Sunday, December 5, 2010

why is package design so much better in the UK?

last year, i had the pleasure of visiting england for the first time in my life. since it had been a dream of mine to visit this beautiful country, i couldn't wait to embark on a series of quintessential tourist-y jaunts. but one place that is not on a tourist's map is the grocery store. being a graphic designer, i had always heard that design was far superior than that in the states. so, what better place to confirm this than visiting the grocery store myself.

initially, it was not my intention to solely visit the grocery store only to see what sits on their shelves, but because i was hungry, and i wanted something quick and cheap to eat.
but as i was perusing the aisles and shelves, i noticed there was a huge difference in their display techniques. not sure if this was intentional of course, but mainly with the individual products themselves.

there's something to be said for simplicity in design. since we are all consumers, i tend to notice these things, not just from a designer's perspective, but a customer as well. it's apparent that the package design in the U.S. is packed with so much information and crap, that i wonder, how can a customer accurately tell what's good and what isn't good mainly from the busy packaging? i know i can't, and considering i have used the same products for several years now, i guess i have just taken it all for granted. 

until recently.

not so on the shelves in the UK. just from wandering through the aisles, it's apparent that simple, clean package design is a must over in that part of the world. but i ask, why can't it be the same over here in the states? a "friend" of mine through the graphic design community once told me that he never noticed how poor the package design was in the states until he traveled abroad. however, it was more prevalent not just lined on grocery store shelves, but in environmental design as well (i.e. street signs, et al). until i visited england last year, i simply could not 'get' what he was saying, until i saw, first hand, with my own eyes. 

there's something to be said for simple graphic/package design. i'm sure the majority of our problem here in the western part of the world is mainly restrictions and the like, muddied with federal standards from the FDA—so i ask, how on earth can we work around this? what little package design i have in my portfolio, i am not the one who can accurately answer this question. the few package design projects i have worked on were not the common consumer item such as detergent and toilet paper, but something a little more obscure. 

oh, i give Target® credit. i love their product packaging and as a result, i frequently buy their products—for the most part, i'm happy with their product line, but have been disappointed with a few items at the same time. i guess like with any product, it's hit or miss unless you have been a regular consumer of that item for some time.

regardless as to why we don't have extraordinary package design in the united states, what's important is that we necessarily don't. i will continue to search for that ideal design product, and at that point, i will purchase it in hopes of being satisfied with the product overall.

in the meantime, enjoy these product photos from package design in the UK.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

the frugal decorator

yup, that's right, i have actually been frugal in the past when it comes to decorating our loft. i have never been into the whole matchy-matchy look to begin with, so decorating with a more eclectic flair is more up my alley than copying a page out of a pottery barn catalog. 

i wanted to share pictures directly from my loft so you can get an idea of what i've been up to since we moved in four and a half years ago.

if space is an issue with you, like it is with us, using your imagination can really help when decorating your home. storage solutions are key. to start, check out these perfect containers with magnets for spices which go directly onto your refrigerator. they're perfect and now it frees up an entire drawer where i once kept all of my spices.

each container costs $1–$2

below is a solution for this crazy little nook by our front door—it has always driven me crazy because of the wasted space that was there. so what better space saver than old style gym/school lockers. each little cubby houses many items such as winter scarves, gloves, hats, etc. and others are just filled with random items like replacement paper for the printer, envelopes, books, etc. it's a perfect solution for a perfect little space. it took me a year to find the perfect lockers on craigslist, so when i finally found them, i knew i had to have them. besides, my daughter loves to use the dry erase markers and color on them to decorate them as her own.

cost on craigslist - $60

this next frugal item is the cheapest by far—it was free! i found it in a dumpster. in our previous loft, we lived right next to a hair salon. i was looking out my window and remember seeing one of the employees dragging it out to the dumpster. as soon as they left, i immediately dragged my husband out and we carried it upstairs (begrudgingly, i might add). the top round circle is where the logo of the hair product line, TIGI, was located, so i immediately painted over it with some funky design and colors, and voila! instant bookshelf. 

cost - FREE

now, since we live in a loft, i thought it would only be appropriate to maintain that urban/raw feel throughout. i really wanted the decor to reflect this look, so when it came to buying a container for the dog food, i immediately gravitated towards this 'trash can' as a solution. it wasn't as cheap as i would have liked, but it was still a reasonable price and a much more attractive interpretation than some of those hideous plastic dog food containers.

cost from the container store - $35

i loved this look of the 'trash can' so much, that i decided to actually use a trash can for our trash can and our recycle bin (located outside on our patio). you can't beat the cost, and they're available at home depot.

 aluminum trash can as our regular garbage bin purchased 
from home depot cost - $12

larger version of this aluminum trash can purchased from home depot - cost $14

this next frugal decorating idea is a little more 'clean' than the previous items. 

re-used wine bottles for olive oil, red wine vinegar and basil flavored olive oil. not only do they add a lot of color to our countertops, but they're quite practical at the same time. i love having these within reach while i'm cooking (which isn't very often, unfortunately) and because they're not labeled, per se, i always know that the green bottle is for the basil flavored olive oil (get it, green for basil..), the yellow and orange bottles are for the plain olive oil and of course, the red bottle is for the red wine vinegar.

once you're finished drinking your wine, just peel off the labels and voila! a colorful useful bottle. pop in pour spouts (you can find these at any liquor store or home decorating store and they only cost $1–$2 at the most) and it's ready to pour. 

it's a perfect solution at an inexpensive price.

cost - $10+ for a bottle of wine 
(don't remember the name of the wine, but you can't miss them)

i know most of you have already seen my coveted gumball/candy machine, but i wanted to share it again because i feel it's completely appropriate for this segment of my blog. as you can see, this space at the end of our bar was boring and bland. once i added the gumball machine, it gave it new life. now it holds delicious m&m peanut butter candy so in addition to looking bright and colorful while mouthwatering at the same time, it's like a piggy bank as well!

you can find these all over eBay at a very low cost.

cost on eBay - $20 + S&H

my recent frugal addition—vintage billiard balls. don't ask me why, but i love the look of them. i love their color combinations and love how they really add so much life to a once boring coffee table. 

since i don't play pool, nor do we own a pool table, i figured it would be easy to just look on eBay for vintage billiard balls. i personally love the yellowing patina that the vintage look gives while displayed in a triangle. and in my glass bowl, there are two sets of mixed and matched billiard balls—one set is very vintage (as you can see from the pictures) and the other set is just an older mixed set of balls that were selling on eBay. 

before i put the balls in the glass bowl, i never really had any idea what to fill it with until i purchased the vintage balls and left them in a triangle on the table itself, and realized how cool it would be to fill the bowl with a plentiful amount of balls as well—both old and new.

i love the end result.

cost on eBay - vintage set in triangle $20 + S&H, 1 set in bowl - $15 + S&H and 
2nd set in bowl $5.50 + S&H, triangle cost on eBay $7.99 with free S&H

i don't know about you, but i hate having DVDs and games lying around in a mess in my home. since we have a small space, i always feel like having too much junk lying around makes it look even more cluttered. so for another space saving solution, i use these old galvanized bins to store blankets and the controllers and games for our Wii. they easily fit underneath our large glass coffee table, so again, another perfect space saving solution for our household.

cost at pottery barn teen - $30

 this bin, although not cheap in comparison, is the perfect size for games and controllers for our Wii, and easily tucks underneath our coffee table. 

i never knew what to do with this ice tub that i purchased several years ago, so i took it out of storage and now i use it to store our blankets for when we're watching TV or just lounging on the sofa. i have never been a fan of blanket throws over our sofa, so for us, this is perfect! like the bin for our Wii games and controllers, it easily tucks underneath our coffee table.

having the Wii balance board and the two bins underneath our glass coffee table is another resolution. it works for us and it works for the larger table and keeps things within reach, without cluttering up your living area at the same time.

last, but definitely not least is this commercial shelving unit that we use for our daughter's bedroom. since her bedroom is small, we wanted to create another space saving solution where she can put her dollhouse (bottom), her hamster cage, TV, and games and other toys easily within reach. naturally, it had to look cool, too!

cost from sam's club - $79

i hope this post can give you some excellent space saving and cost saving ideas for your home, and realize that you don't need to spend a lot of money for your home decor. just use your imagination and some research—like craigslist in your area and eBay, or local estate and garage sales. 

but most importantly, have fun while decorating. i love being on the hunt for these great finds as you never know what you'll find.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

look, up in the sky...

it's a bird. no, it's a plane. no, it's superman!

superman flying - pop art design by one girl creative 2010

yes, that famous superhero that we all know and love has brought back a renewed sense of nostalgia for me these past few weeks. don't know why exactly, just know that i love the whole superhero concept and anything related to it. because let's face it, in this day and age of technology du jour, i love the simplicity of a comic strip superhero.

many of us have not grown up with superman, et al, but we definitely are familiar with their origins and what they represent. show a picture of superman to a 4 year old boy, and i assure you, he'll just GET it. his reaction and excitement will not only surprise you, but enlighten you at the same time.

how can something so simple and fictitious create such happiness to a young, naive little boy? because as a little boys, they understand what it's like in all their dreams and their glory to become the perfect superhero (even if only in their mother's eyes at that time in their life).

even though i didn't grow up watching these superhero shows or cartoons, i can appreciate—now as an adult—what they represent to our culture. for me, they represent more than just a cartoon or a superhero, but within our pop culture of our own unique universe, something that is beyond innocent and timeless. i love what it represents, because personally, its meaning is an art, a timeless art. if you flip through the pages of any comic strip—old or new—you immediately get a sense of being thrown into a time machine and going elsewhere in your existence; an existence that only you can comprehend.

for me, it's about childhood and being born all over again. feeling that while your life starts anew, you can look forward without trepidation about the mundanes of everyday life, but your happy childhood instead.

don't grow up. enjoy your life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

black and white color

what, black and white color??? what does that mean? what it means is, i love creating black and white photos and then adding splashes of color here and there to 'spice' up the image. 

sometimes, having a black and white photo may seem dull, but with splashes of color juxtaposed with the black and white composition, it can really add life to any photograph.

i recently started experimenting with a few photos of my own so here they are. hope you like them!

i came across this cool 'sculpture' in front of an unidentified building in london

jubilee bridge in london

apple store in london 

i had the pleasure of seeing one of these retro double-decker buses in london, and 
since they have recently been 'retired,' it was a rare find

doubles champions - 2010

a loft and a pug

my kitchen

simple photo of lady bugs

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

common design crap

i recently came across this little bit of news via twitter (gotta love the whole tweeting thing) about iStock soon-to-arrive stock logos. are you kidding me, iStock??? how is the whoring of commercialized logo design a positive direction? not only will this give clients/business owners even more credence to purchasing cheap logos in lieu of good valued logos designed from a reputable graphic designer, but it cheapens our field as a whole. so what else is new?

as if we don't have enough to worry about, this just only adds a whole new dimension of people wanting to belittle our field even more.

i've never been against the internet, in fact, i love it. i love the whole social networking idea as a whole—as long as it's not taken out of proportion (mafia wars, anyone?). and i admit, i have even used stock photos for ad campaigns out of sheer urgency and of course, when i can't as a freelance designer, afford to hire a professional photographer myself.

but stock logos? come on. as much as i'd love to admit this is the same thing, it truly isn't. there is a huge difference when needing to hire a photographer for photos and setting up a whole photo session than hiring a graphic designer to design a logo for you. so i ask, how is iStock going to pull this off? will they submit homogenized logos that can be interchangeable and requested by the purchaser? obviously not everybody has the same business name, so how will this work?

apparently iStock will only sell these logos as a one-time gig. meaning quite simply, that once a customer purchases a specific design from their website, that particular logo will no longer be available and will be listed as "sold." ummm...ok.

but here's the catch, for the designer that created the logo, they have to adhere to iStock's copyright policy in order to sell said logo. so for the graphic designer who is creating the logo, how is this a good thing?

seriously? and the customer actually thinks this is worth it? oh, and i forgot to mention that according to iStock's website, they will be selling these logos for a lot more than their average vector or photograph—their reasoning of course being that since it's a one-time deal, it's supposedly unique.

i'm still trying to figure out how this is advantageous for the business than just finding a good, talented graphic designer to sit down and go over your needs for your next logo project, and having that personal creative touch to your logo? no strings attached.

please, someone enlighten me here.

as anybody could imagine, i'm having a really difficult time accepting this new 'trend.' it's bad enough i have been unemployed for several months now due to the economy and let's face it, a saturated design field, but now i'm competing with stock logos online???

this definitely will bring a whole new dimension to graphic design. will it be for the worse or the better? only time will tell, but i'm afraid it won't go away anytime soon. as long as there are customers out there willing to spend money on this shortcut design, then it'll continue to flourish.

for now, i'll just continue to plug away and hope that my clients appreciate good, authentic and personalized graphic design instead of this common design crap.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

live and learn

who would have thought that my own personal advice would come back and bite me in the ass. a few years ago, i wrote about how we as artists shouldn’t fall prey to spec design. spec design is quite simply, doing the work before you’re compensated for it. i have always been confused by this ongoing problem with graphic designers, but it seems to be a common problem in my field.
this baffles me.
i won’t jump on my soap box just yet. what i wrote about a few years back in 2008 still holds true for me. unfortunately, given my recent vulnerability due to my unemployment status, i figured I’ll do a little bit of work just to make sure the client knows what they’re getting from me is not only good work, but so they’ll ultimately be 'wowed' with the finished product.
i was recently contacted via email about a company wanting to hire me to design some pop art images for their soon-to-be opening boutique in florida. this company sells couture designer items that have been pre-owned and at a much cheaper cost than buying them brand new.
the owner loved my pop art pieces of louis vuitton and chanel handbags, and wanted me to stick with this same concept of using designer items to hang throughout his boutique with a pop art twist. the only difference between my original designs and the ones he wanted for his boutique are a change of colors to reflect the colors in his logo and more designer items to add to their overwhelming assortment of items for sale.
when i spoke to his partner on the phone, he said he wanted me to come up with some designs to send his way, and if they like them, they will then allow me to “go to town” with whatever designs i wanted. 
i made it very clear that typically i don't do spec work without some sort of compensation beforehand, and as he started to say he was ok with that—me like the weak person that i am, went ahead and said i would send him a design or two without an upfront deposit.
what was i thinking? because i got tongue-tied in the process, i assured him that i will only do a few pieces to send his way as jpegs. ugh!
here is where the frustration begins.
naturally, i went ahead and created a few designs—which thankfully didn’t take too long of my time—and immediately emailed to him.
next day—nothing.
day after—nothing.
day after that—nothing, so i decided to get proactive and i contacted him to let him know that if either of the designs that i sent him were not acceptable, to please let me know and I’m happy to change whatever colors or designs he wanted.
still, nothing.
it has now been almost a week and i have yet to hear from either of them.
yes, again i was screwed over. for whatever reason, i don’t know. all i do know is i didn’t get compensated for my time, nor did they even have the courtesy to get back to me to say yay or nay. nothing!
like we always say—“live and learn.” if only i had followed my own advice (as well as many others in my field) and not accepted it without a deposit up front.
so even though i didn’t get compensated, nor did i get to “go to town” with designs with this particular businessman, i will now learn by this mistake and move forward and hope that whatever business venture or client comes my way, i will continue to present a contract to them and require my typical 30–50% deposit up front before i start the work.
i'm mad, and i could kick myself, but at this point, you just have to learn from your mistakes and move on.

Louis Vuitton Speedy

Louis Vuitton Mini-Noé

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

bond, james bond

those of you who know me, know that i have an unusual love for anything and everything james bond. i own every single move on DVD—except for diamonds are forever (but i'm still on the hunt for that). so much, that i recently spent $$$ to change 4 of my character's names from my world of warcraft account to reflect any female or male character from the james bond series from its original big screen inception of dr. no in 1962. now all 6 of my active characters each have james bond-related names—kissysuzuki from you only live twice, rogermoore, camillé from quantum of solace, vesperlynd from casino royale, tiffanycase from diamonds are forever and of course, our favorite, høneyryder from dr. no.

i even have a series of james bond pop art designs i created as my personal tribute to the super-manly agent.

what is wrong with me, you ask? simple. i love james bond. i love what it represents. the retro-lifestyle of living as a secret agent and traveling all over the world fighting 'bad guys' is a fantasy i have always envisioned. will it ever come true? of course not. but it's fun to daydream about, isn't it?

fantasize about someone like daniel craig emerging from the water wearing nothing but tight, slim swimming trunks are to every girl's fantasy. so who wouldn't want to be his go-to gal? minus the typically dying at the end scenario, i think it's the perfect dream come true.

dashing off to europe on a moment's notice while in tow with my superhunk to protect me sounds so exhilarating, doesn't it? And when we head "home" after all of the traveling, we arrive to our mid-century modern home equipped with the latest technology and sportscars in the garage.

Ahh, if only life were this simple.

daniel craig as james bond 007

sean connery as james bond 007

george lazenby as james bond 007

roger moore as james bond 007

pierce brosnan as james bond 007

timothy dalton as james bond 007