The Fourth Wall

3.31.09 A Not-So-Washington Washington Event

Some things about event design are very different these days and some things have remained the same over time. One aspect that never changes: A well-branded event ensures that an organization’s message is put forward with clarity and power.

The Center for Democracy & Technology held their annual Gala dinner event recently. It all started with an e-invitation (shown above), saving paper, postage, and allowing for iterations as sponsor committees grew. This is also extremely appropriate for a forward-thinking Internet policy leader like CDT.

Entering the venue, the Gala typography and message–Leading the Internet in Transition–greets guests and sets the tone for an exciting evening.

The event program and a laptop sticker give-away carry the graphical elements from the e-vite to each place setting at over 60 tables.

Color-coordinated centerpieces are a nice touch.

CDT’s tagline–written by Leslie Harris, President– is an excellent example of summarizing a complex organization’s message into a few powerful words. We projected the tagline to the left and right of the main stage at the event.

For the main stage, the event’s theme and the essential elements of CDT’s tagline are combined as a simple but effective backdrop and worked well behind keynote speakers Chairman Jon Leibowitz (FTC) and US Congressman Rick Boucher (Chair of the Subcommitte on Communications, Technology and the Internet). Best of all… that blazing hot red electric guitar! Yes, a group from the tech-community, including CDT founder Jerry Berman on drums–took the stage and rocked the house!

It was really an exciting, lively evening that–most importantly–met CDT’s goal for forwarding their message and agenda.

To view CDT’s previous Gala materials visit the designfarm portfolio.

3.28.09 DESIGN MATTERS [by Molly] #2

Mom says: A few posts ago, I ranted on about the fantastic and enduring design of Converse Chuck Taylor Allstar sneakers. Here’s Molly, to talk about hers.

My mom LOVES her artistic chucks, but not nearly as much as I do! I am saving money to buy a new custom-made pair. The amazing thing about the Converse web site is that you can design your own personal pair however you like.

Pictured above: These happen to be my favorite pair of Chucks right now because I customized them with mismatched shoe laces. And also they’re orange!

Mom says: It’s really cool when successful companies turn their customers into design partners… and it’s super smart marketing in today’s I-gotta-be-me world.

3.28.09 DESIGN MATTERS [by Molly] #1

Using a laptop for most of my work at designfarm, means that my projects travel home with me and this invites more opportunities to share what I do as a professional designer with my family. My daughter, Molly  (age 11), has become particularly interested and engaged in all things design-related; discussing logos and book cover design with me when we get home from work and school and even (gasp) talking about being a designer.

For now, Molly mainly needs to concentrate on being a sixth grader–grappling with linear functions, French vocabulary and science projects, among a zillion other things–but the kid just can’t help paying attention to and thinking about design.

So I’d like to introduce a regular column (when Molly’s homework is done!) where she can share her ideas about design… the good, the not so good, and the sublime. Take it away MOLLY!

A table of contents is used to find any item/chapter in a book, right? I can barely call this a table of contents. It was created sloppily and messily, I could hardly find what I needed, when I needed it!  If you can find anything in it in under 5 minutes that’s amazing!

Mom says: This is a kind of trendy/hipster treatment for a TOC, but what good is trendy if it doesn’t work? This is a classic example of form NOT following function.

This took awhile to figure out the words. It’s not readable and is poorly designed! Complaint 1; the “N” isn’t understandable. Complaint 2; the “G” looks out of order and sloppy. This doesn’t work because as an advertisement you would want people to buy from you, but if your ad isn’t readable then no one will know what or why you’re selling that item.

Mom says: This isn’t a new concept (people as letter forms) but I’ve seen it done much more effectively. Perhaps this falls into the “too much of a good thing” category. One word built out of human characters would be plenty. Three words becomes… difficult. There’s also possibly a problem of scale. If this were a billboard you’d have a better chance at reading the words from a great distance. But who reads a magazine from more than a foot away?

Molly and I hope you enjoy this column. If you are a school-age kid who thinks about design, drop us an email, we’ll write back!

1.30.09 Stitching with Pixels

With the Blogosphere Christmas Police breathing down my neck for leaving my holiday lights up too long, I bring you the next post in our series: Pixels Are Everywhere. Sometime back, former staffer Sarah Ensminger posted about pixelated Army camo uniforms among other things that brought to mind the way designers have to think about images in these digitized times. This week, while we were iced in at home (no school! yippee!), and as I was ruining my eyesight by cross stitching on black fabric I realized: Aha! Pixels again! These suckers are EVERYWHERE. More about cross stitching in a sec.

Above, one of my earliest and most cherished Etsy purchases, a series of needlepointed portraits by the ingenius artist, Tiny Rat. Look at the edges of the curves here… they’re crude, just like when a missing image file pixelates. Along with being visually brilliant and humorous, the kicker with these is the subversion of an artsy craftsy activity of yesteryear… needle-pointing with childishly hued chunky yarn on plastic. But instead of kittens we have fabulous fat dead drag queens, snarling punk rock superstars, and pop culture weirdos. I LOVE IT! Who is pictured here? You tell me!

Here is one of my first cross stitch pieces, from a kit by another crafts genius, Julie Jackson of Subversive Crossstitch. I created this for my daughter Molly, who didn’t think it was nearly as funny as I did. Mooooooooom!!!! When Julie and I first connected we traded one of my custom charm bracelets for one of her subversive samplers. It’s too subversive for this blog, but you can see it at So Charmed by clicking on one our collaborative pieces.

This close up will allow you to see the pixels. What’s really cool is that (duh!) depending upon how many squares to the inch make up your fabric, the image will enlarge or reduce accordingly. Whatever was done on Aida 14 (cross stitch jargon for fabric with 14 squares per inch) which is easy on your eyes. Fabric is also available in 11, which seems huge when you finish with it but is a good way to learn the craft. Again, it’s the subverting of this old, traditional, “women’s work” craft that really makes me smile.

This is the sort of thing you probably think of when (if?) you think about cross stitch. Super cutesy, sugary sweet animal portraits, sometimes with annoyingly sentimental sayings like: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Yuck! (Although the doggies are kind of cute aren’t they??)

But make no mistake… like anything, cross stitch can get WAY (way) out of control. I love this partially completed Mona Lisa, which is, in a way, unintentionally subversive. What would Leonardo think? Probably not much!

And, BTW, just to let you in on the insanity of this craft, we are discussing counted cross stitch. What this means is that the pattern is printed (see above) on a piece of graph paper and you are left facing a blank white piece of fabric with which you will be counting each and every itty bitty square as you stitch. So, it’s not as mindless as it seems. It’s actually pretty challenging. In a semi-mindless sort of way.

Here is one of my works-in-progress. I’m using cross stitch on little pairs of mismatched cuffs created from reclaimed men’s shirts… adding lots of lacy goodness and other crap Jodi-ish embellishments. I’m selling these cuffs at So Charmed and Courtney Love Cobain bought one of the first pairs!

Here is a finished pair… I love the juxtoposition of the oxford shirt fabric with frilly ventian lace. Cross stitch alphabets come in all kinds of crazy fonts too, including lots of sans faces, Celtic-influenced calligraphy, and super fussy monogram styles. Alphabets, and other patterns are often available free on the Internet.

I’ll leave you pondering Stitching with Pixels with one last Tiny Rat piece (really, you MUST visit her shop). In this case, there’s perhaps less subversion… I think Andy Warhol would have absolutely LOVED this, don’t you?

12.17.08 A Shiny Bright Season

More of a “Festivus for the Rest of Us” kind of gal, even an old Scrooge like me can appreciate certain things about the holiday season, one of which is the over-the-top glittering lights display of Hampden. What? You don’t know Hampden? Hon, let me en-lighten you (heh heh).

Located in Baltimore, MD, the neighborhood first came into being in 1802 as a cluster of houses built for workers who manned the newly erected flour and cotton mills along the Jones Falls Stream Valley.

The small-town atmosphere still has a distinct blue-collar vibe, but has also been gentrified, becoming a highly desirable address for artists and other Bohemian types. 36th Avenue (known by locals simply as th’Avenue) now boasts trendy boutiques (Ma Petit Shoe sells fabulous shoes AND fancy chocolates… what more can a girl ask for?) and eateries sprinkled between funky thrift- and bonafide junk-stores.

Also famous for a certain type of big-hair B’More Girl (think John Waters… and drag queen/actor Divine as Edna Turnblad in the original 1988 film, Hairspray), she who addresses everyone as “Hon,” Hampden hosts HonFest every summer, a festival of beehive ‘do’s and all things retro-tacky.

This time of year, head a couple of blocks over to 34th Avenue to see a neighborhood that takes its Christmas lighting VERY seriously. With everything from hubcap-decorated trees to lights strung back and forth across the street, this is a seasonal must-experience. Arrive just after dark to beat the crowds, and see if you can get a table at Cafe Hon afterwards for a bite to eat, making sure to save room for an enormous piece of coconut cake or the best bread pudding ever.

See you down th’Avenue, hon! And, happy hols to you and yours from Jodi-hon, a big-haired B’more Girl.
. Plasmacimouncio .

11.20.08 Let’s Go on a Field Trip!

No, not to some futuristic alien-infested location straight outta your favorite sci-fi novel… in fact, we’re going to take a trip into the Past, the Present, and the Future. Simultaneously. Without a time machine! Designers have dubbed this adventure The Press Inspection, and with increasing rarity in our cost-conscious, hyper-paced profession, I relish these opportunities to visit favorite local print shops where good old-fashioned American industrial manufacturing meets frighteningly cutting-edge digital technology. The alienesque photo above? We’ll get to that in a minute. Or two. But first: How did we end up here on a gray day in November?

Today’s field trip actually begins on the other side of the world in a small children’s residential school called Yemin Orde Youth Village, near Haifa, Israel. Founded in 1953 to accommodate Holocaust orphans during the great immigration waves of the fifties, today the 77-acre campus is home to more than 500 children from war-torn and otherwise devastated countries around the world.

Crossing the ocean quickly to Washington, DC, a small office in an apartment building on Connecticut Avenue, we find one of designfarm‘s longterm clients, Friends of Yemin Orde. The American-based fundraising arm of the Israeli youth village, FYO financially supports the programs, the children, and the graduates of the school, as well as other disenfranchised youth who are served by outreach programs.

Next stop, a small unassuming brick building facade in Baltimore, Maryland, home of one of The Whitmore Group‘s printing plants, Schneidereith & Sons (fine printing since 1849, 5 generations of printers). This will all come together, you’ll see.

Entering the building, the acrid but weirdly pleasant and somehow comforting smell of printer’s ink threatens to potentially knock you out… until your senses adjust. And as soon as you get past the front office, you know that as a designer you are about to enter another world all together, far from your  groovy little office with its cheap-&-chic Ikea furnishings and an Apple computer or two; a world with a rich century-hopping history AND incredibly up-to-the-minute digital technologies. This is where the rubber meets the road the ink hits the paper. Yet, it’s so ultra-sparkling clean you could eat off the floor.

Just down that long shiny hallway and slightly to the left, is housed one of the most monstrous printing presses you’ve ever seen. The Heidleberg Speedmaster XL-105-41 (at a prices topping 3 million dollars, you may want to buy one used here) is just that… a fiercely speedy piece of German engineering, which when fully revved up will put 18,000 6-color impressions of your project onto paper per hour. A run of 750 pocket folders for Friends of Yemin Orde (two sides!) is completed in about half an hour. And I get to watch!

In fact I am invited to climb aboard the beast (I stupidly ask: Do I need a hard hat? Because I’ve always wanted to wear one…) where I am able to witness–close up and personal–the fact that despite the amazing computer technologies running this badboy… it’s still a lot of beautifully messy gloppy wet inks being laid down with perfection onto luscious bright white paper. The image at the top of this post shows the front end of the press where said paper begins its ridiculously fast journey.

The real reason I am there of course, is NOT to climb around the equipment squealing with genuine excitement and taking photos so I can write another endless (but fascinating, right?) blog post. It’s so I can do the job I am paid for by my client, the aforementioned press inspection.

We will look through a magnifying glass called a loop, refer to our Pantone color guides, check our ink draw downs (for this project, we had ink specially mixed and tested because we wanted something we just couldn’t exactly find amongst Pantone’s 6000 choices)… all to make absolutely certain that the end product is drop-dead gorgeous and will perfectly support our client as they approach donors for millions of dollars on behalf of the children of Yemin Orde (we call this full-circle).

But wait, there’s more.

While I’m at Schneidereith & Sons, “on press” as we say, I am treated to a few other eye-popping lessons in modern printing. Lying around the Epson Digital Press (a machine 1/10th the size of that Heidleberg but pretty impressive in its own right) are sheets from another of our projects. At right, designfarm‘s post-move updated business cards, along with former business partner, computer consulting experts MacLab‘s promotional folder inserts… looking so… well, Warholian.

Left, is a lovely water color painting. Do printers paint too?? Maybe. But this in fact is not a painting. It’s a high-end digital reproduction, output on archival canvas. A legal fake! Whoa! How’d they do that?

Turns out, The Whitmore Group has been doing a lot of that lately. Pictured left, the beautiful Hasselblad H3D 39-Megapixel Medium Format Digital camera (German engineering again, and with a price tag of $32,000 this ain’t no Powershot, ok?) with which ancient works of fine art are photographed, including many important corporate and government portraits, in order to create amazingly authentic reproductions on archival canvas. (Memo to self: If graphic design career tanks, think forgery, ebay, &tc. JUST KIDDING!).

Pictured right, Whitmore’s digital reproduction of a painting of Paul Morton, Secretary of the Navy, 1904-1905 with whom my rep, one Joseph Wagner, shares a certain uncanny bald-guy-with-bushy-moustache resemblance. Joe, and his moustache, have been in the industry for 30+ years. Talk about expertise. And in case you don’ t know, printing experts are truly an endangered species of sorts. Which is why we value the partnership with the few and the proud, like Mr. Wagner. And his moustache.

Not to get all sentimental or anything, but there is a definite price–and I’m not talking just monetary–to all of these present and futuristic advances in what was once a vibrant outgrowth of industrial-revolution America. If you are of a certain age (who me?), as you are escorted through the pristine plant, you remember a time when instead of the muted hum of enormous and enormously sophisticated machines, there was a constant deafening noise… and there were people (wearing ear plugs). Lots and lots and lots of people. Whole huge shifts worth of apprentice and master pressmen, plate-makers and strippers (NOT THAT KIND)… to name a few of the profession’s occupational casualties. So although this blogging queen loves watching technology march on, I acknowledge that there are losses. And it does make me sad.

But let’s end on a cheery note. Thank goodness we can still smell that ink in the air. Because baby, when that goes, I am SO outta here.

10.29.08 Chucks Rock

File this post under Great design never goes out of style, but more importantly, under How a seemingly unrelated object from the world we live in makes its way into our professional design lives. A perfect example of how cultural phenomena in sports, fashion, music and yes, even graphic design, can converge in an effective and meaningful way.

But first, some back story. Waaaay back.

The history of the shoe pictured above (my red hightops) is a history of 20th century America; too long to document in this post.

Briefly, Converse rubber-soled All-Stars basketball shoe was first produced in 1917 and quickly made famous by the brand’s namesake, Hoosier player Charles Taylor who became the shoe’s best salesman/evangelist. Other highlights on the shoe’s resumé include: 1939 | The fist NCAA championship basketball tournament was held. Both teams wore Converse All Stars, 1950’s | The shoe becomes popular with rockabilly fans and other music subculture types, 1970’s | The Ramones popularize the shoe for punk rockers and teenage girls wear them in high school hallways all over America (back then mine cost under $20 and my daughter Molly age 10 just bought her first pair), 1990’s | Another music-related resurgence of the retro style within Seattle’s grunge culture and, 2000’s | Spotted on fashion models, hipsters, in music videos, and all over the streets of most major cities worldwide. You just can’t keep this shoe down!

So. When we located the image pictured left for a Friends of the Library membership development brochure design, I rewrote the publication’s title in order to employ the image most effectively. As can happen, the combination of a great image and a great headline is often too tempting to resist. This became the winning comp in the series.

I’m happy to announce that the brochure delivered yesterday and they are gorgeous. From the client: “Our brochures are phenomenal, and I mean phenomenal! From me: YAY!!!! And, HOW FUN!

While I may always favor some version of the classic black and white…

I will also occasionally fall hard for something as utterly silly as those pictured above. I love ‘em but something tells me that glittery unicorns is not quite what hoops-star Charles Taylor had in mind back in 1917. Do you have a favorite pair of Chucks? Send us a photo and we’ll do a recap of this post.

Want to join the club? Visit zappos.com to find pages and pages of styles in many fabrics, colors, and prints, including collaborations with major designers such as Ed Hardy and John Varvatos. Jodi’s shopping tip for you women out there… raid the kids department for $AVING$.

10.28.08 Play Ball!

It remains to be seen which team is going to win the World Series, an agonizing game-suspension pause-button was pushed last night due to pounding rain. Still, with 3 wins to Tampa Bay’s single success, as of this writing the Phillies stand poised to take home the prize.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that my BF is a sports spectating freakazoid. And, of the big three professional games, baseball is his number one love (hoops coming in second with football a not unenthusiastic third. Pity me, dear readers.). Yet, because he’s the wonderfully strange guy that he is, it’s not just sweat ‘n numbers as they say. His addiction passion also includes history, uniforms, stadium ephemera, the whole gosh darn gontseh megilleh (that’s yiddish for “big deal”).

I’ve blogged about UniWatch in the past, the blog that covers “the obsessive study of athletics aesthetics.” For a great rant that dovetails the BF’s sports mania with my typography nerdism, check out today’s UniWatch post re: the Phillies logo. Pictured above, the actual logo on top, a proposed redesign below. Read the details here.

Now, fair is fair and I don’t want to get in trouble with the BF. So, because we are rooting for Tampa Bay at our house (Why? Because the Phillies kicked the Mets outta the playoffs the last two years, don’t you know anything??), I must give their logo equal blog. To the left, the Rays’ actual logo; to the right their cap insignia. For more info about why a major league (literally) professional corporation with a high-profile national/international presence would want to have two distinct and mostly unrelated brands (neither of which is particularly well-designed)… I can’t answer that. You’ll have to go digging around UniWatch to solve this particular athletic aesthetic mystery. Or ask the BF next time you see him. He probably knows.

10.22.08 A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

With all of this blogging lately about color it’s time for me to introduce you to one of the designer’s most primary and useful tools-of-the-trade, and explain why clients too should consider owning at least a portion of the Pantone guides to color.

First, a few general lessons about color. Did you know that color is not really absolute? We all think we know what we’re talking about when we say “red,” but beyond the fact that there are zillions of hues of red, our eyes might see (and our brains might perceive) these hues differently. Some of this is physiological and psychological, to be sure, but even simple and absolute things like lighting (which can be cool or warm), context (ie, what color surrounds the red?) and material or substrate (is the color printed on shiny coated paper, being viewed on a computer, a piece of fabric?)… will have a PROFOUND affect on our perception of that color.

This complex and tricky situation–essentially, controlling color perception among those who are concerned with it–is Pantone‘s raison d’etre. In every professional creative field, from specifying color for graphic design, such as brochures, Web sites, etc., to fashion and interiors, Pantone provides a printed set of standards that help us discuss and actually perceive color in a more consistent way. So that maybe, une rose est une rose est une rose.

In today’s cost-conscious, digital world, we designers are producing fewer and fewer color proofs of our work for clients, saving time and money, and opting instead to email pdf’s that for viewing on monitors. Monitors, which are variously calibrated and reproduce color in a special and different way (RGB, or Red, Green, Blue) is a subject for a whole other post. For now, just trust me… your monitor is not a safe way to view color for print.

Along with proofing by pdf, we are also buying and managing far less printing on behalf of our clients; clients are opting to navigate this hugely complicated terrain on their own in an effort to keep costs internal. For all of these reasons, please (please, please) consider buying the Pantone Color Bridge Set. At $179, it’s not cheap, but will save you piles of money on ibuprofen alone. It may also save you thousands of dollars in print materials that turn out differently than you expected because you viewed a pdf of your company brochure on your monitor. Let’s dig in to this, shall we? I suggest a cup of coffee.

Ok, ready? I know that you are!

Pictured above is a complete set of Pantone guides that we bought in 2000, admittedly lightyears ago in terms of our industry. This set probably should have been replaced because of color fading alone, but having kept ours undercover they remain in like-new condition. For most clients, the entire set of these (over $500) is way more than you’ll need, but if your company can afford it, I’d recommend the whole shebang (the CURRENT set, not the slightly outdated one we own). Explanations of these tools follow.

The 3 guides above represent the complete Pantone Matching System, commonly referred to as PMS. Your organization probably has corporate PMS colors and possibly even an expanded palette of same… part of the graphic standards (along with fonts or templates perhaps) developed by a professional designer (we hope) to keep your materials consistent and cohesive among outside and inhouse designers alike.

PMS colors are PRE-MIXED INK FORMULAS. Think of paint that you buy for your walls or home… these colors are professionally mixed in controlled environments, and when specified for your brochure, can be counted upon to be relatively absolute. The books above fan out to show you the full range of these available SOLID colors, printed on uncoated, coated (shiny), and matte (coated, but dull) papers. Why? Because these substrates profoundly change the way many PMS formulas will appear. You can see this illustrated below; I have the three books open to the same page. The difference between uncoated and coated (either shiny or matte) is particularly apparent.

The reason to own this set of books is so that you and your designers can discuss PMS colors, and even paper specifications to some extent, while viewing these things in the same context (remembering again that the colors will shift in sunlight, warm or cool fluorescents, etc…). So when we say: We are thinking about PMS 265 for your logo… you can look that up in your book and say: Oh, I like that very much!

Remember, we can NOT show you what a PMS color will look like by printing on our sophisticated studio inkjet printers. These printers use CMYK to print color, not premixed inks. If the studio inkjets used the actual PMS inks, we’d have thousands and thousands of cartridges (one for each of those 6,000 colors!) residing here in the studio. Obviously not feasible. Let’s explain further.

Pictured above, the Pantone Process Coated and Uncoated (same substrate issue) and the Solid to Process guides. Let’s tackle process first and then the whole solid-to-process conversion ordeal (about which, there is some shocking news! A virtual cliffhanger if you will).

Process refers to printing in CMYK, which stands for Cyan (blue), Magenta (hot pink), Yellow (yellow) and Key (Black). This is the printing process used for all materials that contain color photos; essentially a pattern of dots in varying percentages of all or some of these FOUR COLORS will make up every hue seen on the printed piece. To the naked eye, the dots blend smoothly together, looking under a magnifying glass or “loop” will show you the pattern of dots.

Sometimes, process printing is combined with Pantone printing… a company may have a budget for a 5 (instead of 4) color job, so that their corporate color (PMS 265) remains absolute. But, if budget doesn’t allow for the addition of this 5th color, we will be converting your PMS color to its CMYK equivalent. And that’s where things get tricky.

The first two books pictured above show you JUST a selection of CMYK process colors. Because the combinations are close to infinite, even the thousands of builds shown can be frustratingly limited for us. Still, if we stick to one of these, we can talk to our printers and our clients in the same absolute color language.

The last book, solid to process, shows the conversions from Pantone or PMS to CMYK, side by side. In the photo below, the PMS or PREMIXED pantone color is in the bottom row. In the top row is Pantone’s best effort at replicating that color in CMYK process. Or is it? READ ON, my friends. And, prepare to be shocked.

In what can only be called hugely scandalous, Pantone has CHANGED the CMYK builds, unbeknownst to me until the very morning of this writing. Let me say that again… Pantone has CHANGED the CMYK builds!!! A client, having just this week taken my advice to purchase the NEW Pantone Bridge guides, pointed this out while we were discussing colors. And boy, was my face RED! PMS 032 Red, for those in the know.

So, if you own the Solid to Process book, THROW IT AWAY and purchase the Bridge, pictured below. If you own nothing at all, purchase the Bridge, pictured below. Mine is on order!

Here’s what you’ll get and really, it is all a non-designer needs: The same presentation format as the Solid to Process guide, but (heretofor unpublished) on BOTH coated AND uncoated paper. And, most importantly, with Pantone’s revised, updated, new and improved conversions that promise to be a closer match between PMS and Process. Whoooohooooooo!

Get it? If not, don’t worry… this is the stuff of big headaches, for sure. Just go back to the beginning of this endless (but hopefully not pointless) post and read all of this again. Or call me, I’ll try to help. Because an educated client really makes the best partner for brilliant design and printing results.

10.9.08 A Palette for the Season

Sometimes color enters my life in waves; the colors of the natural and manmade environments, colors I’m wearing, and the colors that work their way into designfarm’s projects. It’s fall here in the Mid-Atlantic region and although our trees and gardens still show lots of green, the olivine shades feel older — perhaps more sophisticated — than the saturated new-birth greens of spring. Leaves are turning orange, red, and yellow. The sunlight is warm and really does (despite the seemingly trite nature of this sentiment) cast a golden glow. Gray shadows are long, the sky is clear and blue.

The brochure above (3-panels pictured flat), designed for Friends of the Library, Montgomery County unconsciously brought just these colors into a print context.

A pair of earrings I designed for a client’s fall wedding a year ago reflect the same delicious tones.

A new logo for VisArts was presented in gray + yellow/green. Other solutions featured gray + orange. The client chose orange as the second color. Which do you respond to?

My favorite addition to a more obvious fall palette are certain shades of blue. Offering, like the sky at this time of year, a crisp counterpoint to all of that lush warmth. Earrings above purchased last weekend.

All of these colors — blue, gray, orange, yellow — came together in the branding for an exhibit at The Phillips Collection. Watch the DC Metro for the diorama pictured above.

This time of year always finds me knitting. It’s probably a nesting urge, but also satisfies my ever-present need to have busy hands that are making things. Most of the yarn I use is handspun; sometimes using wool collected from the artisan’s own sheep. I love watching the colors interact and since my skills don’t go much beyond easy-peasy scarves, I favor fussy, textural yarns with lots of thicks and thins. This skein, purchased from Folktale Fibers, came with pom-poms attached.

What’s your palette this season? Once you start noticing, it will suddenly appear everywhere you look.