going local

Tomatoes, Q. Cassetti, 2012, Adobe Illustrator CS5I am having some mandatory stuff done to the car, so I am sitting in the fabulous Maguire waiting room with the light streaming in the windows with wifi and all sorts of “we love our customers” amenities getting ready to dive on the pile of email. So, to delay that inevitability, I figured a quick entry would be in order.

I am heads down on a bunch of branding related projects for my big client with some coming easily and others, not so…It is so hard to think about regulating certain design elements/ treatments for really trained designers and quite another for a less sophisticated group that is often the group my client likes to hire. This same group needs to be “creative” for the sake of creativity and not to better reinforce the messaging and desires of the client. This type of creative agency feels that their voice leads the conversation versus reflects that of the desires of the entity hiring them…and maybe because of untrained people on the client’s end, they can easily assume this position. However, it hurts me as the end product, the image of the company is often dinged and damaged because of all this maverick creativity—without any respect to the big horizon. So should we cramp the style and creativity of the lesser designers to try and corral them into a standard…or respect them to follow the current standards (which they do not) and have to wrestle them to  comply each and every project they are involved in? If I ruled the universe, this particular universe, I would have a few good agencies—ones that know what is needed , who do follow standards and understand their import. I would have a very tight standard (IBM of the 70s, Siemens, Apple Computer) and with very tight grids, image direction, type sizes and standards. I would regulate and reinforce. This is not impossible…but sometimes things have to be autocratic in order to create a unified vision. But this is the ideal condition.

Myer Farm Distillers sign, Q. Cassetti, 2012I am finishing up the Myer Farm Distillers labelling as part of the branding we are doing.Myer Farm is quite an operation as its field to flask. This family farm grows organic grain and have been for quite a while—and have been selling it to the first local distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling and has broken ground, ordered the equipment from Europe and is going into business themselves. I presented a series of approaches to their brand and was surprised and pleased that they picked an approach that I think of as Scandanavian (though where that comes from is beyond me). It is a sheaf of barley drawn simply/ with a bow to woodcut images of grain with the head of the grain, and a dagger-y calligraphic stem. The font is Futura because of the beautiful sharp M-s and the nice weight shift. The colors are taken from the design of their building. The labels have illustrations referencing the main ingredient of the liquor—and a strong, consistent type treatment that is differentiated by colorway. The client selected some really great bottle profiles…so as this comes to the close for now, I am getting pretty psyched as it will look great. What a nice add to the wine region and the “beer trail” in these robust Finger Lakes.

Next on the horizon is a farm who has been an organic farm since the 70s making all sorts of pickles and the like.They have a fabulous reputation and they got ‘the goods”. So being able to package a great product should be excellent. I am busy looking at labels and gathering some competititive information to start our adventure too.

Meet some of the competition:

Brooklyn Brine Company> 
McClure Pickles 
Sarabeth’s Jams 
Hawthorn Farms 
Blue Hill Farm
Rick’s Picks 

NYTimes: “Don’t Mock the Artisanal Pickle Makers” by /Adam Davidson, 02/15/2012

Apt. 11D: “Katherine Boo and Artisanal Pickle Makers”

The Pickle Freak Blog

I am fascinated by the whole local foods movement here, but as a point/counterpoint to the wild activity in the local foods movement in Brooklyn. I am constantly stunned when visiting NYC or shopping the foody day on Fab.com to see the pickles, jams, coffee, cheese etc. that are being elegantly produced and sold from folks packed in on Long Island. Surely we could take this on with our access to space, to amazing produce and people who know how to do this sort of thing. Surely, this is a way to use the produce as it ripens and is picked in addition to putting it fresh on people’s plates around here. We can drive people to our farmers markets, to the farm stands, to the CSAs but there are only so many people here (even if we trained them up to like veggies)—that after market products seem like a great way to add money to the farmer’s pockets while producing high quality organic canned produce.

Crooked Carrot is doing this on a small scale. I fully applaud their work and food. But we need more…and we need a way to help Crooked Carrot scale up (if they want to do that) in a way that they can be successful.  I like how imaginative Crooked Carrot is—and by being a share holder, I am given things I might not buy on my own (pickled Kohlrabi as one which we finished off in two sittings). It is a luxury to try these things, but I cannot be helpful to anyone if I am not educated about the CSA, CSK, CSG models. Clever and resourceful Melissa Madden of Good Life Farm has a gorgeous spring CSA that is a delight. The focus of her CSA are greens—cooking greens, raw greens etc. which depending on the part of the less than dependable Spring, she supplements with canned goods from her farm (canned and preserved by Crooked Carrot) and or amazing sprouts (I never thought I would say that) from Dancing Turtle. Melissa uses the produce from the summer before the add to her unpredictable mix..and as a recipient, every CSA pick-up is Christmas morning as I never fully grasp what she has told us was coming each week until it is put in my bag!

So, where is all of this chatty meandering going? Its all about taking in the horizon of the local foods scene and better understanding it and how I can help move the needle for the farmers, for the region, for the eaters out there. If the NYTimes is on it…we need to be ahead of it.  It’s fun to participate as its part of the education—both as an illustrator/designer but also in my role with the Trumansburg Farmers Market where we circle on details I never had thought about…but trying to keep in balance the desires of the farmers and the hopes of the consumers. Very thin blade there.

Psyched to be involved

Halloween Warmup, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5It was heads down yesterday. I had yearbook, files to complete, new projects to begin. I am working on a bunch of vector things just to get my hand in, my eye in, my head into the work. I am feeling stale overall, so playing the visual scales is a good thing that is challenging me, and at the same time, making some happy holiday imagery.

Rob is in NYC. Alex is in prep for his play and for upcoming XC events. The girls XC team wants me to do a shirt for them inspired by the Sausage Fest shirt. Its not my design. It’s Alex’s work…I am just the hands…and he has ideas for the girls he knows either they will not get, or better, get and not understand how inappropriate it is. I need to get him to put his brain on this for amusement (at least ours).

Gloria is on her way east. Gloria is my sister-in-law who has lived in Los Angeles since college. She has decided to move east for a change of things—bringing household and horse (big horse) to settle here with family and old friends (and new ones too). We are all looking forward to this change for her…and feel that this will be a good thing for her personally, professionally. Los Angeles, as much as its heaven, is tough going financially, travelling, making friends, engaging in community. These are factors that are sweet here. I think she is going to be pleasantly surprised once she settles in. She is driving her cute little blue car east … Memphis was last night. Tonight is Lexington KY. She will be here Friday. So things are ramping up here on campus.

I started Thanksgiving on Sunday making the filler for the stuffing (I make a combo of sausage, mushrooms, leeks, parsley (sauteed)) that I blend with cornbread, and parmesean cheese. Tonight I start making stock so I can make the gravy in advance. I want to make pumpkin bread and cornbread in the next week or so. Same with the cranberries. All this prework makes the 25th of Nov. a pleasant day. I love this. Totally. I should be doing dupes so that xmas is the same. That would be genius. I am not that genius…but if one is prepping feasts, prep big. I am thankful I am living in the day of the freezer and not the middle ages so this sort of prework can happily be done.

Postcard, Wide Awake Bakery, illustration/design, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5In the spirit of giving, I was thrilled to read about my friend, Stefan Senders championing a local food delivery to the Occupy Wall Street folks>> Ithaca is filled with protesting old hippies who love local food. We are all over being part of the 99% and want to share our goods to keep cheer for those who are doing the occupying. Stefan, as you remember, is the baker/owner of Wide Awake Bakery (a wood fired, artisan bakery who uses flour that is grown and ground here in Tburg. Here is a bit from the Ithaca Journal article by Rachel Stern:

“A van, running on biodiesel and chock-full of goodies made in the Ithaca area, traveled to New York City to feed protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement last week.

Organized by Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery of Trumansburg, the van was packed with bread, pancake mix, cheese, scones, cabbage, bulgur and whole wheat pasta, to name a few items. Eager to find a way to contribute to the movement, Senders decided to enlist the help of local farmers and restaurant owners.

“Our bakery has a mission to bake the best bread in the world, but we also have a social mission to do good things we believe in,” he said. “We really wanted to contribute in some way to the movement because it is very much in line with what we think.”“…

“This is part of our mission — it is part of the mission of many of us in the area — to do all we can to help what we see as an important movement,” he said. “We feel like we are doing the right thing. We are totally psyched to be involved.”“

Swirly scribble

decorative banner1, Q. Cassetti, 2011, vectorCruising. The work is coming and I seem to be keeping more on top of it versus swamped. Moved the big rocks before Sagamore so the leaves that are landing (the light projects that pile up) and I am able to move them without the mental burden that there were significant things that needed to be done. I have the holiday card on my desktop and am working away with lines/vectors and the wonderful live paint feature which is perfection for this project. I had to get my how to book out and between the switching of my glasses and the youtube videos—I think have a handle on this.

I am enjoying this work with images and logotypes. I am working on a logotype for a local distillery—and have been revelling in the shapes, the images, the barley stems and a scandia chic typography which is a real break with the woodtype/ antique image that this already branded farm has. It was fun to let it flow…and just to tweak and tune. All of this has helped me (along with two days of sleeping and stupidity) to really look at my work and how I spend my 40 hrs (+) a week. if I could squeeze more illustration and logo design (illustration that you can charge for)—it would really balance out the work/happiness factor more. If I took the logos and promoted them like I am promoting illustration, would I get a little more action? If I called the big logo shops in NYC and suggested I act as a stringer for them….would there be a bit more action? if I participated more actively in the world of logotypes online…would there be a bit more action?

The big fat pen is poised to move today on some swirly scribble.  Lets see what happens. 

How wonderful!

Blue Mountain Lake, Q. Cassetti, 2011We got up to Sagamore just a minute before the dinner bell rang yesterday. It was a wonderful drive—albeit a bit new for us as we missed a turn, so “Talkin’ Tina” our GPS took us through the italian section of Rome, NY to see the wonders (and italian delis) of that little industrial town prior to meeting up with the great northern way that took us to Old Forge. What a fun drive with my boyfriend seeing new sights, talking about this and that…and knowing that we had a few days to decompress a bit.

Rob needed sweaters and I needed a raincoat so we stopped at the Gillinghams type emporium in Old Forge for both. Gillinghams, for the record, is one of my most favorite stores in the United States of America. It is located in Woodstock, VT and they have everything from nutcrackers to cheese, shoes to salad bowls, organic hand balm to penny candy—a veritable yankee’s version of Aladdin’s cave. I always burn through a bunch of money there and never regret my purchase. The Old Forge version had just what we were looking for at a good (not great) price. We were sure that if we had bought sweaters and a raincoat, it would guarantee perfect warm weather during our short stay at the utopia in the Adirondacks, The Great Camp Sagamore. And outside of the small, violent downpours today, we have had that.

We were granted the best room in the Main lodge. Our room has a huge stone fireplace along with a bathroom we do not have to share. We even have a fan (brilliant Rob even brought one along for a just in case). It is lovely and we are so delighted for the extra treat.

My random chit chat about this and that went over well after Elizabeth Buchinger charmed and delighted the room into thinking about image, brand, and focus around how to be successful with lots of pushing the people into groups to figure it out as teams. I had some good questions (about copyright, about creative commons) and I think if I didn’t put them to sleep, mesmerize them—they at least were courteous and nice not to go to sleep. A lovely young woman who works at a historic house in the NYC area greeted me with tears saying that I confirmed that one should pursue your passion…and I guess she needed to hear that today. It was quite heartening though I must admit, I was a bit on autopilot, so goodness knows what I said that struck that amazing chord. I am happy that the crew got something to take home and think about.

I am loving the people here and cannot say enough about them. The Sagamore meeting always affirms to me what is good and great about New York State. Strong and smart people from the Hanford Mills Museum, to the witty museum professional from NYC, to the shrewd manager of a Historic House Museum— they all have chops, confidence and a bushytailed aspect of learning and growing from each other. This is an amazing event that happens quietly, annually in these historic woods, and it changes lives. How often does that happen. I am blessed to have been included.

Lunch was packed at breakfast time, so we went off to have lunch at Uncas, the other Great Camp just “down the driveway” from Sagamore. It was wonderful to be in that lovely space again amongst the heavy wrought iron, the stones and wood, the ancient taxidermy and the adorable little lake that lapped up on the beach close to the house. The entire architecture as it interfaces nature is perfection there…and as Beverly told us, it was because it was sited by the original architect of this camp—not a wealthy patron who was in the chain of those who acquired the property and the magic that comes with it. I love how livable Uncas is—with space to stretch out to read, to think, to be one with the elements. The amazing Uncas fireplace complete with the original ironwork (with turtles and the word Uncas in the designs) has an inglenood…and again according to Beverly, is one of the largest fireplaces in the string of famous Adirondack camps.

We had a nice discussion this afternoon about public programming and then off to the Adirondack Museum to hang out and smell the flowers (and see the exhibits). I was stunned by the pink hydrangeas and the masses of Japanese anemones growing upward and outward with deep purple buds covered by small bees trying to get the last bits of yumminess before the frosts begin. The mists were covering the tops of the mountain right above us on Blue Mountain Lake— and I took great delicious breaths of air and tried to print it all on my small brain. We had a fun chat with a new friend on beekeeping, on collections. on Vermont and on Cooperstown, and with another on Antarctica, on fund raising, on national press and on dreams. all of this with the changing skycap over Blue Mountain Lake below us—going from stormy, to cloudy to clear…all over the twinking water and evergreen backdrop.  My head needs to stop ticking…it is great stuff.

I bought balsam in a bag… so I can bring that Adirondack scent home with me.

And now my obligations are complete. I can take tomorrow off perhaps to dream and draw albeit today’s drawings were of trees for my client’s holiday cards. Maybe my pictures will happen tomorrow.

More miracles

Portrait in progress, step one, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5

I have two portraits to do by the end of September. I got a crack at one of them yesterday and delighted in creating the silhouette and beginning to digitally cut the highlights out of that shape. I hope the mid tones and darks will go in today. I am always, without a doubt, nervous when I square up the paper and start these thing—asking myself if I can do it this time…as I rarely have much confidence in the reference combined with shaky personal confidence. Just picking up the pen, taking a deep breath and then the focused chipping away often checking every decision takes the time. When I have a half dozen highlights in, I know this is going to work or not….and my optimism can rise. Its a nice charge to drive the work forward. Then, I give myself a little permission to go a bit rogue with some manufactured highlights and shadows. I am optimistic I can give my client a pair of portraits that will work complete with working a hand with a smoking pipe into one of them as the pipe was so iconic with this particular artist.

Have you heard about Wacom’s newest offering, the Inkling? I discovered this wonder yesterday and currently I am transfixed and cannot wait until mid September. The Inkling is essentially, a ballpoint pen that records your hand drawing and transfers that work to digital. You use their pen, and your own notebook. I am wondering how it translates your drawing to make it better than a high res scan. Its too cool…but now that I think about it…unless it saves it to vectors or layers or provides me more than a scan, I am trying to figure out whether this is more of a toy than a real work tool. Maybe if there is a chance today, I will do a little reading on this.

From EverythingUSB.com:

“Finally this fantastic pen interface technology has made it to where it belongs, Wacom Inkling Smart Pen. The Inkling Smart Pen is a 2 part device that transfers handwriting strokes to a digital format. The technology is quite clever and extremely energy efficient which is what gives it such great potential. The base unit uses 2 microphones that give it the sound version of stereoscopic ‘vision’, allowing it to hear where the pen is moving.The pen emits a completely inaudible pulse helping the base unit track location and pen pressure. The datagrams on these coordinates are tiny allowing for cheap storage of many pages. The pen is normal sized thanks to only needing to make its silent ping while the base unit listens and records. Other competitors in the space require a hot-dog sized pen to hold all the electronics. Some of those require special paper as well, where none is needed by the Inkling.

The touch of a button on the base tells the device to start using storing the pen strokes in a different ‘page’ and it can store dozens if not hundreds of pages. An internal battery in the base is recharged by USB and the pen only needs inexpensive watch batteries. This technology has been hopping from company to company for some time now, A-open and IOGear to name a few. Both have products based on this technology but no one does pens like Wacom. We’re looking forward to see how much they’ve improved upon it while unfortunately upping the prior incarnation’s MSRP. Wacoms plan to release the Inkling Smart Pen at $199 later this year. Being able to import directly into Illustrator is probably worth double that for any serious artists.”

OH MY. v e c t o r

I wonder if one will be enough!

It was study hall yesterday at the office. It just dawned on Alex that maybe, just maybe he needed to get to work on the paper he has due next week for his environmental science class. This has a lot of research and processing of information which my son thought he could dash off….NOT. So, I made him sit with me all day to work on this paper. Unfortunately, he is busy counting words versus focusing on truly delivering on the paper’s content and requirements. I think I am going to throw the role of the heavy to Rob as I am making him sit and focus. I hope there is more we will learn about Alex from the testing we will be starting in a week or so. He just focuses on the oddest things and doesn’t really understand where he should be tracking. If I can talk him through, sometimes it hits. Sometimes he is there with me. More study hall today.

I have a meeting in a few and need to get the already foley-ed tomato sauce on the stove to simmer for a few hours to get the water out. I am a sauce making machine. I feel like there may be a few more pots out there. Loving it.

signs of fall

Green Man 12, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and ink.The hosta have their huge white trumpets pointing to the sky, fragrant and rich, ready to beckon autumn. We always have them for Alex’s birthday—just on the front end of school starting.It is hard to imagine that summer is on the downside—and that change is in the air—back to school, back to college, finding colleges, finding programs, Thanksgiving and Columbus Day weekends all in eyeshot. I really just want to freeze this time of cool breezes, dramatic clouds on the horizon, the purple/paines grey and pink evenings, and the mesmerizing sleep we all are granted in our lakeside bower. Doesn’t get much better than this.

It is a quieter week on the work front. My client is taking her well deserved holiday so we have a bit of space to finish up some loose ends. I hope I can break through some of the more rigid things and have projects moving again. It would be great.

The freezer jam I made from some of the peaches we picked is half done (home team say yum yum)…and I made another dose last night. Quick and so easy…and all about the fruit. Next step, no sugar and maybe some fresh lemon peel…or peaches and raspberries? Oy. More raspberries concurrent with the Hector National Forest Saturday drop offs for Alex to do Cross Country training….He needs a pick up and delivery…so I can pick in the three hours in between. Divine!

I started a poster for the Library anniversary and surprisingly, I think the vector is too staid for the event, so I am going to draw this one. Needs to be more whimsical and illustrative. A portrait is not the right family/fun message I think they are looking for. I have 2 vector portraits on board too…so I have a bit of everything.`

"No sweat....chillin'"

Detail of front gate at the Luckystone Lodge, Q. Cassetti 2011I wrote (or is it “texted”? ) that to our girl while we were texting and it dawned on me that yes, there was sweat and no, I was not chillin’, but melting. However, the true meaning was that it wasnt a big deal to wait and I was content to wait. Plenty to talk about, think about and do. The experience at the Brattleboro Dawn Dance was beyond her hopes—having a great time, making new friends, figuring out that maybe she is as fabulous as we tell her she is…and buoyed by the confidence that travelling by yourself brings. Our dancing princess is swinging on top of the world. And she is home to folky central.

Waiting and talking to her, I decided to really, really listen to one of her new favorite contra groups. So, I downloaded the new “Flying Tent” CD from the group, Perpetual e-Motion. Wow! Dance music, driving beat, but certainly no old time thing. Good working music. Gets the steam up. Lots of influences…but amazing just as its two guys who have a strong series of references that they meld with a danceable, callable beat…and who make a living being a contradance band.

I am being buffetted by a pair of fans to prevent the Q. puddle from occurring (like yesterday). I cannot even imagine what the top of my head looks like..but hey,that is insignificant compared to body heat.

I am wrapping some small projects up and am on the diving board for a few more. Today there is a field trip to the liquor store (!) as I have the distinct pleasure of having the opportunity to work on a related project and then there is another idea in the works that is related to the same that I am meeting with friends about. So, ideas abound.

Need to get the Luckystone First Year Award in the mail to Hartford (University of Hartford, Hartford Art School’s Low Residency MFA in Illustration). I am giving the first years the same as the past two years, large moleskine sketchbooks to commemorate their getting through the first two weeks of the program, launched into the swirl of change and growth that the program can give you. It is a cheap way to give back, and honestly, after my first two weeks of Syracuse, it would have been a confidence booster that you can get through it… Yes, for some, its a snap. But for those of us who are not overly confident (and in my case lost as it was a brave new world that I wasn’t sure I could cut)—a gentle, and friendly nudge and wink would have been welcome. The books are wrapped and beribboned. Now, all I have to do is write a little something friendly.

Its nine. Time to commence. Stay cool… I’ll be chillin’.


Rapture! The End is Near, Q. Cassetti, May 18, 2011, pen and inkOnly three more days until the Rapture. What to do? Cook? Plan? Cancel our utilities? How to prepare? Make all the beds and iron our all white outfits (or for some of us, like me—get the pitchfork out?). So, instead, I am doing some little greeting cards to honor the Rapture (yesterday and today). More to come. Great to have a fun little topic. Devils! The gaping maw of Hell (inspired by our pals the Lubki artists!).

Work has been insistent. A drumbeat of little niggling details that I am fearful of dropping or forgetting…so the list keeps getting longer and more abstract. It cant be me getting older…it is a slippery slope of disconnected ideas…and everyone moving a bit too fast. At least the exhibit gets put out…as does the big book. Oy.

Am looking at all the interlinking aspects of social media. Why? Dunno…but I was thinking about Tumblr (which I flow my blog and tweets to) and trying to understand how it works. I checked with my consultant, the college student and she reassured me that as I had coverage with a blog and twitter, I didn’t need to worry about Tumblr as it is a way to blog in a mini way (microblog). However, the magic of a RSS feed always stuns me. Behance, as I mentioned the other day, can be flowed to Facebook (the easy one is the LinkedIn> Behance relationship—total sweeness while not needing to.to monkey with Feedburner to make that happen). I am interested in becoming part of Dribbble, a site that one submits a small screenshot of what you are working on to share with the community of like souls. I’ve seen some of my more favorite Dribbble players post to FBook from that site. Another thread to understand. What else can I trigger with a RSS feed url or a twitter post. The whole mechanism is fascinating and an intuitive thing  that I wish I could better grasp.

Gotta go. Files to release.

More Corn, Q. Cassetti, 2011, vector, Adobe Illustrator CS5Grinding away. Getting some things off the top of the desk, but it just keeps coming. Waiting to hear from the big pub insofar as the image I submitted was good…to go. Then, I think I will crank out a little postcard to send out to my friends with the image and the boasting that goes along with it.  

Waiting is hard…but it will be over (at least I hope end of day today). Knocking down a tabloid sized pub (redesigning a few spreads as the positioning of these articles are becoming clearer). We are updating the new branding files that were released last week…and starting to redesign things in the new format that we were trained on last week.

The Entourage thing is not working for yearbook. So guess who is laying out the current one? InDesign, Yeah! No problems, just another kooky deadline.

Kinneys Drug store have some glorious big rose bushes for $5.00 with big fat canes that I snagged as the deer cannot bear thorns…though that is the only thing that keeps them from eating the plants. I took easter baskets to the Yearbook class, which went over real well. Candy holidays are the best…everyone loves it, and one size fits all. Need to fill a basket for little Alex full of peanut butter and chocolate yummies and bandanas. That is his weakness. I have a little quelques choses for Kittybit…that maybe we can deliver next week-ish.


Inspired by a Massachusetts Headstone, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkOnward! It was a quiet day yesterday with projects and nonpaying jobs. I worked on the Hangar work and Rob worked on the bathroom imaginings. Kitty slept and relaxed. Alex visited with friends. I got a little bit ahead, but now, back to the drawing board with late late thinking and amendments.

The snow is melting…as we continue to get icy flurries that dust the mud piles. We are looking at the season of mud in front of us…We all just hope that we can move forward with the brighter and longer days. We have had enough of the miasma of mud and ice.

Thanks to the intellectual salad bar that the iPad provides at quiet time, trolling or shopping for cool ideas surface things that are out there that are wonderful, interesting, useful and thought provoking. Here are some new cool discoveries:

In the tradition of Rip Van Winkle, I always find myself shaking my head and feeling like somehow I missed it again…and this emerging approach to type for the web and mobile devices (the WOFF Standard). The blog, “all Blogging Stuff” highlights some of these changes and resources for Web Typography in their entry (03/12/2011) “8 Essential Web Typography Resources.”

I also found this wonderful website: The Grid System, a resource and forum for grid systems. I love grids and the way it formats and puts bones into any publication or design program. And with a  Josef Muller-Brockman quote to open this site (I mean, he is the MAN)—how could any girl resist?

“The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice. ”   Josef Müller-Brockmann

83 Awesome Links for Cartography Geeks>>

Teehan+Lax speaks about “Designing faster with a baseline grid” by Pierre Marly and even provide a grid to download (a 960px grid system designed by Nathan Smith) as tryout.

Love the writing and simplicity of Graphic Mac/ Smart Typography Tips A terrific starting place. I wish I  had written this.

And, totally off topic, but part of the salad bar concept (this is the pudding next to the vinigrette), The Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations from DARMC/ Harvard.

And now, to move onward to cook dinner.


Happy Holstein, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5Working along on this cow for a potential client. Keeping it to a black, a midtone and white as this will be printed in a limited palette for packaging… I poked it in this frame to bring to you all, but the Art Director has other plans for this. I originally started this at 400% of the size—and as I began to get into it, I found I was losing detail and then, duh…I realized that the work should be done close to 100% to be able to realize the detail…which even at this size might be too fine… and so it goes.

I was on the boards designing yesterday from 10 a.m. until 7. We had dinner at Dorothy’s Music Room to try out the new venue. The music was good. The food was good and the drink selection was good and the pours generous. It is a quieter place…a bit less “scary” seems to be attracting a slightly older group. There were people dancing to the group.  It is a place that one can talk over the music. It is not the Pourhouse, but a more grown up place that has a place here in Tburg.

Tonight is the Superbowl. I will be making pizzas out of garlic bread, putting some shrimp out and making a salad for Alex, his german friends, Bruce, and Rob. Poor Alex, exhausted from the track meet and the dance at the school, was anticipating eating granola for breakfast prior to the ski bus…to find out that we were totally out of this cereal and bread. So, I will be baking another batch of granola for the week ahead.

I am going to tweak this cow for the next half hour before putting it away for today.  There are the valentines to stuff (finalize) so I can have them assessed for postage  and finalize the labelling. And then, I need to ship the projects out to the foks that had me hopping for the past few days.

Second Workday: 2011

Raggedy Ann and Andy, Q. Cassetti, 2010, sharpieI am feel a whisker better. I couldnt really breathe yesterday…and was choking and coughing like a nut. But I slept a little bit better and took some over the counter pharmaceuticals which seemed to open my head up a bit. Alex is home feeling bad as is Rob. Its in the water…or at least the air.

However, got a bunch of stuff off my desk so I could do the same today to get ready for the onslaught. I got a nice email from the new team of folks at the Baker Institute for Animal Health to talk projects/process etc. which is nice as you never know when the people change and whether the work I have done has any lasting value than the last administration. Good news. We will see.

Did a bit of research on Madhubani art. Interesting note here:

“The origins of Madhubani painting or Mithila painting are shrouded in antiquity, and a tradition states that this style of painting originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Hindu god Lord Ram. Madhubani painting has been done traditionally by the women of villages around the present town of Madhubani (the literal meaning of which is forests of honey) and other areas of Mithila. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas.”

Note the honey is part of this program too! I think this interesting image to the left, the amazing tight crop, the happy eye floating amongst polka dots, flowers and stripes with a total abandon and happiness. Look at the wiggily eye, the solids and line…no shading, no mystery added.

Gloria has left us after a few weeks here in TBurg—back to Southern California, her horse and friends. Seemed like a quick visit, but good for her to connect back up with friends and family and parents. The team is nudging a new tub into Kitty’s soon to be finished bathroom (Yay!). It is amazing that the house is beginning to be a bit more wrapped up than ever…with projects finshing, the exterior touched in every spot…without any reference to the slummy aspects of the house. The new projects are moving the needle significantly—but in the tuning of the life in this historical house versus function or no function. More later. I leave youwith pattern!



First Workday: 2011

When Cats Fly, Q. Cassetti, 2010, sharpies from the second sketchbook project, Long day yesterday. In the car most of it… We got Kitty tricked out with food and drugstore stuff with productive trips to Target and Whole Foods. Wow. If only we had one here in Itown (Whole Foods that is). Sure is the Museum of the Organic Lifestyle. Pricey but inspired buying, inspired display, and a complete grasp of what their customer is looking for. I was intrigued by the packaging we saw in the babyfood aisle—foil packets and these flat packages with sealable spouts (which really makes trash to go in the landfill…so environmentally, maybe not the message they are trying to get across. Yes, there is less, but it doesnt reduce to zero).

Kitty and Alex schlepped the whole contents of the back of the wonderbus to her room (skiis and more) and got her settled. We took back far less than we delivered so that the May pickup will be a crunch. Kitty seemed so happy to be back in her new digs, new friends, new opportunities, new things to share and try. Rob and I were comparing our first semester of freshman year to that of Kitty’s and yes, thank you, she is doing just fine. We forget how time is the big ingredient for change.

Rob had to work on a presentation in the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express until 1:30 when we picked him up to take Kitty back and say good bye. And then, we were off with sandwiches from Whole Foods and my lovely teabags from Harneys. I have been driving Rob crazy by carrying a shortie steel thermos with me when I travel. However, this trip, he saw how good it was. Everytime we stop for a bio break, I get hot water from the venue of choice (free) and then plop an elegant Harney teabag into it…and we have tea to sip between stops. For those of us coughing, sneezing and throaty, it has been a lifesaver. And, if you dont know about Harney Tea, you should>> I recommend the Hot Cinnamon Spice (reg and decaf), their bulk Earl Grey Supreme, the Holiday Tea (drank a box of the sachets in less than a week with Kitty) which are the basics around here. And the perfume of these teas are rich and amazing which goes right into the flavor of the tea. It makes the Liptons/Red Rose stuff seem like sawdust. More expensive but a transcendent experience.

First workday of the new year. Need to make it count.

Dark already!

From the Sketchbook 11/2010, Q. Cassetti, prismcolor and sharpieSent a bunch of ideas to Edible Finger Lakes for their Winter Issue. I sent them a bee, a home sweet home and a valentine for them to pick from. If there isnt anything that will float their boat, there there is more to pick from.

I spent an hour or so with Joe Sepi at Pioneer Printing in Lodi. Heaven. Joe knows what I like and was pulling out all these wonderful european papers (Gmund and James Cropper) as well as funky bone industrial paper that they do hangtags for the local parks…but could make an amazing postcard etc. He walked me through the foil stamp and finish book pointing out woodgrain, sparkly snowball patterns, holographic, metallics and flats. He showed me this great foil that acts on a rub off card…which makes another opportunity to offer my clients. I asked about press kit folders— and Joe wandered over to his shelf of magic samples handing me Hmmmmm one more interesting shape after the next. Over- stimulation without caffeine or sugar. He didn’t blink or flinch when I brought up my valentine up…and perhaps chipboard and matte silver foil… didn’t make him shake or guffaw. And the papers from woodgrains, to a silky suede, to almost a japanese-y thin, laid finish feeling almost antique…were lovely. There were uncoated papers with matte and gloss stripes (!) in rich chocolate browns or heavenly pebbled tarnished silver finishes. Joe suggested I share a sheet with him if I design his business card to highlight his company…! What opportunities. Cornell Cards await. My holiday envelopes and my valentine with the tattoo (I need to design). I was reeling until the phone rang.

My client has us creating an eyewash coffee break slide show for a presentation next week before a session on Communication. The trick is finding the right music. I had Erich looking for it and Alex too. I went to iTunes and gathered up a ton of techno, remixes and digital stuff. Its a taste decision…ouch…I generally miss…not tasteless but cannot often climb into my client’s head exactly. So, we will see. I am moving as fast as I can to find images that speak to information, communication, passage, connection and the devices along with “digital” style images. I shouldnt lose sleep over this one…it is only for a coffee break…and a 2 minute loop…but its not my strong suit.

Current status of my sketchbook is up (from 10/28 to date)>> And did a bunch of new links on the Hartford MFA Illustration Squint Blog (some of my stuff in Behance spurred by a classmate’s pleasure in being selected) here> and here>. I posted the same stuff to the Hartford MFA Facebook Page too. I got some new folks logged into the Squint site so that they can add their respective class stuff versus all of it on my shoulders. I am doing 2009, 2008 and 2007 news…with help from the classes ahead. I hope this works out. I posted some of my sketchbook work to the Moleskine, “my Moleskine”  site>>. Nice thing about the Moleskine page is it makes it easy to twitter these illustrations along with posting to the bookmarks networking site, delicio.us page.

I am lubok crazed again. Guess I will need to draw it out of my system. Magical Cats, Flying Cats, cranky cats.

Gotta go. Dinner awaits.


Time flies when you are having fun?

Working away on holiday antics and fun…as you can see. We are maxed out with work, lots from all corners of Central New York along with further reaches of New Jersey and beyond. I am personally making piles of holiday presents and getting ready for a wrapathon this weekend…so as to be able to move towards November with an end in sight for the rush on December. I really need to have the holidays all figured out by November 11 so as to roll into Thanksgiving and the month of December without late nights and any more significant nail biting than normal.

I’ve got approval work. I’ve got consulting stuff. I have a laborador retriever to draw. And then it dawned on me that I have a ton of other illustration and illustration related work in the near offing: The Hangar Posters; The Taughannock Triathlon Graphic, and then there is the bakery and the mill. Yipes. I guess that quiet weekend has just got loaded up. Plus, lets not forget the applications for SOI NYC and SOI West shows due at the end of the month.

I roasted two packs of chicken backs this morning and put them in the brand new magic tool, the pressure cooker, along with carrots, onions and celery and let er rip for about 12 minutes. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. First off, I didn’t kill myself (I live in fear the the top of the presto will blow off and I will live the rest of my life with a metal mask because of the damage inflicted). Second, the pressure gauges and outlets worked perfectly. Third, I was able to get the top on (like a pro) versus the bungling the last two times. Fourth, it worked….and I have amazing stock in seconds compared to the slow cooking all day thing. Do you think Rob might be upset if I took the pressure cooker on a mini honeymoon? I might have to marry it.

I am plugging away on my little sketchbook project for The Sketchbook Project. The current thrill is that I am working in sharpies…no blacks allowed…and am doing 3-4 illustrations a day to sock in the book. So, I should clock down this sketchbook in no time. I am going to design a cover (wraparound on the epson) with a ribbon with little bees sewn on to dress up the now grungy brown cover. Dig this:

“For the first time ever, we’re adding notifications for each sketchbook. As the artist, you’ll be able to receive e-mail or text message notifications each and every time your book is checked out to be read! We do our best to make sure every sketchbook gets a little love, but we can’t promise anything about how many times it will be checked out. We’re not responsible for dropped texts, e-mail notifications that get sorted to the junk folder, or the costs associated with receiving text messages. We’ve got enough responsibility with all these sketchbooks to catalog!The books will be included in an exhibition that tours Brookly, Austin, San Francisco, Portland ME, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, Winter Park FL. So, its trackable and we will be ab le to see who sees the work and if there is any response. Its a nice little creative sidebar that is keeping me interested and frankly, thinking a bit more…randomly…but a bit more.

Its a lovely afternoon. I will go to the bank and get home for more work. There is hope we will be going to the Pourhouse tonight to see the Grady Girls. Should be fun. Need to get all the paperwork complete for Alex to ski with ski club this winter. Am working on figuring out how to get Kitty from Amherst to Ithaca for Thanksgiving and Xmas….a bit of a path…but not insurmountable.

Head down.

Coming Soon: Farmer Ground Flour MixesComps in the hands of the master who will be showing them this week at a food show. Farmer Ground is coming out with some great organic mixes: Buttermilk Pancakes, Buckwheat Pancakes, Cornbread and Muffin Mix, Bran Muffin Mix, Ginger-bread Cake and Cookie Mix. These are packaged in nice, neat canisters that keep the flour and ingredients fresher. Fresh, organic and delicious.

Speaking of fresh, organic and delicious… freerange, happy bird for the holidays—I ordered my turkey for Thanksgiving today from The Regional Access. So, I have put the money down and have pencilled in the pick up prior to that special Thursday in November. Now what to cook beyond this. And, who is sitting at my table too? I would love to have a big group. Its so much more lively and fun. Plus, as its Kitty home from college, it would be fun to have people she loves and adores too to enrich the time. And extras? Do you think that something with Farmer Ground Cornmeal or Grits might peek into the mix? Can I do something with leeks and polenta with a little elegant cheese? Hmmm.

Speaking of food…I used a Martha Stewart Food recipe as a starting point to riff on using beets, potatoes, tarragon and onions (roasted) and then cooked cooked cooked into a pink soup. It was good. Pretty good…and a little something hefty needs to be added. But we all politely ate it for lunch. More successful was the beet salad that everyone is chowing on and going back for seconds. So from all white lunches to today, all pink all day!

Had a terrific chat and am highly motivated by talking with the local letterpress printer. His prices are good and he loves the same things I do (crappy paper or really elegant all cotton cream paper, we love letterpress and foil stamping and the works). We are going to work on a postcard printed on a kraft paper stock (black and grey on kraft)…and his price is great. So, need to get the valentines prepped as well as a “family” holiday card for friends and wider family group. Need to roll on that….

Cranked a ton of design work today too. Got new numbers on possibly refinancing our house. Going rate these days is 3.5% and we could lower our payment and by refinancing, also save a ton of money over the life of the loan. I hate applying for these things, but at least we can get our hands on the paperwork quickly…So need to talk to R about pursuing it or not.

Bright Skies

Dear Deer, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digital.It has been cold and rainy…a bit dreary. But here we are, on a Friday afternoon, and there is a beautiful, high blue sky with Maxfield Parrish clouds rising out of the brilliance. Can make a girl giddy.

I am going to morph back to being ink girl again. I am not charged up by this graphic stuff. I am intellectually, but emotionally, its not grabbing me between the ears…and after posting the Home Sweet Home image, I got all shivery about how much I love this technique and need to take it further. I am a bit concerned about the shows coming up for the next year. I have not been cranking the vector portraits recently, so my handful of show hopefuls are more limited as I have been stretching out a bit more as a decorative illustrator, and not as  the vector Queen that I have been in the past. I should get my eye back into that— freshening up my viewpoint, and building that book back up. Granted, I have some new images for the Hangar that could be submitted, but frankly, I am a bit concerned about not getting into the shows with the more diverse body of recent work. I did get some of the advent calendar work in American Illustration (a decorative approach) that was the hint that the Memento Mori work could take off (the willow skull got in American Illustration and Society of Illustrators (along with the traveling show to universities). So I should have some hope that the decorative stuff may possibly get recognition as well. It comes out of the same head and out of the same hand. Different technique..but still me. We’ll see.

Phone is ringing with new work. Some paying. A lot not paying. I got a wild bundle of “due immediately” work from the theatre (a quarter page, a small poster, a large poster, two banners, a playbill cover) and I whomped it out yesterday. Not much time to pfutz the details..but its all done and at an okay level. Another rushmo was a package for some flourbased mixes (a canister layout) that will link to the bread bakery in a way…so the need for a levelset was there. Albeit is was very quick—I am pleased with the general direction that is going too. And! Two pieces for Cornell is happening. And, a brand new something for Ithaca College too. Bizzzy me.

Alex is wild with school, training and hanging with the bros. There is a cookout/tailgate party post training today associated with the soccer game. Rob and Bruce are knocking off early to go to Watkins Glen for the antique/ vintage cars. Kitty news from Facebook reads:

Kitty Cassetti: dancing modern was absolutely intense. A semester filled with Kabuki, Ballet and Indian Dance are in the near future. I’m so excited!”

Kitty Cassetti The professor is this adorable little old lady who kind of threw us into the class first thing. It was pretty marvelous.

So, she is good…and loving it. Already has read a play for Theatre class. I need to go work on relaying out a brochure (miscommunication from the client). Ah well.

More later.

The Verge of Fall

owl sketch, Q,Cassetti, 2010, digitalNelly Charbonneaux featured me on her blog, “Nelly’s Blog” today. Nice write up. Nice exposure. I am very grateful to her attentions~! And further down on her list is another Syracuse ISDP MA in Illustration graduate, Dave Devries. Connecting again…The marvel of the web, it’s reach and the new people I have met through this wonderful connective medium is truly amazing. I can live in the country and reach the world. This is from the girl who, when graduating from college, used a miraculous machine called a fax that we had to shave our mechanical artwork off the boards to then wrap the art around this large glass cylinder to then have it scanned (took hours) to send to another place. Faxes are so passe with the internet and mail. No more high jinx like that!

School started yesterday as did yearbook. It was great seeing the teachers who I love and the new faces around the room. This year it is going to be tough going (100 pictures a week edited to 10 for presentation to the room)…with cameras we are providing. I bought some refurbished Olympus cameras for DIRT Cheap from Bargaincell.com over the summer to contribute to the pile. And, the Day In The Life books are there too—as a source of inspiration and ideas for good pictures and how to just keep shooting. Every other day from 8-9 is the class. We will see….we also have homeroom which means I get to hear the daily events (and menu) to my delight. It was pizza yesterday.

Alex is back in the swing of things. He proactively got in front of his schedule and switched out his English for a more advanced one as well as pursuing AP Music Theory in one of his two study halls. Impressive. We are bidding on a synthesizer on ebay for composition and fun—and I have his attention fully on that.

Kitty starts classes today: Dance, Theatre Production, Women in Animation and Indian Epics. She is doing swimmingly well and talks about the insanity around how everyone is befriending each other in an extremely competitive way. She calls is “competitive friending”. The dorm is great. The dorm friends are great and they all love tea….so there is lots of tea drinking in the hallway (and an opportunity to provide biscuits for this event). She sounds tired…but good and fully ensconced. Loves her room, her sanctuary. She has made a few “go to” friends and hopes to find more. This is all good given her quiet year here in the burg….a shot in the arm. More on her as it evolves.

The Fire Commissioner is enjoying that role. The Museum’s attendance has been very good (to his delight). He has dinner out tonight (for me to sketch and bake), a village meeting tomorrow and then the antique car show at the Glen on Friday with Bruce and Alex (no thanks!)….So, I have some me time in the near future to make stock, make soup (mushroom on the stove today using up all the slippery leeks and celery on the edge). I think a trip to Sauders in the near future will be on the list. Maybe Friday night?!

Holiday card for my big client to go out today. Need to talk to my contact at the Cornell Vet School about the Feline Health Annual Report and the Baker Annual Report. We are doing both books and I have some content ideas that should be interesting to push around with my associate.

Was talking with Deirdre C. about tees and a totebag for the Tburg Farmers Market using the derivative illustration from the work Durand did with the weathervane. We are pushing around an idea to celebrate the people who contributed (time/money) to build the market and bandstand…for sometime in October. More on that later. I need to wrap up a sketch for her today for the shirts.

More later>

Looking for rain.

Looking at Roosters sketch, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalClient Holiday card still on the revision point. Worked on finalizing the tweaks to get completed by the end of the week. In that spirit, I created the Luckystone card and got it out to the insty-printer last night. Picked out some nice riblaid khaki colored envelopes that I need to order. Could be tan or a dirty green? Prices seem good. Maybe will get them imprinted with our address to make it seem a bit more pro. Next step, get the cranes cards to Interlaken to get the valentines day card done so we can stuff and finalize at the same time as Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, ordered three presents today for my nieces. Yay! I love working against the November 11th date to have all the holiday stuff done, wrapped and finalized (to be put in the mail) so that the month of December I have to make ancillary fun stuff, and to have the time to dig into whatever whimsey takes my fancy.

Working on revisions of the special project for a friend. Am working away on the logotypes and feel like there is a bit of breeze in this work.

Lots of local stuff. Need to layout the Tburg Farmers Market Thank you teeshirt and a totebag. Also, need to get my wits together for yearbook in advance. I have the Rick Smolen “Day in the Life” books from Alibris in hand as well as a few cameras I bought from Bargain Cell for the team. I will need to get a battery charger and some cards to let these little cameras go…I should try one out to know what sort of gift (?) I am extending to the group. This weekend definitely.

I hopefully will be working on the companion animal graphic work (two annual reports). Not huge projects nor huge budgets, but work is work— and we welcome it. Also have some work with Amy Brill>> a local fashion designer and creative person all round. I was doing a little branding for her…and now she needs a hangtag and something to wrap her fibers in for sale. Kitty did a little modelling for her…and the pictures are great.

Just finished the trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked Hornet’s Nests. I throughly enjoyed them…it was a mad trip, a wonderful ride from the first page of Dragon to the last page of Nest….an engrossing story in the spirit of the Hannibal Lechter stories…that is very scandinavian in style and spirit. So clean and bright with a really deep, dark slice. Summer reading extrordinaire. Recommended.

Thursday afternoon.

Where has the week gone?

It feels like Thursday from last week...only what happened to the seven days inbetween? The seven wake ups, the seven lights out, the seven sunrises and sunsets? It's all a blur. Can we just just stop the time a bit so we can savor these longer days?

I love the Hangar Theatre. Love, love, love. Lots of great energy and not enough time (yet) to put forth the story of what the Hangar is completely about. Affordable professsional theatre in your own backyard. Equity actors directed by celebrated directors right on Lake Cayuga. Original writing. National, professional shows tailored for local audiences. Affordable excellence. Stay local, engage nationally.  Left foot, right foot. I will be helping them get a lot of print out the door in the next few weeks. We will be having a meeting in the next week or so to get into the details.

Am working on some graphics for the Museum of Glass and their show for the West Bridge this fall. Its fun as it's Sabon and it's ligatures. So, I need to do some applications for that today along with moving and grooving with some publication work. The pace continues albeit I am still managing to keep my head above water. Need to clear the desk once the freebies start hitting as I am going to be very busy for the month of April just with that work.


F L A X  B A R N  S A L E  2 0 1 0

Friday, April 23,2010 10 am-7 pm
Saturday, April 24, 2010 9 am- 5 pm
Sunday, April 25, 2010 11 am-4 pm

Tops Plaza, 725 South Meadow Street, Ithaca, NY (RT 13) in the former Office Depot.
For more information or to learn about Flax>> 


More later>>