Friday Design: New Year, New Inspiration

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a good start to the new year. I can hardly believe we are already a week into the new term, but I’m looking forward to using the new year’s momentum to get a lot of things done. Today, I have a bit of inspiration and thoughts to hopefully help you get into a new year of designing, too.

First, time to refresh your desktop wallpaper, if you haven’t already. Check out the inspiring and cute designs over at Smashing Magazine.  I am partial to the penguin on the rainbow popsicle, which will surprise no one who knows me.

Second, if you need more inspiration (and really, who doesn’t?) check out this talk by Chip Kidd, The Art of First Impressions in Design and Life. Great ideas and practices to apply in your library design work. (Hint: we’re almost always going for clarity rather than mystery in our library designs)

Third, I have a question: what library graphic design projects or topics do you want to know more about? Let me know in comments and I’ll try to work them into posts this year.

Finally, some shameless self-promotion: if you are going to ALA Midwinter in Denver and are working on your schedule, I’d like to suggest that you come by to see me at the ALA Booth on Saturday, February 10th at 11:30 am.  I’ll be giving a brief talk about graphic design in libraries (without a projector! It will be fun!) and signing books (but, you know, only if you want your book signed). Stop by and say hi. Tell your friends. Hope to see you there.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I’m working on some projects that I hope to be sharing with you all soon. Until then, be kind, be creative, and have fun. Allons-y!

Friday Design: End of the Year Thoughts

Happy Friday, dear readers! I know it is not yet the end of the year, but I wanted to write an end-of-the year blog post before I dive deep into the holiday baking madness to save my computer from desecration by cookie dough. So, here’s some (hopefully) semi-organized thoughts, ideas, and inspiration about this year, mostly design and library focused.

It’s been a very interesting year, some really high highs and really low lows. But I’m going to focus on the good to try to keep the stress low and inspiration high for all of us. However, first, a signal boost and reminder to continue the fight to save net neutrality and contact your representatives in Congress. Check out Battle for the Net to get information on how to do this.

I don’t know about you, but I skated a little too close to burnout a little too often this year because of various work projects and commitments. Luckily, I had a trip to New Zealand to look forward to and it kept me going. (Yes, it really is that beautiful–see photo below):

photograph of hillside in New Zealand

And now I can safely say that it is an amazing country and a fabulous place to travel. Beautiful, calm, and inspiring. The landscape, cultures, and experiences have inspired me and my design. So, I hope you are able to travel, too, near or far away to see and experience something new to inspire you. It was even worth the awful cold I got as soon as I got home (better now, thank goodness).

While a lot has been trying and difficult this year, design work at the library has been a bright spot. Sometimes it feels like I can’t influence much of anything, but there is always something to be done. The No Space for Hate mini-poster I designed and was able to share here was one of the best ways of using my graphic design skills for good this year. I hope you find ways of using your design skills in the new year for good and in ways to inspire and uplift others.

[Shameless self-promotion following]

My most exciting event professionally was the publication of my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerning, in November. I even got to give an interview about why graphic design is important for all librarians that you can read here. It still feels a bit unreal that I actually got to write a book on graphic design on librarians. I hope you and your colleagues find the information useful and inspiring.

The handwriting, lettering, and calligraphy trend is still going strong, which is making everything look at least a bit homemade. And, it’s great for those of us who love an excuse to learn more about calligraphy. It’s also great for creating new designs for your library. If you have any resources you love for lettering or calligraphy, I’d love to hear about them. I’m hoping to do some larger calligraphy pieces in the new year.

So, what’s up around The Waki Librarian for the new year?

I’m going to be finishing up some library graphic design research in the new year, which I’m excited about and will hopefully start some new research, too. I want to work on redesigning more of the library’s bookmarks and handouts in the new year.

I’m also hoping to run, Blind Date with a Book, at my library in February. I’m looking forward to writing up blurbs for the books (another great excuse to practice calligraphy). If you’ve ever done it at your library and have some tips, I’d love to hear them.

Also, I’ll be at Midwinter, probably hanging out at the ALA booth seeing if anyone is buying my book (but, you know, not the whole time). If you are going to Midwinter and see me there, please say hi!

As this may be the last post here for the year, I want to wish you a wonderful end of the year and beautiful start to the new year. May you have endless inspiration for design and time to make your inspiration real. May you be kind and have kindness shown to you, whether you are in the library or out in the wider world.

And thank you, dear readers for continuing to read my blog and join me on this journey through libraries and graphic design. I will be back with more news and notes about libraries and design. Allons-y!

 

Happy December! (It’s a great time for design)

Happy Friday and Happy December, dear readers! Can you believe we are into another month and the last month of the 2017 at that? I am flummoxed as to where the time has gone. Part of that is probably due to having been traveling in Middle Earth (aka New Zealand) for part of the month and the other part is…I’m not exactly sure. But be that as it may, we still have a month of 2017 and that’s a lot of time left to apply our design talents to numerous things.

photograph of Hobbit hole in Matamata New Zealand

First, before we get into all the design stuff, I must say that New Zealand is terrific, I have some design examples I’ll be hopefully sharing soon from there, and I can’t wait to travel back. So if anyone ever wants to talk design and libraries in New Zealand, sign me up for a flight back!

Second, because it is a new month you know what that means, amazing Smashing Magazine December Desktop Wallpapers. I am especially fond of all the bird illustrations this month. Such lovely reminders of the holidays (and pretty calming, too, which we need around here with the end of the term next week).

Third, if you want to apply some of your design talents to holiday projects, might I suggest The Postman’s Knock blog for some wonderful inspiration? Especially good if you’ve been practicing calligraphy and you could definitely use some of her wonderful examples as inspiration for creating hand-lettering, too.

Fourth, I have to do a bit of self-promotion and remind you, dear reader, that my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerning, is available for purchase. Buy a copy for yourself or as a holiday gift for the graphic design-loving librarian in your life.

And finally, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of relaxation and whatever makes you jolly and joyful. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Warning: Self-Promotion Because My Book is Now Available!

easy graphic design for librarians book coverHello, dear readers! Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but I had to share the news that my book, Easy Graphic Design for Librarians: From Color to Kerning, is now available for purchase in the ALA Store! That’s right, no more pre-order, it’s available now and you can buy it for yourself or your library. Yay!!! 🙂

Psst…ALA even sent out a press release.  I feel so official now.

I’m obviously excited about this and hope that the book is useful to you and your colleagues who do graphic design work for your library. It was a lot of fun to write and illustrate and I hope you have fun applying some of the tips to your design work.

Definitely exciting news to start the new month and give me some extra energy to keep writing with the start of NaNoWriMo, too.

So, I’m not great at this self-promotion thing, but please buy my book if you think it would be useful for your work and tell your colleagues and friends if you think it they’d be interested. And let’s create some amazing designs for our libraries!

Also, Happy November! Remember to refresh your desktop wallpapers with some of the beautiful, funny, and sweet wallpapers available over at Smashing Magazine. They’re great for design inspiration, too!

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, and thanks for letting me ramble a bit about my book. I’ll be back to regularly scheduled design notes and tips soon. Allons-y!

Friday Design Fun 5!

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a lovely week and have a fun weekend planned. I can hardly believe we are almost to the end of another month. The holiday season will be upon us before we know it. I for one am not ready for that, but I am ready for sharing some design fun with you today. So let’s talk about designing timelines on a tight timeline (ha!) and other bits of design knowledge and fun.

This past weekend was alumni weekend at the university and since it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the university (and the library and archives had put together an exhibit celebrating our history), I was up in the library on Saturday giving tours and showcasing materials from the archives.

Since I can never pass up a chance to promote the library and archives, especially when it means I can design something for an event, I made a brochure to highlight the exhibit and share ways of learning more about the archives. As we were celebrating the university’s history, I thought a timeline would be a great thing to include in a brochure. With time being scarce–isn’t it always?–I knew I would have to design something simple that would still be visually appealing. So instead of creating a very complicated timeline, with lots of different parts, I created a very simple one with some years highlighted that corresponded to photographs we had digitized from our collections. The result is below:

timeline showing the 60 years of history of Cal State East Bay showing years and photographs of buildings built or dedicated in each year

Alternating years and photographs gives some visual motion to the timeline and not trying to cram every single highlight gives it breathing room. I used dates and photos that corresponded to the body text of the brochure so that it would be a coherent whole. And, although the photographs are of different sizes, I made sure to keep the same baseline (or “top line” for those photos on the bottom of the timeline) to give the timeline a more polished look.

I can happily say that a number of alumni came to the library’s open house and on the tours and liked the brochures. Because, really, who doesn’t love historical photos of their alma mater? And, with not a lot of time and a few key graphic design techniques, I was able to ensure that the archives put its best visual foot forward, too.

With the academic year in full swing, I’m on the lookout for things to keep me inspired as the increase in meetings and fires to put out everyday can zap my energy. So I was excited to see this good article from Smashing Magazine, Stop Designing for Only 85% of Users: Nailing Accessibility in Design. Good tips and great resources. Every design should be accessible. And since fall always makes me want to travel, I had to share this icon set of 60 travel icons.

Plus, simply because these are lovely: Amazing pop-up books, a funny take on graphic designers redesigning state borders from xkcd,  and mini chocolate chip cookie pumpkin cheesecakes from Joy the Baker. Yay for autumnal baking!

I hope you are finding time to create wonderful art and designs. I hope your weekend is full of relaxation, good friends, and good reads. I’ll be back with more news and notes soon. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Redesigning an Instruction Handout

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are well and looking forward to a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend. Today I want to share with you a look at my process for redesigning an instruction handout. As schools are back in session, those of us who teach are probably thinking a lot about handouts so I thought it would be useful to go over some tips and inspiration for redesigning handouts. Also, because the entire Pinterest and Instagram perfect pics of creativity and creative processes don’t do anything but make me feel like I’m not good enough, I wanted to share some parts of what my process looks like when I’m walking the talk of graphic design in libraries.

As with any graphic design project, I start with thinking about what I need to accomplish with the project. In this case, the handout I’m redesigning is for a biology class I’m going into to talk with students about literature searching, source evaluation, and citations. That’s a lot to cover and I know that no one will remember everything we go over. So my handout redesign needs to be comprehensive enough that a student can use it as a reference source when they are working on their assignments later so they aren’t lost. A basic outline isn’t going to cut it.

So, after I’m clear on why I’m designing and who I’m designing for, I move onto brainstorming. And this is where it gets messy and oh-so-not-Instagram-like:

First, rough thumbnails, notes and sketches:

photo of list of pages and thumbnail sketches for redesigned instruction handout another page of thumbnail sketches from redesigned handout

Both of the above images show my messy first sketches and notes about what I want to keep from the old handouts, what I want to add, and how I’m thinking it will fit together on the page based on length of information, context, and layout. I am redesigning the handout so a lot of the information I already have in documents so I don’t need to go as deep as I otherwise would in writing out content at this stage.

Then I move into the digital work after I have my head on straight about why I’m creating this handout and what I want in the handout. For many handouts, I work in Word or Publisher, but I’m trying to get more proficient with InDesign so I decided this was the perfect project to experiment with the program. Overall, it was more fun than frustrating, which I think is a good sign.

image of first page of redesigned handout mockup with scribbled notes for changes

Even after I create the draft handout digitally, I have to print it out in order to revise and markup. I can’t do this on my screen as I miss too much. As you can see from the above image, I have my basic layout completed, but I still have a lot of little things I want to change, correct, and revise to make the final handout better. I’m always thinking about visual impact, conveying my message in the best possible way, and how the information will be received by the students.

final first page of redesigned handout

This is the final, first page of the redesigned handout. It will live in print and online in the students’ Blackboard site, if the professor chooses to post it there (it will also be posted to our library’s LibGuide for biology).

So that’s how I get from messy first drafts to final product. My sketches aren’t Instagram-perfect, but they work for me. And, in the end, I care more about getting my thoughts on paper and getting those thoughts translated into whatever design I’m creating than whether my sketchbooks (when I even manage to do drafts in a sketchbook) are ready to be shown online.

What I hope you’ll take away (in addition to maybe a few ideas for your own handouts), is that your sketches don’t have to be “art” or even understandable to anyone except you. The important thing is that you sketch and get your ideas down on paper so you can create the designs you need to create to solve problems in your library and in the world. Beautiful photos are great, but don’t let them get you down on how your sketchbook or datebook or journal isn’t as organized and perfect. Just create your work how it works for you. Your library and community will thank you.

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of all good things. Our local independent bookstore is having its grand opening this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited for Books on B! I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Designs: Signs, Inspiration, and Randomness

Happy Friday, dear readers! We’ve made it to the end of another week. The fall quarter (our last as a quarter campus) has started and the weather has turned cool (although it looks like we’ll get another heatwave next week), so it’s time to get back into the academic swing of things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun so I have a few things to get you through to the lovely first weekend of autumn.

First up, a landscape version of the All are Welcome Sign. In order to put these up in our elevators in the library, I had to reconfigure the signs to landscape orientation. In case your library has landscape-oriented sign holders, I thought I’d share this version (click on image to get the printable PDF), too. Please print, use, and share. We could all use some welcome about now.

image of poster reading, there is no space for hate in our library all are welcome we stand in solidarity with all who fight for equity, diversity, and inclusion

I thought most of us would appreciate Lifehacker’s article, the library doesn’t usually want your used books. We’ve all gotten those well-meaning, but not-so-useful donations. And, if you’re not doing a huge project making altered books, it is a great reminder to send would-be donors to other, more receptive places.

I was thinking of what was inspiring me right now to try out new things in my designs and I have to say it is probably snapping more photos (both digital and instax analog) to see what I bits of photos I can use in other projects and what more I could share about graphic design that would be useful to librarian graphic designers. I think a lot about design and sharing so expect some more examples of designs and redesigns soon.

Also, because the weather has finally cooled down here and that means baking time, I had to share this Joy the Baker recipe for brown butter cookies and cream rice krispie treats. I am so excited to try this recipe soon!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of inspiration, relaxation, and fun. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Mid-Week Design Inspiration

Hello, dear readers! I was thinking that we all could use a little mid-week pickup and wanted to share some design inspiration and news as we barrel on towards the middle of September. I hope you and your loved ones are safe, you are able to use your time and skills to help where you can, and you have found ways for using your graphic design skills to help others.

In wonderful library news, my dean approved printing of two large welcome banners. I installed them at both our entrances and wanted to share. I’m rather happy with how they turned out.

Banner saying: this is your library, there is no space for hate, here all are welcome. We stand with all who fight for equity, inclusion, and diversity.

In case you missed it, lovely September desktop wallpapers. There is no time like the present to make your desktop look lovely for autumn. I currently have the cutest desktop of all year with cats and foxes–love having a dual-monitor set-up for this (and the productivity, of course).

Also, who doesn’t get inspired by books? (I mean, that’s kind of a silly question for those of us in libraries.) So I wanted to share this lovely (truly!) list of books on type and lettering from The Well-Appointed Desk.  More to add to my “to read” list.

I recently finished reading (and let’s be honest, drooling) over the beautiful work showcased in Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks. If you haven’t viewed this book yet, I highly recommend it. It is a trove of inspiration for creating beautiful and effective infographics for so many different types of projects. Makes me want to sketch all day and redesign every report we put out for the library.

And finally, although I know we should all be good and eating healthy, sometimes you (okay, I mean “I”) just want a brownie. So I leave you with this amazing recipe from Joy the Baker for Thick S’more Brownies.

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. You find time and inspiration to use your design skills to welcome and support everyone at your library. And you even find time to have a brownie or two (I won’t tell if you offer to share with me, too!). I’ll be back soon with more design news and notes. Allons-y!

 

Friday Design: No Space for Hate in the Library Flyer

Happy Friday, dear readers! It has been a week, hasn’t it? I hope you and your family, friends, neighbors, and everyone you know are safe. I hope, if you can, you’ve been able to send support to those affected by Hurricane Harvey (link to list of places to donate) and any other causes that need it, as we know so many do now. So in these times, it can feel like talking about graphic design and libraries is trivial or that we can’t possibly do anything that can help. But of course, that’s not true. We can help in our communities, just as we can help those we may never meet. To that end, I want to share a flyer that I hope you post in your library and that will inspire you to create more messages of love to share with the world.

So I made this flyer.

there is no space for hate in our library all our welcome. we stand with all who fight for equity, diversity and inclusion

The book graphic is from freepik (with modification to the colors), thus the credit line below it, but the rest I wrote, typeset, and colorized. Feel free to download the flyer (PDF version) via this link.  It is scaled to print on letter-sized paper.

It’s important that everyone know our libraries are safe, welcoming spaces. We know this as librarians, but sometimes we have a difficult time articulating it loudly. So I hope this flyer helps a bit. I’m hoping that my library administration approves the funds for printing a standing banner version of this flyer that I made for placement in our entrance lobby areas (if not, I’m going to have to make friends down at the local print shop).

So, if you ever feel like you are struggling to connect your work to causes close to your heart and make a difference when it just all seems to be going wonky in the world, remember you can always help out. You never know what you say, do, or make that might start the spark that causes great amounts of positive change.

I hope you have a good weekend and feel inspired to make your designs do more, say more, be more. Together we truly can do good things. Allons-y!

Friday Design: Let's Be Loud

Happy Friday, dear readers! So wow, I don’t know about you, but I’m still processing this week. Let’s get something out of the way right away before diving into some design: Nazis are bad. Hate is bad. There is no room for either in our work as libraries, in our libraries, in our communities, and I believe that we can be louder in our calls and actions of love and welcome and solidarity. There’s definitely no room for hate or othering or an of the many “isms” in our work as librarian graphic designers either and our creative work can be a powerful form of resistance. So, with that, let’s get into what I mean about being loud and what it has to do with design.

Art is powerful. Words are powerful. As librarian graphic designers, we wield both on a daily basis. As librarians, our business is information, knowledge creation, and support for lifelong learning. Our business is in words. Which is great at this moment and every moment because we can be loud.

And I don’t mean just in the “let’s go against shushing stereotypes of librarians loud.” I mean loud in the graphical sense, too, with what we choose to create and post and share in our libraries and communities. We wield the epic power of brushes, paints, posterboard, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Publisher. We can create and adapt posters and banners and flyers and buttons that show publicly that we are about inclusion and diversity and love and reading and community and all the things that build us up as people together instead of tearing us down.

So as you are working on your next design, remember that design is never neutral just as typefaces are never neutral. We can use our graphic design work to make a difference, however small, and add our voice to the conversation.

So be loud in your designs. Be bold in your stance. Mark your library as a safe space. And show everyone how important librarian graphic designers are beyond marketing and promotion. Break out of your shell in your designs. We can do this, together.

I’m working on new banners and posters for my library to greet our students when they come back for the fall term. I want there to be no doubt where my library stands and I can do this through my designs. I’ll be sharing them, too, in upcoming posts for inspiration and for you to use, too.

If you’ve created graphics of welcome for your library, I’d love to see them. Please share and let’s be loud in our library designs together!

May you have a weekend full of good times, rest, and inspiration to continue your work and your art. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!