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.
PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGERY
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)?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I had no idea how last night's meal was going to turn out. I knew I had a bunch of squash, a couple of red peppers and tofu in the fridge. I got this idea to make a quick veggie lasagna using these ingredients - I had some tomato sauce in the cabinet but I wasn't really feeling it. I told Jeremy as I was prepping my veggies that I feel like I don't know how to cook with anything but Asian or Indian spices. That's when he suggested I make a more Asian inspired lasagna using the ingredients I had on hand. So that's exactly what I did.
Now, this meal wasn't the tastiest creation I've ever made (it was good! don't get me wrong - it's just that I've made tastier) but I felt like a Top Chef contestant after coming up with the idea from scratch and then assembling the food to look beautiful (which always makes it taste better). It was also super healthy which is a bonus.
I'm going to share this recipe but if you have any ideas on how to modify it to make it out of this world delicious I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments.
Asian Tofu Lasagna
1 block of firm tofu
4-6 summer squash and zucchini
2 red bell peppers
1/4 c coconut milk
yellow curry powder
salt & pepper
First prep your tofu by draining it. I drain my tofu by placing a folded dish towel on a plate. I set the tofu on top of the towel and then place another towel on top of that. Then I set another plate on it upside down (so you've got a tofu sandwich between two towels and two plates). THEN I set my water jug (or you can use something equally heavy like a cast iron pan) on top. I leave it there for about 10 minutes - the water from the tofu drains out into the dish towels.
After your tofu has been drained slice it into 4 squares (so slice vertically into the small edge - you'll get 4 4" x 4" pieces). Over a medium/high flame heat about 2 tbs of sunflower oil in a pan - cook the tofu until each side is browned. Sprinkle with a little bit of curry powder as it is cooking.
As the tofu is cooking slice your zucchini and squash vertically into 1/4" slices. You want the pieces to be about as long as your tofu squares. After the tofu is done reduce your heat to low and throw your zucchini in the same pan (I didn't require any additional oil). Sprinkle with curry and flip each piece of squash after about 2 minutes. You don't want to overcook your squash.
While the squash is cooking quickly add your bell peppers and coconut milk to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until it looks like soup. Then strain so you get a nice pulp (you can see in my photos I probably didn't strain enough liquid out).
After everything is done cooking stack your tofu (2 slices for each stack of lasagna), your red bell pepper sauce and veggies. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Serves 2. This meal is vegan.
• Roasted veggies with pesto pasta
• Yellow cashew curry with potatoes
• You can view all of our food posts and recipes here
You all might already be familiar with my post-apocalyptic fashion sense. Basically, whenever I buy a new article of clothing I ask myself "Will this outfit survive the post-apocalypse?" Not because I actually believe the apocalypse is upon us but it just makes shopping easier and I usually come out looking like a badass. So when Shabby Apple offered to send me an outfit I was overwhelmed by my options. They've got lots of women's dresses made for sophisticated jet setters and girly girls - so I perused the site for the dress I felt would best survive the post-apocalypse.
The dress I picked is tough enough for jumping on the back of a horse with some sort of sawed off shot-gun, but it's girly enough that I could use my feminine wiles to barter for some fresh water in some desolate and dusty ghost town taken over by calloused criminals. The only problem is that it wrinkles easily - not great for the post-apocalypse.
Dress: San Gabriel c/o Shabby Apple
Boots: Fiorentini & Baker
Bracelet: A gift from my friends Megan & Daniel
Shabby Apple is offering 10% off to Jeremy & Kathleen readers! Use the coupon code: jeremyandkathleen10off when checking out.
Disclaimer: I did receive this dress for free from the kind folks at Shabby Apple. I will be keeping it but I did not receive any additional compensation for this honest review.
My parents recently bought a new-to-them house closer to me and my sister. The new-to-them house is bright, airy and happens to be on a lake. In fact, it was the first house they looked at and my dad made an offer right after he caught a 3-pound bass off the back deck (meanwhile, my mom was checking out the bathrooms and closet space). We're all so excited about the move that there isn't much nostalgia when it comes to packing up the old house - which also happens to be the house I grew up in. We've spent the past few weekends tossing, sorting, cleaning and packing. And when I say "we've" I really mean my mom and Jeremy. My sister sort of creative directs the whole thing and my job is to inspire and cheerlead by dressing up like Lady Gaga and dry humping door frames while singing "Born This Way".
Left: A moving box labeled "Baby Photos (Tara & Donny). Mostly Tara." No Kathleen. See, I'm the baby. My parents were too tired to take pictures of me. Right: The taxidermied boars head. My dad sent this home with me to babysit until they get into the new place.
Left: We're using Donny's Gazette papers to wrap fragile valuables. Right: The stuff my family packs (or at least decides to throw in a box together) is just weird. Ceramics and Tambourines!? Let's just say - I had a colorful and eclectic childhood.
Left: I was born this way, baby. (That's a table runner wrapped around my head). Right: I have the patience of a seven year old. So instead of sticking around for organizing & packing I decided to get lost with my very own seven year old nephew for a little while. I let him stick his feet out the window.
• Girl Crush: Lady Gaga
• A Donny Vomit Thanksgiving
• Kathleen Gets Carried Away at Kind of a Sideshow
I've been living in this outfit lately. I throw on the vest and wedges when I go out in public to dress up what would otherwise be a typical outfit for Britney Spears. Except Britney would probably forgo the bra and shorts altogether. Bless her heart. But I have to admit, I totally have her new single stuck in my head - woah, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh ooohhh...
Wedges - Aerosole (You guys, I totally thought these were vintage but they're not. Just second-hand.)
Cut-off Denim - Street
Tank - Sparkle & Fade
Vest - Gap
Bra - Victoria's Secret
Earrings - Target
Wrist Cuffs* - Pimber by Amber Lynn Foster
*Blog reader Amber sent me a package of goodies including these leather cuffs made from salvaged scraps found in a landfill. She also makes beeswax lip balm from her own bees!
The most frequently asked question I get when it comes to freelancing is how to estimate and bill for work. I wish there was an easy formula but clearly there isn't. I've avoided answering this question because it's taken me years of trial and error to figure it out for myself and find out what works for me. But I'm finally going to share with you all how I handle estimating and billing.
FLAT FEE VS. HOURLY
I've found that most designers work under a flat or hourly fee. I prefer flat fees - this means rather than charging per hour for my services I'm charging one established rate for the project. That way the client and I both know what to expect. However, I do have a disclaimer in my contract that should a project go beyond the scope of what was estimated or if we go through excessive revisions the client may be charged at an additional hourly rate.
WHAT SHOULD I CHARGE?
I get asked this all the time. Only you can put a monetary value on your experience, talent and time. It's tricky to be objective but I'll break it down:
The scope of the project: Even though I don't charge an hourly rate I think about things like "how long is this project going to take?" Again, my experience plays into knowing how long it takes me to design a logo, a 100-page book or a wedding invitation.
Experience: Because I've been in this field for 10+ years I'm probably going to charge more than a college grad right out of school. A client isn't just paying for my services - they're paying for everything that has lead up to me being the designer I am today. They're not just paying for a logo - they're paying for my expertise.
A friend told me this story - it goes like this: some guy went up to Picasso as he was enjoying dinner in a Paris cafe. The guy asks him to draw something on a napkin as a keepsake. Picasso does a quick little sketch, hands the man the napkin and says "That will be $6,000." The man was flabbergasted and exclaims "It took you 2 seconds to draw that!" Picasso responds "No, it took me 40 years."
Now, I'm not trying to compare myself to Picasso but this story always comes to mind when someone emails me asking for an estimate for a "really simple and easy" project.
Time:This is simple economics of supply and demand. The more in demand my services are the more expensive my rates are. If my schedule is more open I'll charge less in order to secure the work.
FAST, CHEAP AND GOOD:
This is the ol' project management triangle. It's a good model to consider when estimating a project. The rule is that a client gets to pick two from this triangle. I personally never like to sacrifice "good" - if a client doesn't care about quality it means I'm not the designer for him.
ESTIMATING A TIMELINE:
Along with estimating a fee for the scope of a project I also give my clients a timeline that helps describe when certain tasks will be complete. This not only helps to keep the project moving forward but it also gives the client an idea of what the design process is like. Estimating a timeline goes hand-in-hand with my current workflow (see my to-do matters and project management posts).
Sometimes if I really want to work on a project I will tell a client upfront that I am open to adjusting an estimate as needed to fit their budget. Or I will work out a trade. Other times, the price is the price. If a client can't pay for my services that's okay - it just means we weren't a good fit for each other.
• I have a few trusted friends who are also designers that I will discuss actual dollar amounts with. I think it's important to discuss but it is also sensitive - so make sure you know and trust the people you discuss the value of your work with.
• A friend of mine gave me a book called Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook Pricing & Ethical Guidelines - my prices conflicted with some listed in the book but it's a great resource for project scopes, typical market value and contracts & terms. If you are a freelance designer buy this book.
I get asked a lot about billing and it's pretty easy. I hear a lot about designers being stiffed for their services and it's yet to happen to me. I like to credit my clients for being awesome stand-up folks but I also think the way I bill helps.
I request a 50% deposit up front unless it's from a client that has a billing department. But because I'm usually working with other freelancers or brides that's usually not the case. I also don't require deposits from repeat clients.
I get my final payment after the project is complete but BEFORE I deliver final files to a client or send something to print.
I know how it is to be on a tight budget so oftentimes I'll work out a payment plan with clients. Usually it's the estimate divided in thirds and paid out over 3 months.
I use Freshbooks to keep careful track of my expenses and income - I highly recommend this software. I also have an accountant who handles things like my taxes and tells me what I can and cannot write-off.
If you all have any more questions about estimating and billing please leave them in the comments section. If you are a freelancer I'd love to hear what works for you when it comes to estimating and billing.
• Freelance Matters | Project Management
• To-Do Matters
• Money Matters
Left: Liz snarking in Durham. Right: Me growling in OKC. Typical Liz & Kathleen expressions captured by the web cam.
Have you all met Liz? If you've been reading ol' Jeremy & Kathleen for a while you are probably already know that at one point I almost renamed this blog Liz & Kathleen: Fabulous Friends, Great Taste. But if you're new here, check out the Liz archives.
So Liz recently moved from her 1-bedroom duplex in Durham to a larger 2-bedroom space. It may or may not be because her Oklahoma boyfriend is moving across the country to be with her. (awwww!) So with a new move came new challenges. The kinds of challenges Liz thrives on - like getting rid of even more stuff and rearranging her mid-century furniture to perfection. I love how Liz transforms any space she's in with her perfectly art-directed vignettes - she makes it look so easy but it's a talent y'all. So today I'd like to share a few shots of Liz's new place with you.
Liz: My new big-girl bed that I LOVE.
You'll notice the nightstand on the left is much shorter than the one on the right. That might be because it's a stool.
View from the bed. Where the magic happens. Don't you just feel like a part of the magic right now?!
My stand mixer finally gets to sit on the counter. Ah, counter space.
All photos by Liz Fabry. If you want to see more of Liz's space follow her Flickr stream here.
I've found that if I go to the gym in the evening, before dinner, I spend my entire workout thinking about food. I mentally go through my pantry and fridge to take stock of ingredients on hand. I imagine various food combinations until an idea captures my attention. And when I've got a recipe in mind I visualize each step, from washing and chopping to boiling and baking.
So last night, in spin class, I started dreaming about dinner and this is what I came up with. The maple caramelized onions paired with the garlicky pesto was my favorite part - an unexpected combination of flavors was something special. It makes me want to explore more sweet & savory flavor combinations - any ideas for me?
Pesto Potatoes with Maple Caramelized Onions
6 small/medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 large yellow onion
1 tbs. maple syrup
1 big bunch of basil (I used Thai basil here)
1 handful of walnuts
4-6 cloves of garlic
3 tbs olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
I used this recipe to prep my potatoes. From there I sliced an onion and began caramelizing it in a cast iron pan. If you're unfamiliar on how to do this basically you heat the pan with just a little oil over medium heat - throw in your onion slices and drizzle the maple syrup on top. These are going to cook for about 10 minutes - the goal is to get them nice and gooey and browned.
Once the onions are cooking down add your potatoes to the same skillet and smash them (I used the bottom of a glass to do this). I cooked each side of the potatoes for about 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your pesto by throwing the washed basil, garlic cloves and walnuts in a food processor. Drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When this is done fry your eggs using your favorite method. Serve by scooping your potatoes and onions into a bowl, top with the pesto and throw the egg on top - season with salt and pepper to taste.
I can't believe it's been a full year since I quit my 9-5 to work for myself. I remember on my first day of self-employment my head was swimming in a cocktail of fear and potential. I was wearing a romper with bare feet and potting plants for my office in my backyard. As I was getting my hands dirty with soil a man working for the city came by to examine the abandoned house next door. He asked me about the feral cats living in the crawl space. He then advised me to paint my detached garage and informed me that my shoulders were uneven. He told me I needed a massage and he'd be happy to give me one. I politely declined, went inside and locked the doors.
Since then, I've spent this year navigating the bumpy waters of freelance life - from getting clients, efficiently managing my projects, and keeping careful account of my finances to constantly pushing myself as a designer and honing my craft. I've gone from finding my niche designing wedding invitations to calling it quits and focusing on small business identity and design. There has been lots of stress - the kind that gently gives me the nudge I need to keep going and the bad, typically irrational, kind that leaves me in a heap of tears. There has been an equal amount of joy too - like the projects that make me excited for Monday. And of course, writing and signing my own paycheck is always fun.
I love being a designer but if I'm completely honest, when I review this last year of freelancing, I can clearly see that what sparked the most passion in my life wasn't my career itself but sharing the journey of it. I found the most joy in documenting, designing and sharing the details of my life - from my design process to what I'm wearing and eating to the big things like the Nepal / Everest Base Camp trek. Sharing my experiences here is what makes me the happiest.
So a year later, I'm still swimming in excitement (mixed with just a little bit of anxiety) about what's next. My shoulders are still uneven and I probably do in fact need a massage, but I feel like at least my head is on straight.
The first year:
• Month 1
• Month 2
• Month 3
• Month 4
• Month 5
• Month 6
• Month 7
• Month 8
• Month 9
• Month 10
• Month 11
Here are some wedding invitations I custom designed for Megan & Paul.
Megan, an art historian and artist, contacted me after seeing some of my other invitation designs. She was especially inspired by Elizabeth Blackwell's "A Curious Herbal" as well as vintage French ephemera such as vintage soap and pharmacy labels. Megan and Paul are having a casual & intimate wedding celebration at Megan's parents' home in the beautiful English garden. All of these things inspired me greatly when designing Megan and Paul's invitations.
A unique idea we had was to include the details card on the RSVP - you simply snip off the details and return the RSVP.
I used a combination of vintage Flora illustrations with typography to help reflect the French ephemera look. We printed these in 2-colors on a textured, cream paper. The bride & groom were thrilled with the final result.
Other custom invitations:
• Sam & Rob's Earthy Art Nouveau invitations
• Stephanie & Max's Aqua and Emerald Letterpress invitations
• Carmen & TJ's Modern Topography invitations
J & K started this blog project to document the remodel of their 1929 historical home in the heart of Oklahoma City. It has now turned into a documentation of life, food, fashion, freelance, inspiration, design, adventures and details around the J & K house.
Kathleen works as an award-winning brand consultant and designer specializing in small business branding at Braid Creative & Consulting. Jeremy is a software engineer and is the left-brain to Kathleen’s right.
You can contact Kathleen at
jeremyandkathleen (at) gmail (dot) com.
All photos and graphics by Kathleen unless otherwise stated. Feel free to use them with permission or credit.
Anatomy of an Outfit
Sometimes I like to get dressed and take pictures of myself. For all of my outfit posts click here.
Freelance Matters: A series about how I tackle freelance issues such as estimating, billing, to-do lists and how to fire a client.
Trekking to Everest
In October 2010 Jeremy and I trekked through the Himalayas to Mt. Everest Base Camp. It completely changed my life. Read about the entire adventure, day-by-day, here.
Braid is a creative & consulting business I own with my sister. We do branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. On the Braid blog I share branding adventures, how-to articles and advice on the creative process. If you need a little brand therapy of your own visit Braid or subscribe to the Braid blog RSS feed here.
What We Eat
We like to eat really good food - at least 3 times a day. Sometimes I blog about it - click here for recipes and yummy ideas.
J & K: Blog Archive
- ► 2012 (182)
- Good Design
- What I Did On My Summer Vacation | Part 3
- What I Did On My Summer Vacation | Part 2
- What I Did On My Summer Vacation | Part 1
- A Small Break
- My Lawnmower
- Asian Tofu Lasagna
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Girly Apocalypse
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Summer Uniform
- Freelance Matters | Estimating and Billing
- Liz's Durham Rental #2
- Pesto Potatoes
- 1 Year Freelance
- Vintage Flora Wedding Invitations
- Popcorn. From Scratch.
- ▼ June (16)
- ► 2010 (387)
- ► 2009 (406)
- Eva Black | Spaces
- Emma Dime
- Life as an Artistpreneur
- Jane Reaction
- Ink & Letters
- Meg Biram | The Edit
- Sarah Von Bargen's Small Biz Blog
- Design Crush
- The Equals Record
- Emmarie Designs
- Rory Gordon
- Yellow Brick Home
- The Creatives Project
- Silly Grrl
- Photographers Skeen
- The Clothes Make the Girl
- Bringing Design Home
- Pip & Estella
- A Practical Wedding
- Kind of a Sideshow
- Sandra Juto
- Old Sweet Song
- Rambling Renovators
- Brooklyn Bride
- Design Crush
- Experiment in Poverty
- The Jealous Curator
- Making it Lovely
- Dressing on the Side
- The Oklahoman
- Young House Love
- Oh So Beautiful Paper
- A Cup of Jo
- Brooklyn Limestone
- Glamour Weddings