I am not an actual or aspiring homegoods or packaging designer. I didn't think I pay particular attention to them or scrutinize for profession or hobby, but let's face it, we are surrounded by them both. Our homes are filled with stuff and EVERYTHING seems to be packaged. Be it your coffee, a button, a gift, a necessity, it's pretty much inescapable to run into one of the two, and usually both, at any given time.
Luckily, I find the quirky goods and packages to be inspiring. This weekend, while giving myself a home manicure (hello, budget) I noticed the color I picked was "Poor Lil Rich Girl." Ok, fine, I actually picked the color because of the name. It's pretty, I love me some red hues, and it was a solid choice for a change, but really, the name spoke to me. As I painted my new theme on, I thought what a neat job it would be to come up with that name. And what does that name mean? And how much better that is than "496." And what else has awesome little copy details like this?
Point is, just a fragment of text got me thinking, and I love it. I've been known to save and store clippings, wrappers, etc. from bottles and boxes and such because of the text. I have the ripped off end of a Ghirardelli chocolate bar package held by magnet to my refrigerator not because I want to get the same kind again (though it was delicious), but because it says "Moments of Timeless Pleasure." The date that brought me the bar didn't live up to the text and we didn't ever talk again after consuming the chocolate and bidding each other good night, but I like the words. Not because they speak to me profoundly or remind me of some epiphany or lesson, but they're just clever. Who would think to put those 4 words there? On a chocolate bar? Does anybody else notice this? I don't know, but I love it.
I love reading (and very often saving) the blurbs around a bottle of Vitamin Water, and if I could, I would probably still have a few more cartons of Ben & Jerry ice cream, for the outside copy and the inside details on "limited edition" flavors. I also love checking what my rare Starbucks cup and sleeve have to say, and flipping through the bliss spa catalog to see what words they choose to lend personality to their products and services.
After thinking about how much I love to find fun typography, well-written copy, and perfectly captured package details in everyday items, I ventured to my kitchen to see what else there might be. I was at first disappointed by the lack of Vitamin Water (those bottle aren't cheap), but happily surprised that my making-coffee-at-home budget also brought these coffee creamer messages:
I'm lucky to find myself surrounded my creative and talented people. Even within my closest friends, there is so much talent I can hardly stand it. What I find especially remarkable is how in awe of their rough, this-is-what-I-do-naturally-not-trying pieces they create. I love seeing the whole piece, process, and idea come to full life, but I'm blown away how random doodles and natural expression can be so beautiful. I happen to naturally like the aesthetics of line art, but the thing that really gets me with the raw beginnings of something more or perhaps an accidental discovery of something cool is the grounded, inspired, and from the heart origins of these rough sketches.
Inspiration is passed along and in just looking at what my friends sit down to work on, sketch on a
napkin, throw together to demonstrate a point, or randomly come up with in a moment, I pick up their inspiration. See what I mean. . .
One day, while she was living in Dubai and I in NYC, Leah emailed me this sketch. She titled it "Sharing" and sent along this drawing she had felt inspired to put onto paper one night. I've known her to work on large canvases and with paint, so this was new for me to see and unexpected, too. Leah had been journaling and writing poetry a lot at the time and I love how this sketch called itself to be expressed, and she was kind enough to let me see.
When Brian shared this with me he prefaced, "well, my sketches are usually pretty rough. . ." I think they're awesome. Brian Pope is a talented graphic designer and a creative mind at large. These sketches are the basics for his recently launched kids' streetwear line, PRE-K. In everything he touches and designs, you can see the attention to detail, thought, imagination, and artistry put in. I think even in his sketches you can get a feel for how he deliberates and generates. What's even more inspiring is he can come up with original ideas, execute them on paper + computer, and bring them to market.
Miss Jessie Williams is another creative + business-minded type who leaves her mark on everything she touches. It can be a hand-cut dress, screenprinted tote, long labored pair of earrings, portfolio video, or an envelope in the mail: you'll know she touched it and left a bit of sweetness. This sketch was just whipped together real quick and arrived to me via U.S. postal service handling of a no-longer standard white envelope. The hand drawing in itself made the mail so much more worth it for just the smile it brought out.
This last sketch I have on hand to share is from my much-admired tattoo artist Dave C. Wallin. Beyond tattooing, he can do just about any type of drawing I can think of on paper and computer. Plus, he's a musician. This sketch was the first one (well, technically the second as he drew in green marker on this piece of scrap paper when we were sitting together beforehand but I didn't get a chance to snag it) of my latest tattoo, and I was amazed when I saw it. It captured what I wanted even in the humble beginnings he was apologizing for and explaining. The end product is stunning work and just what I wanted, but I love how he totally channeled my motivation and desire for this tattoo in his simple pencil sketch. (For your own end product, stop by)
Perhaps seeing one of these sketches will inspire you to make your own, even if it is stickhead figures with awkward dresses, or maybe your name on repeat. Good comes from expression and you might have some fun, if not the next piece that inspires you.
Daily, I can seek and find inspiration in my surrounding people,
buildings, nature, art, etc. All I have to do is turn on music I want
for the mood I'm looking for, pick up a book, browse online, take a
But what really sticks with me are the things I don't have to seek out.
The everyday, business as usual, yet uniquely inspiring things I come
across just by living in the world. All I have to do is be and the
world drops inspiring jewels right to me. Here are some things I've
come across and taken photos of. These everyday moments noticed
continue to inspire me as I refer back.
Work may get hectic, but when I stop and look, I realize I lead a lucky
life and am blessed with what I get to do and take home money for. I
think my computer desktop is even aesthetically pleasing for the most
Coffee with a friend is always nice. For the conversation and company,
yes, and when the coffee is its own art you want to take a picture of,
Walking around, I never know what I will find. I love when I find symbols and things that reflect the inner, core me.
Definitely core material.
I wish I spent more time walking around in Italy, but looking back at
when I did, this moment of laughter, friendship, and being comfortable
as is makes me smile and pushes me forward.
And the silliness of people just being people inspire me to let my silly out.
I’ve been sort of obsessed with notebooks for as long as I can remember. Back in my junior high days I’d meticulously re-copy (slightly) messy class notes into a neater, more legible Five-Star. Five-Star was always my brand of choice, all the way through college. They were more durable and my OCD mind didn’t need to worry as much about the cover bending since it was plastic. Oh my.
I’ve stopped copying notes, more or less, by now but I still love a fresh, clean, new notebook. And when back-to-school time rolls around I’m inevitably trolling the aisles looking for one to buy. The unblemished pages just hint at the possibility of genius that might eventually adorn them in my script. Yeah, I’m a dork.
I read like a maniac. It’s not really unusual for me to finish at least one book a week, during the winter months maybe two. I’m sure it’s thanks to being read to constantly as a child and having the importance of books engrained in me at a very young age.
I buy most of my books just like I buy my wine, by the art on the front of course. When I try to rationalize this it comes down to two things. One, that if someone gives the go ahead for the cover of their book to have something on it that I really like, well, then their taste and mine must be somewhat similar and I’ll probably dig their writing. Two, I have all of my books lined up on shelves in my living room so I of course want it to look cool.
I like the idea behind book cover design. That you have this limited amount of space to make someone pick up your book and take it home. It has to be eye-catching, but it also has to be relevant to the story being told between the covers. Lately I’ve started turning to book covers a lot for my day-to-day design inspiration. So yes, I really do believe you can judge a book by its cover, as long as it’s well designed.
Music is a huge part of my life. So I guess it was inevitable my love for it would eventually branch over into my designs. In college I started noticing more and more really well designed concert posters and pulling elements and styles from them into my work. Now searching out new and undiscovered artists who specialize in the gig poster segment has become a massive source of inspiration to me. Definitely one of the top ten coolest jobs you could have in my book!
Thank you so much Kelly from Design Crush for being the latest person apart of the Inspiration series I am doing on my blog every Friday.
I love purging my belongings of things that are unwanted or no longer usable, that in and of itself is immensely inspirational and clarifying to me. But when it comes right down to it I’m really a pack-rat at heart. And nowhere is that more evident than in my inspiration books and binders. It’s organized chaos because when you’re an admitted hoarder, well, let’s just say it pays over and over again to be orderly. My inspiration collection has been multiplying and amassing for years now. A lovely picture here, some beautiful type there, a little piece of ephemera over that way. It takes some time, but it all ends up here. This is the place I go to when I’m stumped. Creatively or in life. These are the things that calm my mind and soul and bring me back time and time again.
I recently bought the 'Old School' Sesame street boxset and man did it bring back a lot of memories. My boyfriend Robin, not having grown up with Sesame Street, was blown away by short hand drawn animations included in the episodes, and it saddened me to know what a dying art hand made animation is becoming. My mom has recently gone on a clean out the house bender so I rushed home to salvage all my old children's books and video's and re-discovered so many gems from my youth. Seeing Anthony Browne's children's book 'Gorilla' with a fresh eye made me so taken aback by intricacies in every page. I know I am not the only one who is super psyched to see Spike Jonze's take on Where the Wild Things Are, and I am so thrilled that they are using Henson muppet's for the monsters because they could have so easily defaulted to CGI which would have completely taken away from the beauty of Maurice Sendak's work. I am in no way disregarding all the incredibly modern techniques we use now to create cartoon's and artwork, (I myself am a big user of photo shop I have to admit!) but it definitely takes away a bit of the personal touch and the happy accidents that can occur from creating something entirely by hand.. even if it is a longer more painstaking process that ultimately involves many more cups of coffee and frustration.
Literature and Film
I supposed this subject is almost the exact same as the one above, just a slightly more grown up version! There is nothing like a good film or book to stir you up, and I think I often forget that until I am sat in front of something new that really hits a nerve. Some of my favorite films are more often than not love stories, and my all time favorites has to be David Lean's 'Brief Encounter'. Fairly near the beginning of the film a shot of Laura is shown on the train and the voice over reads:
This can't last. This misery can't last. I must remember that and try to control myself. Nothing lasts, really—neither happiness nor despair. Not even life lasts very long. There'll come a time in the future when I shan't mind about this anymore, when I can look back and say quite peacefully and cheerfully how silly I was.
it is a very haunting and heart wrenching scene and I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling.
Another director who indulges my overly girly nature, is Miranda July. Her film Me and You and Everyone We Know puts every day events in mildly obscure scenarios, adding humor and romance and intensity to otherwise normal daily activities. Her book 'No One Belongs Here More Than You', is filled with beautiful short stories and extracts like:
It's been three hours since I ran into you in the bookstore with the woman in the white coat. You are obviously completely happy and fulfilled already, even though we only broke up two weeks ago. I wasn't even totally sure we were broken up until I saw you with her. You seem incredibly faraway to me, like someone on the other side of a lake. A dot so small that it isn't male or female or young or old; it is just smiling.
J.D. Salinger is probably my all time favorite writer. I highly recommend 'For Esme - with Love and Squalor' but everything he writes is pure genius. On reading ' Franny and Zooey' this particular line really jumped out at me:
I don't care where I stay as long as it's warm and no bugs and I see you occasionally, i.e. every single minute'.
It's also great when you see artwork inspired by literature and film. One of my favorite short animations, illustrated by Johnny Hannah and directed by Jonathan Hodgson, was based on a short story by Charles Bukowski. You can see it here
I find rummaging through old books and magazines and photos is one of the best ways for me to draw ideas about composition and style and also a great way to find photographic and graphic material to incorporate into my drawings. If you look closely at my illustrations you can often find old pictures of my mom as a kid lurking in the background, or notes and letters written by my older relatives. Vintage reading material is a also great source of hilarious articles, for example this exert from Cosmo Magazine circa 1979:
" I put on my hired skates and instantly discover ten things I like about roller skating: 1) With your skates on you're three inches taller 2 - 10) When you're three inches taller, everything in life is better'.
And for genius pictures I highly recommend national geographic circa 1960 for it's awesome photography. I found these awesome 80's muscle magazines in a charity shop in Philadelphia a while back which inspired an entire series on beefy men and a lot of the textures from the household magazines have made it into my animations as the colours of the characters or backgrounds. They're also so great to draw from, it was in a vintage animal magazine that I first found a picture of two animals in love (I believe it was a monkey and a dog) which inspired pretty much all of the subject matter of my work to date.