break

It’s time to take a break

For a long time, I thought that creativity had to be something innate within you. I was fairly convinced that only special people had creativity and those lucky few didn’t have to worry about losing it.

But I have realized that creativity is absolutely something you have to cultivate in yourself. As Twyla Thorp, the world class choreographer points out in her book The Creative Habit, there are a lot of ways to help yourself remain creative. A lot of them are interestingly enough, inversely related.

Developing a routine can help, finding a consistent place for creative work, a time of day or type of music that can signal to your brain that it’s time to think creatively. On the flip side, trying something new can also spur new ways of thinking.

Other tips include getting inspiration from other pieces, idea dumping, idea mapping, journaling for moments of inspiration and more.

Today though, I want to talk about taking a break from design. Sometimes this can be the most powerful tool for creativity. From walking around the office for a few minutes in between assignments to a week of vacation, breaks can reinvigorate your work.

For me, I have been burning the candle at both ends a bit too frequently this semester. With a job, internship and three time consuming classes, finding time to do everything has been tricky. Sometimes it takes a toll on my creativity. So for spring break, I didn’t design a thing. I didn’t even open my laptop and it was GREAT.

What I learned is that for me to be at my best, I have to take some time to rest. Right now that means being sure to take hours away from my computer and do things like taking a bike ride as a break during a long day.

As backwards as it may seem, when there’s too much to do, taking a strategic break can be the best thing to do.


hidden_art

The hidden art in every museum

Walking through a museum, there is a hidden piece of artwork you need to keep your eye out for. It’s massive really. I don’t know how so many people miss it.

What is this piece? It is the design of the museum itself. The design is so immensely important yet must feel so natural that it’s barely notable. The way the artwork is exhibited can completely change the mood and story of an exhibit.

Exhibit design is one of the most subtle yet purposeful types of design. The content is always the most important part of the design, but in a museum where visitors are paying to see the content, there really shouldn’t be anything detracting from the value of the art, history or science being displayed.

At the same time, the huge quantity of information have to be interesting enough to keep the viewer engaged. Because of this, cutting edge technology can be used to tell the story. Whether it be through interactive displays or virtual reality, a museum designer has to decide what will best tell the story.

The scope of the design is another thing to consider. The design can be in minute details or expansive wall displays. The materials of the installations can be chosen specifically to further complete the experience.

The wide variety of available mediums for museum design and the unique blend of graphic design, interior design and storytelling makes museum design one of the most interesting types of design around. To see some of my favorite examples of this design, check out my Pinterest board.


Things I wish someone had explained about code, Part II

Yesterday I shared some basic terms that will help you understand a conversation about code and programming. Today I’m going to get into a smorgasbord of terms I definitely had to look up the first time.

 

Frameworks

Javascript MV* Framework: Model-view-wildcard framework. Examples include AngularJS and Ember, and they are another way to speed up the process of making a web application with Javascript.

Bootstrap: It uses HTML, CSS and Javascript to help with responsive development. The downside is that it also has a very distinct look if you use to built in styles.

 

Github and Git

Git: saves your code as it is in that present moment. This way if you mess everything up, you can go back to your most recent version.Without using Github this is saved locally.

Github: saves your code online. There is also a great community of programmers who use github to work on projects together. See FOSS.

 

UX/UI

User experience/ user interface: not code, but very important to a website. The user interface is what the user interacts with on the site. The user experience is how that interface impacts their sense and use of the site.

HCI: Human centered design: This is a principle for UX/UI. The idea is to remember that what you’re creating is meant for people and therefore how they will use it is the most important consideration.

 

Assorted others:

Sass: A CSS preprocessor. Sass looks a lot like CSS, but has added functionality to speed up and better organize styles like variables, the ability to nest styles, and mixins. A Sass compiler then converts it into CSS that the browser can interpret.

FOSS: free and open source: Open source means that the source code is available for the public to see and edit to their own purposes. This is a big movement in the development community and is great because it encourages collaboration.

RESTful: Representational State Transfer: Basically this is how data in a web application can be retrieved, added, updated and deleted. This works on the line of using Javascript for both client-side and server-side. It is implemented in GET, POST, PUT and DELETE requests.

MVC: Model – view –controller. This is an explanation of how an interactive web application works. The user interacts with the site through the controller which changes the model which updates the view that the user sees.


Things I wish someone had explained to me about code. Part I

Entering the world of code is definitely fun, but also a bit intimidating when you first start. When you start talking to programmers, they jump into a explanations using terms and abbreviations you’ve never heard of or don’t really understand. I still spend a bunch of time researching whenever I’m introduced to a new topic, trying to make sure I understand what it means. So this post is for anyone who’s still figuring out a lot of the basics.

We’ll start out with the basic languages:

HTML: Hypertext markup language, the bones of a web page.

CSS: cascading style sheet, makes the page look pretty

Javascript: The popular programming language used for interaction on the page, can access and change elements of the page via the DOM (see below). Javascript can be used on both the client-side and the server-side.

jQuery: A library of prewritten Javascript functions. Can save you a lot of time so that you don’t have to write all the code yourself.

*DOM: Document Object Model. How the HTML is loaded into the browser and then able to be dynamically changed by Javascript or back-end code. This how a blog is able to input new content into a template without creating a new html page from scratch.

 

Another very important distinction is between front-end developers and back-end developers.

Front-end: The code for what the user sees on the site. HTML, CSS and Javascript are the languages for this. What this code creates is all client-side.

Back-end: The code used to build the functionality of the site and store all the relevant data that passes through the site. This code can be PHP, Java, SQL, etc. All this work is server-side.

Full-stack developer: This would be a developer who can do both front and back-end coding. There are different stacks, or compatible languages, that a full-stack developer may know. For instance, I work with MEAN: MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS and Node.js. Through these languages I can control a web application on both the client side and the server side. Another popular stack is LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.

For more information on the distinctions between front-end, back-end and full-stack developers, check out this article.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting the second installment of this with more confusing acronyms like UX/UI, MVC and OOP!


katherine_boliek_1

So, my new site is up

Today, my new site is up! I’m pretty pumped about it and you should totally check it out. Some of you may have some questions. I will answer them here.

Q: So, you just created your site a year ago, why are you already changing it?

A: It’s not because I’m indecisive or have too much free time (I promise, I don’t.) I changed my portfolio site primarily because the previous site was built entirely on a WordPress theme. When I created it, using a WordPress theme made sense for simplicity and was appropriate for my coding skill level.

Now however, I know more things and want my portfolio to demonstrate that. It seemed silly to have links to sites and web apps I coded from scratch while having my own portfolio be coded and designed by someone else.

 

Q: So, what did you do with this new site?

A: That’s a fair question. This time around, I hard-coded the home page, about page, and work pages. The blog is still a WordPress blog, but now I am using the blank theme _tk. I chose this theme because my PHP knowledge is limited, but this way I am completely in charge of the design.

The entire site uses Bootstrap to simplify the responsive grid. I also used a jquery plugin to make the nifty functionality on the work page. But everything else is all me.

 

Q: So, how did you do this?

A: My process for this has been much the same as with any other project I create. First, I looked high and low for inspiration. My google search history is full of the “best design portfolio sites” variations.

After letting these ideas sit for awhile, I jumped into wireframing. Some people use cool sites or programs, but I stuck with pencil and paper. This helped keep my process agile so I could make quick changes without feeling too stuck in any one idea.

Next, I made design comps in Illustrator. Oops. Then, my boss kindly reminded me that the industry standard is Photoshop. I transitioned my designs into Photoshop which ended up being a great opportunity for me to think more critically about my design. This, in turn, made my design more grid-based and just generally better.

Finally, I started coding. As I coded, I adjusted some parts of my design to be more practical for implementation, but overall it stayed true to my comps and original design intentions.

 

Q: So, you’re finally done now?

A: Ha. Never. What you’re seeing now is my MVP, minimum viable product. Instead of waiting to post the new site when it’s been perfected like my type-A nature wanted me too, I only waited until it was something I was proud of and suited my needs. Over the next month or so, I’ll be adding a lot of different features like animations, transitions, more styling and any other cool functions I think would add value to the site.
So, please look around. It’s got new content and a whole new look. I’m excited for the progress and hope you enjoy it too!


Why living in a city is better

For the past 3 ½ years, I’ve been living in Chapel Hill, NC. I love Chapel Hill and wouldn’t have wanted my college years to be spent anywhere else.

However, I am graduating and my tiny millennial attention span needs a real city. There are a lot of things that can only be found in a city. These are my top reasons everyone should move to a city:

  1. The diversity of the people living in the city with you. Everyone in the city has different backgrounds, jobs, passions and paths. Getting to know these people make you a better person.
  2. The ability to get anywhere fast. I know public transportation has a bad rap, but I love the accessibility of it. It makes the process of getting from one place to another much less complicated as long as you know the system.
  3. Or better yet, you can WALK lots of places. I love my car, but I would gladly trade it for being able to walk to work. Also, not having to drive means not having to park. Such a win.
  4. The culture in city. If you want to go to an art museum, you can. If you want to try a hip new restaurant, you can. There are few cultural experiences that cannot be found in a city.
  5. The energy in the workforce. Because there are so many unique, intelligent, creative people in a city, inspiration and collaboration are much more possible.
  6. Also with that energy comes progress. Cities get to have the new technologies before they’re sent out to the rest of the world. If you always wanted to play with the new toys first, the city is for you.
  7. Lastly, and very importantly, is the ability to get anything you want at any hour. Need a cup of coffee or a crepe at 4 in the morning? There’s a place for that AND they probably deliver.

BRB, packing up to move to the nearest city right now. 


February Book List

Even though my schedule is hectic, I try to make time for reading because it’s peaceful for me and I find it gives me a good perspective on the busy to-do list I have on any given day.

I have a habit of reading several books at a time. This month’s list of books I’m working my way through paint a pretty good picture of what I’m interested in right now:

tiffanys

Breakfast At Tiffany’s by Truman Capote: I am trying to read more books by famous writers. Capote is known for In Cold Blood. Truthfully Breakfast At Tiffany’s drew my attention because of the movie. Like many pieces of 1950s literature, the story is about a woman the narrator meets and spends the rest of the book half idolizing, half trying to figure out. If you liked The Great Gatsby, you should check it out!  3/5

confidence

The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman: As I am in the process of entering the workforce, I have realized that a large part of being good at your job requires skills other than what we have learned in school. There are lots of articles discussing the idea that women are on average much less confident than men and that it is impacting them negatively at work. This book addresses the reasons confidence matters both professionally and personally, how much men and women differ in their confidence and how to create more confidence. The book is a bit academic at points, but I would definitely recommend it.  4/5

36-hours

The New York Times: 36 Hours 125 Weekends in EuropeI am pretty much always reading this book bit by bit. Recently, I created a project where I presented what I would recommend in each European country and used this book for inspiration and information. My favorite part of the book is the description of each city; they paint a picture of the culture of the city. The to-do list, while nearly always out of my price range, captures the spirit of the city excellently. This is one of those books that increases my wanderlust I mentioned before.  4/5

in-progress

Jessica Hische’s In ProgressI saw this book at work and knew I had to have it. As one of the most well known letterers around, Hische is pretty much a rockstar in the design world. Her book starts with her story, details her process and gives advice for lettering. If that’s not enough to make you want it, it’s filled with her amazing designs.  5/5


dear books

A Love Letter to Books

In college I have jumped back into reading for pleasure with the same excitement as when I was 5, carrying my book with me everywhere I went. Even though I’m no longer reading the Magic Tree House, I love the discovery of reading, learning about a subject I know next to nothing about, gaining an appreciation for another point of view.

I love books about people whose position in life seems so different from mine. Every time I read a book like that, I find unexpected similarities that remind me how similar we all are at our core. My favorite recently has been I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son.

I love books about people who have succeeded in their chosen path, particularly in the face of difficulties or when they have been told their dream is impossible. These books give me courage when I’m doubting myself. Recent favorite: #GIRLBOSS.

I love funny books. They point out the humor in everyday situations and remind me not to take myself too seriously. Recent favorite: Bossypants.

I love books about theories and ideas. Thinking about emotional intelligence or what makes an idea memorable makes me think critically about myself and what abilities I can take advantage of. Recent favorites: Emotional Intelligence and Made to Stick.

I love books about adventure. They always make my wanderlust worse, but they convince me to live more dangerously, to take more risks for the life I really want to live. Recent favorite: Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults.

I love books about anything and anyone creative. I find a lot of validation in hearing the biggest names in any given industry have struggled and doubted and had to work hard for everything they got. Recent favorite: The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.

I love the passing of wisdom and the depictions of humanity in these books. Books make me feel more a part of the human race. Learning about new people and places always enriches who I am and how I see the world. Reading makes me more empathetic and more empowered.

Next blog post I will be posting a book review of the books I’ve been reading lately. So check back on Thursday for more!


helvetica

What the Helvetica?

Choosing a typeface is one of the most important parts of a design whether it’s for print or for web. Every typeface tells the story of the design differently.

The basic categories are serif, san serif, and script. There are deeper categories as well like slab serifs, modern serifs and decorative. Serif signifies tradition. San serif can indicate the subject is modern. Script typefaces are usually used to evoke emotion.

I have my go-to typefaces and my wishlist typefaces in each of the categories and they all convey a different message for me.

SERIF:

georgia

Found on Wikipedia

Georgia: Georgia is a classic look, it makes content seem trustworthy and worthwhile.

archer

Found on Wikipedia

Archer: Archer is a playful slab serif. Its round ends add lightness to wherever it is used.

mrseaves

Found on Wikipedia

Mrs Eaves: Mrs Eaves has enough contrast to be refined, but not too much so that is becomes script–like.

ITCBodoni

Found on Wikipedia

Bodoni: Bodoni is elegant. To me it looks like what classical music would be as a typeface.

harriet

Found at Design How

Harriet: Harriet belongs in a publication about city life. It has stark contrast and an amazing italic that would be the perfect headline font.

SAN SERIF:

futura

Found on Wikipedia

Futura: Futura symbolizes simplicity to me, its lines are clean and geometric while still being interesting. (It’s also the font used across this site!)

Pluto: Pluto has a bit more swoosh in its characters than most san-serifs, making it perfect for more light hearted, yet modern material.

helvetica

Found on Wikipedia

Helvetica: Truthfully I like the history of Helvetica and its efficiency. The documentary about it is great.

 

These are some of my favorites, but I am always looking for new ones to obsess over so if you think I missed any, let me know!


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Memory Lane graphics

In today’s post, I wanted to share some designs I made while I was abroad. We spent a lot of time in cute little towns that had a lot character and beauty. For each of them I chose my favorite part of the town or a memory that I felt particularly represented it.

Verona

 

Verona-01

Verona is home to Juliet’s balcony and the beautiful gate covered in love locks. While we were there we say a *eccentric* opera version of Romeo and Juliet and obviously imagined we were in Letters to Juliet.

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Cinque Terre

5terre logo-01

The Cinque Terre are amazing little towns on the cliffs of the Ligurian coast. The town below, Manarola, was my favorite because we went cliff diving there and it was awesome.

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Ferrara

ferrara-01

Ferrara has an awesome castle and the day we were there, there happened to be a road race of old timey cars and a massive hot air balloon festival. However, I will always remember Ferrara as the place there was a train strike that led to us sitting in the train station for 3 hours.

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I made these in the hopes that I could share my experience of these places with others, but now that I’m looking back at them I’m able to remember so much more about my time there. One of the things I love about design is the emotions you can communicate with it, especially when they’re such good emotions.