this and that

I was asked a few questions regarding my "reinvention" and liked where my notes were going . I figured I would post this just as a reminder to myself and maybe it might be of some interest to you. Here goes.

I had a bucket list when I graduated from college. We didn’t call it a bucket list…and it was something I did not talk about…it was just a series of milestones to stretch for. I wanted a range of experiences and a broad range of project types before I settled down. By the time I was 28, I had pretty much completed the list and couldn’t figure out the next steps. I got great projects and great jobs after the bucket list was done— work that I never, ever had anticipated—so in a stretch for me, I decided to stop planning my future and to see what would happen. I figured if I could put effort into it, I could figure out the work and do it.

My business, Luckystone Partners, has been in business since 1997.  We are a small business but have had some pretty significant projects and opportunities. One was with a national client. We changed their brand, their packaging, their entire look and feel in 24 direct mail catalogs a year using an ancient collection of product photography with remote art direction of new products (photographer in NYC, us in the Finger Lakes). We were a solid vendor for this client and they pushed the limits of our 3 man team—with the traditional unreasonable deadlines, adding to projects that they would not pay for etc. Reverse auction pricing. A headache, but a good headache as it paid the bills. They got a fancy PR person from NYC who said she could not promote the look/feel that we were using because it was not done by a significant design team. The client decided that they would be nice and have me bid on the work I had been doing for the past 3 years against this significant leviathan design group. Versus going through the process of presentations and quotations on work I was performing (and frankly, knowing too much about the organization), I met with management and bowed out of the work saying that I understood their needs but also understood their desire to change. It was no hard feelings and that I was down the road if they needed me. It was very nice and frankly, for me, extremely liberating as every spare minute of my time was working for this account (on a retail schedule —read Christmas/Holiday was done in the summer) and burning out due to the other clients we had. There was no let up. So when I got that time back….I found I was feeling very stale, very blunted and not excited about my work. 

So, I started trolling the internet for a class, something to mix things up a bit. I didn’t know what, but I needed a change I had been at the graphic design game for well on 20 years and was not giving back to myself. I was the composer of other people’s symphonies. I was the arranger of other people’s messages. I was not in my work….


I found that Syracuse University had a limited residency program to get a MA in either advertising or illustration. This program was unique as it was 2 weeks in Syracuse in the summer, a week in the spring, a week in the fall (in other locations) that focused on mid-career people (many were educators). It was a question of advertising or illustration.  Advertising was already in my wheelhouse, so I opted for illustration as it was a scary stretch and something a professor at college had warned me to never advance (why is beyond me, but I listened). So, I sent in my money and waited. The first two weeks were paralyzing. The Syracuse Illustration MA was the Harvard MBA of the illustration world and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. There were gold and silver medal winners of the Society of Illustrators in every year. There were celebrated educators, painters, illustrators who could “do” Norman Rockwell. There were illustrators and cartoonists from MAD magazine to Boys Life. There were illustrators who did the work for Celestial Seasonings Tea. There were character illustrators who did Mr. Clean. The Con celebrities (Magic the game) were shoulder to shoulder with me.  The bar was plenty high. So, I grew….and struggled and grew. I discovered that I could compete and found a spot with this new community of people. I developed a vector illustration style—which resonated with me, and became a distinct look. I learned that the distance between illustration and graphic design was a hairs breadth, and that both solved visual problems except that the illustrator could have more of a voice and a point of view that as a designer (at least my generation) held back to allow the message to take center stage. I started entering shows with my classmates to find that the work got the recognition my graphic work did not. This was crazy—I was having fun, having a lot of self discovery and really pushing my work.


I wanted to continue this process so enrolled in the Hartford Art School (University of Hartford). They would take my SU credits and in a year, I could have a MFA in illustration. I wanted to continue to work with my mentor, Murray Tinkelman, founder of the Syracuse program who had migrated to HAS. I wanted to see if I could work in a new technique (hand drawing supplemented with digital) and build a body of decorative illustration. Hartford was a different and far more broadening experience—that gave me the space to evolve and develop a personal voice integrating illustration and picture-making into something  I use to speak to myself. I was able to wrap my head around what I was finally doing, I was re-inventing myself for an encore career (a new idea), where I could continue to do my work as a graphic designer (to keep my head in the game and candidly, to pay the bills) but to begin to migrate to new markets, new opportunities, new projects that might not come my way as a designer. I am now doing illustration work too—and find my graphic work is bending to being more decorative and integrating more illustration into it.

I do not know if I have reinvented myself because I did not know the end point (nor do I now) I know that this may be an evolution, but it was not planned—and it was a difficult birth. I think in order for me to change, I needed to get bored and see the person I was evolving to—and know that this was not the place I wanted to go. Self awareness was key—but also getting to the place where life experiences had trained me to take measured risks that others might not take. My thinking (and preaching) is that the bigger the risk, the greater the reward (measured and researched risks, but risk none the less). That first step into thin air is terrifying.  Going back to school albeit after the fact is one of the best things I have done for myself, at the time—was horrifying as I had to lay everything at the door, take down the walls and  be open to change. I was very nervous and fearful—and really could not articulate why I was doing this work, but knew I had to….committed the time and focus to move the needle focusing on my education the way I focused on work for other clients….only for myself. And now I am a changed creative. I can do more, and have the confidence to do so— My work and focus have changed along with my thinking of my next chapter of illustrator/designer. I haven’t left anything behind, but am building my future on a solid past with me, in the center of the equation.

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 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.


Hairhoppers, Q. Cassetti, 2012, pen and inkIts been heads down on this presentation I am working on. Delighted with the process and the solutions. I have a few more things and then it will be ready to be shown (I hope tomorrow). I did a little font shopping (something I havent done forever and forever. I forgot how fun that is—and found some fonts that jive with my illustration style and speaks to handmade a bit more than the corporate fonts that I use in the publication work I do. I have been taking these fonts out for a testdrive and am delighted. My heart leaps a bit. I find the fusion of my graphics and my illustration coming together with these projects which is really making my brain work. I know its all good as it is all coming way to easy.

Interestingly, I am finding that I am loving creating these happy brands…things more consumery,more upscale and I wonder how I can do more.

Another cool thing that I have been paying attention to is Pinterest. Pinterest is a visual social networking site that one can “pin” images to virtual boards (or files). One of my new friends used this site to create a clip sheet of what she likes/loves for a project we are working on. And just for that, I thought, wow…this is a cool tool I can take beyond the icing recipes and girlie girl cred that this site has. So, in that spirit, I have launched into pinning…and find that it has far, far more value than Tumblr for me. It is a teaching tool to teach myself, to be a place to reflect on what is hitting me -so I am getting a bit more coming back to me than other social sites. I have posted some illustrations and find a great place to keep my reference materials. I find the posting of new content is far more interesting than repinning/reposting others content. If you want to see what I am pinning, you can follow me here>>

Oh! I got some stickers back from the Sticker Guy. If you would like me to send you a set, send me or post your snail mail address and I will pop them in the mail to you with my compliments! Tattoos on the way.

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.”“


Mr. Chicken, Watkins Glen NY 10.08.2011, Q. CassettiWhy Mr. Chicken? Well, because. Love the sign, love the decor of chicken do-dads, the funny primative quality of the seating, the outdoor venue and their offering of “a tub of chicken” which is this chopped tiny bird, thrown into a food service paper shell with a piece of waxed paper. Of course, it comes with some very doughy, very white rolls (4) with little wrapped rectangles of salted butter (that we leave at the counter). We had lunch at Mr. Chicken en route to Corning—which was satisfying and funny.  I think Rob sees more in Mr. Chicken than I do, but their tee shirts could win me over to being a more vocal supporter. And then, their neon in a little house shape is pretty good. The actual chicken, hmmm? Not totally mmmm.

Maybe a bit of Yelpifying on Mr. Chicken? I am sorry,but are you familiar with Yelp? I love Yelp! Yelp is a website that you can leave reviews of local restaurants, businesses and services, post pictures and kind of keep track of your own loves and likes. I particularly love using Yelp when I am in a different town and need to find lunch or a hotel or whatever in the area—and the locator device on my IPad connects with Yelp, and there right in front of me is what to expect in the neighborhood. We have never been disappointed by the finds we have gotten on Yelp (from the real deal mexican we found in Amherst/Hadley, to the bar/restaurant/gallery/music venue we found in Providence. We yelped in Baldwinsville NY in the expectation of a starving son…and found a heavenly pizza by the slice place that fit the bill. So, if you are not a yelper, join in! If you don’t want to write, then just use it to make the day more fun…

From the Chicken Collection at Mr. Chicken, Watkins Glen, NY, Q. CassettiRob is riding the recalcitrant mower—which after a few tries with breakfast in between decided to start. Or maybe it was after I made the proclamation that I was tired of all these broken machines and that more money spent fixing them might be better spent on something more worthy…and real (vs. the toys we have). I bet it was that. “Junk heap or start?”…you can hear the mower thinking….”Start!”. The lake grass is amazingly long and lush. A green rug which is a gorgeous foil for the changing leaves. Amazing for early October.

The cats are sitting on the dining room table watching for critters and butterflies. Shady is parked underfoot so I am guaranteed to trip or fall on her if I do not watch out.

The day is glorious. I hope my littles are having fun: Alex on the rollie coasters (that’s what we call them in the other Burgh, PBurgh), Kitty in Greenwich Village. Amazing my babies are on their own—hanging with their friends, making their lives as fun as can be. Alex will be back tomorrow. Kitty goes back to the Shire on Tuesday. A bit shocking for someone used to having so much pivot on my activity. Takes the pressure off a bit. But lets me think and act a bit more freely. Should be an interesting time. It also is interesting to view Columbus Day weekend as a vital time to take off. Never reallly thought of it as a programmable time, but after running into two adorable Tburgers at Two Goats in the parking lot—and hearing about their Columbus Day tour of camping, visiting, seeing…literally driving all over NYState in a few days, I was stunned and inspired. And there was the tiny “Scamp”trailer for sale on 414. Q. and Robbie v.2. (or is it v.3?).

I have a new group of people I am going to be working with. Hip Hip Hipsters! These guys on top of ART, and Artbooks and art catalogs and sell them to libraries (either in the mode of pick out so many books for us monthly and send them to us, or on an order by order basis). They have a tough company name, and an out dated logotype, and havent done much promotion ever. I am going to help them. Maybe in exchange for esoterica to drive my art. Could be cool. My head is spinning on this one…as it really isnt about books, its about art. I am doing a bit of doodling with their mark…and the simple stuff just to get out of the gate, but the trick here is to change the thinking a bit of how yes, they sell books and service…but it is all driven out of an understanding and love of art. How to rachet up that thinking and the fun factor on a shoestring budget? Good challenge. Interesting people. Cool business.

I have decided that the time spent on the Hangar Theatre posters and graphics will be given to local farmers and producers to help them establish a look and brand locally. Works for me. There is a cidery in the mix (biodynamic organic apples that will sell cider and also a you pick apple orchard) along with a lovely farm in Mecklenburg. I figure I can do 3-4 of these in the time I spent on the posters and move the needle for a bunch more people, and get a happy factor along with it. Need to schedule the meetings. Everyone is raring to go.

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.

2011 Pantone Color of the Year: Honeysuckle

Yes folks. The Pantone color of the Year is Honeysuckle! I totally missed turquoise from last year. At least I have time to get with the program this year!

From the Pantone site:

“While the 2010 color of the year, PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, served as an escape for many, Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life. 

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.” 

Eiseman continues, “The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.” 

Honeysuckle is guaranteed to produce a healthy glow when worn by both men and women. It’s a striking, eye-catching hue that works well for day and night in women’s apparel, accessories and cosmetics, and in men’s ties, shirts and sportswear. Add a lively flair to interior spaces with Honeysuckle patterned pillows, bedspreads, small appliances and tabletop accessories. Looking for an inexpensive way to perk up your home? Paint a wall in Honeysuckle for a dynamic burst of energy in the family room, kitchen or hallway. “

Pantone goes on to tell us that you can get paint, wedding apparel and yes, a Pantone Visa Card (I mean, why not!). All of this points, for me, that the end of the world is coming. I mean, a Pantone Visa Card? I guess we don’t have enough to do beyond work and the antics of Snookie and the Situation so shopping with our pink card (maybe only buying honeysuckle, energized products?) is there to fill the time!


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.


Flippity Flop color, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and ink, digitalSo, a new technique is emerging. Not exactly new…but taking these detailled black and white line drawings beyond black and white. I add tone via Photoshop (see yesterday’s image) using postitive and negative aspects of the original line work along with tone added via brush and eraser. Then, the toned piece is the base for the coloring (see above). I am thrilled with the way this is looking. lots of detail, and it is working as a color piece too. So, now onward to working with it. I do not know why Memento Mori images popped back up, but they have and I am looking at Mexican Sugar Skulls again with happiness in my head and pen.

Speaking of pens, do you know about the refillable Copic SP Multiliner pens? There is a wide wide range of widths along with a brush that is permanent. Sweet. Jet Pens have them…. and of course, they have wild and wonderful Japanese office supplies.

I am a bit nuts as a bunch of rushes were plopped inbetween me and the preexisting work that will keep me in my chair until at least 8 tonight. I would like to be able to leave before 7 on a more regular basis. It gets a bit tedious, but books on tape keep me wanting to work to stay with the story (thank goodness!).

Gotta go.

Winter Bear

Winter Bear, Q. Cassetti, 2011, digital, vectorLittle messing around with simple shapes working with my new favorite tools  (shift W: which monkeys with line widths and shift M which can join shapes —additive and subractive). I love messing around in the land of vectors so I can make little ditties like the bear to the left. Key learning from this rush job is that believe it or not, if I draw my designs, scan them in and then have them as guidelines underneath the vector work, the images are better, happen faster and are more designed than just randomly drawing on the tablet without a plan. No duh. But hey, that’s why I had to go to graduate school was to have my mentor, Murray, surface these things because the basic stuff is something we forget. Sketch first, finish last. So my desktop is littered with thick trace with tons of line drawings waiting to turn into vector shapes.

Another thrill is that I am building a wonderful library (in the symbols library in Illustrator) of all these critters and shapes. I need to draw some racoons, squirrels, bears, deer…woodland animals as they have a place far beyond the zoo/tropical animals. I have also made some way cool brushes (thanks to the prodding of Jean Tuttle) of vegetation, leaves, holly….So the toolbox expands and I am building my own version of Design Elements.

Love the Ultimate Symbol and its CDs. Check em out. They are such a wonderful tool to help get the jobs done. Check em out. New to the collection is a rights free disk set of Seymour Chwast illustrations. Interesting that Chwast has gone into business with Ultimate Symbol (which I think is a remarkable and very design forward organization) to get a library of his illustration back into circulation. For me, this moves the needle significantly in the world of rights free illustration. What is your thinking?

I am beginning to get that frisson of excitement around just doing illustration and graphics. I feel a wave is coming.  A sunami. Yea! Its about time.

We had a great chat en famille last night with Kitty—a virtual valentine for all of us. She was in good spirits mixing it up with a new group of friends referred to as “Skull Cave”. These are interesting folks who are not as crazed as others with World of Warcraft and other consuming electronic games. There is a high zombie factor with students studying and then spending a lot of their spare time playing these games.She was in great shape, centered, happy….laughing. I miss her so much.


Inspired by Ganga Devi, Q. Cassetti,2011, moleskine and sharpies.\I love it that Elvis gave his band members his favorite insider initials: TCB (taking care of business) belt buckles and all sorts of other stuff with those initials on it. Today is a TCB day. We were up early to get Alex to the bus for a track meet. Then it was getting to the desk (for me) to kick it into gear for this new small client, fast job. I am a bit paniced (like I normally am with someone I do not know)… but what is coming off the wacom is good… solid… not high risk, but easily something to show to a client pretty immediately.

As an interesting aside, this client was googling Alexander Girard and found me in that search online. Remember the Girard jag for a short time last summer. I guess these sidebar jags are not a waste of time as sometimes they are beckons for new work. I love the way this cyber info world works.

Another something to better understand is Dribbble (three bs please). You know that I am a fan of Behance as it is a visual arts networking site where one can post portfolios, projects etc and get direct feedback. Behance has gotten me in front of all sorts of people who might not run across my work. It has gotten me noticed and recognition has come my way from that. Dribbble is another site I think that has promise. Dribbble says this about themselves” “Dribbble is show and tell for creatives. Designers, developers and other creatives shareshots—small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on.” You are nominated to be a player on Dribbble by either other players or by one’s involvement with the site. I like it that its simple onesie screen shots…and a way to share. Cool. I hope I can become a player (for real)….Take a look. Your thinking?

My valentines showed up from the wonderful Pioneer Printing (Lodi). I have a gold foil stamped smooth card (one side) with a kraft envelope with teensy bodoni centered on the square flap. Rob wanted to know what I thought of my card, curious as this one is a bit sweeter than I usually do. I will be curious to know from those of you on my list, as to whether it is too sweet or not… I am pleased with the stamping, but this job points up the need to do much simpler work, or even smaller on the page as the foil really is quite commanding. I stuffed some of them last night with more tonight, and then labelling during the Superior Bowl. I guess I will not be cooking but ordering a pizza for the boys to keep pup with the stuff that needs to be done.

Tonight is the Snowball at the High School. Alex and date are going to dinner (we pick up and deliver)..and then the dance. Tomorrow Alex has skiing. Rob has work. I have more design work…dig in…and get in front of it for the next week.

More later, I hope.

Sun Day

Study after Ganga Devi, Q. Cassetti, 2011, sharpies on MoleskineBrilliant day. Cold blue sky with brilliant bounce off the snow with the spiky walnut trees reaching up with dark fingers into the cloudless above. Just looking out the window has made me run to my pocketbook and pull out my camera and pop off some shots as the shadows are truly bright purple and rich lavenders combined with edges of cream. I never believed that shadows could really be purple and blue until living here on our plateau, and there they are…not obsured as they were in the valleys, but out there for all to see. I can be an Upstate impressionist—or at least pretend to be.

The roads are clear so errands will not be frightening as they were the other days. New wonderwagon does not have snowtires…so snow is a bit risky. I should get snowtires as they give me more comfort than not having them.

I had half the panels designed for the Library display and then my illustrator CRASHED. So, hopefully today, I can rejigger and get out as they need to be in the curator’s hands by the 21st. Not a ton of time, but enough for output/mounting and fasteners.

Interesting news….and a reminder that all this social media, networking, Behance etc. pays off. I posted all my vital info (learned from a Twitter colleague) on A little advertisement (here is my page>>). About me is sort of a web business card. It links the viewer to all the outlets you post work/ network/etc. Plus, it has an email button without one having to post your email. So, it makes you accessible without putting all the details really “out there”. Well, back to my story…. I got a note from about me from a really good designer who wants me to work on a really cool project with them…something really up my alley. I am so psyched. I hope this works out. Too cool for school.

Speaking of Behance, I posted a  bunch of these odd illustrations I am doing yesterday calling the body, Embroidered Line. I really do not know where these images are coming from, they are streaming…fed by the work of Ganga Devi. I am surprised by the oddness…weirdness, creepiness…but am just going to let the hand hit the paper to see what happens.

More later.


Study after Ganga Devi, Q. Cassetti, 2011, sharpies on Moleskine.I do not know where these pictures are coming from. Automatic writing these days. Yes, the trigger was fusing Laylah Ali with the work and spirit of Ganga Devi and this wigged stuff is just emerging. The mean little teeth, the skeptical bigger figure, and the fawning little figures. Looks to me that I need more medication and counseling. What is this all about? I like the pattern, the big shapes, and the grouping of the the heads. So, as my hand keeps moving and I keep making these automatic drawings, we will see what happens. I must admit, once the drawings are done, I do splice pieces of a reversed image of the drawing into the line drawing (in Photoshop) to give the image more weight and interest. I have posted both the plain image and the enhanced here>> So, keep posted. There is more.

Just finished posting work to the 3x3 Professional Show (due March). We will see what happens. I sent a collection of Advent images, Home Sweet Home, a collection of Bees, and some singletons. Now, I need to finalize the article/images etc. for the 3x3 article. I should enter the next Creative Quarterly. I have gotten out of the habit of applying…and its such a beautiful book.

Things are heating up on a big project for my client. We have deadlines within sight..and its getting scary and exciting all at the same time.

Oh, here’s something else. Sticker Guy, is an amazing resource I found in Los Angeles (reading the stickers on dumpsters, no kidding)—as they have really great inexpensive black and white/ or black white and red stickers that the extreme guys use (surf companies, skateboard companies etc) to make a zillion simple stickers to tag the world with. I got their recent offerings and pricing and was blown off my chair. Here it is if you need/want that sort of thing>>

Alex and Rob are home. The whitestuff didn’t drop the way we expected though there is ice and not nice roads. So, we will have a crowd for lunch today.

Wednesday with a pearly sky

After Ganga Devi, Q. Cassetti, 2011, sharpiesWorking away on finalizing the Hangar work—with a portrait of two guys (“Oscar and Felix” as its been positioned to me). New watch words for freebies out there coined by Robbie, “Art not Assignments”. Turns out that despite the words that are put to me about my being able to contribute independently without art directing by the recievers of this work—they cannot hold themselves back. So, lots of direction. Lots of rework…from gift of work to gift of worked work…with no positive flowback to me. So, no more work that is an assignment. If you want a gift of illustration, it will be a gift (the way gifts can be suggested but not mandated), and not an assignment that the nonpaying clients do all but move my hand… Not fun and very time consuming. I only have so much free time, so if the free work isn’t fun, then it isn’t being done. Punto.

So, now that I am done with the griping. Forgive me. Just needed to get it off my mind.

We have a few publications on the boards that we are driving towards completion. The Toots illustration for the museum has changed from a vector illustration to line art…more evocative and less direct where we can focus on the line work of her hair…reflecting the linear, pulled canes that her work is centered around.We were trying to use the Milton Glaser portrait of Dylan as a starting point for this, but our curator thought it wasnt right as a model.

Am puzzling over the new brand we are going to be involved in…thinking about the rabbit holes that have been created for “creative” people to keep the work “creative”. Downside is that the creatives are kind of the inmates we need to protect our client from along with those who make magic with Microsoft Word and Powerpoint (those two “intuitive” layout tools). I think there will be a lot of redo on our parts…of work…peeling apart pdf files in adobe illustrator etc. Hmmm.

Its a cold day today…mild compared to Monday. Shady had a nice romp in the back forty with Elsa (her wonderful border collie friend) and now is conked out under my desk, cuddling with the radiator. The boys are busy finishing the new rooms with Jamie, the electrician, neatly running some new lines for lighting and electrical plug ins.

Last Tuesday of Eleven Month

Tangerine Heart for Sketchbook 3, Q. Cassetti, 2010, sharpiesIt was wildness yesterday. It was Monday, the day after Thanksgiving. So, plenty to catch up with, and plenty coming at us fast. We are wrapping up the pancake/muffin mixes today along with stuff for the Museum, for Cornell and for the Big Client. Got a fast one from the Big Client this morning— a redo of a presskit that 2 agencies have touched aready and is missing the “wow”. I pried and pushed to find out what the “wow” means…and so confounded, I am working on a cracked acrobat file with layers upon layers of vector patterns merged with the text/copy. A mess just to pry the content out of the file. Ouch. Lots of flat planes of bright color…I hope that gets us to wow. I have very little wow in my mojo…I work very hard not to have wow.

Had a great and inspiring conversation with a like minded art director with an agency in NYC that is pursuing my doing some illustration for a Dairy Cooperative in NYS. He gets my work and worked with some of the Fraktur images, the vector stuff and some of my black and white work…parsing it to “Realistic”, “Folk” and “Symbolic” drivers to the work. Plus, he married the work with some cool fonts that I have been inspired by (and bought the one, and two more yesterday—see BadTyp to the left). I totally had forgotten about FontShop. Neville Brody (wonderful Neville Brody) is one of the principals there…and thus the work is fun and inspired (along with fonts from Matthew Carter). We talked prices. We talked deadlines (all doable)…and hopefully something will happen. Could be a good project and a good relationship as I really love this creative. Great brain…and we have common sensibilities.

Am working on a bunch of black and white Matryoshka doll illustrations (Wikipedia). They are just like chips…cannot get enough of them as they are decorative and fun. Not much meaning there…but I think they could be festive.

Gotta go and move the needle.

Heavenly Joy

Double Sirin from Lubok, Q. Cassetti, pen and ink, digitalFrom Wikipedia on Sirin:   Sirin is a mythological creature of Russian legends, with the head and chest of a beautiful woman and the body of a bird (usually an owl). According to myth, the Sirins lived “in Indian lands” near Eden or around theEuphrates River[1][2].

These half-women half-birds are directly based on the Greek myths and later folklore about sirens[3][2][4].They were usually portrayed wearing a crown or with a nimbus[5]. Sirins sang beautiful songs to the saints, foretelling future joys. For mortals, however, the birds were dangerous. Men who heard them would forget everything on earth, follow them, and ultimately die. People would attempt to save themselves from Sirins by shooting cannons, ringing bells and making other loud noises to scare the bird off[3]. Later (17-18th century), the image of Sirins changed and they started to symbolize world harmony (as they live near paradise). People in those times believed only really happy people could hear a Sirin, while only very few could see one because she is as fast and difficult to catch as human happiness. She symbolizes eternal joy and heavenly happiness [6].

The legend of Sirin might have been introduced to Kievan Rus by Persian merchants in the 8th-9th century. In the cities of Chersonesos and Kiev they are often found on pottery, golden pendants, even on the borders ofGospel books of tenth-twelfth centuries[5]Pomors often depicted Sirins on the illustrations in the Book of Genesis as birds sitting in paradise trees[1].

Sometimes Sirins are seen as a metaphor for God’s word going into the soul of a man. Sometimes they are seen as a metaphor of heretics tempting the weak. Sometimes Sirins were considered equivalent to the Polish Wila. In Russian folklore, Sirin was mixed with the revered religious writer Saint Ephrem the Syrian. Thus, peasant lyrists such as Nikolay Klyuev often used Sirins as a synonym for poet[1].


Eternal jou and heavenly happiness. Imagine. Love this idea. The wikipedia page shows fine examples of Russian Sirin(s) with fethers and crowns, perched on the ground or on heavenly bushes/trees.

I am so pleased that the work got into the Society of Illustrators Illustration 53. It’s funny, but I had a hunch with the nutcrackers as American Illustration (another tough show to get into) took a Krampus…to my delight and pleasure. It is so good to have this personal stuff which seems obsessive and strange—but happily infectious for me, pleased enough of the judges to get in.  Anelle mentioned that there was a field of over 4,000. entries…so to get in is no mean feat particularly given the talent that is out there.

I think the nutcrackers may be a saleable card for next holidays along with the lab card. I think this stuff can/could sell. Etsy keeps selling something every day or so. It will be interesting to see what pops up over the course of the season. I sent a valentine to Pioneer with a nice quote which we are going to foil stamp and put in a Kraft paper square envelope. I am going to run extras to sell online as well. They are pretty and yet pretty odd (not the typical heart and flowers)…more tattoo-ey.

Am up against it with a few reports for Cornell along with a calendar coming our way from the Museum of Glass. Speaking of the Museum, my graphics for East Meets West (a show opening today) look wonderful. The whole idea of creating a stripe makes a pretty bulletproof way to look at show graphics. Your thoughts? It was an interesting design problem as the show works around the idea of eastern style vessels/ decoration imitated by western glassmakers for a western audience was the hook. So, I did something with the east/west type orientation, using my favorite (ligatures) and when possible, an eastern and western man painting from the same vessel…. I will post after this for your review.

Alex has a synth these days and is wildly plugged in making music. He is adoring this European stuff very “fashion show”(what R and I call it) with a dance beat and good percussion. Its nice he is on fire about this. It should be interesting to see what comes out of this thing.

More later.


Sketchbook Project 10/23.2010, Q. Cassetti, pale blue sharpie.I dont know if Denver can happen. There is too much going on with my big client.. premeetings for pre meetings before a big meeting. What to present? What is the point of the meeting? What wants to be represented? What’s the takeaway? And I find that I am having some value during those meetings being a bit harsh…a nice counter to my nice client. But, after doing some research, Denver is so appealing just to eat barbeque and mexican and shop for snap shirts (want to do that with Alex Cassetti)…and maybe see a rodeo or something along that line. Love it.

The blue skull on cream is pretty. Love the color. Love doing single color work on cream as it changes the black and white dynamic. Sweetens it. Anyway…two more drawings and the notebook is done….all I will need to do is paint the cover…pentel black on beige with maybe the new coconut beige to deepen some of the line work.

Just spoke to Pioneer Printing about letterpress vs. stamping the Cornell holiday cards. They could be way sweet. Joe Seppi and i are in love with the same printing stuff…so the production of these babies could be beautiful. Will need to redo the cat card…to make it less grumpy. He just delivered a nice clean job on Kraft paper card for Ithaca College…Service is excellent. Price is excellent. I am thrilled to pieces.

Today is a brilliant day on the plateau. Seems that we are on the edge of the massive storm coming east…I hope we are holding tight on the tree front. These big storms are a worry for me as it tests the success of how we have been maintaining our trees, our big old trees…and if we have missed ones that may have seemingly been healthy, but turned out to have structural flaws. Remember this storm? It literally uprooted this enormous pine tree on the lake three years ago. Looked like a bomb went off. These beautiful big trees…you never know.

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.