road trips and photography

musings, travel blog & musings

Remember back when I said I had a new camera and was still learning how to use it? Well, I’m still learning of course (when do you ever stop learning) but I do have a better grasp on how to work things now. A recent road trip was a great opportunity to try out some things I’d learned in a recent camera class. Here are some pictures that happened along the way.

Guess where I went.

(By the way, if anyone wants to buy me a birthday present, either this or this would work just fine!)

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spring cleaning, graphic designer style

graphic design blog, musings


The spring cleaning bug has hit me hard lately! Last week I cleaned my closets and ended up donating about 4 shopping bags worth of clothes. This week, I’ve started in on refreshing my own blog and identity pieces—they’re going to be lighter and cleaner than the previous version. See? Spring cleaning, graphic designer style. Stay tuned for that refresh, I’ll be posting it soon!

I’m also cleaning off my camera’s memory card. So I’ll leave you this evening with an outtake, which I’ve entitled ‘trial and error.’

I don’t normally title my photographs, I’ll reserve that for actual photographers, but this title stuck as it has twofold meaning.

One: I recently purchased a new camera much nicer than my old camera. It’s fun, but I’m still learning how to take night photographs. This picture was taken in Duluth last Saturday, when a couple of friends and I drove up on a whim to see the Northern Lights.

Two: The Northern Lights did not show. So, another trial and error. At least I had fun trying to capture Duluth city lights reflecting on the lake. Northern lights, of a sort.

it’s not YOU designers are scowling at

graphic design blog, musings

Ever walk up on a working designer and see them scowling at a computer screen? Or just staring? And then wonder if that is what designers do all day—stare and scowl? It’s true, there is a lot of screen time logged in our chosen profession, but the inner workings of the creative brain are hard at work. Here are some things we’re contemplating while staring:

Those fonts just don’t work together. Scrap the display face, go with a sans instead.

Those colors together…just…no. No.

Bah! Look at the size of that face! It’s scary! Good rule of thumb: no faces larger than life sized.

This is such a nice default font to use. But I really need to stop using this font as default.

That sidebar placement completely destroys the flow of the spread.

Does this design look too…early ‘90’s grunge band-esque?

There’s a high concentration of black and yellow in this season already. Try a different color scheme.

Resist the photoshop filters. Resist the photoshop filters.

THIS ISN’T WORKING. RRRRRRRR. (usually accompanied by hair rending in some manner)

Blasted rainbow wheel of death.

*insert favorite expletive here*

The feel of this layout is too serious. It needs to be much more in keeping with the playful voice of the manuscript. How best to achieve this? (usually followed shortly by staring up & to the right. Or sketching. Or research.) (side note: looking up and to the right can also connote another form of creativity—lying)

There’s just not enough magic in these. Ask illustrator to add more magic.

Cover meeting in an hour cover meeting in an hour need to show this at cover meeting in an hour COVER MEETING IN AN HOUR

This is turning out really well! But for a teen book, not a 4th grade book. Save idea for a more fitting project.

Is this really a plausible design solution for a series of books that will go on indefinitely? Can’t be too trendy to last.

Do I REALLY want to hand letter all the chapter titles and sidebar heads and running footers and playlists and title pages and covers for every book in this series? Not really time efficient. Or xml efficient. And I’ll end up with claw hand at the end of it. But it’d be the correct way to solve the design. Yes, I shall do it, and suffer for my art!

(In case you’re new here, yes, I design books for a k-12 children’s book publisher. And may tend towards the overly dramatic at times.)

There’s always more, but for now I’ll end this brief foray into the designerly mind. What runs through your head when staring at computer screen at work?

old notes

graphic design blog, musings

I recently found some design class notes from college days gone by. Here are a few select tidbits:

When thinking about a design problem, go places. Somewhere you’ve never been, or just some place different.

Approach something as if you have never done it before.

Exaggerate—go to extremes

Create a list of words and phrases that boils the problem down to the essence of what needs to be communicated.

Visualize that brick wall you just hit.

Restate the problem in terms you can work from.

Take risks with no fear of failure.

Keep laughing!

Still relevant points. And I imagine they always will be.

amazing things that i saw in september

musings, travel blog & musings


Again I promised, again I delivered. Vacation pictures are here. Not strictly design related I know, but this kind of thing is what recharges creative batteries and inspires.

Here are the places in the pictures, and you get to guess which is which. Because why be straightforward when it’s more fun this way? That’s right, my design blog is full of fun guessing games. In order of visit, but not necessarily the order of pictures:
1. Theodore Roosevelt in North Dakota (2pics)
2. The Beartooth pass in Montana/Wyoming
3. Yellowstone mostly in Wyoming (2pics) (we avoided the grizzlies)
4. Grand Teton in Wyoming
5. Zion in Utah (2pics) (and no, I didn’t do Angel’s Landing. Next time. This time was just Hidden Canyon.)
6. Bryce Canyon in Utah (cloud to ground lightning here…be careful)
7. The drive on I70 from Bryce Canyon to Moab in Utah
8. Arches in Utah (2pics)
9. Canyonlands in Utah
10. New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado (employees here get a paid trip to Belgium for their 5th work year anniversary)
11. Rocky Mountain in Colorado (2pics)
12. The Badlands in South Dakota

Have fun matching up park and picture!

and finally,

graphic design blog, musings

This may not be an ‘and finally’ to you, dear reader, but it is to me. I finally finished my own identity pieces. It hasn’t been a horrifically long time I suppose, but when things are hard to put together it seems to take forever.

Creating your own professional identity is tricky. You know yourself so well, how can you narrow yourself down to that One Simple Thing? You’re so much more than that! And of course THIS part of you is more important. Wait though, what about this other part? Yes, that’s you but is it professional design you? The next day you feel differently, then you want to strip everything down and just letterpress your name beautifully on a gorgeous card stock… in the end I did go with my name. Except with a bit of humor that takes a bit of thought. Or a rewarding realization. This is how I approach design after all, with careful thought, but also with some humor.

Below we have: digital letterhead, resumes (one header for the personal side, one header for the carkneetoe side, only one is shown), invoice, business card front and back with optional small mailing address label, cd label, and a few versions of stickers to use for CD sleeves, envelopes, and possible randomness.

I’m good and done with this for now. But part of the fun of being your own thing—you can revise at will. I’m also planning on doing a yearly update to everything. It’ll still be recognizable from year to year but will show progression in design. I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

you know what else is fun?

graphic design blog, musings, travel blog & musings

The Bean, in Chicago.

Says my brother when we were walking up to the Bean: “Hey, that’s really reflective. It’d be interesting to go up close and take some pictures of your warped reflection.” Says me “Yep, you’re the first person to think of that… or maybe the millionth or so…” Brother seemed disappointed he wasn’t the first to think of this (as we walked up closer to the bean and the couple hundred people taking pictures of themselves in the reflection at that particular moment in time). This conversation quickly devolved into a Whovian discussion of how we really were the first and will travel back in time in the future to tell all of this fabulous idea, and so pleasant Carnito equilibrium was restored. Discussion stopped and photography started.

(To be fair to my brother, he’s not that oblivious. He lives in Europe and hasn’t been to downtown Chicago since the Bean made its appearance.)

The Bean really is a fun dream of photo composition play for a designer. However, with all of the people around, it’s hard to get a clean photo! There’s always another person or a bag or a shoe in there somewhere. You can only ask so many people to get out of your way…


And now you know what I look like, what my brother looks like, and that my hair isn’t the kind that does all that well in humid weather.


ADDENDUM 2.19.2012:

Brother apparently would like for it to be known that he really is that oblivious.
(but I still don’t really think he is)

brochures are fun

graphic design blog, musings

Why are brochures fun? My thoughts are these: they generally have a short lifespan, so you don’t have to worry about them looking to trendy and not holding up in time. They can be a chance to try a new technique or design idea. And even if you end up hating the result (admit it, that happens sometimes) you won’t have to live with it for long. But it’ll be there, in your file of past work, to look back on and laugh and chalk up to a learning experience.

Here’s a companion brochure to the IPS identity I posted earlier. I like this one, it was fun. I don’t look back on it and laugh. Instead I look back on it and think “Hey, can I do more collateral work with this identity?”