creativity

SuperLunchNotes: Fire Week!

April 8, 2014 | By Brent Almond | SUPERLUNCHNOTES

In case you’re new here and wondering “WTF are ‘SuperLunchNotes?’” Well, my son started preschool last year, and every day I’ve put a note in his lunch bag featuring a doodle of a superhero. You can check a bunch more by visiting the SuperLunchNotes category on this site, or follow me on Instagram @SuperLunchNotes, where I post them daily!

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Welcome to FIRE WEEK!!!
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WEEK 34: Mar 31 – Apr 4, 2014
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Firestorm: 3.31.14
SuperLunchNotes - Firestorm - Fire Week

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SuperLunchNotes: Umm… Full Face Mask Week?

March 24, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, SUPERLUNCHNOTES

This past week was kind of all over the place. By Sunday night I knew Monday would be yet ANOTHER FRAKKING SNOW DAY, and Thursday was an already planned school closing for “teacher inservice” — which I think is just teachers sleeping in. Not that they don’t deserve it, but let’s just call it what it is.

So on Tuesday I cranked out an Iron Man and figured this would just be a short week of random, non-connected notes. But I came to realize I couldn’t NOT do a theme. After finally doing the oft-requested Lord O’ The Sith, I considered “Armor Week” for a bit — but I needed a DC character, and only Thor or Rhino came to mind. Then I noticed both Stark and Skywalker also have creepy eye slits in common, and landed on the Full Face Mask theme. Weak, I know, but still pretty cute I thought. Okay, creepy cute.
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WEEK 32: Mar 18 – Mar 21, 2014
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Iron Man: 3.18.14
ironman-hand

Can I tell you how hard it was to not have Iron Man say “TALK TO THE HAND?” But then I pictured JJ running around school throwing shade and thought better of it.

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SuperLunchNotes: Green Week!

March 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, RASPBERRIES, SUPERLUNCHNOTES

When I saw St. Patrick’s Day was falling on a Monday, I decided to do “Green Week” leading up to the 17th, so that on the actual holiday the blog would be celebratory in its virtual verdant-ness. Now if I can just figure how to get cyber-drunk…

BTW, green is also JJ’s favorite color, so doing a Green Week is fine by him anytime.
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WEEK 31: Mar 10 – Mar 14, 2014
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Hulk: 3.10.14
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Papa bought JJ a Hulk action figure a while back that yelled “HULK SMASH!” and I immediately but the kaibosh on that—like he needs another excuse to hulk out. So I was a little trepidatious (hypocritical?) putting this note in his lunch, but how could I kick off “Green Week” without his favorite mossy monster? Also, Mondays often DO need to be smashed.

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SuperLunchNotes: ACCESSORIES WEEK!

March 10, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, SUPERLUNCHNOTES

How’s the old saying go? “The only thing that separates us from the normal humans is our ability to accessorize”? I’m pretty sure that’s not it, but after doing the first doodle this past week, that’s where I went—the superhero accessory aisle. Enjoy this 4-day week’s worth of SuperLunchNotes (shortened by one final snow dump) and stay tuned for a special batch next Monday celebrating St. Patty’s Day!
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WEEK 30: Mar 4 – Mar 7, 2014
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Wonder Woman’s Magic Lasso: 3.4.14
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Also known as the Lasso of Truth, Golden Lasso or “Magic Wope.” If you’re a superhero fan of any caliber, you already know Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, who also invented an early version of the polygraph machine. God’s-honest truth!

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SuperLunchNotes: Week 1

February 11, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY, SUPERLUNCHNOTES

Thus starteth my attempt to bring my SuperLunchNotes to the bloggety-blog on the regular. My plan is to post twice a week — an older batch and the most recent week — until I’m caught up. And then probably just post the previous week every Monday. Or not — I’m open to suggestions!

If you still need your daily fix, you can keep following along on Instagram or check me out on Tumblr (if you’re into that kinda thing).

And if none of this is remotely interesting to you (it barely is to me), then just please come visit Designer Daddy often to look at the pretty superhero doodles. Cool?
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WEEK 1: Aug 12 – Aug 16, 2013
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Batman: 8.12.13
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Stage Fright: My Child’s First Time at the Theater

February 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, LEARNING CURVES

A couple of months ago we took JJ to his first live theater experience, and something odd happened. A friend who works at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in DC suggested we check out a kids’ holiday show being produced by Arts on the Horizon, part of Atlas’ Theatre for the Very Young season. While JJ had gotten through his first full movie theater showing, we’d yet to expose him to any live theater. The Washington area has a wealth of options for kid-friendly programming, we just weren’t sure our little ball of energy was ready for them. Or they for him.

But the show was called Drumming With Dishes: Holiday Edition, so it sounded like it would be nice and loud and chaotic. Great to mask the likely din created by a crowd of rowdy preschoolers, but requiring earplugs and Advil for us weary parents.

The day arrived, JJ seemingly excited for this new adventure. Our drive was a good 40 minutes. We parked across the street from the theater and JJ and I went on ahead while Papa paid for parking. Yet as we started to cross, my usually outgoing son started stalling. He said he didn’t want to go, that he in fact wanted to go home. What-the-huh?

We stopped on the sidewalk a block away and I asked why. “I just not want to go!” was his pouty reply. I tried walking with him a few more steps and his fear and resistance only increased. I’m not sure if he was scared of the unknown experience or unfamiliar neighborhood, or if the planets were misaligned just so. Whatever the cause, I was determined to find a way to make this happen.

Papa caught up and I explained the situation. He and JJ stayed outside while I went in to scope things out. I made my way through the lobby, weaving through groups of kids, parents, babies and grandparents. As I picked up our tickets, I overheard an employee say they’d be leading everyone to a play area before the show began. Good thinking — they’d done this before.

I went back out and the three of us forged back in. As we got inside the door, I explained we were going to a playroom. No response. As we walked down the hall, following a herd of other families, we stopped so he could bang on a timpani drum. Meh. As we got near to the playroom, I saw a door open to where our performance would be. I asked the attendant if we could peek inside. We took a quick look into the black box theater, but I could tell my little ‘fraidy tot wasn’t interested.

The playroom was a neighboring black box, with rows of seats against the back wall and a collection of toys and baskets of books in a corner. We sat down in the front row of chairs, I got some books for JJ, then went to the bathroom. When I returned, Papa and JJ were on the back row of chairs, looking through a book, while all of the other kids ran around. This was going to be interesting, I thought.

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A first-time theater-goer timidly watches from afar.

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DDQ&A: Khoi Vinh

January 24, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DDQ&A, DESIGNER DADDY

Of all the fellow designer dads I’ve interviewed,* Khoi Vinh is the one I’ve known the longest. We were together in the DC design trenches early in our careers, building up our portfolios and burning lots of midnight oil. While I can’t think of a designer whose style (and personality) is more different than mine, I’ve always respected and admired him and his work. As we’re both now dads of preschoolers, we finally have something more in common. Except that he also has twins, so I obviously have some catching up to do. I settled for catching up through this Q&A.

Q&A with designer dad Khoi Vinh
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Tell me briefly about your design career: how long in the industry, what kinds of clients you have and/or work you specialize in.
I graduated from art school in 1993 with an illustration degree but have done some kind of design ever since. Jeebus. Twenty years. I started out in print media and switched to digital media in 1998.

DD note: Khoi’s being coy (sorry, had to do it) and leaving out lots of details. He was the design director for NYTimes.com from 2006-2010, created a photo collage app, is a published author, and has been blogging for over a decade at Subtraction.com. In 2011, Fast Company named him one of “The 50 Most Influential Designers in America.” Coy, indeed.

NYT

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Oh Christmas Tees! Oh Christmas Tees!

November 26, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DESIGNER DADDY

A couple of years ago I had a momentary lapse of seasonal sense and embarked on producing a daily blog post/doodle for the first 25 days of December. While I was proud of the final result, it was way too much during a time of year already known for a whole lot of way too much.

However, I’ve re-purposed a couple of my favorites of those doodles into tee shirts that are now available in the Designer Daddy Store! Please buy lots and lots (or one) of them. Great for white elephant gifts, stocking stuffers, baby showers and long winter’s naps. The 3XLs also make nice tree skirts.

Click on each image below to be taken directly to that page in the store.

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turtledoves-sample
TWO TURTLE DOVES:
comes in infant onesie, kids’ long-sleeve tees, and short- and long-sleeve adult tees (up to 5XL in some colors); various colors available.

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falala-gay
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FA-LA-LA-ABULOUS: comes in short- and long-sleeve adults tees (up to 5XL in some colors); various colors available. Infant onesie and long-sleeve kids’ tee (minus the agenda-pushing “gay apparel” slogan) also available.

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HANUKKAH BONUS! (kind of) I sing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and one of the songs we’re performing in our Holiday show this year is the Spanish-flavored Hanukkah song “Ocho Kandelikas” (Eight Little Candles). But from week one of rehearsal, all I could hear when we sang it was…

ocho-condoleezzas
OCHO CONDOLEEZZAS
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comes in short- and long-sleeve Hanes adult tees, and 2 different styles of American Apparel tees; various colors available.

As you can see, whether your ideal Holiday is precious, fabulous or slightly off-kilter, Designer Daddy has got you covered. ACT NOW! Operators are (not) standing by!

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Love this blog but not yet a fan of the Designer Daddy Facebook page? Well let’s get that fixed, shall we? You don’t want to miss out on all the extra fun and fabulosity, now would you?

Saving the Day with Superhero Lunch Notes

November 14, 2013 | By Brent Almond | BABY LIKE, DESIGNER DADDY, SUPERLUNCHNOTES
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click to super-size!

My son started preschool this year, and I wanted to do something special for his first day. I’m no master chef (and he’s a notoriously picky eater) so a super fancy/fun/creative lunch was out of the question. And he already had his Spider-Man backpack and Superman lunch bag and Batman t-shirt — so he was set accessory-wise. Yet I wanted to do something truly, uniquely* Designer Daddy-ish to celebrate this milestone.

That first morning was pretty hectic, as it was a new schedule for all of us. Between making breakfast and getting JJ dressed and brushed and toothbrushed and backpacked, all I ended up having time to do was write “Daddy Hearts U,” on a Post-It note, added a quick doodle of The Flash and snuck it into his lunch bag. I pictured him discovering it at school, being reminded of his dear, old Dad, and bragging to all his new toddler pals how cool I am. Or more likely how cool The Flash is.

the first note

the first note

He loved it. And so the next day I did another, thinking I would do one each day of his first week and leave it at that. However, if you’ve ever had a preschooler, you know how THAT turned out. Toddlers are not known for their flexibility with a routine.

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So here we are… 68 or so days later, and I’m still getting up a few minutes early each day to make JJ a note. But I gotta admit, I’m having a blast. It’s a great way for me to hone both my doodling and pun-making skills. It’s also been pretty cool having JJ’s teachers tell me how thoughtful and creative I am. But really — and not to get too heavy here — it’s all about my legacy. I’m never going to be my son’s sports idol. I don’t have vast carpentry or mechanical or bronco-busting skills to pass down to him. What I have is my love of superheroes and my talent for doodling. This is my way to instill in him a love of those things, and to keep being his superhero for as long as possible. Or until all my Sharpies run out.

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You can view all 68 (and counting) superhero lunch notes on Instagram. I’ll also be mixing them in on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure and let me know where you see them, and which are your favorites!

*While I haven’t found anyone else doing this particular thing, I would be remiss if I didn’t give props to David Laferriere, whose awesome series of sandwich bag doodles definitely inspired me.

DDQ&A: Evan Spiridellis

July 10, 2013 | By Brent Almond | DADDY LIKE, DDQ&A, DESIGNER DADDY

Like most of the world, I was first introduced to the work of Evan Spiridellis (the designer half of the humor site, JibJab) through the still-hilarious lampoon of the 2004 presidential election, “This Land.” In 2011, he and brother Gregg launched StoryBots, an awesome online land of apps, videos, books and activities for kids (and parents). As a longtime fan, I was downright giddy Evan agreed to a DDQ&A!

Q&A with designer dad Evan Spiridellis
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LOGOS

Tell me briefly about your design/illustration career.
My brother and I started JibJab back in 1999. Early on we supported the studio by doing service work for clients like Disney, Scholastic, Kraft and Sony — but the goal was always to build a new kind of entertainment company. So we would take on enough client work to pay the rent and our team, then we would turn down commercial projects until the coffers ran dangerously low. Nowadays, JibJab supports itself by selling our products directly to our audience without commercial interference. We much prefer this approach :) READ FULL ARTICLE >>