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Dr. Temple Grandin

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing one of my heroes, Dr. Temple Grandin, live in person at TC3. (The event was sponsored by one of my clients, Franziska Racker Centers, an organization based in Tompkins County, NY, that serves people with autism and other developmental disabilities).

Her talk was about her experiences with autism, and what it’s like to be a visual learner (as opposed to auditory or other type; being one myself, I perked up and listened closely to what she had to say on the topic). She also mentioned the new HBO movie that just came out about her, starring Claire Danes. Dr. Grandin seems very pleased with the movie and feels the actress portrayed her very accurately, in the phase of her life when she was young, and what she defines as being “pre-anti-depressants” (FYI, it’s playing at Cornell Cinema this Thursday, and Temple Grandin will be there)

Although I am interested in the subject of autism, and cannot applaud this amazing woman hard & long enough for all she has manged to accomplish in her life and career as an autistic person, what makes her my hero is what she has accomplished working with the handling of animal factory farms in this country, to make them more humane.

This is a really important subject to me – if you know anything about me you’ll know I’m a foodie, and I always think about where my meat comes from when making purchasing decisions. I was a vegetarian for many years, mostly because I abhor the conditions of animals kept in factory farms and the cruel manner in which I learned the slaughterhouses handle them. I started eating meat again about three years ago when I moved to the Finger Lakes region because I was able to locate farms where animals are raised and slaughtered compassionately, and buy directly from them (a good example, and one of my faves, is PDH Buffalo Farm, located in Sempronius, NY).

Dr. Temple Grandin’s work in this area is the subject of the book, Animals in Translation. Last night I purchased another book (which she signed), Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals. I look forward to reading it and gaining insight into the care I provide my beloved pets.

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I try to spec environmental paper for print projects as much as possible. I just completed an annual report for GrowNYC (formerly the Council on the Environment of NYC) which I have been designing for the past 3 or 4 years using a great green sheet, New Leaf Reincarnation Matte. It’s one of my faves, since it’s uncoated but prints like it’s coated (minimal dot gain) and Rolling Press, my environmental printer in Brooklyn, really knows how to handle it.

However, there’s so many different ways to “go green” with paper stock, and it can get confusing, fast. Usually I try to include icons of the various eco-conscious factors inherent in the sheet I’ve chosen. This varies from sheet to sheet, and can include:

• post-consumer waste (PCW)

• recycled

• made with windpower

• Green-e

• ancient-forest friendly

• processed chlorine-free

• FSC-certified

…and the list goes on.

New Leaf paper eco-audit

However, for the GrowNYC project, instead of using all the logos (which, by the way, I find hard to find in a high-resolution format. I always ask printers but they never have a source. If you have one, can you let me know?) my printer offered to make me up this Eco-audit from New Leaf Paper. Pretty nifty, eh?

In spite of it being a great big ad for New Leaf, I think it conveys some useful info. Here’s what it looks like on the inside back cover of the report:

eco-audit placed on the page

I was highly gratified to learn that Richard Grefé, the Executive Director of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts, our professional organization) caught wind of NEA’s RFP (see previous post), and wrote them an excellent letter explaining the position of the design community, and our concerns over the contest.

“The approach you are pursuing is one that seriously compromises the quality of work you are entitled to and also violates a tacit ethical standard that has long standing in the communication design professions worldwide.”

Kudos to them, and also to designer blogger Kelly Lea in her post, “Take Your Spec Job and Shove it” who also opined about this debacle.

NEA has written a lame letter in defense of their RFP here, but it does not seem to address any of AIGA’s concerns.

I recently reviewed the NEA’s (National Endowment for the Arts) RFP that they issued this month for a logo design for a new ‘Art Works’ initiative.

It was the usual pages of boilerplate, and statement of budget ($25k – nice!), but then I got to the submission guidelines. I was amazed and horrified to find that they ask for logo design submissions, which makes it a design contest, in which designers are asked to deliver their work on spec. The NEA will choose one logo/firm, and only the “winner” receives compensation.

I am totally against this, and think you should be, too. Asking designers to work on spec trivializes and de-values the work we do, and I believe is unethical. I could write a lengthy treatise about ALL of the reasons a design contest is a bad idea, but it has all been presented before me, and done very well, at the site http://www.no-spec.com, which I urge you to visit.

When I come across these design contests, they are usually issued by small organizations that don’t know any better. I always take the time to do a little education by contacting them and explaining my objections. But the National Endowment for the Arts? THEY should know better.

Do you think I am being unreasonable? That $25k they are offering IS compelling, isn’t it? As a designer, is there a line you would cross if asked to work on spec?

You could be my neighbor!

an amazing piece of real estate in central New York

The subject of this post is, admittedly, a little beyond the scope of my blog, but this piece of property, The Merrifield Estate, is such a dream, such a steal at $429k, that I want to get the word out. I had the pleasure of seeing the interior when they held an auction to sell the house contents. It would make a great B&B. Plus, it’s right down the street from me, so if you buy it we’ll be neighbors – how about that!

This home was featured on The Today Show in a story, “What You Can Get for Under $500k”.

Here’s the description from the site, (sorry it’s all in caps).

#4. SCIPIO CENTER, NEW YORK — $429,000

Broker: Todd Post toddpost@postrealty.com

THIS TOWN IS LOCATED IN THE FINGERLAKES REGION OF UPSTATE NY, 35 MILES FROM SYRACUSE

THIS HISTORIC HOME WAS ONCE PART OF HARRIET TUBMAN’S UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

IT’S ORIGINAL ASKING PRICE WAS $1.5 MILLION, BUT IT’S BEEN REDUCED TO $429,000!

ANTIQUE COBBLESTONE FARMHOUSE W/ ORIG BLACK CHESTNUT, MAPLE & PINE HDWD FLRS & EXPOSED BEAMS THROUGHOUT!

EAT-IN COUNTRY KITCH, FAM RM W/ WALK-IN FP, A 700 SQ FOOT GARDEN RM

MASTER SUITE HAS WORKING FP & SITTING AREA

FRENCH DOORS LEAD TO A 40 COVERED SIDE PORCH & A BRICK PATIO COURTYARD

HOUSE COMES W/ 3 BIG ACRES W/ MATURE PINE TREES & 2 BARNS

4 BDR, 2 BATH

I wanted to call this post ‘Rut Removal’ (but as every blogger knows, opaque or clever titles get you nowhere in the blogosphere) – because along with the cold dark days and nights here in central NY comes the familiar winter cabin fever and accompanying professional rut. Happily, I had the good fortune this month to enjoy a fabulous get-away to far-flung Ecuador. I’ll save the photos and travel recos for a Facebook update; suffice to say, getting out into unfamiliar territory, being exposed to fresh visuals and culture was just the kick in the pants I needed.

I vow to keep it up. My business new years resolution is to get out more and attend more events. Spend more time in New York City, which I miss greatly. Meet people, learn, grow, invigorate, and bring it all back to my design studio to enervate my design work and my business practices.

So far on my list of conferences and events is the HOW Design Conference, in Denver in June, the Creative Freelancers Conference, also offered by HOW; the BRITE Conference at Columbia U (Branding, Innovation & Technology – I went last year and it was great); the Go Green Expo at the Javits Center in NYC in March; and in the immediate near future, the Empire State Tourism Conference in Albany next week. The only one I’m definitely committed to at this point is BRITE, but the others are on my calendar and I plan to decide soon.

Obviously my choices are based not only on my industry (graphic design & branding), but also the sectors I specialize in: food, wine, tourism, sustainability/green.

What events will you be attending this year? Have you attended events in the past that you loved and want to recommend? I’d love to hear from you.

One additional thought: my *other* New Years resolution – by the way – is to reinvigorate my blog by writing more, and more consistently. So on that note, see you back here soon!

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