of a portfolio of my (mostly student) work over the past few years while at CCA. I will receive my degree at the end of this year (knock on wood), and am currently enrolled in a class called Transitioning to Professional Practice, in which the actual creation of said portfolio takes place. In addition to an online portfolio, we are creating a printed piece, despite the fact that these may be becoming more and more irrelevant in searching for work. There is definitely less emphasis placed on them, at least. Still, a succinct printed presentation of ones work can make a [more]


In addition to reading this post, be sure to also make time for Part II—the conclusion—of Christopher’s Design Business + Ethics entry.

When the mail came around mid-day, there was a small poster tube in the pile. Those are always exciting. In it was this small poster by Julian Hansen, loosely based on FontShop’s 100 Best Typefaces. If you’re ever feeling stuck as to which typeface to use on a project, look no further! It’s full of helpful decision-making questions to lead you to that perfect typeface for the job. For example, You cried when watching the Terminator? Yes or No. 

This morning began with some revisions to the Singularity University banners. Before we left the studio last night we got additional feedback on a few changes to make, so getting those done was the first order of the day. These banners are going to be printed large and displayed at the NASA Ames campus as a way to highlight and identify several areas of study during their Graduate Studies Program this summer—from renewable energy production, to the frontiers of space flight, to food production for large cities. It was/is a great opportunity to use bold, eye-catching color schemes for the banners. They’re turning out to be quite vibrant. The client really liked them. Each component of the Program curriculum is identified by a particular color and represented with a specific icon. These icons will also appear as a group on t-shirts of the same colors. At one point in the day Christopher made the comment that it was kind of nice using colors that the studio maybe doesn’t normally use—or hasn’t used a lot of in the past. I haven’t used some of the colors in any of my work, either. It got me thinking about a question Jon Sueda brought up in my Typography class last semester. He asked us if we had any particular methods for working with or selecting color. Some people (myself included) seemed tended to gravitate toward certain colors or palettes, but nobody had a particularly strong criteria for selecting them, other than just gut feeling and whether it seems appropriate.

So, to anyone out there reading, do you have any particular methods for selecting or working with color?

Design business +

I will keep today’s post short so as to encourage you to read this timely entry from Christopher. I encourage you all to post your thoughts to that one.

Here at the studio today I spent most of the day helping out on a project for Singularity University. I have been sketching, designing and revising a series of large banners and t-shirt graphics for their upcoming Graduate Studies Program. It is the first time that I have been this involved, contributing to the design of each piece, presenting variations to Christopher, etc. I have had to adjust a little to the process, but I think I am starting to feel a little more comfortable. I have realized that it can be helpful to set a time limit, and after that time is up, get some feedback on the progress made. In certain instances, this can be a real timesaver, preventing me from going down a path that I don’t really need to be going down.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part II of the above link.

Friday fan day

Some of you may have noticed over the past couple months on Facebook that MINE™ has been looking for suggestions on stuff to give away once the 1,000 Facebook-fan mark is reached. There have been a handful of suggestions—a few being a jar filled with 1,000 black and white jelly beans (from Brett MacFadden); an ipad (totally reasonable request by Omar Dbeis); each of the posters the studio has printed (thanks, Kate Earhart El-Bizri)—all equally excellent suggestions, no doubt.

Well, earlier this week we hit the magic number (woo hoo!). We decided against the ipad route and spent some time scouring the archives to pull some posters, stickers, and a few surprise items; it was a pretty fun task. Today we finished picking all of our lucky winners by way of a random, but highly structured, process. It was even more entertaining selecting the winners. The first thing we did was open the Fans window in Facebook. This window only shows a small portion of the total number, so we figured out how many of these subsets existed that made up our total fan count. Based on those figures, we began a scholarly, well-respected technique for determining number pairs. It went like this: Justin, pick a number between 1 and 10. Okay, now pick a number between 1 and 100.

After several rounds of this we had our winners, but in number only. The next, and longest step, was to use our previously identified window subsets and manually find out exactly who 3, 44 and friends were, and then getting a mailing address from them. If we encountered any problems—like the person not allowing any emails via Facebook—rather than simply choosing the next person on the list, we would use our 1-thru-10 number and move down that many steps to the next person. Needless to say, it was a very exciting system, and the suspense kept building as the number of available prizes dwindled. As we were selecting, an interesting thing happened. The fan count began to increase fairly significantly in a short amount of time, dropping people into different number slots. This just made it more exciting—like hitting a moving target!

So to all you winners out there, the faster you reply the faster you’ll get the goods!

Is this yours®?

In addition to a number of small-ish tasks that got taken care of today in the studio, there was plenty more discussion and design surrounding MINE™’s new future website. One of the interesting topics that came up—one that I hadn’t really previously considered—is the idea of balancing one’s personal communication (and to a certain extent, work) with a studio’s own communication (and work).

This is especially applicable with a studio such as MINE™ that has multiple streams of information constantly flowing to the outside world—the main studio website, this intern blog, the studio’s facebook page, Christopher’s CCA blog and his twitter feed, etc. If an employee of an active studio like this is extremely active as well, and accustomed to posting links/images/articles throughout the day, at what point do they stop [more]

uu uu uu dot com

Smells like the Internets up in here (said in this manner). All kinds of discussion today about MINE™’s upcoming website redesign. Questions (and some answers) about user experience(s), specific work to highlight, integration with other channels of info (social media, blogs)… goodness in the works!

Potential New client

In the words of our good buddy Ice Cube, Today was a good day.

Mid-morning we got a call from that potential client I mentioned on Monday. Christopher got on the line with him and went upstairs to talk about the proposal he had spent a good chunk of time crafting after the meeting. After a long while he came back down and revealed the good news. We got the job! Sweet. I am really excited to see how this thing unfolds over the next several months. Once the ball gets rolling further, I will fill in some more details. Stay tuned.

As many of you know, Christopher is an adviser to Project M and Tim was a participant down in Hale County, Alabama a few years ago. I don’t have quite as strong of a link to John Bielenberg or Project M, although I did participate in a mini “M Blitz” at the end of 2009 while in Eric Heiman’s level three class at CCA. Well, today we had the pleasure of chatting via Skype with a few current Project M’ers in Alabama. One of them is a classmate of mine on hiatus from school for a bit while doing his thing down in AL. (Hi Matt, aka matt_in_black.) They are part of a team involved in a variety of community projects, but one of the problems they are running into is distinguishing themselves and their scope of work from other, affiliated groups. So who better to contact for advice than the masterminds of identity, MINE? Some really good and smart ideas were generated during the brief conference call. Matt, keep me updated on what happens with it!

The bizniz

Today was awesome. We had a potential new client come in and meet with us over tea for a few hours in the morning. It was exciting for me to be able to listen to, and even participate in the conversations at this really early stage. Plus, the person we met with was real cool, and the business pretty sweet. It would awesome if we end up being selected for the job. Christopher will be spending the next few days writing a proposal, and hopefully we will find out soon. Exciting stuff, no doubt! One of the items on my list of “things I would like to learn/do while at MINE™” that I gave to Christopher is to be a part of a project from A to Z, from its inception to its completion. Maybe this could be the project.

The whole business side of the job is fascinating to me. The presentations and meetings, the creation of proposals—basically everything needed to be done (aside from doing great design) to successfully run a business. One of the things that is hard to simulate in school is this client interaction. I love the assignments I have gotten in school, have loved getting up and speaking about my work, and have learned some invaluable lessons. But creating your own fictitious ________(insert event/publication/etc here) and creating an air-tight, compelling story to inform or back-up your design choices is one thing (a fun one at that). The added variable of a client, and the direction that a project can take based on the clients’ interaction can be quite a different experience. The quote on the back of Dan and Andre’s book Never Sleep (which I have received three copies of as gifts recently) comes to mind: There is a major disconnect between the life of a design student and the transition to being a design professional. I guess you could say that a big part of my internship here at MINE™ is to help with the bridging of that gap.

Road construction

This morning before heading in to the studio, I decided I would try to run an errand that I didn’t get to last night. I left a few minutes before my regular departure time to compensate for the additional driving. The problem, however, is that I allowed just the correct amount of time for a flawless trip—a trip that doesn’t take into account unforeseen circumstances like weird traffic patterns or construction. So, as luck/fate would have it, I did indeed encounter a few obstacles. Literal ones. The first was a block of road construction just getting underway, funneling traffic down to just one lane. A cop was directing traffic by hand which slowed things down a bit more. Second, because my journey placed me in a different part of town (a much more populated part of town) from where I normally get on the freeway near my house, there were many more people trying to squeeze onto the on-ramp. I would say that it took 4x as long just to get on the freeway this morning. This shift in timing to a later freeway departure made a huge difference in the time it took to get to the studio. A few minutes makes a big difference in how many cars are on the road during the morning commute hours. It took me twice as long to get to the studio this morning, and I ended up getting here a little late.

One of the lessons that can be taken away from this experience, and how it relates to design (and just life in general, I guess), is that it’s wise to leave enough time for unexpected things to occur during the process of making or doing. Don’t factor in a “just-right” amount of time to get things done, if you can help it. Instead, it’s best to build in a buffer that will allow you to respond and adapt to any obstacles that might be thrown your way or mistakes that are made. And, as often happens in life, these obstacles and mistakes are indeed often encountered. It might also allow you to explore a different path that reveals itself during the process—a path that you were not aware of previously.

The longest hour

I know you’ve seen the new Stern Grove poster. It’s sweet. If you haven’t yet, visit that link for a moment. The technique Yulia Brodskaya is flexing her superior skills with is called quilling. We had a brief history lesson today courtesy of the Internets, and learned at one point in Europe quilling was thought to be one of the “few things ladies could do that was thought not too taxing for their minds or gentle dispositions.” Hmm, I wonder what Yulia would say to that statement, because from my seat her illustration looks like it would take the mind of a razor sharp paper-ninja.

When I got in this morning, I completed some typical early-morning intern tasks: printed some labels, filed away some print samples, churned some butter. A good chunk of the day, however, was spent by all working on various aspects of the Stern Grove Festival project. Tim was busy working out the type for large signage, several versions of some shirts, and about a hundred other things. About midday Christopher and Tim had me trace the edges of paper within the Stern Grove poster. At first I just did one section to give them an idea of whether it was working and whether or not I should continue. It looked pretty nice, so the plan was for me to spend the next hour or so finishing off the rest of it. But I tell you what, those paper lines just kept coming and coming! It took slightly longer than an hour. The process of tracing became almost a meditative one as I located each edge of the pieces of paper and tried to match its path. I then passed it off to Tim who began integrating into the work he was doing. It looked pretty sweet; hopefully the client thinks so as well. Time will tell!

Happy birthday to Amelie today!

Push things forward

Today was a humbling one for me. At the end of the day yesterday I found out that I would be working on some graphics for a t-shirt; a project that previous intern Reena had begun. The client responded to the first round of submissions and we had some feedback to move forward with. It’s not an overly complicated project by any stretch of the imagination, but I found myself struggling to work fast and just get it done. It’s insightful to see the differences between school projects, where you might have a big chunk of time dedicated to brainstorming, then sketching, then revisions, etc. Here “in the real world” that process just has to be condensed into a much shorter timeframe, and after working most of the day today, I just need to get better and faster. That’s why I’m here. Theme song for my ride home.


Friday was a rather eventful day, and I didn’t even have to step foot inside the office (hence the blog entry about Friday today). Before I left for the evening on Thursday, Christopher mentioned that we’d be heading down to Palo Alto in the morning for the Opening Day of the’s new digs (Building 550, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford). MINE™, if you recall, recently completed a project for the, which I, and many others in attendance today got to see for the first time.

So on Friday I met Christopher outside of Building 550 at 9:30am (I decided to commute by train + bicycle) and we signed-in and got assigned to teams. I had initially thought I was going down there to hear some introductions to the new building and to meet some people, but I soon realized I was wrong. (I should have known better from description of “ hootenanny” in the studio’s calendar.) I was now the newest member of “Team 7″ and was being directed to quickly customize my name tag before joining the rest of my team already underway upstairs. For the next 3 hours I got to experience a good dose of design thinking fundamentals in the form of a hands-on design challenge dubbed “Reboot Camp.” My team consisted of a Clorox marketing person, three Stanford professors, and of course little ol’ me, Intern™. Through a flurry of idea generation, rapid note-taking, strategizing, prototyping, testing, revision and reflection, we participated in a project centered around engaging 10,000 kids for 90 minutes a day over the entire summer, as part of a volunteer program. One of the coolest parts of the challenge was having a group of 5th graders come into the room to test out our prototypes and give feedback.

After lunch we attended a small workshop conducted by the editors of Ambidextrous, Stanford’s Journal of Design. There were about 10 of us at this particular workshop, and the goal was to redesign/rethink the magazine specifically for someone else in the room. We paired off and had 5 minutes each to interview the other person. Based off this brief exchange we then had 10 minutes to quickly sketch/construct a prototype of our customized magazine. I have to admit, at first I was a little nervous at being put in this situation with such a small amount of time to work, in a small space, knowing that I’d then have to get up and share it with working professionals. But what nerves did exist quickly dissipated as we got to work and I realized there was absolutely no reason to be nervous. Not only did it turn out to be a fun exercise, but we were given a boxed set of all 12 Ambidextrous magazine issues as a gift. Nice!

To top off an action-packed Friday, we all gathered in the large central hall toward the end of the day and were ceremoniously recognized as co-founders of the new building. Tears were shed by many in the audience (not so much by me, though). Next thing we knew it was 5pm and time to make the trek back home. It was definitely an interesting event to take part in, and probably a bit of an atypical first full day of an internship.

A Hard Day’s Night

It was a long night, but we did it! Haiti Poster Projectposters are ready to be stamped and shipped off.

We arrived at CCA in the afternoon with the hopes of everything going quickly and without hiccups. That is never what really happens though. At least this time we knew what we were doing. After our first batch of ink ran out, things got a bit trickier. The viscosity was not the same, which lead to some trial and error. Eventually we got it down and were rolling again. At first we were looking at the prints and thinking that they weren’t turning out the way that we wanted. Tim pointed out that the beauty of this art were the imperfections, which caused me to remember what Jim Sheridan of Hatch Show Print told us in a print making workshop that I attended once. He instructed us never to throw away a print that you make. Save it and look at it another day. Mr. Sheridan explained that with print making, we often have an idea of what the outcome is suppose to look like in our heads. When our prints don’t look like that image, we get disappointed. Well today is the next day, and they look pretty fantastic. The imperfections and sometimes hasty looking washes of color add to the urgency of the message. The five posters spell out the word Haiti and have the national motto overprinted in magenta on top of the letter. It says “l’union fait la force” or “unity makes strength.” The posters will be sold as a set on the Haiti Poster Project website.

You can see all 5 posters and some of the process on our Facebook page.

The Final Countdown

Things are picking up around here again. There are so many exciting and new projects on the horizon. I’m kind of sad that I won’t be here to see them all through. The countdown to my last day has begun.

I worked on the Stern Grove Festival poster with Christopher and Tim. We are finalizing the type and adding our own touch of craft to it to compliment Yulia‘s cut paper illustration. So for the past few hours, I have been cutting out typography that we will put on the poster. It’s a tedious thing to do. Though if you think about how graphic design was done before the time of desktop publishing, the magnitude of my task wanes in comparison. The way I was doing things was fine, but talking to Tim I learned that there are best practices that I haven’t been aware of before this internship. Not just best practices on how to use cut paper in your design, but other things I wish I could remember at this moment. There are may be a of doing something that gives you better results.

Tomorrow the MINE™ team will be knee deep in ink and squeegees. We’re screenprinting! I am super excited. The posters we make tomorrow will be sold on the Haiti Poster Project website.

Off to the presses

We’re continuing to keep busy at MINE™. In one day we collectively worked on 5 different projects, checked in on one, and was referred for another by poster designer extraordinaire Jason Munn. It seems as though there is a steady flow of work. When we finish up projects, there are more on the horizon.

Today we are working to get this d.School project to press. Tim and I made production dummies for the printer. His was a smaller version with the art on it. The one I did was to actual size without art. Because I did things by hand, they were a little off. So Christopher went back and made notes throughout the piece with exact instructions on what to do. I rarely made production dummies during school, but I see the importance of them now. They are especially important when there is a client paying you. If something goes wrong and your instructions cannot be refuted, the blame cannot fall on you. To make a mistake at this stage would be an expensive one.

We just ate the cake I made. It wasn’t awful. Awesome!


There are a lot of exciting things happening at MINE™ today. We are finishing up the project for the Stanford d.School, we received final art from Yulia Brodskaya for the Stern Grove Festival poster, and we continue to rock the House of Air branding.

I apparently need a tutorial in making shadows in Photoshop. Unfortunately for Tim, I looked at the tutorials after I gave him the files of some faked Post-it notes. Christopher made fun of me for how long it took me, but at this point in the internship I’ve got thicker skin. It’s very strange to think back to my first days and how nervous I felt about the tiny tasks they gave me to do. Now I am a more confident person than I was in January, but obviously have much to learn.

The illustration we received from Yulia is beautiful! If you have been anywhere near a design blog in the past year, you’ve probably seen her previous work. She uses the edges of cut paper to make intricate, well-crafted, gorgeous illustrations. We’ve have been back and forth with her for the past few months about layout, typography, and color. Everyone needed to be on the same page about the illustration, because once its made, the illustration cannot be changed. Our clients at Stern Grove have already seen the illustration are delighted. Next steps are to find a secondary typeface and put all the festival information on it. Be on the lookout for the poster within the next month.

Lastly, I got to make penguin feet today! These might be used to make impressions into the floor at House of Air in their so fresh, so clean new cement. It’s been super exciting working on House of Air. I’ve never had the experience of seeing something that I helped create that is “alive” in the world. Sadly, the end of my internship is nearing and I probably won’t be around when House of Air opens. I will definitely bug Christopher about going to the opening though.

How, how, how, now, now, now

Hooray MINE™! We’re in HOW Magazine’s 2010 Design Annual for the identity work for C+. The photo looks backwards to you because I took it with Photobooth. Imagine it flipped.

We have been working hard all day to finish up the Stanford d.School project. I did a ton of image searching while Tim did some hardcore designing. Then Tim and I trekked up to Martha & Bros. to create some images. Christopher asked me to look generic today so that I could be the subject of the shoot.  To me that meant dressing in blue jeans, black Chuck Taylors, a grey sweater, and a black scarf. I was a waitress serving coffee while things on the street happened around me. The sun was a bit harsh, so we’re hoping that we don’t have to reshoot. The d.School project should be in the bag by next Wednesday.

I have something exciting to look forward to on Monday. I’m designing socks for House of Air!

Blue: A controversial color

Who would have thought?

We had a meeting with our House of Air clients and I’m pretty sure we spent as much time talking about the right color blue as we did talking about their web site. Color is a very subjective thing. People have different associations with them and feel different emotions. The conclusion was to keep it the same…I think.

Building an identity for a company is a funny thing. For example, we had the House of Air colors planned with a primary and secondary palette. But when we actually executed designs, we noticed that we didn’t ever use one of our primary colors which canceled out our two tier system. It seems that as the project evolves, so do the branding specifications. When you actually start using the elements of the identity, you begin to see a pattern where certain elements work better  in certain situations. You end up assigning meaning to these elements and decide to limit the places you use it. We have a stripe pattern that we use in the signage and for super graphics. They can be over powering so we limited their use as super graphics in certain areas of the building. When the building opens and begins to have meaning to others, we might have to adjust the identity again. Then when the brand has been around long enough like Coke,  I guess you have the identity down to a t.

The House of Air identity is moving along though. This week Christopher and Tim have been working on the business cards and web site. The concept for the web site and the cards are super rad and will be something to be proud of in the end. Tim taught me how to write printer specs to get a quote on the cards. It’s a totally mundane task, but I was happy to learn it. Each piece of knowledge gained will help me disguise my inadequacies at my next job. “But it’s not like I have that many,” she says as she grins.

The ball is not in our court.

We’re waiting for clients to get back to us, so things are a bit chill today. But that’s the reason why I had time to work on stickers for House of Air for a few hours. It was fun to play with composition, color, and type. But I was some where between uptight and the state of mind I needed to be in to execute them to my satisfaction. I don’t think I have gotten over the fact that people can see what I am doing all the time or the mindset that it’s ok for me to make mistakes. Maybe I just work like Michael Bierut does. He says he has to do a lot of work just so the probability  of  having something awesome is higher. So yeah, I’m going to compare myself to him (smiley emoticon), even though he hasn’t accepted my friend request on Facebook. I have faith though, Mr. Bierut.

While I was designing stickers, Christopher was meeting with Dave and Paul of House of Air. He presented the signs that we spent the week creating and they are totally stoked about them. This project has been such a great opportunity for everyone involved. Dave and Paul want their space to have a cohesive look and feel so they want to push the branding. For us that means we get to keep working with great clients on a great project.

Lastly, we received a second copy of Stanley Hainsworth‘s Idea+ology. We were definitely surprised because when MINE™ has been featured in a book in the past, no one sent a free book. So thanks, Rockport!

Photo taken by my Verizon Wireless Crackberry

Add, subtract, multiply, divide.

It was an environmental design day! We had to figure out scales and specs for House of Air signage. It was quite fun. Christopher has a way of figuring out scale that I didn’t understand at first, but I caught on eventually.

Seeing a giant version of your design is really exciting, because people have to physically interact with it. However, I forgot how tedious the process can be. We’ve been looking at elevations of the building all day, and there are so many details to record. There is the height, width, and depth of the sign, and then there is the location where you want it placed. And when you do the elevation drawing for the sign, you have to specify where the type and image go to the T. After you do all of that, then you have to give each item its own “code” to differentiate it from the hundred other things on the list. I guess it is a necessary thing, if you are working with a lot of people. The designer or architect comes up with the plan, but other people might be implementing it. Thus the process leaves no room for error.

Whew. It’s only Tuesday, but it already feels so much later in the week. We are a bit slammed at the moment. And I haven’t checked myself, but I heard Puppycam is over. No more soft fuzzy things to take the edge off.


Better than a 24 hour punk rock diner

I was just telling Christopher that working here is the only job I’ve ever had that has been more fun than my stint as a server. Oh, I guess teaching was pretty fun too. But I digress.

Have you noticed the blog? It’s new and improved! Now with more visuals! Today I spent the day adding images so it will look totally rad when we make the switch to the new format. It has been fun because with each picture, I get to choose the message I want to communicate for the day. So sometimes I had a picture that worked perfectly, and other times I had to make something up. They are just blog photos, but it was a design task. We make messages with words and images, and hopefully create new meaning and context. I can’t say that all my photos live up to that statement, but I enjoyed doing it nonetheless.

After my morning of bloggery (No, that word is not in the OED…yet.), Christopher, Tim and I brainstormed about signage and graphics for House of Air. I recorded notes on a giant notepad with a sharpie while trying to contribute to the conversation. We came up with some really cool ideas for the space in which we will pitch to our clients on Friday. So after the meeting and watching Puppycam (Thanks, Emily!) for a few minutes, we started adding our signage, color, and graphic ideas to the architectural renderings. They’re starting to look pretty sweet, or maybe it’s just the beer goggles.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends!

Where did the day go?

I know the time changed yesterday, but I feel like I lost track of an hour sometime today. We weren’t particularly busy, but I must have been busy enough to not look at the clock.
[more] blog photo

Gitting R’ Done at the d.School

Today was pretty exciting. I went to Palo Alto for the first time ever. I didn’t see much of the city besides Stanford and the d.School building, but the drive there was gorgeous. Sorry for gushing. As most of you probably know, I’m from Texas. I’m used to seeing flat lands and tumbleweeds.


A Good Design Book Day

Does anyone know if Lance Armstrong started the rubber wristband trend? I tried to look up the history of it, but I had no luck. As you’ve probably noticed, you can find a wristband for any cause you can think of. But you can even get one that says PRINCE V MICHAEL to wear proudly.

You might be thinking, “What does that conversation have to do with Reena’s day?” Well, plenty. Wristband hunting and Lance Armstrong were all part of my Good Design Book Day. MINE™ is nearing the end of the road on the book, and there are still some additions and edits to do. At the moment we are gathering/photographing work and accoutrement to fill in the few blank pages that remain. So today our office doubled as a photo studio. We have some seamless cleverly tucked away in a cubby and some professional lighting equipment. We had an intense moment with Lance Armstrong, but we pulled through in the end. As the person in the office who wants to prove herself, it’s a bit disappointing for me when I don’t reach the solution myself and without help. I was initially in charge of the photo, but it got tricky with what the outcome needed to be and the parameters of the page the photo would be on. So it became an intraoffice event. But I recently read some where that if you feel like you’re not the most talented person in the room, you’re in the right place. So here I am.

My blog fans (ha! yeah.) have requested photos. So next week I’ll do a photo a day.

mies van der rohe

The End of Pandora

Yep. It’s happened. We’ve listened to too much Pandora. No more Jay-Z or T. Rex stations for the rest of the month! Rude, Pandora. Really rude.

Other than that, I finished up my Photoshop duties today. So, I started on the task of photographing the remaining Good Design Book entries. Since setting up photo shoots is one of my favorite things to do, today was pretty rad even though I only got through one entry. Tim was my creative director of sorts and he made me redo one of the shots three times. He hasn’t signed off on this last attempt, so I might have to do it again. As Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said, “God is in the details.” (Yeah, I totally looked that up). Did you know he also said, “Less is more.” So getting things just right makes a difference.

Christopher and Tim have been going through the current version of the Good Design Book to edit and make changes. I made books in school, but it’s good to be reminded about pacing, grids, and all the considerations that one takes when designing a book. Today was the first day that I really got to take a look at the projects, and it’s inspiring stuff. Not only is it a book of full of work, but there are in depth case studies and essays so that you can get behind some of the thinking and processes of the projects. It’s been a few months, but I remember that making a book is a long process. But it’s all worth it, because in the end having the actual piece in your hand is so gratifying.

Elevation study of the Friedrichstrasse Skyscraper by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe found here.


*Studio Week West Coast

My hands hurt a little from the past few hours. Why does production always take longer than you think it will? At first, the monotony of repetitive movements is soothing. But around hour three, it starts to suck a little bit.

I’m in the process of putting labels on the Everything is OK Action Kits. These were featured in a window display on Market street for Art in Storefronts not too long ago, and I’m replacing sun-faded labels. When I’m done, these kits will replenish the supply at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design. Get ‘em while they’re hot, yo.

So today is a tedious day. But Tim said I could take a stab at designing the boxes for the Word’s Greatest Mug. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

*For those of you who read this and don’t know, studio week is the sometimes grueling production week before critique at Portfolio Center.

holiday cards.

Every year MINE™ sends out a fancy holiday card to our many beloved family and friends. The theme of the cards change from year to year, but the premise remains the same. The cards focus on that transition between years—the point in which one year becomes the next. Out with the old, in with the new.


art in storefronts.

As some of you may know, two weeks ago saw the unveiling of the long awaited SFAC’s Art in Storefronts project — of which MINE™ was a part. The process of this project has been exciting to witness and to be involved in. Overall, everything came together smoothly: getting the brief; discussing possible options; landing on Everything is OK; creating and sending a mock-up; ordering neon; getting neon; preparing and installing Everything is OK in the space.


success, full success.

Being a design intern is a complex beast. You come to your position itching to design for real projects. You want to get your hands dirty and impress your employer. However, a lot of your time is spent on non-design related tasks (image research, mailing, etc) — things that keep the office afloat and running smoothly.


same themed.

At the moment, we’re working on two totally different, completely unrelated projects. One’s a naming project, and one’s a logo design. The naming project has been in the works since before my time here, and the logo I started on my first day.

Both projects are well into their life cycle, they’ve been through client meetings, with lots of ideas having been tossed around. I’m impressed with two aspects of their specific processes.



Thursdays are always action-packed at MINE™. There are two deadlines on two large projects over the next two days, and I am not in the office on Fridays so I had to make sure the work I have been responsible for is ready to be passed on to Tim and Christopher. The collaborative design process is a new experience for me. I’ve had tastes of it in school when working alongisde students like Jeff Brush and Michael Sun – but for the most part it was closer to collaborative brainstorming.

It’s an odd feeling to work on something for hours on end and pass it on for someone else to finish it, but I’m excited by the idea of sharing ideas and influences and approaches. And I hope to grow as a designer from the sharing of duties.


1,096 points per hour

So sometimes the life of the intern isn’t so glamorous – but hey… That’s why we’re here. Design isn’t all flash and glamor. There are dirty jobs. Dirty, dirty, jobs. Like tracing the veins in a leaf from a jpeg. Or outlining a topographic map using the pen tool.

See if you can beat my record today. 3 hours of work and 3,290 vector points plotted out with the pen tool. Absolutely no live trace allowed here. It’s hard to say whether I deserve a medal or a speeding ticket.


One of the more recent projects we’ve taken on at MINE™ is to design the book cover for a New York Times best-selling author. Book cover design is a relatively new and exciting venture that we’re having fun with.

Beyond Chip Kidd and Rodrigo Corral, I was surprised to discover that there are a fair amount of designers whose sole design specialty is book cover design. While doing some research into the climate of contemporary book cover design, I stumbled upon a great site called the Book Cover Archive. It’s a great reference to survey what exactly is out there today. There were a few that really caught my eye on a purely aesthetic level, and a few that shared genres with the book we’re designing so I put together a pdf of my discoveries and sent it to Tim and Christopher for some broad brainstorming and inspiration.

With the client’s requests and suggestions in mind we’re thinking broadly about the topic, the goals of the publisher, and our stance as a firm with a voice and direction of our own. Nothing is off the table at this point and isn’t it until we feel content with the range of ideas and concepts that we start to narrow down the options. The cover is the initial hook, and the face of all the hard work the author, publisher and editors have put in. So it’s of the utmost importance that the concept of the book be communicated in a quick glimpse because it’s a fair estimate of just how quickly a possible customer will decide to pick it up or not.

One of the major decisions we find ourselves contemplating on this project is whether to design the book so that it sits well with books of similar subject matter or to separate it from the pack with something unexpected and possibly risky. At this point, we’re considering both approaches because we can – and because they’re both valid means of designing a successful cover. When it comes down to the decision – it will be whichever direction best suits the demands of those involved.

stern grove

The majority of today’s time was spent designing work for the upcoming Stern Grove Festival. A full page ad and a quarter page ad both needed to be created using the wonderful clay illustrations Irma Gruenholz created for us.

The logistics of the quarter page ad were a little tough, considering the amount of information that was intended to be communicated in such a small space. One of the things I overlooked and had to keep reminding myself about was the consideration of the material it would be printed on. The quarter page ad is grayscale and will be printed on newsprint – placing further importance on the legibility of the type. After sketching a few different directions, Tim and Christopher decided that a direction using a greyed background, black type and an image of a playful little bird on a branch fit the best into the overall scheme.

It feels great to start exercising the skills I learned in school. And it’s nice to know that it’s coming naturally even though all the guidelines, tips, and rules seemed overwhelming at first.


lesson #1

Near the end of today before we left the office I was asked to do some organizing by Christopher. One of the tasks was dealing with maximizing the efficient use of space in the office. Being a small office, minute changes can make a huge difference. We had just received a shipment of new cans and tubes for the everything is ok project and I was asked to insert the tubes into the cans to eliminate the need for separate boxes for each.

Simple enough I thought, and started removing the cans from the box. The cans are stacked in four layers of about fifty – so it takes quite a bit of effort to remove them all. I neatly stacked them next to the big box on the ground, and started placing them back in and filling them with the tubes. Tim was working hard on something that was due by the end of the day and Christopher was dealing with a misbehaving broadband connection so I tried my best to keep the clinging and clanging of cans to a minimum. It wasn’t until I filled the box to just about the end when I realized that somehow – I had left over cans. Many more than I could possibly fit back into the box. It wasn’t until pushing around the top layer of cans that I had realized that there was a more efficient way to space the cans. If you can arrange them so that they are slightly offset and so that the concave of each can nestles between the space of two others – you can fit more cans per layer.

To the plight of Tim and Christopher I unpacked all two-hundred or so cans again and used the new method to fit them back in. Overall, the mistake caused the whole operation to last way longer than it should have and I got all sorts of mean looks from Haley the cat as I aggressively threw the remaining tubes into the cans with a clatter. The lesson I learned may seem trivial at first but if you think about it from a design standpoint that sort of mistake could make or break a project with a tight deadline or a irritate the temper of a fussy client (Haley). If you learn to approach a problem from multiple angles before settling on a solution you may be able to avoid a frustrating (and possibly noisy) mistake.

the ffffound legacy

As part of the immersion into the intern program at MINE™ you are granted your very own, highly-coveted, ffffound! account.

During the past school year, I spent countless hours obsessing over the wonderful user empowering image bookmarking site (mostly during classes I will not mention here) and having an account is even more of an enveloping experience. The simple interface and link-based navigation makes it dangerously easy to get lost in the sea of beautiful typographic specimens, architectural photographs, foreign product packaging, modernist design posters, vintage paperback design, dutch industrial design, toy-camera photography, cutting edge illustration and and pretty much anything else you can think of. The number of styles, new artists, and interesting works you can discover on ffffound! is about as extensive as the length of time you’ll find yourself clicking endlessly through it all.

The most surprising aspect of ffffound! is the quality of the imagery – I’m not talking about dpi or color vibrancy – but the taste of the users. Generally I’ve concerned pretty much everything to be of some visual interest or conceptual merit – and I have yet to stumble across a single image of tasteless nudity or anything remotely approaching derogatory (although I have seen some aggression towards Bush, Cheney and Palin which might shed some light on the political leanings of most ffffound! users).

There is something to be said about the experience of sifting through all the images – and the fact that the majority of them are up for viewing without context. Explanations are absent – and they can be judged almost purely on their formal qualities. Two unrelated images  juxtaposed side by side start to have a conversation with each-other. A visual relationship which was never intended by the creators and wholly unique to the viewer. I find inspiration in a lot of these serendipitous happenings – a photograph of vintage signage from a candy store in Norway, displayed next to a Donald Judd minimalist sculpture start to poise interesting questions about the rigidity of the structures within art and design. What happens when a road sign is inserted into a gallery space? Or when a Donald Judd sculpture is placed in a playground? And what does that say about the place of graphic design within the larger art world? Does it have a place there? It seems that online galleries like ffffound!, flickr, manystuff and others are bridging the gap between art and design closer and closer by the link.

Here are the past 10 tagged images at the time I last checked:


what’s in a name?

Most of today’s work was spent brainstorming for the re-naming of a national non-profit we’re working for. I really enjoy the freedom of these sessions and I’m slowly becoming more and more comfortable with speaking my mind in the office. Christopher and Tim have been really good about considering my ideas and we’re coming up with some really exciting concepts.

It’s a completely different experience to work in a design-focused environment like the office – a productive change from all the distractions of one’s own bedroom and a springboard for concentration and productivity. Although if I feel like going to grab a book and spending some time absorbing the material within – or even just appreciating the pretty pictures then that’s ok as well.

We spent the day with our shoes off, brewing up possible names and utilizing mind maps attempting to balance both institutional strength and human compassion. It’s a nice change from the student design experience, where most of these larger questions and decisions would be forced to be made concrete in much less time. Having a concerned client is a blessing because they understand the need to nurture ideas, let some slowly develop and others quickly wilt. Time is much more on your side in the professional world than the student world – a luxury I’m really appreciating.