December 6, 2016

New holiday ribbon designs

Red black and blue Christmas ribbon

My latest designs for my client Renaissance Ribbons are now in stores. They requested holiday motifs, so I made poinsettias, deer in a forest, retro argyle, and some funny Santas with tiny feet. These are available by the yard or the spool for trimming holiday projects.

If you’re into embroidery, how about making a little yeti felt ornament stuffed with a bit of batting? He sports a ribbon scarf and would look cute on somebody’s Christmas tree. Download the free DIY pattern here.

felt yeti ornament pattern template

Pretty poinsettia jacquard ribbon

Retro Santa ribbon

Cute deer holiday ribbon design

FILED UNDER: Downloads, Recent work

October 18, 2016

2016 Presidential debate bingo game

Presidential third debate bingo

In honor of the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, October 19, I’ve designed a printable bingo game. My annual Oscar bingo set is an ongoing tradition, but this special election year deserves a special edition. Do your civic duty and download the Presidential Debate Bingo PDF.

Print out the number of pages you need and play with friends in the comfort of your living room. Debate Bingo pairs nicely with The Federalist Cabernet. Suggested attire is a red sweater.

2016 presidential third debate bingo

FILED UNDER: Amusements, Downloads

September 26, 2016

Business hippos can be big fun

Hippo logo

Biz Hippo approached me for a logo for their outsourcing accounting firm: they serve entrepreneurs and small business owners, and they have a sense of humor.

So I created a range of options, from witty to more traditional. While shirt-and-tie hippo was a contender, calculator hippo was the final choice. The calculator buttons make a fun dot pattern for backgrounds and accents, and the green brand color suggests money and growth.

Hippo branding tote bag

FILED UNDER: Recent work

August 19, 2016

Flag design: a unique challenge

Refugee Nation Flag

You may have seen a new flag at the 2016 Summer Olympics: the flag of The Refugee Nation, a team of 10 athletes who fled their countries to avoid persecution, war, or violence. They represent the 60 million refugees currently scattered across the world. How do you design one flag to represent people from an array of countries and cultures? I’m in awe of this solution, created by Syrian artist and refugee Yara Said.

Besides the project’s need for universality, good flag design should obey five standard principles outlined by the North American Vexillological (flag design) Association.

  1. Keep it simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
  2. Use meaningful symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes.
  3. Use two or three basic colors. Limit the number of colors on the flag to three which contrast well and come from the standard color set.
  4. No lettering or seals. Never use writing on any kind or an organization’s seal.
  5. Be distinctive or be related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.

The brilliant solution by Yara Said: a flag based on a life jacket, worn by “those who crossed the sea in search of a new country.” While not every refugee crossed an ocean, it’s an image seared into the minds of those following the current refugee crisis and has an emotional impact that resonates around the world. And it checks off every flag design box. Fantastic.

Olympic Refugee Flag

Just for fun, I’ll post the flags of a few other nations. How well do they measure up to the requirements?

Good bad flag design examples

FILED UNDER: Design news

August 11, 2016

Manicures for a cause

Nail art inspiration

I’ve designed patterns for fabric, wallpaper, dishes, and ribbon, but fingernails are a first!

Recently I teamed up with Margaux Hufnagel, a consultant for Jamberry, to create a collection of nail wrap designs she could sell as a fundraiser. In 2014, at one year old, Margaux’s son James was diagnosed with a rare disease called Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC). Since then the family has worked hard to raise awareness of the disease and help fund medical research. Margaux’s latest idea: offer a limited-edition set of nail designs and donate proceeds to

 Typography manicure

If, like me, you hadn’t heard of Jamberry nail wraps before, here’s the info. Designs come on a sheet like a set of stickers. Each sheet will yield 2 or 3 manicures. You can put them on fingers or toes. To apply them, you choose a sticker that matches your nail size, cut it in half, heat it with a hairdryer or other heat source to make it more flexible (I used a candle; I like to live dangerously) and stick it on. Here’s a video showing the application. For other questions like removal and durability, see these FAQs.

Margaux’s “Jams for James” wraps are $19-$25 per set and can be ordered online using this form.

I like to think of it as making a donation to charity and getting free manicures as a bonus. A win for everyone!

Order here

Geometric nail art

Retro manicure

Geometric modern manicure

Jamberry NAS array

Follow Margaux (@Tentenjams) on Facebook or Instagram to see more wraps in action.

FILED UNDER: Recent work

July 6, 2016

Panther update: from feeble to fierce

Joseph Sears School logo

A project I completed recently was an update to The Joseph Sears School’s visual identity. Joseph Sears, located in Kenilworth, IL, has a long heritage of excellence but lacked a school logo for everyday use. The school seal, adopted in the 1920s, had been utilized for all school communications despite its formality and fine detail that made it difficult to reproduce and discern at small sizes. Electronic versions of the seal had become distorted and grainy.

We created a new school logo for common use that employs a traditional crest, Joseph Sears blue, and Kenilworth’s signature elm leaves. It conveys the prestige for which the school is known, yet it’s quicker to recognize at a glance and more distinctive than a seal—most round seals look pretty similar.

School seal before after

We cleaned up the antique seal and updated the typography to match the logo for a tighter identity. One-color and full-color versions are now available to the school for use exclusively on formal documents.

Mascot design before after

The school’s panther mascot was updated from a delicate line drawing to a more robust sports logo.

Panther mascot shirt

The new panther’s fierce, glowering stare inspires more confidence than the older thin sketch and completes a cohesive identity.

Check out more components of this branding project.

FILED UNDER: Before and after, Recent work

June 16, 2016

Spot gloss on a business card

Spot gloss business card

I had fun with the finish on business cards for Oak Fabrics, a delightful new fabric store coming soon to Chicago. We kept the typographic logo simple and added a subtle gloss varnish to Oak’s signature tree image in the background.

Update: Oak Fabrics is now open!

FILED UNDER: Recent work

February 16, 2016

2016 Oscar bingo and party printables

2016 Oscar bingo game

It’s that time again! My eighth annual FREE Oscar® bingo game is ready. Lounge on your couch and play it with friends to make the Academy Awards more fun. Bring on the tears, flubs, and stumbles! The Oscars ceremony is Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016.

Download the FREE file:
2016 Oscar bingo game PDF

How the game works:
There are 20 different game cards in the downloadable PDF file. I take care to arrange each card carefully; the bingo cards are not randomly generated. I’m aiming to make a bingo not too easy but not too hard.

– Save the PDF to your computer
– Open it in Adobe Reader
– Print the number of pages you need at 100% size

(Here’s the metallic gold paper I used. It works with laser printers and ballpoints or Sharpies.)

The first person to mark off five squares in a line wins. It could be a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line. There’s no freebie in the middle, so you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Play with friends:
Give movie candy or gift card prizes to winners at your party, or play long distance with friends by text or tweet. (I’m @howaboutorange on Twitter and Instagram, #haobingo).

Fallibility disclaimer:
Like every year, my big disclaimer applies: Someone might get a bingo ten minutes into the telecast, or maybe your group won’t have a winner at all because my psychic powers have failed this year. Fingers crossed.

Printable Oscar party signs and posters

More printable goodies in my shop:
To make your viewing party extra glamorous, I’ve also designed a matching ballot and a pack of decorations, including posters, wine and beer labels, napkin rings, stemware flags, cupcake toppers, and more. Find all the goodies in my Etsy shop.


2016 Oscar ballot printable PDF
“OSCAR®” and “ACADEMY AWARDS®” are registered trademarks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

FILED UNDER: Amusements, Downloads

January 8, 2016

Typography fabric names

Typography fabric by Jessica Jones

Several people have asked about the weird-looking words used in one of my latest fabric prints. Other conversations have revealed that not everyone has heard of the famous quick brown fox. So let me demystify the names of the fabrics in my new Typography collection for Cloud9 Fabrics.

In the land of typography, “specimens” are examples of typefaces in use. Specimens show text set in paragraphs and headlines to give a feel for the overall texture of a typeface and what the various characters look like. Here are lovely pages from some specimen books. I thought it would be funny to take “specimen” more literally and show hands daintily holding up individual characters as if to inspect them.

The classic Swiss typeface designed in 1957. This fabric is made with Helvetica, cut into pieces. Bet you can’t guess what phrase I chopped up.

Script typefaces are based on the connected lines in handwriting. This print says, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” If you weren’t forced to type that sentence in typing class, you might not know it’s the classic pangram that uses every letter of the alphabet. It’s been around for a long time. My Helvetica print is also made from this phrase, though you’d never know it.

Lorem Ipsum
It’s the placeholder text that designers use in ads and brochures before we get actual copy from the client. Lorem Ipsum has been in use since the 16th century. It looks like Latin, but it’s nonsense. You can generate paragraphs of it in design software programs or on this website. This is inside-joke fabric. Designers snicker every time something appears in public that still has dummy text in it. Whoops, somebody forgot to switch out the copy.

I hope you know that those squiggly characters are called ampersands. If you didn’t, now you do.

Any single character—an individual letter, number, punctuation mark, or dingbat. For example, an “A” and an asterisk are both glyphs. In this fabric, “123” is not a glyph. It’s three glyphs, but that’s okay. Mostly I just like the word “glyph” and it reminds me of a movie scene that made me laugh really hard.

Wood Type
Once upon a time, before modern printing methods, letters were carved out of wood, arranged to form words, inked, and sheets of paper were pressed onto them. Prints often looked a little irregular or distressed. The characters in my fabric print are not distressed in the least, so Wood Type is sort of a misleading name. However, fabric designers have to name their prints something, and this print reminded me of that era when it was popular to use a crazy mix of different typefaces all at once. A time to which we’ve returned!

FILED UNDER: Recent work

January 5, 2016

Free bookmarks: download and print


My latest fabric collection for Cloud9 Fabrics, Typography, is now in stores. It’s covered with words and letters. Know what else is full of words and letters? Books. Maybe you need some printable bookmarks designed to match these prints. Just download the PDF, print on card stock, and trim out the bookmarks. If you’re an overachiever, you could laminate them, punch a hole, and make a tassel from embroidery floss. Download the file here.

FILED UNDER: Downloads

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