The AC Vent

Design gets a breath of fresh air.

Creative Wavelength
Date: August 6, 2015

Creative Wavelength

The latest installation of Creative Wavelength is here! Here’s some nifty art, design & generally creative things I’ve found around the web lately:

Piano bookshelf

As a book addict, piano player, and designer, this awesome bookshelf is hitting all of my sweet spots. I want one. By Sebastian Errazuriz.


I love these illustrations by Amy Hamilton.

honest wine labels

These honest wine labels are hilarious, and based on real situations that happened while the designers were drinking wine.

This Book Cover Judges You Back. If you look at the book with anything other than a neutral expression, the cover refuses to open.

⇒ Have you tried out the Kolor color guessing/matching game? It gets tricky quickly.

The Look Of Funny: How The Onion’s Art Department Works.

⇒ And did you see? I’m now on Instagram.

What cool arty designy things have you come across recently?

My Design Project Bucket List
Date: April 8, 2015

My Design Project Bucket List

I’m taking a page from Bobby McKenna’s book and sharing my bucket list of design projects. These are the types of things my little designer heart would geek out over working on, and I hope to have the chance over the course of my career.

  • Identity and menu suite for a new local Austin restaurant with delicious food, budget for quality printing, and desire to establish a brand with personality
  • A full wedding invitation suite with all the (tasteful) bells and whistles
  • Album cover for a band whose music I love (I’d flip out for the Airborne Toxic Event, or Dotan)
  • Coordinating book covers for a sci-fi or fantasy series
  • Logo for a start-up that becomes a hugely successful business (bragging rights, what!)
  • Poster for a big-studio movie
  • Logo & packaging for craft brewery or vineyard or both
  • Have an invitation design (or several) picked up by Minted
  • Logo & packaging design for a chocolatier
  • Logo & branding for a local coffeehouse
  • Season program for a well-established theater
  • Book cover for a famous author and/or a big publishing house
  • Non-traditional/non-paper business cards for an adventurous client

I’m sure this list will grow and change in time, but meanwhile if you have a project that matches one of these, hit me up!

What’s on your career bucket list?

Covers Reimagined
Date: March 6, 2015

Covers Reimagined: The Odyssey

I went through a phase in middle school where I read nothing but Greek mythology – yes, for fun. I don’t remember what sparked this interest, but I do remember it being pretty intense of an obsession. This has echoes nowadays in trying to guess the myth in a Renaissance painting before looking at the title, and getting miffed at how often Hades and the underworld are portrayed as equivalent to the Devil and Hell in popular culture (seriously! Not the same). I think I will always carry a soft spot for Greek mythology. That’s why for the 2nd post in the Covers Reimagined series, I’m sharing my take on a cover for The Odyssey, by Homer.

I’m going to assume you have at least passing familiarity with the story, as it is required reading in a lot of high schools and colleges. But just as a refresher, it’s the tale of the Greek strategist Odysseus, on his journey home from the Trojan War back to his kingdom of Ithaca. He manages to piss off the god of the ocean, and what should be a fairly simple journey turns into a 10 year odyssey, full of monsters, dangers, and our hero’s trademark cunning to escape both. Notable episodes include his encounters with a cyclops, the witch Circe, the Sirens, the monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis.

Now, this story has literally been around for thousands of years, so it’s been through a LOT of different covers and translations. Some of them are meh, some of them are really good, and some of them are awful. Trying to pick past covers to put together a brief montage was like trying to pick favorite stars, there are that many. So I’m going to get right down to business. Here is my cover concept for this Greek classic:

The Odyssey stack

The Odyssey

The Odyssey flat cover

Cover elements:

  • Ocean colors
  • Carved stone textures in the shape of a whirlpool and waves
  • Roughened text for the title and clean text for the author and subtitle
  • Graphic representations of a Greek ship and monster tentacles

I favor photo-based covers, as you might have noticed, which proved a particular challenge with this cover. There aren’t exactly any photos from Ancient Greece lying around. There are, however, lots and lots of sculptures and stone carvings from the Greek age, which is why I ultimately went with the textured stone look. I think it helps convey both the age of the story and the gritty nature of Odysseus’ adventures (let’s be honest, there’s quite a bit of death and mayhem in the Odyssey – Greek gods didn’t pull their punches when they were pissed off). This is also why I used a roughened typeface for the title, to tie in with the stonework.

The color scheme of ocean blue and grey seemed a natural choice for a story with so much focus on voyaging over the sea. The ship graphic was included to also convey the idea of a voyage and adventure. The tentacles were included to pay homage to Scylla and the story’s many other monsters. The choice of a clean typeface for the author and subtitle was to give a bit of contrast to all the roughness.

Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out. I think the photographs are a nice modern touch, while the textures and coloring evoke ancient ocean.

What do you think? Did I hit the bullseye as Odysseus would have?


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If you are an indie or self-pub author looking for some design help, I have just the package for you:

Top Shelf Design Bundle

This design package for authors includes:

  • Book cover design
  • Promotional graphics
  • Custom author website


Creative Commons credits: Manfred Antranias Zimmer, b0w1e, Aaron G, and Wikimedia Commons.

Covers Reimagined
Date: February 4, 2015

Covers Reimagined: Stranger in a Strange Land

True story: I am an unabashed bookworm, with a strong penchant for fantasy and science fiction. So when I was thinking up books to use in this Covers Reimagined series (welcome to the first post!), a lot of the books fell into that genre. The one I decided to start with, and that I’m sharing today, is a science fiction classic: Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein.

It’s the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who was born on Mars, raised by Martians and then returned to Earth in his adulthood. Seeing all of the customs and behaviors and politics and nonsense of humanity filtered through his outsider’s eyes makes for a very thought-provoking read. Michael, though human, has some otherworldly powers and a deep connection with all living organisms. He also has some unconventional ideas about love, relationships, money, religion, and death. Depending on your mood or mindset, you might find it beautiful or weird. Either way, Stranger in a Strange Land is considered a classic of literary science fiction. It also won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1962, and was the first science fiction novel to make the NYT’s bestseller list.

Sum up done, time for the good stuff! Just for reference, here are some of the covers this book has sported in the past:

Old Covers for Stranger in a Strange Land

The one on the far left is the most common/famous cover. And there are lots of sci-fi appropriate illustrations across the lot. I’m not sure what’s going on with the green one. And the one on the far right, while interesting and of a more literary fiction feel, I don’t think conveys anything specific to this story. But you can see, they pretty much all have a 60’s or pulp sci-fi feel. Which is fair, since the book was originally published in the 1960’s. But I thought it was time for an update.

Here is my cover concept for this sci-fi classic:

Stranger in a Strange Land book cover



Cover elements:

  • A man’s lit facial profile against a starry sky backdrop, with stark type and a red-orange planet* accent point.
  • The author’s actual signature used for type contrast on the front, then set in more readable type on the spine.
  • A banner in the same red-orange on the bottom to tie in to the color accent, and highlight the award-winning nature of the book.

I choose to go photo-based, because a) I like photo-based covers! and b) I’m not an illustrator or painter or anything, so Creative Commons photos are my main source of usable image material for fun projects like these. A type-only cover is also certainly an option, but it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go with this redo.

Since Michael is the main character, the ‘Stranger’ referenced in the title, and definitely the driving force behind the entire book, I wanted to include a representation of him on the cover. A lit profile silhouette like this is clear enough to convey that it’s a guy, and at that large cover-spanning size that he is an important character. But it’s still vague enough not to conflict with the book description of hair color, eye color, etc. (which to be honest, I didn’t remember as it’s been awhile since I read this).

I also wanted to convey that this was in the sci-fi genre, but not in the lurid manner of some of the old covers. It is what I would consider high-concept science fiction, and I don’t think the previous covers did justice to that. Another consideration: a dark background would work best given the silhouette I wanted to use. A sparse starry sky and the small planet are clear references to space that accomplish all of that nicely.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this turned out. And, if I do say so myself, if I saw a cover like this in store, I’d pick it up to read more.

What do you think? A modern reimagining that does the story proud?


*Ok, it’s actually a photo of a blood moon because it turns out there aren’t a lot of photos of Mars on Creative Commons. Whatevs. It works.

While we’re on the topic of books…
In case you haven’t made it over to my Packages page yet, book cover design is one of the services that I offer:

Book Cover Design – $799

What’s Included:

  • Discussion with you about your book.
  • 2 cover concepts, showing front cover, spine, and back cover as a spread.
  • 2 rounds of revisions to your chosen cover concept, if needed.
  • If stock photos are needed, comps will be used in the mock-ups, and stock photos only purchased with your approval. Stock photo pricing will be added to the project fee.
  • Final cover files delivered to you and/or your publisher/printer.
  • Native files and press-ready PDFs with bleeds provided.

Creative Commons photo credits: Public Domain Pictures, Public Domain Archive, and Patty Jansen

Creative Wavelength
Date: January 29, 2015

Creative Wavelength

I know, I know… I’ve been neglecting the blog this month. I blame wedding brain. But to kick things back into gear, I’m starting a new series! As an avid blog reader, I’m a sucker for well-curated link round-ups. And as a design site, the genre for my very own link round-up was obvious: art, design & other related creative/cool things that resonate with me (hence the name, Creative Wavelength). I’ll collect things as I wander around the internet, and probably do this list once a month. So! Let’s kick it off:

Image courtesy of Core77.

Image courtesy of Core77.

⇒ Stunning photo series: Here’s What Happens When a Super-Clear Lake Freezes Over.
Image via

Image courtesy of Zeven Design.

A Designer’s Guide To Setting The Mood With Lines. Just a cool infographic.
Image courtesy of Tim Gibson at Flying Whities.

Image courtesy of Tim Gibson at Flying Whities.

⇒ Possibly the prettiest beer packaging ever.
Images courtesy of

Images courtesy of Design Cuts.

⇒ Beautiful font bundles at an amazing discount: 21 Best Selling Beautiful Fonts and 20 All New Best Selling Fonts. $58 for 41 quality fonts, including web fonts & extended licensing. You bet I snapped these up.
Screenshot by me.

Screenshot by me.

ScultpGL. The setup reminds me of ye olde Bryce 3D, but the fact that you can do all of this in a plain old internet browser blows my mind.

⇒ I still think the 100 Day Project is a cool idea, and this gallery of completed projects is interesting.

iSketchnote. Write on actual paper, digitize your drawings in real time. I really want one of these!!

⇒ My latest eye candy guilty pleasure is the Architecture category over at Home Adore. I want to live in all of the cool houses!

⇒ I kind of want this Artist’s Coloring Book that is supposed to help with stress. Skeptical of that, but I always liked coloring books when younger.

⇒ Tips for Designing a Truly Delectable Restaurant Website. Psst, I can help you with that!

⇒ You may also want to check out my Fun Type Pinterest board if you’re a bit of a type geek like me.

Have you found any great art and design-y links lately? Share them with me!