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Playing catch-up

18 Apr

A lot has happened since I last posted!

I’ll make this a quick post, since I have a lot of new work to show.

Let’s begin with the work I did for Blue Plate this past summer. The local restaurant The Blue Plate opened a new bar, Local 191. While I was working at Widgets & Stone, I was able to create some collateral for this new bar.

I was also able to design a cycling jersey for Bell Lumber & Pole Co.

I have learned a great deal since I last posted. I worked at True North Custom Media, a great custom publishing company here in Chattanooga. I was the sole designer for HIT Exchange, a magazine about healthcare technology. I was responsible for designing the print, digital and tablet editions of each bimonthly issue. My favorite part of this job was developing the articles for the iPad. I loved animating the artwork and making the graphics interactive. I learned a great deal about developing for the tablet format. We used Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, which is the same system that large magazines like Martha Stewart Living uses. Here is a selection of my print work from the magazine:

If you’d like to see the work I did for the iPad, download the free HIT Exchange app from the iTunes Store.


Engage: 2010 AIGA Leadership Retreat

10 Aug

I spent the better part of this year working on the branding for the 2010 AIGA Leadership Retreat. We began in January and worked every day until the actual retreat ended on June 5th. It was an awesome experience, complete with exhilarating triumphs, crushing defeats, valleys of calm, and moments of complete panic.

This was a project that my classmates and I worked on collaboratively. We began as one entity, developing the brand from the ground up. We needed something that would bespeak Chattanooga’s fun nature while allowing itself to be taken seriously as a brand. Our theme was “Engage,” so we needed to create something that would represent interconnectedness without feeling like a corporate-synergy-team-building-exercise kind of thing. Through weeks of trial and error, we eventually landed on a brand based off the awesome work of our own Lillie Somerfield.

Inspired by color blindness tests, a logo comprised of thousands of dots of various sizes all coming together to create something while still retaining their individuality perfectly captured what we were going for. We created a color palette that we felt represented Chattanooga well, complimenting the city’s harmony with its natural beauty.

Once we established the brand as a class, we split into three teams and began cranking out some collateral. Our three task forces were Printed Materials, Web/Social Media and Environmental Graphics. I was the leader of the Print Team, and as such assumed a great deal of responsibility that kept my hands tied most of the time.

My team was in charge of designing table top signs, a guide to city of Chattanooga, the name badge kit and tshirts. I also created and revised again and again the brand guide to the brand we created, as well as daily sessions signs to go outside each room used throughout the conference.

The name badge kit involved eight different pieces:

  • The name badge itself
  • A schedule of the retreat’s events
  • A map of the retreat site
  • An area map and food guide
  • A card about transportation around the city
  • A card for questions to be left at the front desk
  • A thank you card for the sponsor
  • And a card corresponding to the attendee’s assigned table in the main ballroom.

It was a lot of collateral, and the team definitely pulled their weight! Everything came out looking great. More on the breathtaking Guide to Chattanooga in a little bit…

It was a completely new experience for me to be a leader for this project. It was awkward at times as the dynamics of interaction between myself and my team (who were at once my peers, classmates and equals as well as members of the team answering to me) became difficult to balance. It’s odd and unsettling to have to reprimand and respectfully demand things of people who are on the same level as you in a lot of ways, and in some cases are your friends in your personal life.

That was really where the awkward place was, in that overlap between personal and professional relationships. I very quickly learned how to manage this ground, which has proved invaluable in other aspects of my life as well. It was a great lesson to learn: how to stay friends with those you work with/for/above.

I also came a long, long way in my client relation skills. Before this project, I was used to designing in a bubble, so to speak. I was designing things that would only be shown to other designers that I already knew. There was no expectation other than the high standards of design quality that my professors expected of me.

It was daunting at first, the idea of designing for AIGA. However, the wonderful people at the national office (namely Katie Baker, with whom I had the most interaction), quickly proved themselves to be approachable and reasonable. While at first I was intimidated by the scope and nature of the AIGA audience, I became quite comfortable with the national representatives by the time the retreat came around.

Visiting the national office in New York helped tremendously. That “field trip” was simply incredible. The vaults of AIGA member work made me fall in love with design all over again, and the building itself was gorgeous and inspiring.

From right: Jessica McGhee, Lillie Somerfield, Katie Baker, myself

As the Print Team leader, I also learned how to preflight files for our WONDERFUL printer, Cy DeVilbiss with lightning speed. Cy and all the guys at Blair did such amazing work for us, and graciously donated all of it. Our best designs would have been useless if our printer hadn’t been as amazing as he was.

Among the amazing printed materials he provided for us was the outstanding Guide to Chattanooga. You can read all about that process here.

As the semester came to an end (but our Engage work just began to kick into high gear), I made Engage themed cupcakes for everyone to enjoy! I carved the “e” out of a sheet cake, and used three different sized cupcake/muffin tins to create the dots. I handmade and colored the icing to match the brand we had built. The cake was confetti cake, too; even MORE dots!

Cute, you guys.

When it came time for the actual retreat, we were stoked to have the chance to volunteer. Not only would we get to see all of our hard work come to fruition, but we would get to rub elbows with AIGA board members from all over the country and make some great networking connections. During the opening address, we were brought on stage with the one and only Debbie Millman, President of AIGA. She personally thanked us for our work and presented us to the attendees of the conference. That was incredible. The whole experience was so, so much fun. I made some great new friends and it was wonderful to be appreciated for all the work we did. It was so rewarding to watch people use our materials. Driving home one night, I passed a number of groups on the street, holding up our area maps and using them with confidence. That was really heartwarming, to say the least. I had to miss the last day of the conference for my cousin’s wedding, but the time I was able to spend there was unforgettable. Here are some pictures of our final conference pieces:

cleaning the windows in preparation for the vinyl dot decals

Austin Reed, leader of the Environmental graphics team, in front of the dot window graphics his team created

retreat attendees Engaging with the Engage brand

a daily sessions sign about to be installed

a daily sessions sign in its environment

some of the directional signage the Environmental team came up with

installing room numbers and daily sessions signs

helping attendees register

the assembled badge kits waiting to be picked up at registration

waiting to be installed

column banners going up, more environmental team magic

we're volunteers! engaging with the attendees!

Jessica's name tag

around 300 chapter board members came to Chattanooga!

hanging out with Katie Baker

Times Free Press Tour

13 Oct

Thursday we got to tour the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which was amazing. Frank Anthony, the VP of operations, gave us our tour. The building was built with beautiful, blue collar architecture with exposed supports and double-layered maple hardwood flooring to handle the weight of machines. We went by the museum (or “newseum” as they called it) first, and saw some amazing old printing presses and a linotype machine. We toured the offices and then came to the big momma…the printing room. The presses weren’t running, so we were able to hear everything our gracious host was telling us, which was nice. This also afforded us the opportunity to walk around and underneath the machines, seeing up close exactly how they work. The giant vats of ink were fantastic, and I firmly believe we should invest in the same for the Epson printer at school. I don’t know where we’d store them, and I don’t care. Let’s just make that happen. The tour was fantastic and I really appreciated how lively and welcoming Frank and the rest of the staff were. Austin and TJ took quite a bunch of pictures, and here are some of my favorites:

And now for something completely different

2 Apr

This has little to nothing to do with my design escapades, but I had to share it with the world.

There’s this turkey. A frozen turkey like you buy at the grocery store that has been sitting on the side of the road on my route to school for a little over a week now. At first I wasn’t sure what it was. I thought it might be a colorful children’s soccer ball, like this:


but when I realized it was this:


I thought to myself, “that’s hilarious and unexpected. I should take a picture.” But I didn’t because I was driving. That’s just dangerous. Everyday, I have seen this turkey on my way to school as it braves the elements and lies unperturbed. This morning, however, I noticed the turkey had been stripped of it’s protective plastic cover and was laid out spread eagle a few feet from it’s original resting place. It looks like an animal has gotten to it. This is even more interesting to me, as now this incredibly unnatural representation of a turkey is left to decompose naturally.
Thus, I have decided that if the turkey braves the storm tonight, I will take pictures everyday until it disappears, documenting it’s decomposition. This is simultaneously disgusting, hilarious, and all around interesting for me. That is all. For now.

Type poster final

23 Feb


I chose the inaugural address of Calvin Coolidge given on March 4, 1925. Reading through the speech, the idea that stuck with me the most was that of toleration and unity. It was as if the same speech could stil be relevant today. Originally, I had chosen to focus on the word “toleration,” giving it by far the strongest visual weight. However, I ultimately decided that giving the viewer the idea of toleration without blatantly presenting it would be much more rewarding for myself and the viewer.

As I read and listen to speeches, I find that most of the words seem as if they are running together, bumping into each other and generally creating an ambiguous and unintelligible mess. This is the feeling I wanted to give the viewer; as if there is simply so much information that all runs together and seems to say the same thing that part of you doesn’t even want to try to read it. However, as in all good speeches, one idea shines through loud and clear. For this composition, it is what I feel to be the definition of toleration.

I set up my composition by first placing grid-lines that broke the space down into thirds both vertically and horizontally. I did not want my giant blocks of black text to line up perfectly, because I wanted to evoke a sense of slight disorder amongst an element that still seems to adhere to some sort of structure. Ironically, the only section of the speech that is truly disobedient to this order is the text about obedience.