This year, my client gift was a custom deck of playing cards featuring landmarks from San Francisco, a fun personal tribute to the city I love and that so many also love to love.
I am no stranger to designing cards, having created a custom deck of poker cards for a charity poker tournament, as well as two card-based games for Google (Data Center Manager and Launch & Iterate). I love games, and also love designing for them, so deciding on a poker deck as a client gift seemed like the perfect pair.
I started back in the summer, thinking how to organize the face cards. There are a variety of options, such as by neighborhood, or by personalities (techie, hippie, by park, etc. I decided on buildings and landmarks because they had a pretty decent correlation by category for each set of 4 face cards and also had a certain amount of historical and intrinsic value to the people of San Francisco. But, as no option was perfect for capturing every aspect of the city’s culture, heritage and history, some icons didn’t make it, such as Dolores Park, AT&T Park, or the Presidio, to name a few that got cut from the long list.
What I did include were 3 categories of landmarks for each set of face cards.
Kings were represented by famous tall buildings or towers: Sutro, TransAmerica, Coit and the Ferry Building clock tower. I think I chose them as Kings purely based on height.
Queens were some of the beloved bridges that are either in or connect to San Francisco: Bay Bridge both east and western spans, Golden Gate, and the slightly less famous but delightful bridge in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. Perhaps I chose them for queens because they hold some of the real power in the city, as far as connecting us to our neighbors.
Jacks comprised of other famous tourist attractions including the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, Alcatraz Island, Lombard Street, and the Palace of Fine Arts, which coincidentally happened to celebrate its 100th birthday this year.
Of course, the real character of the cards lies in the Joker, whom I aptly chose our dear Emperor Norton to fill the role of. It seemed all too appropriate. (Don’t know who he is? Check out the wikipedia page).
The final consideration for the cards was the color palette, which is very limited. These colors are the ones I’ve chosen for my personal branding, but it’s not a huge coincidence that the cadmium red (not quite international orange, but certainly in the spirit) and sea green are in play for this San Francisco-based designer.
Want a deck of your own? Email me, and I can mail you a pack ($20+shipping). While supplies last.
Hard to believe, but it’s already been a year since I decided to dive into the sea of uncertainty that is freelancing. I’m happy to report that it’s been a fantastic ride, and I’ve been having more fun and more adventures than I ever anticipated for the first 12 months of this journey.
Looking back over my progress, I am most pleased to have found a niche in designing infographics. Hindsight is 20/20 and it seems so obvious from where I am now that this is where I was headed, but it really took having the flexibility and initiative to design/take projects around it in the last year that made it possible.
An added bonus for this new phase in my career has been the confidence I feel in my own abilities. I have had to put myself out there in ways I never had to before, and having a few more projects under my belt and a growing client list makes me feel like “I’ve got this.” It certainly still feels like a roller coaster, but I kind of enjoy the ebb and flow.
Most of all, I have had a ton of fun working on a variety of projects. Every one has its challenges and rewards, and I’m learning so much. Here are some highlights from what I’ve been working on in the last year.
Here’s to another year of fun projects and learning!
I’m so pleased to have a new piece featured in the Bold Italic today. I worked on this for a few months so am excited it gets to see the light. For those not local to San Francisco, the Bold Italic is a popular local website that is both a treasure trove of resources about things in and around the city, but also full of fun illustrated articles that hit home for a lot of San Franciscans. What better place to showcase a fun infographic about tid-bits of city trivia?
I dug deep into the depths of the internet to find facts that I felt were static, meaning not info about population, demographics, economy, or other such things that change frequently, in order to give this piece a longer shelf life.
It was a lot of fun to discover some of these things too, so hopefully the readers enjoy learning along with me. I mean, what city has two songs dedicated to its honor. The story behind why there is an official song AND a ballad is so good it almost deserves an illustration of its own. Perhaps I’ll save it for another time.
My hope is that the internet has not lied to me in my effort to find factual information. If anyone has anything to contest, I’d be eager to hear your findings.
For example, I almost misrepresented Mission Dolores as the oldest structure, but luckily a good friend of mine came across an article debunking some common held SF misconceptions, saving me from publishing that error. Still felt like I had to include the Mission though as it’s such an iconic and clearly very old piece of SF history.
In the spirit of infographics, I did also try to keep things like scale consistent wherever possible. There are some places where that didn’t work out, and others where I felt it was too important to skip (the magnitude of the earthquakes, for example, since it really adds to the viewers’ understanding of the difference in severity), and I do feel rather guilty about failing to represent the information. Hopefully you don’t hold it against me too much.
I was pretty pleased to learn about the history of Wells Fargo and its relationship to American Express. History fun facts are cool.
Hope you enjoy! Keep an eye out for more. I had so much fun making this, I can’t wait to come up with another.
It’s official. After nearly 7 years working as an in-house designer, Director of Marketing, and manager of both people and projects, I have decided it’s time to go rogue and have started my own Design & Illustration business. It will be a big change to not have that paycheck hit regularly, to not have coworkers to mingle with day in and day out, and to not have anyone but yourself to blame when it doesn’t go right. It will be difficult, but it will be rewarding.
It’s been a long time coming, in truth. I’ve been doing freelance work since college, always making time for it outside of my usual work hours, and in the last year, have been increasingly more busy with projects and new clients – enough so that the idea to commit to doing that full-time actually seems feasible now. It is not without its fears and concerns, but I am overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I’ve received from friends, family, and professional acquaintances who all believe I will do great.
It is not without sadness that I will leave the job of 7 years behind as I’ve made valuable friendships and learned many great lessons, both on a professional and personal level. I’ve learned what my strengths are, and know I can leverage them when conducting business for myself. I’ve learned what my weaknesses are, so know there are options for avoiding or delegating them so that I can focus on the good stuff. I expect I will make many mistakes still, but hope I will meet them as a challenge to just get better. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve worked with, and how it all is leading up to this new direction for me.
So consider this proclamation the beginning of a great new adventure, and come back here to keep checking out the latest projects I’ve been working on, ideas I’ve been having, or the things I’ve been admiring. Oh, and of course, feel free to get the word out to anyone seeking some design or illustration help. I can help with posters, info graphics, brochures, game design, invites & announcements, packaging, apparel, logo & branding, editorial illustration, as well as web and mobile design. And of course, I do still paint, so keep an eye out for some new landscapes or what not – perhaps to fill that nook between your bookshelves and tv stand that needs a little extra color.
I am moving again (something some friends of mine know too well, as it happens rather too often).
I made my typical “I’ve moved” graphic (see above), but realized I never did post the little animation I made for when I moved (about this time) last year – my first big step moving from Silicon Valley into San Francisco proper. In fairness, it was designed to be mailed via snail mail, and I was super excited to use my awesome die-cutting machine to cut the intricate “monuments” of SF in card stock, then glue together to make one large fold-out card. I mean, I still could, but time never quite permitted that last year, so I turned the art into a quick HTML5 animation instead (click the image to see it in its full glory). For laziness continuity, I have kept the same Golden Gate Bridge image in place for both graphics even though neither apartment is near or in sight of the iconic bridge.
Oh well. Here’s to (at least) another year in the beautiful city by the bay.
Last Friday I had the privilege of going on a fun bakery crawl sponsored by Scharffen Berger chocolates. I wrote all about it here on my baking blog, but while I was at it, I couldn’t help but enjoy the perfect October afternoon and evening San Fran was having, and took a few pictures of the places we went along the way.
Not sure I’m equipped for some of the night shots I took, but the colors were still pretty fabulous.