Thursday, November 29, 2007

Run with it.

Isn't it amazing when people take their creative passion and run with it? My fellow Iowa State University Graphic Design classmate ('04 grad) Sara Jayne Weitzel has done just that by launching her own photography business, Sara Jayne Photographic Artistry.

Although Sara was a graphic design major, her passion for photography was always apparent in her work, which was always oogled by fellow design classmates who saw the gleam in her eye when she presented her design work that utilized her own photography. A photography major was not offered at ISU, and Sara got her degree in Graphic Design, she continued to follow her passion for photography after she graduated.

While the rest of our graduating class was beating the streets for design jobs and sending our tons of resumes and portfolio sample books, Sara was working for a small photography studio in Minneapolis while shooting weddings, senior photos, and engagement photos on the weekends. As she built her portfolio with her wedding work from summer, winter hit hard in Minneapolis, causing her weekend wedding business slow (and mostly stop) because of the frigid cold Minnesota winter. So, following her passion, Sara quit working her weekday job at the photo studio and suprised us all by moving to Phoenix, AZ to continue shooting weddings during the winter months. She now lives half of the year in Phoenix, and half in Minneapolis to continue to grow her portfolio -- and her new business.

Sara's portfolio isn't just made up of the photography she shoots "on the job." Her passion for travel, animals, pets, and just having fun with friends are also evidenced by her skilled creative eye for the perfect shot. Often taking "a day of play" with her camera, Sara spends time dressing up friends for shoots and walking around Phoenix or Minneapolis taking photos of architecture or the local farmer's market. She also recently traveled to Greece and Croatia, capturing the diverse culture of these lands through the lens of her camera.

Some of Sara's work is below. If you like it, she has a "fans, friends, and clients" group on Facebook (just search Sara Jayne Photography) that you could join to show your support. I suppose the moral of the story is, find your passion. Seek it out, embrace it, and run with it, no matter what it takes, and make it yours.

All images Copyright 2007, Sara Jayne Photography

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Department of Tourism

Shout out to ISU Graphic Designers who visited Hallmark last week! Thank you all for taking the time to come to Kansas City, and for spending a few hours here at Hallmark. It was fun to hear about your studio visits, and to show you around Hallmark. I hope you enjoyed your night on the Plaza -- and I hope you didn't spend too much time with your laptops at the hotel!

Welcome to cre.a.tiv.i.ty!

You know, I was thinking...I think Hallmark needs a Department of Tourism, and I want to be the Tourism Manager! I get so energized when I have student groups visit -- it's so much fun! I also love to talk (in case you couldn't tell), so I think I'd be the ideal person for the job! Thanks again for coming.

Survey results!

In my latest survey, I asked: What is most important to new college grads when considering employment opportunities? Thirteen people voted, and the survey said:

Great location is most important. 1 (7%)
Working for a green company is most important. 0 (0%)
Flexible work hours and vacation time are most important.   1 (7%)
Competitive salary is most important. 0 (0%)
Name recognition of employer is most important. 1 (7%)
Creative freedom is most important. 5 (38%)
Moving up quickly is most important. 0 (0%)
Quality of co-workers is most important. 5 (38%)

It looks like creative freedom and quality of co-workers topped the charts. I have to say that in my experience, these two things are the two things that have made my career rewarding, exciting, interesting, and just plain fun. It's what makes coming to work every day worth it! Thanks to all who voted. Another survey will be coming soon -- anyone have a survey question they'd like to see posted?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Leadership: for only a select few, or for all?

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Recently I have been reading a lot of books and articles on leadership. It's facinating: typically, creatives don't see themselves as leaders, nor do they think that they might want to be a "leader" one day -- "Manage people? No way! I just want to be creative and design!"

I have been thinking more deeply about the concept of leadership, I am starting to realize that you don't have to have a certain title (like Art Director, Creative Director, or Vice President) to be a leader. That sounds naive, I know, but when you think about that idea, and really take ownership of it, it becomes a very powerful thing: You can be influential in your current position, at your current age, in whatever you are currently working on.

To me, the first part of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery quote (above) is more for the people who are leaders by title -- those who are trying to direct people and products and design work. Those people with the typical "leadership" titles. But the second part of the quote pertains to everyone, me, you, us, in our daily lives, in our daily jobs, in our creative work, in all we do. To "long for the endless immensity of the sea" is to absorb, learn, grow, influence those around us, collaborate, be creative, change, innovate, and influence. To dream up the seemingly impossible idea. To go for it will all of our passion and energy, and to succeed.

If you do this each day, I believe that you are a leader. But then again, I'm not a philosopher or writer or saint, so let me know what you think!

Monday, November 5, 2007

KU Tour No.2

We had another group of University of Kansas Design and Illustration students in to visit Hallmark last Friday. I'd like to welcome another group of talented KU creatives to cre.a.tiv.i.ty! My apologies for the delay in getting your invitations sent -- I spent all of Friday after your group left on our team's "special project" -- a fancy word for "cleaning out our offices and conference rooms from top to bottom! I left work pretty late, but felt good about getting everything in order in our studio conference rooms. Now, on to my office!

I had mentioned to one of the KU tour groups that I was going as a female action-hero for Halloween. For your viewing pleasure (or perhaps to your viewing dismay) and to show a creative attempt at making a cheap costume, here is my best Lara Croft look:

I made the belt and gun holster myself out of recycled black nylon straps and elastic bands that I found at a HUGE military surplus store in Kansas City, KS. I got the green backpack and the combat boots at the same store. I found the shorts and tank top in my roommate's closet, and to complete the look, I bought the guns at the Halloween store (the only part of my costume that cost more than $15).

Some of the other created-from-scratch costumes I saw at our party were Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss, a Rodeo Queen, a life-sized lego man (complete with removable black plastic hair-I have no idea how my friend Steve made that!), Joker, The Buger King and his arch-rival Wendy, and best of all, a Angelina Jolie-Brad-Jennifer Aniston trio (the called themselves Brajengelina).

Anyone else have or see a unique or created-from-scratch costume??

Thursday, November 1, 2007

When I grow up...

... I want to be a fireman! A teacher. A bus driver. A doctor. We hear all kinds of responses from children when we ask them this question. But I don't think I have ever heard a child say,

"When I grow up, I want to be a graphic designer!"

In fact, most children don't know that "art" is a career possibility. Kids learn their shapes and colors at a very early age. They learn to fingerpaint and color with crayons shortly after they start to walk. From then on, they learn that scissors are fun (but sharp) and paste is even more fun (but tastes bad), and so on. So why is it that kids tend to forget about art as they grow older? Perhaps other more glamorous activities like soccer, baseball, or gymnastics begin to entice them. Perhaps their friends don't think art is "cool," so they are pressured to fit in with the crowd. I'm not sure what the answer to that question is. And, more importantly, I think we need to ask ourselves a better question: How do to we continue to inspire kids to be artists once the crayons have all been broken and the paste has all been eaten?

I think Fisher Price has found a possible answer with one of their new products that is just starting to hit the market (targeted advertising for this Christmas). This product allows you to transform your home computer (PC only, darn!) into a mini-graphic design studio for kids! The Digital Arts and Crafts Studio has two components: software that you upload onto your home computer and a USB-driven device that is like a Wacom/mouse/tool palette/color palette combo (see photos below).

The design software boasts "undreds of creative activities and formats" like party hats, cards, coloring books, paper airplanes, and jumping frogs. Kids can also work without a template to create whatever it is that they dare to dream up. The stylus (part of the USB device) can act as a pencil, brush, crayon or stamper, and there are 256 colors to choose from. There are also other software add-ons that can be purchased so kids can create with Dora the Explorer, Diego, and Dinosaurs. Artwork can also be saved and printed.

The best part: it is cheap! You get the basic software package and the USB device for only $50.00! I don't have kids, so I'm trying to think of someone's kids I could buy this for this Christmas!

From birth to age 14, there was no computer in my home. Now, kids are growing up with technology: tesearchers are calling them digital natives. They are in front of the computer, using the internet, playing video games, talking on cell phones, and creating Facebook and mySpace pages at early ages.

It may seem scary to think about, but I think it also gives us an opportunity to innovatearound the technological influences in their lives. It gives us the chance to create opportunities for kids to explore, innovate, and discover. Who knows, they just might end up saying "When I grow up, I want to be an artist."

Images are snapshots from a video about The Digital Arts and Crafts Studio.
To watch the full video, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pierced ears, Barbies & Marian Bantjes

Mornin' all -- I am cleaning my office today. Woohoo! For any of you who have seen my office, you realize what an amazing feat it will be to finally have it clean. I usually thrive in the chaos of my unclean (though remarkably organized) office, but recently people have been walking by and looking through my open door with terrified looks on their faces. So, I think it's time.... I thought today I would go through my notes, to-dos, and ideas from the last few conferences and events I have been to and somehow make sense of them all so they don't get lost in the clutter. In the last hour, I haven't gotten very far...

As a child, my room was always messy. The rule in my family was that we had to keep our rooms clean for six weeks before we could get our ears pierced (I have three sisters, so all of us went through this ordeal at some point during our 'tween years). Anyway, I would spend hours cleaning my room -- not because I was OCD or because I was a neat freak, but because I am easily distracted. I would start "cleaning" my Barbie dreamhouse, only to find that three hours later, I had made no progress on my room, but WOW! Barbie and Skipper sure had beautiful outfits and hair-dos!

In my adult life, I find the same thing happening during my everyday activities. I find things that distract me and pull me away from my main goal of a clean office, a clean house, a trip to the store, my morning workouts at the gym. I have realized that these "distractions" aren't always bad, and certainly my distraction today isn't: Marian Bantjes.

During her presentation during the AIGA: Next conference in Denver earlier this month, Marian spoke about "unexpected nextness" which she described as "unforseen events, chance encounters, unimagined, unarranged nextness." I took a million notes in my little notebook during that conference, but as Marian's story unfolded, I scribbled as fast as I ever have to get her amazing story down.

Marian talked about the artistic influences in her life, and about how along the way, she didn't even realize the impact of these influences. Had she selectively ignored certain influences? Was her past influencing her present or was her present influencing what she selected to remember from the past? Marian started her career in design as a typesetter for a publishing company after seeing an advertisement for "help needed" in a local coffeeshop. She was not classically trained as a designer, but interviewed for the job anyway, and got it. She worked in that job for several years, and then opened a design firm, and spent several years developing logos, identity systems, brochures, and direct mail collateral. She began to think about what she really loved to do, which was hand lettering and typography. Marian gave herself one year to do what she loved, and made no money. So, she took out a loan, kept working, and gave herself six months --

her design career took off.

Marian's story is as beautiful as her work. It's about risk and the unexpected nextness of life. She revealed to the audience that she is still worried about what's next for her as a designer. She is worried that her work will eventually lose it's uniqueness. She knows that she'll have to take another creative risk, not knowing how things will turn out. But, she also knows that her quest for "next" distracts her from the "now."

I have spent the last thirty minutes of my office-cleaning endeavor deciphering my scribbled handwriting to find a small bit of inspiration to get me back to work: at the end of her presentation (following some slides of her amazing work-see below), Marian advised, "We must find the balance between constructing our future and accepting that we cannot construct it." You never know what might be next for you, so live in the now and the next will follow.

Click images to enlarge -- amazing!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tour de Hallmark

Here's a shout out to all of the KU Graphic Design students who toured Hallmark today, and welcome to cre.a.tiv.i.ty! We are so glad you were able to come and visit Hallmark. I know that time is tight when you are in the middle of a busy semester, but I'm so glad that you all made the time. Keep in touch!

After the student group left today, I was thinking ... Do Accounting majors tour accounting firms when they are in school to learn about what it's like to work in the accounting industry? Do Engineering majors? What about Ag Business majors? I would wager a guess: they probably don't. My sister was a Child Psychology major, and she did some visits to local schools, but it was for class credit. A friend of mine was an Entrepreneurial Studies major, and he interviewed various local entrepreneurs about their journeys to start their own businesses, but again, it was required for his class.

That being said, what is it that we creatives hope to learn by visiting studios? Why do we choose to plan these visits and take time (that could be spent working on our projects) to attend these extracurricular events?

As a design student at ISU, we went to Minneapolis, MN and toured firms like Orange Seed, Franke+Fiorella, and Baker Associates. At the time, I am not sure that I realized what we would learn that day. It was a blur: we rode on a bus in the rain from studio to studio, wiping our feet as we went in, walking through the halls, our shoes squeaking on the polished floors, designers turned toward computer screens, their faces aglow. We would stand with our mouths agape while the Creative Director or Art Director proudly showed us the latest work created by the amazing talent within, their latest AIGA or Addy awards displayed on shelves behind them. Our eyes danced about, catching glimpses of people celebrating a project completed, someone pitching an idea to a new client, the receptionist with a sweet smile and kind telephone voice.

As I look back on that experience, I am not able to pinpoint the major lessons that I learned that day, but I do take with me the experience. Maybe we learned that we had a long way to go as designers. Perhaps we realized that an agency wasn't the right fit for us or that we knew that upon graduation, we would apply to the firms we had visited. Or perhpas we realized that one day, we would be a part of it all. But did we realize how big of a part we would play or where we would end up? If nothing else, the studio visits inspired us to create, and to keep creating. Inspired us to innovate and to grow. Inspired us to have the drive to get to where we are today.

That is my hope for you, KU, that you are inspired and ready to create whatever is next. The design world awaits...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An update from AIGA -- Post Conference!

Ok, so, I neglected to update my blog while I was at AIGA in Denver last week (as I promised in one of last week's entries). I'm still trying to figure out "how much blogging is too much" and "how much is enough to keep everyone reading -- and thirsting for more!" I need some input from all of you. Comment below, or take my survey (see right) to vote for the number that best describes your blog posts in a week. I'd love to have your feedback!

Now, as for Denver. The AIGA:Next conference was an amazing experience, and I can't wait to share about all of the things I learned while there. I'm travelling for work again this week (in D.C. for a recruiting conference honing my skillz), but I have my notes from AIGA with me and free time in the evenings, so there will be lots to read in the next three days! For now, I want to talk a bit about what I was busy doing in Denver when I wasn't attending sessions.

At conferences like these, there is always an exhibition floor with booths from many different companies that are fascinating to we designers: Neenah Paper , Adobe, Veer, and Sappi. I always spend time browsing the booths (which the exhibitors/sponsors pay big bucks to get, and I did so at this conference (I picked up lots of free paper samples, books, t-shirts and trinkets (so much designerly stuff that I had to check my carry-on bag on my way home because it was too heavy!).

Anyway, prior to the conference, I was brainstorming with a couple of designers: How can we (Hallmark) network at a conference and get our name out there without paying a lot of money for a booth? How can we get creative with networking? Here's an example of what happens when you "network" the common way. I usually end up with so many business cards after networking at a conference that they end up getting mixed into my underwear compartment in my suitcase. Then, when I get home an unpack, I find them a few weeks later and wonder... why is the business card of Chip Kidd in my underwear drawer?? I have found business cards in other random places as well -- in the back of my notebook, mixed in with my receipts for lunch, in my shoes... you get the idea.

You are probably thinking, is she simply disorganized? Does she just not care about the cards people give her? On the contrary: I am so organized that I am practically considered OCD (ask my boyfriend Eric - it drives him nuts), and I get business cards that I definitely want to follow up on from people who are amazingly talented and interesting (Chip Kidd for one)... The issue is quantity.

So, back to my brainstorm with the designers I was talking about.

The images below are what we used as our "business cards" during the conference. We handed them out, along with buttons that matched each of our campaigns. And the result: we handed out over 600 of them, and around 60 people came to a Happy Hour we sponsored. It was a lot of hard work, but really fun -- much more fun than handing out a 3.5" x 2" piece of paper with 6pt. type on it! We met some very cool people from all over the country: Santa Fe, NM; NYC, NY; Brookings, SD; Atlanta, GA; Minneapolis, MN; and now we have a whole network of people to keep in touch with regarding careers in creativity!

Left: front of card, Right: back of card. Copyright 2007 Hallmark Cards, Inc. For those who haven't met me, I'm the one in the third photo. We did a photo shoot with Hallmark's Photography Studio to get these fun pics! Note: Click on each card to enlarge and read each of our info. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

See how far a card can go.

I am so excited to share this news.... Hallmark's has just announced a partnership with (Product)RED!

Hey to all from the AIGA Conference in DENVER!

I'm going to be giving conference updates on my blog while I am here. And if YOU who are reading happen to be here, I'm sure you'll see me at some point...Watch close, and you'll find me and two other designers from Hallmark! Hint hint! More soon!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Comments Enabled!

Ok, so I'm still relatively new to blogging. I got an email yesterday from one of my readers telling me that I need to enable my comment feature in order to allow people to leave comments....

Yes, I am a rookie blogger, that happened to make a rookie mistake. SOOOOOO.... comment away friends! And if you still have trouble, someone's going to have to email me a detailed "how to enable comments" description... :o) More news to come soon -- I'm a little behind and there is MUCH to tell!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Holy Deliciousness!

I had to opportunity to visit one of my favorite places on earth (a big statement, I know, but oh so true) last Friday night during Kansas City's First Friday event in the Crossroads Art District. Not only is the new retail space for Christopher Elbow Chocolates stunning, but man, does it smell good! And, the delectable designed treats inside this little shop taste even better than they smell.

Emeril Lagasse, Jean Joho, American Restaurant, Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Oprah, Food & Wine, InStyle, Food Network, Elbow has influenced them all with his creativity and style -- and of course, his ability to make the most amazing chocolates. From Fresh Lime to Espresso With Lemon, Tahitian Vanilla Bean, or Passion Fruit -- you name it, Christopher Elbow has probably experimented with it at some point during his chocolate-making endeavors. Sometimes the most odd-sounding combinations are the most amazing flavors -- my pick -- Strawberry-Balsamic Caramel (but then again, I pretty much like them all).

Every First Friday night (and probably every other Friday night for that matter), you will find Christopher Elbow's little shop packed with all types of creative people, people who love chocolate, tourists, friends, and fans. No matter who is inside, one thing is certain: everyone is smiling, everyone is eating (or drinking) one of Christopher's tantalizing treats, and everyone is raving.

I'll leave you with a quote from his website that I think embodies the spirit of what I'm trying to say here. Head to his website, to read more, and while you are there, order some of these unique artisian sweets!

"Like most creative professionals, Christopher Elbow likes to experiment with different materials. But while some artists dabble in bronze or oils or clay, Christopher chooses some of the finest varieties of chocolate. Working in small batches, he meticulously sculpts tiny pieces of chocolate perfections into miniature works of art that look as exquisite as they taste. This is the inspired world of Christopher Elbow. Where modern culinary artistry meets traditional handcraftsmanship. Where taste experiences are rivaled only by visual sensations. Where the art of chocolate is expressed in beautiful, decadent pieces that are hand-created one at a time."

Friday, August 31, 2007

Anyone recognize this guy?

How could you forget such a lovely face? You may have laughed at his silly jokes during a presentation on your college campus. You may have chatted with him about design and illustration philosophy during a quiet side-conversation during an on-campus workshop. You may have been inspired by his artwork: diverse, simple, beautiful. No matter where you might recognize him from, Daniel is about to become famous (and I'm becoming very jealous!).

Click here to find out more!

Monday, August 27, 2007

New York Type Directors Club :: Hallmark Displays Traveling Exhibit

The Type Directors Club is an international organization founded in 1946. Members of this group include design professionals, typographic designers, and typophiles. Each year, the TDC has a competition. 2007 marked the TDC's tenth open Call for Entries for Type Design. All entries were judged by a panel of distinguished designers in January 2007.

Winning works are currently being exhibited in six traveling shows and will soon be published in Typography 28, the hardbound, all-color competition annual designed by Number Seventeen. The annual is published by CollinsDesign and is sold worldwide. We are fortunate enough to have the winning entries on display in the Creative Division Gallery (employees only) at Hallmark. Below are some of my favorites from the show. Enjoy!

Poster designed by Hallmark

Crane letterpress paper

Design :: Jonathan Nicol, Montreal, Canada
Client :: Zero Hertz

Designer :: coming soon!
Client :: coming soon!

Design :: Jed and Jennifer Heuer
Letterpress :: Abbey Kuster-Prokell

Designers :: Brady Vest and Matt McNary, Hammerpress, Kansas City, MO
Clients :: Houlihan's :: pipeline productions :: Jay Doc Health Clinic

Designers :: Nadine Fliegen, Silke Lohmann, Anne Schmidt & Rene Wynands, Bochum, Germany
Client :: Rheinisches Industriemuseum (LVR)

Design :: Katrin Adamaszek, Hamburg, Germany

Design :: Stephanie Yung, Toronto, Canada
Client :: Canadian Film Centre

Designers :: coming soon!
Clients :: coming soon!

Design :: Hans Seeger
Client :: Barbara Morgenstern