Rule 29’s Creative Elements

I’ve known Justin Ahrens for a long time, and he’s always up for a challenge, and a good time … not necessarily in that order. So when I asked him if he wanted to design a set of MOO MiniCards on anything he wanted, he accepted. Sometimes a project with no limitations can be both liberating and debilitating, but Justin is full of surprises and energy, so I wasn’t worried that he’d be stumped for ideas.


This periodic table of creative elements is not only brilliant, it’s gorgeous, especially when you see all the cards together. To read more about the design, go to RockPaperInk.

Same Shirt, Two Class Photos

5th grade class photo
5th grade class photo
6th grade class photo
6th grade class photo

I’m wearing the same shirt in both photos. *sigh* I didn’t do this on purpose, I just really liked that shirt. Yeah, THAT shirt. I rocked that short-sleeved, v-necked, velour top. Ok, maybe not, but look how I complemented the stripes by wearing a bright yellow turtleneck underneath for my 6th grade photo. I was truly entering the 80s. Truth is, my clothing selection was slim pickings at the time. It was probably either wear that, or one of my brother’s hand-me-downs. We weren’t poor, that’s just how it was.

Back then (1970s and 80s), there wasn’t a Justice, or shops that catered to preteens. Even if those stores existed, I’m pretty certain my parents would never have taken me there anyway. Where I grew up in Richfield, Wisconsin, you usually bought your clothes at the same place you bought your chicken feed—Farm-n-Fleet. You could get anything there. Clothes, shoes, farm equipment, school supplies, toys, tools, electronics, etc. My mom would take us there the week before school to do all of our school shopping. Jeans (the only brand available was Lee), check! Tennis shoes, check! Shirts, check! Underware, check! Notebooks, pens, pencils, Trapper Keeper, check! And we only shopped like that once a year. If you ripped your clothes, they were patched not replaced. All of my jeans were patched by the end of the school year, some multiple times.

I’m not complaining, though. Things were a hell of a lot simpler, even if we were fashion-impaired.

Shameless in Peoria

I had a bad experience with a male doctor a couple of years ago, so I started going to a nurse practitioner, who I really like. She has the best bedside manner, asks thoughtful questions, and is really knowledgeable. The other guy was an asshole. Unfortunately, she works at a clinic downtown, which never really bothered me, until today.

This clinic mainly caters to lower income people, because of its downtown location, so it can appear a little rough at times. But, I don’t go there for the atmosphere. I go because I like the service I receive, and I’ve never had a problem—that is, until today.

A man who wreaked of cigarettes and alcohol stumbled over and sat directly in front of me and asked if I had a stick of gum (because that would help the stench pouring off of him). I did, but I said no. I just wanted him to go away. Instead he parked himself there, and said he’s sorry for bothering me—not realizing that by sitting there and staring at me, he was bothering me and making me uncomfortable. He was the poor man’s version of Frank Gallagher on Shameless. If you’re familiar with the show, you understand how absurd this statement is, because there’s no one more pathetic than Frank … except this guy. Frank, is downright affable and charming next to this guy.

He stands up and goes into the restroom, and I’m relieved. I look up and lock eyes with a man dressed as a woman and exchange a knowing glance, like “That guy is fucking crazy! Mmm-hmm.” (I really thought that guy/gal was going to be the most memorable part of this visit). Then, lucky for me, crazy Frank walks out of the restroom, comes back, touches my knee, and sits in front of me again.

He says, “You gotta man?” I say yes. He says, “I gotta joke for you to tell your man. Wanna hear it?” Shoot me. I’m trapped. What the hell am I going to say? Ok, I tell him. “Now after you get your man all tucked into bed and warm and cozy, you tell him this, OK? You have to look at me, because I can’t hear real well.” Shit. He starts talking again, and then thankfully, a nurse opens the waiting room door and calls my name. I jump up and start walking, and the guy says, “Wait, don’t you wanna hear the rest of my joke?” I shout, “No!” as I raced out of the waiting room.

Screen shot 2014-03-12 at 2.50.47 PM







Frank Gallagher, played by William H. Macy on Showtime’s Shameless.

Just Breathe

Lara McCormick, author of Playing with Type (which I edited), took a Zen-like approach when I asked her to design a set of MOO MiniCards. The cards are daily reminders we all need to just sometimes slow down, take a deep breath, and chill. It’s also a good reminder to forgive yourself when you fuck up. We all fuck up, and rather than beating ourselves up over it, you have to get over it and move on. I mean, if John Travolta can get over the fact that he completely slaughtered Idina Menzel’s name on national television, we can forgive ourselves for accidentally running over the neighbor’s dog or taking the pennies out of the penny jar at Starbucks. I’m KIDDING people! I have never done either of those things, although I did accidentally hit MY dog with the car when I was a teenager, but to be fair, he was running in front the car trying to bite the tires. I think he learned his lesson after that.

Read all about Lara’s cards at RockPaperInk.




Burgers & Design: Mixing Metaphors

I never thought I’d say this, but what Christopher Simmons has been doing lately online makes me hungry. He and his cohort from MINE, Nathan Sharp, are making a point to visit a burger joint every week this year and document not only the merit of the burger, but also the surrounding the food/menu/environment on their site/blog, The Message is Medium Rare. While feasting on their burgers, inevitably, the discussion turns to design—whether it’s critiquing the typeface on the menu or comparing the merits of the burger to great design, it all comes full circle. Chris explains it all in my interview with him on RockPaperInk.

The Message is Medium Rare