Book Review: Burn Your Portfolio


Hi readers! I came across this book unexpectedly at my local Barnes and Noble and have been wanting to share it with you ever since. In a nutshell, Burn Your Portfolio: Stuff They Don’t Teach You in Design School, But Should, recognizes that it takes a lot more than a design school degree and a killer portfolio to succeed as a creative professional. Written by Michael Janda, owner of the design firm Riser, this book spews out a ton of real-world advice in a relatable and funny tone. With chapters focusing on relationship building, managing difficult clients, effective production processes and more, Burn Your Portfolio opened my eyes to the many working parts of the design industry beyond stellar knowledge of Adobe CC. While I highly recommend giving this book a read as it is jam-packed with far too much knowledge for me to share with you, I will include a few of my favorite tips that I highlighted as I read. Enjoy!

  • “Teamwork, client skills, communication, social aptitude, production speed, and business savvy all play a GIGANTIC part in what will make you successful as a graphic designer.”
  • “…your friends will willingly and freely market your business, so it would serve you well to make a lot of friends”
  • “You want to be a graphic designer? That means you’re a designer, a writer, a programmer, a photographer, and sometimes an illustrater…you often have to fill the holes left by your client’s inability to deliver necessary assets.”
  • “Bad FPO image usage can scar a great design and keep a client from recognizing the greatness behind a comp…”

My Biggest Project Ever!

Hello everyone and happy February! Over the past month I had the opportunity to design the construction barricade for our newest location of Urban Home, a furniture and decor store. This was, by far, the largest project I have ever worked on, consisting of two panels that wrap around the perimeter of the future store location. The first panel, seen in the video, is 120 feet wide while the second panel, seen in the photos and poorly executed panoramic shot (it was raining and I was trying to avoid being hit by cars) is a whopping 180 feet wide. Both panels stand 12 feet tall. I have to say, it was pretty exciting to finally be able to go and see the design in person, after having only seen it on my computer screen up until that point. But I think the best part was hearing lots of people take notice and comment on my design as they walked by. Design is a powerful communication tool and that is my favorite part of this industry.

The Book with No Pictures

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a nice and relaxing holiday season. As I was finishing up some of my last-minute Christmas shopping I came across this children’s book at Barnes & Noble. The contrast of its plain white cover and straightforward title against the surrounding illustration-heavy children’s books caught my eye. Upon further investigation, I was delighted to discover that the book relied solely on typography for visual interest. I found this concept to be extremely refreshing and intriguing. After a bit of research I learned that the book is a #1 New York Times bestseller and written by B.J. Novak, the Emmy award-winning actor, writer and executive producer of The Office. The Book with No Pictures calls for the reader to say aloud every word, no matter how strange or goofy they might be, leaving kids giggling, laughing and I’m assuming begging to hear the story again and again.

Be Happy

This is a design I created for a Mother’s Day gift this past year. I created the design in Adobe Illustrator and had the piece printed on canvas. I was inspired by a list of happiness habits I came across on Etsy and thus decided to create a piece of art that could be hung in our home and serve as a daily reminder of little things we can do to feel better each day.

Paul Rand on Design

“To design is much more than simply to assemble, to order, or even to edit; it is to add value and meaning, to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify, to modify, to dignify, to dramatize, to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.” Paul Rand

This quote was introduced to me by one of my graphic design professors near the time of our graduation. I find it to be incredibly inspiring and a nice reminder as to what design is capable of. I hope you find incentive in it as well.

Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

I came across this novel as I was browsing Barnes and Noble and it quickly became my favorite book that I have read this year. In brief, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore tells the story of Clay Jannon, an out of work San Francisco designer who currently finds himself working as the late-night sales clerk at a bookstore. But this is no ordinary bookstore as the customers are few and far between and never make purchases but rather check out single volumes full of unreadable code. The story goes on to follow Clay as he tries to unravel the mysteries behind the bookstore and its patrons. While the average reader will find the plot fun and suspenseful, I think this book would be truly appreciated by those in the graphic design field. The story is told through a designer’s mind and thus there are many inner dialogs appreciating the beauty and details of typefaces and hand bound books. The story also manages to weave in elements of letterpress printing as well as new technologies in development at the Google campus in Silicon Valley. I found it to be a refreshingly modern and relatable novel. If you have some spare time, I would definitely recommend adding it to your summer reading list.