The Fourth Wall

2.27.14 Large v. Small, Left v. Right

This post is reprinted with permission from So Charmed.


In my work as a designer, both my professional communications design and jewelry design, one of my very favorite aspects has always been the toggle between big picture thinking and small detail management. I’ll assert that having a love and capacity for both aspects of design is a rarity for the creative soul. For me, it took decades to reconcile the fact that I feel most deeply satisfied when both left-brain (creative) and right-brain (reasoned) thinking come into play. I like to make a mess, but I like to clean it up too. I love big ideas but I love tiny little decisions as well. I believe this series of new necklaces exemplifies what I’m talking about. Click on the images to see them much larger or visit with them on my flickr.


My strategic communications work is always in service of a story; whether about meetings for healthcare professionals or the annual findings of a trade association… a narrative unfolds in words and pictures, often with an actionable objective: Enroll, donate, attend.With jewelry, I’m up to the same kind of storytelling, although it tends more toward abstraction. Nothing compares to the excitement of ideas and meaning. I believe this is what we think of when we talk about design. What is the story we are telling, and, importantly why, and to whom?


Making connections is part of this concept process, in communications I connect text with images in creative ways and with jewelry, I make, source, and bring together disparate elements… often from countries thousands of miles apart, and decades that now fall across two or even three different centuries. An early plastic button from the 1940′s or a glass Victorian one, beads from Africa, tassels from Asia, mid-century American toys, the tin lid of an oil can from India… how can these things possibly tell one story? With jewelry, the stories are sometimes gathered over years and finally come together unexpectedly. This is the part that seems magical (but isn’t, imho).


Once the elements are selected, located, obtained or made, the right-brain engages as I work out actual construction issues. Whether I’m creating style sheets in InDesign, or linking fine threads to metal… problems must be solved at a more micro level. I find this to be the most challenging place in the process; the place where I may want to turn away from the project and find something new to conceptualize, because that’s just so much more fun and flows more fluidly for me. That said, this construction place is also the land of greatest reward (soldering, for example!). When I stick to it and make something impossible work, I am so damn proud of myself! the storytelling comes easily and readily, like breathing. Am I lucky or cursed?


The final stage, or production, is the most micro of all. This is the time where most of the big picture problems are solved (though sometimes these can change even at this point) and where I buckle down to wrap tiny strands of thread around and around for hours, detangling as I go, or sit quietly and sew on minuscule beads one at a time, perhaps I’m styling text for hours on end, bold, italic, larger, smaller. I generally and truly delight in the zen of this work, though too much of it becomes boring and my mind will start to itch. This is why it’s great to have several projects going at once, a brochure being designed, another being produced… necklace concepts coming together, materials arriving from distant lands, pieces being made and photographed and shared.

Which stage(s) of design and making do you love most? Where do you have to push through difficulty or boredom? How does it affect your work? I’d love to hear from you!

9.13.12 The Name of the Game… is Design?

This is a blog post about a word. Should you read this article? Clue: If the name of your marketing communications practice contains the word DESIGN, or you are a client who hires communications professionals that you generally call DESIGNERS, this may be relevant to you.

Let’s start with a dictionary definition of the word DESIGN:

de·sign [dih-zahyn]
verb (used with object)

1. to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of: to design a new bridge.

2. to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully.

3. to intend for a definite purpose: a scholarship designed for foreign students.

4. to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan: The prisoner designed an intricate escape.

5. to assign in thought or intention; purpose: He designed to be a doctor.

I would argue with the language and ordering of the five parts of the above definition ( But that’s only a fraction of the problem. It’s abundantly clear, if you read these five statements carefully, that defining DESIGN is difficult. It’s blurry, unclear. Is it art? Form? Structure? We don’t see the word strategy, but we do see the words planning and forming (perhaps gentler terms for strategy?). Probably the most powerful word used in this definition is conceive.

The same line, number 4. also states that design engages the mind. I would assert that this is the heart of the matter of defining DESIGN, but is in fact sadly obscured in the marketplace/space.

The best (most effective/strategic) tagline I’ve ever heard for a design firm, developed around the same time as safe-sex condom messages were abundant in the public sphere: Practice safe design, use a concept. (Editor: Quote attributed to Petrula Vontrikis). Even condoms can be conceptual: pictured above is the measuring condom by Condometric (sorry, not available in the US).

There are many disciplines of design. Fashion, architectural, interiors, landscape design. And, the business I have been engaged in for over 25 years, graphic… design. Some of these practices have licensing bodies, and one — where the safety of human life is at stake (architecture) — has extremely rigorous licensing. Licensing in graphic design has been a long conversation with no definite conclusion. From where I stand, a license will not make the difference needed in shifting perception. Nothing less than a complete redefinition, repositioning, and yes, marketing strategy for the practice of graphic design is called for.

No one has ever died from a misuse of Helvetica. On the other hand, it could be argued that a certain presidential election was won/lost due to a certain ballot DESIGN. Remember the butterfly? (Wallet pictured above available from wedraw).

So, what’s a business owner / practitioner of DESIGN to do? Is it necessary to change the name of my practice from designfarm to marketfarm? thinkfarm? brainfarm? Nah, I don’t think it’s really the issue. Right now, this morning, I do want to put this conversation out there into the marketspace. What do DESIGNERS do? If you are a designer, what do you really sell to your clients? Are you choosing helvetica over ariel? Really? Is that all?

If, as a communications director, you hire designers, what are you asking of them? Can you or a young staff person choose helvetica over ariel? Of course, you most certainly can (and should!), it’s right there in your font list! And may I kindly suggest that if this is primarily what you are demanding of your designers — in-house or independent — you are probably (hopefully) getting your budget’s worth.

But, consider for a moment that you could be doing so much more for your organization, its mission, its goals. Consider hiring a designer as a marketing partner, an experienced communications strategizer, who researches your position, crafts your message, defines your goals and then exceeds your expectations for executing powerful visuals that inspire and motivate your audience… and, get RESULTS. It isn’t apples-to-apples with your font-chooser or image-arranger, and you will pay more for these services. My next post will address how to hire designers, exactly what to look for to make certain that you do get the proper ROI.

8.24.12 Make Stuff? Or Make a Difference?

Subtitle: Not that there’s anything wrong with stuff!

As an independent designer, I’ve been watching (and parsing) a slow, steady paradigm shift in my beloved communications industry. Our clients — mostly nonprofits and associations — have long supported “boutique studios” all across the DC Metro area, developing decades-long partnerships that have included us as key adjunct creative personnel… that special kind of personnel who buy their own health insurance, don’t get paid for holidays, have their own complex technology set-ups, and perhaps offer these things and more to an empowered team. What defines a boutique studio? Small, independent (1-10 staff). Niche or specialty (healthcare, museums, annual reports). Personal (you work directly with the principal). Collaborative teams (clients, staff, and vendors). Mom & Pop. Pop & Pop. Maybe Mom & Daughter. (Above, logo design for a Mom & Pop business).

But why, you ask, am I sort of speaking in the past tense? Because over the last decade and a half or so, many of my colleagues in the local boutique studio community have closed offices to pack up and move the practice home (sans staff), or left the field entirely… starting new, unrelated businesses, becoming painters or pursuing fine crafts, raising families. And, please know, most of these former commprofs are happy, successful, and still making a difference in the world. It isn’t a bad thing, but it is a thing and worth analyzing. (Above, Web site design for the writer’s jewelry business So Charmed).

With client attrition at an all-time high for the boutiquers still sweating the big and small stuff (the stuff of all sizes that must be sweated in order to run a business), this boutiquer has been examining the phenomenon seriously, analytically, and strategically. Because type, color, imagery… playing with these delicious tools still makes me very happy… but it’s the thinking, about my own and my client’s goals that really is my thing. There are trends to track, opportunities to be found, shifts to make; yes, even in my own corner of the marketing world. And this week, as I’ve worked on projects, interacted with clients, read articles and thought about the past and the future, and then worked on projects some more, it came to me.

Yes, like a lightbulb going off! All too often these days, clients of boutique studios are hiring us to make stuff. A logo, brochure, conference collateral. And the stuff itself only has a certain (lowered) value, especially with Web sites and freelancers offering “stuff” for cheap (or free!). . But what those of use who got into this long ago — and stayed despite crazy ups and downs — have always done and must continue doing (and selling) in order to sustain our hearts and our profession is the act of making a difference. You know, fighting cancer, promoting Internet freedom, changing the world…making. a. difference. (Pictured above, a membership brochure.)

So, it’s not that I don’t love the stuff, the artifacts of my practice; and trust me, with 25+ years as a marketing communications professional, I’ve got a jaw-dropping portfolio crammed full of stuff. It’s just, well, that’s simply not why I do this. A brochure is not a reason to juggle schedules and deadlines all day long, to patiently help clients understand the difference between CMYK and RGB, or to assist them in embracing new channels of delivery such as email and social marketing and blogs. (Above, book cover, below, logo for fundraising event, used across digital and print platforms.)

But you see, thing-makers are a dime a dozen. This is both the problem, and…

…the opportunity. We don’t have to stop making gorgeous objects, whether as independents or as a part of a high-functioning organizational team. Clients and organizations don’t have to stop requisitioning and purchasing these artifacts. But, if we pause to examine the objects we make and buy, assessing their power to support greater missions and to affect change, if we look for relationship and collaboration in our processes, we all can become much more effective communicators. We’ll stop making stuff and start making a difference.

3.18.10 Sweatin’ the Small Stuff


My commute to work is short. Very short. About 1/2 mile in my car, a total of maybe 8 longish blocks with loads of hills. Yes, I should be walking but I’m always shlepping WAY too much stuff. Yes, I should reduce the amount of stuff in my life. Yes, I live/work in The People’s Republic of Takoma Park making all of this driving and stuff-shlepping very ironic, but that’s not the subject of this post.

I’m also a morning person, and at this time of day, well-caffeinated and hyper alert, I’m bound to find myself thinking hard about something, noticing things I might not otherwise, or having a wild creative idea or two or three. Pardon the pun, but today I was STOPPED in my tracks by the above image. Such a simple problem, thought I, a STOP sign cocked to an angle. Yet it looks so incredibly wrong; the entire landscape suddenly taking on a crooked through-the-looking-glass kind of feel.


Knowing you might not quite believe me, I shot an image of the Stop sign on the opposing corner of this 4-way. See? We are restored to balance again. But what does this mean? Is one of these Stop signs right and the other wrong? If so, why? What if I like a jaunty Stop sign... it is Takoma Park, after all! And the fact is, arguments could potentially be made for the effectiveness of either. One sign fits our expectations, but doesn’t the other really make us notice even more and isn’t that the point of a Stop sign? The whole scenario got me thinking about design, of course. About how the smallest decisions can add up to a very large impact on the viewer. Don’t get me wrong… designers sweat the big stuff too. I love to sink my design teeth into a conceptual problem, a messaging problem, or even a tough layout challenge. But I honestly get just as much pleasure from sweating the small stuff.


Font choices are arguably not at all a small aspect of design, but suppose we’ve made a (very good, imho) decision to use Helvetica on a city’s street signage. It’s a nice start. But within that font family there are oh so many choices. Medium, bold, light and black. Condensed, regular, italic. And now with these fancy schmancy computers we can even do MORE things to the type, squishing it, drop-shadowing, outlining. WHEEEEEEEE… so many choices! Above is the signage at an intersection I probably pass 50 times a week.


Remarkably, this intersection shows not only a plethora of type choices (weight, kern) but also editorial choices. Av? Ave.? Yes, I know… I’m sweatin’ the small stuff here.


Is one typography solution better than the other? Arguments could be made for both. If I had to choose, I believe the older sign, Tulip Av, is superior to the newer sign for Holly Ave. Tulip is kerned better (more on kerning later), fills the space better, and is simply more readable… the main design criterion here. Holly is too tightly kerned, is difficult to read, and although Ave. is more correct, the period seems fussy and unnecessary.


On the very next block over, Holly gets a type treatment that is all together different from the earlier version. Oh my, what to think about this?? The font size and choice is much better. Still tightly kerned, but this time there’s a reason… our designer has generously provided MUCH more information on this sign. Not only Ave with an E and no period, but the block number, 7300. I could write an essay on all of this, but I’ll spare you. Just noticing it is really enough for now, don’t you think?


So… what should the typographic standard be for consistent, readable street signage in Takoma Park? Above is the most egregious of the decisions made. Here, the word Dogwood has been horizontally scaled (that’s squished to you lay people), so that the block number information would fit! Consistent with its companion at the intersection? Yes. Hideous, and wrong, wrong, wrong? Yes, yes and yes!! No self-respecting designer EVER uses this feature of his/her software. Why? Because the design of fonts is one of the most careful, specific, and beautifully architectural things known to man woman. And b/c that’s why god type designers invented condensed versions.


Now, what is this thing called kerning? Kern is the space between letters of a word. Yes, the empty space. And it matters greatly with regard to both readability and aesthetic. Above, Barclay has a very open kern; compare this to Holly in the previous images. Which is more desirable?


Sigh. I love kerning. I love worrying and fretting over something so infinitesimal, something so obscure, yet so important to effective communication. The only thing I might love a little more than the act of kerning is my KERN sweatshirt, designed by Veer (just ask my family how sick they are of seeing me in this thing at home). Not only is the Kern sweatshirt a lovely reminder of a cherished aspect of my profession, but ingeniously… and humorously, it allows for an instant demonstration of the meaning of kern. Unzip… open kern… zip… close kern. Get it? Get it!

1.20.10 Fonts that Rock


What’s better than a leering, sugar-coated, petrified heart candy on Valentine’s Day? How about a FREE FONT designed by none other than Kelley Deal! Yep, ya read that right… Breeder, identical twin sister of Kim, crafter, and all around super cool girl has designed Saltwater and it’s yours for the downloading. I actually discovered it for use in an embroidery project I started last weekend… . I love the weird emotional aspects of it. Is it crying saltwater tears? Reminscent of the omnipresent emigre font, Remedy, it has an edgier appeal… wobbly, and a little psychotic.


It’s working out well for the embroidery; I’ll post pics when that’s a little further along. Like in 2011 or something. I’m not so fast at getting these projects done, you know? In the meantime, you can also enjoy Saltwater on the So Charmed home page, along with another shot of this piece of candy that has been sitting on my desk for two years.


And, just what has your favorite Breeder and mine been up to? Knitting, felting and writing a how-to book. You can also buy her very lovely scarves on her web site but be warned, they sell out super fast. GO Kelley!

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!

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 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 $AVING$.