illustration, throwback, experiments

Turtles + Tigers + Bears, Oh My!

I've had a complex relationship with illustration. In school it often seemed to be something that should never mix with graphic design. My zine had "too many" of them and therefore I should be looking into switching majors. Alternately, it's said to be impossible to achieve for graphic designers; they simply "can't draw." Now that I'm a professional designer, however, I find it's actually been incredibly helpful to be able to draw on some level, especially when the client can't afford a full blown professional illustrator and graphic designer.

Case in point: an infant clothing start-up that was supposed to benefit endangered species approached me to illustrate a sea turtle, polar bear, and tiger. Here are a couple full sets I submitted:

other sketches

Do you have any favorites? Let me know what you think!


Before You Go

Today is the 10th anniversary of my maternal grandmother's passing. I was in college at the time, rushing down to see her when my mom called me to let me know she had already gone. Despite the language barrier, I had always understood her deep love for us, and it took me a long time to process my regrets and loss. Making this artist book to memorialize her, say the things I wanted to say, and depict our relationship was a big part of that.

Guide: this video has no audio.

I only made two copies of this book, and the structure was a physical manifestation of my search for her—sort of a reverse burial.


10" x 10" x 2"

Materials: hand-made papers, English-Chinese dictionary pages, newspaper, printed pages, photographs, Chinese silks, bookmaking board, cheesecloth, watch (or ring, depending on the edition).

experiments, throwback, typography

Like PB+J

With Valentine's Day coming up, I'm going through my box of past projects and posting a love-related piece every day this week. This is Day 5 of 5.

It may sound a little strange at first, but I view my relationships with my clients a lot like dating relationships. If a one year mark rolls around, I like to celebrate our One Year "Anniversary" to commemorate a successful collaboration that I appreciate. This is the inside of a card I gave to a client a few years ago that I'm in the process of revisiting:

Left: "We work great together," Right: "like peanut-butter & jelly"

Left: "We work great together," Right: "like peanut-butter & jelly"

This one pushes the limits of legibility a bit, but I had fun experimenting with type. Lately I've also been finding making little cards very relaxing. Sometimes I consider opening up a small shop. We shall see!

Well, that wraps up the flurry of posts and love-related projects for now. I was surprised there were so many! Have any favorites of the five? I'd love to hear it! =)

throwback, art direction

Celebrity Crush

With Valentine's Day coming up, I'm going through my box of past projects and posting a love-related piece every day this week. This is Day 4 of 5.

One of the first contemporary artists I fell in love with was James Jean, with his intricate drawings and innocent yet creepy subjects. Fast-forward years later to my design fellowship at Chronicle Books, and I had the exciting opportunity of working with him on a collection of postcards of his work, aptly named XOXO. I was fangirling. Hard.

The man had a vision for the entire project, and I was not going to get in the way of it! What was left to design was the back and inside cover where the requisite book info for sales, rights, etc. are placed. Past postcard collections had no thumbnails, while others were too small for my taste. I wanted people to really be able to discover and enjoy his works, and then need more. Thus, I first maximized the space to show off 3 of his designs, and then used the elements I had available to me to place the rest of the info in a way that married his designs with past postcard sets.

My other contribution involved the back of the postcards, where X's and O's alternately marked the stamp area. Given the order of his postcards, I noticed they were starting off with an O instead of an X, making the cards read OXOX instead of XOXO. I suggested it would be worth switching all 30 card backs so they reflect the title of the gift set and he agreed. The devil is in the details, right?

The result:

James Jean + Chronicle Books (+ me)

throwback, illustration, typography

Bears + Gerbera Daisies

With Valentine's Day coming up, I'm going through my box of past projects and posting a love-related piece every day this week. This is Day 3 of 5.

Leslie + Anthony are a great couple who share an eclectic group of interests and wanted a wedding suite that would incorporate that, yet also stand the test of time (no trendy "Jack Daniels" typography was an example they used). For their wedding, they were getting married in a colonial venue and using gerbera daisies in honor of Meg Ryan's You've Got Mail quote. After getting to know them better, I also discovered they have a running joke with bears. Taking inspiration from colonial era books and other traditional American prints and documents, I designed a suite with a custom illustration of two bears holding gerbera daisies in a style that would appear engraved. We used a 100% cotton paper to add some texture and weight to it, customized a font, and incorporated the navy blue wedding color.

The suite incorporated invitations, RSVPs, a double-sided program, table number cards with alternating illustrations, thank you cards, and name cards (not shown) also with alternating illustrations that could be printed on a home computer. A lot of pieces to "brand" and a lot of fun!

It was such a pleasure getting to know this easy-going and quirky couple and working with them on creating something that fit their relationship and special event. It makes me wish we had more to work on together!

Side bonus: I discovered an extra love of my own in the process. Lee's Art Shop is a great printer that can handle challenging papers and small runs such as this with excellent customer service that goes above and beyond. And no, they did not pay me to say this—it really is true love = P.