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.

Enlarging Explosions in the Airstream

I just verbally Nonseked today’s events! Boo yah!

There were no actual explosions except for the one’s coming out of our speakers brought to you by Pandora and one of Austin’s finest, Explosions in the Sky. The airstream bit came from Christopher’s Good Design Book interview today with Emily Pilloton, founder of Project H. (Did you see her on Colbert Report a few weeks ago?) She will be kicking off a nationwide tour bringing socially conscious design to a city near you in an airstream. Lastly, we’re trying to make gigantic photos.

If you’re in the SF Bay Area tomorrow, there will be a Design Revolution kick off in the parking lot of the Academy of Art University featuring an airstream full of humanitarian products, a taco truck, and a cupcake truck. It’s not to be missed! One of the great things about working here (besides meeting a lot of different people), is feeling like you’re always in the know.

Tim and I were in the office working on more Good Design Book details. He’s finalizing art and layouts. I answered a billion phone calls, and I even used Jedi mind tricks to create a Word document. For real.

ts and is


Tuesday’s tedious tasks totally took too much time.

(I was going for a sentence with 100% alliteration, but that was pretty good.)

We’re down to the details for the Good Design Book. I spent hours going through the submissions and extracting all the Grant of Rights forms, while Tim sorted them out. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon copy editing the credit listings for all the work. In fact, I’m not even finished with that task. I have two more sections to go, but I’m taking a moment to blog.

Christopher has spent the whole day designing a coupon. It should be one really rad coupon. He’s involved in a super exciting project that will launch mid-month on both coasts! So NYC peeps, look out for it on a city corner near you as well. The MINE™ office will be in attendance at a fancy launch party. I’ll be sure to post some pictures from the event to reveal this top secret project.

Being an intern today hasn’t been too glamorous, but someone has to do this kind of stuff. The best thing that happened today is the realization that it’s February! Our Pandora account has re-upped, and we’re back on the juice.

jv is everything ok

In the Particular Lies the Universal

James Joyce wrote, ‘In the particular lies the universal.’ Which means that the more authentic and genuine you become in your expression, the more others can relate to it. So, if you want love, attention, and appreciation, you need to give love, attention, and appreciation. You need to put it in the work. I think this is what separates great work from the herd. Working with the truth, and not just a trite design motif like CSA clip art takes a bit more effort, but also makes my work and life worth it. And I have found it also excites other people.”

That is an excerpt from an interview with James Victore from STEP Inside Design magazine.



Field Trip to Gallery 16!

Most of the day was spent doing research, in true Portfolio Center fashion: mind maps, endless websites with obscure facts, and some image searching for mood boards.

But then two o’clock rolled around and we went on a field trip! First we had lunch at The Brickhouse and then moved on to Gallery 16 for the last day of the Emigre exhibit. We even stopped in (barged in some might say) on Rise & Shine, a design studio owned by CCA grads Rob and Melissa. One of my favorite things about working here is the people I get to meet each week. There’s always someone new coming by or someone we go to see. Even when we returned, two of Christopher’s students, Georgia and Nick, came by for a visit.

If you haven’t checked out the Emigre exhibit, tomorrow might be your last chance. There were Emigre posters, publications, fan letters, hate mail, and magazine cover press sheets on display. As I walked around, I got warm fuzzies in my tummy. Looking at the work, I was proud to be part of such a relatively new profession and in away be able to experience some of its history.

I forgot to bring the camera on the field trip, so Christopher snapped some photos on his magic phone (i.e. iPhone) for all 20 of you who actually read my blog regularly. Hi, Mom.


To krump, or not to krump.

Yes that’s right. Dizzee Rascal was blaring through the speakers, and I was asked to krump on command.

Today was another full day of working on The Good Design Book. I was part photographer, part model. Thus the krumping.


dj reply

Stout Update

Remember my email to DJ Stout?

The Good Design Book will be getting a new submission next week!

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.



Sooooo, blah blah blah shooting photos, silicone wristbands, intern stuff. etc.


I just wrote an email to DJ Stout at Pentagram!


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.

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.



So much to learn

Ahhh! No matter how much I think I know, I realize I don’t know much.

Today we had a client meeting, and I was really glad to have been there. I just borrowed 79 Short Essays on Design from the MINE™ library. No. 3 talks about how the designer/client relationship should be a partnership, and I’m pretty sure that’s what I witnessed in the meeting today. Christopher was presenting the logo that he and Tim have been working on and the clients had a few problems. But they worked together and the result was a pretty rad logo! This project is super exciting because MINE™ is actually building the company brand from scratch. They started with the logo but will go on to the way finding, interior graphics, and their web presence. Christopher showed me the initial presentation and the evolutions of the concept, and it’s always great to see the process. I hated seeing designers talk about their work and just show the finished product. Then you have no sense into how much thinking and work went into it. I’d get frustrated, because it seemed so easy for them and not for me. As the meeting went on, I realized that there is so much more to learn. Not just about design, but about running a business and maintaining client relationships.

I topped off the day with an adventure to the hood and photoshopping rainbows. Happy Friday!


*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.

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.



A Monday List and Korean Design

Today is what seems to be what a typical Monday around the office will be like.

8 emails

4 of which are for Viagra

1 Avocado

1 Fake salami sand which

1 Head cold that’s making me cranky.

1 Cup of tea made by Tim

1 Good Design Book request made to American Apparel.

1 U-line sample request for the World’s Greatest Mug.

1 visitor proposing an exciting opportunity for MINE™

2.5 Successful entries/exits through the baby proof gate

1.5 Failed attempts

0 Contests entered sponsored by David E. Carter

1 Arrival of New Normal: The Netherlands, courtesy of Niko (With shout outs inside to previous MINE™ interns, Jennifer, and Oona. Seems like an amazing experience.) Which also inspired my thoughts on Korean Design today.



first day

first day

Howdy, world.

So, I’ve got some big shoes to fill. I’m a bit nervous. But luckily I have an astounding collection of socks with which to dazzle and distract Christopher and Tim.


Last day™

last day™

Out with the old, in the with the new.

Today is my last day at MINE™! It’s been a fun run — thank you for your comments, support, and for reading!

I now leave you in the capable blogging hands of Reena.


Cards are finished. Picking them up from the printer today.


holiday party™

One of the most enjoyable and memorable non-design events of my tenure as an intern at MINE™ was attending the annual holiday party.

Held at Nihon, a fancy Japanese restaurant and whisky lounge (apparently offering the largest single malt whisky selection on the west coast), the holiday party was a great excuse to get former interns and employees together.


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.



One of the latest developments at MINE™ has been discussion about our reel and portfolio. (You can see it here.) Yesterday we ate lunch at Tu Lan (yum!) and talked about various ideas and possible directions.


Tim & Balloons


When I got to my desk this morning, I noticed a massive bundle of balloons coming from the comping room. I learned that we would be photographing these massive balloons for the annual MINE™ holiday card.

Here is Tim pondering future balloon placement:

everything is ok.

Behold, the new Everything is OK poster! Designed by The Small Stakes, and screen-printed at Bloom Press. This poster will make a nice addition in the EIOK store.


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.


A Hundred Monkeys / Heads of State

in the mail.

Branding firm A Hundred Monkeys sent over this poster today. Just for the hell of it. Thanks guys!

Can anyone guess who designed it?

no intern this week?

that thesis better be pretty damn good.

Neon Golden

neon golden.

Coming soon, to a storefront near you.

people’s design award.

Every year the Cooper Hewitt curates the People’s Design Award, a design competition where people can vote on their favorite designed object or thing. Everything is OK, MINE’s  D-I-Y social activist project, has been nominated and is in the running.




art in storefronts.

In 16 short days MINE’s contribution to the SFAC’s Art in Storefronts exhibit will be unveiled at 998 Market Street. Today we made the final push to get everything ready for the big day. The *HUGE* neon sign was finalized and ordered, and 30+ specialty invitation Everything is OK cans were assembled and mailed.



fans of stickers.

Big things afoot over here. Our Facebook page recently added it’s 600th fan. I know, pretty awesome. As a thank you we sent a poster pack out to lucky number 600, and one to the fan who helped spread the word. Thank you guys. The pack included four MINE™ posters, and was laden with Everything is OK stickers.


the comp room.

As mentioned in previous posts, I love exploring the little details found within the studio’s exterior. For instance, items that come in the mail, or examining how process work is stored and organized. I love finding that stuff.

Inside the comping room, in what used to be a shower, lives the epic MINE™ design collection. All of the work is contained within 28 binders and a swath of poster tubes behind them. The binders house printed work, and are labeled accordingly: awesome design (there’s only like three pieces in that one), good type, process/materials, interesting format, design miscellanea, business cards, and many, many more. I went through a few of the binders and highlighted some of the interesting work.


in the mail.

One of my favorite aspects about interning at a design studio is combing through the design collection, and seeing how that everything is stored and organized. I love all of those little details. To me, MINE™’s collection seems vast.  Most of the pieces I file away in the collection come by way of the mail.


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.


art in storefronts.

As previously mentioned, MINE™ was chosen (along with other San Francisco artists) to participate in the Art in Storefronts project, curated by the San Francisco Arts Commission. We submitted a proposal and a sample mockup, and waited anxiously for the SFAC’s decision. Upon receiving the good news of our inclusion, high fives and hand shakes were exchanged in the office.

The Examiner had a nice write up about the project as well.


an intern alone.

Tim and Christopher have been in meetings and out of the office for most of the day, thereby leaving MINE™ in the hands of Summer/Fall 2009 intern (me, Ethan Davis). Being in the office alone is interesting. I always try to get a run down of what I’m supposed to be working on from C & T before they leave. There’s nothing worse than being stuck alone and unsure of what you’re supposed to be doing.


my plate.

Being an intern at MINE™ is a multi-faceted endeavor, one which requires the wearing of many different hats. A day is typically not spent working on one big project, but is broken up with a variety of tasks. I’ve found that being able to quickly and easily switch gears is a necessity. Similar to being tossed into the ocean; it helps to have a decent stroke. I came in today knowing what was on my plate, work-wise (food-wise is further down).



We’re in the middle of a cool, multi-faceted project over here. The San Francisco Art Commission recently started a city-wide art project called Art in Storefronts. The project allows local artists to place installations within vacant storefronts throughout San Francisco. MINE™ was selected to create an Everything is OK installation.


wednesday is the new thursday.

School started up last week, and so my schedule has changed. I’m here Monday through Wednesday — meaning I would potentially be missing out on our creative chats on Thursday’s.

But, as it turns out, we decided to move the creative chats / fun lunch to Wednesday! Yes! I still have good quality food to look forward to, aside from my standard PB&J and the candies that I hide in the desk.

Tim brought forth a topic for today’s discussion: innovation in graphic design. As a studio, how do we approach innovation? How does design in general approach innovation? Is it necessary?


1/3 of the way there.

Because I began interning at MINE™ earlier than expected, my anticipated internship start date would’ve been right around now. Like, actually, maybe even today.

I feel as if I’ve been given an intro to my position — kind of like a pre-internship. And now I’ve got the next four months to really nail it. (Not that I haven’t been trying hard. I have.)



in the mail.

I like getting the mail here, because we often get cool work. (That and I’m not personally responsible for any bills.) Below are a few pieces we recently received for CCA related events. All three are designed by friends and former classmates.

the alcove.

The MINE™ studio is a fairly small one. Not overly small; the size of the space is just right. There are lots of little nooks and crannies here. Today we look at one of those nooks (maybe it’s a cranny?): the alcove.

The alcove is a tidy little area where a good portion of the MINE™ portfolio lives. Each job is neatly filed alphabetically by job number. More work lives on the shelf above the alcove, and a myriad of print books and printer samples live in the lower cabinets.


1 + 1 = bad.

The other day Christopher and I were talking about (what else?) graphic design. For some reason the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) logo happened to be on the screen, and Christopher mentioned that, in addition to being a fine piece of design, it’s very prevalent on Canadian TV¹.

Later on in the day we were discussing (what else?) typography. This time on the screen was a font: Black Slabbath. It is a pretty rad font, but we mostly laughed about the name.


blogless in portland.

I apologize for bearing such heartbreaking news on this wonderfully mild Monday, but there will be no intern blogging this week. Some colleagues and I are taking a week long road trip up to the fixie capital of the world: Portland, Oregon.

Don’t worry, the blogging will be back next Monday with all of the veracity you expect!

In the meantime, see what’s happening in the world of Good Design.

Have a great week everyone!

good design.

We’re done!

Not really, actually. But all of the on-time submissions have been sorted and placed into their respective piles (yes, maybe, no). And the office is (mostly) back in tip-top shape. It was messy there for a little while. 100 FedEx boxes will do that.



Knowing a good lunch spot is like knowing a good designer. Once you find a good one, you recommend it to all your friends¹.

Such was the case regarding today’s lunch and creative meeting. Tim heard by way of an XXXXX XXXXXXXX article about the existence of a XXXXXXX district liquor store/tiny sandwich shop that concocts some of the most elaborate, super ingredients-filled sandwiches imaginable. Out of 12 total ingredients, 6 were meats: ham, chorizo, chicken, milanesa, hot dog, and bacon. We ordered three of them and then went, sat, ate, and talked in Jackson Park. Very filling; I only ate half.



Holy whoa! Things are abuzz over here as we’re reviewing all of these submissions. Lots of great stuff. We’re still very much in the thick of it, so check back tomorrow for a healthy photo/video laden update of the selection process.


good design book, part 1.

Over the past weeks a steady stream of packages have flooded our small office. Last week especially, as people rushed to get their submissions in. Friday was a non-stop doorbell-ringing, hauling boxes, unloading UPS/FedEx trucks type day. If you’re feeling numerically lucky, you can guess the number of submissions we’ve received to win an advance copy of The Good Book.


a full week of 8:30s.

Today marks the start of the second week with our brand new work schedule. If you remember way back to last Monday, we did what is commonly referred to as a workday switcheroo. We took the 9:00-6:00 time frame and effectively dropped thirty minutes off of either end. The office is now open 8:30-5:30. And on all accounts is going quite well.


Fridays are fun!

fridays are fun.

This gem recently came in the mail:

Notice the nifty H-U ligature on Thursday. Now that’s typography, right there.

mine™ is competitive.

MINE™ is a competitive firm. The design process here goes something like this: design something, then enter it into a competition. Since the spring I would guess we’ve submitted work to roughly 20-30 competitions. And on top of that, there are plenty of submissions to design books.


wednesday, august 12, 2009.

The play by play:

8:04 Arrived at Glen Park BART.
Boarded the 23.
Arrived at MINE™.
Delivered Giants fleece to Christopher.
Washed BART/MUNI yuck off my hands.
8:35 Checked mail, Google Reader, and some blog called Grain Edit.
8:41 Christopher and Tim discussed the daily events, meetings, and projects for the day.
Ran upstairs to fill my glass and take a pill.
Christopher leaves for a meeting.
Sorted through the various details for an invitation. Sent them to Tim.
Ate a banana.
Asked Tim, “Is there anything else to do on this?”
9:46:02 Tim: “Edit the text for clarity, and to get these CEO’s to come.”
9:50 I thesaurused these words: problem, difficulty, large.
9:58 Christopher back from appointment: “What did i miss?” Silence. “You’re kidding me!”
10:01 added Stars “Take Me To The Riot” to the playlist™ ’cause it has a catchy chorus.
10:11 Air drummed to Matt and Kim’s song Daylight.
10:18 Used Photo Booth to examine a spot on my lip.
10:40 Stock photo’d a person holding an umbrella in a storm for Tim.
10:55 Christopher and Tim discuss ideas for invite. The ideas get crazy.
11:00 Christopher and Tim bring out some binders for ideas, and have a talksy.
11:15 I tweeted something.
11:45 Christopher and Tim leave for a meeting.
12:10 I leave for food.
12:18 I get a sandwich (pastrami on rye), Snickers bar, and Diet Coke from The Good Life.
12:18:22 (Holding my fresh Diet Coke) I think: “This is the good life.”
12:25 Back from the Bernal Heights lunch walk. Quick peak at Facebook. Email. Jotted down an idea in Evernote. Plugged in my iPod. Opened that Diet Coke.
12:30 Played YACHT.
12:38 Played my three favorite Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy songs.
1:21 The mail came. I have a sinking suspicion that I’m losing a bet.
1:26 PDF’d some logos to submit to a book.
1:35 Got tired of Say Hi to Your Mom. Put on The Raveonettes instead.
1:38 Entered the comping room to put away the binders that were left out by me and two other people that work in the office.
1:47 Christopher made a joke about killing the cat.
1:50 Merging or emerging?
1:59 Confirmed. It was emerging.
2:03 Looked at some final logo’s for a project with Christopher.
2:05 Keynote color sampling capability demo from Christopher.
2:08 Sent Singular University logo to Tim via AIM.
2:11:25 Tim: “What are we listening to?”
2:11:27 Me: “The Raveonettes.”
2:26 Checked show info at Bimbos, the Great American, and Bottom of the Hill. Mmmm, good shows coming up.
2:26 Christopher: “Wow, that’s a really white group of people.”
2:55 Made coffee.
Loooooong invitation design brainstorming session.
3:12 Suggested an idea.
Told I was being too quiet.
Unsure of Christopher and Tim’s proposed direction for the invitation. I’m not as confident as they that it will work.
4:17 We look at and discuss paper samples. Now I think the direction is working better.
4:38 Affixed a shipping label to an Everything Is OK can.
5:01 Blogged.

this is our playlist™

There are three types of people who read this blog: designers, friends of designers, and those who wonder what kind of music we listen to in the office, and if we ever make playlists. This blog is primarily directed at that tertiary group.


filing is fun, if you want it.

When not designing compelling graphics packages and memorable identities while listening to the soft sounds of Indie Pop Rocks, MINE™ interns have the super exciting chance¹ to file stuff. Doesn’t matter what it is: business cards, one or two color work, awesome work, process oriented work, I’ll file the sheesh out of it, and you bet we’ll find it later when we need it.



Today was your standard graphic design studio Friday. More or less, pretty unexciting. Highlights included canning 12 Everything Is OK cans, and pricing a 5 foot by 1 foot by 14 letter neon sign. They’re cheaper than you might think, depending on what you think.



Following tradition, Thursday lunches at MINE™ are brimming with creativity. Christopher takes the office to a different restaurant each week, wherein we eat and discuss topics of personal interest and MINE™ related projects.

Today we went to Slow Club, located near the KQED building, between Potrero Hill and the Mission. Tim and I immediately saw and ordered the Cheesesteak sandwich, and Christopher had a burger. Tim and I also both had Guiness¹, with Christopher opting for a glass of pinot.

Today we hashed out ideas for a proposal to The city of San Francisco. The project attempts to beautify vacant storefronts in various SF neighborhoods. We tossed around various ideas for interesting, compelling, provoking storefronts. We’re sending out a proposal next week, so I’ll keep you updated with the status.

¹ I don’t like coming back to the office after having beer. I feel too mellow. Next time I’ll opt for the Diet Coke, my old standby.

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.


you’ve got (blog) mail.

Here at MINE™, we get tons and tons of blog related mail. I’m not talking about e-mail, I’m talking about good old fashioned snail’s mail.

When not creating compelling graphics programs and packages, interns at MINE™ sort through the blog mail. We love it, and we do it well. I even have a shirt that says, “I love Mail”.


fridays are fun.

O Friday, I love thee. Whoever invented the Friday (and the resulting weekend) sure had a good thing going.

Before starting at MINE™ my summer and I were pretty much on hold. Aside for a few projects, I wasn’t up to a whole lot. (“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Quit boring us Ethan, you already talked about all of this here.”) My point is, going from a steady diet of late-night cheese flavored snack chips and diet coke to a brisk 9:00–6:00 five day work week can be a real shocker. Obviously, I’ll take the 9:00–6:00 over the snack chips any day, but there’s definitely some adapting to do.


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.


making the cut.

Which design studio doesn’t maintain a pair of scissors? I’ll tell you which one: MINE™.

Today was a comping heavy, materials laden, hands-on, x-acto and tape type day. A day where scissors would have come in handy.

I was preparing a poster to be mailed and, in need of scissors, searched the comping room high and low (mostly low, there’s not much high) to no avail. Poking my head into the office, I asked where the scissors might be found. “There are no scissors in the office.” was the answer I was met with.

Christopher went on to explain that to the chagrin of many previous interns, scissors have always been consciously absent from the studio. In my mind scissors are a fundamental, essential, and highly usable item that you would find in any design comping room, and it seems slightly silly to not have a pair laying around.

But for the record, I was able to comp everything without the aid of scissors. The x-acto worked fine.

what does it take to be number 1?

A couple interesting things happened today: 1) I made coffee. 2) I used the wrong mug. And 3) I ran some errands.

After french-pressing my brew (Peet’s Fair Trade blend) and heading down to the office, I was informed that I had used the wrong mug. Specifically, I’d used Christopher’s. While Christopher just gave me a disapproving look, Tim was quick to set me straight, “You’re supposed to use the white ones on the bottom left.” My mistake was not dis-similar to a party foul. It’s something you just don’t do. Turns out all the mugs in the office are supposed to be identical. Now I know.


job meeting.

Today was my first Monday at MINE™, and therefore my first participation in the weekly job meeting. The job meeting is a run-through of all the active projects happening in the studio — all 32 of them. I knew they juggled a fair amount of work, but 32 seemed like quite a lot for two people and an intern.

As expressed in my list of goals, project management and the art of keeping projects on track is something I’d like to witness first-hand. Some of the projects are small (a business card), while others are huge (large-scale identity programs, writing a book). How do you manage all of the minute details of the big stuff, and still manage to start and finish work in between? It seems like details could easily get lost in the shuffle.



Cause/Affect is an AIGA sponsored, once every two years design competition. The idea is to award those designers whose work promotes or supports social causes. The only condition for work submitted is that it may not be used to profit a commercial organization. (You can see who won and who was nominated for the People’s Choice Awards here.) The competition is on display at the AIA/AIGA San Francisco headquarters (map) until August 7th.

A lot of the entries overlap with the scope of The Good Design Book, so we headed over to get a closer look. Overall, the design of the projects was outstanding. A wide range of topics are represented as well: health and welfare, the arts, education, politics, the environment, etc. Content-wise, I gravitated toward those projects that impact communities and individuals at a personal level. I also find it exciting when topics that we’ve seen a thousand times are presented and designed in a unique way that offers a new perspective. Recycling, for example, or global warming, or responsible driving for teens.


oscar printing and final invitations.

Today we got a look at the second color (a white foil) for the long-awaited, highly-anticipated San Francisco Parks Trust invitations. They look pretty good. I think the white foil adds nice pop and interest to the front, and blends nicely with the red type and recycled paper stock.

Having only visited one other printing company, it was informative attending a real press check (and it was on my list). Frank gave us a great tour of the Oscar Printing Co. premises. The size, volume, cost, and technical precision of the equipment was impressive. Each printer was staffed by a technician, with a large box of tools within arms reach. And no one sat idly by; all the technicians were actively monitoring and tinkering with the equipment. I wasn’t expecting this much action at the print shop.

Photos of the facilities and invitations after the jump.


11 things ethan wants from his internship.

Today started out a little differently. At 10:00am I met Christopher at Oscar Printing Co. for a press check on some recently designed invitations. We inspected the first of two colors, and everything looked good. Tomorrow the next color (actually a foil) should be finished, and we’ll get to see the final piece. Expect to see some amazing press check pictures.

Christopher requires new interns to turn in a list of goals and things that they’d like to learn while here at MINE™. Here’s my list:


start of the week.

Tim is back from Mexico, and everything here at MINE™ is humming along nicely. I arrived 20 minutes early to the office today, as I continue to figure out my East Bay commute and how coffee fits into it¹.

Today was a little busier day than I’ve been used to thus far. Here’s a quick recap:

1. Filed. A small mound of design office miscellany collected on my desk since Friday.

2. Mailed. Using the famous canning machine, I put together and shipped three Everything Is OK cans.

3. Packed. I put together a package using press sheets² of the Stern Grove poster.

4. I worked on the logo a bit more.

5. PowerPoint to poster. I converted four PowerPoint slides to 24×36″ posters.

6. First guest. A designer stopped by the studio today to meet with Christopher and show some work.

7. Second guest. A former MINE™ intern, Kate Earhart dropped in to deliver her wedding reception invites.

¹Ritual Coffee was great this morning, but I didn’t think it was quite worth the 8 block walk to and from BART.

²More about press sheets tomorrow.

end of the week.

Today marks the last day¹ of my first week. So, a little recap:

After a speedy introduction to the studio, my first project was to sketch ideas for an aforementioned logo. After much toil and pain, I’d say that there are a few interesting directions, but things are still pretty skeletal and rough. Not quite the start I had hoped for (I wanted to make everyone laugh, remember?), but definitely not bad either. As it turns out, I won’t be taking on the next stage of the project. I don’t return to the office until Tuesday, and in the meantime someone else will take my worthwhile directions and build upon them.


words and pictures.

Semi-frustrating day today. Not really that bad (*) actually, just slow going in the idea department. These last two days I’ve been working on logo ideas for a tech/internet/media type company and I haven’t quite pumped out the amazing forms I had hoped for. I mean, overall, there are some promising directions — It’s just a lot of brain-racking for a few crappy squiggles.


day one.

Hello! This is Ethan, the brand spanking new intern here at MINE™.

Originally I wasn’t slated to be (or blog) here until this Fall. Circumstances changed, however, and Christopher called me yesterday to see if I could start today. I said “You bet!” and that was that. Besides working on a few other projects, my summer had been wide open. But in the back of my mind I was very much aware of my ever approaching internship. I spent time wondering how it was going to go, how to make a good first impression, what I should wear, if I was going to fit in, if my design skills were up to par, and that hilarious something I would say on the first day to make everyone laugh and put me completely at ease, that kind of stuff.


the hand-off

Today Christopher and Co. returned from their trip out to the wilderness. He’s been keeping in touch via a somewhat spotty satellite uplink but now he’s back and things are back to normal — though not for long.

Tim leaves for a voyage down to Mexico for fun in the sun and will be sorely missed as there is a substantial volume of work to be done over the course of the next week. We spent much of today handing off projects, catching up, and generally focusing on the tasks at hand for upcoming week. Christopher and I will man the fort while Tim enjoys margaritas and swordfish under the blazing sun.

and then there were two

So this past week Christopher took some time off to enjoy family time, the great outdoors, s’mores, and patchy wireless reception on his iPhone.

That leaves just Tim and I to hold down the fort™, which has been going very smoothly beside my brief tango with sickness yesterday. Having Christopher out can be strange at times as Tim and I are very focused and vocally reserved while working. I often realize that we haven’t said anything for an hour and that we’ve been listening to a strange internet radio station for even longer than I could recall. Having Christopher away generally means an increase in writing down missed calls and an increase in the importance of being self-directed as an intern. Staying focused is even more important when there isn’t someone behind you poking you with a stick and addressing you as intern™.

Picture 1

slow days

Every once in a while, a day will come along where as an intern – there isn’t much to do. Christopher and Tim were busy today finalizing important projects, attending meetings, and dealing with clients so I was left to fend for myself. Organizing, filing, my “long term to do” list – all were visited today and I still had a large amount of spare time on my hands.

It can be frustrating at times to feel the desire and pressure to work and be productive without the guidance to do so. Throughout the day I was given really short jobs which I did with pleasure, but a lot of the day was spent looking for things to do which made the clock tick a little slower than usual. Thankfully there are very few days like this, and I’m sure sometime in the future I’ll be cursing myself for not relishing the periods of tranquility.

p.s. While researching for a new MINE™ product in the works, I found this unfortunately named mug printer:

intern™ is back

Ah, how wonderful it feels to be back in the hammock saddle.

After spending a week on the beautiful island of The Abacos playing beach volleyball, out-boating rainstorms, sipping “Bahama Mama’s,” and getting incredibly sunburned – it felt great to step outside SFO and let the foggy bay wrap it’s arms around me once again. Even in the tropical setting, it took a few days to fully unwind as I would wake up in an unfamiliar bed, concerned with making it to Bernal Heights by 9am.

Although the crystal blue waves, tropical heat and charming Hopetown community took my head away from responsibilities and worries for a week – it feels good to be at the desk and working again.

Upon my gloriously tanned arrival, I had a table full of reference materials, samples and books to put away which kept me busy for most of the day. It provided an easy transition back into the worklife as I re-familiarized myself with where all our materials are kept. It’s obvious that Christopher and Tim haven’t been slacking as projects have ended, begun anew and progressed during the time I was gone. Projects that were only being discussed before I left have been tackled headfirst and are well along the first round by now. Life in a design studio is fast-paced, and it’s comforting to know that things don’t fall apart when intern™ isn’t around to help out.


Today I was reduced to the title of “intern.” I’d like to think that this is an endearing new title. Like “Judge,” or “officer,” or “Lord.” It has a feeling of authority, like I am THE intern. All before me have attempted to become the figurehead, the mascot. But no. Sorry folks. I am intern. Intern is leaving town for a week to bask under the Bahama sun and have fruity drinks brought to me by beautiful locals while I sunburn on the beach in thrift store sunglasses. I’m sure “Principal” and “Wacom Sorcerer” will do just fine without me. Right?

Back in a week!


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.


Throughout my experience as an intern thus far – a day hasn’t passed without my technical, organizational, and thinking skills being pushed into unfamiliar and sometimes – uncomfortable new territory. It’s unnerving, exciting, and a bit frightening all simultaneously.

Whether it’s being asked to perform design or administrative tasks – everything is seemingly new. Especially the behind-the-scenes operations in a design firm. From quoting prices on plastic baggies and military patches to answering phones and keeping the office organized – there is always something to do and I’m learning to keep myself on task (something which often proves difficult for me in school).

One of the broader lessons I’ve learned while being here is to take the initiative. Rather than wait until Christopher or Tim ask for something to be done – I try and look for things to do. Keeping MINE™ a well-oiled machine is my job, and I’d like to think I’m getting better as the days go by. Of course, taking the initiative is a way of acting and thinking, something I plan on improving upon during my time here.


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.

the ropes

Today I started the task of updating and reformatting the “new intern guide.” Oona Lyons put together a very comprehensive guide to getting used to the intern position and all the duties it requires, and Christopher requested that I reformat it from a staple bound volume into a binder. That way, as things evolve in the office from intern to intern – it can easily be updated to help the next intern down the line.

It was nice to go through Oona’s literary flourishes about her experience here. She kept chocolate in her desk. She described Christopher as a “social butterfly.” Obviously I deleted those comments and added my own in but that is the nature of time and the legacy of the MINE™ internship. The guidebook was originally created for Dexsy Repuyan, a classmate of mine who worked here 2 semesters ago. Oona opens up the guidebook with a letter to Dexsy with hopes that she has a “seperate but equal experience.” I hope the same for whoever sits in this chair in 3 months time.


Before an intern starts their first day at MINE™, Christopher requests that they bring in a list of things they want to get out of the time spent here. I think the request is significant for two reasons. One being that I really value the fact that Christopher actually cares about what my expectations and hopes are regarding what I extract from the experience. Another being that it forced me to really confront just what I feel my time here would best be spent focusing on. Here is my list, with some posthumous commentary added on.

1. Learn to approach problems from multiple angles and viewpoints before settling on a direction.

I feel that I too often approach problems with my initial solution. I think learning to experiment, evaluate and move forward with the most successful solution would be an approach I would benefit from.

2. Learn to be more responsible as far as time management and deadlines are concerned.

No room for error at MINE™.

3. Try to consider the client’s input when brainstorming for a design instead of trying to convince them that the solution I arrived upon my own is better.

One can hope.

4. Try to become more meticulous about completely crossing every “t” and dotting ever “i” in my designs.

Yes. The typo was originally there when I showed Christopher. Maybe this is the one I need to work on the most.

5. Learn to harness the chaos.

Balancing control and unpredictability. I certainly have the latter.

6. Create something lighthearted with happy colors.

Stern Grove bird and bunny. √

7. To contribute conceptually and graphically to projects at MINE™.

I’d like to think that I am doing this.

8. Learn how to work outside of my design crutches and still retain elements of my taste. (Become a little more adaptable)

9. Sit in on client meetings so I can hear how a successful  (or unsuccessful) pitch goes.

10. Learn how to properly photograph and display my work.

Soon enough we will be shooting some work for an upcoming top secret project. So yes, this will be happening.

11. Become comfortable with articulating my opinions about design. TALK about design more.

Thursday lunches, feedback from Christopher and Tim, and writing in the blog are already helping me solidify my stance as a designer.

12. Have a good time.


ring twice

At MINE™ we see a lot of mail come through daily. Whether it’s promotional cards for printers, brochures for new paper companies, mailing lists we’ve signed up for (sign up for the Sci-Arc mailing list, beautiful work done by Brian Roettinger of Hand Held Heart!) etc…

One of the nicer (and less annoying) pieces to receive in the mail are thank you letters, gifts, and portfolio promotions! See below for further information.

Christopher is commonly asked to judge portfolio reviews and competitions nationwide, and one way to make yourself a little more memorable to the judges or reviewers is to send them a thank you card! These came in today.

And here is a gift…chest that Christopher received for judging the Applied Arts competition.

Goodies inside, sadly – no dubloons. Next time.

And here is a nice portfolio promotion Christopher recently recieved from Drew Marshall. Looks like he likes our website too! More on mail soon to come.


the cockpit

Here is a first person view of the responsibilities and tools that come with the intern position at MINE™.

An overview of the station that many have manned (and mostly womanned) before me.

This is a small taste of what it’s like to sit at the helm.

iMac: 2.8ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2gb ram.

Eames Aluminum Group Chair (I feel more productive just sitting in it)

The phone: One of the duties of the intern is to answer the phone, take messages, fend off telemarketers, etc…

Bose Volume Control: Yes, the intern has control over the volume of the music in the office! Right now we are listening to the new Tobacco album and it is good. Very good. Turn it up at your own risk.

Binders: Here you will find all the pending and past documentation for competitions. One of the main duties of the intern is to enter, document, and keep track of both upcoming and past competitions. When we win an award a yellow sticker gets placed on the folder for that competition. These binders may as well be yellow.

Job List: Every Monday we have a job meeting where we discuss the current state of each job currently open in the studio. At this point, there are about 15 open.

Notepad: For notes.

Sunglasses: Because Bernal Heights is windy and when I arrive to work after riding my bike from my house in the Mission I prefer not to look like I’ve been up all night crying. Also great  for taking a nice lunch break in the park down the street or for looking really cool when filing in the office.

Stuff: Christopher and Tim reference a lot of things for inspiration or research and when they’re done with them it is the interns responsibility to file them in their correct location. Books live in the book cabinet (organized chromatically by spine), job samples in the filing cabinet, and collected design objects go in the tower. (previously a shower)


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)

get out and ride

Today was the second installment of our weekly lunch sessions here at MINE™, where we discuss inspiration and whatever else is on our minds. Christopher set the theme of today’s conversation – designer monographs. As we passed around examples of books that we loved and hated (and more often a combination of both) – I began to consider the dilemma of how a firm goes about representing itself. It’s an odd situation when your business is based on providing a service to others and it comes time to provide the service to yourself. An issue that I felt with many of the monographs were that they felt either rigid and calculated or careless and self-indulgent. My favorite of the books was Cahan and Associates’ I Am Almost Always Hungry. Not necessarily because of the work included  (although it is nice), but the scope of material, both structured work and “why not” moments. Found objects, snapshot photography, full spread type. It felt alive and personal and immediate but also presented the goals and attitude of the firm.

An issue I’ve been grappling with for a long time is the balance between designing for designers and designing from the gut. And I’m finding that it’s an issue students and professionals alike confront on a daily basis. I’m constantly questioning the choices I make when designing something or even when thinking about design in general. The broader question is whether to abide by the rules that have been established and upheld by your predecessors or to make things because you feel it boiling in your gut. Basing your decisions on your raw, brash instincts. Usually the best work comes from a masterful balance of both.

I’ve heard time and time again throughout my education at CCA that you have to learn the rules to break them – and a part of me feels like that’s a very “designer” way of looking at the debate. Something that Massimo Vignelli would say from behind his spotless modernist desk and Eames lamp. Designers have this deep-rooted desire to justify every choice, and to lean on reasoning rather than raw feeling. The grunge movement in the 90s sought out to destroy that notion but even the anti-establishment, kick in the throat approach popularized by David Carson, Emigre and the Cranbrook Academy has become a commodified visual language endorsed by “edgy” Reebok campaigns and MTV culture. So where do we go now? Where does a student go to become inspired by something other than annuals, fancy import books or hip blogs?

I find myself looking more and more for inspiration outside of the design world as my education nears it’s end. In a lecture Stefan Sagmeister gave at the 2004 TED Conference he spoke about the moments that stood out in his life when he realized he was truly happy. The story that always stands out in my mind is when he spoke of listening to the brand new Police album (1983′s Synchronicity) while piloting his brothers motorcycle through the mountains of his hometown in Bregenz. The design of the Yamaha motorcycle, the Police cassette tape and the Sony Walkman certainly did contribute to the wonder of his experience while speeding through the mountains, but it was ultimately his emotional connection to the setting, the freedom of the open road and his willingness to let go of the rules that allowed all the elements to define the experience as one of his “happiest”. Maybe sometimes we just need to get out there and ride.

First you pick one of the many, lucky cans to be saved from the wretched future of becoming a container for a Hormel product of some kind.

canned social activism

Everything is OK began as a simple project in our design studio. Faced with the mounting inequities in our world and culture, we set out to assemble a list of resources that would point people toward positive action. We launched a simple website as a means of sharing these links. To promote the site, we created barricade tape with the incongruous message “everything is ok.” The tape was first deployed during the 2006 US election, and then again during a massive pillow fight in San Francisco. The response to the tape was overwhelming, and we quickly realized that people were more interested in the tool we had created than the project it was designed to promote. It started showing up in design annuals, museum collections, books and blogs. People started writing to us asking for tape of their own. Gradually, we became interested in exploring the possibilities represented by this intersection of design, art and activism.

Here is what goes into creating each can:

First you pick one of the many, lucky cans to be saved from the wretched future of becoming a container for a Hormel product of some kind.

These have been pre-filled by one of the employees at MINE™ with rolls-onto which the OK tape will be wrapped.

This device (designed by Oona Lyons) is then cranked 172 times in order to transfer 100ft. of tape from the larger spool to the roll that will be placed back inside the can.

Once the roll is placed inside the can, some OK goodies are added to the mix. Stickers shown here.

And buttons shown here.

More button fun.

Once all the goods have been placed in side the can, the signature OK sticker is applied and carefully wrapped around the perimeter of the can so that the graphics align perfectly. (Tougher than I expected)

And lastly the can is placed into the grips of this beast of a tool – where the MINE™ intern develops a healthy sweat and cranks until the can is completely sealed and air-tight.

Victory! Social activism in a can. Use at your own risk.


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.


Every Thursday at MINE™ we take some time out from the work day, enjoy lunch together and share some things we’ve recently been inspired by. On this particularly sunny day in Bernal Heights, we relaxed in the backyard and indulged in some Indian pizza from local restaurant Zante’s.

Having a ritual like the Thursday lunch is another one of the really great aspects of working at MINE™. It’s a chance to get to know each other from a different vantage point – not from behind a desk or under the pressures of a strict deadline. The opportunity to recline in the back patio underneath the trees, talk loosely about design and life in general, and take a much deserved break from the work we’ve been putting in was a nice breath of fresh air and a tradition I’m looking forward to upholding.

After we had our fill of Indian pizza (pretty incredible by the way) we headed back downstairs and I showed some of my most recent work to Christopher and Tim. I was pleasantly surprised with the range and scope of the work I’ve done at CCA. It’s not every day that I pull out all of the pieces and look at them as a body of work. The progression from Level 1 to current work was pretty startling – assignments that seemed stressful and challenging at the beginning of my design education look simple and almost trivial now. I suppose those feelings are evidence of my own progress as a designer – and I’m sure I’ll have similar feelings in a few years when I look at the work I’m doing now. I can only hope to keep progressing and learning and challenging myself with every new project.

Some really nice work that has been inspiring me lately is by the studio Hort in Berlin. They do some really unexpected and beautiful things with type and lo-fi imagery that are really discordant and dynamic (Nathan Cowen, a CCA grad works there as well! See his work here). Also check out the gorgeous print work by Neil Donnelly.


Today was an eventful day at MINE™ as it was the last day in the office for both previous interns, Heidi Reifenstein and Nathan Sharp. We started the morning with some standard intern duties like shipping some Everything is OK posters and tape from the MINE™ site (one to Stefan Sagmeister), and some more creative moments during our brainstorming session for the re-naming and re-branding of a national non-profit. I was really surprised to see how strongly encouraged we (the interns) were to contribute ideas to the pool of names. We all spoke out when we felt we had something worth proposing (and sometimes even when we knew it wouldn’t work). The simple act of exhausting all the possibilities creates the most stable ground from which to move forward. Once we’d dumped the contents of our brains onto sticky notes and transcribed through scribbles in Moleskines – we left to celebrate the final work day for Heidi and Nathan at a Korean restaurant on Polk Street.

Nathan rode shotgun and I was in the back as Heidi piloted us in her veggie oil powered Volkswagen towards Hahn’s Hibachi. It was great to hear Nathan and Heidi reflecting on their time at MINE™, the ups and the downs. It gave me a little taste of what is to come and I have to say I’m more than excited. Seeing the four of them at lunch, talking, joking and  laughing really showed me that the interns at MINE™ are treated less like employees and more as peers. It’s inspiring and comforting to see that familial aspect of MINE™ up close. Past interns like Jennifer Hennessy, Emily Craig, Oona Lyons, Dexsy Repuyan and others all have expressed the same sentiment to me – that once you stop working at MINE™ the relationship doesn’t cease with the position. I know Heidi and Nathan know this and that they truly enjoyed their time here. I was sad to see them go – but simultaneously excited for the future and for my own relationship with MINE™, the working world, and design in general to develop in an environment that I know is much more than a paycheck.