#1 Teacher Award

I am handing out a #1 Teacher award this quarter.  Being a teacher myself, I am not easily impressed; however, I have met a few good ones at AI and I always let them know. 

This quarter one instructor went over the top into the “Excellence” category, and that was Beth Remsburg.  All the students who have talked with me about Beth speak with great affection, even as they complain that her classwork is a killer.  The thing is… you LEARN in her class!  And the students know she cares about their success even if it is painful.  This adds up to one of those teachers who impacts lives!  Several times this quarter it brought to my mind my 3rd grade teacher whom I loved dearly and have never forgotten.

The biggy for me is that I am no longer afraid of logos and using them to communicate visually in a corporate setting.  I have even learned that it can almost be fun!  The moment that corner was turned for me was the moment I knew Beth was one of the best teachers I have had!  

Beth kept encouraging me until I did it… always challenging not just me, but each of us, to be better (with a charming mix of humor and wisdom that keeps you from wanting to strangle her!) 

Beth made me feel like I really could do this.  That is a mark of a true teacher. I will forever remember that matter of fact “Sure you can!” comment she makes (leaving you standing there with nothing to say in rebuttal.)  Not to mention her “get over it!”  [When I am struggling with a project I have a tendency to outprocess about it, which some unnamed friends call whining, and Beth did not cater to the “I am no good at this” comments.]

Unfortunately this is probably the last class I will have with Beth, but I know for certain that she will stand out as one of those teachers who changed my course in life!  One of those you tell people about years later. 

I am not sure of all the impacts, but I know they are big and I really want to say “Thank you, Beth!  If more teachers were like you, there would be no limits to what we students could do!”

A slow start

Quarter 3 started out slow and easy.  4 classes but none of them are too strenuous, and then on week 2 we did not go to class on Monday.  This was actually good since I discovered I had been fighting a sinus infection since early in Dec. (A doctor visit at the end of the year did not catch it although I told the doc that I had these symptoms prior to getting a cold.  Sometimes I wonder about my doctor!)  So, I needed the time to recover because I was feeling pretty lousy!

I do have the pleasure of seeing one of my Design Concepts projects on the wall this quarter!  See my Tacy kitty in the center?  I am delighted that she is the project that Beth selected! 


This quarter I had my first ever “wicked” final – over 3 hours to complete a mini-project for Design Concepts.  I came out of that feeling like my head was a noodle and convinced that I will NEVER work for an ad agency.  However, I survived and that should count for something!

That afternoon was the Adobe Illustrator final… create a brochure with 25 criteria.  Not bad.  I came out of that experience thinking I just might actually enjoy working in Illustrator and that I really can learn the software. 

I went home to crash, only to be urged to give a potential web client a call.  Things are moving way too fast, but it is certainly very exciting!  If I were ready, I could be easily freelancing with several potential customers.  The need is certainly there.

We are now on break for 3.5 weeks, so I will not be posting much here.  However, keep tuned because you just never know what is going to happen next!

I did grab a shot of my poster (the Christmas tree) on the wall… it will be taken down after the first week or so of next quarter.

Diety Final Project

Final Project:  A book incorporating what we have learned this quarter in Design Concepts.

Topic: Greek diety

When I was a kid I was fascinated with mythology, fairy tales, and fables (probably because I did not really grasp the full context of the story.)  As an adult, I find many of these stories really disgusting, so when we were told to pull a name out of the container in our Design Concepts class, my immediate thought was, “God, I really do not want to do this.” 

The answer seemed to come back:  “Accept the Situation…it’s just a class.”  So, I gave it up and was the first to pull a diety from the teacher’s cup.  I had probably 30 options and was praying I would not get Eros.  Voila, it turned out to be Eros, of course.  [Ok… yes, my friends who have known me all my life can really get the humor and irony of this particular choice (and they were sure to let me know that too!)  Do you think God might have a sense of humor in things like this? I was not laughing, though.]

However, I discovered that of all the stories, Eros is probably one of the more palatable!  Research elicited the suprising information that Eros’ story is the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast, and I actually found it a very interesting research project.  So much of our current verbage actually harks back to these ancient Greek stories.  Eros is also the same as the Roman diety, Cupid, and everyone has heard of him! 

There were so many potential directions with this story; however, I opted to work from the premise that if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em, and chose to go with the humor of the situation.  I also despise cliches and overdone topics, so that was the problem I decided needed to be solved… how can I take this topic a different and unique direction when it has been done and overdone so very many times? 

I will leave you to decide if I succeeded.  The design details are below the photos under the MORE tag.

Page 1 was an egg on black velvet paper for two reasons… it was the deepest black I could find and it was also going to be a “touch” book, so I needed things that could be felt.  An overlay of black feathers on acetate symbolized the bird.



 Page 2-3 was an illustrated spread.  The figures and Greek building to the right are raised off the page.

Page 4-5 has hand drawn, movable tags.  If you push them to the side, what they represent is written underneath, such as eHarmony.com, mail order brides, music, love potions, tv reality show such as The Bachelor, and matchmakers.

Page 5 has a letter with Greek type which is removable from the envelop.

Page 6 has embossed gold on the arrow and coming off of the broken arrow.  The words underneath say “Well…almost everyone.”  Basically demonstrating that even Cupid is not perfect.

I also decided to decorate the back of the book (not a requirement for the project.)  Below is a glimpse of how a portion of it looked when opened up with the two text panels enlarged.

More technical comments below:

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Ad Campaign for ThermaCare

This project convinced me that I do not want to work for an ad agency.  I am not ruling out graphic design altogether, but advertising does not float my boat.   Since I am here in order to get out of the dry side of technical writing, it would be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.   I would call this the dry side of graphic design.

I was also expecting my classmates to crucify me during the critique, but they were gentle and had good suggestions, such as lightening up the “Congratulations” so it doesn’t stand out so much.

Subject:  ThermaCare heat wraps

My idea: Out with the old school style of pain relief and in with the new idea of portable pain relief.

Execution:  3 magazine ads that “have legs” – meaning you can use the idea more than once, on multiple products, and could continue it for possibly years (i.e. the Energizer Bunny).

Several students in the class really impressed me.  This class is pretty amazing in their creativity so I was not feeling quite worthy with this project.  My head does not seem to work in an advertising sort of way.

ThermaCare... your hands free option.

ThermaCare... your pill free option.

ThermaCare... your discreet option.

Design a Bag Clip Logo

This was a 2 week long assignment.  Remember, we are learning about our own creative process in this class and how to create even if we are not “inspired”.  I think this was a very good one for that lesson!

The teacher let us pull the item out of a bag.  She held my selection up to the complaining class and asked, “Does anyone think they have one that is more challenging than this?”  Everyone shut up and then she looked at me and said, “I know you are up to it.” 

Oh brother!  Seriously…who wants to hear that from their teacher? Not that I mind a challenge…but make it a fun one!  However, sometimes teachers have more faith in you than you do in yourself!  But wow was this project boring!  I had to reach back to the previous week’s notes and try to really absorb step number one in the design process:  1. Accept the Situation.

That aside…here is the bag or paper clippy:

bag clip

From that point, we spent one week “ideating” –  a fancy way of saying taking pot shots in the dark and hoping one of those are lucky enough to be a workable idea.

We did some mind mapping (Lainey and I went to breakfast to do this activity.)  We brainstormed and we drew thumbnails.  A lot of work that convinced me that I am NOT a graphic artist.  I just don’t love it enough.

The following week we got onto Illustrator and created the final pieces.  The pictogram was pretty easy.  The ideogram (very abstract) was more difficult.  I had the background but could not figure out how to manage the white space.  Beth (amazingly cool teacher… I am such a fan) suggested the lines which loosely represent papers stacked (or clipped.)  Ok…print it, mount it…done! 

Bag clip logos

Left is black and white / right is 2 color

One thing I have learned… if a teacher suggests something (and you don’t have a tremendously better idea), go with it no matter what you think!!!  She loved it, I got a 100%, so we are all happy. 

And why does that not bother me?  Because this is a business school (in reality) and she is my “client”.  If the client is happy, go with it.  This is not a fine arts school where I have to fight for my individuality and make a point of it in spite of the teacher.  This is about pleasing the customer (in this case, the teachers). 

I think I can get that after 15 years in consulting!

Oh my passion, how may I capture thee?

Capture your passion, what drives you, and package it.


Some of the students came up with some really innovative ideas! One had hers on a cd with a song she wrote and sang.  Another put hand wrapped candies in a pinata.  The wrappings had tags on them about her.  Another put his in fancy glass bottles.  And it goes on.  This is a very talented class!  On top of it, we have a fantastic teacher… a powerful combination that pushes me to work my hardest.

Me, I wrapped mine up in a quilt with a special made tag.

My passion is contained in words, actually, and I started this project by writing words that capture what inspires me to be creative:

  • gifting – I love to make purposeful gifts
  • writing – keeping in touch with people who mean something to me
  • promoting relationships – it thrills me to make items that bring people closer and promote their relationships

Quilting was a perfect way to show these traits and I had the perfect quilt on hand that I had made 2 summers ago.  “Not Your Grandmother’s Tumbling Blocks” has a colorful, fanciful, and diverse pattern and a warm and fuzzy backing.  It was perfect.

I bundled it up fancy, tied it with a ribbon, and attached a simple tag that actually took a lot of work to “perfect”.

bundled quilt

Tag contents:




My Puddy Tat…

1st project for Design Concepts was a 9 panel of an organic object. I chose my Tacey because I can not do anything easy! I need to break that propensity! However, I get nervous about drawing cats and feel I can not do it, so I thought it would be a good stretch.

First…collect photo references of your topic. Ha!  The trouble was to narrow it down!  Here are a very few of them…

Tacey Photo Reference Panel 1

Tacey Photo Reference Panel 1

Tacey Photo Reference Panel 2

Tacey Photo Reference Panel 2

(Isn’t she purdy?)

In our Process Binder we had to include exercises that we were assigned and preliminary thumbnail sketches.  (This one is my favorite because this is a whole new style of sketching for me.  I think I could get better at it and really enjoy it!)

Tacey whoopin' on Toby our pup

Tacey whoopin' on Toby our pup

The final product had to use 9 different styles from our exercises, including a photo from our photo references.  I chose to use about 3 styles that I had never done before (can you tell which ones those are?)  My favorite blocks are:

  • my large photo
  • the upper left pastel picture
  • the outline in the blue block at the top 

My design concept was to showcase her catly (is that a word?) form, while highlighting the blue of her eyes. 

I was right, it was a stretch, and it was loads of fun!!! I will let you judge on the outcome (however, I did get an A and the teacher kept it to put on the wall next quarter.  Oh, and the instructor called it “powerful”, which really suprised me.  “Serene” was more the word I was thinking. Except for the one wild cat picture, that is.)


Oh…here is the photo reference for that favorite sketch of mine:


Toby was getting his nose wacked…again.

Process Binder…

Now here is the class that is really going to challenge me this quarter: Design Concepts!

Beth Remsburg is our teacher. I followed her into class on Tues. morning thinking she was one of the students in the class, which I found very amusing when she stepped behind the desk and began addressing us. Her background is fascinating.  She was an elementary special education teacher, then went back to college to get a degree in graphic design.  She worked that for years and loved it and is now teaching older students graphic design techniques. 

This class is going to be all about discovering our own personal process for creating and how to break out of “dead” zones.

Process binder front cover

Process binder front cover

The first thing we had to do was create a process binder where we detail out everything we do for the next 11 weeks. That alone takes time because I decided I did not want my original sketches, photos, etc. in it, so everything has to be scanned.  I also put most things in plastic sleeves.  It will be a nice piece of work in itself by the end of the year!

As we go through this quarter we will be trying out various processes in order to find what works for us and to give us tools for breaking through those times when we are not feeling any inspiration.  As Beth said, we must if we plan to make a living at this!  You don’t get paid to wait for inspiration.

First week we included photos of our creative space(s) and also examples from our sketchbook (we ARE in an art school so it was expected that we have one of those) …

Florida-one of my favorite sketching spots

Florida-one of my favorite sketching spots

Thumbnails of dogs while at an agility training class

Thumbnails of dogs while at an agility training class