ideas, observations, and updates

0 37signals Holiday Book 2012

January 15, 2013 — 10:04 pm

The employees of 37signals remembered my craft in creating the holiday gifts they received in 2011. They came to me with the task of designing and crafting the holiday gift they would give the co-founders of 37signals in 2012.

I designed and bound an edition of two books that featured spreads of words and images created by each of the employees. Again, it was a great experience to work on such a tangible, traditional product for such a technology-driven company.

See more photos of the finished piece and the process here.

0 Cinema Slapdown Illustrations

January 10, 2013 — 1:49 pm

Cinema Slapdown is one of my recurring clients at Columbia College Chicago. When I was first approached to do a movie poster for their next showing, I was excited to have a chance to do something I haven’t been required to do much of yet in my career: illustration.

Below are two examples of illustrations for Cinema Slapdown film events: Shame and The Help. My work has given a new look to Cinema Slapdown which has been well-received by the client and the audience members. I have also worked on illustrations for several other film showings and have another in the works. I hope to keep illustration in my design work and can’t wait to explore more styles and ideas in the near future.

Tags: , Categories: Design

2 My 2010 Portfolio

February 13, 2011 — 10:59 pm

As a young designer, I have always been curious about how other designers present themselves in their personal portfolios. Because of this, I thought I’d provide a glimpse of the portfolio I created for myself after graduating college last year.

In designing my portfolio, I decided to create a handmade slipcase with magnetic closure to house four perfect bound portfolio books. In the past, as many people do in college, I had always used a larger format book that I would walk everyone through during an interview. In this new portfolio, I wanted a more interactive element (achieved by having multiple smaller copies) where people could see my work in their own hands while exploring the portfolio book design as well.

I decided to manufacture this portfolio completely on my own, using my Epson R1900 inkjet printer and my bookbinding skills. It was a long task that required many mock ups and a lot of planning but it was a very rewarding process. Seriously, if you’re reading this and you’re a designer, take a bookbinding course – it’ll be a great experience and you’ll learn something useful.

It seems like as soon as I finished creating my portfolio, I was called upon to use it and I (somewhat luckily) didn’t have to use it many times before I was employed full-time.

0 Where have I been?

October 25, 2010 — 10:43 am

I realized that it may seem like I disappeared for the past month…I did. I went through the process of moving from Chicago to Indianapolis for a job at in interactive design. After seeing my work you may be surprised that I didn’t say print, but you heard me right…full-time interactive design. It was very difficult to leave the community that I was getting to know in Chicago but I thought, what better way to learn something new than by doing something 100 percent at a place that is giving you a chance to learn?

The place is Vision3 Creative (V3 for short). It’s a small studio of 14 people
that has grown with four more since I arrived one month ago! V3 focuses on interactive media with a strong emphasis on touch-screen experiences.
They love the color orange (as indicated above by their logo) so I think it’s
a good fit. Oh, and the people and studio space are awesome as well.

I’m getting used to designing in pixels and haven’t yet adjusted to the idea of having nothing physically tangible upon the completion of a project. I think I’ll have to get busy with some of my own projects in my spare time!

2 Notebook Project Preview

September 7, 2010 — 10:00 am

The Design Ignites Change Notebook Project is set to launch on Wednesday, September 8th (tomorrow!). Since you’ll be seeing my notebooks very soon (along with those that the other letterpress printers have created) I thought I’d reveal photos of the entire process as well as details of the finished piece.

To see the photos of my process and finished notebooks, check out my flickr.

Be sure to head over to the Felt & Wire Shop on Wednesday when all the notebooks are up for sale. I’m excited to finally see what everyone has
been working on!

0 Notebook Project Preview

August 16, 2010 — 3:00 am

I spent nearly 2.5 weeks working nonstop on my contribution to the Design Ignites Change Notebook Project. Here are a few photos as a preview to what
I have been up to. I’m excited to see what the other contributions look like regarding design and binding. The project will be launching on September 7.
Be sure to check in at the Felt & Wire blog in the upcoming weeks for previews and interviews with contributing letterpress printers.

2 Rosa Loves & Reason to Give

August 11, 2010 — 8:30 am

After some reflection on my recent experiences, I want to share some
of the work I did during Camp Firebelly. For the project shown here, the concept and the man behind Rosa Loves combined with the goals and
the families of Reason to Give. We met with three families in the Humboldt
Park neighborhood and each of us designed a t-shirt inspired by their stories, struggles, and goals. After designing and printing our t-shirts, we organized
a fundraiser raffle to raise money for the families that inspired our designs.
It was a truly rewarding experience, especially knowing that I gave back to
the community I lived in for ten days.

0 Feedback Loop

July 14, 2010 — 4:56 pm

I’m excited to be taking part in the Design Ignites Change Notebook Project. It’s definitely going to be an intense two weeks of paper cutting, printing, traveling, and binding to make 50+ notebooks all by myself by August 1st.
I have designs started, supplies ordered and am just waiting for my paper to arrive! Look back here for updates and find the notebooks for sale on Mohawk Paper’s Felt & Wire Shop in September.

0 Camp Firebelly Recap

July 7, 2010 — 10:10 pm

As anticipated, Camp Firebelly was such an intensive, engaging experience that I was left without time in the ten days of camp write anything here. In case you’ve been wondering about it, I’ll take the time to fill you in. Let me begin by introducing the lovely campers and where they all came from. Pictured above, from left to right starting with the top row…we have:

Kat Marshello – Dallas, TX
Marek Szeszycki – Chicago, IL
Cassie Hester – Watkinsville, GA
Johnathon Strube – Sycamore, IL
Michael Gump Jr. – Cleveland, OH
Ben Wagner – Madison, WI
Stacey Zeto – Pittsburgh, PA
Svetlana Bilenkina – Centreville, VA
Brittany Skwierczynski (me!) – Bensenville, IL
Casey Kovach –  Greensburg, PA

On the first day, I couldn’t have imagined what was ahead of me as I walked up the stairs to the studio of Firebelly. Within ten days we worked on a project for the Young Women’s Empowerment Project from start to finish including the design of logos, postcards, a booklet, and a screenprinted poster; we survived four consecutive nights with two hours of sleep each night; we visited numerous inspirational design studios and spaces including Threadless,
Thirst, Delicious Design League, Believe Inn, and Vosges Haut-chocolat;
we met with families in the Humboldt Park area and designed and screenprinted t-shirts to raise money for their needs; we organized and
set up for our grand finale fundraising party; we had various workshops
about brainstorming, presenting ideas to clients, photographing your work,
and portfolios/interviewing; we dined on delicious food both in the studio and at various restaurants around Chicago; and we even squeezed in some down time where we played rock band, drank beer, and listened to awesome music.

Words cannot begin to describe the most valuable rewards from my time
at Camp Firebelly. When I left the studio on the tenth day, I was a changed person. The group of people that came together for this experience had become what now feels like a family of life-long friends and connections. Everyone brought their own talents and personalities to the team where we could all contribute and collaborate, listen and learn. Together, the Firebelly team and all the campers were capable of anything. If we had an idea we
found a way to do it, no matter how little time and how few resources we had available. We never used the word “can’t”. Sleep wasn’t a necessity when our passion and desire to do good came out to play. After these unforgettable experiences and encounters, I know that I can do anything and that I can contribute to making the world a better place.

I owe a big thank you to:
Firebelly Design for making this possible, staying up all night with us, making sure we had everything we needed, and so much more (Dawn Hancock, Will Miller, Darren McPherson, Alex Killough, Ryan Wolff, and Lindsay McMenamin)
– All my fellow campers for coming together for an opportunity like this
– Lara Brooks and the Young Women’s Empowerment Project for having faith in ten designers’ abilities to meet her needs in just four days time
– Mike Fretto for traveling from Florida to share the concept behind Rosa Loves with us and for helping us screenprint our t-shirt designs
– Reason to Give and Shannon Medic for giving us an opportunity to give back
– Delicious Design League for taking the time out of their day to teach us how to screenprint our posters with their press
Threadless and Mig Reyes for the tour and insight into their process
– Thirst and Rick Valicenti for showing us their studio and presenting some of their innovative and inspirational work to us
– Matthew Hoffman for showing us his incredible work and studio
The Post Family for inviting us to their opening and for showing us support at our fundraising party
Vosges Haut-chocolat for giving us a tour of the facilities and letting us sample the unique ingredients along the way
– Mike Renaud and Zach Dodson of the Show ‘n Tell Show for helping us brainstorm late into the night
– Elevate Studios for helping us learn how to present ideas more effectively
– Unisource and Andrew Dembitz for sharing the latest innovations in the paper industry and for bringing us plenty of samples
– Salsedo Press, Inc. for making sure our postcards and booklets were printed by the end of camp
– Chris Kirzeder for teaching us how to photograph work using studio lighting
– AIGA Chicago for selecting me as the recipient of the 2010 Student Enrichment Scholarship which helped make it possible for me to attend
Camp Firebelly 2010

I wish I could describe the rewards of Camp Firebelly more clearly and concisely but it really is something you need to experience to understand.
I am unbelievably excited to be a part of the design community in Chicago and cannot wait to find out what is in store for me here. A little advice if you’re a designer still in college or just finishing up school – be sure to check out Camp Firebelly next summer. You don’t want to miss it.

Visit for access to our blog posts, photos, twitter feed, and recordings of our video stream from the ten days at Camp Firebelly.

0 Camp Firebelly 2010

June 20, 2010 — 10:45 pm

I’m heading off to take part in the 3rd Annual Camp Firebelly! For the next 10 days I’ll be camping out in the studio of Firebelly Design to work on a project for a non-profit client with nine other designers…from start to finish. All the details are being kept top-secret until all the design campers arrive in the morning. I don’t even know what I’ll be doing or who the client is but I wish I had more details to share. I’ll probably be too busy designing, collaborating, making a difference, and having fun to post any updates here but I’ll try to update you if I can.

Check out during the next 10 days for Camp Firebelly blog updates, twitter updates, and even a link to view streaming video of us hard at work!