Thursday, October 14, 2010

From Thriftown to Japantown

Finally! I remembered to take a «before» picture of a piece before decoupaging it. I picked up this little wooden shelving unit at Thriftown (in The Mission) a little while back for 1.99$. Must of been a nano jewelry armoire in a previous life. Both drawers were missing but it was still in pretty good condition. Painted it black. Bought a small paper sample in Japantown. Cut a few shapes, applied several coats of mod podge and voilà! I give you my new ink cartridge dispenser! This is what I do between design gigs. (Please click on photo to enlarge)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rebranding the right way

After yesterday's rant about GAP's logo gone wrong, today I needed to show an example of rebranding...gone good! Andronico's is my local supermarket. I was never a fan of their original logo (on the left) but was pleased to notice their new version. The new logo is both minimalist and elegant and has an overall upscale look. It displays the content artistically. Colorful and youthful icon with a timeless choice of font. C'est tout!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Amnesia Branding or the old vs the who?

It is one thing to refresh one's branding, it's another to changing it to the point of not recognizing it anymore. I was astounded to find that the beloved GAP logo had gone through a serious change. What's left of the old logo is the «spirit» of the blue rectangle, placed on the top right hand corner - ready to be exited in the next revamping. Just like me, GAP is getting older and is accepting to age with difficulty. But, I am not ready to give up on my personality in order to keeping up appearances. Neither should GAP. The new logo is sporting an American Apparel outfit (Helvetica, on white background). Actually, American Apparel, Crate&Barrel, and now GAP are now wearing all the same outfit. What was wrong with the previous (sniff) logo? From easily recognizable to «have we met before?». Is it a coincidence that the «new» logo came to life after Don Fisher's passing? I think not. A logo's soul is its font. And now, GAP has lost its soul...and a few sales for I would rather shop somewhere else.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I can now cry in several font styles!

Thanks to Kleenex® Expressions®, I can now cry in different font styles. Finally, the ultimate design (for me anyway) for a box of tissues. Actually, I like the box so much I might stop crying all together so I can keep this box forever. What a revelation. It was quite the challenge to return from Andronico's Market and make sure I would not bump into anything in order to keep the box intact. There is even a legend presented under the box explaining the origins of Letterpress. Pinch me I think I'm dreaming. Thank you Kleenex. I am so happy I could cry...but I won't.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I miss sharing my chronicles! Have been busy with gigs, which made very happy but very tired and stressed. The awful part was, while all this was going on, my beloved espresso machine stopped working. Every once in a while, I had to run away to a local Starbucks and ask for...triple espressos. The good news is that, by next week, I will be deadline free and able to rant and rave about fonts, the art of being a talented tolerable triumphant graphic designer and anything else that deserves to be shared. Until then, enjoy a Coke Costco size!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hommage à Eames

Here is my latest piece. A tribute to Charles Eames. It just so happens that I received 2 issues of HOUSE INDUSTRIES latest superb catalogue and took full advantage of it. I keep every single issue they send me and there is no way I would cut one out...

Friday, May 7, 2010

The wind beneath my wings

This is my favorite photo of my mom and I. It was taken in the 1980's while I was still studying graphic design. It's out of focus, it lacks art direction to say the least but I think it's lovely. I have a great big smile on my face and the only glimpse there is of my mom are her reading glasses but I can tell she was also smiling. My mom was the creative one in my family. I would leave for school in the morning and upon returning at the end of the day, the living room had been « redesigned » (new wall paper, all the furniture had been moved!) I never knew how she did it but every time, it was a success. All her life, she did amazing things with not very much $, but her ideas were plentiful. She was recycling way before anybody knew about it. I would dispose of my old paper color swatches for my assignments, scraps of foam core, stained China ink samples and tada: I would find a new note pad by the telephone with all those pieces that had end up in my trash basket!! That is just one of the gazillion examples I can come up with. She was outstanding with her culinary skills, her positive attitude towards life and payed attention to EVERYBODY - making you feel like a million dollars. I can still say today that not only was she my mother but my very best friend. She left us 9 years ago, thus ending a battle with cancer. Not a day goes by that I do not think of her. Here's to ALL the great moms out there - the ones here and the ones that have left us: HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY Y'ALL!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Espresso: Ti Amo!

I cannot remember the exact age (maybe 5 years old?) when I tasted my first cup of coffee but thanks to my mom (R.I.P.) who kept a lot of my stuff - here is my FIRST actual cup FOR coffee. It's a small cup, that's why I inserted a 25 Cent coin next to it. In the beginning, a lot of sugar was involved , as well, a lot of milk but over the years, I came to love coffee just on it's own. The aroma knocks my socks off. I treat my espresso machine like an Italian race car. I love the sound it makes, I am very careful when I handle its parts and under NO circumstances do I let anyone (drive) use it! San Francisco has some of the best coffee houses around (Thank God). Such as Stella's Bakery in North Beach, Philz Coffee (The Mission or The Castro), Blue Bottle Company (Mint Plaza Café). Mmmmmm... When I look at my small cup, it brings me back such good memories. Family, home-made Italian deserts, sunshine through the kitchen window. Good times.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moving & changing

I found this magazine clipping of Audrey (as a real fan, I feel I can be on a first name basis) in an old travel journal in between a couple of old books that was collecting dust. I can really relate to this picture now in more ways than one. I traveled once with my cat Baci and I (we) never came back! Life is about changes and leaving things behind and that is real difficult for me since I get sentimental about my old stuff. It's one thing to leave things behind but another when you loose things. It's been happening to me a lot lately. I lost a handmade scarf my mom made (at the SFMOMA - I don't ever want to go back there!) and I just lost a ring that belonged to my mom as well. When I check out vintage shops, I try to look for things I have left behind or things I have lost. That's probably why I love San Francisco so much, because I keep finding things that belonged to my past. What a rush! It helps me forget (and forgive?) my city by The Bay for my cherished lost items. Amongst my «keepers» I have my dad's bus pass from 1932-1933, my hospital nursery card (with my foot print!), a tiny silver Buddha purchased at a rummage sale. But I have to say, my MOST significant keeper is a Betty Boop pen. When you hold it upside down, she slips back into her ink bottle! In tiny print on that pen is says: Betty's Shop, San Francisco, California and I thought waaaaay back then when I bought it: This must be a very special city for having a shop dedicated to my favorite cartoon character... (à suivre!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The REAL Mrs Claypool

She came to life in 1935, appearing in the movie « A Night At The Opera». Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho Marx) is hired by Mrs Claypool (Margaret Dumont) to help her break into high society, but he instead alternately woos and insults her. By the way, this movie is probably the best Marx Brothers movie - ever. I know this, because I'm a fan - a real one. It was my father who introduced me to the Marx Brothers when I was fifteen years old. We would watch these movies during the late show on Friday nights. I soon discovered Groucho's unique sense of humor and I have never been the same since...

Friday, April 23, 2010

New and improved, with LESS flavor

The postman had a surprise for me this morning, my first re-designed issue of Bloomberg Business-week magazine. My first reaction was OMG: the logo has become anorexic! Light, small, colorless....set in Helvetica? No offense Crate&Barrel, AmericanAirlines, American Apparel, Jeep, Toyota, Post-it, but for a magazine? Nooooo. As I flipped through the pages I noticed a lot less photos, and illustrations (save some $$?). Before I made up my mind wether I like the overall change, I decided to read the Editor's Letter (written by Josh Tyrangiel, Editor). He mentions how no one in the 4.7 million readers has written to demand a re-design. And that no one had felt the need to critique our fonts (not even yours truly) Well, if it ain't broke why fix it, right? BUT then I read the following quote by Creative Director Richard Turley, responsible for the re-design : «Design is best when you don't know it's there - we want the journalism to speak loudest» I stopped breathing and turned purple a little. Au contraire mon frère, journalism and visual together is a perfect match! I have been fighting this cause for many years. One doesn't go without the other. Just like: salt & pepper, sweet n' sour, pasta & tomato sauce! Anybody out there agree with me?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy bEARTHday!

Recycling takes a whole new meaning especially here in San Francisco. You have no choice. And as much as I complain about it, I secretly enjoy it. It's like giving objects a make-over except they're not humans and you don't have a TV show. Here's an exemple: An empty bottle of balsamic vinegar (see photo), buttons, applying several coats of Mod Podge - wasn't that a show in the 60's - The Mod Podge? - a beautiful newspaper illustration of...wait for it...Shakespeare, and Voilà! 2nd Debut! Collecting old bottles, plastic jars, microwavable dishes, buttons, newspaper clippings, paper bags, it all works and nothing goes to waste. They make great little gifts on a great little budget. So in honor of Earth Day, this has been my contribution. By the by, Trader Joe's (my best friend!) has great packaging. Very colorful, artistic, fun shapes so hang on to those!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fond of fonts forever

Sometimes I wonder when did I start my obsession for typefaces. Maybe it was when I started to watch Batman on TV with the opening credits. Or flipping through my first Tintin bande dessinée album (Le Lotus Bleu). Not sure. It has never stopped and I am reminded of this amazement for typography everyday. I am surrounded in California by
« font treasures » that have gone by but still persist with the test of time - and weather.
We get to visit LA at least twice a year and it's a real treat for me. I get shivers (in a good way) when we drive by The Beverly Hills Hotel sign. Such grace, beauty, originality yet simplicity. I am grateful for all these «signage artists» for leaving us with national treasures. My only disappointment (and worst fear) is that I am not going to be around when it's time to chose the font for my own tombstone. Better not be HOBO.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bite me!

On my way to my yoga class, I noticed this tree while waiting for the N-Judah at Duboce & Fillmore. Today, I felt like that tree. I just felt like bitting the ankles of all the people that have been ignoring my logo sales pitch...the people behind the concept of charging $99 for a logo including business cards... the people that call themselves «designers» just because they own a laptop and work the search engine. Grrrrr. So, after a couple of breathing exercises (Ujjayi breathing is done by making a sound when you inhale and exhale. The sound "ssss" on inhalations and "hhhhh" on exhalations. ) I came out of my yoga class feeling much better. Left all my «negativity» in a neat pile in the middle of the floor. These challenges will make me stronger - I swore to myself.
And I will keep that image of the tree when times are difficult again. Actually, now that I think of it, this tree reminds me a lot of the kite-eating tree from Charlie Brown...

Monday, April 19, 2010

« C'est parti mon kiki! »

« C'est parti mon kiki! » is a French expression that basically means: Here goes nothing! I plan to write, show pictures, share links, ask questions, give out answers on a daily basis (somewhat) all about everything and anything related to graphic design. I am a Canadian citizen who now lives in America, my mother tongue is French and I have an Italian background. I guess I'm what you may call a « Heinz 57 » ! For a long time now, I have been thinking of starting my blog but kept waiting. No more excuses! Mon kiki est maintenant parti!