Dr. Seuss’ Timeless Advice for Kids and Adults Alike

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
—Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Dr-seuss-1-sized

Like many Gen Xers and Millennials, I grew up with Dr. Seuss: the books, the animated specials, and the movies (in the third grade, my career choice was to be the Cat in the Hat).

I was too old to read his final book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! when it was first published in 1990, but reading it now to my family I understand why it’s message resonates with adult readers.

This book has been popular with graduates since its first  publication by Random House in 1990
This book has been popular with graduates since its first publication by Random House in 1990

It is a motivational self-help manual masquerading as a children’s book. Inspiring, practical, entertaining and insightful, it is worth the read and is far cheaper than attending a seminar or training!

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
—Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

 

Emily McDowell’s Honest Design for Serious Illness

Designer Emily McDowell turned personal illness into beautifully empathetic design

“My work reflects our shared human experience, in all its different, messy forms, and I feel most satisfied when something I made helps somebody feel like someone else out there gets them.” —Emily Mc Dowell

Designer and Illustrator Emily McDowell has transformed personal illness into beautifully empathetic design by creating a line of cards for people with serious illnesses.

They are funny, quirky, touching, and above all refreshingly honest—eschewing the usual tropes and clichéd language found in other sympathy cards.

Serious cards for serious illnesses

232-no-good-card-sympathy-card_grande
Ms. McDowell has created a line of cards that she would’ve liked to receive during her battle with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24.

The Secret to Orson Welles’ Creative Output? He was an Insomniac.

Playwright, Actor, Director, Producer and Insomniac Orson Welles
Playwright, Actor, Director, Producer and Insomniac Orson Welles

George Orson Welles would’ve been 100 years old this week and many authors and critics are writing about the breadth and depth of his creative output.

How can a man write, direct and produce for theater, radio, and film in seemingly the same space of time? Answer: He didn’t sleep. 

Here at TLS, we are not advocating insomnia or being a workaholic, but we do respect Mr. Welles’ relentless drive and intense focus. The takeaway: whatever you are currently working on—be it for five minutes or two hours—give it your undivided attention.

(Ed. Note: Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and The Third Man are amongst my all-time favorite films, check out The New York Times’ list of other great Orson Welles films.)

Photographer Devin Allen Captures the Heart of the Baltimore Protests

Devin Allen’s Instagram account brings viewers to the streets of Baltimore. (Devin Allen/Instagram)
Devin Allen’s Instagram account brings viewers to the streets of Baltimore. (Devin Allen/Instagram)

Even in the midst of all the sorrow, rage, confusion, and anger in Baltimore; there is great humanity and love displayed in the photos of Devin Allen.

The 26 year-old West Baltimore native has been an amateur photographer for only a few years; but that will change now that his moving black and white images of the protests have attracted the attention of mainstream and social media outlets.

Time magazine cover photo
Time magazine cover photo, May 11th 2015 issue

“My city kind of has a bad rap, but I thought if we can come together peacefully, it [would] be epic for this city, and it was my goal to capture that.”– Devin Allen

See more of Mr. Allen’s work on Instagram.

Thump Takes Issue with a New Generation of DJs—What Can We Learn?

Thump’s Trino Trevino hilarious, yet accurate assessment of the state of today’s aspiring DJs has a lesson for us all. Social marketing is an important component in your quest for fame and glory, but don’t overlook doing the work.  Also, don’t be like THIS guy!

“Here’s the bad news: fame and glory will never come if you never make music.”

The Awfully Good Job of Carroll Spinney

For those select human beings who are determined, humble, and fortunate enough to do what they love—truly love—and contribute to making this world a better place deserve our recognition and our respect.

Carroll Spinney is one such person. For more than 40 years Mr. Spinney has been man in the yellow suit as Big Bird and the man in the garbage can as Oscar the Grouch.

Carroll Spinney and Jim Henson on the set of Sesame Street
Carroll Spinney and Jim Henson on the set of Sesame Street

Featured in a recent NPR segment with Scott Simon and an upcoming documentary, I Am Big Bird, Spinney discusses how at 81 years old he has no intention of quitting from “an awfully good job”.

As a child who grew up in the first generation of the show, it holds a special place in my heart (and my early development). It is the first place where I learned the expanse of creativity, music, imagination, and learning.

So You Want to Learn to Code? Five Great Resources to Improve Your Web Skills!

I am a Graphic Designer with a little bit of Front-End Web Development experience—no one would ever confuse me with a programmer or full-stack developer. In all honesty it takes some knowledge and experience for me to accurately assess what I know and what I don’t know.

One of the cardinal rules of design is never, ever misrepresent yourself or your abilities (better to be perceived as ignorant than incompetent), so rather than fake it here are five resources you can use immediately in your journey to web design:

  • General Assembly, their onsite front-end courses are a great way to network and learn
  • Codecademy, useful interactive online courses
  • A List Apart, informative blog tracking the web industry
  • Code School, fun and challenging online training
  • Lynda, the definitive resource for online design training, learn at your own pace
A List Apart is a great web resource.
A List Apart is a great web resource.

Find out what you don’t know, gain confidence, and have fun!

To Wix or Not to Wix?

Helpful content management system or a sign of the end of civilization?
Helpful content management tool or a sign of the end of civilization?

In the past six years I have had many client inquiries to build a website for a product or service and several have wanted to use a template-based Content Management System (CMS) like WIX.

Although these drag and drop, do-it-yourself sites have been a source of controversy amongst designers and developers (several months ago I attended a designer’s meeting where the disdain was palpable); as a freelance designer and small-business owner I need to consider the factors of time, budget, and functionality and make the right decision for my client. Sometimes that may mean using WIX, like I did for Sparkling Clean Handbags: a client with a small budget, quick turnaround time, and a service and products ready to go to market.

Sparkling Clean Handbags: Landing Page
Sparkling Clean Handbags: Landing Page
Sparkling Clean Handbags: Product Page
Sparkling Clean Handbags: Product Page

In the end, the client loved the final product and I gained practical UX experience and gleaned invaluable metrics on the strategic planning and pricing of web projects.

CMS services are innovations and tools that are here to stay, so it is necessary to make peace with the machines and fashion a peaceful coexistence. Familiarize oneself with CMS functions, usefulness, and drawbacks in order to provide your client with sound counsel and effective design facilitation based knowledge and experience, not fear and anger.

Are You Telling Good Stories?

“Artists love to trot out the tired line, ‘My work speaks for itself,’ but the truth is, our work doesn’t speak for itself. Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them.”
Austin Kleon, Show Your Work! Chapter 5

05-vonnegut-500x333

Remember the old adage “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around, does it make a sound?” I used to think this was an absurd question (“of course it makes a sound!”), but what one approaches the question metaphorically, I have a difference of opinion.

One’s creative output is like the tree and putting in the work (chopping it down) isn’t enough. One must make sure people are around to hear the sound.  Show the work, explain the work, analyze the work, accept feedback on the work, learn from the work, and create new work.

It’s not easy and it takes dedication, discipline, and patience, but the potential for growth and reward is great. Besides, if no one at first notices one or two felled trees, they will surely notice the clearing you’ve created if you keep on chopping!