Gouache illustration of a bowl of color swatches and letters
Gouache illustration of a bowl of color swatches and letters

“I believe cooking is about using all of your senses,” Alice Waters opens her Masterclass on The Art of Home Cooking. As the founder of Chez Panisse and pioneer of the farm-to-table movement, Waters is a legendary cooking icon.

In her first-ever online cooking class, she begins with a walk through the farmer’s market, then dives into how she plans her cooking and works with each ingredient. Watching her inspired instruction, I couldn’t help but notice that cooking was a lot like designing. …

Process can be a dirty word to some creative types. For designers, whose job is to turn amorphous ideas into physical existence, the process can be an artistic one. But even artists must admit, there is a method to the madness. In A Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young describes “the production of ideas is just as definite a process as the production of Fords… the mind follows an operative technique which can be learned and controlled.” Just as luck rarely comes to the unprepared, great design never happens in pure disorder.

I love process. My leadership style is…

Hero image of a diagram of 5 steps in the center. The top and bottom show sample slides.
Hero image of a diagram of 5 steps in the center. The top and bottom show sample slides.

Design school taught me how to ideate like a badass, but it never taught me how to sell my ideas. Starting my graphic design career at Bluewolf, I had to learn this first-hand when trying to articulate my design decisions to my team and colleagues beyond our creative group — marketing, sales, recruiting, you name it. Like every other tech startup, we were a scrappy team that had to move fast. Our approach to presenting our design work was simple: a short verbal description of the project, then ta-da! The design! It sufficed since we only had a few stakeholders…

Vector forms of g, R, and 2 are large in pink on a blue background. Scans of glyphs g, 2, M, Q, and a are sprinkled across.
Vector forms of g, R, and 2 are large in pink on a blue background. Scans of glyphs g, 2, M, Q, and a are sprinkled across.

Last Fall, I began the Type West program at the Letterform Archive in San Francisco. For those of you who don’t know, the Letterform Archive is creative heaven — a type nerd’s letter art collection turned graphic design museum.

I had been considering applying to this type design program for a while. Despite having practiced design and lettering for several years, I still felt like my work was missing a level of finesse, specifically in the realm of typography. I wanted to command type beyond placing them in layout, in ways that were unique, exciting, experimental.

I don’t see myself…

Undergrad at the University of Southern California (USC) was one of the most defining times in my life because I got to try almost everything. Things I never knew existed, like real ramen instead of instant ramen (Thanks, Little Tokyo in Los Angeles). Things I realized I actually hate, like science labs. And finally, things I ended up loving — design. In fact, I loved it so much I switched my major from biology to design. Best decision EVER.

After working as a designer for several years, a part of me still wishes I’d taken more advantage of design school…

In our competitive world, good products and services have become the standard. One day, I could be buying Ikea bookshelves, the next I may fall in love with Article’s new storage collection. As innovative companies continue to emerge, customer loyalty will waver. In this environment, how does one keep customers coming back? Brands must shift their focus from stats to stories if they want to captivate their audience. Data may sound impressive, but it doesn’t impress people to feel. To move people to action, you need to present your message in a story that fuels emotions and sparks inspiration. …

Since the start of my career, I’ve made a goal to attend a design conference at least once a year. Bluewolf, where I was working at the time, had set aside a budget for education. So being the avid learner and resourceful person that I am, I set my eyes on the large events. They sent me to AIGA Design Conference and Brand New Conference.

This year, I took the leap from a full-time permanent role to contracting and freelancing with different companies. While it’s given me the opportunity to meet talented designers and expand my knowledge, I didn’t have…

Tech brands have gotten on the illustration bandwagon, and the result is a stronger brand presence

Image courtesy of author

Think of all the places you’ve encountered illustration. Images of graphic New Yorker covers, whimsical children’s books, or artisanal liquor labels might come to mind. In recent years, you may have noticed that technology brands have joined the game, adopting illustration as part of their visual identity.

A few key players — Dropbox, Mailchimp, Salesforce — have dared to venture out from the ordinary. They believed that a brand didn’t have to be dry to prove its credibility. They didn’t want to limit themselves to technical infographics, lifeless icons, and generic stock photos. Instead, they knew that in order to…

Emma Linh

Art Director & Design Writer on Branding, In-House Design, Tech. Currently: ServiceNow | Blog: thedesignloupe.com | Portolfio: emmalinh.com | Social: @_emmalinh

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