Tag Archives: Inspiration

Latest & Greatest #9: Olle Eksell

Olle Eksell

Olle Eksell


Lately, Swedish illustrator, writer and graphic designer Olle Eksell’s iconic eyes, which he designed for Mazetti’s Cacao seem to be popping up everywhere I go online. Eksell’s work ranges from wacky to geometric but no matter the style he was working in, the outcome was always thoughtful and precise. When Eksell came to the U.S., a close friendship developed between him and Paul Rand that lasted throughout their lives. He participated in international exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the Biennale in Venice and continued to work until his death in 2007.

Olle Eksell

The Eyes poster was printed in 1999 for his exhibition at the Form Design Center in Malmö, Sweden. Though best known for his design and illustration, Eksell also penned the classic Design = Ekonomi.

You can purchase Olle Eksell merchandise through this shop, see more of his work in his Facebook tribute group and see even more images of the famous cocoa eyes poster here.


Image sources: 1, 2, 3.

Inspiration: Veer Ideas

Veer Ideas

All Images: Veer Ideas.

I’m always on the lookout for fresh visual inspiration — and with the permeation of Pinterest and Tumblr it gets harder to find exciting, provoking imagery that hasn’t been reposted everywhere. Veer, long one of my favorite sources for purchasing fonts, has launched Veer Ideas, a Tumblr full of stunning photos and type. The mix of compositions and colors really gave me a creative jolt — this collection doesn’t disappoint.

Skate or Die DIY: Customize Your Own Skate Deck!

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

When ScotchBlue Tape invited me to take part in their D.I.Y. creative challenge, I was both honored and flattered but I’ll be honest here: my mind when blank when it came to dreaming up a project. I’m used to spending my days designing behind the computer but feel like a fish out of water when it comes to handcrafting most things — luckily, this is Joey’s strong suit! He started his own line of skateboards last year and we’d often talked about collaborating on a design but it was one of those projects we never seemed to get around to. We quickly realized that this was our chance to finally make it a reality!

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

To get started, I built out some inspiration boards to give Joey and idea of the direction I wanted my design to take. Pinterest is great but I thought it would be WAY more fun to curate my ideas on cork boards. I knew I wanted the design to be geometric, have at least one pop of color and include my old standbys, type and stripes.

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck


These are the supplies that are needed:

• Blank Skate Deck. Joey carved mine himself (see above) out of reclaimed wood from a furniture shop that was 9 ply but you can pick up a blank deck at most skate shops.

• Print-outs of Design. We printed out my design in three 11×17 inch sheets (black and white is fine on normal paper) that were then taped together as a stencil.

• ScotchBlue Tape. The thinner width was especially awesome for knocking out our stripes.

• Spray Adhesive: You’ll need this to affix the paper stencil to the tape. We used a 3M version.

• Spraypaint. We used Krylon brand with a gloss finish in black, white and yellow (see above) and finished with a clear coat to seal it.

• X-acto Knife. You’ll need to cut out the pattern so you can spray paint the design.

• Prep: Joey cut this deck out with a jigsaw himself, measured and drilled the holes for trucks and sanded it to a smooth finish. If you purchase one from a skate shop, the holes will already be drilled.


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1. Start with a base coat of spraypaint (we used white) and let it dry for a full day to make sure it isn’t tacky.

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2. Cover the entire bottom surface of the skate deck in ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape.

3. This is the surface that the stencil will be cut out of.

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

4. Cover the entire taped surface of the skate deck in spray adhesive.

5. Next, affix the stencil to the tacky surface and cut off the excess.

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

6. Cut out the black portions of the stencil using an X-acto knife. Remember to cut through both the stencil AND the painter’s tape. The stencil and tape are affixed together so peel both off to reveal the painted surface.

7. All black portions of the stencil should be removed EXCEPT for the A.

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

8. The first coat of black spraypaint is applied. The A was masked over with ScotchBlue Tape because we were going to apply a different color to it later in the process.

9. Remove the rest of the stencil.

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

10. This is the result.

11. Peel off the A section of the stencil and SAVE IT!

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

12. Create a fresh, inverted circle stencil.

13. Use paper and ScotchBlue Tape to mask the entire skate deck with exception of the circle and a single stripe (these are the areas we want to make yellow).

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

14. Spraypaint the yellow sections. Let this dry for a few hours to ensure nice, crisp edges.

15. Remove all paper and tape to reveal the yellow. Then, replace with the A that was set aside earlier. Mask off everything that should NOT be black. Apply one final coat of black paint and let this dry for a few hours.

scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

16. Once surface is dry, remove all masking to reveal your final design!

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Joey wasn’t quite finished yet, though. Before I took my deck out for a spin, he applied grip tape to the surface and sliced out my trademark cross symbol. The perfect finishing touch! Get creative here — you can cut out anything in the grip tape you can dream up!

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I loved my finished design so much I put it on display in my office. Nothing beats a piece of functional art! If you have any questions at all about the process, please let me know in the comments and we’ll do our best to respond! And if you make your own skate deck design, let us know — we’d love to see it!


scotch blue tape DIY skate deck

This post is a collaboration with ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape. Visit Scotch Blue Tape on Facebook to learn how to win rad stuff and check out the other participants’ projects in the gallery. All concepts and designs within this post were created in partnership with Joey Maas.

Latest & Greatest #6: Anthropologie

latest and greatest

latest and greatest anthropologie

Window display photographed by me // Anthropologie, Santa Monica


I have always admired the aesthetic of Anthropologie but beyond the occasional wardrobe splurge, the overall vibe felt a little too romantic and bohemian for my structured, modern tastes. That changed though when Gala and I were in Santa Monica last month. Maybe because I was in full-on vacation mode and in a city where people wear A LOT more color, I fell in love with what I saw inside the store — it wasn’t just the clothing but moreso the overall presentation and visual merchandising.

latest and greatest anthropologie

Store display photographed by me // Anthropologie, Santa Monica


Even if you’re not an Anthropologie fan, there’s no denying that they design window displays like no other. I used to work with a girl at a design studio who left her career to do the windows for Anthro instead and she loves it. I was browsing through the Anthro site and these are a few of my favorite finds:

latest and greatest anthropologie

1. Feline Karma Dress 2. Dear Parsy Tote 3. Dorian Vest Dress 4. Two-Toned Cocktail Forks.

latest and greatest anthropologie

5. Mod Swathe Heels 6. Literary Correspondence Napkins 7. Barr-Co. Soap 8. Dice Notation Skirt.


latest and greatest anthropologie

I also thought this chair featuring a beach scene upstairs was really, really cool. The whole Anthropologie vibe makes me want to go back on vacation and I’ll be close enough to that feeling, BBQ-ing and relaxing today for the 4th. Hope you have a great one full of relaxation as well.


The Typofiles #105: Magazines and Print Inspiration



I have close to 10 years’ worth of magazine clippings amassed in my flat files and here’s a small sampling. Even with the abundance of reading materials online and on the iPad, I am still a diehard connoisseur of print. I do have an iPad (and subscribe to some magazines that are more interactive) but I’m still keeping my print magazine subscriptions as well. All you hear these days is, “Print is dead!” But it’s really not dead, it’s just changing. You may see less printed materials but the quality of what you do see is higher overall. I love my iPad but still equally enjoy the feeling of digging through stacks of clippings and pooling together inspiration. What about you?

I still have some of my 90s clippings too stuffed into a folder (though those mostly revolve around Kurt & Courtney, some Versace ads and a healthy dose of Marilyn Manson). My poor, poor parents had to deal with my bedroom walls covered in this stuff! And maybe that’s where my nostalgia for print and holding onto my magazine subscriptions comes from — that’s all I had before a steady internet connection and the iPad.



Readers: What iPad publications do you subscribe to? Any recommendations? My favorite so far has been Project Magazine.


Developing A Design Process: 01

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ask nubby advice

Moodboard for Sasha Gulish Photography branding


One of the questions I get asked most often is about my design process. Most of us have a method for working through a project but once it’s done often enough, it begins to feel like second nature. I’ve continually held off writing this article until now because truthfully, my design process has become so routine that I don’t think of it as being significant. But, when I take the time to step back, I realize that we each have a different method for working through projects and can learn from one another. Today, I’m going to share an overview of the general design process I go through when working on a project. Please note that the process detailed below is focused solely on the creative side of a project and not on any of the administrative or strategic tasks that take place.


1. The Questionnaire


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Nubbytwiglet.com Questionnaire


When I’m working with a new client, I begin my process by sending out a questionnaire. It’s comprised of a short, succinct set of questions meant to jog memories and provide the basic information clients might not otherwise think about. The last question encourages clients to gather their own visual inspiration and links to sites and content they like. After all, we know ourselves better than anyone else and the more we share about what we love & loathe, the easier the designer’s job becomes.


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Nubbytwiglet.com Pinterest


2. Visual Research


While the client is doing their own visual research to show me what they like, I’m doing mine at the same time. Conducting visual research is important because it helps you become aware of current trends. This doesn’t mean that you should rip off every hot color, font and lockup you see. It’s meant to inform you of what’s happening in the world around you. Think about the flipside; you don’t want to end up with a logo that looks exactly like someone else’s because you didn’t do your homework! Clients tend to want a logo that’s on-trend while still remaining unique. But by on-trend, I mean current, not trendy. Nobody wants to go through the hassle of redesigning their logo every few years if they can help it!

My top places to search for visual inspiration are:

1. Designspiration

2. Pinterest (This is my personal account where I save some of my favorite images).

3. FFFFOUND!

4. Flickr: I have a private folder that I upload everything I find into and have been actively adding to it since college. I do this mainly because I can be anywhere in the world, log in and have my full collection of inspiration at my fingertips.


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Thumbnail sketches from a recent logo design


3. Thumbnail Sketches


Ah, yes. Our college professors made us do page after page of thumbnail sketches and they do have their benefits! My head is usually full of potential fonts and lockups the second I start working on a new project and getting them onto paper helps me define some of the options I really want to explore. Plus, being away from the computer helps me clear my mind and creatively focus in a fresh way. To be completely honest, I’m not a big sketcher. Often, my notebook pages will be composed mostly of lists, like “try this font” and “reference this image.” Sketch, make lists, do whatever suits your style best. Just try to do some part of your creative process away from the computer. Breaking up your routine often yields some of the best, most unexpected results.


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Inspiration section from my presentation deck


4. Presentation with Visual Research


A moodboard (at the top of this post) is more of an arbitrary, outward-facing step I’ve included to show online folks what outside influences inspired me on a particular project. But usually, the visuals I’ve gathered are placed in a section within the first client presentation I deliver called, you guessed it, “Inspiration.” This is beneficial for the client because it can make them more feel more confident of the outcomes when they understand the general reference points. Also, something lurking in the visual inspiration may very well grab their attention. Perhaps they’ll say, “I love the layout of option #4 but the type feels off. Can you modify it to feel more like the type in XYZ?”


5. The Moodboard


I’ve noticed a huge trend lately of designers showing moodboards online of what inspired a particular project. I’ve never shared this part of my process with my readers but am considering making a change the next time I showcase a project. Of course, in my world the inspiration is just a folder of gathered imagery tucked inside the client’s job folder on my hard drive but in an effort to present a so-called organized, methodical look, an example of the visual research I gathered for photographer Sasha Gulish’s identity development is at the top of this post. Looking back, it really did help speed up the design process and aligned perfectly with the colors we’d already been considering.


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The final outcome of Sasha’s identity / business cards (note that only the blue version was printed).


6. Revise / Review / Redeliver


Once you’ve delivered that first round, it’s time to wait for client feedback, revise the options they liked, perhaps gather even more visual inspiration if they’re feeling a particular direction and send off the second round. Rinse and repeat until complete!


I’ve titled this article Developing a Design Process 01 because I figured that you might have more questions about specifics. If there’s something further you’d like to know about developing a process, please leave a question in the comments!