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.


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?


anke eve 5


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

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



Today’s Word: Myth

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

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

Thesis presentations tomorrow. Until Monday!





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.

Hungry MINE™rs

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

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

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

The buddy system

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

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

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

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.

Lessons daily

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

The gift of flight

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

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.

A Stern meeting

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


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.

How tall are you?

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

Angel in the office

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

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

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


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

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


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

A long history

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

Decked out

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

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

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]

Taking flight

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

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



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

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

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

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.


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]

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).


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]


You never know when you’ll need to say “hello” in a different language from your own… to impress a new client, while traveling to a different country, when the boss’ son gets home from Chinese school.

Always handy.

English (America, Australia, UK): Hello
English (Australia): G’day
Cantonese (China): Néih hóu
Cassubian (northwestern Poland): Witôjze
Icelandic (Iceland): Góðan daginn
Canela (Brazil): Hââ-pô
Zulu (South Africa, Lesotho): Sawubona
Chamorro (Guam): Hafa
Egyptian (ancient Egypt): Iiti em hotep
Welsh (Wales): Dydd da
Tahitian (Tahiti French Polynesia): Ia ora na
Shor (Russia): Ezen
Norwegian [Nordmørsk] (Norway): Goddág
Mien (Laos, Thailand): Yiem longx
English [New Oreleans dialect] (Lousiana): Where ya’at

Meatball and spaghetti

When we were visiting Singularity University down at Ames yesterday, we heard on a couple of instances the NASA logo being referred to as “the meatball.” Apparently it’s a semi-official nickname used by NASA personnel. When we got back to the studio I looked it up and found out that NASA has three official marks. The round meatball is officially known as “the insignia” and was designed in 1959 by James Modarelli, a former employee. When I think of NASA this is the image that pops into my head, along with a shuttle launch scene.

And Ben Affleck in a bright orange space suit.

The meatball insignia sort of replaced the red wordmark—a stylized N-A-S-A rendering known as the “worm” that was retired in 1992. And I don’t know if this is actually true, but word on the street is that the worm was also called the “spaghetti” logo. This would possibly explain the meatball thing, but I don’t know about that one. More triangulation needed.

For more info on the NASA meatball, this is a pretty funny official release that mentions what a “design nightmare” it is. And this is NASA’s beautifully designed online graphics standards manual. Make sure you have at least Netscape Navigator 4.0, though!

iMINE™ technology

What did you do at work today?

Went to NASA and talked to a robot.

The end.

Actually, that is indeed what happened. We took a trip this afternoon down to NASA’s Ames Research Center to meet with Singularity University (see red circle). The branding we’re working on for their 2010 Graduate Studies Program is almost finished, but we needed to finalize a few last details. As we were sitting around a conference table, I heard a mechanical whirring sound slowing increasing in volume in the adjacent room to my right. From where I was sitting, I could see past the doorframe into this room, and a little further into the hallway. Suddenly a mechanical “thing”—I couldn’t tell exactly what it was—maybe four feet tall and on wheels, rolls past the open doorway and starts down the hall. I only saw a second or two of it. Christopher, seated across the table, heard the whirring sound as well but didn’t have the same view. The Singularity folks were oblivious to it, as I guess it’s a regular thing there.

When they realized we were intrigued by what was making this sound, they called it over! Turns out it’s a robot used primarily for video conferencing purposes, currently being controlled by a human somewhere in the building. A person can log-on from anywhere and gain access to the robot’s controls via webcam. The person’s face appears on the LCD screen, and they can see and hear everything that the robot “sees” and “hears.” They can then control movement using two cameras that give them a view of the robot’s surroundings. It didn’t look like this or anything, but it was pretty sweet and less eerie. The greatest part was that they gave us guest log-in access so that we can assume controls of the robot—from here in San Francisco—during our next meeting with them. Nice.


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.

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.

Jimmy jam box

Today at MINE™ was filled with a little variety in the activity department. Mid-morning I worked on some final revisions for the walkathon t-shirt. The drawing I had done/modified was fine, but I needed to make a few changes to the type. After browsing the collection of fonts on hand for a few minutes, I ended up drawing some letterforms that fit in with the “modern 80s/90s hip hop” feel the client was looking for. I hope so, at least. Christopher saw it on my monitor from his desk and liked it as well (“that’s cool” were his exact words), so hopefully the client is into it. We also learned that another way to refer to a boombox is to call it a jam box. I may change my name to Jimmy Jam box. Once 12pm rolled around we had to head out of the office for a lunch meeting at RN74, a wine bar and restaurant by Michael Mina. It was a great place with some good food. One of the coolest features is the wine list, displayed large on the walls as an old train station timetable. At various times of the day, you hear this “click, click, click, click, click” and look up to see the information changing. After lunch we had to book it back to the studio so Christopher and Tim could meet with a client regarding the House of Air project, which is sounding and looking pretty cool. I finished out the day looking everywhere in the studio and in the garage for a simple CD case for Tim. After several unsuccessful attempts, I finally found a pile of old CDs from some of Christopher’s former students, so I stacked them neatly together and stole the jewel cases for future use. Tomorrow morning when I get in I will be doing some touching up of an image for Tim. And since this is the 3rd post in a row with no images, tomorrow I’m going to focus on taking some photos to add to the blog.

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!


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.

Last Monday post

The Stern Grove Festival poster has made its debut.

My first press check

It was rad!

Christopher let me tag along on a press check for the House of Air business cards. It was a simple one, but I got the idea. We were there to make sure that the color is correct, the copy is correct, and that there were no strange marks on the print out. Then Christopher signed the proof and it was over. We had a discussion about larger printing jobs and how sometimes you might have to hang out at a printer all day. He informed me that in the good ol’ days they would wine and dine you, but alas those days are over. After we signed off on the proof, Christopher took me on a tour of the Oscar Printing facilities. Some how I got out of design school without ever going to a printing press, so this was interesting for me to see. I didn’t realize presses were so huge and that printing could be such a technical skill. Christopher explained some technical aspects of printing to me such as using an instrument that measures light refraction to see if you color is even on the paper.

Going on a press check was on my list of things I wanted to learn at MINE™. I’m down to the last eight days of my internship and we might have officially completed my list.

Deadlines and screen printing

Sorry for not blogging on Friday. We were out of the office to screen print posters. The good people of the CCA Oakland campus were kind enough to let us use their facilities.

We’re running a tight ship today. We have a deadline to meet for a client tomorrow, and it’s all banner ads.  They are simple enough, but there are many to do. Flash can be a tedious program so it just takes some time to do these. Tim is a machine. I have built two in the same amount of time he has done approximately six to eight. Other than the Flash, I checked my first printer proof today. I didn’t ask if this is a common practice, but as I checked each letter to see if their were any errors, I placed a tiny red dot next to the letter. Tim also informed me that if you have a lightbox, you line up the crop marks from your files with the printer files and check for errors that way. I like learning little things like that, because it makes me like I’m a part of a  profession that has it’s own secret codes and ways of doing things.

Tomorrow we might be back at CCA to finish screen printing posters, so it’s possible that there may be no Tuesday blog. Look out for pictures of our finished posters on Wednesday!

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!


House of Air and I are totally besties. At least for today. I worked on their wristbands, made penguin feet to scale and designed socks! You know you’ve made it as an intern when you’ve designed socks.

Besides House of Air and some scanning, I also brought Christopher a chocolate cake for his birthday. I made it from the Tartine cookbook. Enitrat lives on. You might think, “Why would you go to Tartine if you have the recipes?” I now know why. Baking is hard, and their baked goods are way prettier.

I would write more, but I started the blog late today. Also the rest of the team is heading out. Until tomorrow.


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.

Holy Tuesday, Batman!

I know. Today is Wednesday. So much happened on Tuesday that it is deserving of another post.

The day started out pretty crazy. As soon as I arrived, Christopher and Amelie were out the door so they could bring the little ones to school. A few minutes later, Christopher walked back in the house upset. Some guy had barreled over the hill on Putnam and almost took out the side of Amelie’s car while she was standing next to it. Luckily he just crunched her door (but with her standing behind it!) and took out his own was side view mirror. It could have been much worse.

I guess barreling forward was the theme of the day. On Tuesday, we had three deadlines and made all three. The Coalition for Essential Schools launched their email blasts thus starting their Fall Forum education reform campaign, which MINE™ designs every year. Then Christopher presented a redesign of PeachPit Press’ Visual Quickstart Guide series. When you see the new ones roll out soon, you’ll see an updated logo and new cover design a la MINE™.  Lastly, we gave Wallet Project files to Grace, our client at the Stanford d.School., so that the d.School folks could do another round of user testing. In the middle of all of that, Christopher interviewed two people.

Just when we thought we caught a break, we hear the smoke alarm. Christopher and Tim ran upstairs to quell a small oven fire.

So Wednesday doesn’t feel left out, check out what we received in the mail today! We all received tickets to the World’s Smallest Poster Show! For those of you that don’t know, it’s a project that MINE™ started last year. The first exhibit was held in Christopher’s home. This year we’ve passed the torch to friends Shasta Garcia and Dave Muro.

Time is money.

One of the things that I have learned at MINE™ is that time is a commodity. Of course I’ve considered the time it takes to complete the actual design of a project, but I have never considered time for meetings or dealing with printers. As someone who is just beginning their career, these are good things for me to realize before I start taking on any serious freelance clients.

Yesterday I learned how to request a quote from the printer. Today I learned how to present an estimate to a client. I’ve also learned that you need to figure out a budget before you start any project. If everyone is not on the same page, then the situation might get sticky down the line. I wish there was a class in school that taught you about best business practices, but I guess these are things you learn once you get out into the world.

There is so much more to running a design business than I had imagined before. You have to think about budgets, time, whether or not you get along with your clients, balancing your social life, having the right employees, and organization. I’m sure the list goes on.

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

We made it.

We had to take a little extra time today, but we did it. We put in a few more hours this afternoon and finally finished our sign design proposal for House of Air. Last night I worked until 8:30 and Christopher continued on until 2:00 a.m. Like I said yesterday, environmental design can be a long, tedious process.  Now we just hope everyone approves the designs and that the signs adhere to building code.

As tedious as it was, I really enjoyed doing it. You have to think really hard for a minute, then your brain gets to rest and wander while you’re recording your information and basking in the glory of your success. In my younger years, I enjoyed math. The thing that was enjoyable about it is that there is always a definite answer. But I guess that’s what is boring about it as well. Because of my very left brained background, I had to learn that there is no right answer in design. I realized that it’s all subjective. Though this is the case there are definitely better, smarter answers than others and figuring it those out is highly gratifying.

And for anyone who was afraid of losing Puppycam, I gave out some misinformation. The little ones are still there!

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!

HOA rendering

Blogging and jumping

My big project of the day was to start rethinking and reformatting our current blog to prepare it for a theme change. To do this, I have been going back to older blogs and adding photographs. I wrote those blog entries only two months ago, but I sense a certain naivete in them that I don’t feel now. Reflection is an interesting feeling. As a teenager, I set fire to my old diaries so that younger person didn’t exist any more. But I can’t exactly burn the blog down, so it’s here to stay.



Wanna whole lotta mug

Porcelain Clink Clink

Cut Crinkle Crinkle Crinkle

Fold Bend Crease Fold Fold

Yes, my haiku is so esoteric. You’ll have to order the The World’s Greatest Mug to decode it’s meaning. As of today, they are ready to be shipped!


New Blingy Horizons

Everyday that I come to work is a surprise. I feel really lucky to be here. Not only because I am learning a lot from Christopher and Tim, but because MINE™ has amazing clients. Since I’ve been here MINE™ has worked on projects for a trampoline gym that will open this summer, an education movement called Private Schools with Public Purpose, Coalition of Essential Schools’ education conference, Levi’s and Opening Ceremony, The Stern Grove Festival, The Good Design Book, The Energy Project, C+, Verizon Wireless, Wells Fargo, The Nature Conservancy, The Haiti Poster Project, and the Stanford d.School. I am amazed by the breadth of clients and how awesome everyone is. I feel like I am going to get spoiled and think that this is the way every design office is run.

[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.



I like feeling useful.

Yesterday I left work feeling a little bummed because, I didn’t come up with a logo concept that was presentable to our client. So bummed that I couldn’t shake it until I went home and created a moodboard for it. So I came to work prepared with that, and spoke to Christopher about yesterday’s attempts and the moodboard. (He laughed because it was full of references to beer and guns, and our client works in education). From all the useless stuff yesterday and Tim and Christopher’s suggestions, we were able to come up with a new direction for me to take. I worked on it all day, and ended up with something that will be thrown into the mix of logos that will be sent to the client today. It wasn’t world changing stuff, but it feels good to be able to contribute.


levis posters

Super Secret Revealed

I know all of you have been at the edge of your seats waiting for the big reveal! Well the day has come. For the past few weeks MINE™ has been working with CITIZEN:Citizen on a campaign introducing Levi’s Cords by couture brand Opening Ceremony. We feel privileged to be listed among design luminaries such as Jennifer Morla and Stefan Sagmeister who have done work for Levi’s.



Process and Exploration

I earned a photo credit in the Good Design Book today!

The photo studio is back up. We’re shooting and reshooting, and only two things are left on the photo list. (I love crossing things out.) My day was peppered with inertia, but Tim and Christopher had their noses to the ground. It’s been a crazy week in terms of clients needing to get in touch with Christopher so he has been knee deep in emails and phone calls.

Since MINE™ has not been my first internship, I’ve been able to see what it’s like to work in a variety of different places. I’m impressed with Christopher and Tim’s ability to wear so many hats. They’re doing all of the visual work, and also interacting closely with clients. They know exactly what their clients need and work with them so that both parties are happy. It’s very human and personal way to work. I like it.

Another thing I learned today is how to streamline the work process while also involving the client into the discussion. We came up with a list of questions for the client and will use the answers as the basis for our logo design. It keeps the design in the realm of what the client is looking for, but also helps justify the choices we make if they happen to be a little far out in left field.

Christopher recently recommended I watch Michael Bierut’s speech at the 99% conference. So I took his advice and was delighted. One of the lessons that Mr. Bierut learned was that usually the solution can be found within the problem. In a few of his case studies, his initial sketch from a client meeting was essentially the idea that he would execute.

I have a tendency to over think my design problems before I come to a decision. So I’m interested in how looking for the solution in the problem, as per Mr. Bierut’s advice, will work out for me in the upcoming weeks.

Museum of Art and Design identity by Michael Bierut. Photo found here.

emigre brothers

Reena vs Photoshop

I think it was a draw.

After a three day weekend, it was good to be back at work. So I didn’t mind doing the Photoshop all day. Well, almost all day. We went to Hayes Valley for a short meeting with the nice people from the Stern Grove Festival. So far, dealing with clients seems like cake! Christopher has informed me that it is not always the case, but from the two client meetings I’ve attended, there was a give and take and the conversation flowed smoothly.


nature conservancy - kerning and mh

Kerning and Mayer Hawthorne

Oh, kerning! How I’ve missed thee. Kerning to Mayer Hawthorne is even better. Well, either I really do miss school or being hopped up on DayQuil makes anything better.


name storming.

There’s an interesting project in the works here at MINE™. It’s a name selection/re-brand for a large organization. The process has been going on for quite a while, with an abundance of (seemingly good) options, but no clear cut final name.

To get out of the convoluted naming shroud, we tried a different approach to brainstorming the name in the office today. Christopher opened the session by talking about the process they’ve already been through, and what’s worked and what hasn’t worked idea-wise.



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.

Frank La

everything went ok

Today I accompanied Christopher to Oscar Printing to do a press check for the next installment of the Everything is OK Action Kit. I had been to Oscar before during my time in Sputnik when I went on my first press check for my design of CCA’s President’s Letter. Everything went smoothly today because Frank is Franktastic. I also got a chance to try out Christopher’s new Holga conversion lens to document the trip. Below are the (admittedly shaky) results.

Frank La

The smell of ink

Just making sure

Checking the colors, registration, and signing off

Proofs in hand, we headed back to show Tim

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.

not just tea

I started my internship at MINE™ not really sure of what to expect. I knew their work, a handful of the previous interns, and had Christopher as a teacher in my GD2 class at CCA – but becoming an employee was beyond my foresight. Would I be serving tea all day? Doing the laundry? Asked to fix the roof? I’ve heard horror stories from interns at other firms but I kept my hopes up and looked forward to doing some actual designing alongside the caffeine duties (hopefully not roofing).

I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of responsibility I’m trusted with. Today for example – I helped design and finish two deliverables for two different clients. One being a full page ad for the Stern Grove Festival and another being a series of letterhead templates for another client. I was given the task of learning the iWork “Pages” software, and simultaneously finding out a way to customize the templates so that the client can easily prepare a letter in the software she is most comfortable with.

Not every day is as heavy on the production of course. Some standard duties are keeping the office organized, filing, corresponding through the intern email address and answering phones.  But so far – I’m really enjoying the responsibility I’ve been granted at MINE™ and I can’t wait to get my feet wet with some more jobs as soon as they come. The tea here is pretty good too. (and gladly I have not seen the roof yet)


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.