I worked on a project recently that was a lot of fun. A mother whose child attends a small daycare center wanted to pull together a unique thank you gift for the class’s teachers. She found a board she really liked on Etsy, and thought it would be fun to have pictures of the families to pin onto it. We got to talking and the idea expanded to be not just family photos, but vintage inspired travel postcard themed cards with a greeting of their choice on it. Each family had a fun story or background that we could highlight, so I whipped up a textured template (working with a limited palette that went well with the board she’d found) and I made a bunch of fun graphics to include on each family’s card. I also aged the photos a bit to make them fit in with the retro style a bit more.
A very fun, personalized gift for the teachers. They loved it so much they plan on keeping it in the classroom even after the current class has moved on.
It was a lot of fun coming up with graphics for each family and having it work with the theme. I liked the color palette a lot, too. Would be fun to make more graphics like this.
Oh, here’s the backside, where the family’s wrote their personalized messages. Complete with custom stamp and post office marker.
I recently spent a week in Austin and had such a fantastic time I decided to draw about it. Spending time with friends who just moved down there and knew the lay of the land was the added bonus, as we got such good insider knowledge on where to go (and eat!).
While my little illustrated thank you card to our fabulous hosts has a few inside jokes, for the most part, I think I captured the spirit of our trip with our adventures in learning the Texas Two Step at the honky tonkest joint I’ve ever seen, going to a UT Football game (the first time I’ve ever been to a college game, oh lordy), waiting in line for the most delicious brisket I’ve ever tasted, seeing the bats come out from under the bridge at dusk, enjoying live music and tasty beverages on Rainey Street, and playing a little bar trivia (and that’s not even mentioning the time we spent on the East side!). In addition, I thoroughly enjoy Austin’s mid-century modern style which can be found across the whole town in its architecture and interior design. Such a treat to see classic neon signage and amazing lettering used so well in so many places. Such a fun place, I’d like to draw it even more.
Last week I had the amazing opportunity to go on a wonderful road trip from San Francisco, down the coast and across to the Grand Canyon and back. I would not file myself under the label of photographer, but I know what I like and decided to take the chance on a fancy rental lens to see how well I could do while discovering the wild west.
I love painting landscapes, and I think I got a lot of great source material this trip. The colors were warm and vibrant. The sky was clear on most of the days, and even the days that were a bit hazy leant themselves to some wonderful atmospheric perspective.
Day 2 (uh, we got a late start on Day 1 – I have no photos): Carmel to Santa Barbara
Starting off from Pebble Beach and driving along 17 Mile Drive to Carmel admiring the rocky shores and wind blown Monterey Cypress, then driving down the coast to Big Sur. There’s a beautiful waterfall at Julia Pfeiffer beach that can’t be missed.
Day 3: Santa Barbara to Joshua Tree
Santa Barbara is a beautiful town full of lots of spanish mission style architecture and tons of sun. One of my favorite things to check out though, is the mural that’s painted on the walls of the courthouse. No photo I took will capture its entirety or magnificence, but I highly recommend checking it out. The other random highlight of Santa Barbara is the epic and ancient fig tree that resides just next to the 101 freeway. Planted in 1876, it is mighty. Per a 2010 measurement, the widest spread of the branches is 198 feet (60 m). The trunk diameter above the buttress roots is 12.5 feet. Huge.
After Santa Barbara we drove through LA (stopping for some amazing Korean BBQ in downtown first), we drove on to Palm Springs and then up to Joshua Tree just as the sun was setting. Our airbnb for the night was an amazing little “homesteader cabin” a good 6-7 miles off the main highway, off a dirt road. I got a couple night shots of the view from the porch, but it was nearly a full moon, so the stars were a little daunted by the bright light. Still, a really beautiful and serene evening.
Day 4: Joshua Tree to Sedona
Joshua Tree is a crazy place. It reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book. I also discovered that Joshua Trees are in the Yucca family. They came in so many shapes, appendage numbers, and sizes. We had seen a few of them as we traveled closer to the National Park and also throughout the rest of the Arizona/Nevada area, but there truly wasn’t the same concentration as in the Park itself. Quite stunning to see a forest of them line the road as we drove through. We caught them with a brilliant blue sky and wispy clouds that added another level of character to the landscapes.
And then there’s Sedona. We planned our entrance into the valley perfectly to catch sunset. The formations are beautiful enough in the middle of the day, but when the warm light of sunset hits the brilliant red rocks, they glow. We arrived at that night’s airbnb just as the light was prime for photos and we had a great view of the hills from the porch. After the sun set, I caught a nice shot of the moon rising in dusk light.
Day 5: Sedona to Grand Canyon and over to Kanab, UT
We woke up in Sedona and drove through town a bit to get some views of the wonderful formations. We also wandered over to the chapel that is built into the hillside. It was a pretty impressive construction. I was more amused by the view from the chapel looking down upon the gaudiest home I’ve ever seen. Yeah, check it out – you can’t miss it. I think they must have thought that by painting it red like the rocks it would blend in…
We moved on towards the Grand Canyon afterwards. It was cooling down at that point (it even snowed lightly a little bit), and we were greeted by a very overcast sky when we got there. While I was a little sad to not have the sun illuminate the striking colors and formations that the canyon makes, the diffused lighting did have a certain somber and powerful character of its own. I remarked that the whole thing just looked like a painting in some movie backlot. It’s really hard to believe it’s real even when you’re standing right in front of it.
We drove west a bit, then backtracked along the eastern side of the south rim to the “look out” which was a unique perspective – looking west you could still see the deep cavernous ridge line, but looking east, you could see the plateaus and flat land that extend beyond where the canyon gets shallower. We continued our drive going east towards Lake Powell, stopping at a reservation where they kindly let me take a few more pictures from their vantage point. We drove all the way around up into Utah and landed for the night in the adorable town called Kanab.
Day 6: Kanab to Las Vegas
Kanab is the most quaint little roadside town. Feels like it belongs on Route 66 and clearly gets frequented by people visiting the surrounding national parks. Lots of great neon and retro details throughout the town. It is considered the Little Hollywood of Utah. It definitely had a hay-day where lots of Westerns were filmed in the surrounding area – and movies of note, too. We just watched The Outlaw Josey Wales, a Clint Eastwood flick, that was filmed there to see if we recognized anything.
They have an amazing little movie museum with some sets that were used in films. It’s pretty much perfect.
We went from Kanab to Zion, only about an hour’s drive away. Zion is a beautiful canyon with more stunning rock formations. It has the longest tunnel I’ve ever driven through, carved straight through a mountain side, with only a few pockets of light streaming in as you drove through it. We hiked in the canyon at the end of the northern loop of the road which had a beautiful river running through it.
We left through the southwest entrance and headed on to Vegas for the night.
Day 7: Las Vegas to Death Valley
Being in Vegas was even more surreal than usual, having come from such natural wonders to the artificial wonder that is Vegas. We did the usual Vegas thing that night – dinner and a show, then headed out in the late morning towards Death Valley. We passed a little gas station/brothel on the way, too, on the outskirts of Area 51. Gotta love Nevada.
Death Valley was glorious. We have both decided that we’ll have to come back with more time to explore it. The colors, textures, and formations we saw were so surreal and like nothing I’d ever seen. It looked like something out of a Dalí painting. There was also a quaint little Inn tucked into the hillside that was quite literally an oasis in the middle of the desert. And then the sun was setting as we drove out, making such gorgeous colors: purple hills, golden tumbleweed brush, auburn red dirt, all against a fading blue sky. Such a treat to see. We ended our night in Lone Pine, on the Eastern foothills of the Sierra.
Day 8: Lone Pine & Alabama Hills
Lone Pine is another one of those go-to Western Film shooting locations. Not to mention a few Star Trek movies/episodes. I’ve always loved it. My family used to come up and camp in Onion Valley and surrounding areas, and my Aunt once took my brother and me up Mt. Whitney which you get a nice view of from Lone Pine. While it’s the tallest peak in the continuous US, it doesn’t look like the tallest from the valley. Fond memories, and of course, a gorgeous view. Snow still specks the peaks, and the contrast of the bright blue sky, light blue and gray mountains, with the rambling auburn Alabama hills in the forefront made for a great shot.
This was basically the end of our journey though. We decided to just drive back home via the 5, which isn’t as spectacular as what we’d just seen (unless you count the usual cow concentration camps). Or else I’ve just gotten too familiar with the drive to really notice it’s beautiful spots.
I came across an amazing gem of retro graphic design and illustration not too long ago. I don’t mean to startle anyone, but not only is it deliciously retro, but apparently the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) still thinks it’s perfectly good to keep on using as their current manual for Aviation Weather For Pilots and Flight Operations Personnel. No but really, it’s still on their site ready as ever to be downloaded for consumption.
I mean, I suppose there’s no reason to change it though; the information about weather and flying probably hasn’t changed much since 1975. In fact, they make a point about it’s history and editions in the preface, which will no doubt serve as a viable excuse for this antiquated manuscript to remain a main resource for many, many more years to come:
“The publication began in 1943 as CAA Bulletin No. 25, “Meteorology for Pilots,” which at the time contained weather knowledge considered essential for most pilots. But as aircraft flew farther, faster, and higher and as meteorological knowledge grew, the bulletin became obsolete. It was revised in 1954 as “Pilots’ Weather Handbook” and again in 1965 under its present title.
All these former editions suffered from one common problem. They dealt in part with weather services which change continually in keeping with current techniques and service demands. Therefore, each edition became somewhat outdated almost as soon as published; and its obsolescence grew throughout the period it remained in print.
To alleviate this problem, the new authors have completely rewritten this edition streamlining it into a clear, concise, and readable book and omitting all reference to specific weather services. Thus, the text will remain valid and adequate for many years.”
Indeed. It’s very efficient.
I’m in love with the exaggerated expressions on the illustrated characters, the limited tri-color palette, and the design decisions made based on that restriction. Having a lot more flexibility in this day and age to create documents like this both quickly and easily, I do admire the painstaking effort that must have gone into creating this manuscript. I does make me count my blessings that I get to work on a computer instead of a typewriter, but am also sad because there is something about this document that is so full of character that I just don’t see in most of the design work that surrounds us these days.
I hope you enjoy this little find. I’m showcasing a few of my favorite samples from the book, but by all means, please download it yourself to see it in its full glory, or perhaps you can catch a copy of your own out there, still in hard copy.
This hotel was timeless, and by timeless, I mean totally dated. A relic from 1950 (60?), and loving it. I loved the typography of the name “Saga,” the two-toned peach paint job, the teal accents, cinderblock lattice walls, decorative concrete motifs, viking mosaic, and excessive use of palm trees. A total California retro gem. I was sad to see that they had attempted to update the interior of the rooms, so they weren’t nearly as cool.
My brother put me up here when I was down visiting in Pasadena, and I have decided it’s the only hotel I ever want to stay at again when visiting.
I entered a very competitive field.
Finding a new job is difficult for anyone, especially when the economy’s still suffering, but I can only talk about my own experience as a designer, and I have to say, it’s really difficult to get your foot in the door anywhere. One pretty serious mistake I made after graduating college was leaving my network behind.
So how does one move along without word of mouth or referrals? Well, you have to really impress someone, I think. So, I was browsing through a few job descriptions online, and this one for Airbnb really stood out to me. It was one of those descriptions that really excited my interest and felt like it was made for me. So I went into cover letter mode, and was going into great lengths to describe how and what I would do for their company when I just sort of said to myself, “do it, don’t say it.” I am a visual designer, after all. I think it’s more appropriate to show them what you can do, versus make them take your word for it. Of course, it’s terribly impractical to put this many hours of effort into what is essentially a job application, but when you think it’s the perfect job, and at an amazing company, I think it warrants the extra effort.
So for a little background, Airbnb is a VC backed start-up that has made a business of turning every day people into vacation home/room renters. Basically, if you have a spare room, you can make a little extra cash by renting it out to tourists and travlers. On the flip side, you as a traveler get the chance to stay with cool, local people, making your travels that much more engaging. I love the idea, and happen to love traveling, so it seems like a perfect arrangement for me.
As for their design, it is really exceptional. Their website is clean, simple, straightforward, and fun. Their mobile UI is so easy to use, and the graphics they’ve made to highlight special deals or places of interested are visually rich and engaging, and often verge on punning, which is delightful.
Pulling from my own love for vintage/retro graphics, and the company’s status as a travel company, I decided to create a resume that emulated the look and feel of 1960’s travel documents. Overall summary of items in resume package: Passport, Boarding Pass, Luggage Tag, and Safety Guidelines Card.
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To start, I decided my own personal logo wasn’t going to evoke the right feeling for the piece, so created a logo for the project that I felt captivated the look of a mid 20th Century travel company. Of the many logos I referenced, the elements I liked and took for my own were those that were bold, monochromatic, usinga modern-looking font accompanied by a script, and somehow incorporated a wing-like graphic. My color scheme is my own, using a dark warm red and a light mossy green, which I thought worked well for the period piece I was creating (what, you think I should have gone with avocado, brown and orange instead? Don’t forget the goal is to suggest I have good taste).
First piece, the Passport, was the perfect vehicle for laying down my previous work experience, suggesting all the places I’ve worked previously are analogous to the places I’ve traveled to. It took a few google searches to find reference material for what passports in the 1960’s looked like. I finalized a version that had the US seal as a watermark on the interior pages, along with an archaic security pattern printed in the background. I also took a a new “passport-like” photo and edited it to look aged (the paper, of course, not my face). Remember how to bind the single signature book took a few times, but I think I finally got it. Making the rubber stamp graphics was definitely a challenge. Using a font and trying to adjust filters and brushes in photoshop was looking really photoshopped, so I instead hand typed out all the images, inked (and smudged) them, scanned them in, and edited a little more from there.
Next came the boarding pass. As they are more like evidence of where you will be traveling, I liked the idea of making it my objective statement, stating the “desired destination” as the position at their company, and the to and from fields being “from my current position to Airbnb”.
The luggage tag, which fits into the “travel documents” folder along with the boarding pass is actually a link to my portfolio website. I mean, my previous work is kind of like baggage, though with a more positive connotation.
Finally, the Safety Guidelines Card is probably the most adventurous of the bunch. Mimicking the safety cards you never actually bother to read when flying, my “guidelines” highlight my skills and interests in the same illustrative style as an old fashioned card. I think it most effectively describes me visually, in ways a typical cover letter never could.
The only thing I think that is missing from the total package is the air sickness bag. I’m sure you can imagine why I felt including that would send the wrong message. Now fingers crossed that they give me a call!