Design studio focused on book design, illustration, and environment design



Be curious

“Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. What people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.”

Aaron Swartz

Books, Creativity, Ideas

The Mental Kaleidoscope

Mountain 1 by Laura Brown, as seen through a kaleidoscope

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Mark Twain,

Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review

Quoted from Good Reads

“There is no such thing as a new idea.”

Try as we may to create original work, we have been influenced by the things we have seen and read. Our task is gather as great a variety of images and ideas as possible, and arrange them in such a way that they exactly meet the requirements of the project we have in front of us. If we do our job well, the problem we were given and the solution we find will align perfectly.

There is a great value to that fitting, that matching of key to lock, and we should be proud of a job well done. But not too proud. As designers or artists, writers or thinkers, we should approach our work with humility, recognizing that the things we produce have roots that go back deeper than we can imagine.

Creativity, Ideas

East of Eden—Stories that resonate

“No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us.
…And of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. …A great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting—only the deeply personal and familiar.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Being Human, Books

All things new: Hope for a Merry Christmas

All things new-2015-12-26-01
You don’t have to look far to find signs that the world is not what it should be—broken relationships, tension and strife, violence, oppression and injustice. Even nearer than these external signs, I know my own heart often goes wrong and my mind is often poisoned. When I look at my own thoughts I find anger and envy, vanity and greed, pride and selfishness—countless other toxic currents that pull me away from what I love in my better moments. Against the problems of the world and cancers in our hearts, graphic design can seem like a waste of time. Any work we do, in fact, can seem futile.

Merry Christmas. We sing “joy to the world” and hope for “peace on earth” but there isn’t much of either. There is no peace in the world around us, and in our hearts we find the same battles being fought, and often lost. But even so, I have hope for the future:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

From Revelation 21

I am thankful to serve a God who is making all things new, restoring and remaking the earth and all that is within it. If my hope were in my portfolio or my skills, my savings account or my social capital, it would be a false hope and a small comfort. But the fact is the only hope I have for myself or the world, for peace, and joy, and life itself, is in Him. That hope fills my life, and gives deeper meaning to my work as a designer. Because of him it can be, and is, a Merry Christmas.

Being Human, Ideas

To take a photograph is a creative act

There are a lot of choices that go into making a photograph–the moment and angle you take the picture, what you include in the background and what you crop out, the distance from the subject and the focal length. We tell the story we choose to tell in our photographs, and this short video from Canon illustrates that truth well.

“A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what’s in front of it. To prove this we invited six photographers to a portrait session with a twist. ‘Decoy’ is one of six experiments from The Lab, designed to shift creative thinking behind the lens.” From Canon’s The Lab

To take a photograph is an act of creation, but it is also an act of curation, of simplification and reduction.

To take a photograph is an act of creation, but it is also an act of curation, of simplification and reduction. Out of an entire situation or scene we select one small portion of, and we hold that small slice of the moment up as a representation of the whole scene.

We have a sense that the photograph is a truth-teller, that images don’t lie. But each image is the product of a selective reduction of a complex moment in time. A photograph can’t help but be “lower resolution” than the real moment, and so something is always edited out.