What is kerning and why does it matter? Kerning is the process of adjusting the space between characters to make it more visually-pleasing. More of an art than science, it makes a typographic design look more professional and polished.
Watch this 45-second video and see why kerning matters.
Two weeks ago, I started the Picture Book Ideas Month challenge, otherwise knows as PiBoIdMo. The idea is to come up with 30 picture book ideas, sketches or concepts in 30 days.
Ive been working on a typographic board book for kids, so this was the perfect excuse to keep myself motivated.
I started with a thick sketchbook that was a bit daunting, but it ended up being freeing: I could use as many pages as I wanted without editing my ideas.
This challenge has been a great excuse to brush up on my drawing and sketching skills. I was excited to dig out my box of colored pencils (which gets dumped out by my toddler on a daily basis).
Most of my great picture book ideas come from the aforementioned toddler. Usually, he does or says something that sparks an idea. Sometimes I ask him: “what kind of book do you want Mama to make?” (his response usually involves construction or monster trucks—not my subject of choice, but I’m trying to think outside the box…)
Some days, a great idea just flows and I can’t stop writing and brainstorming. Other days, there are no ideas. But it’s OK.
Onward to the rest of the month!
Anyone who has researched stock photography knows that it can be really time-consuming—not to mention, mind-numbing. Here are a few expert tips to make the search go smoother and faster:
Know what you’re looking for: make sure you specify if you are looking for royalty-free or rights-managed* BEFORE you find that perfect image
- Start specific: instead of “family”, search “mother and daughter”
- Specify a wide age range: age specifications can vary based on photographer or website—use a somewhat wide range (and be prepared to be shocked by what is considered “elderly”)
- Pair them up: when searching people photos, pair it with an activity (biking, reading, canoeing) or place (park, lake, mountains) to narrow the choices
- Go with what’s popular: checking the “Most Popular” box usually gets you the best images first
- Step away from the computer: when you start to feel stock photo overload, stop and clear your head. Or close the search window and start from scratch.
*Royalty-free (RF) = you pay once for unlimited usage (subject to the stock house’s agreement). Rights-managed (RM) = you pay based on specific usage rights (timeframe, usage types, number of pieces printed). Rights-managed images are a good choice if an original or exclusive image is needed.
Need stock photo website suggestions? Shoot me an email!
Hooray for urban typography!
I’m excited to share that my “type-spotting” blog Typography in the City and the related book were mentioned in two places yesterday.
Bill Motchan, writer of the Chicago Journal’s ‘West Loop Wanderings’ blog posted an article about my inspiration for Typography in the City—including a photo of one of my favorite West Loop typography spots. Read the Chicago Journal article.
My self-published book, Typography in the City (based on the blog) was featured on Creative Bloq, a blog that delivers a daily dose of design tips and inspiration. Read the Creative Bloq post.
Thanks Chicago Journal & Creative Bloq for spreading the word about urban typography!
MyChronicleBooks race car growth chart
As a Chronicle Books affiliate, I’m pleased to share this special MyChronicleBooks.com offer with my readers:
One week only! 40% off Personalized Books and Gifts at MyChronicleBooks.com with code MYCB40. Ends 10/30/12
Click the link and make sure to enter the code.
MyChronicleBooks.com offers personalized Books, Growth Charts, Lunch Boxes, Placemats, Wall Art, and paper goods based on their beloved book titles.
Get those kids’ holiday gifts early!
Images © Chronicle Books (top) and © Janine Vangool, UPPERCASE magazine (bottom)
If you’re like me and regularly fantasize about having your work published by Chronicle Books, here are two opportunities that might make this a reality.
This is happening – Instagram book
Chronicle Books and Instagram are teaming up on a new book featuring Instagram users’ photos.
The assignment: send your favorite Instagram that captures a fleeting moment that made your day.
“This is Happening” page with submission details and entry form.
Janine Vangool, editor of the lovely UPPERCASE magazine is designing/curating a set of notecards featuring vintage typewriters, also to be published by Chronicle Books (spring 2014).
She is seeking Polaroid or lo-fi/retro-inspired photographs of vintage typewriters, taken by UPPERCASE readers.
Submission details can be found on the UPPERCASE website.
On Wednesday, I attended a wonderful walking typography tour with Paul Shaw, organized by STA Chicago and AIGA Chicago.
I’ve been blogging found typography in my West Loop neighborhood, so I was eager to see what Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and Loop had to offer. Two-and-half hours later, my freezing fingers had documented 20 typographic spots—and Paul was still going strong at the Chicago Cultural Center when I had to head home (Little One was waiting for his dinner).
Paul Shaw has a mind-boggling knowledge of typography and thoroughly explained each type specimen, with humorous anecdotes along the way. He reminded us that much of what we saw was not typography, but in fact lettering.
Downtown Chicago lettering highlights
- Clarendon-style lettering on a water fountain at our starting point, the Historic Water Tower.
- Versals in the uncial form on the downtown Loyola University building. IWAC stands for Illinois Women’s Athletic Club, a social, athletic and residential club in the ’20s-’30s.
- Uncials on the Fourth Presbyterian Church entryway. Paul explained that the lettering was designed to fit the space.
- Slab serif cast letters on the Chicago Water Works building. Paul pointed out that there was no period after the title (the grammatical style during that period).
- Helios relief on the former McGraw-Hill Building facade. Another example of lettering created to fit the space.
- Paul doing a stone rubbing of textura blackletter lettering on the Tribune Tower.
- The quirky sans/serif-combination lettering on the Old Republic Building. We also peeked inside the lobby to see a fabulous ’20s-’30s era mailbox.
- Art deco lettering on the Carbide and Carbon Building (now the Hard Rock Hotel). Paul pointed out the thick and thin lettering with echoes of Florentine Sans serif.
- Dome of the Chicago Cultural Center (I missed the explanation because I had to leave!)
Thank you Paul, for an amazing tour of Chicago typography!
If you are a fellow type geek, check out Paul Shaw’s website, which includes info for his urban lettering walks. Sign me up for the Italy tour next year!
Personalized goodies from Chronicle Books…and my little one’s current Chronicle fave (not available personalized though!)
Being a huge Chronicle Books fan and mama of a 1-year old, I was thrilled to hear about MyChronicleBooks.com: Chronicle Books’ new personalized products for kids. As someone who grew up with with an uncommon name, I would have loved to have one of these books!
Personalized Books are available, of course, but also Growth Charts, Lunch Boxes, Placemats, Wall Art, and paper goods, oh my!
I can’t wait to order personalized goodies for my little one—who is already a book lover, or should I say, book eater.
As a Chronicle Books affiliate, I am pleased to share this special offer!
25% off + Free Shipping on New Personalized Books and Gifts from MyChronicleBooks.com! Enter discount Code MyCB25 at checkout.
Details from Lichtenstein’s paintings and my pint-sized art museum companion
One of the perks of being a mom in business is taking off a few hours to do something fun with Little One. Ever since he was a few months old, my son and I have been attending the Art Institute of Chicago’s stroller tours: a baby-sized tour of one of the Museum’s exhibits or rooms.
July and August’s stroller tours feature the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit. Since my 11-month old son is starting to point at and notice everything around him, I thought the lively modern art would appeal to him. Not to mention, Mama needed a little art break.
Recognize these haystacks? Lichtenstein’s ‘Haystacks’ based on Claude Monet’s series.
Admittedly, I never had a penchant for modern art, so I enjoyed hearing background on the evolution of Lichtenstein’s artwork and techniques. Being a graphic designer, I enjoyed seeing the hand-drawn “Ben-Day” dots and other graphic patterns.
I especially enjoyed seeing the way Lichtenstein combined expressive brush strokes with his pop art aesthetic. I liked his works that were representative of artworks I was familiar with (see inset). And I was surprised that some of his paintings were downright subdued.
As I suspected, the Lichtenstein exhibit was a hit with my little guy. His eyes darted and delighted in the bold colors, dot patterns and stripes all around him. Perhaps he enjoyed it a little too much! (yes, I was the mom with the wriggling, happily shrieking baby in the gallery around noon yesterday). Needless to say, we both left the exhibit energized and inspired!
a few examples of my new photographic obsession: typography
So, I was just recently talking about creative side jobs on the Creative Freelancer Blog. I’m happy to finally announce one of my side projects: a photographic essay on typography titled Typography in the City.
The inspiration for this project came about in July 2011. I had recently attended the HOW Design Conference in Chicago and picked up a book called Photo Idea Index by Jim Krause. It gave me a new perspective on photography and most importantly, the encouragement to practice daily.
At the time, I was in my last month of pregnancy so my only form of exercise was long walks with the dog. On these walks in my West Loop neighborhood, I started to notice typography—a letterform on a sign, an address number, words spray painted on the ground. With my new found photographic inspiration, I started taking photos and sharing them.
To share my collection of images—and to add to it when I’m on the go—I recently created a blog called Typography in the City.
I’m also currently designing the related book, titled Typography in the City. Send your email to be added to the mailing list when the book is released!
Follow along on instagram and twitter with the hashtag #typeinthecity