Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Awesome people doing awesome things (and writing about it)

This morning's blogging view.

When I became and avid member of the blogging community a lot of what I was reading or looking at daily were from people I didn't know personally; popular lifestyle or fashion blogs, blogs about design or crafty DIY things. However, lately I've noticed more and more the things I look forward to reading are from people I know and love. It's just another reminder of how lucky I am to have such inspiring people in my life.

And with that, I wanted to share a few people doing some awesome things and blogging about them! The best part is that they're all completely different, no two even cover the same subject.

I met Kate in September outside of a food truck during ArtPrize. She's a fellow Not Design-er and, although I haven't known her for all that long, I look up to her so incredibly much. She recently left her job as a designer for GVSU to work with Future Project over in California (which will eventually lead her to Iceland) for a new kick-ass project in a few months. She's been recording little bits about her trip on her Tumblr. Although she doesn't write much, her photographs share such insight into her experiences while she's away and every single one tells a story.

Kelly started Pages and Cakes over a year ago where she wrote about goodies she baked and books she'd read. Now she's living in the Big Apple, making it in the publishing world and living the dream 20-something life! I'm so proud of her and equally as glad that her blog remains; better than ever! Not only does she write about all the books she somehow manages to find time to read, but she also just participated in World Book Night. If you haven't heard about this you must go and read about her experience, truly awesome.

Want some motivation for a daily project? Look no further. Jen's blog Ampersands and Acrobats not only touches on bits of design and her personal life but recently is a place for her to feature A Letter a Day. She actually just finished the project! but you can always go back and check them out from the beginning.

I've known Cam for basically as long as I can remember and he is definitely the person I go to when I need a good dose of tough love. A poker player and creative writer he recently started Millionaire Mentality and I'm thrilled that he's finally writing a blog. His first two posts, one about The Art of Budgeting and the other Defining your Goals, were pretty great and I expect nothing less in the future.

As someone who struggles to blog once a week I am still amazed that Danielle has managed to blog EVERY DAY and with that goal in mind The Many Days of 30 was born. She just writes about what is on her mind, sometimes she tells stories, sometimes writes about people she knows or what frustrates her. She is incredibly witty and has amazing insight. All I can say is that 365 posts in 365 days is no easy task but she is making it look like a walk in the park.

Some of my favorite blogs to read are just ordinary people sharing their everyday lives. They're often created as a way to share your life with friends and family you don't get to chat with or see as much as you'd like. After graduating from U of M last May one of my best friends Megan and her boyfriend Steve made the leap to move all the way to the east coast to Boston to start a new chapter of their lives. It's been great to watch as they finally found an apartment, adopted a kitten, and settled into their new city.

All I have to say is, hurray for people who are doing awesome things and sharing them for all to enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Growng old and grumpy together

I found this little note while cleaning over at the studio yesterday. Sometimes it amazes me the tangents we can get on while we're all sitting around working and clearly this conversation was one we wanted to remember. It made me laugh when I re-read it, picturing my friend Drew trying to be nice to a group of grumpy elderly couples the summer he volunteered at a nursing home.

I've got to admit, I love the idea of thinking "all's we need are each other and mashed potatoes." Honestly, isn't that a nice thought?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not Design

The time has come! Not Design's new website has officially launched! While we've had a Facebook group and an old stand-in site for a while now my studio-mates and I have been hard at work updating all of our information, populating Flickr, and posting all of our stuff for the digital world to feast their eyes upon. I've got to hand it to Justin and Drew, the design is perfect and their coding and genius web skills have blown my mind once again.

"Thinking is what makes us unique as creative problem solvers. While we participate in design, our goal is not designing but engaging in human relationships."

As if we weren't thrilled enough about that...I was approached last week by a writer over on The Awesome Mitten, a great blog that features 365 days of awesome things going on in Michigan, about Not Design being day 319. After sending over our new website, a few photos, and a quick interview we were honored to read the article they wrote up about us.

Check it (and all the other fun places and people they've interviewed) out here: Day 319: Not Design. Thanks again guys!

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned how honored and proud I am to be a part of Not Design. To get a chance to not only have a space to work in and call my own but the opportunity to lean so much from these five other people. They have taught me to stand up for myself as a designer, to realize how much my talent and working capabilities are worth. They all share a love for adventure and with Fox in Buffalo, Kate in California (and Iceland soon!), and Justin heading to London come June, they've shown me that even the most uncertain opportunities can be life-changing.  They've taught me how to letterpress, to appreciate good coffee, to fix wireless routers, to love big fluffy dogs that hang around just like any other member of the family. We've fought and argued and hugged, shared beers and printed for hours. I have no idea how long Not Design will remain the way it is right now, we are all still young and with that comes a sense of wonder. Maybe we will all wind up in different states or different countries, maybe some of us will stay together and maybe some of us will start up our own studios far away. Either way, a part of it will always remain because that is what this is all about; the learning, the journey, the making things along the way. Our philosophy says this:

"We believe that design has a opportunity and a responsibility to engage people, eliminate the audience, and to educate and communicate on a human scale through interaction, relationships, and community. We design but we are not about design. It is something more"

And that is definitely something I agree with. Cheers, from our sunny, ink-filled studio to yours!

James Fry Photography

Lately I've been a bit behind discussing some of the things that have been going on over here! I've been doing a lot of fun things with Not Design (getting our new website up n' running!), finishing up a fun branding project, and donating my time to some awesome people over at the Ronald McDonald House of Chicago. In the middle of all that I got connected with an awesome photographer here in Grand Rapids, James Fry.

James approached me to do a little lettering project and after one meeting and an hour of chatting more collaborative ideas just started flowing! I was honored that he popped in the studio the other day to shoot some video and a few photos. Although I'm definitely not the model-type he got me laughing and we both wound up having a great time.

He's a super talented guy, definitely check out his website and blog, and keep an eye out for more fun things with this in the future!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Happy early birthday to me!

Hurray! I did it! I bite the bullet and invested in an iPhone! I've been wanting (and noticing the need for) a smart phone for a long time now but knew I needed to be a little more financially stable before making the plunge. As an avid lover of Apple products and good design I knew hands down the iPhone was the clear choice. My contract ran up the beginning of April so today I went, as excited as a kid on Christmas morning, to pick up my new toy! Now just to learn how to use it...going to take a great dose of patience...!

Monday, April 16, 2012

"just because"

I love sitting here watching him work. Mostly silent, making subtle heavy sighs as he tilts his head ever so slightly to the left and right, hoping somehow it will change how the image on the screen appears. He stares at the computer so intensely, switching from one project to another, waiting for the audio files to finish rendering and apologizing every time he has to play the track aloud. I'm not paying much attention as all the sounds in the room blend together, the music coming through the speakers, the sound of the space heater blowing, the fast clicking as I type from this couch against the wall. His whistling; only every couple minutes when he's not thinking quite so hard about what he's doing does the sound of his humming or faint singing emerge from his lips. It's rare we take the time to enjoy these little moments, the ones where you want to just go over and hug them so tightly. Those moments where they ask "what was that for?" with a smile on their face and you respond with some version of "just because" because that is the only answer you can come up with, there is no other explanation needed. Those moments are wonderful, mental photographs if you will, that no one else would love in that moment as much as you.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Sunday

I'm aware this post is long overdue, as many of my "planned" entries are. However, even though it's been a few weeks since Easter I can't help but still look at these photos and smile.

Carrot tree, decorated for as long as I can remember.

Tie-dye eggs.

Tulips for the table.

I got the chance to spend Easter at my parent's lake house this year; drinking wine, eating a lot of great food, and ultimately being a little lazy. After a few exhausting weeks it was a day I really needed and even waking up at 5:30 am to head back to Grand Rapids Monday morning was so worth the trip. My Saturday night was filled with beers on the porch with my Mom and Stepdad, playing catch-up and grilling out. I got lectured a little about sleeping more, eating better, and how my date went a few weeks ago. Sunday I awoke to coffee and baskets filled with gifts and jelly beans that were eaten before brunch was even served. I got to see my brother and his girlfriend who arrived long after I had fallen asleep the night before. Even though there were no longer a bunch of kids running around the house, we had a whole dozen eggs to dye: laughing to ourselves when we dropped one, or pondering aloud how to get the perfect shade of purple. There were card games, bottled soda, a delicious dinner, and a lot of laughs. I made time to chat with my Grandma and tell my sister how much I wished she was there. Even the work I had to finish up didn't seem like such a burden and a night ending with a long phone conversation seemed the perfect way to wrap up a wonderful Sunday. It's days like this where you look around and realize you couldn't imagine being anywhere else. They remind you of what it's like to feel safe and loved, and ironically, isn't that what Easter is all about?

I hope everyone else had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday this year.
Feeling blessed, Happy Easter.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

GIF-ing it up.


Look at those NotDesign-ers go!

Photos taken of the gang minus Kate (who we all miss already!) last Saturday in the middle of a very busy day filled with breakfast, website edits, and lots of conversation. Feeling very excited about the things this studio has on the horizon. Have I mentioned I love these peeps?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stop trying to manage your practice.

Remember when I told myself this last summer? To stop thinking so much. Well, turns out close to a year later and I'm still having to force myself to pause and calm down. I don't quite mean in the busy sense, I'm always going to be busy I've accepted that is my personal nature. Unless I'm utterly exhausted or in the company of friends I don't like sitting idle 85% of the time. Though lately I have taken the time to understand that slowing down isn't a set back, rather a necessity. Taking the time to order one more round of beers while catching up with someone, or just sitting in that chair in your living room and finishing a book because 'cmon you only have 10 more pages to go...those are important as well.

I recently started practicing yoga, not as regularly as I would like due to that busy schedule I just mentioned, but still enough to start to really appreciate it. I took a new class this week that was mainly focused on breathing and meditation. It's tough for me to get out of my head sometimes, my mind seems to wander very easily and I have a tendency to daydream like no other, but I actually really enjoyed it. The one thing the instructor kept saying that really stuck with me was to "stop trying to manage your practice" and man, was she was right about that. I found myself in poses where I thought "if I have to sit like this for 5 more seconds I am going to collapse into a crumpled ball of nothingness onto this mat right here" however, eventually I realized I needed to listen to what she was trying to tell me. The more you thought about what you were doing the harder it was, you could actually concentrate too hard on it. If you just focused on your breathing you really could make your body do some amazing things, almost as second nature. Now, I'm not literally going to walk around all day paying attention to the breathe flowing in an out of my body, but when it clicked with me in that yoga studio it was an amazing thing to realize. Just, stop thinking about it.

I can't help but feel this idea is a recurring theme in my life lately, maybe someone is trying to tell me something. Almost a year out of college and wondering what I'm "doing" is this silly idea that I know I get hung up on a lot. It is in a way comforting knowing for a fact I'm not the only one. "What if this is the wrong decision? What do I do? Who am I?" These are questions that 20-somethings everywhere struggle with daily. Heck, these are questions that people, no matter their age, sex, geographical location, deal with every hour, every day, all over the world. Well the thing is, this is just life. You're going to wake up in the morning and have the day to do with it what you chose. And maybe some of us need to just stop thinking so much. Stop trying to manage your practice, and with that, stop trying to manage every single aspect of your life.

Someone I really care about recently just told me that nothing in life is certain. How many times has someone told you that? He's right though you know, nothing is. And yet, if you let that fear of uncertainty plague you, you'll asking yourself those decision-making questions until you're blue in the face and terrified to leave your apartment. I think for me it was time for that reminder, to stop thinking, to take a few more risks, to stop trying to make everything work out in this text book way. Life is uncertain, yes, but it is so much more wonderful that way.