Monday, May 4, 2015

It was announced not to long ago that a winner has been selected for the Canada 150 Logo contest, held by the Canadian Government.

The winning entry (above) is by a Global Business and Digital Arts student from the Univeristy of Waterloo, Ariana Cuvin.

I've been thinking a lot about this idea of spec work, and the different conversations that have sprung up in the local design community, as well as on the web. I'm not interested in critiquing the winning selection, but more interested in the reactions that this contest has garnered.

I agree with Adrian Jean, the President of Graphic Designers of Canada, who voices the dissapointment a lot of designers must be feeling with the connotations the follow though of this contest carries.

"I stand with you in collective disappointment that our government did not consider the impact this contest could have on our industry and the thousands who signed the GDC’s petition against the exploitive Canada 150 logo design contest.

As a professional designer I am deeply disheartened that our government would choose to exploit students in this manner despite our efforts to educate the government that contests like these are unethical, detrimental to students, to professional graphic designers, and to Canada in general." (You can read the full open letter here.)

One of the main reasons I've continued to be a Provisional RGD, and plan to become a full RGD when eligible, is because of the strong ethics behind the organization. One of the focuses of the Registered Designers of Ontario is educating on the value of working with professional designers. They actively call out and bring attention to these issues, creating awareness and speaking out against them. 

Because of this, I am happy to have participated in the RGD Student Committee's #MyTimeHasValue Campaign, that protested the competition on social media. Although there was strong participation, along with a petition that was circulated throughout the national design community, the response was ignored. I think the good response, even though ignored, bodes well for the future of design. It shows that young designers will not be afraid to call out exploitive situtations when they see them. "While the Student Committee is disappointed that the Canadian Government chose to ignore the overwhelming opinion of the audience they claim to be supporting, we remain excited and enthusiastic about the overwhelming response to the #MyTimeHasValue campaign," says RGD Student Committee Chair Sam Campbell. "The vast majority of design students in Canada have spoken and our commitment to design ethics and excellence will be what shapes the future of the industry." ( You can read the full RGD response here.)

That being said, I believe there are ways of handling a situation like this, and I think the Canadian Government did a poor job, by ignoring the outpouring response. I think they could learn a thing or two from Mattermark, and how they dealt with the response to a similiar contest they proposed. "We’re not jerks and we’re not trying to set back designers. Even though we still need to learn more about this problem, we’re ending this contest because it marginalizes people we care about...Thank you for all the feedback, and we’re sorry." (Danielle Morrill, Mattermark) (Read the full post here.)

I do feel that contests like this undermine the value of design. Professional designers provide more than just images, they provide meaningful, researched messages with strong concepts. Something I feel spec work cannot provide. #NoSpec


Do you feel strongly about this topic? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

So what's been going on, you ask?

I'm on the mend from a fierce cold, which took me out of the game for about a week. Being sick over a long weekend is incredibly frustrating for me. All that free time wasted, sleeping and medicating instead of being productive. I did spend a lot of time thinking, in between naps, about current projects and the blog.

My university degree is finally reaching it's end, so I've been able to focus a little more on my freelance business. I've purposely kept the freelance workload low, to be able to give my school work my full attention. Now that my course load is almost at it's end, the workload isn't as heavy making it easier to focus on projects. I've been able to pick up a couple jobs that have been really fun to work on. No details just yet, as the projects are still developing. I hope to reveal finished products very soon.

With school being almost done, I will be advertising and working more on the blog, as well as promotional material. I have some great blog ideas for the future, as well as some fun ad designs planned. The blog and the facebook page have been pretty sparse, but the plan is too change that, now that there is more time to give to it. I may even work on the website! No promises though.

I have come to terms with the fact the my coding skills are just not there, but it is better to not be a jack of all trades, and master of none. I do want to force myself to work on the website, to strengthen my skills, and have a fully functioning web presence, but I will say the website is not my priority at this point. That being said, I can design the look of a website, if you are interested in that particular service. I can help you find the look for you or your business, and collaborate with some great local designers who are more coding oriented. I know quite a few skilled coders that would be interested.

I've had a few discussions lately about collaboration, and the jack of all trades concept. In design school, you are exposed to many avenues that a young design student can branch into, but the expectation is to master them all. That was my expectation, anyway. When I was finished school, I was very much in the mind set that I needed to be able to do it all; coding, photography, illustration etc. It's a great goal to work towards, to better your skill in all aspects, but I've realized it's also a good idea to focus on specific areas and become a master of those specific skills. Maybe this comes from the fact that my coding skills suck, but the idea there is that I may be a great photographer, but a poor coder. I may know someone who is an excellent coder, but not so strong in other areas of design. Collaboration in this respect is great. It can be used as a learning opportunity, as well as a networking opportunity. Being able to bounce ideas off one another is great to get the creative juices flowing as well. It also builds a sense of community amoung designers and coders and anyone else in the creative field.

That's my interesting thought for the day. Since I don't have new work to sneak peek at the moment, I'll leave you with a look into an old sketch book of mine. I recently cleaned up some of my stacks of books and paper samples, and found some great sketchbooks from my time working for Science North.

Until next time... 

Sketchbook doodles

Sunday, November 9, 2014

This past week I took a trip to Toronto to attend Design Thinkers, an annual design conference that features speakers from all over the world.  "It is Canada's largest conference for visual in its 15th year" ( This is my 7th year attending, making me a Design Thinkers Master. The presentations vary from portfolio presentations to inspirational themes. The speakers cover everything from trends, inspiration, and strategy to new technologies and upcoming projects. Some notable speakers this year include; Paula Scher - Partner at Pentagram, Charles Adler - Cofounder of Kickstarter, Erik Spiekermann - Creative Director for Edenspiekermann and Jessica Walsh - Partner at Sagmeister & Walsh.

I always look forward to this event, because it's always a nice break to step out of your normal routine and get away from the grind. Some time to focus solely on being creative is a great way to recharge your batteries. The conference is a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, and hob nob with some of the biggest names in deisgn. For instance this year I met a designer from Brazil who had traveled 15 hours by plane, one way, to attend the event. It's also a great way to see and experience what's trending now in the creative world. Often we get so wrapped up in our day-to-day projects that we don't see what is out there. I think the concurrent sessions are great for this, espcially if there is something you are particularly interested in. For example, I don't do a lot with infographics, and generally don't know much on the subject, so I took advantage of Wesley Grubbs' (Founder, Pitch Interactive) presentation about statistics and data visualizations. What he does with statistics is thinking out of the box, creating beautiful works of art that also double as informative. "Visual metaphor - getting away from the pie chart" 

It's also great to visit the different booths, print shops, stock image sites and the like. It's a great place to network and make connections. I'm not going to lie, it's also a great opportunity to pick up some free swag; like paper samples, design magazines, and other fun things. Swipe is also on site, with a good selection of books. If you're an RGD member, student, or otherwise, you get a 10% discount which is a total bonus. They carry a good variety of books, including some authored by the speakers, giving you the opportunity to get those books signed.  I lucked out this year, when I purchased the last copy of How to think like a great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman (President, Design Division, Sterling Brands). It just happened to be signed. 

Leaving the conference, I always feel so inspired and enthusiastic to put what I've learned into practice. It's a great feeling to get back to work and tackle projects with refreshed eyes.

I definitely recommend attending atleast 1 conference in your career, as a student designer or as someone that has been in the business for a while. It's a great opportunity to stay on top of the changing industry. 

It's always fun to visit Toronto as well. I always try to take advantage of the trip and visit exhibits that are going on or visit museums while I am there. For instance, this year I was able to attend the Stanley Kubrick Exhibit at the TIFF Light Box, which was amazing. It consists of storyboard drawings, handwritten script notes, film costumes and props. I found the portion on The Shining very interesting. It's one of my favorite Kubrick films, so to see props and scripts from the film was a very cool moment for me.  I really loved the correspondence between Saul Bass and Kubrick. Saul Bass designed the poster image for the film and it was really interesting to see the back-and-forth between them. There were a few different compositions that Saul Bass had put forward, but Kubrick did not like them at all. It's very interesting to see the evolution of the poster art.

Overall, this trip has been fantastic, and I am a little sorry that it is over. Till next year...

Monday, April 7, 2014

So it seems this idea of blogging is a little harder to grasp then anticipated.

In theory, it sounds relatively easy, fun and a way to get the creative juices flowing. Unfortunately,  I've been slacking on fun an creativity the past few moths. It's easy to get sucked into the monotony of everyday life, with work and in my case school taking up very large chunks of my time. It's hard some days, after sitting in front of a computer screen all day, or after forced readings of dry material, to want to do these things for pleasure.

Lucky for me, this semester has come to an end! I've only been out of school for a couple of days, but I feel like my motivation to create is slowly coming back. I've been feeling burned out the past few months or so, maybe longer. But the spring weather and school finishing up for the semester is leaving me a bit invigorated to start completing some of the porjects I had wanted to complete at christmas break.

During my first free weekend since school ended, I picked up a book that I had been meaning to read for a long while. In November I attended Design Thinkers, a 2 day design conference that brings design rock stars from all over the world together, to share insights and their creative process. One designer, Alex Trochut recommended a book called "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon. I egarly picked it up at the conference, but hadn't had a chance to read it till recently.

It's a rather short book, but it's filled with great ideas and advice on how to find yourself as an artist, in any field, and how to foster creativity in your everyday life. The ideas in the book, from my point of view, are things that we should already be aware of, like for example working on personal projects that you are passionate about, to help relieve the monotony of work life, and keep that passion burning. It's a great reminder of these things, and also has some great tips on how to keep the passion going. It's filled with fun quotes, and I foresee will be a book I pick up again and flip through when a dose of inspiration is needed.

"The only art I'll ever study is stuff that I can steal from" - David Bowie

I read this from a designer's perspective, but I can see this applying to many fields, so don't be afraid to pick up this book if you come across it. It's definitely a great read and a great book to keep around for inspiration.


I hope to post some more book review type pieces, as I go through the back log of design/art related books in my library. It seems to be ever growing. But that's a good thing.

You should never stop learning!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It has been quite a long time since I have updated this blog!

With the new year, 2014, approaching I've gotten the urge to clean up and update my social media networks. 2013 has been a very busy year, with quite a few changes. Sadly my freelance work was put to the side to focus on a career move and focus on school. I've settled quite nicely into my new poistion at Journal Printing, and am now half way done my degree at Laurentian University. I feel it's time to re-focus and put freelance work back into the fore front.

I know I have had some issues with keeping this blog updated regularly, but I am going to try one more time. I would like to use this space to post current projects, large and small, as well as to comment on trends and what's current in the design world. I think a few book reviews might be thrown in for good measure. I would like to add this space to my social media network, as another outlet to connect to clients and fellow designers.

The look and feel of the blog may change slightly, as I clean and update. The same goes for my facebook, and linkedIn profiles.

I look forward to regular posts, and connecting with fellow bloggers!

Monday, January 30, 2012

The month is almost up, but it was a pretty good month!

On the SB Tuesdays front, we have gained a media partner in SNAP Sudbury. This is great news! Not only will it allow our events to reach a greater audience, it means that we are getting recognized. Our next event is fast approaching, but we are on the ball and looking forward to it. It's looking like we will get a great turnout. I can't wait to see the theatre full of bubbles and glow sticks!

Another interesting project I've been working on is part of a fundraising initiative by MOVEABLE TYPE, a group of young local designers rallied together by our college Professor, Ron Beltrame. Each designer was given two lyric phrases from the song, Step right Up, by Tom Waits. All our interpretations will be compiled into one large poster. All profit from the poster sales will go to the Sudbury Food Bank. Mr. Waits' chosen charity. It's been a really fun project to work on, and I have to say, all the pieces look great, I can't wait to see the final product. On the right is one of my submissions. I will update, when the final poster is ready for sale, incase anyone would like one.

I'm not sure how many of you out there are horror fans, but I feel the need to share this. It's become a passion of mine. Big fan of Night of the Living Dead? The George A. Romero cult classic that started the line of iconic zombie films. The Evans City Chapel, used in the beginning sequence of the film needs your help! The chapel and cemetery are the only remaining locations that were used in the original film, and have fallen in to disrepair. But, a group of ravenous fans have started an initiative to save the chapel! Personally, I'm toying with the idea of holding a fundraiser here, in my home town, far away from where the chapel lays. Being such a big fan of horror and Romero, I feel like we can't just let this piece of movie history disappear. For more information on the group and their efforts, you can find them here: You can donate, or support the cause by purchasing a T-shirt or hoodie.

Lastly, I'm continuing to look into galleries to host an exhibition of my work. I have a few leads, and they look promising. This has been on my bucket list for a while, so to be so close to accomplishing it is a great feeling. Technically I have been part of a show, the Save the Sudbury Water exhibition that took place a couple years ago at The Fromagerie. I had one piece in the show, a grim look at a lone survivor trying to make it in the Zombie Apocalypse, taking his chances on the water tower, as the undead masses shamble closer. What I'm looking for now, is a full exhibition of my work, showcasing my cemetery photography, and my books. I've been working on some promotional material, that will be going to print very soon.

I wonder what February will bring?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy New Year!

I realize my blog has been very quiet the past few months. Never fear, there have been many things brewing!

SB Tuesdays has been a large factor in that. We have been gearing up for our next event, The Princess Bride - As You Wish Sudbury! A special participation screening, where all profits are going towards the YWCA Genevra House. I have been working hard on all the advertising and participation materials we need to have a successful event. Our film screenings seem to be garnering lots of attention. The numbers have been slowly increasing as well as the publicity we've been receiving. We recently were in SNAP Sudbury, a local photography paper, as well as the Sudbury Star, our local newspaper. I can only see bigger and better things for us!

On the other side of that, I've been working more and more with stained glass. I am now on to my third piece, and it is coming along very quickly. I have already been asked to do a commission piece for one of my Twitter followers. Oh how the internet connects us. I think it's a really great opportunity! Just have to iron out the deatils. I would really like to start doing more commissioned pieces, so please do not hesitate to ask. I've recently posted my current works online at my facebook page.

I've recently revised my second self published photography book, Stone Fields II. It is now available online at You can also find my first book there. For 2012, I thought it would be fun to start off the year by promoting my books. I am looking into donating a copy to the local public library, as well as handing out some fun postcards to get people interested. On the heels of all that, I am also looking into having an exhibition of my work. That is something that has been on my bucket list for a while, so I figured why not make it happen.

Hopefully, these trains will continue on the right path, and more opportunities will come! It's only January, and many things have really gotten off the ground. I think 2012 will be a very good year!

Interested in seeing more of my photography? Visit my 2010 photo-a-day project here!