#NationalAnna: An Introduction

For a long time I’ve had the thought and loved the idea of visiting all of the national parks. Then I met Peter and that desire grew even more (namely because we share a love of road trips, hiking and Clif bars).

So this is me creating a project that will hold me accountable for this plan. (Not that I really need to be held accountable. I’m ecstatic about national parks.) After each trip I’ll be posting my thoughts here, along with photos of course. You can expect some “catch up” posts in the coming days and weeks for the parks I’ve previously visited. For future trips, you can follow along by checking out #NationalAnna on Twitter and Instagram.

Within the next three months I expect to visit Bryce Canyon and Great Basin and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a long road ahead and I don’t expect to be done for a number of years, but I can’t say I’m complaining.

My first visit to a National Park. February 2011 at Arches. I had just turned 20.
My first visit to a national park. February 2011 at Arches. I had just turned 20.

Design Dreams: Neutrals

This piece from the Society6 shop WEAREYAWN is this week’s thing I wish I’d designed. A big reason I picked it is because Friday afternoon I’m leaving for a quick camping trip to Canyonlands. There aren’t a ton of trees or mountains down there, but the spirit is there. (EDIT: The reason I never posted this was because I was too busy getting all my belongings together for said trip and it was absolutely lovely and mind-blowing.)

Design doesn’t need to be bright and ostentatious and maybe a little in your face to be good. That’s the beauty of neutrals. It lets the design speak for itself. It lets you take in the design as a whole as there is not one particular color drawing your attention to a specific aspect. Sometimes that’s what should happen and one color should draw people in. But other times it’s nice to have something understated, at least when it comes to color choice. And with a piece that this that is nature-centric, the neutrals remind me of, well, nature. And that feels like I’m getting a hug.


Design Dreams: White space

I found this design a few months ago and fell in love with it because A) camping and B) glorious use of white space. The design is simple and little and just chills in the middle like that’s exactly where it’s supposed to be and nowhere else.


When I first started designing,  I vaguely understood the concept of white space. I knew that it should be there and I could identify when other people used it well, but I myself could not figure out how to implement it nicely. (I’ve always seemed to like when the kerning and tracking of letters is pretty tight, so that didn’t help either.)

Until one day I just could. Suddenly I could feel exactly how things should be placed to create a white space balance.

Well, not really. I designed a lot of ish and tried a lot of things before I really knew how to create good white space on my own, though it really did feel instantaneous. Once I had white space figured out, I realized how much I adored it; minimalism is my jam and so is white space. Less is more has become my design anthem. (It’s probably gotten to a point where I should start mastering artful/constructive chaos when it comes to design. Creating a busy design literally causes me anxiety.)

White space and minimalism don’t always go together, and it’s not that you can’t have one without the other, but I find that minimalistic things tend to use white space pretty liberally.

I’ll end with this quote from Adrian Frutiger:

When I put my pen to a blank sheet, black isn’t added but rather the white sheet is deprived of light. […] Thus I also grasped that the empty spaces are the most important aspect of a typeface.

Check out Connor’s other designs on tumblr; though they aren’t plentiful, they’re all great.

Design Dreams: Harry Potter

I’ve loved a lot of things in my almost 25 years of life, but few things I have loved as ardently as I love the boy wizard. As I’ve come to get involved in graphic design, I’ve realized there are few things I love as much as Harry Potter-related design, and this week’s Design Dreams post is a perfect example of Harry Potter-design capturing my mind and heart.

Risa Rodil made this poster for the Harry Potter Alliance’s 10th anniversary.


I’ve fallen in love with basically all of Risa’s work. Her lettering is always so perfect and she does an incredible job integrating small aspects of books/movies/shows/anything into her posters. The raised wands, the lightning bolt heart (which is the HPA logo) and snitch clearly relate to Harry Potter but still come across in a very minimalistic way. People who know Harry Potter will immediately spot the references, but those who don’t know the quote, or the symbols (though I’d hope they could recognize the wands as relating to magic/Harry Potter in some way), will just think it’s a nice poster. This is one of my favorite design aspects, when things like shirts and posters could almost be construed as “inside jokes” with admirers and fans.

To help the HPA keep doing kickass things, make sure to check out their Indiegogo, which is still going for another 10 days. You can even get this poster as a perk!

Make sure to check out Risa on tumblr and on Society6. She has incredible posters, mugs, shirts, etc. for sale.

Design Dreams: Centered

As summer winds down I can’t help but think of baseball. And when I think of baseball and summer I inevitably think of a beloved movie from my childhood: The Sandlot.

This poster by I AM CRIME is a perfect example of why I love when text is not only centered but also justified. Blocks of text, when they have the appropriate tracking, kerning and leading, are quite pleasing to the eye. Justifying text is something I wish more people would do when creating designs that rely on central alignment. It’s such a simple adjustment that can totally change how a flier, poster or announcement feels. It really helps to make things feel less amateur and, well, not as boring.

Blocks of text like this also remind me of art by Piet Mondrian. (Seeing his work in real life at MoMA? That was by far one of my favorite parts about living in New York for an internship. And I did some pretty cool ish while there.)


My other favorite aspect of this piece is how the bottom of the “triangle” is A) reminiscent of a baseball diamond and B) pointing to the quote. It inherently and naturally draws the eye to the text. I love when pieces include this type of direction.

Check out more work from I AM CRIME on their Society6 page.

Design Dreams: Minimalism Epitomized

I try to be a minimalist in a lot of areas of my life, but it shines through most brightly when it comes to graphic design. And that’s why I find myself drawn to other people’s minimalist work.

As is clear from my last few posters (LFC, Tottenham, Leicester), I’m a huge soccer fan. Few things make me happier than watching Premier League games way too early on Saturday mornings. When I saw these minimalist soccer club logos by Daniel Nyari, I about died of happiness.

arsenal chelsea dortmund mancity mufclfc












Each one perfectly captures the respective clubs, which is especially important when it comes to minimalist design work that’s a re-working of an actual logo/crest. People should still be able to identify what it’s being derived from. Just like soccer, beauty can be derived from putting together a few simple strokes/passes. That’s one thing I wish more people would realize about design: It doesn’t have to be busy or overly intricate to be beautiful and tell a story. Less is more!

I’m not particularly well-versed in Illustrator, but these designs make me even more eager to keep learning. (I’m not exactly sure it was used to make these, but the motivation is there nonetheless.)

Check out Daniel’s work on his society6 page.

Design Dreams: An Introduction

I avidly follow typography and graphic design blogs on tumblr, and I meticulously reblog and tag my favorite designs because A) sometimes you just want to look at pretty things, B) it’s an easy way to find things I know will inspire me, and C) the best way to get better at design is to practice copying other people’s work and styles.

A combination of all those reasons is what’s prompted me to start a series called “Design Dreams.” (Because these are designs I dream to make myself). Once a week I’m going to share my favorite design I encountered on tumblr. So expect a lot of gorgeous graphics from incredibly talented people and a little bit of designer talk from me.

You can expect these posts every Wednesday, which means the first one will be posted tomorrow!

(The featured image on today’s post is a design by Jess Matthews, a designer I recently discovered on, you guessed it, tumblr. Make sure to check out her immaculate Etsy store too.)

Poetry. Kind of.

I originally wrote this poem as part of poetry challenge on the blog of my friend Hayley. It doesn’t have a title and I completely forgot about it until today. I don’t write poetry often, and by that I mean never, but I genuinely enjoyed re-reading this. I hope you do as well.
Relaxation does not always come around by 5 pm
Though if I had my way it would come much sooner.
People often say things like “That’s so cliche” but
The secrets of life are hidden behind that word.With my Zebra stripe gum that no one
actually knows the real name of,
I hit the road on a piece of bamboo
with wheels, red wheels that remind
me of the sky around 8 at night, or
whenever else the sun decides to set and
look really nice, and also make me think of
a wood burning stove.I ride the board to the left and right, front and back,
until I come upon signs that basically say,
“You shall not pass” and I turn around, looking,
searching for a way past, like Lewis and Clark,
except I know where I’m going, and I don’t have to
worry about not eating lunch, unless I fall and crash
and skid across the asphalt. In which case the burn
of road rash will send me straight on home.

My shoes contact the street, rubber on
gray like duct tape, once black, pavement.
It’s a chill time on the streets at sundown,
but sweet as well, though only in feeling and
not so much in taste. Which reminds me of
these thoughts: If revenge is a dish best served
cold . . . And if revenge is also sweet,
Does that make revenge ice cream?

It’s a time of full of my own ruminations,
when nothing else matters but that slight tail
wind. I think of missing him terribly, the one
who gave me music that in effect changed my
life. I find my mind both blank and full because
of it; because of the one with the green hat.
That green hat means a lot and represents the past and
the future. So who would have thought fabric
and string and cardboard could mean something?

There’s a 50/50 chance when the return comes that
things may change. It’s exhilarating and ridiculous all
at once, yet nothing will change that fact that I do care.
Passing through streets with lawns out in front, large and small,
I wish for fresh cut Wisconsin grass and even the sound
of a lawn mower with the threatening of large storm. Because I swear,
Wisconsin cut grass is something special with rain clouds on the way.

There are people with kids who see me going by and riding around,
and I’m pretty sure they hope their kids don’t follow too closely in my
push offs and wheel tracks. Let’s face it: a less than one inch thick piece of
board with grip tape is not much. But it’s enough and gives me more
than one would ever think could be a product of such basic things.
So no it’s not a time of relaxation, not really. It’s an adrenaline rush of the most
basic kind and gives a lot to me from not so much while at the same time giving
me nothing for all I can give it.

Maybe it’s humanistic psychology at its best, but I
wouldn’t really know since we kind of skipped over that
part on New Age day of American religious history since
that war between those above and below the Mason Dixon.
So like Augustus Waters said, we don’t get to choose
whether we get hurt in this world. But we do get to choose
who hurts us. And I like to think that applies to my recreation,
and maybe to those with hats, as well. I know I’ll get hurt,
eventually, but at least I chose it. And had a great time along that paved way.