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Library Graphic Design Inspiration in the New Year

January 6, 2017

Happy Friday, dear readers! We’ve made it to the end of the first workweek of the year. Hard to believe we’re almost a week into 2017 already. Time really does go by too quickly no matter what it seems like is happening or we’re doing. For this first post of the new year, I want to share a few things that I hope will get you excited about your library graphic design work in the new year, perhaps even think of some new goals you want to achieve.

As for me, I’m not much of a new year’s resolution kind of person. I have enough stress without piling on more pressure with a bunch of lofty resolutions. However, I am all about goals and setting goals allows me to plan what I want to do in the new year, both professionally and personally. On the professional, design-oriented side, I want to increase my skills in hand lettering–it’s gotten so big over the last few years. It will be a nice complement to my continuing practice of calligraphy and hopefully expand the scope and feel of what I design in the new year. I’m not sure yet what I’ll get a chance to design for my library, but I’m hoping I get lots of opportunities (or I just might have to make my own).

Speaking of getting inspiration for new designs, it’s a new month and you know what that means–awesome new desktop wallpapers from Smashing Magazine. I’m particularly enamored of the tea pot and tea bag one, so calming for the new year. Also, the wonderful illustrated wallpapers reminds me that another goal is to continue to improve my ability to use Illustrator (a librarian graphic designer can never stop learning).

An older post, but still wonderful, is this photo-heavy post of a pin-sized book of Life’s Lil Pleasures. Miniature books are wonderful and this one is quite miniature. Plus, it would be a great challenge for bookbinding, which I think is another area where librarian graphic designers can learn to stretch their creative wings and use to improve their design work. There is something incredibly satisfying about creating a book by hand. It is a nice change from all the work we do in front of a computer when we are designing flyers and brochures for the library.

And, finally, because sometimes you just need a peaceful scene to look at when all seems too overwhelming, I give you Pickles at the Green Dragon. You can’t help but smile looking at that photo. So peaceful.

I’ll be back soon with a post reflecting on last year’s design work and where I see this year going. Along with more tips and hints for creating some great library graphic design projects. Until then, I hope you are inspired to break out your pencils and start sketching something new.

I hope you have a lovely first weekend of the month and a wonderful year full of opportunities and time to create awesome things for your library and your life. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design Inspiration: Brush Lettering and Holiday Breaks

December 16, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good week and have a lovely weekend with some time for relaxation amid all the bustle at the end of the year. Today I have a bunch of links for inspiration that will perhaps inspire some crafting and designing before we ring in the new year.

First, if you liked reading about brush lettering in Smashing Magazine, you’ll enjoy Part 2 of Brush Lettering that discusses practicing the techniques needed to create lovely, oh-so-trendy brush lettering. I’m looking forward to practicing over the holidays and maybe adding it to my calligraphy work.

If you are interested in getting into brush lettering, you’ll want to read the entire three-part review on brush pens over at The Well-Appointed Desk. I’m linking here to the third installment review on waterproof bristle tips as these are what I’ve gotten from Japan to use.

Do you listen to music while you work or do you prefer silence? Me, I’m a silence all the way kind of person whether I’m working on a design, writing a blog post, or reading. So I had to link to The Atlantic article, The best music for productivity? Silence.

Do you love wrapping presents or think that anything but a box should come pre-wrapped? If you need some help on wrapping odd-shaped items, check out this guide to wrapping with cloth: wrap anything, which goes over wrapping with Furoshiki–beautiful fabric wrapping cloths.

Finally, if you need to create some holiday cards or last-minute winter designs, check out the round-up of free holiday and winter icon sets over at Smashing Magazine.

I hope you have a fantastic end of the year and very happy new year, dear readers. I’m taking a break from posting until the new year so I can focus on family, friends, and relaxing before diving back into everything. I hope you have time to rest and recharge, too, so you are ready for all the challenges–design and otherwise–that I’m certain the new year will hold. Thank you, as always, for reading and I’ll be seeing you in the new year. Allons-y!

Friday Design Inspiration

December 9, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe we are a bit over a week into December? The last month of the year always seems to fly by. But on the plus side, there is always so much holiday inspiration for design at this time of year. It can actually be a little overwhelming. So I wanted to share with you some inspiration that hopefully helps instead of hinders your inspiration for the last graphic design projects of the year for your library.

Part 2 of Smashing Magazine’s guide to brush lettering is available. It’s a good guide to getting started practicing your lettering. I’m looking forward to trying out more brush lettering in my work as I was gifted a handful of brush pens from my trip to Japan. It will be interesting to see if I have any affinity for it after having done calligraphy.

Who doesn’t like free icons? I personally love free icon sets and Smashing Magazine has a lovely one for Christmas.  What I really like about this set is its versatility. Even if you don’t want to use it in the original format for an Advent calendar, many of the icons–gingerbread man, mug of cocoa, snowflake, etc.–can be used in other projects, too.

Finally from Smashing Magazine, check out the December design inspiration–so many great color palettes, illustrations, and photographs. Makes me want to create all the things.

Also, in the vein of breaking out of the box and thinking of things in new ways, I highly recommend reading, “The strange, surprisingly radical roots of the shopping mall.” It’s a great article from the TED Art + Design blog and had me considering the design of shopping malls in a new light–even if their original intent has never come to fruition. Food for thought as you work through your redesign projects at the library.

And, purely for fun, check out this article–and especially the video–on the World Sign Spinning Championship. It’s fun and amazing. Plus, the competition signs are well-designed, too.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend without stress over the upcoming end of the year and you have time for good books, good food, and good friends. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Friday Design: It’s December Already

December 2, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe we are in December? I certainly can’t. November, well, November has been a bit more of a wild ride than I was expecting and I’ve been busy with lots of design projects so there hasn’t been as much posting here as I was hoping. But here’s hoping the last month of the year provides some good fodder for the design posts. Today, I’m sharing some design inspiration and fun that will hopefully help inspire you as you race towards the holiday finish line of the year.

I know we are already a day into December, but if you need a refresh for your wallpaper, check out the lovely December desktop wallpaper designs over at Smashing Magazine. I’m rather fond of the little penguin in the Santa hat. Adorable!

I’m rather fond of gift-giving and of all things related to stationery, so The Well-Appointed Desk’s Holiday Buying Guide is like a catalog to a candy store for me. Now if only everyone on my gifting list felt the same…

Brush lettering is absolutely everywhere it seems and on everything. If you want to learn more and perhaps practice it yourself, this article from Smashing Magazine is a good place to start.

Finally, I had to share this blog post from The Blabbermouth Blog because it sums up a lot of my feelings at the moment, especially in regards to incorporating important things other than design and libraries on my blog. But I do believe that libraries are still important, so important, and that creating great graphic design for libraries is not a trivial matter–it can help us communicate and welcome everyone into our spaces, programs, and events. So I’ll continue writing and sharing here and in my other work as a librarian.

Finally, I didn’t forget about looking for autumnal inspiration for our work and our designs. We went to Japan (lots of inspiration for design, which I’ll be sharing at later dates) at the end of October and the leaves were just changing so this photo is from Kyoto. The maple leaves changing colors has inspired my work this fall and I look forward to seeing what inspiration I can glean from the coming winter as it brings its changes to the landscape around me.

photograph of maple leaves

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of good reads, good design, and good relaxation. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Design and NaNoWriMo

November 4, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are well and that November is treating you kindly! How did we get so far into November already? Time is really flying, especially if you are participating in NaNoWriMo. So what does NaNoWriMo have to do with design? I’m glad you asked.

For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. November is NaNoWriMo, which means thousands of writers all over the world are attempting (and succeeding) in writing a novel in 30 days. Yes, an entire novel–at least 50,000 words–in November. It’s audacious, crazy, exciting, and fun. Plus, lots of libraries get in the action by becoming Come Write In partners and hosting write-ins–meet-ups for writers–at their libraries. My library is a Come Write In partner for the second year and I’m hoping we have even more writers come this year. It’s hard to say no to free coffee and cookies in a quiet library space when you are on a writing deadline. If you’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo, I really think you should and it isn’t too late to start this year.

But what does NaNoWriMo have to do with graphic design in libraries?

Well, I could tell you that writing a novel will help you with creating great copy for your next flyer, poster, or brochure–it probably couldn’t hurt your copy writing abilities. I could tell you that getting writers into your library for Come Write In events is a great outreach opportunity and they may even take a look at your current exhibits or other programming when they come out of their writing fog–they probably will. Or, I could tell you that there’s nothing like banging away at a keyboard during a word sprint to encourage you to stop making excuses and just get writing–it totally works.

But really, the best reason for doing NaNoWriMo in terms of library design is that it isn’t about library graphic design. You aren’t cropping photos, you aren’t matching color swatches, and you aren’t creating a grid for the next newsletter layout. You’re writing. Pure and simple, words on the screen or in your notebook. You are exercising another area of your brain, taking a break from your sketchbook to get into your word processing notebook. And that’s great!

This break from consciously working on graphic design–but still working on a creative project–will give your subconscious time to process and find solutions to your design challenges. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to create even better designs for your next outreach brochure or flyer for storytime. This is a great thing that should also absolve you of any lingering guilt for taking time away from doing more and learning more on graphic design. By widening your scope of creative endeavors, you widen your personal encyclopedia of inspiration and understanding to draw from in your next project.

Plus, you’ll probably have a chance to eat a cookie and drink some coffee or tea while resting your wrists before another wordsprint. And, who knows, you might find another graphic designer among the writers at your event who you’d never meet otherwise.

So get out there and find inspiration through writing. You never know what you’ll be able to bring back into your library graphic design work until you do. And, good luck and fast writing to all my fellow WriMos! 🙂

I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!




Friday Design: Sign Inspiration and Library Exhibits

October 28, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had another lovely week and are excited about the weekend. We are almost to the end of October and I can hardly believe it. So much to do at the end of the year–work to wrap up, cookies to bake, cards to write, NaNoWriMo to win. It seems like there is hardly time to stop and consider anything in the rush at the end of the year. I find it both exhilarating and slightly terrifying. So, this post is part inspiration, part a bit of visual fun to help you find a moment to slow down and look at pretty things, and part call to making better posters for your next library exhibit. Sound good? Okay, let’s get into it.

I spent last week in Washington, D.C. with my mother. We saw more museums and monuments than I thought was possible, walked further than my feet told me was recommended, and generally had a wonderful time even though it was way too hot for the middle of October. Of course, in between looking at all the amazing art, inventions, and such, I spent time taking photos of signs and exhibit designs that inspired me. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas to bring back to the library and luckily it didn’t bother my mother–too much–that I kept taking close-ups of exhibit captions and posters.

It isn’t surprising that the various Smithsonian museums have amazing exhibits and great signage. They have the professionals and experts to put together exhibitions and the support that most libraries can only dream of. But that doesn’t mean we can’t copy some of their best ideas and get inspiration for our own exhibits. My library creates two main exhibits each year and has begun to step up its game in terms of design. I’m part of the exhibit team, so I may be a little–a lot–biased and invested in the outcome of the exhibit designs, especially the posters where I have the most input and sway. So I focused mostly on the exhibit posters, captions, and signage as I walked around the museums. Below is just one example that I love, not just because it is for the exhibit about birds.

photograph of bird poster

This is the poster that greats you as you enter the exhibit and see the first cases of specimens. It is just wonderful. I love the silhouette of the birds, the breaking of the border at the bottom by the egret’s feet, the combination of text, and the overall color scheme used. It is at once a beautiful poster and a great orientation to the exhibit.  I especially love how the headline was colored using sampling from the image. It ties in great. The fact that the type leans towards Art Nouveau is just icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

birds of the District of Columbia caption close-up

This is a close-up of the headline and caption at the bottom of the poster to show more detail and the great composition of this type. Great use of color to tie the text together and relate back to the main image. The variation of font size clearly denotes the information hierarchy at a glance allowing readers to quickly get information without any confusion.

This poster makes me even more committed to upping our exhibit poster game at my library. It’s so beautiful and eye-catching. Now if I just had a large collection of bird specimens to exhibit at the library…

Outside of the museums, one of our favorite places to walk through was the sculpture garden on The Mall. This sign obviously called to me.

photograph of Metropolitain sign in sculpture garden

So is my point that you have to design in the Art Nouveau style for your next project? Of course not. But consider carefully how you are tying together your type, copy, color, and images to support your message. And, if you can, try to push yourself to take some risks in your designs to create the very best posters and signage for your next exhibit that you can.

I hope you have a wonderful, inspiring weekend full of great reads and fun. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!


Friday Design: Inspiration and a Challenge

October 21, 2016

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has been going well and you have some lovely weekend plans. Today I want to share a bit more design inspiration and a design challenge. So let’s get into it!

There is so much to love about autumn and the change of seasons can definitely inspire us in life and in our library work. I wanted to share some things that are inspiring me for the autumn and would love to hear what is inspiring you, too.

UPPERCASE Magazine is endlessly inspiring. I love that it is printed with such care and vibrant colors. That in the previous issue the editor and designer, Janine Vangool, explained and showed all the new typefaces she was using in a refresh of the magazine. I love all the interviews and showcases of artists’ works in areas I don’t work in, but find inspiring nonetheless. A recent issue even had a large spread of artist’s books, which was amazing, and the love of print and craft shows through in each issue. Highly recommended for refueling your creative tanks when you think you’ve run out of ideas.

I love the reviews and information from The Well-Appointed Desk. Great round-ups of other posts and news around the web in “Link Love” and this blog keeps me searching for the perfect teal blue fountain pen ink–plus keeps me motivated to write holiday cards.

NaNoWriMo is coming! Is your library participating as a Come Write In spot? You should. Although you’ll be creating with more words than you’d ever use on a flyer (right?), it is a great opportunity to meet a community of wonderful writers and get inspired to create no matter what medium you’re using. Also, you never know when you might get an idea for your library’s next round of marketing materials from another writer’s story. Plus, it is a great excuse–as if you need one–to break out your button-maker and make some buttons to share!

While I don’t have a link for this one, seeing all the signs for pumpkin patches and autumnal festivals around also inspires me in the fall. I love getting new lettering ideas and seeing what works and doesn’t in signage. I always enjoy seeing what color combinations are used and what I might be able to do in the library with them.

So, now, to the design challenge. Find something new to inspire you this autumn. Maybe it’s a new hike, a new sign for a restaurant that just opened, a great book, or a talk with a friend. Whatever it is, translate your inspiration into a design–your choice for format and size–that speaks to you about autumn. Interpret autumn however you want. (Think about how the artists for the monthly Smashing Magazine wallpapers all design for the same month, yet create radically different final products.) Then, if you’re willing, share your design in the comments. I’ll be sharing mine in an upcoming post.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend, full of all good things. (And if you need a tasty, autumnal treat, check out Joy the Baker’s Vanilla Sweet Potato Waffles.) Inspiration is all around you–you just need to look! I’ll be back soon with some more news and notes. Allons-y!



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