Handy Tips

Last Monday, I began to feel a little off. By Tuesday, I had the flu, as in the real flu, not an Irish flu after New Year’s Eve. When I called the office on Wednesday, I’m sure everyone was convinced I was simply extending my holiday break. I wish that were true. I haven’t had the flu for twenty years. It’s awful, and a huge time suck. Not only does being sick interfere with work, it precludes even simple organizing at home. As a side note, if I’m out sick and we move a meeting, nobody will lose his or her mind and run screaming in front of a speeding bus. Fortunately, I was productive earlier during the holiday break. Here is a project that can save money, and another that moves you away from the "hoarder" category.

Handkerchief Creation

Issue 1: My grandmother said, “A proper gentleman never leaves the house without a handkerchief.” I prefer the madras handkerchiefs, and typically buy mine from J. Press in Cambridge.

Issue 2: I have a plastic bin labeled “fat shirts.” These are the shirts I love, but really are too large and fit like maternity clothes. Most of the shirts are madras. When I wear them, I look like a table.

Solution: I took all the gigantic madras shirts to the dry cleaner and asked them to cut them up and make handkerchiefs. I gave them a sample of a J. Press one as a guide. The following week, I had 24 new madras handkerchiefs. Each one cost $6.00 to make. The J. Press handkerchiefs are $13.00 each. Now I can use any old shirt I no longer wear to create handkerchiefs. I am, however, concerned that the next step is heading toward Little House on the Prairie and making my own clothes from old blankets, and shoes from bits of leftover canvas.

Messy Linen Closet

I know everyone has his or her own method to organizing a linen closet. I hate finding the standard sized pillowcases for the twin beds mixed in with the California King sheets. I hate finding a top sheet that has no mate. I moved my sheets into individual plastic bins. Each bin has a bottom and top sheet, two pillow covers, and four pillowcases. I made labels for each bin and threw away any orphan pieces. I also threw out all the colored, patterned, or striped towels. Now all the towels are white and match. Easy peasy.

The Great Wall(s)

This term, Nik Hafermaas, the chair of the graphic design program at Art Center, asked me to help curate the gallery. It seemed like an easy job. How hard could it be to choose some posters and hang them evenly spaced apart? The reality was more complicated, in a good way. In the end, I was faced with an enormous wealth of incredible projects. My first impulse was to put everything in the gallery. That, unfortunately, would lead to an episode of Hoarders. I didn’t want to be faced with a professional organizer, television crew, unhappy movers, and weeping family members while I tried to climb over mountains of design projects.

Let me define “incredible projects.” These aren’t the perfectly made and tasteful wine labels, or nice and tight simple logos. These are the projects that go beyond the assignment and ask fundamental questions about culture, how we read symbols, and what we make. And they are perfectly made. The high point of the gallery task was seeing the work and being endlessly energized and inspired. The low point was not being able to fit everything in our space. I need design a solution that allows for more projects and doesn’t point to a psychological disorder.

Below is one of my favorite projects from last term, Dawn Kim’s map poster for Knotts Berry Farm. First, it’s beautiful, like a Jackson Pollock painting. Dawn’s poster is so dense and multi-layered. It isn’t collage to solve a problem of filling space. It’s frenetic energy and possibility of discovery does the job of redefining the Knott’s experience beautifully. I would gladly show more great projects from the gallery if my students sent me their pdfs. Hint, here, guys.

How to be the Paris Hilton of Design

Hi, I have a huge head

For years, I’ve heard people say, “Oh, them. AdamsMorioka. Yeah, they’re media whores.” At the last AIGA Conference someone told me they heard we had a full-time PR person on staff with a $100,000 salary. “Sign me up, if that’s true,” I said. And I’m sure many of you have already heard of the well-known designer who once said, “They’re the Paris Hiltons of design.” I responded to her, “I’ll take that as a thinness compliment.”

Now I could have grown bitter and defensive, but I decided it was better to talk about this during my speaking engagements.  Unfortunately, this tended to sound like a remarkable amount of self-aggrandizement. “And, then I did this poster because I was loved by millions around the world,” is what I’m sure people heard when I talked about a lecture poster. So I’ve dropped this subject as a topic.

But before I leave it behind, I wanted to give everyone my biggest piece of advice. Have good images ready to go. Documentation is job1. Typically I’ll ask someone for a project for a magazine article or book, and then I never get anything. I’m promised repeatedly, “We’re shooting it today, I promise.” Now, for the first and only time, I will give you the step-by-step instructions we follow for documentation.

  1. A dedicated archive holds all images
  2. The archive is set up by client
  3. Each client folder has project folders
  4. Each project folder has a 300dpi folder for print applications and a 72dpi folder for web applications.


Archive 2

Archive 3

This is how images get there:

  1. At the finish of every job, a high-rez pdf file is created
  2. The file is opened in Adobe Photoshop and saved
  3. One image is saved as a 300 dpi, 8x10, CMYK file
  4. It is also saved as a 72 dpi, 5x7, RGB file

Three-dimensional images are handled the same way.

  1. The digital image is opened in Adobe Photoshop and saved
  2. One image is saved as a 300 dpi, 8x10, CMYK file
  3. It is also saved as a 72 dpi, 5x7, RGB file

In Design document

Export as a high-rez pdf

Import into Photoshop

Save as 300dpi and 72dpi images

This identity guide cover image is the end product

It’s an easy and painless process that works if you do it consistently. Otherwise, it’s like those people’s houses on Hoarders. So much documentation is undone, that you just sit in the corner and feel ashamed.