Month: November, 2010

NaNoWriMo + 30 Covers, 30 Days

Today is the last day of National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNoWriMo (as it’s lovingly called by its followers) is to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. Crazy? Yes. But people do it. Their site says,

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

The only reason I know about this, is because of Iowa City’s Little Village magazine where five writers have been sharing the novel-writing duty and livin’ the dream. You can take a peek at their November accomplishments on their blog.

And then there’s also the design companion to this madness: 30 Covers, 30 Days challenged these designers to each grab a day and produce one book cover in 24 hours. Ahhh, productivity at its finest. Check ’em out.

day one; John Gall

day three; Heads of State

day nine; Louise Fili

day twelve; Gabriele Wilson

day twenty-one; Joe Montgomery

day twenty-three; Leanne Shapton

day twenty-four; Helen Yentus

day thirty; Rodrigo Corral


Operation Exposure with Just Seeds & IVAW


As a part of November’s Chicago in War series that I mentioned a few weeks ago, Just Seeds and Iraq Veterans Against the War have collaborated on an effort entitled Operation Exposure: War is Trauma. Some really great work by these folks. Here’s an excerpt from their blog post (written by Nicolas Lampert):

“Operation Exposure: War is Trauma” hit the streets of Chicago on Monday November 15th. This collaboration between the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and veterans and supporters from Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is a direct response to the suicide epidemic and violation of GI’s right to heal within the GI and veteran community. Veterans, artists, and supporters met in Rogers Park in Chicago and split into teams. They divided up posters that Justseeds had designed for IVAW and then wheatpasted the city. Teams hit advertising spaces and boarded up buildings with messages of GI resistance and “Operation Recovery” – a new IVAW campaign aimed to stop the redeployment of traumatized troops and focus public attention towards Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“We recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end these occupations,” writes IVAW. “We see the deployment of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and military sexual trauma as particularly cruel, dangerous, and inhumane. Military commanders across all branches are pushing service members far past human limits for the sake of combat readiness. We cannot allow those commanders to ignore the welfare of their troops. From multiple deployments despite PTSD, TBI, and other injuries, to rampant sexual assault within the military, soldiers are consistently being denied their right to heal. This basic right is being denied and we must organize to get it back.”

You can find images on their flickr page, but here a few for those pressed for time:




Moveable Type with Kyle Durrie

Kyle Durrie runs Power and Light Press from Portland, OR. While her website looks like it’s currently under a bit of construction, I found out about a project of hers through Kickstarter called Moveable Type: cross-country adventures in printing. She’s currently raising money to take a mobile letterpress printing truck on the road all over the US—giving workshops, talks and tours along the way. Watch the video below to find out more or visit her Kickstarter page to back the project and read about it in her own words. Pretty cool.

Better design is not "less" design

A senior editor at, Dylan Tweney recently posted an article in both The Atlantic and Wired stating, “The message is now free from the medium,” and discussing how the third wave of web design is to be deemed The Undesigned Web.

And almost immediately following, Fast Company’s Co.Design posted an article titled Is “Undesigned” the Next Great Web Trend? Fat Chance written by John Pavlus. Basically it’s all a matter of semantics here. The “Undesigned” examples given by Tweney, from applications like Flipboard to the Arc90 Lab Experiment Readability actually show design at its best. (I have to say, I haven’t used either of these, so all speculation is based on the videos I have seen below.) They take the users’ wants and needs into more consideration than most—which is what good design is all about. It irks me to hear people say something isn’t “designed” enough, when we should all be changing our language to say specifically what we mean: it needs more flourishes? more details? more structure?

Here’s an excerpt from Co.Design:
The only difference between these “undesigned” tools and the Flash-addled screenjunk they replace is that one is optimized for what we want to do with text–read it–and the other isn’t. Neither is “less” or “more” designed. One is simply better designed for its function than the other.

What actually repulses us is distraction, not design.

“So much web design is not improving the content experience. That’s what’s behind this mini-rebellion,” says Jason Fried of 37signals, who’s been in the digital-simplicity business for over a decade. Saying there’s “too much” design and demanding a revolt or a retreat is as silly as the inarticulate king in Amadeus telling Mozart his music has “too many notes.” Of course, not every designer is a Mozart, but that’s not the point. As legendary designer Milton Glaser said, less is not more. Just enough is more. We don’t need fewer notes: we need the right ones. And designers, now as always, are giving them to us.

Visual AIDS

Visual AIDS enables public dialogue and scholarship around AIDS and contemporary art with exhibitions, public events, and publications. Each year we produce and distribute thousands of free, AIDS awareness, artist editions through our Broadsides project. Visual AIDS has successfully produced a variety of open call exhibitions, catalogs, and printed matter. Year-round we collaborate with teachers and students to facilitate research and special projects.

They currently have an exhibition entitled Treat my Words, with curator John Chaich, featuring work where text is integral to the meaning of the piece—from letterforms as objects to ad appropriation. Take a look at their slideshow.

Benjamin Incerti; Untitled, 1991

William Donovan; Eyechart (Dark), 2003

Robert Blanchon; Protection (Detail), 1992

Stephen Andrews; Album (to the Memory), 1995

Frank H. Jump; Dr. Tucker’s 59 For All Pain 1 Brooklyn’s Broadway Elevated Line, 1998

You can read more about the mission and values of Visual AIDS here.

thanks to Social Design Notes for the link.

BabiesBabiesBabies. Annie McElwain.

I just came off a weekend trip to Chicago where I was able to catch up with old friends and also celebrate the latest soon-to-be mom. I feel like babies are everywhere around me these days, including adorable images in my Google Reader. Or maybe I’m just more perceptive now that baby talk is in my ears and babies are in my arms. And while it’s a time in the way distant future until one of these are in my own home, I can still love those around me and enjoy the talented photographers that I come across. Annie McElwain is an LA-based photog who has some pretty cute lil ones in her portfolio. Check out her site for more. And to all the new parents out there: just because you’re entering what probably feels like a serious marker of adulthood, does not mean you need to have bad taste and fake backdrops.








Chicago in War

Happy November 1st everyone! Not only is November the big welcome to the cool air and fall colors, but it’s also the month of Chicago in War. Over this whole month, as a project from the National Veterans Art Museum, there will be various events and exhibitions throughout the city—including the main show, Intrusive Thoughts opening November 11th at the NVAM. I designed both of the posters, for the series and the exhibition, and you should go check at least one thing out over the next 30 days if you’re a Chicagoan.

Update 11/08/10: New article about Chicago in War posted on Common Dreams.