It’s late April in the Midwest which could mean ANYTHING weather-wise. But on this particular day, it’s sunny and 60 degrees and I’m happy. Been in a mental rut all week and decided to do a short series to design for fun. This particular series was inspired by my trusty plastic yellow sunglasses from last summer. And they just feel more appropriate and festive on a sunny Friday. I gave myself the following “rule”: each graphic had be sunglasses with green shades. A guideline or two keeps the challenge realistic (the real-world is rarely a free-for-all) and it helps the series feel consistent even with a variety of styles, colors, and shapes. I tried to capture the right style and emotion for each day. Do you agree with each day’s vibe?
A Shade for Every Day
Shade of the Day: Monday
Monday needs a little pep. If you don’t feel like tackling whatever Monday holds for you, this pair of sunglasses will help you power through. This is the eyewear your attitude and your eyes need for Monday.
Shade of the Day: Tuesday
Tuesday’s sunglasses are a no-fuss, classic aviator style with a star at the hinge because they needed a little something. Look, the honest truth is that Tuesdays are often crazier and weirder than Mondays. Don’t add another thing to your plate or look. These shades are streamlined for a smooth Tuesday.
Shade of the Day: Wednesday
On Wednesdays we wear pink, obviously. And what better staple to pair with your pink than a bold, black pair of sunglasses. The tiniest pearl was needed to enhance your pink palette. Sleek and guaranteed to help you glide through Hump Day.
Shade of the Day: Thursday
Thursday, you beautiful symbol of optimism. Also fondly referred to as Pre-Friday, Thursday’s oversized square tortoise-shell style tells the world that maybe you’re a little tired but you’ve handled your week and poised for solid finish to the week. A little trendy, a little classic, a lot perfect for Thursdays.
Shade of the Day: Friday
The entire inspiration for this series; a happy and SUNNY Friday. The world is your oyster for 48 hours. The Monday version of you can handle whatever you don’t get to today. You will feel as festive as these sunglasses look. I would suggest wearing these through the weekend for maximum happiness.
I committed myself to one class each semester at a local university for the last year (and continuing this year). The experience has been positive in so many ways including but not limited to getting out of the house, meeting people, being uncomfortable, learning new things, being okay with learning new things, and being reminded how young I look ;).
Last fall I completed a Video Art class to re-familiarize myself with video software and techniques. A few jobs ago, I was doing quite a bit of basic video editing in Premiere. Nothing crazy or complex, but tediously trimming all of the mumbles, ums, and mess-ups out of talking head interview videos. I share this because not every designer knows their way around video tools and software, myself included. I do not intend to offer video services, but I would love to be able to creating training videos for my clients and/or marketing videos for myself. If nothing else, I figured this would at least get me closer and hold me accountable for learning.
Video takes so SO much time and skill! I know this because I have had the pleasure of watching and working alongside some talented video folks at every job I’ve held. It takes creativity, technical know-how, flexibility, resourcefulness, and so much more. I’m want to preface my sharing of amateur classwork by saying that capturing quality footage and weaving together beautiful stories is not easy. But trying new things is so valuable, so here are a few video projects I created!
All work represented below was created or curated by me for educational purposes. I have included credit where possible and will disclose where and how I used my own footage.
Project 1: Appropriation
Katie-Kassel-VA3150-Appropriation-Lemon-Tree-091018KK from Katie Kassel on Vimeo.
Exploring the symmetry and contrast between the pace of nature and the man-made world was my goal in this video. How did I get there? When browsing footage, I downloaded anything I found visually pleasing. After saving several video assets, I had to comb through my collection. I started to notice patterns emerging from the footage I collected that contained similar colors, and the subjects’ movements mimicked each other. The process began by pairing up videos and arranging them in an order of nature, man-made, nature, man-made, and so on. One thing that I was careful to mention when I presented my video in class was the timing, the pace of this video. When you watch it, it feels like everything lasts just a beat longer than you expect. This was intentional as part of the overarching concept of my video. As humans we’re like “yep, got it, okay, next,” and nature’s like “whoa, hey, what’s the rush buddy? got some more raindrops.”
This project allowed all of our footage and audio to be “found.” This meant using free and appropriately licensed footage and songs. This also left us the option of using footage that we personally captured too. All of the footage featured in this video is free and licensed, and not my own. All of the sounds were also found and pared with their corresponding clips. The ice in the glasses, the fingers typing, the bee buzzing, the wind, rain pouring down; all of those are separate clips that I matched up with the video assets. The music was also found, but the poem was written and recorded by yours truly. And let me tell you, there is only one thing worse than hearing your own voice…Hearing your own voice in a room full of people. Which I survived and lived to tell the tale. I felt like I needed one more element that would tie all of the videos and music together so I chose to write exactly what I needed. This allowed me to incorporate the words and timing that fit the video perfectly.
Project 2: Multi-Frame
Katie-Kassel-VA3150-Multi-Frame-Floating-100818KK from Katie Kassel on Vimeo.
This project was half luck, half skill and only came to be because I just got started with what I had. We had just vacationed in Hilton Head, SC where I had captured a wide variety of footage. I didn’t know what I would end up with so I just filmed wherever we were, whatever we were doing, whenever I could. When I started putting the frames next to each other, I thought I would show “water” images in every left frame and “air” images in every right frame. But it felt too simple. I’m all for minimal BUT I felt like the video as a whole lacked depth visually and metaphorically. So I did what I do best…Make It More Complicated (Trademark Pending). I started layering air and water videos together and the result was much better. I loved the tension of not knowing if you were seeing air or water in motion. This is also reflected in the color scheme and somewhat eery, ambiguous music. That’s how Floating came to be the title.
All of our footage had to be our own, captured by our own cameras. Our audio could be created or found. The goal of this assignment was to present footage in a unique way using two or more frames. Frames could be layered, side by side, different sizes, etc. I do wish I would’ve pushed the boundaries of spacing and effects more with this assignment, but I also feel the end result aligns with my personal design style.
Project 3: Mini-Documentary
kkassel-va-final-documentary-121018KK from Katie Kassel on Vimeo.
Behind the Screen
While I wanted to use my learning experience to try a new things, I also wanted to be practical about how I was spending my time working on projects. I decided that if I was going to spent 15-20 hours on a project, it should serve me and my small business well. Time is money, baby. So I decided to create a tool that might help me share who I am and what I do as a one-woman graphic design studio. I love how prominent technology is in what I do as a graphic designer, but sometimes it can be hard for people to truly get an idea of my personality (and face) if we only ever exchange emails and phone calls. You’ll notice a dumb blue line in the middle of the video that’s not supposed to be there. You’ll also enjoy a few sub-par audio moments (hello, hi, student project) and rambling explanations. If or when I revisit this, I would cut the length WAY down and ruthlessly edit what I choose to say.
All of our footage had to be captured using our own brains and equipment. Audio could be found, but most documentaries include some spoken word for narrative purposes. This video had to be at least 4 minutes (!) long. Folks, it takes SO MUCH footage to edit down to 4 minutes. SO MUCH. And since I was using all of my own footage and myself as the subject, I made this extra hard on myself. I literally cringe watching this because it is hard to watch yourself do anything, but you better believe I met those requirements.
I totally enjoyed this class. I will say, the hardest part of anything for me is getting started so just signing up and showing up for this class required five minutes of bravery. What keeps me hooked and continually amazes me about the creative world are the endless possible outcomes. We all start with generally the same requirements and the finished projects are wildly different. We all heard or read the same words but they meant something different to each person.
Perhaps the kindest and highest compliment I received from my professor and classmates was my sensitivity to typography. Insignificant to you but touched my heart! I’ve loved letters all my life and discovering that I can care for them in my profession is super cool! All that to say, I love typography and believe well-chosen fonts and colors help communicate the story or information you aim to share.
I set a goal for myself to read as many books as possible each year. I started with a hard and fast goal of 20 books and try to keep that number in mind. Last year, in 2018, I managed to devour 30 titles and today I’m sharing titles 16-30. Missed the first post? Check out titles 1-15 before you leave!
Let’s see what the second half of the list includes…
List of 2018 Book Titles – Part 2
Another one that easily makes it into my top picks of the year. The fact that the author lived these lives (yep, girlfriend definitely lived a few lives) and eventually had the opportunity to document and share her experiences is impressive. I couldn’t put this down because I have no life experiences that can even remotely compare to the author’s childhood, and for that I am so thankful. It also made me endlessly thankful for the hundreds and thousands of teachers and professors who champion students without support systems. Just, thanks so much for what you do. Fans of The Glass Castle, grab this one.
17. Lilac Girls
World War II read. This is based on a true story of two Hungarian sisters who survived life in a Nazi concentration camp. They seriously survived the unspeakable.
18. The Stars are Fire
Not my favorite, but very okay. The main character is an INDEPENDENT WOMAN and she takes care of her family in a time when women didn’t have the autonomy we have now. It does involve a few somewhat sensitive topics surrounding motherhood and relationships.
19. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Another contender for 2018 Favorite! Eleanor is billed as a curmudgeon, and she IS. But she’s also so lovable. This book was so endearing and I am crossing my little fingers that this is adapted into a film or series. I would recommend this one to lovers of A Man Called Ove.
20. You May Also Like: An Age of Endless Choice
This one was fascinating! If you don’t care about why humans make choices and the research documenting the process then maybe pick something else on this list. The best way I can describe the gist of this book is taste is an individual choice and is most developed by our repeated exposure to things. I believe there are more recent editions than what I read.
21. Monday’s Not Coming
Page-turner. Read this in a single day. No idea if I ate or drank water or breathed, but I HAD to finish this book. This was eye-opening as a white person who lives in the burbs, but I think any person would benefit from reading this. The author weaves a heartbreaking story of race, poverty, mental illness, and friendship. Read this.
22. Drop the Ball
This book was at once both exactly and not at all what I expected. I did expect the author to suggest not even trying to “do it all,” because you don’t have to and you don’t need to. But there were a few other really good, practical nuggets in there. Any relationship requires teamwork, yes? Both parties do not need to handle the same tasks/responsibilities – it’s inefficient – which means there are going to be certain things that one person tends to take on. Typically, the only way people will know if you need help is if you…what for it..ask them. And typically the person we harbor bitterness towards is the person in the best position to help us. Also, it can be frustrating if your counterpart doesn’t seem to care about the same things you care about.
23. The Hate U Give
If you saw this movie, then you know the general story but this book was another important read that brings awareness to the all-too-familiar story of racial tension and vilification of African American boys and young men.
24. How to Be Yourself
If you know and love/put up with me, you may have unfortunately experienced the weird, emotional, irrational? meltdowns I have leading up to big events. Basically, BIG days bring out BIG feelings for me. It was like my brain was shouting “CHILL OUT, WE’RE FINE” while I cried about what I was wearing and snapping at people. After reading up on social anxiety, it’s pretty clear I display a lot of those characteristics. I’m reading about and working on how to deal with this and purposefully putting myself in controlled situations that push me. OK, THE BOOK, RIGHT. I loved this. Now, it’s totally geared towards me. It addressed common thought processes and behavior patterns of folks who get anxious before, during, or after social situations. More than addressing behaviors, it offered some super practical, quick, free exercises for managing anxious feelings.
25. The Great Alone
I really enjoyed this book! I felt it was a well-rounded, vivid story. It could have been the timing of this read because I think I was ready to experience an escape.
This cover was everywhere and pink so I knew I would read it #millenialpink. I didn’t love this but did find the complicated relationships and demands of the hospitality businesses really interesting. If you’re all about NYC and have experience in a restaurant then you might enjoy this more than I did.
27. Grit by Angela Duckworth
I have been recommending this to everyone I know! Solid and fascinating research on grit and humans’ abilities to stick with things. I think the stories and principles can be applied to any person at any age in any industry.
28. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
This was honestly a hard read. And by hard I mean frustrating and heartbreaking. I am fortunate to have personal experience with addiction. To read about the destruction addiction can unleash on families and the cost of resources was eye-opening. This is a movie with Steve Carrell and Timothee Chalamet so maybe it will sound familiar. If you live a relatively comfortable life without need for government assistance (myself included, I’m working on this) this would be a good opportunity to expand your horizons.
29. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families
I would not recommend this book if you do not have any interest in the political climate of the last 50 years of Africa, especially Rwanda. I was determined to read several Rwanda-specific books after our visit there last year. I do think this book did an excellent job of capturing the complicated, nuanced feelings of Rwandans post-genocide. Dry but informative.
30. Girl, Wash Your Face
My last read of the year was a positive one, on purpose. This book has been everywhere so the library queue was pretty long! I know I may get some heat for this, but I thought it was very OK. This book was really good and encouraging and all the “good” things you want in a book, but I feel like I’ve read this 10x before. I still think you should read it because it might be the warm fuzzy your soul needs, but don’t blame me if you roll your eyes a few times.
Ok, that concludes my 30 Books I Read in 2018 list. I hope you found one or two new titles that you hadn’t heard of or might add to your list. Most importantly, share your recommendations for your favorite reads below! Did you read any of these? What were your thoughts?
Ah, yes, bookworms, we meet again! I’ve compiled a list with my thoughts on all of the books I read in 2018. If you didn’t read a single book in 2018, that’s cool – this list isn’t to shame you! This list is purely for me. I like to look back at the variety (or not) of books and authors and I chose to spend time with. Recounting each title brings back the lessons, stories, and feelings I experienced in those pages. My grand total for 2018 was 30 books, beating my record of 20 in 2017! I also try to share these in my Instagram Highlights because it’s an easy quick way to share. Please enjoy these sub-par images using random surfaces around my house (#aesthetics).
Okay, here we go.
List of 2018 Book Titles – Part 1
1. Little Fires Everywhere
Okay, this was easily one of my favorites of the year. If Reese is turning this into a series, you better believe it’s a good one. I thought the writing was vivid and descriptive without dragging on forever. I also loved how this book examined many sides and dynamics of seemingly imperfect people. Turns out even the characters you can’t stand are doing what they believe is right. I think that’s my biggest take-away from LFE: there’s not really a “right” answer or “right” way to handle something. Read this. Please.
2. An American Marriage: A Novel
This book was not AT ALL what I expected but I read wayyyy past my bedtime to finish this sucker in a day or two. It’s a heartbreaking and frustrating journey of one couple’s struggle with the US judicial system. This one, again, so carefully layers in extenuating circumstances that I would challenge anyone to say “Oh, I never would’ve done that.” Plus, Oprah recommended it so….
3. The Rosie Project
This is a sweet one. I think anyone can guess the ending but the route there is winding and funny and sad. Not earth-shattering but still good.
4. The Woman in the Window
Not a fan. I think I’m just generally tired of every twisty, dark white lady thriller? If that’s your genre and you haven’t read this then I can safely recommend this to you. I will say that the twists in this one were actually surprising! It’s also possible I only read this during daylight hours.
5. When I’m Gone
I definitely felt feelings reading this. Thankfully I haven’t had to experience the grief that this family experienced but the thought alone made me emotional. My critique of this book is the pacing. 90% of the book is devoted to one storyline and then a BUNCH of stuff happens in 10% of the book and then it was over. This was a solid “OK” for me – I would ultimately give it 3 stars.
6. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done
Ok, admittedly learning new and better ways to actually get your sh*t done is probably not everyone’s idea of reading for fun. But it is mine! I identified so many examples of my own patterns of behavior. Jon Acuff gave them humorous explanations and clever titles. Let me say, I am actively working on my Noble Obstacles and doing my best to move forward on The Day After Perfect.
7. Crazy Rich Asians
I feel like this has been a polarizing book and movie. I loved this read! It was fun and magic…dare I say, enchanting? I read this as a purely fun adventure but I also got to chat with some folks who were so turned off by the family dynamics they didn’t dig CRA at all. I thought the movie was a delight as well, so 50/50 you’ll love or hate it.
8. Before I Go to Sleep
See my reaction to #4. That’s a no from me, dawg. The opportunity cost of watching the move is better.
9. Everybody Always
Bob is a positive, goofy, encouraging guy and I never regret a moment spent reading his books. This book could easily be gifted to someone you love or someone you just met. He offers anecdotes for life and faith. If you need a little encouragement, read this one.
10. Looking for Lovely
This was very okay. It is spiritually-based and fairly short if you’re into that sort of thing! The author shared some personal experiences but left a lot of them really vague, and also weirdly name-dropped some of her cool friends? This one didn’t particularly move me.
11. Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved
This book gave me some serious life perspective. I was so intrigued by the author’s career – researching the prosperity gospel – and how she approached this concept in light of her life-changing diagnoses. Not a long read, but truly interesting. If you read When Breath Becomes Air, then you might be interested in this book.
12. The Girl Who Smiled Beads
The book’s author wrote about her first years on earth fleeing Rwanda for her life as the Genocide began and then spending her childhood walking between and merely surviving refugee camps in Africa. I felt weary just reading her accounts. She shares what it was really like to be reunited with her family on live television. If you’ve lived a relatively comfortable life, I would highly recommend reading and wrapping your brain around the life of a refugee.
13. Come Matter Here
Of all the positive, semi-spiritual books I’ve read, this one felt refreshingly…honest. The title and the explanation behind it were almost more impactful than the book. “Come matter here” was the idea that we are waiting for and relying upon attention and validation from others. We are waiting for an email or text or invitation to matter somewhere, anywhere. I appreciated what seemed like a truly genuine account of the author’s life, faith, relationships, and depression.
14. The Female Persuasion
This cover was EVERYWHERE for awhile! It’s really cute and Instagrammable so I’m not shocked. I didn’t really know what to expect but this kind of a preppy coming of age story. The book is pretty thick, but I enjoyed this read, and didn’t feel like it dragged on forever. Liked it!
15. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Genocide
There aren’t enough or right words to describe this read. I’m still in shock that something so devastating happened in 1994. I know most people won’t read this one, but if you can I would recommend that you do. You won’t soon forget Immaculee’s story.
Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? What should I add to 2019 list?
Thanks so much for reading! I’m sharing the second half of my 2018 list next week. Subscribe below if you just want the post emailed to you. I’m not selling anything, it’s just an automated way for you to get my blog posts without checking social media. Up to you!
Every once in awhile the universe rewards me for my devotion to both pop culture and graphic design which allows me to bring you such hits as Thank U, SpecsTM. Have you ever worked with a graphic designer or printer? Maybe you’ve run an ad in a high school basketball program or wanted to get your company’s logo on a polo? Tackled home improvement or a technical project? If you’ve encountered any or all of those scenarios then you’ve probably heard the term “specs” thrown around a couple times. Ariana sang about ’em (well, close) printers have ’em, and designers need ’em to get your project complete and out into the world.
What are Specs?
Specs is short for specifications, and is defined by Merriam Webster as “a single quantity (such as a dimension or a measure of performance) describing a product” or “a detailed precise presentation of something or of a plan or proposal for something.”
Specs are the technical details required to actually produce your project.
Letting your graphic designer know where and how you plan to display your new look is important! For example, let’s say you have a new logo (exciting!) and you want to start using it everywhere. It’s crucial that a graphic designer knows the dimensions, colors, and file types to deliver a file that your printer can actually work with. A standard tri-fold brochure is pretty straightforward. But if you’re renting billboard space, that’s going to require a high-quality, hi-res image and a file sized to the correct dimensions of the billboard. If you’re adding your new logo to your social media profiles, you’ll be fine with a smaller, lo-res JPEG.
Types of Design Project Specs
A graphic designer, a web designer, a marketing team, and printer should all be able to provide and communicate the following technical specs:
- Dimensions – pixels, inches, picas, dpi, ppi
- Resolution – 300 dpi (high res), 72 dpi (lo-res)
- Bleeds – do your colors, text, or images extend to or beyond the edge of the page? Pages need to be trimmed accordingly.
- File size – 100KB, 2 MB
- Colorspace – CMYK, Pantone, Spot, for printing, RGB for web; these are set within the document
- Color swatches – Hex #efefef, RGB 34-78-35
- Material and weight – 100# text-weight paper, vellum
- Bindery – spiral bound, saddle-stitched, perfect bound
- Finishing – perforated, scored, folded
- Filetypes – .doc for text only, PDF or EPS for hi-res printing, JPEG (no transparent background) or PNG (allows for transparent background) for web
Consider these marketing specs as demographics and goals for your target audience. These specs are important for understanding who a designer is communicating your information to.
- Demographics – Who are your customers? Age, gender, income, region, motivations.
- Goals – What goals does your customer have? What are they trying to accomplish with your organization or services? Are they trying to lose weight, learn something, spend time with friends?
- Tasks – What series of steps can someone who sees or uses your product or service take to move forward? This could be make a phone call, email, take a photo, buy a meal, etc. This part of understanding your customer’s journey towards you.
- Calls to Action – What functionality must be included in technical items? Maybe you need a contact form on your website or your mailed letter must have a return envelope for donations.
Examples of specs
Why are design specs important?
Design specs are important because they directly affect the production and outcome of your project. Knowing the colorspace, material, and medium for your printed piece ensures your colors are not only accurate but look great! Having thorough and accurate technical specs means that your ad is going to fit in the space you purchased or can be mailed within your budget. Understanding why these details are important and how to ask for them means saving time and money. There’s no having to redo designs or spend money reprinting materials.
If you don’t know what the specs are for your project (or don’t want to deal with it) ask your printer/vendor of choice to supply theirs, which are typically in document or PDF form, to you and/or your designer. A lot of times these can be found on vendor websites as well. Connecting your designer with your vendor is a perfectly reasonable solution and part of hiring a creative professional!
Good luck singing Thank U, Next in it’s original version… From here on out, it’s Thank U, Specs. And you’re welcome.