Dave is an Oakland-based designer, book seller, and hopelessly aspiring professional ping pong player. He serves as editor of grainedit.com, which focuses on graphic design and illustration from the 1950s-1970s and designers that draw inspiration from that period.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 30, 2010
Trolling through numerous online stores can be a daunting task if you are searching for the perfect gift. To ease the burden, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite picks for the design and music lovers on your gift list.
Groove Merchant, a world renowned record shop based in San Francisco, celebrates it’s 20th anniversary with a stellar collection of soul and funk sounds from the past. The 14 track compilation features choice cuts from Arthur Foy, Soul Liberation, The McCrary as well as others. Also available are a t-shirt and limited edition poster. All items are designed by Freddy Anzures (Apple/Wax Poetics) for Props.
Practice your shooting skills with bitplay’s Bang! lamp. When you fire a shot at the lamp with the included gun, the light turns off and the lampshade falls to the side, showing that it’s been hit. Super cool! (via Hello Bauldoff )
Store your books in a fun and unique way with Finland based Kayiwa’s Aakkoset shelf. The type driven shelf is made of medium-density fiberboard and comes in a variety of colors. (via swiss miss)
Dress your iPhone up in style with a case from Lumadessa’s new collection for uncommon. My favorite is the Night Owl, but you have several other options to choose from. Makes for a perfect stocking stuffer too!
Scotty Reifsnyder recently updated his shop with the Heroes of Folk – a series of letterpress cards featuring illustrations of American Folk legends like Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed. The cards are available for $30 a piece or $150 for the complete collection. Pick them up here.
Her Idea is a delightful new book by Rilla Alexander which takes readers on adventure of elation, struggle and triumph – and of making ideas happen. The illustrations are amazing and it makes for a wonderful gift for all ages.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 8, 2010
I just got back from a trip to Singapore. While I was there I had the pleasure of hanging out with James Teo who is the one-man force behind Ampulets Design. James established the studio in 2006 and has since gone on to collaborate with writers, photographers and interactive designers in a range of projects for print, web as well as environmental design. Just before heading out for a dinner filled with spicy stingray, mutton satays and Chinese carrot cake, James and I had a few minutes to talk about the joys and frustrations of working from home.
How long have you been working from home? It’ll be 4 years in 3 months’ time.
What challenges have you faced working from home? In the beginning, I really missed having colleagues to share and bounce ideas off with. Or even folks you chat with in the pantry or by the photocopy machine! It’s something I still miss. But I’ve learnt to get around this by consciously blocking off time during the week to head out and meet up with friends for lunch or a drink. I’ve also found a group of friends who are also doing creative work and are either working from home or heading their own small offices. They are like my virtual “colleagues”.
Working from home, there’s also very little to demarcate “work time” from the rest of life, so it is very tempting to let one flow into the other. So even the”ritual” of dressing up and going to work shouldn’t be undermined, something I try to do, even if it means discriminating between “work” and “off-work” T-shirts.
What are some of your favorite objects in your studio? My studio is also my library. So my favorite objects are paper – books, magazines, and best of all, my Batman comics. Love the cover art.
Do you use any software/tools to keep your computer organized or help you work more efficiently? I am very old-skool in this area. I write a to-do list every night or early in the morning before I start work. I have a shelf of paper stock and print samples that I’ve organised by size into boxes of swatches, cards and brochures for quick reference. For workflow and accounts, I rely on my wife (aka my “secretary”). She keeps everything in order using mostly spreadsheets. But I’m considering Studiometry (introduced by a fellow designer) to help with workflow, timeline and accounting, especially if the studio expands.
Balance, Design, Products
May 17, 2010
Jason Munn is the name behind the award winning one-man studio known as The Small Stakes. Jason’s work has been featured in many of the top design magazines and is part of the permanent collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Jason’s client list includes Patagonia, Wired and New York Times magazine to name a few. He is also well known in the world of concert posters. Since 2003 he has been designing for indie rock’s hottest bands including The Pixies, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips and many more. Over 150 of these posters are featured in a book titled The Small Stakes-Music Posters which was recently released by Chronicle Books. Jason spoke to us about his home studio and the challenges he faced transitioning from a traditional office setting.
How long have you been working from home? I’ve been working from home full time for about the past seven years, before this I had been working in a couple different design studios. My first home/studio was a studio apartment, which became more and more challenging because there was not any type of separation between anything. Now we live in a two bedroom house, the second bedroom acts as my studio space
What challenges did you face transitioning from working in a design firm to a home based office? The biggest drawback for me about working from home versus in a design firm is the lack of communication or feedback while you are working on project. More and more I miss that aspect of a studio. Dirk Fowler, another designer and friend of mine who also works from home often send images of what we are working on back and forth to get feedback or advice from each other.
Working in a home setting, it’s easy to get distracted. Do you have any tips for staying focused on projects? I try to stick to a routine, but will be the first to admit I can have a hard time doing that. My wife has been back in school the last couple years, so she is often working late, so I’ll often do the same. When I’m stuck or in the thinking process during a project I tend to work in chunks of time and find myself walking around the block to take a break. I think the distractions of working in a firm versus working at home probably balance out, in the long run I feel I have less distractions. I do miss the commute to work a little bit, I used to walk to work and that was perfect for starting the day. Now if I have any errands or anything like that I typically do them first thing in the morning, so that becomes my commute.
Is there anything you would like to change in your workspace? As you can see I keep things pretty sparse and I often have the tendency to want to get rid of things rather than acquire them. I’m happy to have my own room to work out of versus having everything in the studio apartment. We also have a small room below the house that acts as the poster storage and shipping area, our shipping area used to be the kitchen in the studio apartment. I would like to try working from a space outside my house, maybe a shared space with a couple other designers. We’ll see, it hasn’t been a priority yet.
Balance, Design, Products
March 31, 2010
Australian-born, Berlin-based artist Rilla Alexander is one fifth of the design collective known as Rinzen. Her illustrations have graced the walls of the Fox Hotel in Copenhagen, appeared on credit cards for the Swiss Cornér Bank and danced across ceramics for German porcelain maker Rosenthal. She is currently creating a range of children’s products for Madrid’s Museo del Prado based on the Hieronymus Bosch masterpiece “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. She shares her live/work space with her husband and her adorable little Jack Russell Terrier “Mr Tom”.
How long have you been working from home? I’ve been working here for two years now. Over the last fifteen years I’ve worked in a variety of studios as well as home workspaces, and I’ve got to say this is the best situation yet. Berlin apartments are huge and this one used to be three apartments. So the “commute” from home to work is, if not actually long, at least noticeable… but I can still easily start at 5am or have a mid-day nap if the mood takes me. (Below is a billboard illustration Alexander did for Australia’s Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.)
What’s a typical day like for you? Drawing at my lightbox while consuming a steady stream of radio documentaries from NPR, ABC and BBC. I have just spent a week in Italy and am itching to assume my favourite position at the drawing table again. It’s an addiction. Of course once the drawings are done I need to scan them over on the “computer desk”. It doesn’t have the drawing table’s sunny window position – so I make a quick retreat as soon as possible.
What do you like most about your space and is there anything you would change? I love that it’s a space all to myself, but that I can go to the next room for feedback/input/conversation from my husband, who is currently converting his space into a painting/sculpture/music studio. Our dog, Mr Tom shares his time between us – usually switching studios depending on who has the most food. I also love being surrounded by books. The only thing I would love to have is a view to the beach, or a tropical rainforest. Moving from Australia to Berlin does has some downsides.
I notice on your desk you’ve got lots of interesting objects. Can you share some of your favorites with us? Above my desk you can see the edge of a poster for Jacques Tati’s Mon Uncle – which, like so many things from Europe, I actually bought in Japan. Tove Jansson’s Moomins, her books “Who will comfort Toffle” and “The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My” and the box set of stop-motion animations from Film Polski are always within reaching distance. She is one of my greatest inspirations. You can also see a Porcelain Elephant money-box (designed by Luigi Colani for the Dresdner bank) and a ceramic jar from Nymolle – a Danish company that Bjorn Wiinblad designed for before he began to work primarily with Rosenthal. The Nymolle pieces are my favourite examples of Bjorn Wiinblad’s work – I’ve always been drawn to mono-coloured design and illustration – and I love that his work which would probably now be dismissed as “for children” is for everyone.
Do you have any tips for organizing your home office space? Feeling comfortable and cosy is very important to me – and surrounding myself with furniture and objects that inspire and excite me, makes me want to be in my studio more than anywhere else. The more teak and porcelain, the more likely I’ll stay. If only I had teak desks…
February 26, 2010
Wayne Pate is a self-taught designer/ illustrator who lives in Brooklyn, NY. His whimsical illustrations have graced the packaging and pages of Jack Spade and Elle Decor UK. In addition to his client work, he maintains an online store which he operates from a studio space at the ground floor of his home. Today Wayne gives us a glimpse into a normal workday and the challenges of maintaining an office at home.
How long have you been working from home? I’ve been working from home on and off over the past ten years.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced working from home? I would say the biggest challenge is staying focused on your work when there are so many distractions all around you. Ah, nap time. No! No! Another downside is you spend a lot of time by yourself so it’s important to stay productive during work hours, even when you have some down time use that time to catch up on bills and all the other tedious chores. Talking to yourself is something that goes unnoticed by the person starring in the one man play!
Where do you do most of your work? I have a cozy little office/studio on the ground floor of our brownstone in Brooklyn. The office/studio is in the front of the house so when I look out the window I still feel connected to life outside.
What’s a normal work day like for you? I’m up early with the kids so I have my breakfast and cup of tea consumed early on. When the nanny arrives I immediately take a shower and get dressed as if I’m going to an actual office. Once I’m in the office I check emails and plan the day accordingly. I try to break for lunch between 12:30 – 1:30. Lunch only last long enough to eat. No lingering! I work through to 6:30 to spend time with the kids and off to bed them back to work if need be.
Can you offer any tips to someone considering working from home? The golden rule, treat your home office as if it’s an actual office that you have to commute too and one that has other employee’s. You keep your professional edge and it’s good for you mentally.
January 28, 2010
Mark Giglio is an Oakland based freelance graphic designer who has worked with 2k by Gingham, Apple, Nike and Dwell, to name a few. Currently, he is working on a series of products under his studio label Pen Pencil Stencil. It includes pillows, wallpapers, t-shirts, and even wooden figurines inspired by Japanese Kokeshi Dolls. Recently, I had the opportunity of seeing Mark’s collection in person and to speak with him about his workspace.
How long have you been working from home? 8 years now. Before that I had been working at some really amazing design firms that helped inform me of what a great working environment can be like. I think I’ve taken a lot of that with me and it’s influenced a lot of how my space is now.
What do you like most about your space? That it’s my place to experiment and think. Also all of my favorite objects, books and personal projects are there. So it is very comforting to be there and work. It’s really nice to be surrounded by those things that inspire you. I often freelance on projects away from my studio and when I return it is the best feeling. It can’t be beat because it is my personal space.
Is there anything you would change about your workspace? I’d add about 1,500 square feet on it so I could have a place to print and also a small wood shop. That would be perfect. I really enjoy my small workspace a lot but I think it would be great to have the space to spread out a bit more to accommodate the other things I like to do. Something like the Eames office where they were creating such a diverse mix of things under one roof would be amazing.
What are some of your favorite objects in your studio? My most favorite object of all is the La Fonda del Sol menu I have that was designed by Alexander Girard. It’s such a great design piece. When I was given it I just stared in awe at the suns on the cover. I couldn’t believe what I was holding in my hands. I never thought in a million years they still existed. Then it just got better as I opened it up. It’s hard to beat those color combinations, they are really amazing.
Do you feel that your working environment has any influence over your work? I think it does. It keeps me motivated and inspired to keep on making things. Being in my studio is my favorite place to be. It’s were I go to have fun everyday.
Balance, Design, Products
January 14, 2010
Artist Matte Stephens has worked with a variety of clients such as IBM, Disney, Boston Globe and American Express. His paintings have graced the spaces of Jonathan Adler, Rare Device and Velocity Art and Design.
Matte lives and works in a beautiful mid-century modern home in the southwest corner of Portland, Oregon. His studio is warm and cozy, and filled with objects that tempt and tease the eye. I spoke to Matte about his inspiring workspace and it’s effect on his painting.
How long have you been working from home? Around 15 years. My first real space was a basement with no furniture and canvases on the floor. I’m very happy with the way it is now.
What do you like most about your workspace? I like that it is small. I have had a large workroom and it was hard for me to keep up with everything I need. Now I have everything within arms reach. I have really enjoyed the Eames Storage Units. I keep all of my art supplies in the one right of my desk and it really helps keep my room tidy and looks great. Organizing my workroom has always been a challenge. I work in a traditional medium, so there is a lot of stuff that goes along with it.
Looking around your studio it’s obvious you have a love for mid century design. How and when did you first become interested in the furniture of this time period? I was introduced by a librarian in my home town in Alabama when I was around 20. I had found a copy of The Herman Miller Collection published by Schiffer Books and I have loved everything mid century modern ever since. After that one of my first art dealer’s father was a Herman Miller representative during the 50′s 60′s and 70′s in northern Alabama. He had all sorts of mid century things in his home and office. He gave me my first Eames shell chair.
What are some of your favorite objects in your studio? I really love a pair of wooden eggs that I have that are attributed to Alexander Girard, two 1960′s elves that I have had for years that bring me luck, a few vintage Herman Miller ads signed by Irving Harper who has been very kind to me over the last few years with his time, advice and friendship. [Harper designed Herman Miller's logo]
Do you feel that your working environment has any influence over your painting? To me it’s the most important thing when working at home to have an inspiring workroom. I spend a lot of time in the room so I have tried to make it as inspiring and comfortable as possible. As you can see I love mid century design and I feel its one of my main influences. Being able to live with and work with good design makes everything more efficient and it’s just great stuff.
Editors note: There is more about Matte on Dave Cuzner’s blog – Grain Edit.