Found by Stephanie Janke

Now that Christmas is over and my photo book gift has been given out to my family and closest friends I would like to reveal it to my fellow readers. My travels to Singapore, New York, and San Francisco this year have inspired me to get back into photography. This book is the rediscovery of finding photography and capturing art in photos. The book was photographed, written, and designed by me. Enjoy!

For a better view of my book click the full-screen icon on the bottom right.


'Twas The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


More Vintage Family Photos

After going through the archives of family photos for the Janke family side for the 100 Year Janke slideshow I put together this summer (original blog post here), my mom sent photos from the other side of my family tree (Sturm).

I love vintage photographs but the ones where there is a story are even better. Below are some of the photos I would like to share.

The wedding picture of my maternal great-grandparents Fred Sturm, Sr. and Bertine Helgeson married 5 Feb 1905 in Sweetgrass, Montana. At age 21, my great grandmother Bertine Helgeson, immigrated from Norway to the United States.  Bertine was child #8 in a family of 13 children.

The one of the two gentlemen hamming it up with the jug (of wine, supposedly) has my great-great uncle holding the jug and my great-grandpa Fred Sturm, Sr. taking the drink. The photo was taken September 1929 during a wedding celebration.

Here is the one from the 1940s with my great-grandfather at far middle back and my grandfather at right butchering a hog with neighbors on his farm. It is true that modern day people can not even relate to all the work that food production really took in earlier times.


Honeysuckle is the Color of the Year According to Pantone

For all the design geeks out there last week was the release of Pantone's Color of the Year. The "it" color for 2011 has been named Honeysuckle, a dynamic reddish pink, according to Pantone.

The thought behind the color is it signifies the return of a better economy and a more confident future.
The rosy shade will appear on everything from wedding dresses to kitchen appliances to custom VISA cards.

It seems on Twitter designers are on board. My favorite tweet:
@pranavtee Pantone's color of the year is honeysuckle. Honeysuckle, *smirks*. Also, that's just a fancy name for pink.
Honeysuckle replaces Turquoise from 2010, Mimosa from 2009, Blue Iris from 2008, and Chili Pepper from 2007 since the inception of "Color of the Year".


Psychology & Design : What Makes Us Click

Recently familiarizing myself with web interface and usability design, I have been asking the question "what makes users click and navigate through a website?"

As a designer it is important to understand the user's demographic information including gender, race, age, income, computer ability, educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even location. It is also beneficial to know what makes for easy usability through navigational structures and clear linkage. This is usually where a designer leaves off with understanding their user.

It is even more crucial that we immerse ourselves in making sense of how our users think subconsciously. Understanding how the brain functions can help designers better understand the impact of their actions and increase the amount of visitors into customers. Online decisions stem from subconscious processes.

How DOES Our Brain Work?

Our brain is actually composed of three layers that have grown from birth. All three parts of the brain depend on one another.
  1. The New Brain: The most recently evolved, rational and analytical side of the brain where conscious thought process occurs
  2. The Mid Brain: The emotional process center where images, pictures and stories influence our conscious thoughts
  3. The Old Brain: The survival and physical efforts side of the brain that thinks about food, sex, and survival of the fittest

Tapping Into The Subconscious

Social Validation:

Reviews, Facebook, and Twitter are all methods of social validation. Users look to other users to validate their choices. Product reviews on websites that provide user profiles allow others to connect with the review. They can identify with the reviewer and in turn identify with the review. This connection will make the review more powerful and influence the user who is on the fence about a buying decision. The number of comments and subscribers validates the blogger or tweeter as an authority or an expert in the field they are interested in. The advice and the comments are considered from the source.


Websites that provide information or something for free with no sneaky survey or access to your personal information are tying into a user's value system or the mid brain. Subconsciously "If you do something for me I feel indebted the need to give you something back." You have to create credibility and proof that your product or service is of value to the customer before they can trust you with their personal information.


The old brain of survival is afraid it will lose out. Fear is a very powerful emotion because it deals with survival. Our brains respond many times with fear when it may not be as pertinent. Promotions such as limited time offers or a limited supply causes the user to take action. To enforce this tactic on your website you must stand by what you preach, so to speak, and only offer that limited time offer in the time frame you have specified. If users discover the limited time offer is not so limited this tactic will backfire.


Emotion signals influence most of our actions. The rational part of the brain would take forever to make decisions without emotions. After a decision is made the newer brain takes credit. Images, style and copy are critical to emotional connect with the proper demographic and create credibility. People tend to process information in a story type format. This includes a title, lots of photos, and engaging copy. As the navigational and grid layout of a website is crucial, elements tying in to the emotions are equally as critical to relate to the audience. The audience needs to think that they are that customer or they want to be like the model in the photograph to drive their purchase decision.

Being aware of a user's conscious and subconscious processes is equally as important in creating a winning website design both visually and interactively.


O' Christmas Tree

I'm feeling more in the Christmas spirit now that our tree is up in the front window. It's this time of year that I actually enjoy the snow on the ground and cold in the air. After the annual tradition of stabilizing the real tree in its stand (the tree must fall at least once), the decorating is always the easy part. The tree uses a mixture of purples, pinks, whites, and silvers, with a little hint of blue. And, yes, I have rhinestone metal monogram ornaments to add at least some typography into the design! Here are some photos of our Christmas tree for 2010.


Silhouetted Profiles In Design

Prior to the invention of photography, silhouette profiles cut from black card were the most economical way of recording a person's appearance. As photography became accessible, the silhouette became more of a stylized artwork form of the human portrait.

It is interesting to see the evolution of the silhouette in modern graphic design.

(L) Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro - Piero della Francesca, 1465-66
(R) Distinguished Man with Silhouetted Vest - William Chamberlain, 1820
The early Renaissance period saw a fashion for painted profile portraits and many famous people in profile. Considered to be the most famous profile in fine art, Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbinn (1465-66) was painted by Piero della Francesca.

 In the early 1800s, William Chamberlain made hollow silhouette cuts utilizing a technique of partial cuts of heads and busts. He then  applied an ink wash for the hair and neckline details.

(L) Dylan - Milton Glaser, 1966
(R) Ragtime - Dino De Laurentiis Productions, 1981
The first modern graphic design silhouette profile was created during the Hippie revolution. Milton Glaser's Dylan poster bridged the transition between the traditional silhouette form to a form of expression. The classic image of Dylan's profile with flowing technicolor locks has become one of the icons of the Sixties.

The movie poster for Ragtime, 1981 weaves the lives and passions of a middle class family into racial tensions, infidelity, violence, and other nostalgic events of 1906 America.

(L) Sleeping with the Enemy - 20th Century Fox, 1991
(R) The Passion of the Christ - Icon Productions, 2004
Over the last twenty years the silhouette has been a common element in film posters, almost cliche. This is due to the fact that the silhouette can convey emotion, drama, and mystery.

Apple Ipod Commercial

And who can forget the silhouette style of Apple Ipod silhouette commercials? Featuring dark silhouetted characters against bright-colored backgrounds that are usually dancing, these television commercials are backed by up-beat music. The silhouettes are also usually holding iPods and listening to them with Apple's supplied earphones. These appear in white, so that they stand out against the colored background and black silhouettes. Apple changes the style of these commercials often depending on the song's theme or genre.


Remember The Title #3

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)

This opening sequence, featuring the iconic musical score by Ennio Morricone, is a classic. Not because it is a campy Western featuring Clint Eastwood, but for the crazed blood battle animation, contrasting antique hand typography, and distinctive western soundtrack.  Dubbed the Ennio whistle, the introductory two-note melody resembles the howl of a coyote merges with vignettes and Tuco's frantic search for the buried gold in the cemetery.



The Realities of Graphic Design

Over the years I have seen graphic design students make the leap from classroom to full-time employment. In fact, it was ten years ago that I experienced the same transition. Graduated from college, I bravely landed my first graphic design job with a web design company. Back then I was lucky to land a job in the field, particularly in the area. The odds were against us with 8 out of 40 students from my class working in the field one year after college.

It was in college that we were taught about design theory, history, software, and how to push our design work. We were there to impress our teachers, peers, and build a portfolio for ourselves. The bulk of the projects were about experimentation and not necessarily realistic to what we would experience in the real world.

It is now looking back there are realities about graphic design that would be valuable to any graphic designer starting out:

Graphic Design Is Hard Work

You will have to work hard to do the type of graphic design that you studied about. This means you may have to endure menial, repetitive design tasks. You may have to put in extra time to get jobs finished to perfection. By doing an exceptional job at handling these tasks, the doors will open for you.  You will gain knowledge that you can apply to the more difficult design jobs that will be coming your way. Own all your projects and you will get to doing the design jobs that you have dreamed about. Go the extra mile with typography, color, layout and you will become a great graphic designer.

The Studying Does Not End In School

Learning will never end in the area of graphic design. You need to stay on top of the trends and technologies in the field to keep your work relevant and efficient. Unfortunately with a full time job there may not be time during normal hours to do this. You will have to spend some of your own time reading magazines and books, subscribing to blogs, and going through websites. Upgrading your software will force you to make the leap to expanding your software skills. I received my training using Photoshop 8, Illustrator 9, QuarkXpress 4, and used Syquest disks to save my files. You can imagine how behind the times I would be if I did not adapt with the changing technology over the last 10 years!

You Are Designing For The Client, Not Yourself

That grunge, handmade look that is your signature style is great to represent your personal portfolio but your client may not appreciate it. This is why a design brief is so important when defining design projects. You need to understand your client's market, goals, and the messaging they are trying to get across. The look and feel that they are after may not be how you typically design. But any good designer will be able to adjust to a style that will work for their customer.

People Think That Everyone Is A Graphic Designer

Along the way you will run into clients that think that everyone is a graphic designer. This could include your client's spouse, child, or anyone with a computer. Although it is tough not to be offended, this is your queue to educate your client. Take them through your process and provide examples. What sets you apart from anyone else who has a computer with design software?

You Will Not Always Produce Portfolio Quality Work

Your client may have a hideous logo that was designed by themselves and they may not have the budget for a full redesign. Or there may be projects where there is an extremely short timeline, like a newspaper advertisement, that needed to be submitted yesterday. There are times where you will be restricted in your designs. You can definitely make suggestions to change directions but there will be a point where you have to compromise with your client. They are, after all, paying your bills.

Seek Criticism, Not Praise

It is always nice to hear all the good things about your design work. But there are times when you will get blinded by your own designs. The things that other designers notice in your designs for improvement will ultimately give you a better design. To become a great designer you need to tap into the criticism.


History + Anatomy - A Few of My Favorite Books Part 3

Here are some more printed beauties from my library. Be sure to see mini reviews and photos of my first 6 favorite books here and here.

Apartment Therapy Presents:
Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Design Solutions

Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, 2008

For years I have been enjoying Apartment Therapy's blog about inspiration for your home. There have always been good ideas that are inexpensive to create a modern looking home one room at a time. The Apartment Therapy book is a great resource to see to the potential for organizing and decorating your home. The book shows real homes and real people with a tour of their space. The designs were very modern and contemporary which gives me things to do with my own space.

A History of Graphic Design
Phillip B. Meggs, 1998

A History of Graphic Design is actually one of two textbooks that I have kept over the years. As a professional graphic designer it is an essential resource to retrieve the various styles that have evolved in visual communications. From the evolution of cavemen carvings to graphic designer master Paul Rand, this book gives you all the details to how we have evolved to modern day design. This book is so comprehensive that it could be considered Graphic Design's Encyclopedia.

The Anatomy of Design: Uncovering the Influences and Inspirations in Modern Graphic Design
Steven Heller and Mirko Ilic, 2007

The Anatomy of Design is another comprehensive resource documenting design styles and concepts in an anatomy type way. The book has a pullout page for each main design that breaks down the components of concept and style that have been used. It opens up your mind to integrating these styles and concepts into your own work. I can't imagine how long it took to gather all of this information into a book format.


Beautiful Print - Some More of My Favorite Books - Part 2

Here are some more printed beauties from my library. Be sure to see mini reviews and photos of my first three favorite books here.

Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works
Erik Spiekermann + E.M. Ginger, 2002

Stop Stealing Sheep is a good introduction into the world of typography. The book offers basic terminology and concepts into type classification, selection, and usage in a engaging, sometimes entertaining way. This book is compact and covers a lot of territory in its form which is the opposite of the many other typographic guide books out there. The illustrations and photographs are very demonstrative with easy to grasp concepts.

How To Read A Photograph - Lessons from Master Photographers
Ian Jeffrey, 2009

How To Read A Photograph is a beautiful book featuring a visual history of photography and a guide to the style of the great Master Photographers. The quality of the printing really shows through as you turn page to page to reveal the next photographic masterpiece. The author interprets at least one photograph from each Master offering incite into the symbolism of the striking image. The book covers work including Fox Talbot, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Alfred Stieglitz.

One Perfect Day - The Selling of the American Wedding
Rebecca Mead, 2008

Personally working full-time in the wedding industry, One Perfect Day offers an eye-opening view on the commercialism of the wedding industry.  The all consuming details and industry's invention of the "Bridezilla" phenomenon has overshadowed the simple concept of a wedding - a celebration of two people that love each other. Part investigative journalism, part social commentary, this book goes behind the scenes into the world of wedding planners, department store bridal registries, honeymoon destinations, and wedding accessory manufacturers all creating ways to make money from the Bride's happily-ever-after. 

Check back shortly for three more of my favorite books!


Print Is Not Dead - A Few of My Favorite Books Part 1

Recently I was able to scoop up a few more books for my library from SFMOMA's amazing bookstore. (Of course they were hardcover books so I had to carry them back home to Canada in my carry-on to make sure my luggage did not go overweight! I was one kilogram under...)

Getting back into reading has allowed me to go through and organize my books that I have purchased over the last ten years. There are great books in my collection that have stood the test of time ranging from recommended reads to just examples of great book design. There is still no comparison to a printed hardcover book in this age of Ipads, Ebooks, and the Internet. Print is not dead. It is actually refreshing after hours in front of a computer to get away from the screen and curl up on the couch flipping through the pages.

Typography 20: the Annual of the Type Directors Club
Adam Greiss, 1999

Although this book is over 10 years old it is still a great example of superior typography and book design. I love the cover of this book and all the typographic details throughout. This annual demonstrates  a 1950s school theme. The TDC opens up an annual competition of the best typography in the world in a range of categories including identities, logos, stationery, annual reports, video graphics, and posters. Even though these were designs from 1998 they are still strong and show that the best designs use good type.

One Red Dot
David A. Carter, 2004

One Red Dot is a modern pop-up book for all ages. The goal - to spot the one red dot for hidden in every pop-up. Each pop-up is a magnificent paper sculpture with bright colors and paper that becomes mobile or makes a sound. Every time you flip that page you wonder how did they create that?

The Laws of Simplicity
John Maeda, 2006

I believe the philosophy that the more you can take away from a design the better your design will be. Maeda encompasses this concept and breaks it down into simple terms. He brings it down to a business, technology, and life application. Society is looking for simple, easy to use. Simple equals sanity. The Ten Laws = 1.Reduce 2.Organize 3.Time 4.Learn 5.Differences 6.Context 7.Emotion 8.Trust 9.Failure 10.The One

Check back shortly for three more of my favorite books!


A New Catalogue Of Inspiration

Just last week I was invited to join Pinterest, an online platform for curating and cataloguing images. Over the years I have spent time creating collections of sources that inspire me in my work. This has usually been done by documenting links in emails, bookmarking them in my list of hundreds of websites, or downloading and organizing images for future use.

Pinterest streamlines this process and displays your collections in a visually appealing format. You can follow users that share similar interests in inspiration and allow others to follow you. Pinterest is as much about discovering new things as it is about sharing.

Follow my new inspiration catalogues at


Bending Your Perspective

With film photography I have always missed the unpredictability of the final results of developed prints. The photos may come out over-exposed or under-exposed. Maybe the subject is out of focus or there is a flare in the shot. After a couple of months with a new DSLR and having some time to experiment with different lenses, I am hooked with my Lensbaby and Optic Lens System. This is the closest to getting back to film photography in the digital world.

This fun and creative system requires practice. The bending and focusing of the lens can be somewhat discouraging in the beginning. There is a lot of experimentation involved to judge the manual settings to ensure the correct exposure and focus. You have to manually insert your aperture rings, allowing for custom shaped apertures.

It is the creative effects that I really love. With the optic system you can swap out the lens to create a pinhole effect, or a plastic lens effect. The photos end up with a soft, artistic feel, almost painterly quality. Edges of the image create a blurry motion, with an element with a sharper focus.

Here are some of the highlight shots I have taken with my Lensbaby so far:


The Life of Trees

If trees could talk what would they say? Would they be able to tell the story of human evolution? Trees are, after all, the largest and longest living organisms on earth. In modern day, there are trees that are still standing after close to 4000 years.
It is quite amazing, how a tiny little seed can grow into something so ecologically fundamental. A tree will take water and salts out of the earth and lift them up to the leaves, sometimes over 400 ft above, and through photosynthesis the leaves combine the water and salts with carbon dioxide from the air to produce the nutrients which feed the tree. Trees also remove carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, from the air.

In a sense, trees have given us life and evolved civilization as we know it today. Without trees, there would not be wood. There would not be fire and the evolution of production, transportation, building, paper.

Because of their ecological influence, trees are also universally symbolic of birth, life, death, regeneration and rebirth. The influence is evident in many faiths but also artistically in many mediums, such as photography, painting, and drawing.

There is a debt we owe to trees. By destroying our forests there is a danger not only for the environment but also for ourselves.  Preserving our trees and wood resources will essentially preserve civilization.


  © 2010 Design by Stephanie Janke -

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