This month, two books I co-authored and illustrated with my son, were published and became available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, and many other stores across the country. This has been incredibly special and meaningful to me, to say the least. Not just because it feels great to see the product of our hard work out there, but mainly because this was a family project — one that my oldest son and I built together. We created Noah's Ark originally as a baptism gift for my nephew Kyle. And now we get to share it with a whole world of babies and toddlers.

Now that the books are out, I'm often asked how this all happened. And, how did my then seven year old contribute to these books, landing his name on the cover as a co-author. 

In 2015, my sister-in-law chose my husband and I as Godparents for her son Kyle, who was then barely one year old. I wanted to give him a cool baby bible or baby bible story. But see, I'm picky. I didn't really like anything I found out there. Not only do I have a certain aesthetic when it comes to design, I also happen to be a mom who started reading books to my kids even before they were born. When my boys were babies and started paying attention to what I was reading, I couldn't help but notice how certain books just seemed to get a better reaction from them. These weren't always the books I thought were the greatest. They were not MY favorites, but there was something about those books that got their attention. So I psycho-design analyzed them, just like I had psycho-design analyzed Mickey when I was a designer for Disney. Certain design elements like shapes and colors, and of course SIMPLICITY seem to attract little ones. I decided to make a book myself. My goal was to be able to see this book through the eyes of a one year old. I wanted Kyle to enjoy it. 

As I started working on it, my seven year old, Owen, became interested in the project. He wanted to help. So he started drawing ideas for spreads. And it so happens that his drawings were directly in tuned with the style I was going for. They were actually even better than what I would've come up with on my own. Exhibit A:

Noah's Ark board book. Sketches by Owen Gay (age 7). Final art by his mom, Susana Gay.

Noah's Ark board book. Sketches by Owen Gay (age 7). Final art by his mom, Susana Gay.

What adult draws waves like that? I loved it. I loved the waves, I loved the shape of the ark, the simplicity of the animals. I loved the way he was able to simplify a scene to its essence. He was able to accomplish exactly what I wanted. Owen was also able to tell me the story in his own words, the way he remembered it. We adults are complicated people. We tend to overthink things. Owen was an amazing asset in getting these stories to their core from every angle. At the end of the day, we didn't create Noah's Ark, with the goal of getting adults, a publisher, or store owners to like it. We wanted our one year old nephew, Kyle, to like it. 

Kyle was getting a bit antsy waiting for the table at his baptism lunch, so we pulled out his gift. 

Kyle was getting a bit antsy waiting for the table at his baptism lunch, so we pulled out his gift. 

Owen holding Kyle

Owen holding Kyle

Inside cover on Noah's Ark original mock-up

Inside cover on Noah's Ark original mock-up

Two years later, I'm happy to say that a publisher, and stores ended up liking it too, allowing us to share our version of Noah's Ark with many other children. Noah's Ark also became the start of a little series of biblical stories Owen and I have been developing over the last year. In the Beginning, which tells the story of creation, is now available. Jonah and the Big Fish will debut Fall 2017; and a fourth book is now on the works.

Ella, age 2, naming and pointing at everything on In the Beginning. "mommy and daddy" for Adam and Eve :)

Ella, age 2, naming and pointing at everything on In the Beginning. "mommy and daddy" for Adam and Eve :)

Thank you Owen. I left my dream job to be with you, and you have now become an amazing partner on the start of a new job. One I love more than any other. 

And thanks to all my friends and family who have been incredibly loving and supportive on this new adventure. Thanks to my friends at Worthy Publishing for believing in our books, and for all your hard work in making them a reality.

Noah's Ark and In the Beginning are now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other retailers, including your local Target store. 

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AuthorSusana Gay

I was fortunate enough to visit Pioneer House during a short trip to Knoxville last week. This place is so full of magic... in the form of wood type, lead type, art,  and the amazing Julie Belcher. Julie is one of the nicest people I've met. She happily gave us a tour of the shop and told us lots about the process. I tried to snap pics while my eyes were exploding with happiness. (I asked for permission FIRST of course) 

If you're ever in Knoxville look up Pioneer House and say hi to Julie. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention – this is the former Yee-Haw Industries. Julie was a partner at Yee-Haw. Pioneer House is her new endeavor after Yee-Haw closed in 2012.

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A few months ago I was in need of a head shot. I called Gian Carlo. He specializes more in weddings, but I really loved his style, and was able to talk him into doing the job. 

Thankfully he wasn't only talented, but very patient. I am NOT the most comfortable in front of the camera... so I wasn't the easiest subject : / To my surprise though, he was able to capture a lot of awesome pictures of me. It was hard to narrow them down, but here's a few I've been wanting to share:

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Rolleiflex I inherited from my grandfather.

Rolleiflex I inherited from my grandfather.

Pathé-Baby I inherited from my grandfather.

Pathé-Baby I inherited from my grandfather.

Rolleiflex case

Rolleiflex case

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AuthorSusana Gay

Have you ever wondered who created all those fonts on your computer? Type Foundries are the companies where most of those letters come from. In the old days, type foundries manufactured metal and wood type. Nowadays, type foundries design and sell typefaces, mainly as digital fonts. 

Woodtype | Photo by Threehaus

Woodtype | Photo by Threehaus

MacKellar, Smiths and Jordan Foundry, Philadelphia. Photo via Type. A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles. Vol. I

The word font is sometimes used interchangeably with typeface. And to be honest, it’s very confusing. They don’t mean exactly the same thing, and it’s something I find difficult to explain myself. Luckily for me I found an article online with a simple explanation that I believe clears things up. (Thank you Google)

Nick Sherman’s analogy: The way I relate the difference between typeface and font to my students is by comparing them to songs and MP3s, respectively (or songs and CDs, if you prefer a physical metaphor).

Stephen Coles agrees: When you talk about how much you like a tune, you don’t say: “That’s a great MP3”. You say: “That’s a great song”. The MP3 is the delivery mechanism, not the creative work; just as in type a font is the delivery mechanism and a typeface is the creative work.

Here are a few very significant type foundries:

BertholdThis type foundry produced one of my favorite typefaces – Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk (1896)

The Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk Type Family

The Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk Type Family

To promote their products, type foundries create Specimen Books. Here are some beautiful samples of Berthold's books, originally posted by Process Type Foundry.

I could look through this kind of book all day long!

 

The Bauer Type Foundry:

Futura Specimen via Collecting and/or Curating

Fundición Tipográfica Richard Gans:

Landmark, an architectural letter via Hoefler & Co.

Ziggurat Type Family via Hoefler & Co.

Ziggurat Type Family via Hoefler & Co.

House Industries: This type foundry has always produced beautiful catalogs to promote their products. When I started my graphic design career, House Industries was THE type foundry. Now, they not only produce typefaces, but also clothing, housewares, and other really neat decorative items.

Image via House Industries
Image via House Industries

Image via House Industries

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AuthorSusana Gay

When we talk about lettering we're talking about drawing custom letters for a specific project rather than using an existing typeface. The term lettering is used in design a lot, especially in the last few years, when this way of handling type has become very popular. In my opinion it is actually overused lately. It has become the cool thing to do, rather than the thing to do when it's right for the project. 

But there is definitely more good than bad that has come out of this lettering explosion. Luckily for our eyes (and for brands out there), more talented and dedicated designers have come to love this art. They put their hearts and souls into their work, giving us lots and lots of high quality eye candy. Lettering isn't in the very least an easy task, it is very involved and time consuming. 

Here are a couple of great examples I quickly grabbed from the web:

Mad House by @kvmeo (via instagram)

Roots before Fruits by Tavish Calico

Roots before Fruits by Tavish Calico

If you enjoy looking at beautiful custom type, now is the time! But since trends come and go, I think using existing typefaces might just become the cool thing to do pretty soon. Not that lettering will ever stop being an important part of branding and design – it has always been and it will always be. 

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AuthorSusana Gay

We took a little weekend field trip to the Kennedy Space Center the other day. I found so many unexpected inspiring things while I was there. Seeing the space shuttle Atlantis in front of me – so massive, yet full of amazing detail. And of course, I couldn't help but notice the big Helvetica letters on the side, proudly spelling “Atlantis”. Yep, that's Helvetica, even in outer space!

Space Shuttle Atlantis – detail

Space Shuttle Atlantis – detail. Helvetica.

Space Shuttle Atlantis – detail. Tiles.

“The Firing Room” Mission Control, Kennedy Space Center

“The Firing Room” Mission Control, Kennedy Space Center

363-foot moon rocket – detail

363-foot moon rocket – detail


Sideshow Sign Co. is one of those companies I've watched grow rapidly. One day I found them, I looked at their site, stared at their work, dreamed of owning my own custom sign, and pinned the above S. Next day (exaggerating a bit) I go back with the purpose of placing an order and I find a note saying something in the likes of "We have more work than we can handle and we are not taking any new orders at this time" 

Now they have a completely new site, and they no longer list options for custom orders with affordable pricing. Instead, they show a gallery of their work – it's amazing of course. And, I can't help but notice some big names.

I have nothing but admiration for talented people that work their bottoms off (I'm a mom) and achieve greatness. All these images are from the Sideshow Sign Co. website. Visit them to enjoy more awesomeness.

(Ok. That's definitely an S, and maybe a G? Are these for me?? Could it be?? : D
Just keep dreaming… just keep dreaming... )

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AuthorSusana Gay

I've been wanting to create a space where I can share some of the things that inspire me, or that I simply find interesting. So, I'm adding a little "blog" to this site.

I also want to be able to share resources here, books, ideas, things I've learned, or things I simply like. Design related of course. I'll let you know about new posts through my Facebook page. 

This is an open blog for anyone to see and enjoy. Feel free to comment or ask questions. Welcome! First post, out!

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AuthorSusana Gay