Weddings and design

For the last seventeen months I’ve been planning my wedding. Oh a girls dream! Well… Not exactly. I never really thought about my wedding until the engagement day arrived, not even as a kid. (Unless of course you include those days when I swore the only way I was even going to have a wedding was if I got to wear a black wedding dress.)

So needless to say I really had to plan my wedding “design” from scratch. After surfing the web, sifting through hundreds of really terrible wedding magazines (as well as a select few that were amazing), and watching some really addicting, yet terrible, wedding shows, I realized I was looking in the wrong place.

Yes, some of the things I found were definitely helpful, but where I really needed to do my research was with myself.

After brainstorming and just listing terms I wanted to describe the wedding of my dreams, there were a few that kept popping up. Classic, traditional, extravagant and semi-formal. I wanted something indoors because bugs and rain aren’t my thing. And basically, I really just wanted something that people would enjoy and remember.

From there, it really wasn’t too difficult to find beautiful things that suited the feeling I wanted to emit. The real difficulty of the whole planning process was choosing locations (let’s face it, Knoxville offers very little in the terms of weddings and receptions if you’re not wanting an outdoor wedding) and trying to find time during my incredibly busy school schedule to set up meetings with all these vendors as well as my wedding coordinator.

Sorry there is no real “meat” in this post (links, pictures.. Etc.), but I like to keep everything a big secret until the main event. You won’t have to wait long though, because, deep breath, the wedding is in 28 days! Pictures and links to the fabulous people who have helped me make the most beautiful wedding together will come very soon after that. I’ll even post some wonderful reviews of all the super-awesome thing I’ll see and eat in ITALY on our honeymoon! *insert uber excited scream here*

iPad Portfolio

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I plan on using an iPad to display my portfolio. I still plan to continue with this idea, and with even more reason to do so now.

After waiting in line for 2 hours at the Apple store in Knoxville, I finally received my iPad 2. I played around with the terrible resolution camera for a little while, downloaded Friendly for iPad, Twitter, WordPress.. and various other applications I use quite a bit [Fruit Ninja…. ]. You know, the usual things you would do if you had just purchased a new computer-like technology.

I didn’t give much thought as to how I would actually display my portfolio, however. Initially, I was thinking you could just go to my website and look through that portfolio, but the more I thought about it, the less the idea appealed to me.

My professor had mentioned to me an App that was titled something along the lines of “minimal.” I finally recalled her telling me that and immediately searched for it in the app store. And there it was. The answer to all my portfolio questions. The app is called Minimal Folio designed by Simon Heys. It’s fantastic. Here are some of the features it has to offer:

minimal folio

Present [pre-zent… not present as in “gift”]

  • — Easy, minimal user interface
  • — Pinch and zoom
  • — Present on an external display
  • — Use images, pdf and video
  • — Lock to prevent editing


  • — Manage multiple portfolios
  • — Batch import from photo albums
  • — Copy and paste items between portfolios or Apps
  • — Cloud sync to multiple devices with Dropbox
  • — Transfer files with iTunes

What really grabbed my attention is the easy use of video and the syncing with dropbox.

With the video, I can take screen video shots of my different websites to show functionality {even show flash without having to actually have flash} in a simple slide portfolio style.

And with Dropbox I’m free to edit the slides or videos I want to use anywhere I can find a computer. Whew. Talk about accessibility.

So while I knew having the iPad would be worth the funds to spend on it, I never knew it would be as great as it’s turned out to be.


Yesterday started out like any other day. I woke up, had a bowl of cereal and my morning shower. The rest of the day’s events would certainly not be like any other day.

Sarah and Sara picked me up in my driveway around 8:50, then we headed over to Emily’s house to snag her as well. We then began our journey to Dalewood Middle School. It wasn’t a very long car ride, but it was filled will loud music and complaining about how early and hungry we were (regardless of previously stated cereal).


Patiently awaiting entrance to the gym at Dalewood Middle School

When we arrived at Dalewood, we were met with other half-asleep but still energetic faces which made us feel better. After a brief wait we all headed into the gym and disbursed ourselves throughout the bleachers, and eventually throughout the students.

I guess you could say this was the real beginning of the day. The sheer electric energy of the student and staff was enough to jazz up the entire CreateAthon group to maximum capacity. (And we would definitely need it as the 24 hours of designing, thinking, planning, eating, planning, and designing went on).

Following the pep rally (which included soloists -both vocal and instrumental- and some super inspirational words) we split off into our separate sections to get to work. I was personally involved with the “pedestal team” as we would call ourselves for the rest of the evening/morning. Basically, if it was int he main entrance to the middle school, we we’re going to give it some TLC.

After measuring, talking, and lunch, the groups headed back to the UTC Art Department to really get started on what we came together to do.

entrance team

Think about all the things we could possibly do

We worked continuously through the night and into the early morning hours, but not without some serious doubt that we would never make it the full 24 hours.

sleeping sara


sugar coma

Too much red bulll?

But aside from the brief moments of napping, there was some serious work that was accomplished for the good of Dalewood. Team meetings/ big group meetings that were held sporadically through the night were always filled with excitement and the sense that something bigger than we could ever imagine was happening.


To find out more about our crazy 24 hour endeavor with CreateAthon on Campus 2011 check out the twitter, flickr, or blog! (Just to warn you.. our doc team was %$#&^% awesome… so you’ll get more details from that than I could ever give you myself.)

And now, after a very long and creative journey, not to mention my own wedding shower, I’m going to get some much deserved recovery sleep.


getting motivated

Motivation is something that was brought up yesterday in my workshop class when Nick Turner and Michael Mahaffey spoke with us.

It became even more of an “issue” for me after class. I kept motivation in my thoughts and it became abundantly clear that I needed to find the answer to this question:

Where do I find the motivation to handle so many design and life projects and keep my head above the rising water?

The answer I came up with: Deep, deep, within.

I love what I do and who I am. So as long as I can remember both of those things (concurrently…), I don’t really have to worry about whether or not I’ll make it through all my tasks without slipping under.

I don’t force myself to work because I know there’s a carrot at the end of the stick, but rather because the work I do is the carrot. Everything I do makes up who I am, so maybe… maybe I’m the carrot.

When I lose my way and can’t remember why I’m doing something, I like to step away from the situation and reflect. If then I decide that the project isn’t where it should be, I can adjust my path accordingly.

Of course, I can’t (nor should you) be afraid to fail, because it’s bound to happen (a lot).
That brings me to something that was posted on twitter an hour or so ago. At An Event Apart in Seattle, WA Scott Berkun presented Why Designers Fail and What to Do About It, and here are some notes that were taken by Luke Wroblewski:


  • To be better at any craft –do it a lot or study a lot of what other people did. There is lots to be learned from failures. When things go well, everyone is happy and things get forgotten. When we fail there is an opportunity to learn.
  • Why does design matter? Victor Papenek said “design is the underlying matrix of life.” In his book Design for the Real World. Any attempt to separate design from life is futile.
  • There are some things that are universal to all types of design. We can learn about design and problem solving by looking at design in other domains.

Take Responsibility

  • All designers fail 95% of the time. This is true for all creative work. And it is unusual in the professional world. The process by which we create is failure centric.
  • There are only two reasons why things fail. Wrong goals or goals were right but we failed to live up to them.
  • What to do about it? Own your mistakes, study failure and common situations, study how to avoid and mitigate failures.
  • Designers are apt to blame other people. Need to take more responsibility. You need to own the totality of what we’re creating.
  • Design has no failure analysis –we don’t have a lot of affinity for this or good methods for it either. Whenever someone dies, doctors have to do M&M –mortality and morbidity. It’s required for learning. Other professions: mission debrief, failure analysis, postmortem.
  • Design and architecture don’t have a history of analyzing failures. Architects don’t even come back to their structures after the unveiling of the building. There is no failure protocol.
  • There is a huge amount of data that shows we learn more during failure. Engineers learned more in the 5 years of study about bridges after a bridge collapsed than in the 20 years before the failure.
  • If you take the weak, insecure way out and don’t look back at what caused the failure, you are squandering an opportunity to learn.

Types of Failure

  • There are two kinds of failures: fundamental & artial/subjective
  • Fundamental: system collapse, people die, rare and dramatic
  • Partial/subjective areas: mixed results, failures of a different degree.
  • We must experiment to create knowledge so we have to fail.
  • The iPhone owns a huge debt to the Newton team. It was a failure but it paved the way for the Palm Pilot. The Xerox Parc was a commercial failure but it paved the way fro the future of computing.
  • Design thinking traps: category (obsessive taxonomy), puzzle (problem solving for its own sake), numbers (believing what’s measured is all there is), drawing trap (love the sketch more than what it represents). There is a vocabulary around these traps. We need to get better at using it.
  • Things that cause designers to fail: lack of conviction, take limited responsibility, etc. You can sum this by looking at the decisions from beginning to end of the project. What set of all decisions do designers take responsibility for?
  • The one skill that prevents most designers from moving forward is pitching ideas. But it’s hard to learn. All designers are ambassadors for good ideas. Some are perhaps just ambassadors of their own ideas. Good ambassadors are good to get along with.
  • Reframing problems is an accepted part of the process. Changing a variable or an assumption gives you a new way look at a problem. We often blame our organizations, clients, or team for being themselves.

Portfolio brain explosion.

So many design and school related things going on at the moment. As a senior in the graphic design department, I’m totally torn on how I should present myself at future portfolio reviews. While I have worked in print most of my student-career, my real  love is in web. With that said, the pieces I’ve spent the most time with and loved the most are web based. So what I’ve decided to do [after much deliberation.. much.. much…..deliberation] is to buy an iPad to have my portfolio pieces displayed on.

Am I copping out? Does this make me seem lazy as a designer?



And here’s why I think so:

I got my first laptop 6 years ago. It was clunky, slow, and the battery life lasted about as long as it took to open up the web browser. If I took that hunk-of-junk into an interview, I would probably be laughed at. That technology just doesn’t quite have the portability of today’s gadgets.

Here and now, in the spring of 2011, we’re blessed with the lightweight, thin, long-lasting portable iPad. And not just the iPad.. the Xoom and Galaxy tablets offer this functionality as well. Why would I not take advantage of the technology right at my fingertips? With a tablet, I’m able to show the real functionality of websites I create. Viewing a website in print just doesn’t give off the same feeling.

I really think this is an excellent way to show off your work if you’re a web designer.

I know what you’re thinking now…. “But, Katie, technology always fails..”

Of course it does. And that’s why there’s always a back up plan. There are always “leave behinds” and excellent screenshots {via snapndrag}. I think even if you’re printing, you should formulate a backup plan. There’s no telling how many terrible things that can happen on some idle Tuesday when you have an interview on Wednesday.


ipad 2

The half-finished thought.

I have at least two different blogs in my saved drafts folder. Both are quite entertaining and both are only half written.

Both interest me in different ways, one being a product/package design and the other being Girl Scout Cookies. But I just can’t figure out why formulating an entire blog and posting it seems so hard sometimes. Why is it so easy to start writing and so hard to finish?

This makes me think of the hundreds of English Lit. papers I’ve written over the past, I’d say, eight years. Writing the thesis is no problem for me. I know exactly what the paper is about and the thesis is the place to elaborate on that and define it. The rest of the paper follows the thesis and defines how it’s relevant in more detail with examples to back it up.

That brings us to the conclusion… (not to this blog, but rather to the paper…) I’m told this is the place to wrap everything up in a nice little package, but also take the thesis of the paper one step further. This is where I generally falter. I’m supposed to make you think about what I’ve just tried to explain or define. It sounds easy when I put it like that, but when it comes to writing it down I feel like the words just come to a halt.

As I continue this blog and keep going back over it while I type, I realize more and more how this relates to what I’m going through as a senior in the graphic design program. As a sophomore I was able to define what it meant to me to be an art student. I got to decide what route I wanted to take in the English Lit paper that is my life. Graphic design in my thesis line. Junior year is about defining and educating myself further within the field while also showing that I’m learning. And I feel like this continues on into the first semester of senior year as well. The second semester of senior year, my current temporal location, is the conclusion. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve been taught, everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve gain in experience over the last four years of my college career.

Typing that out loud sorta freaked me out just now. Wow. This is it. I really haven’t felt any nerves up until this point. Even though I still have three or four classes to take in the fall as housecleaning for my brief hiatus from college out of high school, I’ll be done with my graphic design courses. This includes the Senior Thesis Exhibition which takes place on April 5th.

This is my real college conclusion. I have to make you think more in depth about my work. This is what I’m working on. This isn’t like my papers where I can make up for a mediocre conclusion by doing excellent writing beforehand (although, I’ll admit it will help). I have to blow this out of the water. I have to prove myself as a designer and as an artist. Hell, maybe even a writer.

This is the conclusion that counts.




Ahhhh. Finally. A finished thought.


According to wikipedia, accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving.

I like this definition. It’s much more clear than which states that accountability is the state of being accountable. Come-on dictionary, just tell me how it is for real.

Geoffrey Canada came to campus last week to speak as part of the George T. Hunter Lecture Series which focuses on issues affecting the Chattanooga community. Canada is a social activist and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone in Harlem, NY which is something I recommend you check out.

I feel the meaning of his speech was that we need to hold ourselves accountable for the education of the children in our own community. Those kids are the future of our community. Without the proper education and values to succeed in life.. Where does that leave our future?

It isn’t a pleasant place, I can assure you of that.

These are things that have always been on the back burner in my mind, at least until recently. The UTC design program (juniors/ seniors) will be hosting a CreateAthon on Campus in April of 2011. It will be geared toward education.

Here’s a tidbit from Peyton Rowe (Creative Director of CreateAthon)’s resume as a description of CreateAthon:

A pioneering academic program modeled on the professional model, CreateAthon onCampus is a way for college students to learn, earn credit, and serve the local community. During the year-long program students help develop, administer, and manage all aspects of the program which culminates in a 24-hour creative blitz held during Spring Break. Student teams mentored by professionals work around the clock, to generate advertising and marketing for local nonprofits that have little or no marketing budget. Area vendors partner with the CreateAthon onCampus teams following the 24-hour event to produce the work at no cost to the nonprofits. The mission is to widen the scope of communications students beyond “getting the job” to considering how they can be successful and help those in need. In the past two years, the events have served 24 nonprofits and produced over $195,00 worth of creative work for the nonprofits.

While it’s a little different for us, you get the idea. I’ll have more information about it as the time gets closer. For now I just wanted you to invest a couple of minutes of thought into  education and what a world of difference it can make in a child’s life, not to mention our own. If our children fail, then we, as a community, fail. This is where we have to hold ourselves accountable. This is when it’s important.

Awesome Package Design

Package design is not something that ever really struck my fancy. That’s not to say that when I see something that’s very clearly awesome, I take note.

I was out doing a massive amount of wedding planning over the weekend with my mother in Knoxville. While we were out and about we stopped for a quick bite at Chik-fil-a. Now, I’ve been to Chik-fil-a a million times, but I’ve never seen one have such awesome….. ketchup packets… Seriously. I took some careful photographs with the handy Droid to show everyone.

I don’t even like ketchup, but felt an overwhelming sense of joy and need to share when I saw this.  They should make all condiments available like this. The functionality is perfect for any of your ketchup needs. You can rip off the top tab and use it like a regular ketchup packet by squeezing it out the top or you can peel back the label and use the container for dipping. Not to mention there’s an admirable amount of ketchup in the packet which is handy for those who tend to over-sauce. [In my own opinion, of course..]

I found this article about the stylish new packets. It touches on when it was developed and a couple other things Heinz has in store for their ketchup.

I realize this design is not necessarily new. Chicken nugget sauces have been doing it since the beginning of time.. err.. my time anyhow. Why is ketchup just now catching on? And when will mayo and mustard catch on?? I’m personally a dunker for nearly everything from hot dogs to burgers to fries (and any thing else that needs sauce), but have been brought down by the inability to do so. So I squeeze it all out onto a napkin or box, and of course the end result is always a mess.

I applaud Heinz for finally taking the initiative to improve the appearance and functionality of their ketchup.


Advertisement and a world without it…

Today, as I was working on a video editing project, I popped a DVD into my computer and tried to flip directly to the menu screen. I was immediately prompted with a “Not Permitted” sign when I did so. I then had to sit through 5 or 6 movie trailers that I wanted nothing to do with.

This made me think about what things would be like without any advertisements.

I initially thought about how wonderful it would be. I could skip directly to a movie that I wanted to watch. I could look at a website and not be completely overwhelmed by 15 ads that border the main page and distract me from the information I came to get. No more distracting billboards that lure my vision away from the task at hand [driving without crashing into a tree or another vehicle]. The world would be less cluttered with somewhat value-less information.

Keith Blanchard wrote an article for the Huffington Post about this very idea and I thought it was interesting. You can find it here. He makes some points that line up with the ones I’ve previously mentioned. Unfortunately he doesn’t bring up the issue of how everything gets paid for without advertisement.

He says that it would be great to see the color of NASCAR cars instead of covering them from bumper to bumper with ads, but what’s important to remember is that this is the way the drivers are able to afford the cars. These are the sponsors that donate their materials, or services, or even cold hard cash.

Likewise with television and commercials. Without the commercials, would the networks have the budget to create more TV shows or even keep running at all? Probably not.

So, even though a would without advertising would be an interesting [much more pleasant] site to see, it’s support of business in general is invaluable.