Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Typofiles #35: Dansk Magazine

I just rediscovered an old copy of Dansk magazine and I am really enjoying the type treatments that they used throughout the issue. The simple serif type is offset with unexpected wires weaving through the titles yet the composition is anchored with a simple black and white color scheme.

You can view all of The Typofiles on Flickr here.




Inside Wolff Olins New York: An Interview with Jordan Crane

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

On September 14th, I caught a cab to the West Village for a meeting that I had been excitedly anticipating for months. Jordan Crane, a Creative Director at the legendary agency Wolff Olins had agreed to let me interview him for my blog. As I made my way into their New York headquarters on Varrick Street, I was immediately drawn to the simplicity of their workspace. Modern and white-walled, the office projects a feeling of accessibility and utilitarianism.

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

Wolff Olins was founded in London in 1965 by designer Michael Wolff and advertising executive Wally Olins and is responsible for many of the most recognizable branding efforts around the world. One of the company’s first assignments was developing the brand that became Apple Corps, the Beatles’ record label. You may also recognize the work that they recently did for up&up, Target’s new private label brand. They also created the NYC branding campaign and the London 2012 Olympics logo.

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

In preparation for our meeting, I had written up a set questions for Jordan to answer (many of which were based on your suggestions). What I immediately liked about Jordan is that even at his level, he is extremely approachable and candid. We began our meeting by talking about how he got his start in the design industry and amazingly enough, his initial answer was, “It just happened.”

Jordan has always been into art and screen printing and often, friends would ask him to design posters for shows. He carved out his path as a designer along the way without a master plan in mind. Instead, he crisscrossed the country, working at a multitude of agencies in big cities and making connections along the way.

I was really curious about Jordan’s opinion about going to school for design since many of us have wondered if it is really necessary. Though he knows many successful self-taught designers, Jordan relayed the sound advice that if you can afford college, you should go for it. A chance to be educated and to better ourselves should never be turned down if the opportunity arises.

As designers, isn’t the ultimate goal to change the world in some way with our designs? Jordan feels that the most rewarding part of working at an agency as well-known as Wolff Olins is knowing what you design matters. When you think about it, seeing the NYC logo zoom past you on the side of a cab or walking into Target and picking a product off the shelf that you designed the packaging for must feel pretty surreal.

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

Wolff Olins’ NYC Branding and Campaign

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

I asked Jordan what the biggest pitfall he sees new designers make and was surprised by his answer. He said that they’re too quick to turn on a computer to solve a problem and turning to technology isn’t always the immediate solution. There are so many other ways to do so and we need to learn to work with our hands, to take walks, to flip through books and magazines and to take a fresh approach to problem solving.

With the abundance of software and information that designers now encounter, I (along with many of you) often contemplate whether it’s valuable to be a jack of all trades versus specializing in a particular area. Jordan’s answer once again was very simple yet poignant: “There’s no point in going to work every day if you’re not happy.” When you think about it, if you loathe coding or branding or packaging design, why would you force yourself to go through the motions? Not only does this mindset make you unhappy but it affects everyone around you.

Working in an agency setting can be intense and stressful when you’re up against deadlines and the last thing you want to encounter is a grumpy, dissatisfied coworker. What you choose to learn should be completely dependent on you as a person. Passion shows. Don’t go through the process just to please those around you. Make yourself happy first and the positive mindset will trickle down.

Many of you wondered what qualities an agency looks for in new hires. Jordan looks for people with a sense of excitement, a passion for exploration and a great personality. There’s a balance between having the best portfolio and skill set versus being a likable person. In Jordan’s eyes, “Great designers that are great people” are ideal candidates.

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

Wolff Olins’ Branding of up&up, Target’s Private Label

wolff olins new york graphic design agency

Finally, I wanted to dig a little deeper into Jordan’s story. With the amount of talented designers in the world, it’s not easy to reach the level of a creative director at a top agency. I wanted to know what steps he took over the years to get to where he is. There was no simple answer but rather a unique combination of ingredients that brought him to his current position.

First and foremost, it was a process of making friends and networking within the agencies he worked at. Jordan worked all over the country and in 1999, he made a website for a deejay. A lady who saw it gave him a call and they became fast friends. She then ended up working alongside him at various agencies. Over the next few years, Jordan built a solid portfolio and began freelancing at Wolff Olins. After a few months, he was hired as a senior designer and began his ascent to the creative director position.

Having the chance to interview Jordan was amazing because there are so many questions that we have as designers; very rarely do we get to go straight to the top and get them answered.

When I was still in school, working at an agency felt so far out of reach. The established agencies in New York seemed like a lifetime away; I imagined them as being completely untouchable. Now that I’ve seen the inside of Wolff Olins and met some of their employees, everything feels much more accessible. When you think about it, nobody sets limits on what we can do but ourselves.

The biggest lesson I took away from our meeting is that is doesn’t matter where you start out as a designer. It’s up to you to carve your own path and to build a career that is satisfying. You are the only person that can make yourself happy. And, shouldn’t that be your goal at the end of the day?

wolff olins new york graphic design agency





The Week in Pictures: 9.25.09

week in pictures



week in pictures



Please excuse the overly epic Week in Pictures; I didn’t post last week and there’s a lot to make up for! Birthday celebrations, visiting friends, late nights in my two favorite cities, cross-country voyages, rush jobs, photo shoots, surprises in the mail, book features, freelancing at awesome agencies, Obama sightings, interview requests…it feels like my life is moving at the speed of light!

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

Hideouts. I visited Battery Park with Bianca two weekends ago, stared off at the Statue of Liberty in the distance, ran into a turkey (!!!) and climbed into these little window areas which I now call ‘nubby cubbies.’

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

The Ruff Club. I’d began to wonder where all the sleekly dressed, beautiful people had disappeared to in Manhattan; seems it was the Ruff Club. I walked to the Lower East Side and went to the very last party ever (sadness!) but all good things must come to an end. I finally met my match with regards to paleness, miss Nikki Moose. If you haven’t been reading her blog, you really should. If you like black and spikes and fashion and the future, she is your girl! We spent most of the time outside since the club was beyond overflowing and chatted with a bunch of friends, both old and new. Then, we spotted Kate Lanphear. As far as stylists go, she is G O D. She makes U.S. Elle worth reading every month (and her taste in shoes and jewelry is impeccable).

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

28. I had a tiny little birthday gathering at Ella in the East Village with some friends including Bianca, Gilda, Timothy and Jeffrey. The place had striped walls, massive chandeliers and dashes of red. And, they dug out pieces of real watermelon to make drinks with. Love. Timothy and Jeffrey (above) entertained me with stories of a fat white cat named Oprah and the hoarding of Chanel bags.

I’d spent the first half of my birthday in a traffic jam, trying to get to the West Village to interview a creative director at one of my favorite agencies. The cab driver let me out a few blocks early and told me to walk. I thought it was odd, but kept on moving. I soon realized that I couldn’t even cross the street because everything was barricaded off. Still confused, I noticed that a crowd had been gathering quite rapidly. Just then, Obama’s motorcade moved through and he waved at us. A pretty awesome birthday surprise, huh?

week in pictures

week in pictures

Jetplanes. I love the feeling of flying.

week in pictures

week in pictures

Dunes. Sand? Cloth? Nope, plaster. Shape shifting. The only thing constant is change.

week in pictures

week in pictures

Visitors. My friend Antwan came to town. He was off the plane for less than twelve hours when my brother lured him over to do a photo shoot. He was a good sport about putting on Michael Jackson-themed garb. And the ‘Westside’ sign? That’s because we were playing Tupac in the background! He’s a magician from Florida and spent the night teaching us all sorts of card tricks and illusions.

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

Paul. A few days later, Antwan took me to meet his friend Paul, an 80 year old photographer. Paul likes to make collages of his black and white photos that span multiple decades. He handed us stacks of prints from locales around the world and we excitedly flipped through them.

week in pictures

week in pictures

Flames. Later that night, I went out to the Doug Fir with Antwan and his brother, who’s a comedian. If you’re going to the bar with a magician and a comedian, expect impromptu routines, drunken hipsters nearly catching on fire and smashed martini glasses.

week in pictures

week in pictures

Up, up and away. Why does the bridge always have to lift when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere?!

week in pictures

week in pictures

Another year. Bianca took this photo of me in Battery Park the day before I turned 28. Contrary to the grumpy nubs face, I was actually quite happy! We walked along the piers, passed up massive statues on Wall Street, strolled through Century 21 (I tried on a stack of Gardem and Rick Owens pieces but walked out empty-handed) and finally made it to Sephora.

Now I am a year older with a fresh perspective and new goals. Life never slows down and I really prefer it this way.

week in pictures

Readers: How was your week?

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Link Love: 9.24.09

link love typography



• In Fashion’s Secret Helpers, The Wall Street Journal investigates the growing trend of fashion houses reaching out to bloggers and using them as muses as well as sending them free products.

• Did you know that you are never more than 145 miles away from a McDonald’s by car in the United States? Neither did I.

40 Excellent Illustrator Tutorials is full of overwhelmingly cool stuff. So much to learn, so little time!

• 10 common typography mistakes.

• The Identity Forum has just compiled a list of the world’s top ten identity firms (via identity 72).

• Zo knows hair (hers is always perfect) and is sharing all of her tips and tricks with us mere mortals!

• The Wall Street Journal has an enlightening article about girls and dieting. 100 fourth-grade girls were interviewed back in 1986 and 75% admitted to being on a diet of some kind. Now many of those girls have just been re-interviewed and talk about their experiences as well as today’s societal pressure (via already pretty).

• I don’t drink Coke, but I would buy it if they introduced this can.

• Steve Pavlina dives in an explains how free speech works online.

• Freelance Switch explains how to decide what you should include in your portfolio.

Arial vs. Helvetica is a diagram that points out the differences between the two typefaces.

What are your favorite links of the week?





What I Wore: 9.13.09

what i wore nubby new york style outfit

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures

week in pictures


Striped cardigan, Modcloth
Dress, Forever 21 (borrowed from Gala)
Atacoma wedges, Acne
Neckace, Thisisstar.com Jewelry
Watch, Nixon
Headband, Forever 21

week in pictures

week in pictures

Two weekends ago, Bianca took some photos of me in Battery Park. The super amazing crew at Modcloth sent me the Get Out of Jail Free Cardigan that is the thinnest, softest cotton. It can be worn in a number of ways and even has a hood. Sadly, it has since sold out. With their site, you have to check back often because they add new items every day!

week in pictures

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