Entries from June 2011

Good Design

June 30, 2011


There are lots of components to good design. When I used to present sketches, concepts and designs to my sister (also my former creative director and boss) for review she would always ask me “Does it make sense?” and “Is it special?” Good design also always offers a solution to a problem. And content is key. I’ve spent a good part of my life and have dedicated my livelihood to thinking about and creating good design. And trust me, it’s taken lots of practice and lots of failure to get to a point where I feel comfortable with my skills and point-of-view.

I’ve been asked to critique work of others and along with the mantra “Does it make sense? Is it special?” Good design is absolutely subjective but when analyzing a composition I consider the following:

Good typography is the number one factor when it comes to creating good design. If your type is an afterthought it will reflect poorly on your design. And it’s not always just about picking a good font (though, beautifully designed typefaces do help). It’s about how you compose the type on the page. There are thousands of books dedicated to what makes good typography – it’s important.

Okay, my professors in college were constantly talking about The Grid and I had no idea what they were talking about. I mean, they spoke of The Grid as if there was some sort of manual that was assigned to us upon entering art school that I somehow missed.

Well, years later the concept of The Grid clicked. Basically, it means that all of your design components should have an underlying grid – an invisible foundation to build upon. It’s okay to break from The Grid but it had better be intentional and executed with care. Otherwise, your design will look sloppy.

Good photography and great illustrations definitely elevate the overall look and feel of a design. But that said, there are definitely tricks to sprucing up not-so-good photography such as color correction and creative cropping. Never let a bad client logo or bad photography be an excuse for a bad design.

This is probably the most subjective of all the elements that make up good design. I prefer to design with a limited color palette and there are some color combinations I refuse to touch (like navy blue, silver and black together). The use of color (or lack thereof) is crucial to good design. I find that my painting background helped enormously when it comes to using color in my designs.

So everything above I consider the building blocks of good design. But the magic is the extra oomph. It’s the something special that takes a design from technically good to something that you can feel in your heart. The magic is the emotion and it’s hard to pinpoint where it comes from and exactly where it lives in the design. But in really great design The Magic is always there.

What do you all think? What for you are the most important components of good design and art (graphic or otherwise)?

What I Did On My Summer Vacation | Part 3

June 29, 2011




This vacation actually started when Jeremy and I were standing on the summit of Kala Patthar. We had this gorgeous view of Mount Everest and as I was trying my hardest to live (and breathe) in the moment I couldn’t stop thinking about digging my feet into really hot sand. Over half a year later that’s exactly what I did. With just 900 miles and a 2 day drive Jeremy and I, along with my entire family, were at a beach just East of Destin, Florida. I stuck my feet in the sand. And would you believe me if I told you I couldn’t stop letting my mind wander to the Himalayas? It’s not a grass is greener situation – I promise. It’s more like… how nice would it be if the ocean and the mountains could meet each other? I can’t help but think they would get along splendidly.



We always had nice but modest vacations growing up. So I felt a little out of place and disoriented when we pulled up to our completely over-the-top beach house. My 7-year-old nephew and I were so excited that we hopped out of the car and jumped directly into the pool – with all our clothes on. I hope it’s a moment he never forgets.





Every time Jeremy and I get into an ocean we have boogie boards attached to our wrists. It doesn’t look impressive but it’s such a thrill. There were times when a wave would flip me over and slam me into sand face first – it would remind me that the ocean is this huge, living body of water that could give a shit about my existence. But then there were times when I would ride on a wave all the way to the shore and it was as if the ocean and I were in it together.

I tried to rent a surfboard but was dejected by some teenagers working the surfshop – including one who told me he hated the ocean (what the what!?) and had no surfing advice for me. Later, I struck up a conversation with a friendly lifeguard who noticed and commented on Jeremy’s tattoos – he said that the waves in Destin weren’t great for learning to surf anyways – but he advised that I absolutely try it out one day. I’m hoping to have my new friend Paige teach me in El Salvador.




Our family vacation was filled with fun in the water and lots of sand in our swimsuits. We cooked huge family meals and drank a few beers. We went to a driving range where I learned that not only do I do cartwheels left-handed but I also golf left-handed. I also learned that golfing is not for me. We put together jigsaw puzzles and snacked on olives, hummus and Fritos. We rented bikes and pedaled into a little tourist town 4 miles down the road where we ate raw food out of a truck. Our vacation was long enough that it started to feel like real life and I never wanted it to end. And of course, on our drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what’s next.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation | Part 2

June 28, 2011



I ate crawdads.

It’s rare, but on occasion I will eat sea (or lake) food. Lafayette, Louisiana insisted I eat some crawdads – so I did.

Now, I’ve eaten crawdads before but never have I had to rip the little guy apart with my own hands. In fact, I had to ask the waitress to show me how. She made it looks so easy – you just twist the head in the opposite direction from the tail – pull it apart – discard the head (or suck the brain juice out – I didn’t do this). Then you peel the exoskeleton away from the tail meat and chow down. It sounds kind of brutal but if I’m going to eat meat this is how I prefer it to go down. I washed my dinner down with an Abita IPA and thought about True Blood (the intro credits, to be specific) the entire time.

Speaking of – are any of you watching True Blood? The new season just started, which makes me all giddy for Sunday evenings.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation | Part 1

June 27, 2011


I forgot to pack my bikini. Our final destination: the beach.

As we were pulling out of our driveway I was in a terrible mood. I was all discombobulated after a week of finalizing projects and tying up loose ends. And I was certain that I had forgotten to pack something – you all know the feeling. Jeremy patted me on the knee and cheered me up by saying “Whatever you left behind we can pick up on the road.”

We were in Lafayette, Louisiana, the half-way point on a long road trip when I realized I forgot to pack a single swim suit. Just a week earlier I had declared to my entire family (whom Jeremy and I would be vacationing with) that I wasn’t packing a bag. That I’d be living in a bikini all week and that’s that. My sister warned me of the dangers of living in a bikini (crotch rot and what not) – I rebutted and insisted that my crotch would be FINE (as I silently said a little prayer for my hooha). So in typical Kathleen fashion I would forget to pack the one thing I really really need for this vacation.

But just like Jeremy said I was able to find a Target and pick up a new mismatched bikini. I lived in it all week. And my crotch is just fine, I know you were worried.

A Small Break

June 17, 2011


I’m going to be taking a break from the blog next week for a little bit of summertime rest & restoration. I’m going to be taking a break from Twitter, email, Instagram and my phone too.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite J&K posts:
• My Dad
• My Office
• The Non-conformist
• Dinahsaur vs. Kitty
• The Accidental Minimalist
• Adventures in Babysitting
• Boots I Have Known
• All the Girls I Have Crushes On
• The Matters Series
• And of course, I can’t let you all forget about the time we went to Mt. Everest.

I’ll be back soon! I miss you all already.

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