creativity

R.I.P. M.A.

May 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

RIP-MA Rest In Peace Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou 1928-2014  Rest In Peace

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I initially published this drawing without words. How is it possible to honor someone so eloquent with any language of my own? But as I thought about Maya Angelou, I recalled a special memory I wanted to share.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published the year I was born, and from my earliest memories it sat on my parents’ vast bookshelves amongst my minister Father’s religious books, my English professor Mother’s literature, the World Book Encyclopedias. Long before I read Caged Bird, I remember asking my Mother about it, as the title (and cover) intrigued my young mind. She painted only the broadest strokes of the plot, but in the process I received my first lesson about racism.

The book is set in Arkansas, birthplace of Ms. Angelou, as well as both my parents, and home to nearly all my relatives. I lived there between the ages of 2 and 7, and one of my frequent playground pals was Felicia, a black girl. Racism was confusing when my Mother explained it then, and I dread the confused look on my son’s face when I explain it to him.

I’m thankful to Maya Angelou for finding beauty in the midst of horrible humanity, and for teaching generations (and generations to come) what it means to have hope.

Mother’s Day Crafts: Eggceptionally Easy Tulip Garden

May 3, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

If you’re looking for some quick and easy Mother’s Day crafts to do with your kids this week, here’s one that fits the bill on all counts. Plus it recycles all those plastic eggs you’ll probably end up throwing out before next Easter.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
large plastic Easter eggs (long halves only)
green straws (forage through your trash or recycle bin and wash; or snag a few extra the next time you’re at everyone’s favorite coffee shop)
foam paper or construction paper
Elmer’s glue (if you’re working with kids)
hot glue (if you’re in a hurry)

Mother's Day Crafts: Tulip Garden 1

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A Taste of Wedding Cake

April 28, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

I’m back from a weekend of weddedness, and wanted to pop in to say how truly blessed I am… with a wonderful (LEGAL!) husband, a precious son, devoted family & friends — and an awesome outpouring of love and well-wishes from all of YOU out in Internet-land! Seeing your myriad of comments, likes, tweets and all-around cyber-support contributed to what was pretty much a perfect day.


The Story of the Three Bears

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There are photos and details and heartfelt reflections to come, however today I shut my brain and body off to reboot. But I wanted to at least give you a little taste — of our wedding cake!* The Daddy & Papa bears (which are salt & pepper shakers) topped the cake at our commitment ceremony 10 years ago. As it was in a church and more of a formal affair, they were dressed in white top hats and bow ties. Our wedding this past Saturday was more about home and family. We had it in our backyard and were a little more casual, so after hunting down a small bear to represent JJ (and painting on some eyes, ears & nose) I made them all neckties out of ribbon and felt to match the actual colors we wore.

And oh yeah, the bottom layer of the cake was vanilla, the top layer was pumpkin, and it was ALL delicious.

More to come…

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Hungry for additional fun and feels? Follow Designer Daddy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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*Cake created by Fancy Cakes by Leslie, Bethesda, MD

SuperLunchNotes: Fire Week!

April 8, 2014 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

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 | DESIGN STUFF

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 | DESIGN STUFF

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
hulk-smash

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 | DESIGN STUFF

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
ww-lasso

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 | DESIGN STUFF

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
batman

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Stage Fright: My Child’s First Time at the Theater

February 9, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS MY KID DIGS

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 | DESIGN STUFF

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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